Climate change - what to do?

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Climate change - what to do?

Postby MichaelB » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:37 am

We have a couple of threads going about climate change at the moment and as it's such a huge and thorny subject, it's easy for the topic to go off in all sorts of directions.

The first thread is about whether climate change is occurring, whether human activity is influencing the pace of climate change and the implications of that change - and the huge issue of establishing facts relating to all that.

The second thread focuses on what is the worst that can happen if climate scientists are wrong about the factors associated with global warming and we take action based on remedial recommendations.. and what is the worst that can happen if we do nothing.

.. so comments on those topics should go into those threads.

In this thread we'll work on the assumption that rapid climate change is happening, we're likely part of the problem and something needs to be done.

Given we have other threads for debating whether climate change is real and what is causing it, any comments that challenge the assumption above will be deleted. This guideline is simply to keep discussions on track.

This thread is about solutions.

What should we do? For example:

Should we engage in geo-engineering?
Does nuclear power hold many of our answers?
Should there be more of a focus on renewables rather than nuclear?
Do we need to forsake gadgets like our big screen plasma TV's and just focus on energy efficiency?
Is "clean coal" the way to go?

Should we do all/some/none of the above? Why X and not Y?

Should we perhaps do nothing at all and for better or for worse from our own perspective just let Nature sort it all out - what may become a "survival of the fittest" type approach?

... and why aren't the changes believed needed to help address climate change happening at a pace or level being urged?

Questions, questions, questions.

Lets hear your answers and views :)
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby Joey » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:02 pm

Something you make reference to many times Micheal , "Straw Hats" they will be just as effective as anything else we do , a lot cheaper too.

The only difference between us now and the cave men is that we have the ability to share observed data , our ability to use it to any effect has not changed , No one has , can or ever will show otherwise because admitting this cold hard fact would mean admitting that our so called perceive intelligence is worthless.

I would like to issue a challenge to prove to me and yourselves if in the history of this planet us humans have ever been able to reverse the effects of data we have collected or conditions we have observed.
Every argument to date only confirms the obvious , climate changes , it always has and always will , it's known as weather , we can barely predict it let alone change it.
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby MichaelB » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:17 pm

Joey,

Based on this, the original assumption of the thread:

In this thread we'll work on the assumption that rapid climate change is happening, we're likely part of the problem and something needs to be done.


The challenge you issue aside for the moment and just for the purposes of clarification on your views - lets say the changes to climate are not reversible and what's done is done and some of what is yet to occur is already done too due to a lag effect.

If there was even a remote chance of somehow limiting even greater changes to climate in the future that we would generally perceived to be negative, by modifying the way we go about life, do you think that would be worth any sort of effort - maybe if it's not to our own benefit but for future generations? Or do you feel we should just continue in a business as usual fashion due to the expense involved, the uncertain outcome of those efforts and lack of precedent? Or something else?
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby Joey » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:36 pm

MichaelB wrote:Joey,

Based on this, the original assumption of the thread:

In this thread we'll work on the assumption that rapid climate change is happening, we're likely part of the problem and something needs to be done.


The challenge you issue aside for the moment and just for the purposes of clarification on your views - lets say the changes to climate are not reversible and what's done is done and some of what is yet to occur is already done too due to a lag effect.

If there was even a remote chance of somehow limiting even greater changes to climate in the future that we would generally perceived to be negative, by modifying the way we go about life, do you think that would be worth any sort of effort - maybe if it's not to our own benefit but for future generations? Or do you feel we should just continue in a business as usual fashion due to the expense involved, the uncertain outcome of those efforts and lack of precedent? Or something else?


Thanks Michael , at last some of the only questions that really matter in the entire climate change debate.

Firstly , there is no "Rapid" climate change but there is definitely climate change , like I have said many times already it has always been changing and always will , whether we are the cause appears to be the center of the debate.

Regarding it being worth modifying the way we go about life , Sure if there was any evidence that changing what we do would make any difference , if there was any precedence even on a micro scale that changing what we do will turn earths climate in humans favor , if someone could produce any tangible evidence that man has ever had the ability to change nature in a positive way then anyone would have to be a fool to ignore it.

I need evidence and proof , not opinions of what may or may not work , Doing things "just in case" something "might be" is a waste of time , doing it hoping for the best can have a negative or positive result., for all we know we may already be helping slow down warming or cooling.


All evidence to date has only proven we are just passengers on earth , if we are to believe science earth is about 50 billion years old , as you even mentioned yourself they also believe there has been 5 great extinctions , also times where the earths atmosphere was too toxic for life , there have also been ice ages , meteors hitting earth , volcano's beyond our comprehension , it goes on and on and earth did what ever it does , we still don't have the knowledge , understanding , tools or ability to alter nature anymore than we did 50 billion years ago , we can still only observe and record it.
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby PeterReefman » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:12 am

Back on topic, whatever we do needs to be TOGETHER above all else.

Together as in the public, governments, and business. No one sector can get ahead of the others, because at the end of the day they all support and require each other.

Together as in Australia, the rest of the first world, and the third world. Of course this is global, and while we need to look after our own backyard we must be inclusive and partner other regions.

Together as in EVERYTHING we do. Not just reducing our electricity consumption at home while we then go and buy a Nissan Pathfinder (or similar).

That's all a huge ask of course. But something of the scale of AGW, and something with as much at stake will ALWAYS be difficult.

I don't know if we can do it. I really don't. But certainly shouldn't stop us trying.
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby davidh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:38 am

Joey,

Joey wrote:
Firstly , there is no "Rapid" climate change but there is definitely climate change



By what basis do you say it is not rapid ... depends on the baseline you are comparing to doesn't it?

if there was any precedence even on a micro scale that changing what we do will turn earths climate in humans favor ,


There is a great deal of micro scale evidence ... you only have to look at the heat island effect in cities, and the changes in humidity and rainfall when rainforests are clear felled.

All evidence to date has only proven we are just passengers on earth , if we are to believe science earth is about 50 billion years old , as you even mentioned yourself they also believe there has been 5 great extinctions , also times where the earths atmosphere was too toxic for life , there have also been ice ages , meteors hitting earth , volcano's beyond our comprehension , it goes on and on and earth did what ever it does , we still don't have the knowledge , understanding , tools or ability to alter nature anymore than we did 50 billion years ago , we can still only observe and record it.


I'm an optimist Joey, so I prefer to believe that if we all make an effort, than we can reverse some of what we are doing (not all of course). Psychology research shows that people make the fundamental error of viewing climate change as remote in time and distance, and not immediate to their everyday life. As you said above it is happening, and all the observed evidence, from multiple teams from multiple countries says that it is acellerating. Yes, there will be inevitable feedback mechanisms we have little control over, but there are some feedin mechanisms that we have direct control over. In fact, if climate change is acellerating, than that is all the more reason to acellerate our response to reducing all the gigatonnes of CO2 and other greenhous gases we are dumping into the atmosphere. Remember, never before in history has so much greenhouse gas been dumped into the atmosphere preceding climate change. In the past, there has been CO2 & CH4 increase as a feedback response to warming, and which further feeds warming, which means we are still in for more warming over the coming decades and centuries, but this does not mean we should give up and do nothing. On the contrary, it is an urgent signal for action, and since we cannot leave the planet, we should look after it as best we can, no matter how insignificant that may seem on an individual level. If all 6.7 billion odd humans were to take the attitude that "I should take responsibility for this", than we can make a difference.

cheers, David
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby MichaelB » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:30 am

Thanks for your contribution David.

Regarding the sticking point about "rapid" climate change; I should have jumped on this a bit earlier when Joey mentioned it... not to challenge it as such, but to direct that discussion probably to the Yes/No thread here:

living-green/topic735.html

So, harking back to the original assumptions in this thread, which are:

In this thread we'll work on the assumption that rapid climate change is happening, we're likely part of the problem and something needs to be done.


.. and lets move forward in this thread with that in mind. Folks, if a post goes off topic moving forward, please don't be offended if I zap it - I just want this thread to focus on this particular point. My bad, I should have jumped on this earlier. Just refer to the original question before posting.
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby GeoffHammond » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:18 pm

We need to be careful when discussing What To Do not to get caught up in the naysayers' diversionary-tactic argument about whether or not the problem exists. If you cannot do that, consider my comments below in the context of wildlife habitat depletion and the reduction of biodiversity, the price of oil and other seemingly cheap energy sources or the traffic congestion in large cities and how you cannot get a seat on public transport. There are many problems facing the world today that stem from a single cause. Climate Change is the latest to find its way onto our big screen HD television sets.

Flame Suit On: Check.
Raise Shields: Aye, Captain. ;)

I think the core resolution lies in the number of people inhabiting the planet and the way they choose to live.

That is, when you think about it for a little while, an almost trivial answer because it is almost self-evident. However, it embraces concepts that go to the very core of living things and humans in particular, such that when you think about it for a bit more, you realise the outlook is dire.

Let's continue to assume for the moment that the climate-change nay-sayers are right. In other news, we *are* over-fishing the seas. We *are* sending species to extinction because we want to eat palm oil or meet some unstated asphalt-coverage target ;) and so allow these species nowhere to live. We *are* going to run out of fossil fuels. We *are* creating and setting free compounds that are toxic. Will any of those (or other such-like) things lead to the mass extinction of humans? Unlikely. Will it see some people die and some more people experience a changed circumstance? Probably. Meanwhile, we have the majority of the earth's human population facing more immediate threat to their existence: poverty. The people who will suffer most are those who can afford to change the least. (Sure, house prices in Brighton and Bondi will take a literal dive, but that is not the same as the fate of many, many people on the margin.)

Geoff's Solution #1 is to determine a maximum carrying capacity for the planet and a sustainable human lifestyle, then implement both. Forcefully and without mercy.

Not gunna happen, is it? ;)

Geoff's Solution #2 is to rearrange the world's economy - which drives pretty much everything these days - such that the effects of waste and greed are removed and the gains redistributed fairly. Meanwhile, social and political structures are rejiggered such that humans become content with enough for their needs, rather than feeling empty while surrounded by more than they could actually ever really want.

Geoff's Solution #1 now looks a bit more achievable... ;)

Sure, I'm being flippant and pessimistic; but the 'evidence' supporting my pessimism extends back through time to before there were humans. All living things will exhaust their supply of resources given the chance - the difference with humans is that they can see it happening and discuss it on the Interwebs.

I'm doing a subset of what I can. I've adopted a less consumptive lifestyle and am getting by with (somewhat) less. I consider issues of food-miles, processing-levels and packaging when spending my money. I've chosen not to have children. Much of what I do is governed in some way by 'what is the impact of this' - style of thinking. As a result, I feel that I am doing something and the Smug levels around Hepburn have increased a bit, but in global terms it makes no difference.

Why am I doing it? Not because it is the Right Thing To Do; the universe does not care, only humans care about what humans do. I'm doing it for the same reason that people drive around in Hummers and live in absurdly large houses maintained at just the right temperature for their French wine collections; because it makes me feel good about myself. And there's the rub: while people feel good doing what they've always been doing, they will have no motivation to change. If the climate change science is correct (and if you're contributing to this thread, you obviously believe it is), by the time people feel motivated to change, it will be too late.

Does that mean we should give up and just wait for the end to come? Well, if you like. However, I think there is much joy in life and all that comes with it and those who can should spread the joy around a little. If we can throw money at nonsense projects like water pipelines and desalination plants, why can we not ignore the protests and build a few nuculer power plants (thus moving from an unmanaged nuclear isotope discharge regime to a managed one), go wind and solar, tidal, etc, etc?

It just takes will.
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby MichaelB » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:49 pm

Thanks for your contribution Geoff.

You can leave the flame-suit off, there will be no flaming in this thread. Disagreement perhaps, but no flaming. If any is published, it will be squashed with an iron fist (100% recycled content), wrapped in thick, soft layers of eco-friendly velvet :mrgreen:
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Re: Climate change - what to do?

Postby davidh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:59 pm

Wow Geoff, don't hold back ...

There are many solutions beyond nuclear, and we have the technology to achieve them. The carbon footprint involved in building, dismantling, and then storing the waste from, nuclear power plants is far greater than the proponents would like us to know. There are better ways, with much lower carbon footprints. Let's not replace one problem with another that is just as big. Sustainable/renewable energy sources are called that for a reason. Nuclear power plants need subsidising just like fossil fuel power plants, and they are 'perverse' (meaning that both fossil fuel & nuclear power plants have detrimental long term effects environmentally and socially). Sustainable approaches mean just that, and if we subsidise them as much as some seem willing to subsidise the 'perverse' althernatives, we will get sustainable power sources up and running very quickly, with negative carbon footprint effect (instead of positive carbon footprint at best even from supposedly "clean" coal, or from nuclear).

We do need to change how we get our energy, but listening to the nuclear lobby is not the answer. People who mine uranium want to make money despite the perverse problems it brings, just like people who dig up sequested fossil fuel. If all that subsidised mining exploration and fossil fuel power plant building was taken away, right now, we would see a big difference very quickly in how investors distribute money, and in how they make money. They will still make money though, but from a different place.

I think BP have the right idea. They have invested some of their fossil fuel profits into building solar powered factories that make solar panels ... now there is an idea ... why didn't we think of that sooner ... oh, we did ... let's build some more than.

Cheers, David
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