Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (Assassinator @ April 13 2008,18:26)|
|I think we indeed talked passed eachother ;-) Because, obviously, I agree on most of what you wrote there. |
|Quote (Louis @ April 13 2008,11:20)|
|What ISN'T at all stupid is trying to minimise certain specific changes that result from (or are greatly exacerbated by) certain specific human activities. And of course, learning to live with certain aspects of climate change is one of these things we need to do.|
What kind of minimisation would you have in mind then? Wich effects? For example, we can easely see we cause massive deforestation and desertification and the damage it causes to loads of people. The problem is as well, that those things are mainly caused by the same people, simply because there are lots and lots of them. Isn't that our main problem, that we're simply with too many?
And, I think we're not focussing enough on learning to live with possible effects. And even if we do, it seems that we're mainly focussing on ourselfs and less on the country's that really need our technical expertise on this subject.
|In what you wrote I am reminded of one of the most astounding things I ever heard. I was talking to a chap once who said "I don't understand why these poor starving people in Africa don't just walk out of the famine zone and into somewhere where there is food.". It should be immediately obivous why that is abundantly daft!|
You don't have to be afraid that I think something like that, I fully realise that simply moving away from changing enviroments is FAR as easy as it sounds ;-)
|Climate change affects people in places less well able to cope with/change because of it than Holland. It affects places with high population densities, in countries where there is little no infrastructure available to help people. You'd be amazed just how many people can die in even a minor natural catastrophe. Look at the death toll and havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. And this was in the richest country with nigh on the best infrastructure in the world (subsequent mismanagement notwithstanding). Think about millions of refugees trying to get to countries that are marginally safer than where they are, think about extreme weather patterns becoming more common, sufficiently common to make certain very densely populated parts of the world uninhabitable, think about where those people are going to go and how they are going to get there.|
Again, ofcourse I realise that such a worst-case scenario can become reality. The problem is again: can we really do something about it? The liveability (if that word even exists, but I hope that you know what I mean) of area's has changed craploads of time's, the main difference now is that hundreds of millions of people live in area's who are prone to change already (coastal area's). Can we stop those area's from changing? Can we even protect those people? Ofcourse I deeply hope we can, but sometimes I think really really bad things to those people are going to happen wich we can't stop. I don't think we're thinking enough about what can happen to those people and how we can protect them. I see expensive projects to put CO2 in the ground, I see alternative energy's. Do those things (well, at least some of them) help? Yes, they can help with coping with the changes for us in the future, but what direct help do they offer to those millions of people who can be very screwed?
|It's all right saying "well the climate changes so why should be do anything about it", but to be blunt I think you've missed the point. No one is trying to keep the world in some static paradise, no one is even suggesting this. What people are saying is that there are a huge number of things we need from the planet to survive and some of the things we do are jeapordising those vital things. More than that, some of the things we do are having effects on climate that are directly responsible for killing other people in other countries. "Climate change" is a shorthand for "the adverse effects of certain activities of H. sapiens on the environment that result is specific changes in specific aspects of the global climate". Do make the mistake that people are somehow trying to stop the world from ever changing at all. That's a gross misunderstanding of what IS going on.|
Ofcourse I agree that we are destroying and depleting lots of things who are vitale for our survival (or at least for our current civilisation), but it seems that those direct things aren't the things who are in the spotlight right now (deforestation, desertification). CO2 is thé subject right now, and although I realise we should definatly decrease polution output wich also means less CO2, I think "Guys, aren't there things who deserve that space in the spotlight more then that?". That's mainly my adversion against the current debate, that we're making the wrong priority's.
Sorry I missed this bit the first time around. My bad.
Ok what changes? Well CO2 is a good one. Reducing greehnhouse gas emissions is not a bad idea, look at Venus (just a joke!). Sadly there is no one method. Windfarms do their bit, "breeder" nuclear power does it's bit, interstingly hydroelectric power is a pain in the arse becaue it dams rivers generating methane! You get my drift, we need to make the change from fossil fuels to other sources of energy that are less polluting, or at least pollute in a more manageable manner (because everything pollutes!). It's more complex than this obviously, but moving away from something we KNOW pollutes to a less polluting solution is a good idea. Carbon capture schemes do work, but they are a tiny sticking plaster over a big gaping wound, not the be all and end all.
The basic idea here is we need to diversify. We've been very lucky and relied by and large on one technology for a few hundred years, we need to invest in different technical solutions to the energy problem. A cheap catalytic method for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen might be a good start. Let me know if you come up with anything! ;-)
The population thing is another complicated one. People are going to fuck. A lot! And good on 'em. One thing we need to do for certain is increase life expectancy in the third world by reducing infant mortality (at least). Increase distribution, access to and use of contraception. Condoms are a good choice for a variety of reasons although they are by no means the only one. We need to discourage large families, not quite as drastically as the Chinese method (which causes problems of its own which are abhorrent) but rather by countering a large portion of the need for large families. The desire is never something we can or should try to stop, but we can make it less necessary to have large families. These are just easy starting points. The really tough stuff is cooperation between disparate nations. For all its massive flaws, the UN does a lot of things very well in this regard.
Learning to live with the effects of climate change? We have no choice. This is part and parcel of the technical challenge we need to overcome. If you've been told/got the impression from the media that this research isn't going on, then the media are failing to do their jobs. Surprise surprise. Look at water recapture processes, desert farming and the work of Norman Borlaug for some examples.
The "worst case scenario" I mention is OPTIMISTIC! This migration has already started and it's going to get worse. Look at migration from the Sahara's fringes as desertification increases in rate (for example), or the wars fought over scarce resources in north east Africa. And you're right, millions of people are already suffering and millions more will suffer whatever we do. We're long past the point where nothing can go wrong. That does not mean we should do nothing, or merely look after our own. There is a huge amount we CAN do (some of the examples above ae a part of that). Other technical challenges like reclaiming land, barrier schemes in coastal areas, dare I say it INCREASING the use of certain fertilisers and GM crops to make smaller parcels of land much higher yielding. Again, these are just simple starting points. For more technical stuff I really do recommend Real Climate (google it).
As for what help they offer, easy: what's the price of a human life? What's the price of a few hundred thousand human lives? There's a comedian in the UK called Bill Bailey who made a song about the amount of porn consumed in the USA, and how much money that market is worth and what that money could be used for elsewhere. I stress this was a very funny song, and very self mocking. It's called "I will not look at titties for a year", and it jokingly refers to sending all the money that would go on pron to international aid. Of course it's tongue in cheek, but it does illustrate one very good point: for relatively little individual sacrifice on our part in the first world we can contribute to a small improvement in the third world. One pound from every person in the UK is about £60 million. A tiny drop in the ocean of what is needed but a non-zero drop. Every drop saves lives. It's not perfect, it's not flawless, and it's not easy, but it has undeniable positive results.
Sadly, like I mentioned before there are, and have been, great misuses of this principle. Witness the "green taxes" of the UK govt being used to further military ambitions and to shore up failing financial institutions and the legacy of governmental economic mismanagement. See the corrupt diversion of international aid funds, see the dubious funding of military untas and dictators friendly to western needs. In other words this is far from a simple situtation. But don't fall for the politics of despair because humanitarian, environmental and charitable intervention does have position results in and among the failures. It is better than nothing at all. Take as one exmple the issue of crops and deforested: make one acre of land more productive and less acres need to be deforested, it is actually that simple.
Sure it must go hand in hand with population controls and the usual things but these don't have to be onerous or sinister, they need be no more significant than several thing like driving a more efficient 1.8 litre car as opposed to a 2.0 litre car, or a hybrid as opposed to a full petrol (these allow for the distant generation of energy via diverse means, they are again one tiny part of the solution, not the whole deal). 300 million Americans and 300 million Europeans (comprising ~10% of the global population and consuming the vast majority of the resources and making the vast majority of the anthropogenic pollution) altering several things in a small way adds up to a big difference. And there's no need to wear hair shirts or flagellate oneself. Getting China and India to continue their development with less polluting technologies rather than the ones we used to kick start our development is another cracking good idea. Like I said lots of little efforts all adding up to big things. Is it going to save every life, prevent every catastrophe? No of course it's not. But it will save some lives and it will slow down the changes that are demonstrably causing catastrophes. You're of course correct that it is difficult (and very controversial) to decide which thing to work on first, but the "work on first" mentality is again a media soundbite I'm afraid. There are a lot of people on the planet and there is a lot of money to be used, we can work on multiple things at once if we coordinate our effort. Climate change denialists and advocates of the selfish politics of despair would rather fiddle while Rome burns, and that we cannot afford to do.