“my carbon footprint is absurdly high"
ZoomTeams, less Business Jet?
Bill Gates' book How to avoid a climate disaster is a sombre but informative read. This is a different Bill Gates from the author of The Road Ahead back in 1995, in which as CEO of Microsoft he tried to persuade the world that his company realised the importance of the internet. This is Gates the philanthropist; and he has set …
He's in the "people like me crowd" with John Kerry, LOL (Video to refresh the memory)
There's a good reason Greta has distanced herself from these old men who just want a higher social clout score.
>Why should anybody waste several of them watching a self-aggrandizing puff-piece by and about a silly little loudmouthed teenager?
That is why you should watch it, you may realise just how your opinionated view has been influenced by the media and those that seek to exploit Greta and not by Greta or her family.
Not speaking for anybody but myself, if I want to listen to the wailings of an angst ridden teenager, I can find plenty of them to listen to here in Sonoma without having to travel a third of the way around the hemisphere to find one. Not that I would, mind, my nieces & nephews already use me as a sounding board (as did my daughter and my foreman's daughter), and my granddaughter will be a teenager all too soon. I think that's plenty for one man.
Out of curiosity, do you value the opinions of Greta (who hasn't even graduated highschool yet) over those of our bob (who is clearly a well educated adult)? Why or why not?
>Not speaking for anybody but myself, if I want to listen to the wailings of an angst-ridden teenager...
The film might actually surprise you, whilst it was (obviously) filmed with the family's consent it is warts and all documentary - yes Greta is a teenager and having teenagers myself I was able to laugh and cringe at some of the things the film showed.
>Out of curiosity, do you value the opinions of Greta
To a similar extent as I value the opinions of my teenagers. However, I do respect her decision to live her life according to her principles and encourage my teenagers to likewise be true to themselves.
However, you do need to separate the opinions of Greta the person and Greta the media creation.
Does it really surprise you that I don't care about the film? There are a hundred million other angst-ridden teenagers posting their cute little videos all over YouTube (or whatever is hip today), and quite frankly I don't give a shit about any of them, either. The do not, and indeed cannot, have any affect on me and mine, so why should I waste my time?
Your evasion of my philosophical question re: bob vs Greta noted.
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I think it’s fair to say that nearly every reader of this august website has an absurdly high carbon footprint, and we all need to work hard to reduce it. Renewables have to be part of that, a new generation of advanced nuclear might be another part - and more efficient devices yet another. It’s not enough to have an electric car, it needs to be an efficient electric car.
Furthermore, I’m sorry to say that we also need to reduce the population. How? No idea. Any option is going to be unpopular. War? Pandemic? Definitely not. Mandating a reduced birth rate - 2 children maximum, or a big fine might be the least worst option - but one fraught with difficulty. Answers on a postcard.
Saying reduced carbon is a safe space today, but we need to have much more diverse and open ended conversations. Science in a world of grant funding and citation rings CAN become an echo chamber distanced from on-the-ground truth (see Taleb on social sciences).
Can we at least ask ourselves...if we really do control the outcome, is a hotter or colder world preferable. Hot is uncomfortable and may have sea level rise. Cold breaks things, machines and crops included. Government programmes typically overshoot their goals, so we need to consider this.
I didn't answer this straight away because, on the face of it, it's such an absurdly stupid response that I thought I might have misread it. if we really do control the outcome suggests that you really do mean to deny anthropogenic climate change, and that you post as Anonymous Coward reinforces that notion.
Well here's the thing. We do affect the climate and, thanks to us, the global climate has warmed by 1°C over pre-industrial conditions. 1° might not seem like much, but it destabilises the climate to the extent that we see more ferocious storms, more frequent flooding, more frequent droughts - and even, thanks to the shifting weather patterns that climate change causes, freak freezing in Texas. We're heading toward 2° - and more - so imagine how much worse it's going to get?
And there's scientific consensus on this as well - more so if you remove those scientists who have lost their backbone and surrendered to Big Oil and those who would rather line their pockets from the burning of fossil fuels (and there really aren't very many spineless climatologists anyway). This isn't really a matter of discussing both sides of the argument (there is only one side) any more than we should be discussing whether or not liquid water is wet.
As to making the world colder than preindustrial levels (if you're really worried about that), it takes decades for any changes that we make to have effect the temperature of the planet. Don't worry - we'll have plenty of time to turn off the CO2 scrubbers (and actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere is the only way that we're actually going to be able to make the world a colder place)
you really do mean to deny anthropogenic climate change
_I_ most certainly deny it. With pride! And, I have science to back up my "denial". I presented some of it in an earlier post...
I believe that it is extremely important to "deny" the things that are just NOT true, and then wear it as a badge of honor, even in DEFIANCE, if people want to use "denial" as some kind of pejorative.
Don't forget: science is not about CONSENSUS - it is about THEORY and EXPERIMENTS and PROOF.
I had to re-read your response because I couldn't believe how ignorant of the facts you really are.
"1° might not seem like much, but it destabilises the climate to the extent that we see more ferocious storms, more frequent flooding, more frequent droughts - and even, thanks to the shifting weather patterns that climate change causes, freak freezing in Texas."
1° is within the range of natural variability.
"more ferocious storms, more frequent flooding, more frequent droughts" Not true, far worse in previous centuries, do some historical research.
"freak freezing in Texas" Do give over, not caused by CO2 emissions from anyone, anywhere.
"pre-industrial conditions" Please define, IPCC has never defined "pre-industrial".
Big Oil like BP and Shell are lining their pockets these days fron renewables subsidies.
You really want the world colder? Like in the Little Ice Age? Go and tell the Texans.
Every technical or biological mitigation will fail without a meaningful reduction in the human population, and I agree that a 2 child limit is the fairest solution provided its fully and fairly enforced and that reliable contraception is treated as a fundamental human right.
Isn't it interesting that not one politician or public figure ever dares to mention it?
Yep, solution is to improve wages and conditions in poorer countries. Then they can't afford to have more kids, you know cause of the costs of being better off.
Really though, it's been shown over and over that as a populations lifestyle and wealth increases (and less child deaths as a result) the number of kids goes down.
There is another solution... Stop handholding the poorest regions in Africa, and Asia. (Just because it gives you the warm, and fuzzies), Every child we "save" from some disease, for smiply no other reason than "Because we can.", is in the end just an extra mouth to feed. In such actions we are complicity acting against the worlds means of population control. It could also be argued that modern medicine is also just as guilty, in prolonging the lives of People who should have died decades ago. But, again i don't think anyone has ever actually stoped to consider this. But, then again those People are not the problem of direct overpopulation.
FWIW: Most of Africa, (Certainly not all!), have yet to discover the "Dark Ages". I'm not raging on them because I'm some receest. Its as mater of fact in the same sense that rain is wet. Because things are the way they are there. They have to breed the way they do to maintain the populations they had / have. Now along comes whitey with his medicine (and, notes the otherwise horrible mortaltity rate there-in), and decieds to do something about it, and actually meets it with some success.
Meanwhile the instinctive need for prolific breeding, needed to cover the arfentiond mortality rate, across the board, continues unabated. Yet, its the guilty white liberal POS like William Gates, who wants me to sacrifice myself, and my family, and my lands, so that other People, from far away can migrate to our lands, and dsisplace our cultures.
And, yet you still wonder why everyone detestes Germany, and by proxy the EU, with its honeypot currency.
They have to breed the way they do to maintain the populations they had / have. Now along comes whitey with his medicine (and, notes the otherwise horrible mortaltity rate there-in), and decieds to do something about it, and actually meets it with some success.
Are you aware of how long it took for the exact same medical methods, etc, to bring the European and European settler state birth rates down? At least three generations, before the average woman decided that birth control was reliable enough, that obstetrics and gynecology was reliable enough, that early childhood medicine was reliable enough for her and her man to stop planning for at least 50% child mortality - JS Bach being a prime example.
And it won't go down if they aren't sure that most of their children will live.
FWIW: Most of Africa, (Certainly not all!), have yet to discover the "Dark Ages". I'm not raging on them because I'm some receest. Its as mater of fact in the same sense that rain is wet. Because things are the way they are there. They have to breed the way they do to maintain the populations they had / have.
Go read factfulness and get the very slightest clue about demographics and fertility in Africa. It's nothing as you describe (which sounds very much like what was taught in GCSE Geography circa 1998).
It was a little outdated then - teachers still spinning some of what they were taught at school - but is completely wrong now. In most of the world fertility is less than 2children per woman - basic replacement. Population is growing due to improved old-age care and a big cohort of kids coming through (bigger than the 70-90 cohort who are dying). Population growth will level off between 2050-2100 and fall by 2200. It's already happening.
This big cohort of kids, are their reproductive potential being taken into consideration? Once they become of childbearing age, could they have more than 2 kids each and raise the rate again outside of current predictions? Also, consider the effect of crises on reproductive rates. WW2 was the trigger for the Baby Boom. What will COVID do here?
In the case of the WuFlu, what with its 98.9% recovery rate... Yes we should let such pandemics run their course. By all means lockdown all the retirment homes, and give each member of staff an anal probe each day, so that the elderly might be protected. But, for the rest of the world, let us get back to our lives for christs sake!
> Every child we "save" from some disease, for smiply no other reason than "Because we can.", is in the end just an extra mouth to feed.
Actually, there is a correlation between good health care and lower birthrates. After all, if you are confident your child will survive to adulthood, you will be happy with a smaller family.
Obviously there are other factors, such as societal structures (do you need your children to care for you in your old age?) and women's ability to access and use contraception - but again, greater development tends to lead to a lower birthrate.
To a certain extent it has been the zeal (and success) of developed countries providing hospitals and medicines to developing countries that has cause so much of a population explosion. The cause has been that families would have large numbers of children because so many would never reach adulthood. Many would not even survive the first few months. Mothers would routinely die in childbirth due to complications or infection immediately after. What was not done was to work with those populations to try and reduce then numbers of children being produced as the life expectancy increased. Add to that the desire for a male child to continue the family line and it is easy to see how the situation has developed over 50 years.
There are also huge cultural issues around the use of contraception (particularly in Africa).
There are no easy answers but any meaningful reduction in population is going to occur far too slowly to deal with the required reduction in temperature increase. Perversely, IT, our industry, is one of the worst offenders in it's profligate use of resources, energy and creating waste that is very difficult to deal with.
If you're truly interested in a 2-child solution, you're proposing to outlaw Mormon doctrine, not to mention Roman Catholic canons. The rule will also have to deal with Latinx! immigration and chain immigration, neither of which should (for this US example) receive priority over a pair of US citizens having three children. What, really, is the difference between having three children and letting million of immigrants bring in six or eight family members?
"What, really, is the difference between having three children and letting million of immigrants bring in six or eight family members?"
Well, one key difference is that one is relevant and the other isn't. The discussion concerns world population. Total number of people on the planet. Having children increases the number. Moving people doesn't. So if you accept the premise that population is a problem, then births are your problem.
I'm hopeful that modernization will bring down birth rates without us having to force anything. It's already decreased to below replacement rate in a number of developed countries and has been coming down nearly everywhere. In my view, we don't have to spend so much time discussing how to force people to do it if we can spend some of the effort modernizing those areas not as developed. History demonstrates that birth rates will come down on their own as that process happens. If it's not enough, we'll have a much smaller problem to deal with. Malthus was wrong before and I'm confident he can be wrong again.
If its the "World Population" that we are "talking" about, then the problem is not in the America's (Both North, and South), nor is it in Europe either.... Oh yeah we can't leave our Austrian friends down in Kangaroo land out either.), Perhaps your message of overpopulation, and sterilization would fly better over there?
Something that goes unexamined in US Liberal policies (after all, its about votes not outcomes for EITHER party)...lax immigration rules, or ANY immigration for that matter is Carbon positive. People don't come to the US (or to the Eurozone respectively).
Any single person or household immigrating to the US from MX results in a 6x increase in CO2. Even more when they come here from Guatemala and points South.
I am not anti-immigration, I "Imagine there's no borders...la da de", but this is an important inconsistency. We're either "all in this fight together" or else it's just the latest political cover for friends and family jobs programs and contracts.
"Any single person or household immigrating to the US from MX results in a 6x increase in CO2. Even more when they come here from Guatemala and points South."
Never fear AC - now you have highlighted this issue, we will move you to Mexico to reduce your carbon footprint ASAP. And why stop at just you? Those with similar views can experience the delights of broadening your mind with travel while being confident you're making a difference to your carbon footprint.
I'm still on the fence. When I see rabid crowds attacking anyone who asks a basic question, I see religion, plan and simple. Until we can debate what is really going on and what the desired outcome will be, I'm not changing anything.
Good news however, when I do RETIRE and decamp to a simple agorist life in MX, I can at least get there in my camper van before I disable it's I.C.E. for the good of the planet.
As it stands now, only three rude nations have a "right" to weapons. The loyal reader may guess whom. However, expansion of this permission may have a hidden benefit of reducing population size, especially among rude and bratty children.
Let's also remember that "population reduction" is not enough. We need "life-years reduction". Ergo, submitting an elder to a newly formed NHS CO2 Enhancement Programme will do little to stop the sea level. We should look for maximum impact in the genitals of half-wits and promotion of Russian Roulette amongst the youth. This could be added to school curriculum today quite easily, and we could find some redundancy in the teacher's ranks at the same time. My Council would find the extra funds handy for greening up the soon-to-be-former roadway outside my estate.
I say you, let the seas sink, and run red, as we sunset our transgressions, who is with me? I'm all in when Xi is!
> The only why to stop people opposing population control is to perforate the brain.
If you the aim is to reduce the population over time, then surely you need to look at what works? Top-down control doesn't work well (it failed in India) and has unintended consequences. What does work reliably? Access to healthcare, reduced infant mortality, female education, access to birth control.
The problem is that healthcare and education etc requires a level of development that, if done unintelligently (I e, how it has been largely been done by us 'developed' nations') requires a lot of resources. However the good news is that reducing the amount of resources required for such levels of healthcare and education is in part an engineering problem. Engineering problems can be engaged with.
"I think it’s fair to say that nearly every reader of this august website has an absurdly high carbon footprint, and we all need to work hard to reduce it. "
One isn't really concerned about the environment unless one projects one's footprint X generations into the future. I'd agree that, not spawning so many kidz = Problem solved.
"I’m sorry to say that we also need to reduce the population. How?"
This is a tech site ... lets let AI sort it out ... seem to recall that turned out to be the back story for "The 100" on TV where an AI system had been given the task of running things and concluded that the problem was "too many humans" and come up with the solution "ooh look ... nuclear missiles - if we fire those at China they;k respond with loads of missles as well and in no time the 'too many humans' problem' will be fixed"
An alternative view is that mother Gaia is aware of the problem and Covid is her way of healing herself
At a mortality rate of about 3% of mostly elderly people, “Mother Gaia” hasn’t come up with a particularly effective solution...
It's been very effective at killing off a lot of businesses & jobs though. But we're in the Age of Stupid, and post-normal science. So for example-
England's vaccination programme is starting to pay off, with the over-80s age group now the most likely to test positive for coronavirus antibodies, Office for National Statistics testing suggests.
Blood tests reveal more over-80s than any other age group in England are showing signs of some immunity against Covid infection...
... People have antibodies to Covid if they've had an infection in the last few months or if they have been vaccinated.
Which I posted might be a slight snag a while back. How do you tell if someone's developed antibodies via simple exposure, or as a result of vaccination? So once everyone's been vaccinated, UK Covid 'cases' will rocket to 100% positive. Yey for science!
But that's also why there may be a few more snags with our freedom of movement restrictions. Can't travel unless you test negative Xhrs prior. Nice work if you're flogging tests, not so nice if your test comes back positive because you've developed antibodies following some exposure, but not infected or infectious.. But if you buy a vaccine passport, you can travel! Even though there's evidence that vaccines have varying levels of protection, so you may have a passport, but still be a modern Mary.
But such is politics. Nations rushing to be the first to fully vaccinate their populations, so need to 'nudge' holdouts with something more tangible than just calling them 'anti-vaxxers'. Even though this pandemic has responded with the first ever mRNA based vaccines after relatively limited trials. So basically no real idea what, if any long-term effects of that kind of vaccines on populations will be. But given the vaccination programmes, that data will follow. On the plus side, if mRNA vaccines are demonstrably safe & effective, it opens them up as ways to prevent other nasty diseases.
How about we get the highes population centers to start pulling thier weight, and stop the old in-out. (Looking at you Africa, and Asia), instead of hypeing up all the guilty white liberal progressive types of whom you are inadvertently calling out? Perhaps one should learn to take a wider *coof* global *coof* view of the world, and then ask themselves whom the minorites of the world realy are?
Cause it sure as heck isn't the afrementiond Africans, or Asians, thats for sure.
Furthermore, I’m sorry to say that we also need to reduce the population.
I totally agree with that. The constant growing of human population is worrying, but neither politicians, NGOs nor media mention that.
It seems the best way to reduce population is to enhance standard of living. The higher it is in a country, the lower birth rate is.. It's not a solution per se, because higher standard of living means for the moment a higher greenhous gas emission and more natural resources consumed. Nonetheless, at least stopping human population growth should also be a clearly displayed objective.
"Furthermore, I’m sorry to say that we also need to reduce the population. How? No idea. Any option is going to be unpopular. War? Pandemic? Definitely not. Mandating a reduced birth rate - 2 children maximum, or a big fine might be the least worst option - but one fraught with difficulty. Answers on a postcard."
I think it’s fair to say that nearly every reader of this august website has an absurdly high carbon footprint, and we all need to work hard to reduce it
From the article: There are 51 billion tons of greenhouse gasses emitted annually
A few facts to ponder, which I'm sure many will "mind"
* earth is heated by the sun in the day, and cools by "black body radiation" at night
* the method of cooling involves the IR spectrum, in which most of the energy will be in a limited frequency range that is related to the temperature of the black body
* a greenhouse gas (like water) will "act like blanket" and prevent IR radiation from leaving the atmosphere by absorbing it. This heats the atmosphere, and indirectly, warms the planet
* CO2 is practically TRANSPARENT to IR energies corresponding to ACTUAL temperatures found on earth, ;i.e. those between -50F and about 140F. TRANSPARENT. Like glass. NEARLY ZERO EFFECT.
* CO2 is about 0.04% of the atmosphere, and is at equlibrium due to the the planetary hydro cycle (i.e. rain and evaporation - CO2 is very hydrophyllic, and will attach to water in the atmosphere).
* Water, on the other hand, can be well over 1% of the atmosphere on very humid days. Not only is there a lot MORE of it, it's FAR more effective at being a greenhouse gas.
In short, CO2 can NOT act like 'a greenhouse gas" on earth, (not of any significance) given the temperatures you normally find on the planet. On Venus, sure, but its mostly sulfur compounds doing it there. And on Mars,there's not enough of it.
WATER, however, is a HUGE greeenhouse gas on earth, maybe over 100 times as effective as CO2 could possibly be.
And yet, I see NOBODY trying to control WATER...
I wonder why THAT is?
It’s not enough to have an electric car, it needs to be an efficient electric car.
Or no car at all (or wind back to being a one-car household) and cycle/use public transport. Don't forget to write to your local worthies demanding better provision of transport options.
The most efficient electric car won't be as efficient as an electric bus, which in turn can never be as efficient as a tram or train (due to rolling resistance of rubber tyres vs. steel-on-steel).
If Bill Gates is going to talk about climate he has to talk about the rest of the environment too, just to be clear I haven't read his book, only this article so i don't know what else is in it. But, pooh pooing tree planting, while it may be valid in terms of climate to some degree, is still necessary in many places where harvesting and/or forest fires have destroyed trees and the habitats that go along with them.
If we don't address the horrendous rates of extinction that are currently happening as I write this, many of which are due to habitat loss that is not related to climate change, the world's biodiversity is likely to hit a tipping point in the not too far distant future so having arrested global warming will be limited in saving the Earth as it is only one of many things that we need to address.
Here's Mr Gates key statement about planting trees:
“It has obvious appeal for those of us who love trees, but it opens up a very complicated subject ... its effect on climate change appears to be overblown.”
30 million trees is able to capture the CO2 produced by 100,000 "average" people on this planet.
The UN believes that global population growth over the next 10 years will be 1.2 billion people. So 360 bn additional trees to offset population growth before we start looking into an overall reduction.
For the UK's part, the Tories are proposing an estimated 50 million trees a year or 0.5bn over 10 years for a population rise of 3.5 million in the same period. Approximately half the amount required.
Realistically, the UK would need a population decline of 3.5 million and planting 50 million trees a year to have a real effect. Or just the population decline...the trees are a rounding error even if they look pretty.
Planting trees to offset ones carbon footprint is wrong. Planting trees, generally, isn't, as is preserving what we already have.
I agree with what blankhand wrote. What is being planted is not enough. And without actually reducing the CO2 footprint at the same time, it is pointless. The problem is many people see planting trees as "offsetting" their CO2 footprint, they shouldn't be offsetting it, they should be reducing it!
This is part of the problem, as long as companies can continue to green-wash with tree planting programmes or buying carbon credits off cleaner companies, the situation won't get any better.
There should be no such things as carbon credits to trade. If you produce a lot of CO2, you should have to pay the green tax on those emissions, not get a discount by buying credits from a company that hasn't produced as much CO2 as they were allowed to... As long as it is cheaper to leech of cleaner companies than it is to stand up and take responsibility for their own shortcomings, nobody will invest in being better.
Mr Gates wasn't saying 'don't plant trees', he was saying that planting trees is not a panacea. 'Look at the system intelligently and plant trees if appropriate, but don't rely on just this action' is closer to what he's saying. And he's right.
Peat bogs are a superb carbon sink, but in the past, due to misguided policies, they have been destroyed for plantations of fir trees so someone can claim a carbon credit. This has resulted in more carbon being released than stored by the treesa, and destroyed the area's biodiversity to boot.
First of all, you don't need to, this is literally a media event.
Secondly, anything someone as dumb a Bill Gates knows about climate change and remediation, can be discovered in less time than it takes to read his pile of shit book - using any web browser, even Bing.
As for your second point, I couldn't agree more.
It fascinates me that so many people can obsess about rules and ethics, and their relationship to morality. Yet in a glaring example, immoral behavior (human caused extinctions, environmental destruction, presumption of dominion for the purposes of extraction and exploitation ) are showing real, life threating consequences (climate change/disruption). But, there is no corresponding "pennance", only some kind of strange self congratulatory semi posture based on "adaptation" meant to preserve the least sustainable aspects of what can loosely be called a system.
Bill Gates is lumbering grotesquerie - it is fortunate for him and me both we will never be in the same room.
No, not denying that it is happening, I mean starting from the thought experiment that it will not be prevented.
I mean, when did the current climate emergency start? About 35M years ago, at the end of the Eocene. Things got going with a bang (most likely meteor strikes) with the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event and the stable climate of the Late Cretaceous through Eocene Thermal Optimum started to spiral into an ice age. Thousands of species went extinct in the event itself and an unknown number of others must have been exterminated during the most catastrophic climate-related event of the last 100+M years: the glaciation of Antarctica, sterilizing the land surface area of an entire continent.
So, we're going back to the Eocene? OK, that means progressively improved habitability (from a human standpoint) in Canada and Siberia, probable elimination of the relict ice age megafauna persisting in Northern latitudes, elimination of the polar ice caps (North going first), which are not a default state for the planet anyway (most of the time they aren't present).
"Too fast!" you say? Meteor strikes are a lot faster. So is major volcanism. Lots of other extinction as well of course, but then 99.9% of species that have ever existed are already extinct. Are we shaping up to pull off something on the scale of the K-Pg event? Even if we are, that was the genesis of our current mammalian ecosystems, not the dawn of a lifeless desert.
I'm not advocating a position here; it would just be interesting if someone with a bit (lot) more knowledge followed through on this possibility without it drifting off into absurd, histrionic catastrophism about the "end of life on Earth" or some other such nonsense.
That's rather simplistic without deciding what our goals are. For probably a lot of humans, it's keeping things nice for humans, including other organisms which are necessary for our happiness (things we eat, for example). Possibly also including some other life forms for which we feel sympathy. It doesn't take a wiping out to make that a lot worse. If that's not the goal, then we can decide what goal we do want.
If we wanted to, we could take the selfish route, cause any damage we want to, possibly extensive damage, and let evolution sort things out. To use a phrase distressingly popular among people who deny science, the planet will survive. Which is accurate in the sense that there will still be a rock in this location of the solar system, and there's a likelihood that there'd be living things on it. However, that's not really where my goals end. I'd like for those living things to include humans, and humans living peacefully and efficiently. With that in mind, I'd like to set my goals such that things are more likely to go that way. It's true that we've had many climates before which didn't result in global extinction, but many of those climates would be very bad to humanity as it is.
Based on those goals, the question could easily be asked: why don't we decide what climate best meets that goal and try to modify the current climate to obtain it? Unfortunately, I lack the confidence that we have a clue how to do that without causing unexpected problems. We know the climate we've enjoyed over the past few millennia works. It is probably best that we stick with that without trying to change things that can be easily damaged and may be impossible to repair.
Our goal is survival, just like any other lifeform. Luckily, along with rats and cockroaches, we are exceptionally good at it. That's why we're the most widespread species and most numerous of comparable size in planetary history. Even Lystrosaurus didn't dominate its ecosystem the way we do.
I completely agree that the current interglacial works well for humans (our variety at least), but that's not a stable state. Left to its own devices, in a few millennia, the interglacial would end, and major glaciation would sterilize Northern Europe and North America all over again. Our accidental climate engineering may be postponing this (a logical corollary), but (as far as I know), the error bars on the models for all this are very wide and the end game may still be the same.
The best course of action for a planetary dictatorship of philosopher-kings, serving the interests of the species and unmoved by the parochial concerns of current generations and national borders is as obvious as it is irrelevant. That's not the geopolitical system we have, and no system we do have (especially not a democracy) is ever going to behave that way.
That being the case (premise), how do we adapt? We can (and did) live from the Arctic to the middle of the Sahara without the support of modern technology and trade. I simply cannot take seriously the suggestion that the mid-Eocene (extreme, verging on hyperbole given the models) would be beyond us.
I think more discussion and consideration of this possibility would be useful, without it jumping overboard into histrionics at the first opportunity.
What do I mean by that? Well, if you wipe out 99.999% of the human population you are *not remotely close* to achieving an extinction. See "Toba Catastrophe". Even if that causal theory is wrong, the genetic signature is clear: something shrank the effective human population to the ten-thousands in that (very recent) timeframe and we're back to 8bn today.
We are not going extinct by our own hand. We aren't smart enough. We are also not going to stop climate change. We aren't united enough. But what we are smart enough to do (I contend) is survive anything we are capable of causing.
"We can (and did) live from the Arctic to the middle of the Sahara without the support of modern technology and trade."
We did. It wasn't pleasant and involved a lot of dying. I'd like to avoid that if I can. I can't stop a glaciation, but I can take steps to make that the big problem. For the moment, we're having to deal with changes to the climate before the glaciation.
If we had a stable climate at the current pleasant setting until the glaciation, we could focus our energies on doing something to promote our happiness when it does roll along. Given the timeframe, that might give us enough knowledge to go to a new planet which won't have one, or cancel the glaciation through deliberate control which we don't have the knowledge to do today, or decide that we'll deal with it because our smaller population can happily live in the equatorial regions and let the ice take the high latitudes, or any number of other options.
In the meantime, my concerns are not about mass extinction events (which we could cause if we wanted to; cobalt bombs are available). My concerns are about large-scale unpleasant situations. People complain a lot about migration today. How will they complain if a large region quickly desertifies and leaves its populace trying to escape to find water. That won't be an extinction event, but it will result in a lot of pain for those escaping, likely a backlash against them, maybe some wars, definitely an economic problem. I'd rather we avoid that if we can.
>>I'd like to avoid that if I can.
Me too. However, I don't like to rely exclusively on an uncertain "Plan A". I don't model security solely on the basis that the perimeter can't be breached. I also like to think through what to do in a scenario where Plan A's failure is the starting point.
>>I can't stop a glaciation
That's another interesting question. We may already be delaying it, and if we proceeded to the point of full polar deglaciation, we might stop it entirely. Our current models are not good enough to be sure, of course.
>> cobalt bombs are available
Only in Dr Strangelove (in that sense). Co-60 yield in a salted bomb isn't that high, and universal/uniform distribution isn't feasible. You could engineer a staggering death toll, but I don't believe you could cause a human extinction that way. Genetically engineering a pandemic won't work either. I can't think of anything that would. We're not that smart.
If we wanted to, we could. The comparisons between humans and nature are correct in the sense that nature is a lot more powerful than we are, but only in certain ways. Nature can set off an earthquake and make us very unhappy, while we lack the power to prevent or even predict earthquakes. Nature can do things we can't stop.
Still, we have the ability to cause massive destruction if we put our minds to it, because destruction is easier than creation or repair. It's the same way that I can't build a functioning car from scratch, but I can make one stop working and be difficult to repair given a few hours. Nuclear weapons are a good method to destroy lots of stuff, and if we wanted to use them to clear out the human population, we could do a pretty efficient job of it. Nobody has an interest in doing that, so we don't, but we already have the technology necessary to get close, and that's without ever intending to get to extinction.
The Siberian Traps eruption went on for somewhere between 750k and 1M years. Our emissions of CO2 (and much else besides) are a negligible fraction of what that sort of volcanism can muster.
This probably caused the greatest mass extinction in history (there could have been other factors as well), but it didn't eradicate life: or we wouldn't be having this conversation.
I am in no way suggesting that climate change is not serious. I'm just trying to puncture the insufferable conceit that a bunch of apes who only learned to walk upright 300k years ago wield power even vaguely approaching that of natural forces.
The current climate is not stable. Whether due to Meteors, Volcanoes, Milankovitch cycles or Cement, climate change will happen, and adaptation is the only viable response.
Maybe we should face reality? Maybe attempting planetary-scale climate engineering is just postponing the inevitable. By deluding (?) ourselves that controlling climate change is technologically viable, maybe we are just setting ourselves up for failure when natural (as opposed to human) scale forces intervene.
"The current climate is not stable. Whether due to Meteors, Volcanoes, Milankovitch cycles or Cement, climate change will happen, and adaptation is the only viable response."
And if that's not possible due to physics? If the wet-bulb temperature in a lot of places rises above 35 degrees Celsius, barring a significant mutation, a human will just roast, full stop. To put it bluntly, we're screwed at that point.
The real problem is not the "end of life on Earth", something that won't happen, but the "end of a large chunk of Humanity on Earth", and that's far more plausible.
If we want to have cheap, plentiful power with a minimal impact on the environment, nuclear is literally our only option.
Fossil fuels (including fossil methane, AKA natural gas) are obviously out, with wind turbines killing birds of prey as well as bats, and scaring other birds away from their migratory and nesting areas. E.g.: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2656.12961
Much like wind turbines, PV solar is very low in power density, and a capacity factor or between 10-30%. A significant amount of either requires either good load-following nuclear (which does exist, e.g. French plants and new Gen III reactors), or plentiful grid-level storage (prohibitively expensive). The one thing which PV solar does have going for it is that it can be put on roofs, above parking lots and other areas which have already been settled, unlike wind turbines which will always end up destroying the local ecosystem for at least some species in addition to speeding up the extinction of others.
The first thing which we should stop doing is to disrupt the last few percent of undisturbed nature, and cut down more forests. Not just because this is what leads to more pandemics, but also because the increasing partitioning of 'the wild' means that for more and more species they essentially have no habitat any more.
Over here in Germany nuclear will be fully phased out by the end of next year. Meanwhile we'll have another 18 years of coal, with forests and villages being cleared for more open coal (lignite) mines, as well as for tens of thousands of km of new transmission lines (for the wind power in the north) and wind turbines themselves. It has reached a point where an environmental assessment is no longer even necessary before ripping gaps in forests like the Schwarzwald.
The irony of this all is that we have two groups of 'environmentalists' forming: those who absolutely believe in wind & solar power with no room for alternatives, and those who accept the scientific and economic reality required for humanity and the rest of this biosphere to coexist.
High-density, low-carbon sources of electricity as well as heating are what we need today. As South Korea, Russia and China are showing for the past decades, it's possible to build a new nuclear reactor (VVER, APR-based, even the troubled French EPR) in 5-6 years. For the money Germany has spent on fossil methane and coal plants, as well as wind and PV solar subsidies, it could already have spent two decades building dozens of new 1 GW Gen III reactors and hit net-zero on electricity production and made a big dent in heating-related carbon as well.
Unfortunately, it seems that vested interests and dogma-obsessed 'environmentalists' have banded together to make even backwards decisions like replacing Belgium's nuclear plants with 100% gas official policy, as well as Germany's increasing reliance on natural gas with Nordstream 2 and US fracking gas. It's enough to make any rational person rather depressed about our chances to stave off climate change and mass-extinctions.
We found here in Texas this week the Achilles' heel of wind turbines...a failure mode I had no idea about. Fascinating really, maybe an automatic fail-safe against too much planetary cooling, but it came on a bit early I think. Still tossing logs in the fireplace.
We found here in Texas this week the Achilles' heel of wind turbines...a failure mode I had no idea about.
Nature has a way of highlighting our stupidity. But it's been a known risk for a long time, if you read more than PR crap from the 'renewables' lobby. There's been damage to windmills and property from blade icing, either from the sheer mass of ice, or a fun feature called 'blade throw', where the spinning blades can chuck large lumps of ice long distances. Kinda why in cold climates, it's a bad idea to build them in range of people. One solution has been to heat the blades to prevent ice buildup, but that means the windmilss can end up using energy, not creating it.
But hopefully this is will be a wake-up call to our political overlords. Texas 'invested' heavily in wind, and the problems with that policy have been highlighted.. Not just in Texas, but across America (and down into Mexico). Which may also demonstrate the problems of listening to 'Green' experts, who predict more extreme weather, but also demand energy production from stuff that's most vulnerable to that weather. Nuclear plants don't care, which is one positive from Gate's drinking the Green kool-aid. But he's facing an uphill battle to convince Greens that nuclear power is actually a really sensible solution to low-carbon energy.
"Nature has a way of highlighting our stupidity."
Yes - like believing that wind turbines are the primary source of Texas power during the winter and that natural gas wasn't also impacted by the storms. Oh...should we mention that this issue almost occurred in 2018 and highlighted the weaknesses in the Texas ERCOT grid that were not addressed because it would have cost money to fix.
The political overlords that need a wake up call seem to reside in Texas. But accountability and Texas politics are rarely acquainted. So the same old mistakes will likely be repeated.
Or does none of this tick the confirmation bias box that you were looking for for "green energy is bad"?
"We found here in Texas this week the Achilles' heel of wind turbines"
Are you sure that's the whole story?
Yes some wind turbines froze in Texas and couldn't produce electricity BUT natural gas pipelines also froze causing issues for non-green electricity generation. And it appears that there was available gas-fired generating capacity that the utility company decided not to use because the gas spot-price was too high and required authorisation from the governor to pass the additional costs on to their customers before adding generating capacity. Or they could have relied on grid power only instead of being part of one of the two large electrical grids in the US they choose to be independent because it meant they didn't have to contribute to shared infrastructure that would only be used in the event of a problem with generating capacity in Texas.
Is it worth mentioning Capitol Cities mayor ranting that people dying was their own fault for being unprepared for an emergency situation? Or is the picture clear already?
At every level of governance in Texas, the citizens of Texas were failed.
But sure, blame a few frozen windmills and ignore the actual issue.
>"We found here in Texas this week the Achilles' heel of wind turbines..."
"the" and not "an"?
Over this side of the pond we've already discovered that during cold weather spells, such as when there is snow on the ground and you want the heating on, there is also an absence of wind.
Fission-based nuclear power is not the panacea that many people hope for. There are regular claims that the next generation of nuclear power will be safe - 3rd, is it, or 4th generation now... But there were similar claims for previous generations while the core of the problem remains basically the same - that a huge amount of fuel is concentrated in one place and no one has managed to properly assess and control the risks of a very large accident. Yes, the apparent risks might be small, but often enough they can coincide and the potential for a very large accident is nowhere near so negligible as nuclear advocates would have us believe.
We're asked to trust in the philosophy that "We won't make THAT mistake again" is near enough. But what about the next mistake, and the next. The engineering issues are just too large scale and too complex for there never to be a crack, never a tsunami, never a terrorist attack or an ill-judged safety test. Yes. It's true these things can be very, very unlikely, but that's not the same as saying they'll never happen.
I look at the last (how many) years of various US presi Dents - as in the late Arthur Dent - ranting on about Iran's nuclear ambitions (let alone Iraq's or Syria's), and think, just imagine the fun if the US gets dyspeptic towards your nation and you've got an active nuclear power industry ... drop another bomb down the chimney, blow up all the bacon and the beans, go out to the car and blow it higher, ...
In New Zealand we had a very funny incident a few years back, when we had an active Nuclear Energy booster group operating. Auckland had a power cut, and the Nuclear Power booster group president or whatever, goes on the news to say how it all could've been prevented if NZ only had nuclear power ... turns out it had been a faulty insulator that had brought the whole network down. Of course nuclear power's going to solve broken insulators, innit? That's what it's there for ... :) They haven't been heard from since ...
> "Cement, used everywhere in vast quantities, is a problem, he notes. In the materials chapter he writes that “Of all the materials I’ve covered, cement is the toughest case of all … limestone plus heat equals calcium dioxide plus carbon dioxide.” He resorts to proposing carbon capture and using materials more efficiently." <
...use Roman concrete instead!
that when it sets, concrete reabsorbs the CO2 back into its chemical structure ? Just counting manufacturing releases is misleading. Total net release after concrete has set should be figure pontificated about. As for population stabilisation, already done. By 2050 on existing trends, planets population will begin decline. In some countries already a political issue. Japan, Singapore, China. yes China.
that when it sets, concrete reabsorbs the CO2 back into its chemical structure ? Just counting manufacturing releases is misleading.
Yep. The Biosphere project domes discovered that minor detail when it's CO2 levels kept falling.
As for population stabilisation, already done.
Yup. Keep increasing the cost of living via 'Green' taxes and edicts, increasing energy poverty or just poverty in general, and people won't be able to afford to raise kids. At least not in the style to which Bill's own offspring enjoy. Possibly the best thing committed Greens could do is sterilise themselves so they don't add to the planet's carbon crisis.
Gates is matter-of-fact but firm in assertions such as “if the temperature rises by two degrees Celsius, coral reefs could vanish completely, destroying a major source of seafood for more than a billion people.”
Gates should probably think a little harder about that if because that's something that's been thrown around since an old 'Oil for Food' UN scammer by the name of Maurice Strong helped spawn in IPCC back in the '90s. And much of that scam relies on creating an arbitrary idealised baseline global temperature to measure that 'two degrees' from. Which kind of assumes that climate never changed before, hence the problematic MWP, LIA and other extended temperature variations.
But then the idea of a 'global' temperature is really an exercise in mathturbation given it's a phenomena that doesn't exist.. And very much relies on cherry picking individual temperature measurements to create the 'consensus' global temperature. And best not to look too closely at either accuracy or availability of 'pre-Industrial' temperature data either.
And he's also a bit wrong about trees, but not uniquely. Thing about trees is they're living organisms. They suck in CO2 & nutrients to grow. Some shed leaves annually, producing CO2 as plant matter decays. And when fully grown, they're not as useful for capturing CO2, and when the die, the carbon is released again as it biodegrades. Of course forest fires due to poor land management help release that carbon faster. See the millions of dead trees along the US West coast due to pine borer beetles for more info.
So in some ways, Ikea's ahead of the curve. Turn forests into furniture for long-term, practical carbon storage. Ok, bad example given Ikea stuff's effectively disposable. Decent furniture should last generations. As would timber used in decent house construction, with an added benefit that future dendrophrenologists might find timbers from the early 21st century, count rings/measure MxD and produce their own not-Hockey Sticks in papers wondering why their ancestors went crazy about a simple CO2 molecule.
Funny how that works, for those neither to be classed as being "rich" enough to afford children, or the trully "poor" (enough), to recive such asistance from the goverment, are the people most likely to be unable to afford them.
It was ever thus. Other people must make sacrifices to save the planet. Gates points out he spends $7m a year to offset his carbon footprint. Luckily he, like many of the rich can afford to buy those indulgences to absolve their sins. It's a new take on a very old Catholic scam.
As for population, it's one of those wicked problems. The West has a bit of an aging population, which leads to stuff like increased healthcare costs/demands, and the pension crisis.. Especially given current economic policies helping provide pension funds with record low yields. And then other policies, like encouraging inflation means a lot of people can't afford to have kids.
But I still think encouraging Greens to take the snip is a good idea. It's a rather Darwinian solution.
A lot of concrete is used not because it is necessary, but because it is easy to use.
There are also ways if using it intelligently, eg, using concrete in pre-cast shapes that can be reused for another building in the future (just as stone blocks or bricks are taken from a disused building to make a new one).
I heard the bit about concrete on BBC radio, including a road bridge that Bill Gates uses which I gather essentially floats on the lake it crosses.
Thinking about the issue now, "What about constructing with wood instead" crosses my mind, but I note in the Reg article that using wood isn't always a great idea either.
"a hard-science like climatology" Its about as hard as economics or sociology. Far to many variables many of which are ignored because taking notice of them may be harmful to your argument.
Nothing to do with the hardness or otherwise of the science but I do love the quote "since records began". The climate's been going a bit longer than 150 years and any records older (eg history) are ignored because they often demonstrate fluctuations (eg floods and famines) which may be climate influenced.
I also love the fact that predictions are now so far into the future that there is no way to test them. Crystal ball gazing at its best.
The climate's been going a bit longer than 150 years and any records older (eg history) are ignored because they often demonstrate fluctuations (eg floods and famines) which may be climate influenced.
By the time Alley and the GISP2 project finished in the early 1990s, they had pulled a nearly 2-mile-long core (3,053.44 meters) from the Greenland ice sheet, providing a record of at least the past 110,000 years. Even older records going back about 750,000 years have come out of Antarctica.
I suppose 750 000 years is a bit longer than 150 years, but what would I know? I'm not so highly privileged as to have been born yesterday.
As valuable as the temperature record may be, the real treasure buried in the ice is a record of the atmosphere’s characteristics. When snow forms, it crystallizes around tiny particles in the atmosphere, which fall to the ground with the snow. The type and amount of trapped particles, such as dust, volcanic ash, smoke, or pollen, tell scientists about the climate and environmental conditions when the snow formed.
Year after year, a steady rain of dust, plants, and animal skeletons settles on the ocean floor. As new materials pile on top of old materials, layers of sediment form a vertical timeline extending millions of years into the past. McManus and his colleagues on the Resolution are drilling long cores of the ocean floor to read the timeline.
Quoting you again:
"a hard-science like climatology" Its about as hard as economics or sociology. Far to many variables many of which are ignored because taking notice of them may be harmful to your argument.
Care to back this up?
There was a public health policy person on Ezra Klein the other day - she was someone who called the major events if the pandemic in advance correctly.
She noted that journalists and policy makers were slow to grasp the epidemic. She noted that Silicon Valley types were fast to grasp the situation because the are used to thinking in terms of exponentials.
> The other reason I would listen to Bill Gates on these topics is that he has spent years employing and talking to experts in these fields.
In the book* he makes a point of noting that people he's spoken to include the smallholders likely to be affected as much as the subject matter experts.
It also says his solution (possibly more "what to avoid" than "what to do") requires unblocking the various attempts at innovation taking place now so that we aren't sinking costs into the alternative technologies that represent an improvement on now but don't aid longer term goals.
Frightening indeed :/
* disclosure: as abridged for the R4 radio serialisation as linked in other post
(...thinks: fairly sure I heard the title misread on The News Quiz...)
"In the book* he makes a point of noting that people he's spoken to include the smallholders likely to be affected as much as the subject matter experts."
Sounds like you're talking about an xtian lay-preacher. That's quite some faith you have there.
* The Living Book?
The article claims that Bill says that. So is that a typo/misquote by El Reg's heroic workers, or a big booboo by His Gatesness?
Limestone plus heat equals calcium oxide plus carbon dioxide. CaCO3 -> CaO + CO2. Calcium dioxide (aka peroxide) is something very different.
Why anybody should listen to Bill Gates anymore than they listen to Joe Shmo from Kokomo is beyond me. I met him at a San Francisco Computer Fair in 1987 when all he had was a small pot to pee in, worked out of the equivalent of a garage, had a DOS-based operating system he’d purchased from some shmuck, and had been involved in creating and trying to market an assembly language application. He was like a few hundred other nerds trying to bust into the upcoming micro-computer business and, to his credit, he made it when he struck it lucky with IBM.
As a guru who thinks he is worth listening to, he leaves a lot to be desired , and was much less talented than many of the worthies who were heads and shoulders above him in brains, programming talent and imagination back in 1987. Like many entrepreneurs, or actors, music performers, luck and persistence has much more to do with a person’s success than talent.
Why should we listen to him about something he obviously knows very little about – climate change. That is perfectly obvious to anyone with a brain they actually use instead of stuff with nonsense.
Bill Gates has no qualifications, and apparently no education, in climate science. The second sentence in Gates' book: "Greenhouse gases trap heat, causing the average surface temperature of the earth to go up.", is a lie. Heat is not trapped by radiative active gases such as carbon dioxide, CO2. As demonstrated by actual research: ( PDF: https://www.scirp.org/pdf/acs_2020041718295959.pdf )
The idea that heat is trapped by the atmosphere is entirely based on modelling. Models which have never been validated. No attempts to falsify them have ever been tried either. If Gates wanted to add to the sum of human knowledge he should fund empirical work in climate science. He should stop taking doomsday climate modelers seriously.
Greenhouse gas, GHG, models are falsified by real data. Models assume more CO2 makes the atmosphere more opaque to infrared, and that, net, there's less out-going radiation to space. Reality shows: a) the atmosphere has not become more opaque to infrared at higher CO2 levels; and b) when the climate warmed prior to 2016, more OLR was emitted, not less! Greenhouse gas models predict more water vapor in the atmosphere will accelerate warming. c) yet over 4 decades, when the Ganges plain was irrigated (1979 - 2018), its atmospheric relative humidity rose 2%; but average surface temperatures fell by 0.8C. The opposite of what GHG models predict. GHG climate models assume the world works in the opposite sense to reality.
I agree with most of Gates but not all especially the nuclear point. Extremely shocked, Gates thinks nuclear power to be as clean despite its potential to cause environmental and human health risks. As for planting trees — yes it is important but trees are no panacea to climate change. While trees if cared for after planting are important nature-based solution to address impacts of climate change — they (tree programs) are greenwashed in terms of reporting number of planted trees instead of focusing on impacts trees are causing globally. Mitigating and adapting to climate change — a lot needs to be done. Gates is right, one way is to pressurize politicians and decision makers to stand up firm for green and innovative solutions by ensuring such green techs are easily accessible and affordable not least by global south countries. Energy-intensive human activities — cement, plastics, steel, mining, shipping, logging — should be controlled to reduce carbon dioxide. Unsustainable farming and food waste can be avoided if we prioritize sustainable food production systems and if we at household levels and restaurants we cook measured quantities that we can eat and finish in one meal or eating. Leftover food when microwaved adds unnecessary pressure to energy bills. Finally, I think hiring environmentalists and ecologists as well as climatologists across sectors is important. Gates in his philanthropic efforts should also hire people like me to support his work in an eco-friendly way.