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    Default Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    So I was wondering. I think we reached a point of non-return regarding catastrophic climate change over the course of the next 80 years, and was wondering if human ingenuity could find ways to survive it as a society rather than just spin its wheel trying to stop it.

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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr2 View Post
    So I was wondering. I think we reached a point of non-return regarding catastrophic climate change over the course of the next 80 years, and was wondering if human ingenuity could find ways to survive it as a society rather than just spin its wheel trying to stop it.
    Climate change isn't a threat to us as a species IMO, and probably not as a society. It will SUCK though, and no one wants to live through the droughts, famines and wars as we reduce population to the new limits available to us. We could reduce population beforehand and skip to the end, but all paths lead to reduced population and less pressure on shrinking farm land IMO.

    Some other things we could do before hand to make it not as bad: Swap out threatened private land with unthreatened public land and relocate populations out of coastal and desert enlargement zones. Reduce reliance on enlargement zone food production, reduce shipping route lengths in anticipation of them getting cut at some point or another, make anticipatory housing for when areas go down.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    I mean, "stopping" is not a thing, you're right. It's "reducing impact of" that pretty much who actually makes policy talks about.

    And whether that means trying to create less climate change or prepare for the coming problems,well, we need to do both. There's already massive research in drought-tolerant farming, for example, and increasingly more cities are investing in flood defence. But reducing the amount of heating we eventually get is just as important. Fewer hurricanes means fewer floods, fewer deserts means more farmland and fewer climate refugees, etc.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    At this point, a bit of both. I don't think it's a threat to us as a species, but I do think it will be a massive stress on our society. As more changes take hold, changing weather patterns will shift where rain falls and how much, potentially massively reducing arable farm land.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Don't think about it as if anthropocentric climate change is this near future disaster.
    Think about it as if it's this amplifier of current disasters that has already been getting a little bit worse every year (example Australia turning into an inferno in 2020, or Texas freezing over in 2021).

    We're already investing in surviving it, that's what flood barriers, and stronger hurricane shelters, and more interconnected power grid, etc are. It's an "idiot tax" that all of humanity has to pay every year, and every year it gets a little bit more expensive. It will only stop getting more expensive when we stop burning fossil fuels completely (which one way or another is inevitable).
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr2 View Post
    So I was wondering. I think we reached a point of non-return regarding catastrophic climate change over the course of the next 80 years, and was wondering if human ingenuity could find ways to survive it as a society rather than just spin its wheel trying to stop it.
    We don't really know what the point of no return is. It's been postulated many times, and even such projected points have been passed many times, but these are all...educated guesses at best.

    In any case, it does seem unlikely that emissions can be halted entirely. There's going to be at least *some* significant subset of emissions as a byproduct of life, even if we improve a lot. So, even efforts to reduce them may simply change when that point is hit, if it is.

    That doesn't mean that reduction is a bad thing...the world is always changing to some extent, and slower moving disasters are usually easier to escape or avert. Sea level rise is a thing, but if it's no more of a problem than erosion, well, that's livable, not an apocalypse.

    The wisdom of such changes largely connects up to the cost. Some things are hard, and yield relatively little benefit, where other things...even closely related things, can be pretty useful. Consider solar panels. How efficient they are is going to vary a lot depending on weather and position on the planet. It's probably more efficient to consider going with solar if you live in Nevada than if you live in the US Northeast. All else being equal, a given quantity of panels will produce more power there.

    Nuclear is also pretty good. Low cost, low risk, extremely low emission. The fears there are more related to the weapon usages of related tech, and high profile coverage of relatively few disasters.

    But if you're considering that investing in a beach home that's extremely likely to be flooded is a bad bet? Sure, absolutely. Considering how to avoid coming risks is sound practice.

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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    The world as a whole has decided many years ago that it's not going to try to stop climate change from increasing. Any statements like "There's only 10 more years left to stop it" are only to make a stronger call for a need for action. But it can not be stopped, and it's already started years ago. That ship has sailed back in the 90s.

    Adjustment is really the only thing that is left to do now. But part of that includes attempting to minimize the severity of the change. The choices now are not between change or no change, but between bad change and terrible change.
    Measures to adapt to a new climate (which will continue to keep changing probably for the next 100 years or so) will be significantly more expensive the more severe climate change gets, so investing into keeping the environmental changes at a manageable level is an integral part in reducing the overall costs.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Climate change is not a yes/no kind of problem. Every fractional degree of increase not only matters, but the costs are likely to increase exponentially. The overall cost of 2.5 degrees is likely to be 10 or 100 times that of 2 degrees. As such, mitigation of increase is almost universally the more cost-effective option with regard to the issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr
    In any case, it does seem unlikely that emissions can be halted entirely. There's going to be at least *some* significant subset of emissions as a byproduct of life, even if we improve a lot. So, even efforts to reduce them may simply change when that point is hit, if it is.
    Human civilization will inevitably produce some level of gross emissions, because certain economic sectors present exceedingly technical challenges to decarbonization (airline travel, for example). How it is possible for civilization to have zero, or even negative net emissions due to the use of carbon capture technologies. For example, machines exist that can rip carbon from the atmosphere. Combined with underground burial and a dedicated energy supply these technologies could serve to halt and even ultimately reverse climate change over the long term.

    This is another reason why it is critically important to mitigate the level of increase now, because it reduces the amount of work later and also buys more time for the mass deployment of this kind of technology in the coming decades.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    As has been said, climate change has already changed the world. It's way too late to "avoid" it, whatever that means. So yes, a lot of money is going to be spent on "surviving" it instead.

    But, and I'm trying to avoid "politics" here, it's not just about whether you and I can survive it. We've got to worry about whole countries that (a) have lots of people but (b) nothing like as much money or resources as we do, and therefore (c) can't afford to take the kind of mitigation measures that you may be thinking of. And when large swathes of their population find themselves unable to survive in the area they've always lived in, that will precipitate a refugee crisis the likes of which the world hasn't seen since the days of Attila the Hun.

    If we can "contain" global heating to within lower levels, then it might still be possible to manage that crisis without a world war. That's probably the best we can hope for, from our present position. But obviously, it'll be a lot easier to do if the numbers involved can be limited to a few millions, rather than hundreds of millions of people.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    The solar cycle is a much bigger driver of global cooling or warming than anything 7 billion people do. Maybe some better forecasting there would be in order?

    A sufficiently large CME (Coronal Mass Ejection/electromagnetic storm when it hits us) could also EMP half the world.

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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    As has been said, climate change has already changed the world. It's way too late to "avoid" it, whatever that means. So yes, a lot of money is going to be spent on "surviving" it instead.

    But, and I'm trying to avoid "politics" here, it's not just about whether you and I can survive it. We've got to worry about whole countries that (a) have lots of people but (b) nothing like as much money or resources as we do, and therefore (c) can't afford to take the kind of mitigation measures that you may be thinking of. And when large swathes of their population find themselves unable to survive in the area they've always lived in, that will precipitate a refugee crisis the likes of which the world hasn't seen since the days of Attila the Hun.

    If we can "contain" global heating to within lower levels, then it might still be possible to manage that crisis without a world war. That's probably the best we can hope for, from our present position. But obviously, it'll be a lot easier to do if the numbers involved can be limited to a few millions, rather than hundreds of millions of people.
    Billions, probably, not hundreds of millions. Most of humanity lives along the coasts and in river valleys. Of the rest, a lot lives in areas that will be deserts soon.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    The solar cycle is a much bigger driver of global cooling or warming than anything 7 billion people do. Maybe some better forecasting there would be in order?
    I was considering to not even reply to this, but I feel it's an social obligation to shut down this misinformation before it gets to anyone:

    The solar activity cycle is a pattern that repeats every 11 years or so, and has done so for probably billions of years. Of course it does impact climate on Earth, but it's not like global warming comes and then goes away every decade. For the last 100 years, it's only been going up. Solar cycles have always been part of normal climate. Carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere have a massive impact considering the massive amounts that human industry produces.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I was considering to not even reply to this, but I feel it's an social obligation to shut down this misinformation before it gets to anyone:

    The solar activity cycle is a pattern that repeats every 11 years or so, and has done so for probably billions of years. Of course it does impact climate on Earth, but it's not like global warming comes and then goes away every decade. For the last 100 years, it's only been going up. Solar cycles have always been part of normal climate. Carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere have a massive impact considering the massive amounts that human industry produces.
    For extra fun, the warming planet is melting permafrost, allowing a bunch of frozen dead material to finally rot, also releasing further greenhouse gases. But wait! There's more! A warmer liquid holds less dissolved gas than a colder one, typically, and the oceans hold a lot of carbon dioxide. But wait! There's more! Dark surfaces absorb more heat than white, and melting ice sheets mean more dark open sea compared to highly reflective ice. So even a relatively moderate direct impact will snowball into further increases.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    The solar cycle is a much bigger driver of global cooling or warming than anything 7 billion people do. Maybe some better forecasting there would be in order?

    A sufficiently large CME (Coronal Mass Ejection/electromagnetic storm when it hits us) could also EMP half the world.
    Except that since 1960 solar irradiance has been going DOWN. Not up.

    Source: https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_res...olar-activity/

    If it was caused by solar activity we should be seeing a global cooling. We're seeing a global warming.

    The causes of global warming are well known: https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    And think about it for a minute. Who has more incentive to lie, a) a bunch of independent scientists with no skin in the game but uncovering the truth, or b) a bunch of businesses whose current business model depends on things staying business as usual.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Human civilization will inevitably produce some level of gross emissions, because certain economic sectors present exceedingly technical challenges to decarbonization (airline travel, for example). How it is possible for civilization to have zero, or even negative net emissions due to the use of carbon capture technologies. For example, machines exist that can rip carbon from the atmosphere. Combined with underground burial and a dedicated energy supply these technologies could serve to halt and even ultimately reverse climate change over the long term.

    This is another reason why it is critically important to mitigate the level of increase now, because it reduces the amount of work later and also buys more time for the mass deployment of this kind of technology in the coming decades.
    Hypothetical future tech is great, but honestly none of this is really in production now. In practice, advertising like "net zero emissions" means "we're still emitting a ton, but we paid someone so we can take credit for them planting trees."

    It's less emissions reduction, and more just marketing. Honestly, I don't see much value in that.

    We seem reluctant to embrace any technology that would actually mean significant reductions, such as nuclear power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I was considering to not even reply to this, but I feel it's an social obligation to shut down this misinformation before it gets to anyone:

    The solar activity cycle is a pattern that repeats every 11 years or so, and has done so for probably billions of years. Of course it does impact climate on Earth, but it's not like global warming comes and then goes away every decade. For the last 100 years, it's only been going up. Solar cycles have always been part of normal climate. Carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere have a massive impact considering the massive amounts that human industry produces.
    The 11 year sunspot cycle is one of only many weather cycles. What you're saying is correct, but of course climate is a lot more complicated than that, and the earth has indeed had far longer term weather cycles.

    They do not, however, negate emissions, even with all the complexity considered.

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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    The nice thing is, global warming is relatively slow. The climate doesn't heat up quickly, so we have some time to respond. Cooling can happen really, really fast. The Younger Dryas dropped an average of a degree a year for something like 30 years, which would mean the glaciers would be growing across our major cities already assuming we started in 1970.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Billions, probably, not hundreds of millions. Most of humanity lives along the coasts and in river valleys. Of the rest, a lot lives in areas that will be deserts soon.
    Yes and no. Yes, a lot of people live on the coasts. But "living on the coast", in itself, is not dangerous. Many coastal cities could cope with a 2m sea level rise, with only a handful of buildings affected. Those like New Orleans or Amsterdam, which will be in big trouble, are the exception, not the norm.

    And if you look at population density maps, you'll see that while yes, there are lots of people on the coasts, there are lots inland as well. (That, of course, will make the refugee crisis worse. If everyone could just move inland, that'd be easy - expensive and inconvenient, certainly, but simple. But they can't, because there are just as many people already living on that land.)

    All of this complication is why I'm happy to take the word of people who've put serious work into studying the question. And the consensus figure from them seems to be well under half a billion.
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    Default Re: Should we invest in surviving climate change rather than avoid it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    The nice thing is, global warming is relatively slow. The climate doesn't heat up quickly, so we have some time to respond. Cooling can happen really, really fast. The Younger Dryas dropped an average of a degree a year for something like 30 years, which would mean the glaciers would be growing across our major cities already assuming we started in 1970.
    That's a good way to look at it.

    That rapid of a temperature drop would be pretty horrifying. It's hard to adjust that fast, farmland gets screwed with, and cities are...not *that* fast to move.

    Sea level rise over the same timeframe would require some changes, but definitely not on the same scale.

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