“Global warming is the earth’s MOST pressing concern.”

This is a comment by Dan on the post “Warming Up To Global Warming“.

Dan said:

I think that I’m coming from mostly the same place and therefore discussing this proves worthwhile.

1. ‘I don’t think global warming is the earth’s most pressing concern’

I’d argue that global warming is the earth’s MOST pressing concern. It might not be our country’s most pressing concern, it might not even be humanity’s most pressing concern, but it is more likely than anything, barring a nuclear holocaust, to damage the ability of our planet to support human life both in the short and long term. And if the only thing more destructive is literally nuclear war, then I think it’s a rather pressing concern.

2. ‘Yet, until the global population plateaus and declines, our carbon footprint is no worse than the nuclear waste, eradicated species, and decimated forests that are already trashing our planet.’

Global warming contributes to like, two and a half of the things you mentioned after it! (I’m giving it a ½ for nuclear waste because I think the global warming scare pushes people into using nuclear power instead of trying sustainable methods). Our carbon footprint causes deforestation and extinction. We can’t solve those problems without addressing it.

3. ‘[O]ur core problem is that more than seven billion people live here, and half of them are hungry or starving. The problem is that our resources are insanely mismanaged, or else simply wasted. The problem—if there even needs to be another problem—is that we are all competing for money, energy, and power, and when I make a dollar, you lose a dollar. When my company thrives, yours goes bankrupt. When my country wins the war, yours is bombed to shit. And at any moment, some crazy tyrant could just blow up the world with nuclear weapons, in a matter of hours, just for fun. That’s the core problem.’

This statement confuses me. None of these things are core problems. Some of them (starvation) are symptoms of others. One of them (waste) approaches a core problem with the structure of western society. As for the competition thing, well that’s just a product of capitalism. I mean, obviously we’re all competing for money, energy, and power. We all want those things. Show me a country or person willing to forgo living with electricity for the next year. I don’t really think there are any.

What it seems to me you are expressing frustration with, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is the inherent competitive nature of our society. Instead of building one that encourages sustainable living, long term planning, and raising everyone to a similarly high standard of living, we’ve built one that encourages people to exploit each other to get ahead. As this society globalized, we found that the earth does produce a limited number of resources, and therefore life is a zero sum game.

4. ‘If global warming exists, we humans will gradually adjust our lifestyles. It’ll be awful and unhealthy, but the Earth can adapt.’

I find this attitude present in many people’s minds and I think it’s a dangerous one. I think, when the crisis comes to a head, it won’t be a matter of humans gradually adjusting to new way of life. It’ll be a lot of people dying terribly. The way that global warming kills is through natural disasters, by increasing their severity and frequency. So, for example, crops will fail in certain parts of the world for years on end. It won’t be ‘global warming’ it’ll be ‘drought’ and yet, millions will still starve. Global warming will manifest as extreme drought, or monsoons, or huge hurricanes, or earthquakes. And people will starve, or drown, or be crushed. And it will probably be poor people unable to buy what they need or leave where they are. And slowly, the parts of the world where humans can profitably live will shrink.

So humans will adapt. Of course we will. We’ll just build new cities in new places. And we will adjust. And that adjustment will be paved overwhelmingly with the blood of the poorest people on this planet.

If we care about those people, if we want to “end starvation” then we have no choice but to address global warming. If we don’t care, then we don’t’ need to address it or change the way we live. Simple.

Okay, here ends my rant.

I like the overall message of this article. I think it’s important for any movement, especially one globally focused like the environmental movement, to avoid getting hung up on WHY people do things. We’re looking for change of action, not drastic change of attitude.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Even the IPCC acknowledges AGW is BS

    If the linked article is too long, see James Delingpole and IPCC.

  2. 4. ‘If global warming exists, we humans will gradually adjust our lifestyles. It’ll be awful and unhealthy, but the Earth can adapt.’

    “The burden of my thoughts are very much that the climate situation is more complex than we at present are capable of handling, or possibly even in the future. You can’t treat it as a scientific problem alone. You have to involve the whole world, and then there’s the time constant of human activity. Look at how long ago the Kyoto treaty was – 15 years ago – and damn all has been done. The human time constant is very slow. You don’t get major changes in under 50-100 years, and climate doesn’t wait for that.” James Lovelock – June 2012

    Gradually? Adjust? Lifestyle? Oh the luxury of illiteracy and the ability to Disneyfy a Planet. The Blind faith of those immersed in “The human time constant”.

    It’s Hubris – Pure Human Hubris. The Geological record of this planet show so many occasions when the climate has changed form one extreme to another it’s quite amazing. The planet has been a freezing Ice locked snow ball (White reflects both light and heat – so a snow ball earth is not a nice place) and due to plate tectonics and chemistry hotter than the steamiest jungles and driest desserts with millennia and aeons passing as gas and other things are scrubbed naturallly from the atmosphere and physics and chemistry cause reactions and get things like methane turned to carbon dioxide and for the CO2 to be washed as rain over rocks and reacted into stable things that allow complex life to flourish.

    The geological record also shows another factor – Climate Change and Extinction go hand in hand. It’s always the complex top tier predators and niche specialists who end up the most dead. So us Wise Apes – Homo Sapiens are the top level predator on the whole of planet earth – and we have made the whole planet a niche for survival. We aint facing a few bad winters or hot summers just extinction through starvation, warfare and loss of access to water. The lack of water and food will cause a lot of war.

    We could really do with a nice global flue pandemic, with a virulent form similar to Spanish Flue. That would wipe out maybe a billion as a wake up call – it seems nothing less noteworthy will get people thinking.

    Water is the real biggy – the wise apes have set up whole systems for living in places where there is insufficient water to meet population density. Just turn the water supply to NY or LA off for a week and see what happens – Tokyo – Mumbai – Seoul – London … so many places so little time. Now shift the whole global Hydrological cycle and make all the rain fall in places where is hasn’t before – and where it has rained before and people have been farming and making hay… just leave it dry.

    First it’s people fighting in the 7-11 for anything in a can or bottle, but within a few days people will be dead from thirst. Forget fresh veg – no water in the right place and too much in the wrong place and whole economies set up around concentrated agriculture just have nothing to get to market – so even scurvy and victim deficiency will be an issues within 3 months and people will start dying from that.

    But you have dried goods – and if you have some form of water from a ditch or maybe a dump – even a few cups from some stagnant air conditioner – you can boil some rice or corn or what ever it is … but what happens when you last bag of mung beans runs out.

    Those in places with the correct environmental balances and opportunities around water – food production – protection from those without – those folks will be able to adjust lifestyles, or as it’s better known Survive. The rest can surf on-line and seek a bargain, but they may find it hard to cope with some changes. Oh hell – I need to enter grain production and I can’t find a copy of Agricultural Desperation for Dummies on Amazon!

    One failed South East Asian Monsoon leaves 3 billion at risk of starvation. The problems with rain fall in Grain Belts in both hemispheres are growing, with drought and crop failures in both hemispheres more likely year on year. 90% of the human population some 6.2 Billion People live in the Northern Hemisphere – and 82% of grain is grown in the north and 18% in the south. Significant losses in 12 months in both north and south leave 100% of the world population affected with as much as a 50% global grain loss.

    we humans will gradually adjust our lifestyles

    Boy oh Boy – who ever said that mother nature plays fair or by the rules that small minds attempt to impose upon a global systems they just fail to grasp?

    They think avalanches are gradual – earth quakes are gradual – volcanoes go pop in nice celebratory ways like champaign corks! Hurricanes – Cyclones – Typhoons are not gradual, but from a CNN inoculated distance they do look fun and ever so exhilarating! Like a day on the water flume at Magic Mountain.

    Someone has been missing Chaos Theory 101 classes for some 30 years. Bifurcations and changes from one steady state to another are not gradual – or linear – or adjustable. They are fast, sudden and can trigger yet more secondary Bifurcations in related systems one after the other. Gradual is an idiots luxury when looking at complex systems and changes in state occur.

    A couple of years ago scientist were looking at methane seeps in Northern Russia due to destabilised Methane Hydrate. The seeps were 2 meters across – this year they are between 2 and 5 Kilometres across – and it’s all over the Northern hemisphere and acceslearting. That is a minimum 100,000% jump in 2 years. That simply has no place in the geological records – or even 100,000 years of atmospheric study from ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica.

    It equates to Billions of tonnes extra methane in the atmosphere in 10 years – and anyone who has been anywhere near the subject knows that CO2 is bad and Methane 20 times worse.

    Gradual = 0.1% change in a year or two – 100,000% is not gradual it’s a bomb going off! I do wonder at the Evolutionary Possibilities and how some with a limited view of time and a Gradual nature will just get wiped out and survived by the folks who are quick off the mark.

  3. This article makes me hate science.

    “It’ll be a lot of people dying terribly. The way that global warming kills is through natural disasters, by increasing their severity and frequency. So, for example, crops will fail in certain parts of the world for years on end. It won’t be ‘global warming’ it’ll be ‘drought’ and yet, millions will still starve. Global warming will manifest as extreme drought, or monsoons, or huge hurricanes, or earthquakes. And people will starve, or drown, or be crushed.”

    You vastly underestimate the adaptive ability of human beings and overestimate the damage from global warming. Most doomsday predictions have been wrong. Yours are ridiculous. A warmer world will be a wetter world…there will be fewer droughts.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Does it make you hate science, or hate other things that are cloaked in scientific language? I suspect what you’re feeling is the latter.

      • Herein lies a key problem when communicating about science.

        When discussing issues like these, what level of technicality do you pitch to? How much familiarity with climate science and meteorology can I expect from the average reader of GMP? Do I expect they understand the variables involved in evapotranspiration? Do I assume an awareness of the Hadley Cell? When is it time to merely lay out graphs and tables, and when is it time to summarize and editorialize?

        To be honest the amount of skepticism with science surrounding climate change blows my mind. When Cern found the Higgs Boson everyone just accepted it, yet NASA and NOAA data tracking global warming still receives criticism. I mean, the climate change data is just about as simple and transparent as you could ask for and gets challanged, while vastly more obscured projects just merrily wander on without anyone batting an eyelash at the crazy shit they discover. Maybe people like to hate on climate change just because they don’t like bad news? I just don’t get it.

    • A warmer world will be a wetter world…there will be fewer droughts.

      I would recommend researching “Global Dimming” and how it is affecting understanding on Man Made Climate Change and Climate Modelling

      You have an interesting and false view – there may be more energy in the atmosphere and the hydrological cycle increased in both scale and speed – but drought is relative. Having 5 inches of rain can be good for crops – but 15 inches causes Flooding, Soil Erosion, Lost Crops, Starvation. Environmental; Stability is a rather large factor in the Climate Change – and shifting hydrology will increase dessert areas with the desertification moving both towards the poles and towards the equator – as is already being observed. .

      Drought Is A Relative term and higher temperatures and wetter not all it’s perceived to be!

      • Really good point MediaHound. Climate Change makes pre-existing extremes more extreme. It will speed desertification.

        On a less serious note, I read “shifting hydrology will increase dessert areas” and had to take a moment to imagine just how delicious that would be. Mmmmm if only that’s what climate change did.

        • I’ll have my Glacier with choccy sauce, whipped cream and a cherry to top! P^) … to go!

          And Yup the Desertification is a double whammy due to how the heating effect it desert latitudes drives the trade winds. As desert shifts towards the equator it causes the trade winds to loose power – and that means lower rain fall tropically – lower rainfall increases Desertification and induces rain forest drying – so the Amazon basin dries along with central Africa and Equatorial Asia … and as Trees and the water they transpire are a major seeding agent for raindrop formation .. you get less rain. There is a already concern about Venezuela and Northern Brazil with a natural transition from forest to savannah.

          Have you looked at the Pacific and loss of Phytoplankton due to rising sea temp and affects on rainfall?

    • I’m not claiming we’re going to be wiped out. I don’t think, in the short term at least, that our species will die out. This isn’t a doomsday prediction.

      What I’m predicting is we’ve shooting ourselves in the foot. Want to stop starvation? Too bad, crops will randomly fail around the world. In Mississippi it’s a surprise drought, in India, it’s record monsoons sweeping away all the crops. Want to stop a disease outbreak in Africa? Too bad, a key highway just got washed away by a flash flood.

      Either way it’s not that the human race will die out, it’s that the people who can’t afford to survive a major disaster, or multiple major disasters will die. And most of the world can’t.

      “A warmer world is a wetter world”

      No, a warmer world is a more extreme world. Places that are wetter will get wetter. Places that are dry will get drier. Go ask the American South if this warmer world is wetter.

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