ForumTouchy Subjects ► Climate Change
Things started getting debate-y in the other thread, so here this is!
"coldfrost: eater of trees"
maybe climate change wouldn't be so bad if yoU DIDN'T EAT ALL OF OUR PRECIOUS EFFING PHOTOSYNTHESIS MACHINES #teamtrees
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But, that’s just half of the oxygen production.
The other half is from the sea.
I don't really view climate change as much of a debate. There's a branch of mathematics called chaos theory, basically, if you can't exactly solve a differential equation, you're forced to rely on numerical methods that are massively sensitive to initial conditions, method of calculation etc.

The story about how it came about was that a meteorologist called Edward Lorenz made a simplified climate model and set about computing it, his computer stored the previous number to something like seven decimal places and printed something like five. His machine ran out of paper over a weekend or something and he decided to simply re-input the five decimal place number and carry on, but being a smart cookie went back a page or so as a failsafe, he noticed the huge divergence within a page or so from the previous answer and thus chaos theory was born.

It's telling that the climate on which we rely is sensitive to very small changes, and that small changes snowball, it's more telling that the systems that bring back some semblance of equilibrium are incredibly slow acting relative to human action: if we acidify the oceans, we kill the ecosystem that removes carbon dioxide, it becomes less efficient, we get more carbon dioxide; if we melt the icecaps, Earth's albedo (reflection coefficient) decreases, the oceans warm more and we melt more ice.

As for human impact, it's a non-trivial theory that Genghis Khan/smallpox in the Americas killed so many people that them no longer chopping trees and burning wood caused global cooling.

We rely on massive global food production in regions that are climate sensitive, if we make our current bread bowls no longer fit for agriculture, we might find out firsthand what a Malthusian Catastrophe looks like.
Even though science generally agrees with the global warming/we're all fucked theory, my usual reasoning for people who refuse to accept the data is "If there is a 90% chance that I'm wrong and you'll laugh at me in 50 years and a 10% chance that I'm right and we're all totally fucked, I'm still going to take precautions to make sure that 10% doesn't happen"
People are not smart. I've heard people bring up several late-80's early 90's crises like acid rain and the ozone hole as evidence of the stupidity of climate change while forgetting that Bush 41 put in place a lot of legislation to curb the impact of both crises. The ozone hole is finally shrinking thanks to the ban on hydrofluorocarbons, and even though the USA didn't feel the effects -- skin cancer rates in New Zealand and Australia are higher than most of the world because we have less UV absorption from the ozone.

People don't remember the crisis we avoid, they remember the ones we failed to catch and let run out of control.
Grayseff said:
People don't remember the crisis we avoid, they remember the ones we failed to catch and let run out of control.

A good quote I heard one of my professors say that pretty much sums up that statement is "People criticize the mistakes Lee made at Gettysburg, people criticize the mistakes Meade made at Gettysburg. Few criticize the mistake made by the 17th Tennessee because it didn't change the battle."

I know you're not educated about American history in school over there in anywhere but here (you guys probably have better stuff to do anyway), so the symbolism of that might be a little lost on you, but the general idea is still the same

At least, I'm pretty sure that's what you're saying.
There may be two sides to the climate change "debate," but as Gray noted... One of them is verifiably wrong. It's obviously happening. We are obviously massively fucked. We are obviously not doing enough to combat it. So, I guess we'll see what happens.
haha yeah tree bros for life
The ozone hole story is quite informative. We banned CFCs because (ooh, scary biscuits) there was a tiny increase in the cancer risk. Tight action for the wrong reason. Now we are benefiting big time because CFCs are very potent greenhouse gases.
Small point worth mentioning, the ozone hole is over the South Pole, Australia and New Zealand. It's kinda scary biscuits for us to have less attenuated solar radiation.
Meteorology is my specialization but I'm not a climatologist. I think climate change itself is less contested. Many people I run into will admit it's happening but they don't believe it's caused by people. This is where we have an issue.

Man-made climate change is real and supported by mounds of evidence. It has less to do with chaos theory since this is less about forecasting and more about the direct evidence linking mankind's activities to climate change. Grayseff's historical examples are fascinating. I didn't realize the mini ice age was tied to the lack of wood burning. The main form of evidence that shows mankind's influence on global temperature is by measuring greenhouse gas emissions and comparing them to natural emissions produced by plants, volcanoes, etc. The human produced carbon dioxide is about 4% of the total CO2 and matches up with the measured increase in global temperatures thus far that we could expect with those in addition to what naturally occurs.

With long range predictions in mind, chaos theory is relevant and it's good to note the effects by 2050 could be quite nasty if we rise 1.5C to 2C. Sea surface temperatures need to be about 26C for Typhoons/Hurricanes to develop and intensify and with the ocean temperature gradients making their way further north during strong ENSO cycles tropical cyclones can intensify more and travel further north/inland. Expect bad coastal flooding. The increase in warm air along the tropics will create more buoyancy and water vapor aloft resulting in more severe meridional weather systems that travel further north and south making for nasty winters and longer summer droughts. The effects on agriculture may be the most problematic since years may go by without rainfall in locations prone to strong heat low pressures like we see in SW USA and Australia making regions nearby more arid and dry. Rain forests will be more prone to fires and since the tropics inland receiving more insolation will be drier.

This isn't a matter of debate so much as a sharing of information. I'm not an expert on the climatology or long range predictions. I have access to information online.

We all would do well to remember we don't have much to offer on this topic that's original unless it's a part of our specialization. If you don't trust climatologists and the rest of the scientific community that backs man-made climate change, then you've got a lot of work to do if you're going to make a claim that's contrary to it that holds water.

EDIT: I feel I should add there are other factors that are rather urgent such as the melting of the permafrost in arctic and sub-arctic regions releasing methane which results in a positive feedback loop of heating that keeps it melting thus releasing a few gigatons of methane. There's a lot of potential for disaster if it continues melting so fast.

Searching for alternatives will be a great investment just in general so that we can replace outdated tech with more energy efficient tech that's produces less pollution. Even if you're not on board with man-made climate change, a lot of the real solutions should not terribly inconvenience anyone and are good in general since it all revolves around less emissions and cleaner energy.
Can someone in a nutshell explain the underlying motives/fears of Climate Change skeptics? Like even if the mainstream consensus is wrong, then okay we're wrong. But given the upshot is that we're nicer to the environment, then no harm done.
The fears are largely both of change and the economic impact involved in fighting climate change. Going green is, largely, much more expensive and WILL cut into corporate profits. If you're making bank off the oil industry or are someone who benefits from cheap, dirty fuel... that change is scary.

Even if you don't directly benefit but feel that the overall economic climate works well for you as it currently stands, the changes that would be involved in drastic green efforts can be worrisome because it may impact your current standard of living.

Essentially, people don't want to change how they live their lives and afraid they will have a worse life if everyone goes green.
Yes, I think people underestimate the role cheap energy has had in the growth of the world economy. As we rapidly switch away from fossil fuels, it won't be the ultra wealthy who suffer most; it will be the poor in developing nations whose economic growth is tied to oil and coal, places like India and China.

We need to fight the myth that climate change mitigation is all upside. It will be one of the most expensive and difficult technological efforts in human history. But it's a necessary undertaking if we want to avoid worse effects later on.
We need to fight the myth that climate change mitigation is all upside.

Really? Firstly, I'm not sure that this is a myth that's being perpetuated. We have plenty of politicians arguing that it will negatively effect the economy, energy and national security. I haven't seen any climate change champions in government rushing in to forcibly reduce emissions; at least no one even marginally successful.

Second, wealthy countries typically rely on oil like the US, Saudi Arabia and European countries. Struggling countries have been effected by climate most due to food scarcity and agricultural effects that we're already seeing.

Third, the lifestyles we're used to will change dramatically either way the climate forces us to or we make some laws to prevent a worse outcome. Very little of our individual choices are going to affect anything major. A lot of "solutions" that we advocate are often worse for the climate than we're led to believe. We need to focus more on the industrial scale than the municipal scale.

The single greatest barrier to combating climate change has been fighting against regulation due mainly to economic fears and denial. The economic effects of climate change have already been seen and economic studies show that it's bound to cost us more in the long run.

Governments across the world need to seek a unified solution to this issue or we will see disastrous effects on agriculture each decade as we languish.
Yea as much as climate mitigation negatively affects developing economies, climate change itself disproportionately affects developing economies and people in marginal and poor regions. The wealthy lose some beachfront property and ski vacations, the poor lose everything.
E7 said:
Firstly, I'm not sure that this is a myth that's being perpetuated.
Maybe it's more of a meme, but I've seen variations of Millpond's "what do we have to lose" argument a bajillion times online, to the point where I feel comfortable labeling it a common misconception. If climate change were not real or were not anthropogenic, then the time table for switching from fossil fuels would be different. Yet people act like anything short of 100% cessation of fossil fuel consumption by tomorrow is pure folly, regardless of whether anthropogenic climate change is happening.

And yes, as usual, the poor are screwed either way. But even among the poor, the effects will not be evenly distributed. The poor in small island nations stand to lose much more from accelerated climate change than most poor people living inland, for instance.
People on an island lose land, but lots of people inland will lose their homes as well (to fires, insects, tornados and extreme weather events, mudslides, lack of water access) or be hit economically (for the same reasons plus global instability, climate refugees, crop blights, ocean acidification ).

There's a lot more to this issue than "oceans rise." This threatens people everywhere on scales so substantial that they become difficult to differentiate. The threats are not the same type of threats in all parts of the world, but the scale of threat is extremely high almost everywhere, particularly for the less wealthy.
Depends. A few local climates will likely actually benefit.
Sure, to the best of my knowledge one example is Russia which expects to benefit massively in terms of arable land and access to resources. We have not calculated the effect of the loss of the current climate though.

It's also hard to predict exactly where and how those benefits will manifest. It's not unlikely that our way of life will pivot to something successful, but the cost of that pivot won't be small.
Depends. A few local climates will likely actually benefit.

In the short term, maybe, but that assumes they locals will be able to work quickly enough to adapt their lifestyles and take advantage. The surrounding ecosystems may also be too damaged to support even local climates; if there are no pollinators, it doesn't matter much if they climate temp is "better."

Local wildlife may also be adapted to the lower temps and die off with heat waves.
Depends. A few local climates will likely actually benefit.

Very few. The vast majority of the populated Earth was populated under the assumption that storms, fires, farming seasons, pest cycles, human and animal migration cycles, access to water were more or less stable.

For there to be a positive shift, you'd need a place wherein:

  • Increased global temperature doesn't create storms, fires, mudslides, etc
  • There's no air or water dependence on a nearby region that falls in the above category
  • Increased ocean acidification doesn't threaten human food chains
  • Decreased winter lengths doesn't led to destructive pest/insect cycles
  • Increased winter harshness doesn't threaten local ecosystems and agriculture
  • There's little to no risk of human refugee migration INTO this region
  • All significant food and trade dependence of this region must also be with other regions with similar characteristics

A few countries overall might see economic benefits as arctic regions open up for shipping or agriculture moves toward the poles (Russia, Canada), but (as far as I know) the damage/risks to populated areas far outweigh the gains/reward, even for those countries.
Forum > Touchy Subjects > Climate Change