March 3, 2021 11:56 PM   Subscribe

Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest in a millennium, say scientists - "Decline in system underpinning Gulf Stream could lead to more extreme weather in Europe and higher sea levels on US east coast."

Record-high Arctic freshwater will flow to Labrador Sea, affecting local and global oceans - "Freshwater is accumulating in the Arctic Ocean. The Beaufort Sea, which is the largest Arctic Ocean freshwater reservoir, has increased its freshwater content by 40% over the past two decades. How and where this water will flow into the Atlantic Ocean is important for local and global ocean conditions."
The finding has implications for the Labrador Sea marine environment, since Arctic water tends to be fresher but also rich in nutrients. This pathway also affects larger oceanic currents, namely a conveyor-belt circulation in the Atlantic Ocean in which colder, heavier water sinks in the North Atlantic and comes back along the surface as the Gulf Stream. Fresher, lighter water entering the Labrador Sea could slow that overturning circulation.
Almost a Quarter of All Freshwater Fish Species Are in Peril, Thanks to Humans - "Global analysis finds that development, overfishing, and pollution have made rivers dramatically different habitats than they were 200 years ago."
Overfishing, land use, redirected rivers, dams, soil and water pollution, and climate change have all contributed to the decline or extinction of native fish, as well as the rise of invasive species. That would be concern enough, the authors write. But the damage may impact the larger ecosystems that support much broader swaths of life and human industry.[1]
Your business model = your values: Hypocrisy, truth, & authenticity in today's environment[2,3]
So, if you want to change your values, you need to change what you actually do. If you want to change a company's values, you need to change their business model. And that's much stickier and it's much harder to do. And in an environment where we are saying that increasingly capitalism does not work as presently constructed for a lot of average citizens, you can see why the United States is actually in a more difficult position to respond, because it's not the state that's going to have the influence. It's not the bureaucracy that's going to have the influence. It's the private sector actors themselves.

And so, one has to look into those private sector actors and see which of them have business models that are themselves most aligned with making the changes. Climate is now happening to a greater degree in the United States because with coronavirus you had this sudden mass acceleration of power towards a whole bunch of companies whose business models aren't aligned with undermining science on climate. And those that are, are vastly weaker than they used to be. But, on most other issues, that is a big challenge in the United States. Something we are going to spend a lot more time on going forward.
Cutting down forests: what are the drivers of deforestation? - "Since the turn of the millennium, the world has been losing around 5 million hectares of forest every year. Nearly all of this occurs in the tropics; almost half of all deforestation takes place in Brazil and Indonesia. Three-quarters is driven by agriculture. Beef production is responsible for 41% of deforestation; palm oil and soybeans account for another 18%; and logging for paper and wood across the tropics, another 13%. These industries are also dominant in a few key countries. Effective solutions will be focused on these agricultural activities and those countries where most deforestation occurs."

The world has lost one-third of its forest, but an end of deforestation is possible - "Shortly after the end of the last great ice age – 10,000 years ago – 57% of the world's habitable land was covered by forest. In the millennia since then a growing demand for agricultural land means we've lost one-third of global forests – an area twice the size of the United States. Half of this loss occurred in the last century alone. But it's possible to end our long history of deforestation: increased crop yields, improved livestock productivity, and technological innovations that allow us to shift away from land-intensive food products gives us the opportunity to bring deforestation to an end and restore some of the forest we have lost."

Should We Dim the Sun? Will We Even Have a Choice? - "Elizabeth Kolbert and Ezra Klein discuss what options remain if our political system can't handle the climate crisis."[4]

Crisis Ensued The Last Time Earth's Magnetic Poles Flipped, Researchers Say - "A precise record of the last major reversal of the Earth's magnetic poles can be found in ancient trees. Researchers say this event 42,000 years ago had a huge impact on the planet and ancient humans."

Did an Ancient Magnetic Field Reversal Cause Chaos for Life on Earth 42,000 Years Ago? - "The study links new, detailed data about Earth’s atmosphere to a series of unfortunate events that occurred around the same time."
“It must have seemed like the end of days,” says University of New South Wales geoscientist Chris S.M. Turney, a co-author of the new study, to Alanna Mitchell at the New York Times. The effects may have included a thinning ozone layer, the aurora borealis approaching close to the equator, an increase in ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface, raging electrical storms, and Arctic air reaching across continents, the authors write on the Conversation.
Reversal of Earth's magnetic poles may have triggered Neanderthal extinction -- and it could happen again - "In the paper, published in the journal Science, experts say there is currently rapid movement of the north magnetic pole across the Northern Hemisphere -- which could signal another reversal is on the cards."
"This speed -- alongside the weakening of Earth's magnetic field by around nine per cent in the past 170 years -- could indicate an upcoming reversal," said Cooper. "If a similar event happened today, the consequences would be huge for modern society. Incoming cosmic radiation would destroy our electric power grids and satellite networks," he said. Human activity has already pushed carbon in the atmosphere to levels "never seen by humanity before," Cooper said. "A magnetic pole reversal or extreme change in Sun activity would be unprecedented climate change accelerants. We urgently need to get carbon emissions down before such a random event happens again," he added.
posted by kliuless (65 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Jesus Christ
posted by gottabefunky at 12:01 AM on March 4, 2021 [17 favorites]

Well then. Back to bed? (For perspective: The Doomsday Argument)

Stubbornly, I would like to posit that our goose isn't yet cooked but it is definitely very very warm.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:16 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the post kliuless!

posted by Alex404 at 1:22 AM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

It's probably nothing, but in the bad omens department, a ship recently caught fire and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The ships name?

"Atlantic Destiny"
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:24 AM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

COVID-19 has been shutting a lot things down.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:31 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Reading the recent articles about the poles has me wondering if the greedheads are already looking to find ways to "realize value" from a crisis like that. Perhaps they're investing in lead futures as a hedge.
posted by drstrangelove at 4:33 AM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

dances_with_sneetches: "COVID-19 has been shutting a lot things down."

Global CO2 pollution returns to pre-COVID levels: IEA
posted by chavenet at 4:56 AM on March 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

"COVID-19 has been shutting a lot things down."

Also, how screwed are we that a global pandemic is what it takes to make any positive movement on this front. I do think it's actually really useful that Covid showed a test case for how it could work, but the political will to do something similar is going to tough to summon.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:19 AM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

but the political will to do something similar is going to tough to summon.

COVID proved to me that there will be absolutely no political will to address climate change in this country. If the yahoos storm statehouses with AR-15s over temporary lockdowns and masks could you imagine them being told to conserve energy/resources?
posted by drstrangelove at 5:34 AM on March 4, 2021 [53 favorites]

Yet another amazing kliuless post!
You really know how to give us food for thought. I was just writing an op-ed about the need for radical change and new visions, I hope it gets printed. But it does feel a bit like screaming into a void.
posted by mumimor at 5:44 AM on March 4, 2021 [8 favorites]

YES. I was just reading about the Cold Blob recently and how the gulf stream is massively shifting; tying into your first few links. Its sort of a logical result of of global warming/ ice in greenland melting, but one with broader implications than just a cooler spot in the northern Atlantic. Its one of these 'obvious once pointed out' implications that really tie together how interlinked our world truly is and how much we are poking a sleeping bear.

As to 'greed heads realizing value'; yes. yes they are and have been for the last 3-5 years; this is the premise of many green products; fund a transition to a less carbon intense world and reap the social and economic benefits. If governments aren't willing to do a green new deal, you will see movement in the private industry to try to take advantage of gaps, move at their own pace. It'll be slower and less efficient, a lot more cynical and you won't see the benefits evenly distributed.
posted by larthegreat at 6:46 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

drstrangelove: "Reading the recent articles about the poles has me wondering if the greedheads are already looking to find ways to "realize value" from a crisis like that. Perhaps they're investing in lead futures as a hedge."

I'd imagine selling heating fuel will be the prime opportunity. And I've seen plenty of excitement about being able to ship stuff direct through the Arctic, never mind that it means drowning half the coasts of the world.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:23 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Extinct species walkin'

Can't say I'll miss us, but damn, I will miss our art.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:08 AM on March 4, 2021 [10 favorites]

"A magnetic pole reversal or extreme change in Sun activity would be unprecedented climate change accelerants. We urgently need to get carbon emissions down before such a random event happens again," he added.

There are some dots I'm not connecting. As I understand it, that last article is saying that if the poles flip, we lose electricity and satellites. Wouldn't that put us in a situation where we are instantly reducing our carbon emissions? In that scenario, why would we need to be worrying about it beforehand? I'm all for reducing carbon emissions, just not understanding how this particular scenario makes it more urgent.
posted by aniola at 8:16 AM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

aniola, the article also says a pole shift could fry the ozone layer.
posted by marcpski at 10:10 AM on March 4, 2021

While the possibility of a magnetic pole flip is interesting, when they say it could happen soon, my understanding is that 'soon' could be 1000 years from now. (There are quite a few types of disasters that could hit the Earth in the next 1000 years).

I'm not sure that topic, however interesting, belongs in a discussion of climate change, which is affecting us now, and can lead to a global disaster in our lifetime unless we really take it seriously and take drastic action.
posted by eye of newt at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Climate change deniers, usually in Stage 3 climate denial (Deny It's a Problem) have been touting the wonders of Arctic Ocean shipping lanes and longer farming seasons in Scandinavia.

But it's all fun and games until the thermohaline conveyor stops.
posted by tclark at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

All the oceans’ circulating currents around the world interlock like a fantasy of gears, so if we jam one of them more will likely change. Just in case this didn’t seem large-scale enough.

(Cf. Ebbesmeyer and his flotsam research.)
posted by clew at 11:58 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Kim Stanley Robinson referenced this happening in his trilogy about climate change; 1st title "40 Signs of Rain".
posted by Mesaverdian at 12:05 PM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Extinct species walkin'

Can't say I'll miss us, but damn, I will miss our art.

Eh, I think humans as a species will survive, but our current human civilization was built on the scaffold of the world's climate and will collapse right alongside it. Not that there's much distinction between "Humanity will end" and "Humanity as we know it will end," especially from an individual perspective.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Pole shift is a symptom of climate change. As the poles melt (or freeze) water moves to (or from the equator), changing the earth's angular momentum, and thus the speed of rotation. This disrupts the geodynamo. After a period of chaos lasting hundreds to thousands of years, the geodynamo reasserts itself, with a 50% probability of changing from its previous direction. This is borne out by data that show historical pole shifts occuring at roughly half the frequency of rotation changes, although not all rotation changes were the result of climate change.
posted by hypnogogue at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2021 [17 favorites]

Mesaverdian yes! And in 50 degrees below they dump massive quantities of salt in the ocean to restart it, funded by reinsurers if I remember well, which I always found clever, they're ultimately the ones who'll fork the bill for a lot of damage, if they think climate change is a thing, it's a thing.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 1:03 PM on March 4, 2021

I think I see the answer to my question. So it's not "get our carbon emissions down" in the "tape up all the windows before a hurricane" sense. It's "get our carbon emissions down and we might prevent this particular type of climate change event from happening in a thousand years"?
posted by aniola at 1:32 PM on March 4, 2021

My understanding is that the pole reversal can happen at any time and that based on previous reversals we are about "due" for one. I think the hurricane analogy would be there's a hurricane coming (climate change) but also we live near an active volcano and it's been active of late and it might erupt but we won't know until an hour before it happens (pole reversal). The two don't have much to do with each other but if they were both to hit at the same time then things would be much worse than if it was first one and then a little while later the other.

I wonder if something like a solar shade works as an answer to both. Even if global warming is solvable without it if we lose our magnetic field then we'll need something to protect us from space rays.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:46 PM on March 4, 2021

You left out the coming Solar Maximum and the possibility a solar flare or coronal mass ejection hitting the earth while the earths poles are in flux, with a weakened magnetic field. Goodbye electronic devices and the power grid.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:50 PM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

If the yahoos storm statehouses with AR-15s over temporary lockdowns and masks could you imagine them being told to conserve energy/resources?

Or, worse still, being dragged willy-nilly into an energy future where everything will cost less except rolling coal.
posted by flabdablet at 4:04 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I wonder if something like a solar shade works as an answer to both.

Since a solar shade will never be made to work at all, I'm tipping that the answer to that is No.
posted by flabdablet at 4:06 PM on March 4, 2021

COVID proved to me that there will be absolutely no political will to address climate change in this country.

And there will be no massive, coordinated detechnologization, austerity, or any other form of shared sacrifice. The insistence that we must, on principle, insist on everyone doing the right thing at personal cost as the only way out of this dilemma is suicidal. In practical terms, it’s a technological deus ex machina or it’s bust. (And it’s probably bust anyway.)
posted by argybarg at 4:20 PM on March 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

Pretty hard to read this thread and then skim down past Meghan and Harry drama, and the angst over bicycle helmets (not being critical of those posts - just it's hard to have them next to each other). Some days you can't take in something this big, but the gear analogy above resonates for me at least. So we're fucked aren't we. And now I have to go make dinner for my kids and ask them about how great their day was at school....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:36 PM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Should we dim the sun?

Do you want snowpiercers? Because that's how you get snowpiercers.
posted by The otter lady at 4:40 PM on March 4, 2021 [11 favorites]

I wonder what inflatablekiwi made for dinner...
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 5:05 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I am put in mind of the NOVA where Craig Venter said the Human Genome Project had discovered that human populations were down to 1,200 individuals world wide, sometime in the last 50,000 years. I guess it is what the matriarchal mitochondria told. I then wonder how mining the ocean floor is working out for not only the currents, but what now comes up from under the sea floor, without the biomaterial layer, to mitigate it. And then the worldwide taking of conductive metals out of their normal zones, makes me wonder what that does to the Earth's conductivity and therefore everything. That mine that is on hold in Northern Arizona, on land sacred to the Apache, is sacred for many reasons, not just palpable hyper conductivity of Earth's Life Force, or magnetism, that is directly percived by Native American Peoples who frequent the area and have for a long long time. We probably should look at what taking all the rare earths up and out of areas does to the magnetic field.

Dimming the sun, I was told by my one time medical caregiver, that there was a lot of Barium in the air over Southern Idaho, Northern Utah, that most of them were Vitaman D deficient. I asked how that could be, since the altitude, and she said it was the wrong kind of UV for Vitamin D, and then she mentioned the Barium. She was a county employee. This was a chem trails inference. I did not ask about chem trails, I just asked about the mass Vitamin D deficiency.

If you think this response is all over the road, well, OK. But some things are not entertained as possibilities, much less answers, because they get in the way of highly profitable plans.
posted by Oyéah at 6:33 PM on March 4, 2021

To be fair, many of the things you've alluded to are not entertained as possibilities for reasons having nothing to do with profit.

The "1200 individuals world wide" thing will most likely be bad reportage of the results of this study, whose methods strike me as dubious enough that I don't have much confidence in its population size conclusions. At best, those conclusions could only ever apply to ancestors of the seven men whose genomes were analyzed; they can say nothing about the existence or otherwise of human groups isolated from those seven particular ancestral networks by accidents of geography.

The vast bulk of magnetic material contributing to the global dynamo is metallic iron in the Earth's core. Compared to the mass of that, the mass of the entire crust is tiny, and the tiny proportion of the crust moved about by humanity is tinier still. I would be completely astonished to learn that human mining, even of somewhat magnetic ores, has had an effect on the global dynamo that is in any way comparable to the effect it's had on the chemistry of the atmosphere.

And yeah, the barium in the air thing is a frequently repeated chemtrailer nonsense; there's nothing to see there. Vitamin D deficiencies are generally down to people spending more time indoors and/or wearing more sunscreen rather than anything wrong with the air.
posted by flabdablet at 7:35 PM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Reversal of the magnetic poles happens sometimes, climate change or not, and if it does we're kinda fucked, with all the cancer etc. (Plus all the technology issues.)

But if the thermohaline currents shut down -- or even if they just shift significantly or slow way down -- we're COMPLETELY fucked, because it'll massively shift human agriculture in a way that we can't adjust to fast enough to prevent mass starvation. It also might kill most everything in the ocean, which would ALSO be a huge hit to human food production. It won't make humans go extinct, probably, but it'll be very, very, very, very, very bad.

Like, you know how Chicago is on the same latitude as Rome, but Rome is a pleasant summery city with Atlantic breezes year-round, and it's only miserable a couple weeks a year (and then mostly because of smog)? Whereas Chicago spends a quarter of the year in a polar vortex and another quarter of the year as a nasty 95*F armpit-swamp where people die of heat stroke? If the thermohaline currents shut down, most of Europe suddenly becomes like the cities in the North American prairies they're on the same latitude as! London is now Calgary! Paris is now Missoula! Rome is Chicago! Oslo is Yellowknife! Almost all extant European agriculture is now impossible because of the drastic temperature shift! Also California's! And a lot of similarly-temperate coastal regions worldwide that produce an outsized share of edible crops! Wine production completely vanishes, because wine producing regions face among the most drastic climate changes in thermohaline shutdown. Which is unfortunate since those are the same regions that produce a shitton of fruits and vegetables. I mean on the plus side those of us who live in shitty-but-fertile continental climates like Illinois and Ukraine will have even more valuable cropland, but we'll have even more miserable winters and even shittier summers, plus, you know, the mass death and complete shutdown of trade.

It could even cause an ice age! But not the good kind of ice age that fights the effects of global warming, the bad kind that causes mass extinction.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:50 PM on March 4, 2021 [9 favorites]

I'm surprised nobody has brought up the whole methane hydrate destabilization issue, or are we no longer worried about that these days?
posted by Blackanvil at 8:05 PM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Okay. So the human race is up against an existential crisis. We could literally die out.

That would be a bad thing. I think we can all agree on that.

We may not be able to do anything to keep the planet habitable. Even if we have the resources, which we may not, we may not have the ability to organize on the scale we'd need to implement any solutions. However small this possibility is, you have to admit at this point that the situation may be out of our control, and soon the planet might no longer be a healthy place for our species to thrive.

Given that possibility, at what point do we start talking about lifeboats? When do we start thinking about building biospheres that will survive the death of our planet? It could take decades to perfect the technology we'll need to build habitats which would survive an Earth turned hostile. Shouldn't we get started on that? Just in case?

Even in the absence of a threat like climate change, given that we're so close to having that technology, wouldn't it be prudent as a species to have a backup plan? The universe is a cold, harsh place given to things like gamma ray bursts and solar flares and we're only just becoming aware of some of the threats we face; who knows what other dangers are out there?

Can we start planning to avoid our own extinction yet?
posted by MrVisible at 8:07 PM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine a setting for life off this planet that would be more hospitable than even the most extensively trashed Earth. Unless you're talking about the earth becoming Venus-like, which seems far-fetched.
posted by argybarg at 8:14 PM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Earth won't have to be Venus-like to become uninhabitable. And I'm suggesting we stay here, but we'll need to build some serious habitats if we're going to survive what the Earth is becoming.
posted by MrVisible at 8:17 PM on March 4, 2021

Oh yes, on-earth artificial habitats are probably, sadly, going to be necessary.
posted by argybarg at 8:23 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

> I'm suggesting we stay here

One of the reasons for billionaires to colonize mars is that the biospheres they build there can't be invaded by climate refugees. I suppose biospheres on Earth could be defended, but the 0.01% had better take good care of their security forces.

Thanks for this thread and especially info about thermohaline circulation. Yes, the idea of them being disrupted is terrifying, but that they exist in the first place is amazing.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 8:37 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Can we start planning to avoid our own extinction yet?

The existence of the IPCC counts as a much sounder first step toward such a plan than any amount of research on bubble habitats, to my way of thinking.

I would expect the resentment that would brew in a dying population watching a handful of rich overprivileged fucks doing it relatively easy in ecologically luxurious dome forts to make pitchforks and torches look like the easiest way out for them.

We fix this for everybody who is still here or we don't fix it at all. Those are the only workable options. Widespread acceptance of that will get us to the tipping point away from WONTFIX marginally faster, I think.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

One of the reasons for billionaires to colonize mars is that the biospheres they build there can't be invaded by climate refugees.

The particular kind of mental illness that motivates people to be billionaires is pretty much a guarantee that no inherently vulnerable artificial habitat numerically dominated by people of that ilk would survive more than a generation or two.

Elon can fuck off to Mars if he wants, but he's not going to save humanity by doing that.
posted by flabdablet at 8:43 PM on March 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

The existence of the IPCC counts as a much sounder first step toward such a plan than any amount of research on bubble habitats, to my way of thinking.

Okay, but there's a chance that the IPCC's plans will fail to prevent climate change from making the planet uninhabitable. Right? I mean, you have to admit that victory in this fight is not certain. We can't get complacent, after all.

We fix this for everybody who is still here or we don't fix it at all.

You know, we might not have the ability to fix a planet we broke. I don't think that means everyone should die. That seems pretty callous to me. If we can't save everyone, why not save whoever we can?

And why do you assume only billionaires can build bunkers? Could a country build one? Could a city? Could a tribe? Would that be okay with you, if people banded together to try to leverage our technology to survive? What if it was ten thousand people chosen by lottery, would that be okay? What if it was one billionaire, and ten thousand people chosen by lottery?

We have a chance to literally save the human race. And you want to blow it for what, vengeance?
posted by MrVisible at 8:50 PM on March 4, 2021

We have a chance to literally save the human race. And you want to blow it for what, vengeance?

Every time an applicable topic comes up, you pop up, very keen on convincing everybody that, this time, we'll all agree that the richest of the rich should get our blessing to sacrifice humanity for the chance they survive & carry the species on in their image.

Why the monofocus? It's not like you bring new arguments in.

At this point, I'm all the more convinced. If anybody thinks they'll get out alive without the rest of us, they'll divert attention and resources and focus away from the goal. So the projection of vengeance is vital, yes. What's more human, after all?
posted by CrystalDave at 10:08 PM on March 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

What's more human, after all?

posted by MrVisible at 10:36 PM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Great post. However this paper:
Reversal of Earth's magnetic poles may have triggered Neanderthal extinction -- and it could happen again
is nonsense bordering on pseudoscience. It's time to realize that Science and Nature are not pinnacles of scientific publishing, but more akin to academic version of clickbait.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:06 AM on March 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

To add to the above:
The journal Science and the anthropology community manage an amazing feat of celebrating bullying, harassment and bad science while urinating upon Douglas Adams' grave.
And from Kathleen Nicoll:
Matching a bunch of small wiggles while ignoring the longer temporal trends of different proxies. Focusing on "high pass filter trends" to draw a correlation without mechanistic explanation of causality... and calling it a catastrophe that we never knew about ---> Science paper
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:26 AM on March 5, 2021

Billionairea won't save us. They haven't so far.

The ocean is under threat all over, but it's acidity is the most concerning to me, combined with the insane fishing and destroying of the sea bed we are doing. When the ocean goes, we go. All of the earth's life is connected to the ocean.

I'm all for hope. But humans WILL go extinct. Everything does. I hope WE don't find out what does it. We are very lucky for the time we live in.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:19 AM on March 5, 2021

humans WILL go extinct.

I would expect our gut flora to outlive us, possibly by billions of years.
posted by flabdablet at 5:03 AM on March 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ok if that's the case then what is everyone worried about
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:21 AM on March 5, 2021 [8 favorites]

Simply put - I don’t want earth to become a hell-scape for my kids nad their kids (potential)
posted by From Bklyn at 10:59 AM on March 5, 2021

I wonder what inflatablekiwi made for dinner...

Potato gnocchi in a cheese sauce, with a Spinach salad with honey mustard dressing (with fruit for the kid who doesn't do salad). Which I'm sure if I counted the carbon footprint in a true "where did it all come from and how much CO2 was burnt to get it to my table" way would just depress me. Plus side the birds are returning a little early this season (because its warming earlier I suppose), so at least it's pretty outside with snow and birds....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Simply put - I don’t want earth to become a hell-scape for my kids nad their kids (potential)

“But your great grandkids, forget about em! Who cares about those chumps!”

I don’t really mean that, of course. But it is, in fact, the problem. Human empathy only stretches so far. And we are, as a species, altogether too willing to limit how far we extend empathy. And that limit has a lot to do with how expensive it is to back the empathy up with actions. The general decision making process, in practice, is to allocate a certain amount of “giving a shit” budget, and tune the empathy level to fit.
posted by notoriety public at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Way to miss a joke
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:24 PM on March 5, 2021

Way to miss a joke
but... see... it's both a joke and not a joke. I mean, the joke side is good. Chapeau. but... see, sometimes I have to remind myself that, yeah, at least my gut flora will go on (and hell, we're what was it, 75% bacteria anyway (googlegooglegoogle The human body contains trillions of microorganisms — outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass (in a 200-pound adult, that's 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health. yikes) and the sun will rise in the east etc - and these thoughts assuage a lot of worries but more locally, I just want things to be relatively chill. It's what, specifically what, I worry about and the roar of it is deafening.

(It's an interesting point, really. That what for party side is obviously humour for another is pertinent to something so all-consuming that humour isn't possible. We're all in the same 'room' but at the same time we are all coming from such crazily disparate positions that, you know - "how could you joke about vanilla frosting!" (sorry, that's a bit of an inside joke there). I mean to say - I'm sorry I stepped on your line. I will do it again. And I'm sorry, in advance, for that too)
posted by From Bklyn at 2:38 AM on March 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Fast Answer: random year replay 20th century weather with current farm yields and land, most years you can feed everyone, but on the rare bad years you can only feed 5 billion. (66% yield)

replay weather but add only the yield loss from the warming from climate change; most years feed everyone, bad years 47-53% yield 3.5-4 billion max fed.

add weighting the weather for the uncorrelated shift in extremes from climate change, and the insect/disease yeild hits, bad years (40%-47%) 3-3.5 billion.

correlated weather extremes from circulation pattern disruptions alone in a bad year will take you down 50% We don't have to wait for sea-level rise or pole flips.

In a condition where 1-4 billion people are hungry, we will strip all the edible plants and animals and unlucky people and next year's seeds, plus we will fight, and we might not do the best job keeping our nuclear facilities and wastes safely contained

Most years there will be food, until the year there isn't. This is nearly baked in to our present emissions and over-determined by our emissions trajectory (still growing). This is baked in from thawing permafrost and lost ice-cover, this is baked in from leaking methane and wildfire emissions.

"Save something" or "save nothing" are our choices. "Save everything" was vetoed about 20 years ago. I choose to try to save something. Organize to stop making the problem worse (stop polluting, over consuming) and make sturdy refuges for diverse plants, animals and humans, that's not just frozen seed vaults and unenforceable nature parks.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 4:36 AM on March 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

's an interesting point, really. That what for party side is obviously humour for another is pertinent to something so all-consuming that humour isn't possible.

I see no reason not to joke. Humans will go extinct no matter what. My joke was in response to a comment saying oh part of us will live on for a while after we're gone. OH OKAY. Cause that assuages people's sadness at our world ending.

What I want is people to get to state of zen about this. We cannot stop humanity's extinction.. Particularly individuals can not. At some point, descendants of ours will perish, horribly. That is just fact. I hope the world prolongs as much suffering for as long as possible. But even the dinosaurs died. So will humans. There's nothing sad or happy about it. It just is. Nature is indifferent. And our jokes aren't cruel or mean or abhorrent. Gallows humor helps quite a lot of people.

So, what, me worry? Nah.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:10 AM on March 6, 2021

I've been trying to understand the Uncivilization Manifesto for years and haven't been able to take it on board. It's come up now and again a few times over the last decade, but it eludes me. Maybe it has to, because understanding it would put keeping on keeping on out of reach and it's not the end yet.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:24 AM on March 6, 2021

modest proposal: calc your ghg footprint, and you need to stop emitting it and remove double that amount to try to hold crisis still, but that assumes 100% world compliance, so be optimisitc and assume you can get 50% compliance so double your sequestration amount. Now, how can you stop all your emissions and sequester your target amount. Simplify your life, substitute all fuels for e from renewables and add all that embodied emissions to your targets, no additional kids, vegan, sweaters etc. How can you sequester all that emissions? trees? Your tree amount is more than the per capital land surface, even assuming no fires. Assume it is orchards so you and animals can eat when you enforest everything. Mineral weathering? again, need more minerals surface than available. We put millions of years of land surface photosynthesis into the atmosphere within a few decades of fossil fuels. Hope, dread, bargain, do what you have to, so that tomorrow you can work with your fellow humans and ecosystems to slow the crash and save more than would otherwise perish and ease the suffering of those we cant save. No one was going to lives forever, but we can choose what survives us.
[edit for typos]
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 10:36 AM on March 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

A modest proposal to those of us who have not yet reproduced: reflect on the fact that the single decision that I personally can make about the total resource consumption my personal decisions are responsible for is whether or not to add a tree of descendants of potentially unlimited size to this planet.

If you, like me, belong to a culture whose entire structure is predicated on consuming far, far more than anything like a fair share of the world's resources, and if you, like me, place a high value on the autonomy of children and understand that the culture they're embedded in will always have much stronger effects on their choices about consumption than parental guidance ever could, then it seems to me that you, like me, ought to conclude that physical reproduction of the human species is morally acceptable only inside demonstrably less wasteful cultures.

I share 99% of my genetic code with any randomly selected chimpanzee, let alone any randomly selected human being. The idea that I am in some way obliged or even biologically driven to preserve my particular genome for the benefit of humanity at large therefore boils down to nothing more than raw egotism, a quality I have long considered contemptible.

We're all family. So the correct moral choice for adults in Western capitalist cultures in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, it seems to me, is to find existing children in dire need of stable, loving parenting and offer that to them rather than making more children to take their places. It's not like there's a shortage of kids in need.

That's why I got sterilized before I could reproduce, and I remain convinced that it was the correct choice and that the arguments for it are irrefutable, but far be it from me to dictate ethics to anybody else; you do you. Because I also think that China's One-child Policy was pretty damn close to pure evil.
posted by flabdablet at 9:25 PM on March 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

I just saw something in the news yesterday that freaked me out.

If you've ever driven along the California coast, or watched the coast from the Monterey Aquarium, you know about kelp forests--large underground forests of kelp that reach up, then spread out at the surface near the coast. Lots of fish and seals and sea otters live among the kelp forests.

I just read that 95% of the Northern California kelp forests have died off over the last decade.
posted by eye of newt at 7:25 PM on March 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Re: Kelp forests. I spent a lot of time visiting oceans when I was a kid. I loved the ocean. I don't visit the ocean any more. It just isn't the same, and it breaks my heart.
posted by aniola at 7:34 PM on March 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

A person got personally sterilized as the *irrefutable* result of their moral reasoning and still thinks that the calculus that led to this decision is irreducibly subjective and need not apply to anyone else. I guess the only crisis bigger than climate change is in philosophical education.
posted by Kwine at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Since there exists no crisis bigger than climate change, I can't see how that could be right.

But again, far be it from me to dictate acceptable reasons for smug self-satisfaction to anybody else; you do you.
posted by flabdablet at 2:06 PM on March 9, 2021

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