Final Call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'
October 8, 2018 11:11 AM   Subscribe

 
OR ELSE
posted by growabrain at 11:13 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


It's a little cheeky that, in the "One Big Takeaway" figure, the symbol they use for 'Tourism' is a carbon-spewing around-the-world flight.
posted by gurple at 11:18 AM on October 8




That's all, folks.

I'm at the point now where I've stopped most active planning for the future - we're going to sprint into a permanent dark age within my lifetime.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:23 AM on October 8 [33 favorites]


Due to be released in the first half of 2022, the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report will just consist of of constant screaming.
posted by happyinmotion at 11:24 AM on October 8 [19 favorites]


I'm gonna short-sell human civilization and make a killing!
posted by Zed at 11:25 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]


I'm at the point now where I've stopped most active planning for the future...

I'm at the point where I'm making climate change my primary concern when planning for the future. I recently did a job search in the US, and there are a lot of cities I'd otherwise like to live in that I didn't even consider, because screwed.
posted by gurple at 11:26 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


I'm gonna short-sell human civilization and make a killing!

Climate Change Will Get Worse. These Investors Are Betting on It
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:28 AM on October 8 [19 favorites]


Those in the US, fight like hell at the state level to toughen up emissions standards and strengthen clean energy infrastructure.

(At the risk of being shit on by everyone here for promoting half-measures when I should be promoting despair) If you live somewhere it's offered, consider switching your electricity provider to community solar. Maryland mefites, this is totally a thing you can do!
posted by duffell at 11:36 AM on October 8 [26 favorites]


We can't free ourselves from capitalist logic until it breaks itself. Even after that I'm not sure we can free ourselves from "empire logic" wherein whoever has the strongest / best army "wins." If we can stop thinking like predators as a whole and the planet will still support us, humans can stick around for a while.

I moved back to Minneapolis a few years ago (I grew up here) and I wouldn't have done it if it were a city on the coast, given my hope to stick around for another 40 years.
posted by MillMan at 11:41 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Most of my friends are a good deal wealthier than I am, and I still see them taking quick little vacations to Hawaii, or Europe, or Asia. I haven't been able to bring myself to challenge them on it, because it seems like a pretty personal attack. But I find it kind of obscene, and I don't think that's just my jealousy talking.
posted by gurple at 11:45 AM on October 8 [11 favorites]


Welp, may as well buy that SUV now.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:48 AM on October 8


There is a small suspicion I have. It is very unlikely that the suspicion I have is correct, but I can't shake it.

The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise. As they see it, it's too late to stop climate change without drastically changing the "American Way of Life" tm. So don't bother. Turtle in on yourself and let the rest of the world suffer, and then we can finally replicate the post-WW2 American economic boom -- America on top because all of our competition is ruined. It's just that Trump (or the "idea" people behind him) cannot actually say this out loud.
posted by Groundhog Week at 11:49 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]


The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise.

Occam's Razor is building power by playing to the bigotry of the base.

None of the western democracies or their current way of life will survive climate migration, which will make the current crisis look minuscule in comparison, in any case.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:52 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


I'm calling it now:  our species will dither-dather until geoengineering is our only option.  I hope to God some well funded laboratories are quietly modeling solutions now rather than later, because I sure as shit don't trust them to get it right on the fly.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:53 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]


our species will dither-dather until geoengineering is our only option.

I don't disagree, but I think it's important to note that even if geoengineering is our only hope, we will still also have to cut emissions radically, at the same time we're trying Magic Scifi Solutions.
posted by gurple at 11:55 AM on October 8 [18 favorites]


The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise.

I don't think you're wrong on this, in general, but the nature of that displacement/migration is ongoing and incremental. There are catastrophes here and there, but it will most likely be a gradual process of some areas becoming uninhabitable. Sometimes it might go all at once for an area (a large fire or hurricane), but I expect it will mostly be a slow trickle.

That said, planning-wise, we are really hoping to be able to afford a home soon in Western NC, because I am certain that Florida will become uninhabitable in my lifetime. When FL gets hurricanes now, the Asheville area catches a lot of evacuees. That happens enough times, over and over again, and I think that rural WNC will become a major population center within a decade or so.
posted by witchen at 11:57 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise.

Listen, people aren't dumb just because they're Republicans. Whether "the wall" is more than a far right crowd-pleaser I do not know, but I am absolutely certain that there are people in the highest levels of power strategizing to close our borders against climate refugees. The trick will be closing the internal borders, since there will be plenty of migration here.

I'm very much on the "make your life as meaningful as possible now" side, because I think that's all we've got.

But it's going to be a long, slow lights-out (unless we get a pandemic! woo-hoo!) and there's something to be said for "my family and my community are equipped to take as much care of themselves as possible". I mean, if it comes down to it, I'd rather die surrounded by loved ones in the medium-term future even if it's in a run-down climate dystopia than alone in the near future before anything really goes bad.
posted by Frowner at 11:58 AM on October 8 [19 favorites]


…we will still also have to cut emissions radically, at the same time we're trying Magic Scifi Solutions.

I agree with you. I'm not advocating magic sci-fi solutions, but rather imagining the course this will end up taking. Emissions cuts are the only long-term solution and need to start now 50 years ago. We need to adopt them wholesale.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:00 PM on October 8


Also, remember that the IPCC reports are also always diluted. It's only the stuff people can agree on, and downplayed to try and be more politically acceptable. The reality is whatever the IPCC report says, believe it to be worse.

We're probably more in the "2C without heroic efforts, and most likely well past that" range.

And don't forget that every bit of warming is additional dice rolls toward those surprise feedbacks that will make it worse. We can't be certain that the warming that's locked in won't make summers warm enough to really turn large forests such as the Amazon into net sources of carbon instead of sinks, which could warm us further resulting in releasing enough methane from melting polar regions, leading to a big melt of Greenland that shuts down the North Atlantic current, plunging Europe into a deep freeze as they lose that major source of warmth in the ocean, and so on.

We're playing with probabilities now. Things are going to suck, but how much? There's nothing we can do to guarantee it'll be safe. But we can reduce the chances of the worst outcomes.
posted by evilangela at 12:02 PM on October 8 [23 favorites]


> The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise.

From April, emphasis mine:

“And who is ‘we’?” asks Hillman with a typically impish smile. “Wealthy people will be better able to adapt but the world’s population will head to regions of the planet such as northern Europe which will be temporarily spared the extreme effects of climate change. How are these regions going to respond? We see it now. Migrants will be prevented from arriving. We will let them drown.

The lucky ones will have to look away from a lot in order to keep a calm conscience. But there will be plenty of help with that, just as there is today.
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 12:06 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


We could feed everybody, but we choose not to. Likewise, we could could put the brakes on warming, but we also choose not to in order to enrich people who already have more money than half of the world put together.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:23 PM on October 8 [31 favorites]


From the BBC article:
"Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, said Dr Debra Roberts, the IPCC's other co-chair."
Well no, that is a very dangerous message to promote.
If we have to reduce meat and dairy consumption, you need governments to regulate this into reality, thus making meat and dairy products a whole lot more expensive.
Governments should subsidize electric cars (and I mean anything from giving them away to replace older cars, to removing taxes on them, to having a gvt run factory to build them en masse) driving their price to well below the price of non-electric cars - that should be taxed to death or, better, banned within the next 5 years across the world.
Similarly tax airplane travel (especially short distance air travel), and subsidize train travel, while building / improving railroads across on a grand scale the world.
Mandate heat insulation.
Ban tumble dryers.
Etc.
Because all of this is going to make income disparities more acute, and thus even more socially unaccepatable, reduce income and wealth inequalities drastically through taxation.
And then make sure that developed countries fund generously all relevant infrastructure in the developing world.
And so on.
Lifestyle changes, when we're talking about a problem of the scale and urgency of Global Warming, is middle class, western, liberal hippy-think. It most definitely will *not* save the world. In general the idea that all this can be accomodated into some sort of "free market" capitalist world-system seems to me to be logically and empirically fallacious.
posted by talos at 12:25 PM on October 8 [80 favorites]


We could feed everybody, but we choose not to.

One important bit about this that's often not mentioned - while we currently could feed everyone with how much food we currently produce, that food is not produced sustainably. We couldn't keep feeding everyone, assuming no population growth, without significant changes in how food is produced.

But we're not going to be continuing to produce the same amount of food. We're going to need to produce more and more, as the population grows. While much of the most productive farmland we have becomes less productive due to climate change. And areas that are becoming warm enough to produce food won't have the topsoil built up to be productive - at least not without massive energy expenditures to find ways to make the land productive. Energy expenditures that come from fossil fuels, and thus further cause warming, and thus further reduce food yields from agricultural lands.
posted by evilangela at 12:30 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


The whole conceit of "lifestyle change" saving the climate is only relevant if the lives we're talking about are those of the extremely rich, and some very specific changes that involve them making very different decisions about capital than the ones they've been making.

I stand by my statement that all of the world's unrest is being driven by Putin and his cadre's desire to turn Russia into a playground for the wealthy survivors of the migration wars, and fuck the rest of the planet. So that's where one should ideally start.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:30 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?
posted by meese at 12:32 PM on October 8 [12 favorites]


Lifestyle changes, when we're talking about a problem of the scale and urgency of Global Warming, is middle class, western, liberal hippy-think.

I agree with you that the real changes have to be dictated by governments. But you have to get there from here!

Right now, the great majority of comfortable people aren't adjusting their lifestyle for climate change reasons, at all. And it's pretty impossible to imagine most governments imposing the kinds of restrictions and policies that we need to address climate change meaningfully. Certainly not the US.

But those two things are related. It needs to become declasse to eat a lot of beef, to take unnecessary intercontinental flights, to buy an SUV, to get your food from halfway across the world. You can't get from here to a government that can take very heavy-handed steps without changing the minds of lots of voters.
posted by gurple at 12:35 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


Most of my friends are a good deal wealthier than I am, and I still see them taking quick little vacations to Hawaii, or Europe, or Asia. I haven't been able to bring myself to challenge them on it, because it seems like a pretty personal attack.

Please don't. This is a systematic problem caused by our economic structures not one driven by individualistic behaviour.
posted by smithsmith at 12:36 PM on October 8 [23 favorites]


Please don't. This is a systematic problem not one driven by individualistic behaviour.

Well, it's true that the world won't end because one family went to Rome for a week. But lots of families going to Rome for a week doesn't help, and one family doing it makes it continue to seem normal to other people.

People have to be OK with making some personal sacrifices to mitigate climate change, by choice, or they will resist voting for people who want to make those choices for them.
posted by gurple at 12:39 PM on October 8 [24 favorites]


As the tragic environmental news stories pile up, I often find myself thinking about T.C. Boyle's novel A Friend of the Earth, published way back in 2000. It was quite prescient about the effects of what humanity is doing to the planet. The protagonist, a radical environmentalist, finds that his personal, direct action accomplished nothing meaningful compared to the scale of the global climate changes. But the novel ends on a wonderful, touching note of - dare I say - optimism, that in some form humanity will survive and what we can always have is love. I may actually reread it soon...
posted by PhineasGage at 12:43 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


People have to be OK with making some personal sacrifices to mitigate climate change, by choice, or they will resist voting for people who want to make those choices for them.

Ignoring the fact that travel for personal pleasure generates the barest fraction of emissions compared with agriculture and industry, people make choices based on the economic system within which they exist, not because someone fingerwagged them into submission with appeals to personal morality.

Lobby the government for tougher emissions policy or, better yet, work to dismantle capitalism entirely.
posted by smithsmith at 12:50 PM on October 8 [22 favorites]


> I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

A very few people seem to think that nuclear fusion is starting to turn the corner toward eventual practicality, with increased attention from startups and with better, faster compute making it easier to overcome some of the trickier control problems. If they are right (where the optimists of the preceding 50 years were wrong), and if we can also convince the powerful that their status, privilege, and political prerogative would endure in a world where energy is effectively free*, then fusion power might be just the deus ex machina you're looking for.

I'd take that deal, given the alternative. I'd be thrilled to have the choice. 1% of infinity is still infinity.

* cf. political backlash against increasingly cheap renewables today.

And nevermind that it takes fifteen years-ish to build an ordinary nuclear power plant today.
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 12:53 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I loathe this lifestyle change stuff because it moves everything right into the position where it becomes a personal identity/moral fashion statement. It's like pollution: we can address point sources that are high intensity and make process choices that affect diffuse sources, or we can rely on moral shaming. One will surely kill us.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 12:54 PM on October 8 [32 favorites]


Also, shaming approaches almost feel dare I say calculated to create a backlash.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 12:55 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


Several abolitionist movements included a lot of personal renunciation of slave-dependent goods -- sugar, tea, cotton. No-one believes the complainers are telling the truth while they put off the lifestyle changes themselves. Sometimes no-one believes you can live without the stolen energy* until they see others managing.
posted by clew at 12:55 PM on October 8 [17 favorites]


Yelling "change should happen on a societal scale" to the winds while still buying SUVs and jetting to Fiji for the weekend is pretty vacant.

In blue places in the US, SUVs are already declasse. That's shame in action. Shame at a personal level can translate to results at the societal scale. I don't understand not believing that to be true.
posted by gurple at 12:57 PM on October 8 [19 favorites]


I am an earthling first, human second. Life on Earth will prevail, we will continue on, and I'll waste no tears for this particular form of earth life. Humans are neat and all but so are literally every other form of life to have ever existed.

Personally, I am willing to make nearly zero personal sacrifices for some vague future of a species that most times I don't even like. Plus, the clearest and most direct path to dismantle capitalism is to make humans extinct. That alone makes our impending extinction event seem like a good thing.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:01 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Also, shaming approaches almost feel dare I say calculated to create a backlash.

It also serves a very specific and useful function by offering an alibi to the real perpetrators of this mess - the 1% of global rich who have become obscenely wealthy by systematically deferring any substantive policy action.
posted by smithsmith at 1:06 PM on October 8 [20 favorites]


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

Here's my shot:

I wish people would stop peddling despair. Yes things are bad, and there's no sign we can right this ship, but giving up is cowardice, plain and simple.

Climate change isn't the kind of thing that's going to destroy the planet. The worst case scenario is that in the short term, civilization collapses, humanity is sent back to the stone age (and reduced to a population in the millions), and mass extinctions push most life as we know it out of existence. But on a geological time scale, the planet will recover relatively quickly, and life will recover faster than that. If we're lucky, some humans will survive, and if we've been good about storing knowledge, they may even be able to rekindle the light of civilization.

I know that sounds terrible, but if what makes you despair is the thought that it will all be over, well, that's unlikely. Plague, war, and genocide have devastated societies since the beginning. Even in those worst of circumstances, even at this global scale, there's a lot we can do to ensure that something is retained from this current iteration. If you truly believe in and love humanity, then I hope this should give you some solace.

Moreover, that's the worst case, and we're not there yet. Between that, and where we are now, there's a continuum of possible futures that will allow more people, more love, and more knowledge to survive. And everything we do to fight for that makes a difference. Don't let fear blind you to the fact. Maybe there's even a future where everything from this moment on just keeps getting better.

We were never going to live forever anyway. Let's fight for the future.
posted by Alex404 at 1:06 PM on October 8 [88 favorites]


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

The United States and Canada have a fuck ton of space. Combined, we could save 10s of millions of lives. It would probably require the use of all federally protected lands and restrictions on the amount of potable water people consume on a daily basis, but it can be done.

The question at the heart of this issue is political will.
posted by Groundhog Week at 1:08 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel

Eliminating or reducing your driving, flying, use of coal-sourced electricity, eating meat, and other bad behaviors helps a lot, but the best move is to change your mind about sending yet another kid into this world. Have a single replacement kid if you need to have a kid, but then stop. (And contribute to groups that promote education and women's rights where they need it most.)
posted by pracowity at 1:09 PM on October 8 [20 favorites]


Obligatory and obligatory.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:13 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Have a single replacement kid if you need to have a kid, but then stop.

Please also consider adoption.
posted by Groundhog Week at 1:13 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


I stand by my statement that all of the world's unrest is being driven by Putin and his cadre's desire to turn Russia into a playground for the wealthy survivors of the migration wars

Let's play this out.

(1) Putin foments unrest and undoes efforts to limit or reduce global warming.
(2) Russia's land does relatively okay as the climate changes
(3) Russia, its ~150 million people, and its struggling and limited economy is simultaneously invaded by whatever's left of a billion Chinese, billion Indians, and half a billion western Europeans who don't particularly give a shit if Russia nukes the cities they're abandoning.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:14 PM on October 8 [21 favorites]


I didn't see this already linked, but if it was, I apologize: The Trump administration has entered Stage 5 climate denial.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:17 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Plus, the clearest and most direct path to dismantle capitalism is to make humans extinct. That alone makes our impending extinction event seem like a good thing.

Human extinction accelerationism is a new one here.

The IPCC does not project human extinction. What it does project is that climate change will worsen poverty and exacerbate inequality. Who do you think is likely to make out worse: a farmer whose rice paddies keep getting inundated with seawater or Jeff Bezos?

Cheering on the end of humanity is not necessary. Addressing this is within our capabilities; we just refuse to do so:

@KendraWrites: A BBC (?) reporter asked if it was 'feasible" to limit to 1.5C UN spokes (I think it's prof Jim Skea but not totally sure) says it's feasible within the limits of physics and chemistry, and even with our technologies. Uncertainty is politics - human behavior.
posted by zachlipton at 1:23 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters.
Ahahahahahahahahahah!
I'm reminded of this film's title.

I need some hope.
This year our online book club read Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140. That optimistic novel ends with (spoilers!) a massive political movement against the rich, driven by continued climate change disasters. That's not impossible.
posted by doctornemo at 1:27 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]




Kim Stanley Robinson has been working on this for a while; I liked the Three Californias trilogy, three different futures for California, from dystopic to pretty good. (Realistic enough not to be Utopian, I think, but not fuzzy-headed impossible.)
posted by clew at 1:37 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Also, shaming approaches almost feel dare I say calculated to create a backlash.

There is already explicit backlash to conservation. The example that pops into my head (having recently experienced it on a bike ride) is rolling coal.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:41 PM on October 8 [12 favorites]


Not to mention all that business about the straws!
posted by witchen at 1:44 PM on October 8


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

Here's my thinking, of late, and probably some MeFite better-educated than I am about this stuff can dash all my hopes, but until then, this is what I'm going with. Reducing global temperatures is actually pretty easy. Heck, volcanoes do it all the time (geologically speaking). Ultimately, if the industrialized nations of earth can't get their shit together in time to prevent catastrophic global warming, then any of the individual nations on the first-to-get-flooded-into-nonexistence list (e.g., the Maldives, Bangladesh) will be well within their rights, IMO, to start unilaterally pumping SO2 into the atmosphere to artificially cool it, and to heck with everywhere else. What are the industrialized nations of the world gonna do then? "We need to bomb the Maldives because they're actually doing something about global warming" seems like a pretty hard sell politically; that same layer of abstration that made it impossible to get anyone to do anything about global warming in the first place will make it hard to convincingly pin the responsibility for your shitty storm season on a tiny county most people couldn't find on a map.

No doubt, of course, artificially cooling the atmosphere will have horrifying side effects that we'll have to deal with (acid rain will be back in a big way, for one). But it'll buy some time, it'll keep the ball in the air. And in the long run, we'll be dickering, as a species, essentially over "where to set the global thermostat" for decades if not centuries to come. The climate won't be a thing that human beings can just leave alone and expect to take care of itself anymore - it'll be something we, as a species, have to commit to continually monitoring and controlling forever. Like a lot of other natural processes that we have essentially seized control of just by virtue of our impact on the environment (de/reforestation, animal population control, erosion control...) it'll just become a new part of the sphere of human activity. The future is full-blown geoengineering.

The longer-term issue is sustainability. I see lots of pundits talking about the goal of "sustainability" when what they really mean is "renewability". These are not the same thing. You can have 100% of the energy humans use come from solar panels and wind power, have all the materials we use be recycled, and still have humanity's relationship to the planet be utterly unsustainable in tons of ways. You can say, "Well, here's where the personal-lifestyle-choices stuff comes in," but I feel like human nature is not on your side. Indeed, I would make the case that the nature of Life itself is not on your side. Animals don't grow their populations to the limit of what's sustainable and then make a choice to not reproduce for a while - they grow wildly, and then die off. Plants don't do "sustainable" either (I let my rhododendrons go a couple years without pruning and they'd gotten so big they'd started to literally crack apart, which ultimately would've probably killed them). Even viruses and bacteria left to run amok will grow unsustainably until they wipe out the entire population of organisms that was supporting them. There's really not much in the way of naturally-occuring models for what sustainability looks like.

And even then, if you ignore the issues with human nature, if you ignore all the issues of political feasibility, if you just pretend like it's SimEarth and you're just adjusting settings - you still have the question, what does sustainability look like? The planet has finite resources, what percentage of those resources do we allocate to humanity? Everything else on earth has to share whatever's leftover, and as mentioned, nothing else on Earth got the memo about living sustainably, so you have to manage the populations and resource use of...essentially every other living thing.

And then what? We settle on 75% of earth's resources for humanity, 25% for everything else. We magically come up with some way to keep the populations stable and the resources distributed with perfect efficiency and equitability. What next? What do we do when something comes up that demands more resources than we have left available? If you allocate 100% of Earth's resources and then Yellowstone goes super-volcano or a new deadly plague arises or an asteroid is headed directly for Earth, where do you get the resources to deal? You really need to have a "rainy day fund" of un-allocated resources in case of emergency, or else every crisis means either people starve or baby pandas starve or both. But how much is the rainy day fund? Every bit you leave in there is less resources to go around in the first place, which means fewer people or less wildlife right up front.

This is what I come to, every time: we gotta go into space. We just gotta. Life knows nothing but growth and we're seriously running outta space for humans down here on Earth. Humanity won't stop growing, so either it goes into space or else it eats everything else down here and then eats itself. Rather than trying to change human nature in double-time, if you just accept that we are what we are, then the sooner we can start expanding and exploiting other parts of the universe, the more of this little blue ball we have a shot at actually leaving intact.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:00 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Not to mention all that business about the straws!

I don't think "there will be backlash to it" is a reason not to try to make social changes. The straws are a piddly thing, and the backlash has been ridiculous and big. So maybe not worth it?

But it doesn't end with the backlash. There's a backlash, and then there's backlash to the backlash, and then there's quiet acceptance of the straw thing by more people and companies, and before too long giving up plastic straws is normalized.

Or maybe it contributes to a smoldering conservative resentment that ends up toppling us into climate hell, all because of straws? I dunno, but it's not as simple as "there might be a backlash, so let's not try that".
posted by gurple at 2:02 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

Building a giant sunshade in space at the earth-sun L1 point is physically plausible and will be humanity's greatest engineering achievement.
posted by allegedly at 2:15 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


The purpose of Trump's proposed wall is to close our southern border to the millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans who would be displaced by sea level rise.

Probably Matt Christman's finest moment:

... Because if you think there's not going to be more ecological and economic catastrophes in the future that liberalism is wholly unsuited to fucking deal with, and that that failure is not going lead to fascism filling that fucking hole, you've got another thing coming. And that's what these guys are, these guys who marched in Charlottesville. These are the people who are aware of the unspoken premise of this sort of zombie neoliberalism we're living in, which is that we're coming at a point where there's gonna be ecological catastrophe and it's going to either require mass redistribution of the ill-gotten gains of the first-world--or genocide. And these are the first people who have basically said 'Well if that's the choice, I choose genocide.' And they're getting everybody else ready, intellectually and emotionally, for why that's going to be okay when that happens--why they're 'not really people'.
When we're putting all of this money into more fucking walls and drones and bombs and guns to keep them away so we can watch them die with clear consciences, it's gonna be because we've been loaded with the ideology that these guys are now starting to express publicly. On the other side of them you have people who are saying in full fucking voice, 'No, we have the resources to save everybody, to give everybody a fucking decent and worthwhile existence.' And that is what we want and that is the fucking real difference between these two.

posted by atoxyl at 2:29 PM on October 8 [47 favorites]


The nature of the problem of _Global_ warming begs a tops down approach. The "less diary/meat/bike to work" is the thoughts and prayers approach to finding an actual solution. I am not saying it helps but finding the pie chart of biggest contributors and regulating/taxing them to a not-so-slow death is orders of magnitude more effective and immediate.

The one thing that individuals must do though is vote in the right people and educate each other.

On second thought... since most of what I said needs to be done by America and since expecting Americans to do the well informed thing seems pointless, I will just start seeking higher ground :(
posted by savitarka at 2:48 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


I am an earthling first, human second. Life on Earth will prevail, we will continue on, and I'll waste no tears for this particular form of earth life. Humans are neat and all but so are literally every other form of life to have ever existed.

I don't particularly relish the thought of BILLIONS of human beings -- friends, loved ones, strangers, whatever -- become climate refugees; nor in starvation, dying of heatstroke, dying in a climate/resource/territorial war, etc. when all of this is preventable and unnecessary.

Plus, the clearest and most direct path to dismantle capitalism is to make humans extinct. That alone makes our impending extinction event seem like a good thing.

You have that backwards. The most direct path to not making humans extinct is to dismantle capitalism (or at the very least, get its claws out of government, pass a massive carbon tax and make clean energy, clean transport, carbon capture, and other survival technologies the next moon shot project.
posted by Foosnark at 2:48 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

Solar/wind power is already more or less equal cost-wise in the U.S. and continues to get better. Even without any political will, they will eventually be the source of most household electricity.

Everyone looks at shaving down personal carbon footprints, but there are easy swaths of carbon savings in simpler ways. For instance, 7% of global greenhouse emissions are from cement. There is already a solution that lets concrete store CO2 instead of emit it. If we (or some billionaire, or some collection of millionaires) threw money at something like this, it could be an easy win.

On the same note, people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are committed to giving away most of their fortunes to charity. As the doomsday bell gets louder, hopefully that money will be applied smartly to this global issue.
posted by lubujackson at 3:11 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


The "less diary/meat/bike to work" is the thoughts and prayers approach to finding an actual solution. I am not saying it helps but finding the pie chart of biggest contributors and regulating/taxing them to a not-so-slow death is orders of magnitude more effective and immediate.

I see it differently. Wishing our government would start doing more on climate change is the thoughts and prayers approach.

You're not required to listen to or believe me, by any means, but what I've been arguing is that the "less diary/meat/bike to work" is the social prerequisite for getting our government to regulate/tax the worst offenders.

I'm not idiotically insisting that altering individual behavior is the endgame. I'm saying that I think we have to bring people around to where they're willing to do alter their individual behavior before they'll push for a government that will do the things that really matter.
posted by gurple at 3:14 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


I was up all night my stomach in a knot over this -- even though, as a climate professional, I knew all this already. I think it's the stark awful contrast between these facts and our awful fascist administration (and the moron on the rise in Brazil). The sense of screaming into a void.

Lubujackson is on the money from my perspective though, re hope. Renewables will triumph. Vehicle electrification will too, and likely with near-Moore's law efficacy in the engines, slowed down by the need to build the charging network. Huge currents are on the move through all levels of government and society.

They will probably be too slow to save us all. But there is hope.
posted by SandCounty at 3:16 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


NOAA Office Of Coastal Management DIGITALCOAST Sea Level Rise Viewer* — Use this web mapping tool to visualize community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise (up to 10 feet above average high tides). Photo simulations of how future flooding might impact local landmarks are also provided, as well as data related to water depth, connectivity, flood frequency, socio-economic vulnerability, wetland loss and migration, and mapping confidence.
(*Coastal areas of the U.S., including U.S. territories)
posted by cenoxo at 3:30 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


All this optimism is cute. I hope I'm wrong and all y'all optimists are correct, but I don't think anybody's going to do anything. It's going to be a slow slide into global warming, genocide, living in caves, etc. Humans in general seem selfish and short-sighted. And the worldwide rise of fascism seems to confirm that the reaction is "let's kill THEM before they try to take any of OUR stuff." It's a lot of too little too late thinking.

Anyway, I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 3:35 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


"The IPCC does not project human extinction. What it does project is that climate change will worsen poverty and exacerbate inequality. Who do you think is likely to make out worse: a farmer whose rice paddies keep getting inundated with seawater or Jeff Bezos? "

That does change things for me, I'd rather us go extinct than for income inequality to continue getting worse. I can't tell if that means I should just be praying for a supervolcano eruption or something more spectacular to wipe us out or if I should feebly do the pathetic little things I can to make the world marginally less worse than I usually do while overall my existence is still a net drain on humanity's resources.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:55 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


When the 1% becomes the 10% because three billion people die then at least those of us remaining 90%-ers will get the transient pleasure of watching them destroy one another to get back to the top.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:06 PM on October 8


I need some hope. Is there anything I can cling to, for hope?

Unfortunately the vast migrations will throw the planet into a wobbly skew orbit slinging it into the Sun burning up all the oceans and turning everyone into plasma. On the upside a few of us become intelligent plasma, swirling happily until the star we call the sun goes nova.

No - none of that will occur or at least within our great (many 'greats') grandchildren's lives. There is not going to be a non-technological solution (sigh unless it's a final solution that reduces the population but that should not be even thought about).

Solar and wind are ramping up fantastically. Probably put gas companies out of business in a generation. Some of us scifi optimists think asteroid resources will replace manufacturing. Not soon enough but watch what SpaceX is doing.

Terrible changes will happen our lifetimes, perhaps Bangladesh will mostly be submerged, but it'll also be unevenly distributed due to ocean currents and other dynamic forces being more impactful (and difficult to predict). But no one actually knows the details. Fish are changing, dying out will be more obvious than other changes, but is that due to global warming (nuke chinese whaling fleets). Fish can come back.

There are more people studying the environment and looking for solutions than there are skeptics, some good stuff will happen. Maybe less Florida but it may be better as an archipelago in the long run. Some shocks to the system will be an impetus to better world ecological behavior.
posted by sammyo at 4:24 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I don't have too many conservative friends and family, but I've watched the few I do have ignore climate change or insist it's not real or not man-made for decades.

It's not surprising to me that some of them are starting to flip straight from there to "ah, well; too late now, world's fucked, might as well enjoy myself". That's just two sides of the same me-first coin.

What's surprising and saddening is to hear voices like the ones in here -- folks who sound like they *do* care -- essentially doing the same thing. Well, this report says we're too late, nothing we can do, human nature and all. Nice knowing all of you.

If everyone who actually *does* give a shit suddenly gives up, then, yeah, get ready for the worst-case scenario. But if everyone who gives a shit suddenly gives up, then they're just as useless as the folks who never cared in the first place.
posted by gurple at 4:37 PM on October 8 [17 favorites]


The perennial cry to “Save Earth" is odd. Planet Earth survives massive asteroid strikes -- it'll survive anything we throw at it. But Life on Earth will not.

—Neil deGrasse Tyson cite
posted by cjorgensen at 4:45 PM on October 8


If everyone who actually *does* give a shit suddenly gives up, then, yeah, get ready for the worst-case scenario. But if everyone who gives a shit suddenly gives up, then they're just as useless as the folks who never cared in the first place.

Yeah, I'm getting a lot of "so long and thanks for all the fish smug self-satisfaction of telling people they're dunces for even trying" from this thread.

I'm sure as hell not giving up, because, y'know, I care about the people who will inevitably suffer horribly if we don't at least try to pull humanity back from the brink.
posted by duffell at 4:45 PM on October 8 [16 favorites]


I spent today, as I spend every weekday, with a group of delightful, rather spirited children. As they did all their normal kid things like playing chess, swinging on the monkey bars, and arguing over the playground ball, I felt a weird sense of poignant sadness, even more than I felt the day after the election.

I'd like to believe the world is going to get better for them, but chances are it won't. Twenty years from now, they'll all be young adults, trying to make their way in the world that climate change will be wreaking havoc on.

They get this. They care about this issue more than most adults. They don't know what all the repercussions will be, but they care about the earth and the environment and each other. But it still feels awful to know what it will be like for them, and not to be able to explain it to them, or warn them, or do anything about it.

Knowing that the world is going to end, so to speak, doesn't make me feel like I should give up on being with them. On the contrary I felt today like I was in exactly the right place. Their world will need from them the same things it needs from us - resilience and compassion and creativity and commitment. I get to help them get there, even if I can't protect them from what's to come.
posted by mai at 5:05 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


Building a giant sunshade in space at the earth-sun L1 point is physically plausible and will be humanity's greatest engineering achievement.

I've long thought we'd have to run with something like this. In my head I imagine them almost as solar cell parasols, millions of tiny satellites at L1 that can open and close to fine tune solar radiation. I'm absolutely sure there must a gazillion reasons it'd never work, but decades of bookish reading habits leave me with tons of pie-in-the-sky ideas always percolating in the back of my mind. It's useful to help keep me from despairing, not so useful for practical day to day work.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 5:05 PM on October 8


Yeah, I'm getting a lot of "so long and thanks for all the fish smug self-satisfaction of telling people they're dunces for even trying" from this thread.

The motivation behind yelling at your friends for flying to Europe or using plastic straws or deciding to have children or whatever comes from a noble, if somewhat misguided, place but when I read threads like this I can't help but imagine how absolutely ecstatic genuine environmental vandals like, say, the Koch brothers and ruling class ghouls like them would be about the amount of self-flagellation working and middle class people undertake for merely existing on the planet as human beings.

People use(d) plastic straws because the industry that created plastic straws were never made to factor in the enormous environmental cost of their product into their price. If they had, the industry would have been forced to make different manufacturing and development decisions. The only way you actually do this is through strict, global-scale government regulations, not through berating individuals for choices which have been rendered rational by an irrational economic framework.
posted by smithsmith at 5:18 PM on October 8 [40 favorites]


Relevant 1989 documentary on global warming by James Burke (science historian) wiki entry: "After The Warming" posted by ZeusHumms at 5:20 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


People talk about the horrifying fascism and bigotry of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's likely next president, and he is profoundly awful. But seeing his first-round near-victory the other day really felt like one of the final nails in the coffin of the world, after Trump. He has zero respect for environmentalism and is clearly backed by disaster capitalists who want to loot the country -- and the biosphere really, really can't afford to have the Amazon rainforest "open for business."
posted by Rhaomi at 5:40 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Life is an ice cream party at the edge of a long pier high above a boiling sea of acid.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:44 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Plus, the clearest and most direct path to dismantle capitalism is to make humans extinct. That alone makes our impending extinction event seem like a good thing.

Capitalism exploits humans so we should applaud the end of humans? This is gibberish.

It’s also unspeakably cruel. I hope it’s just some performative misanthropy on your part and not an expression of your genuine beliefs.

Genocidal fantasies are a bad look no matter their motivating ideology.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:10 PM on October 8 [18 favorites]


There's definitely a backlash against conservationism, often in the form of people going well out of their way to argue that what they're currently doing is actually better in every way.

I've seen a lot of my liberal and leftist friends sharing posts arguing that vegetarianism or veganism are worse for the environment, often in glib ways that ignore even the most basic consequences. Like "it takes a lot of land and water and chemicals to grow crops, and farmers kill pests all the time, so you're wrecking the environment and killing more animals." Which has the massive hole of "Well, what does the livestock eat? What do you eat with meat?"
posted by ikea_femme at 6:31 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Were I Sun Ra,

"It's after the end of the world, don't you know that yet?"
posted by SystematicAbuse at 6:52 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I'm deeply worried about climate change. With every passing year, I become more and more convinced that I will not have children. The world does not need more post-industrial consumers. But the despair and outright apocalypticism that I see so often in these discussions on Metafilter and elsewhere bother me. I suppose there are many reasons for that, but one is that it is obvious to me that it is always the end of the world for someone, for whole groups of people. Before anyone had ever contemplated the possibility of climate change, the world ended a million times over for countless people in innumerable famines, wars, epidemics, and much smaller disasters. Yes, the global scale of this changes something conceptually. But in a fundamental way, the people affected by climate change - those affected by it now, as well as the projected billions in the future - will have to respond to it the same way people have always responded to calamity - try to survive.

I'm not saying anything in this comment about substantive issues related to this particular crisis - putative technological solutions or the infuriating and utterly predictable inaction of the kakisto-kleptocrats. It's the way that climate change discussions here and elsewhere build up an echo that this doom is infinitely worse than all the other kinds of doom that have befallen and continue to befall human beings that gets to me.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 6:59 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


It's stunning that it's seemingly hard for people to realize that it is important to both try to reduce their own individual carbon footprint AND systematically dismantle capitalism.

Both are vitally important. The point about how abolitionists changed their buying habits is spot on. Many of those folks were also running the Underground Railroad. I believe so strongly in aligning your lived reality as much as you reasonably can with your larger politics because I don't see any other way to live an authentic commitment to changing the system.

A number of climate scientists have started to realize that jetting around the world to one academic conference after another undermines their own moral authority, and so many have begun to explicitly reduce or eliminate their flying. And for those of you who say individual actions do not matter in the long run, then what alternative do you propose to counter demand management?

I think a lot about a quote I heard paraphrased after the 2016 election - it's our job to make the revolution irresistible. Capitalism demands that we live in a state of painful contradictions all the time - like that we have to choose between the environment and the economy. I believe the best way to counter-act that level of contradiction is to, as much as we can, align our personal choices with our political frameworks.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:06 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


[One deleted. I know the linked report and the real-world situation are beyond awful, but I'm gonna ask that folks stop the "no, it's even worse, you don't know how bad" and "no hope is possible, despair is mandatory", "this other bad thing will happen" etc. Those points have been made repeatedly. Mefites reading this thread don't need help to know it's bad, and these are some pretty grim days so folks are already in a rough mental space.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:08 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


To paraphrase Wendell Berry, even if climate change is completely out of our hands, conservation is the right thing to do. Trying to be responsible, even if it's far too late, is an ethically coherent position from either a utilitarian or categorical stance.

The abandonment of conservation by evangelicals* was in a way more damning than their later embrace of Trump - it was already clear that they no longer considered stewardship of "God's bounty" to be a concern.

Nihilism is also ethically coherent, but it's pretty fucking dull. It's a lot like libertarianism - reduction to the point of pointlessness.

*#notallevangelicals - there is totally pushback in KY and WV in particular. The trend has still been the other way with the Left Behind types.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:27 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


If you're driving and you discover you're about to hit the back of a parked truck, you apply the brakes as hard as you can. If you realize you can't stop in time you don't give up and let off the brakes, you do your best to slow down. (If you're Elon Musk, you might open the door and jump out... good luck with that.)

Nihilism is also ethically coherent, but it's pretty fucking dull...

Totally. I'm basically a nihilist (maybe more of an absurdist), but impetus doesn't have to be intrinsic, I can have my own reasons to do the right thing, whatever that is. I like the Earth, and I'd like it to be habitable for as long as possible, in the best way possible.
posted by klanawa at 8:36 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Personally, I am willing to make nearly zero personal sacrifices for some vague future of a species that most times I don't even like.

How nice for you. Bless your heart.
posted by non canadian guy at 8:52 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


The abandonment of conservation by evangelicals* was in a way more damning than their later embrace of Trump - it was already clear that they no longer considered stewardship of "God's bounty" to be a concern.

Didn't evangelical stewardship always co-exist uneasily with evangelical apocalypticism, though?
posted by non canadian guy at 8:55 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


The report is alarming or even frightening, for sure, but what's really depressing is hearing comments like "we are all doomed, i'm not even gonna try" or "the human race must die."

I mean, COME ON. There are human beings who lived long before us, and some who live on Earth at this very moment, who lived in dire circumstances, and who did not give up. Sometimes they prevailed, sometimes they died trying. But they gave it their all. Maybe think of them before throwing in the towel?

But seeing his first-round near-victory the other day really felt like one of the final nails in the coffin of the world

Literally millions of women in Brazil ain't going to roll over and play dead, you know. Maybe learn from them in the years ahead. Might teach you something.

I also have two fine young sons who are definitely not going to be coffin nails. My kids are going to do great things. You can follow them if you want.
posted by JamesBay at 9:46 PM on October 8 [12 favorites]


"Didn't evangelical stewardship always co-exist uneasily with evangelical apocalypticism, though?"

Two decades ago I was involved in both evangelical (pentecostal actually) and traditional (Anglican/Episcopalian) churches. With the former I never heard anything positive said for the Earth or those who cared for Earth or her people, despite 'stewardship' bandied around. Only in Anglican circles have I heard sermons on caring for Earth along with social and racial issues - occasional visits show this is more and more true.

Am no longer involved in anything, and altho' I hear things have changed towards Earth-care in the Evangelicals I somehow doubt it is real as sometime meet adherents and they seem the same - more like happy Capitalists than happy-clappy's.
posted by unearthed at 10:19 PM on October 8


And yes I'm very angry at the people and corporations wrecking our planet; doing something substantive and effectual is more difficult. One issue for many is that any action that could be effective would be illegal and you could expect a draconian response from the state.

We need ways that use the rules of capitalism (and so-called democracy) to attack capitalism, and to do it at a scale that has immediate effect on big players. I'm sure if we put our head together here we could develop some effective approaches.

Protests alone do not seem to work; once the crowd disperses it's seen to be all over. Actions by contrast can become en-cultured and can snowball.
posted by unearthed at 10:38 PM on October 8


We can't solve the climate problem without solving the problem of inequality and material security and human cooperation on a global scale. We can work toward improving our survival and justice at the local scale by tackling inequality, material security and democratic participation (civil society). I think we won't, but i hope i'm wrong.

My comments in other climate crisis threads tend to be pessimistic and i guess inhibit conversation. Hope without power is dellusion, which is better than sobriety in the face of tragedy, but we can do better than that. Use hope and better yet, resolve to take personal action AND to build power and join more powerful communities. Many of the things you do to prepare for the disaster lifestyle also lessen the disaster for others.

The trick kleptocrats use in psuedo democracies is to pretend that public whim unmediated is what directs the apparatus of the state to action. They teach and reinforce this pretense so that they can be the brokers and king-makers and call the shots. they choose their short-term benefit over the middle-term survivability of other classes, races and species. Sieze power.

You have some power over your life, your consumption, your reproduction. Use it decisively toward sustainable ends... that both helps your personal survival and a tiny amount of the global problem. You can use spare resources if you have any (particularly if you can manage to reduce consumption) to participate in local groups that are preparing for and trying to reduce the severity of climate change. This and earlier threads have lots of suggestions on that.

heres a new one:

the difference between your current taxes and 66% is what you should donate to strive for a political system that will tax us all at 66% and subsidize the decarbonization of energy and transport sectors, the buffering of our food systems, the capture and removal of ghg from the atmosphere, the empowerment and education of women, and global redistributive public welfare, education and healthcare.

Don't wait until they build it to fund it, you have to fund the movement that demands it.

If you think you have no resources, think of how much less the rest of our climate victims have to do so as well. If your income is above the poverty line, consider donating that amount beyond the poverty line to programs that can ameliorate poverty and material insecurity. tens of Millions of westerners and billions of people world wide make do on less than what you have... to lessen the crisis, get yourself more used to deprivation, and allievate some of the deprivation of others.

Or sit back and be silent witness to human civilization poisoning itself and taking down much of the biome in its death throes... fatalism is not fun, its fatal.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:27 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


If you want some optimism, here's some:

Climate change action - lots of it - is already happening. Even better, the very thing that got us in so much trouble, the market, is getting us out of climate change as battery costs drop, solar panels drop, turbines drop etc.

Renewable isn't just better, or the "Right" thing to do now; it most cases it's cheaper, in some cases it's way cheaper. This means idiots like my government, and the US government, will find themselves powerless in the face of real climate action. Trying to stop cheap renewables is like trying to stop the tide.

Electric vehicles are growing like gangbusters - combustion engines basically will be artefacts by 2050. Cars will be quiet, clean (imagine the change in air pollution!).

Biofuels or hydrogen is looking very promising for aviation.

Green bonds and share indexes are booming.

Conversely; mining and oil companies are looking very poor with share price. Banks and other big investors like pension funds are acutely aware of the potential of billions, if not trillions in stranded assets and they are avoiding those investments.

Insurance companies are growing ever more sensitive to risks around climate, and they are charging those who don't take heed higher premiums, and calling out that risk.

Some developing countries are going to effectively leapfrog the high carbon stage of industrialisation, much in the same way they leapt over landlines and straight into mobile phones.

The world is not America, and most of the world is deadly serious about this.

Action to address climate change is happening. Do we need more? Hell yes we need more, we need as much as we can, but the ship is turning and will only turn faster going forward.

I get that it's scary, confronting. It's easy to castigate others, or lie down on the ground wailing. The difference between inaction because of despair and inaction because of denialism is immaterial. But we have a choice, indeed, the defining choice of our generation: Do you want to be part of the solution, or part of the problem? There are soooooo many ways to be part of the solution. So give it a try. Things will never be the same, but you have a chance to make them better than they could be.
posted by smoke at 11:37 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


We are on 4-6Cpath, or 8F double that over land for 16F, so add 16F to your average daily hi summer temps, if they go above 100F for 5 days assume your crops stop growing, if that average is above 100F for 10 days, assume they die. This is not rigourous method, but it can give you a sense of the scale of the problem.

Dimming the skies and acidifying the rain have very bad effects on agricultural yeilds.

Earths gravity well, the radiation levels of interplanetary space and the inability to make small sustainable ecosystems under the best of conditions pretty much eliminates space mirros and off earth colonies. we'd have more luck moving into the oceans and underground.

Geo-engineering is an reasuring folder whose contents are a single piece of paper saying "to do: invent a solution to problem, " it is a place holder for a hope for a plan.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:45 PM on October 8


This reminds me of a Metafliter post I made over a decade ago.
posted by salvia at 11:45 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Even better, the very thing that got us in so much trouble, the market, is getting us out of climate change as battery costs drop, solar panels drop, turbines drop etc.

State driven stimulation of the market if we want to be more specific.
posted by biffa at 3:31 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I haven't had time to act on this as much as I'd like, but I think that white Americans like me have a lot to learn on this topic from the indigenous people of this continent, the descendants of the people who were here before Europeans arrived. Not so much to teach us about sustainable living (although yes, that as well), but to teach us about how to live on after your community and world are decimated, expropriated, and violently transformed into something you don't recognize.
posted by sy at 5:50 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


There is no meaningful difference between those who hold that nothing should be done and those who hold that nothing can be done.
posted by No Robots at 5:55 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Social Scientists Politely Remind World Taxing the Rich Ready to Go Whenever
posted by cricketcello at 7:03 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]


There is no meaningful difference between those who hold that nothing should be done and those who hold that nothing can be done.

Yes there is. When I die I'll die knowing I tried to minimize my impact. Also, just because I believe we're gonna lose, doesn't mean I'm willing to surrender or go down without a few punches. Add to this, doing something will hopefully at least slow the decline.

I also believe we're part of a self-correcting system. If humans shit the bed and foul their places of living, if they make war and commit genocide, if we face a mass extinction event, well, if any of us survive, we may actually end up in equilibrium with our environment. Like drunks, we can't have our moment of clarity until we hit bottom.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:14 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


If you actually read the report... the core message is NOT "it's too late, we're all doomed."

What the report explicates again and again is that there are major, major differences in the consequences of climate change at 1.5 degrees celsius and 2 degrees celsius. A half a degree is a big tipping point. It means the difference between life and death for a hundred million people.

We can only assume the same holds true for every half a degree after. The takeaway is that climate change is not an either/or state. There are ranges of harm. We can still save lives and I personally believe we owe that to the rest of the world and to the people who come after us.

We are on a 4-6 celsius path but that future is not yet inevitable. And the difference in consequences to animal & human life that occurs between 2 degrees and 4 degrees is massive.

By accident of our birth it falls to us to prevent or at least mitigate the death and suffering of billions both now and in the future. My morality boils down to "What do we owe each other?" and I don't think I'm allowed to give up.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:21 AM on October 9 [16 favorites]


Nothing should be done is a statement of opinion. Nothing can be done is in principle falsifiable, and depends on what one means. In fact "nothing can be done to prevent a 1°C rise in global temperature by 2100" is pretty much uncontroversial. "Nothing can be done to stop earth heating by 4°C" is probably wrong. In fact, any reduction in harm to a human-friendly earthly climate, however small, could mean the difference between life and death for tens of millions of people. So perhaps we can't avoid the catastrophic but we just might be able to avoid our own extinction or even civilizational collapse.
posted by talos at 7:23 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


I also believe we're part of a self-correcting system. If humans shit the bed and foul their places of living, if they make war and commit genocide, if we face a mass extinction event, well, if any of us survive, we may actually end up in equilibrium with our environment. Like drunks, we can't have our moment of clarity until we hit bottom.

But humanity is not just the gas-guzzling nations. There are billions of people around the world whose carbon footprint is essentially zero, whose countries and cultures have contributed virtually nothing to climate change. There are billions of children around the world who did not ask to be born into this. It is not my right to accept that they must all be sentenced to death because fixing my own society seems too hard.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:29 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


I didn't see this yet here, but George Monbiot had a long thread on this via Twitter yesterday

"We know what we need to do. Leave fossil fuels in the ground. Replace them in their entirety with cleaner energy technologies. Recognise planetary boundaries as the limits economic activity should not transgress. Set wellbeing as our goal, rather than growth..."

His full op-ed is at the Guardian
posted by princessmonster at 7:31 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Raising My Child In A Doomed World
I can’t protect my daughter from the future and I can’t even promise her a better life. All I can do is teach her: teach her how to care, how to be kind and how to live within the limits of nature’s grace. I can teach her to be tough but resilient, adaptable and prudent, because she’s going to have to struggle for what she needs. But I also need to teach her to fight for what’s right, because none of us is in this alone. I need to teach her that all things die, even her and me and her mother and the world we know, but that coming to terms with this difficult truth is the beginning of wisdom.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:17 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I'm sorta surprised that the ArsTechnica take is less doom-and-gloom than the MeFi one.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:46 AM on October 9


> "It's after the end of the world, don't you know that yet?"

News vendor: I see the world didn't end yesterday.
Kovacs: Are you sure?
posted by davelog at 11:56 AM on October 9


The hard part about change is that people invest their money and construct their lives around being the opposite of ecological. They're raised to eat meat like they're Neanderthals. They buy products that are much more packaging than content. They live far from work, far from schools, far from shops, in places way the fuck away from public transit or even proper sidewalks and bike paths, so they buy multiple cars and use them every day rather than try to move closer to things. They buy expensive tumble dryers and cannot imagine switching to clothes lines or drying racks and a little evaporation time. They buy great big yards that beg to be watered. They buy great big houses that are wasteful to heat and wasteful to cool. They have multiple pets, multiple kids, and keep thinking about adding to one herd or the other. They move to the desert and then can't imagine living without sealed environments, constant air conditioning, water piped in from hundreds of miles away, and travel by air-conditioned car from place to air-conditioned place. They buy homes on opposite ends of the country and then fly back and forth and back and forth to each other.

Much to undo.
posted by pracowity at 1:13 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


They buy expensive tumble dryers and cannot imagine switching to clothes lines or drying racks and a little evaporation time.

Well, hey - that's something climate change is going to be good for!
posted by atoxyl at 1:43 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


@KateAronoff:
Scared by that new report on climate change? Here's what you can do to help:

• Seize the state
• Bring the fossil fuel industry under public ownership, rapidly scale down production
• Fund a massive jobs program to decarbonize every sector of the economy
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:45 PM on October 9 [12 favorites]


Nationalising the FF sector seems like it would throw up all sorts of complications for discouraging private investment. Would you be paying to nationalise as well? It makes more sense to seize the state then make the FF sector pay the full costs of the damage they've done.
posted by biffa at 2:07 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says the IPCC report understates the threat, but "neither fatalism nor despair are warranted." So there's that.
posted by bryon at 2:12 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


They buy expensive tumble dryers and cannot imagine switching to clothes lines or drying racks and a little evaporation time

The more stupid thing is cities that forbid clothesline because it's unsightly! We're principally a rack household but towels and bedsheets go to the dryer (no clothesline) but on power is from hydroelectricity so at least that's that.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 5:58 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


You can actually buy this on a t-shirt

I somehow think the stated price of £ 157.99 £ 110.59 is part of the joke.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:51 PM on October 9


Chef Flamboyardee: "And nevermind that it takes fifteen years-ish to build an ordinary nuclear power plant today."

Fun data point on building of nuclear reactors: a new nuclear plant in the US is behind schedule partly because of a lack of skilled labour. So much so that the IBEW put a call out to Canadian locals for inside wiremen. My local did all the heavy lifting to process the visa, qualification and other paperwork and then the visa applications were rejected under the Cheeto's tightening of temporary visa for skilled workers.
posted by Mitheral at 8:01 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


What a coincidence, the nuclear power plants under construction in Finland, France and the UK are also way behind schedule and way over budget.
posted by biffa at 12:46 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


The thing about this that freaks me out the most is how infectious the fatalism is in terms of national response. Like even if you absolutely reject the idea that anthropogenic climate change is happening, clearly there have been stronger and stronger "extreme weather events" over the last decade, unprecedented deforestation due to beetle kill in the Rockies, record setting precipitation and heat waves . . .

Yet national emergency preparedness keeps taking a backseat to military spending and tax cuts for the rich.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:20 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Selfish humans comic strip

The Archdruid Report archives are worth looking at, especially starting in 2011 with his article on catabolic collapse.

There is hope, and he spends some time on it. The harsh fact is, the hope does not include, "we will find some Super Efficient Energy Source that lets us continue with lifestyles mostly like today's, only without spewing poison into the sky and water." No, the plan for a sustainable-and-renewable future is: Today's high-tech cultures, especially those promoted by and for rich white people, will be drastically changed; they will not have many of the conveniences they've come to believe are not only their right, but the natural human way of life.

And since many people won't accept that at all, it becomes impossible to have a useful discussion about which of our high-tech conveniences could be kept, in a culture where we no longer import foods from another continent, have one functional car per square mile instead of 1.9 cars per household, and electricity-on-demand is reserved for emergency services.

(I would like to believe we could have solar-powered ereaders, after the collapse; it's just so. damned. useful. to have 150 books in your pocket.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:53 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]




One of the constant problems with discussing climate change: people who don't understand the science behind it hear, "2° increase," and think, "pssht, what do I care if it's 2 degrees hotter in the summer? And yeah, six would be uncomfortable, but who cares? There'd be less snow, at least."

We need a way to frame the problem that shows the danger to people who think of temperature only in terms of how it's different between home and the office.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:07 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]




And Republican elected officials continue with their blithe indifference...
posted by PhineasGage at 8:53 PM on October 10


Many of us "Fatalists" are the optimists responding to much less certain but much more aweful models/scenarios. IPCC scenarios exclude important feedback loops and tipping points because IPCC is a consensus and certainty operation where among other things oil-producing nations and heavy polluters also contribute to the debate.

Mid latitude soils warming are starting to release CO2 and NOx at scales comparable to human emissions, high latitude boreal thawing in soils is starting to emit CO2 and CH4 at scales comparable to human emissions; shallow artic clathrates are starting to drive up CH4 dramatically.

We let 1 genie out of the bottle over 200 years. We have a few decades to cram 3 or 5 genies back in.

A 2C world isn't a static thing, its just a slower approach to a 4c or 8c world. We can't air-condition our agricultural land, we can't stabilize permafrost, we can't build renewable power and CO2 scrubbers fast enough to keep up with soil and permafrost and clathrate emissions.

We "fatalists" see you "have hope"ers as trying to steer the airplane by tilting your arms to one side.

Also, the difference between "it is not physically impossible to get to 2C celcius" and " we can get to 2C" is huge. the earth has enough silicon and aluminum to generate enough solar pv to produce enough electricity to "satisfy" demand. we have enough people to build and fill those factories and mines.
But saying i have enough bricks doesn't make me have a house.

Look at how hard it was to get people to switch to lightbulbs that save energy AND money. Hundreds of millions to billions will die because for the highest polluters and those that wish to emulate them any upfront personal cost or inconvenience so far has been too much.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:50 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Scared by that new report on climate change? Here's what you can do to help:

• Seize the state
...

Wanna seize the state? Vote in midterm elections.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:03 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]




What's another way to say "We're Fucked?"
One of the leading climate scientists of our time is warning of the horrifying possibility of 15-to-20 feet of sea-level rise.
[Climate scientist Richard] Alley is talking frankly about something that few scientists have the courage to say in public: As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse. Within the lifetime of the students he’s talking with, Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet. [...]

So why is Alley arguing that the risk of catastrophic sea-level rise is so much higher than the report that is often cited as “the gold standard” of climate science?

For one thing, IPCC reports are notoriously conservative. They are written in collaboration with a large group of scientists and are often watered down by endless debate and consensus-building. [...] For another, they rely on published science that is often out of date — or at least, far from the cutting edge. [...] Alley simply has a broader understanding of ice dynamics than many scientists, who tend to be highly specialized in their research. [...] In the IPCC report, “tipping points” in the climate system, such as ice-cliff collapse, are either disregarded or buried deep in the 1,000-page document.
posted by ragtag at 1:48 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]








It's Halloween, so here's something terrifying:

Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming

This study indicates that the U.N. report was overly optimistic.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:18 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]




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