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Vergent

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Excuses
« on: September 10, 2013, 01:36:39 PM »
The arctic ice numbers give people excuses. What would it take to get their attention, I mean what would it take to get your uncle John to give up his cigar? An earthquake? A volcano? Maybe another tsunami or how about a nuclear war? What would it take? To get the brain-fart idiots to actually do something?

Vergent

Okay "fart" is a strong term, but the founding father Ben Franklin wrote a book "Fart proudly" So this is within the cultural norm.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fart_Proudly

Vergent
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 08:48:26 PM by Neven »

Vergent

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 01:52:21 PM »
I mean there are 7,110,000,000 people on the planet and there are 514 members of this forum,  I mean, how outnumbered can you be?

Vergent

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 04:32:16 PM »
The arctic ice numbers give people excuses.

Only for the terminally ignorant or locked in denial. Even though the ice extent is coming in surprisingly high this year (I expected a new record year this late in it's loss as it gets close to thinning out) it is still going to be significantly below normal.

In any case, I think this year serves to underline the role weather can play. If the weather is suitable enough to retaining ice - we can gain some year on year. If the weather is merely average (2012) we set a new record, and if the weather is conducive to extensive ice loss (2007) my guess is we lose everything during the melt season. I don't see that that's impossible for next year, even if I'm now inclined to hedge my bets nearer to 2015 at this point.

I suppose it boils down to a couple of questions:
1. What do you think people should do?
2. What do you expect people will do?

Far as I can see - most people simply lack the capacity for comprehension, and if not lacking that, they lack the capacity for action.

I mean there are 7,110,000,000 people on the planet and there are 514 members of this forum,  I mean, how outnumbered can you be?

1 person acting in the right context can change the course of history.

For that matter, the biggest mass movements in history typically start ultimately with a single person.

Quote
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Margaret_Mead

JimD

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 05:22:48 PM »
Vergent

A good question, and one that I suspect motivates much of the intense interest in the Arctic ice melt.  But (sorry guys) even if the ice melts out at the end of summer by 2020, or even by 2016, that is not going to result in the sudden global change in direction over night that many hope comes along.

I note that all your other options
Quote
An earthquake? A volcano? Maybe another tsunami or how about a nuclear war

are not climate change related.  A nuclear war of any scale would, of course, have a big impact as would the Yellowstone super volcano going off. 

But, I take it that you really were asking the question as it relates to AGW.  Assuming that and that you are also talking about a rapid change in trying to mitigate AGW over a very short timeframe?  So we can leave out WWIII also?

To get a global change would require a global catastrophe.  Even if 20 million people were dying from crop failures in India attributable to a destabilized climate it is hard to conceive that making much difference (after all it has happened before so it is a natural phenomenon).  This kind of change is very rare in human history so it will not come easy.

Items which will NOT trigger abrupt social change.
1.  An end of summer ice free Arctic.

2.  SLR that has not yet exceeded 1 meter.

3.  Slowly destabilizing weather (people adapt to this too easily)

4.  Lots of hurricanes or tornados (see item 3)

5.  Bad heat waves or flooding (see item 3).

6.  Average surface air temperature rise under 2 C.

7.  CO2 levels under 450ppm



Candidates FOR abrupt social change (but not certainties).

1.  The collapse of the WAIS (and not just a little bit - a LOT) very quickly.

2.  A global grain crop failure resulting in a harvest no larger than 90% of global demand.  Guaranteed famine on a scale to kill ~100 million.

3.  A giant methane emission pulse from the ESAS and the tundra amounting to a 5 Gton pulse.

4.  SLR above 2 meters.

5.  A year without winter in the Northern Hemisphere; no snow in the continental US, little in Canada, equivalent weather in Europe and Asia.

6.  Surface air temperature rise above 3 C.

7.  A fire in the boreal forest which cannot be put out and burns until mid-winter.  10 million + acres (actually I doubt this one).

That should get us started.  Comments?  Disagreements?  Omissions?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

deep octopus

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 06:10:03 PM »
What will it take? First, I have begun to think about the additional consequences from the perspective of temperature increases by intervals of tenths of a degree, let alone a whole degree. At 0.6 C warming, the climate system is already becoming very destabilized. By 0.7 or 0.8 C over 1951-1980 baseline, local areas could well see several degrees of warming during certain periods and the probability of destabilized, destructive weather (torrential rains, prolonged heatwaves and droughts) increases. I imagine by around 0.9 C warming (if not sooner), Arctic sea ice will routinely have virtual ice-free summers. The climate consequences of this are somewhat unknown still, but I suppose major autumnal warming (which is happening now) as a result of accumulated Arctic ocean heat radiating to space would be an obvious event. Oceanic warming will of course hurt the most northerly latitudes. Indeed, the gradual intensification of temperatures has manifested in quite violent consequences. It's helpful to look to the future and imagine 2, 3, or greater degrees in warming, but from my vantage point, it's going to be years with 1.1 or 1.2 C warming that may forcibly arrest us. The forecasts for 2100 seem to forget everything that happens from today on out. The present is bad enough.

The basic progression of hottest year records seems to roughly take on 4 to 5 year gaps. From the 1980s, we have 1981, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2005, and then 2010. Heuristically, we are due for another record year in 2014 or 2015, barring a sudden La NiƱa or volcano. The "No warming in X years" meme will reset the timeline at that point, though laws of nature care not for lying-with-statistics, and so, the climate and societal consequences of a new record year will manifest as they will. If crops fail and river fish die in massive heat kills, people can't eat. If dengue spreads in the mid-latitudes, people will become ill and die. I don't know what threshold for tolerance a society has, but the local stages would be expected to be more sensitive than the global one. And yet, I see that Australia, on the heels of its hottest year on record no less, elected a climate change denier. I see little evidence of the world making the connection of its prevailing Westernized lifestyles and its consequences.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 06:27:58 PM by deep octopus »

pikaia

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 06:24:15 PM »
  Comments?  Disagreements?  Omissions?
I don't think anything gradual (such as rising CO2, average temperatures, sea levels or melting ice) will have much effect. Politicians are always faced by more immediate problems, so it is too easy to put climate change on the back burner. It has to be something sudden that hurts a lot of people directly and which is way beyond the normal to get society to act. Here in the UK, temperatures of 30C in December would get people's attention, and a drought of, say, four months, especially in winter, leading to reservoirs running dry might do the trick. Globally, a widespread crop failure leading to widespread famine should have an effect. Some of the other items on your list would certainly have an effect too, but they seem improbable to me.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 08:26:28 PM »
Candidates FOR abrupt social change (but not certainties).

1.  The collapse of the WAIS (and not just a little bit - a LOT) very quickly.

2.  A global grain crop failure resulting in a harvest no larger than 90% of global demand.  Guaranteed famine on a scale to kill ~100 million.

3.  A giant methane emission pulse from the ESAS and the tundra amounting to a 5 Gton pulse.

...


I actually think only 2. implies large and abrupt social change, but you can include 1 and 3 inasmuch as they lead to 2 (and anything else that leads to 2). In the end - I'd point at the Arab spring and say food is where it's at - that's the key vulnerability and the key factor that will cause rapid social change. Anything else only leads to it inasmuch as it causes 2.

I'm not sure a famine killing 100 million is enough either - it depends a lot which 100 million if the number involved was that low (and how capable they are of trying to export their problems to everyone else).

I do think that that item is more likely than most people would prefer to think (given that behaviour doesn't seem likely to change in relation to the consumption of agricultural output and market habits - and that this mitigates against any concept of turning theoretical slack into the system into a safety net).

TerryM

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Re: Excuses.
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 08:55:16 PM »
I'm not sure what threshold we're looking for. If it's simply getting people to pay attention while a recap is being played on CNN I think the demise of Summer Arctic Ice will do the trick. If we're looking for people to be mothballing their cars and supermarkets closing the meat department I don't see anything on any of the lists that's going to have that kind of effect anywhere outside the disaster area.
When New York has become an attraction for glass bottom boat operators the folk in Denver will be driving to church where they'll be thanking God that they were smart enough to have been born so far from the sea. The brilliant residents of Wyoming will be congratulating each other for having the foresight and fortitude to live in a once frigid clime as they build higher walls to keep southern refugees out.
I suppose I'm postulating that BAU will continue as long as possible, then a little bit longer. We've watched Somalia and Syria flirt with anarchy as we plan vacations half way 'round the world. Why will it be different when India floods, China starves or the Amazon burns?
We're a greedy species that's never shown much inclination to defer let alone deny our own gratification for the sake of others. I don't think we'll change.
Terry

ivica

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2013, 11:37:47 PM »
We are where we are, we can not change that,
but we could change where we are going, so


Source: Timeline Photos

pikaia

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2013, 11:45:12 PM »
There is an urban myth that if you put a frog in a pan of hot water it will jump out, but if you put it in cold water and heat it up slowly it will stay there till it croaks. Apparently it is not true, but will humans prove to be as stupid as the mythical frog?

ivica

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2013, 11:48:52 PM »
pikaia, let's make distinction here:
humans are not that 'stupid' (better term needed) but current society is.

Survival Acres

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 04:17:49 AM »
It will take the loss of virtually 'everything' before people will (reluctantly) change.

There is plenty of evidence of this.

The known effects of various harmful lifestyle habits (such as smoking or heavy drinking) do not dissuade people who are addicted to these habits. Information does help dissuade those who do NOT have an addiction (but not in all cases).

Addicted people simply don't care enough about their own future to quit (or anybody else's), so they continue. The 'excuse' is 'my addiction' (sometimes called a disease). The impetus to quit (change) only comes upon catastrophe - the loss of everything (health in this case and the onset of disease such as cancer).

Information did not stop people from experimenting with cigarettes. More information did not make millions quit. This only works on the non-addicted and not with 100% success.

Humans are addicted to the energy intensive lifestyle. Coal, oil, cheap energy, cheap transportation, cheap food. They're not going to 'quit' any of this voluntarily. Only catastrophe, the loss of virtually 'everything' would make them quit - make them finally realize they have a life-debilitating disease.

There are many other examples with similar outcomes. The use of carcinogenic chemicals, poisons and toxins continued until it killed lots and lots of people (and in some cases, still continues to this day). The 'addiction' as it were, is profits. If you're not dead, but getting rich off of this 'habit', you'll continue unless you are forced to stop by the courts.

This would be the only non-disease 'quit' available now to human-kind, but even this won't work. A court-ordered, government enforced 'stop this shit right now' sort of thing (burning fossil fuels for example). Except this won't ever happen and could not be enforced anyway, lacking public support and the inability to enforce. We'd simply go on doing it anyway (plenty of proof of this too, such as the extinction of elephants, tigers and rhino's despite 'enforcement' efforts and laws).

So the horrible truth is we aren't going to stop, we're addicted. There is nothing out there to stop us except collapse. Even a 'disease' won't stop us (polluted atmosphere / planet / soil / water, etc.) - all which I note are happening everywhere and yet we won't stop. We are factually addicted, because the very fabric of our civilization / society and way of life is intimately supported by this addiction. We are not willing to reduce or risk any loss of any part of it. We're very angry when it's even marginally threatened.

Economically speaking, this is all very true. Only on the individual level ("going Green for example") could we reduce our addiction, but this will not ever be enough. As long as industry, business, government and civilization itself remains addicted - we're screwed, even if we know it will kill us all.

And that is what is happening. We ARE screwed, there really is no doubt about this at all.

It would "take" the loss of everything - some gigantic, cataclysmic event to get us to stop.  But even then - what would we do?  We'd rebuild and bring BACK the very thing(s) that were killing us all.  We'd rebuild cities, roads, power plants, industry, business, military - virtually ALL of it if we still could.

It's what we do in disasters now - even when it goes beyond common sense and reason to rebuild in those locations or for the reasons we once had.  You'd think we'd learn - but clearly we are not and are not even capable of change.

Even with the loss of electricity by some magical means would not get us to "quit" our addiction. We'd adapt to energy consumption in some other form - still contributing massive levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. We'd still pollute, rape, pillage and destroy the Earth in the process of 'living'.  Our addiction will be our destruction.

If you go deeper, you'll find that civilizations such as ours never lasted. It's actually factually hopeless to think or presume we could. Various authors have written about this, including myself.

Future humanity (if there be any, quite doubtful) will be either similar to tribal, primitive cultures (past or present) or a tiny group of 'survivors' still addicted. If they somehow manage to survive and flourish - they'll screw it all up again, no doubt about this at all.

I rather doubt we're going to make it at all, far too many collapsing dominoes now toppling over. The Earth has never been in this position with the dubious 'contributions' we've made, which is far, far more then just climate change / effects.

Read The World Without Us and The Collapse of Complex Societies for background information on what is happening, why and likely to happen next. Our legacy will be the toxic environment left behind - lasting millions of years after we're gone.

Your uncle is going to enjoy his cigar(s) as long as they are available. Nothing is going to change that. It's simply not in us to "stop" and rebuild ourselves and what we are. We're very destructive, arrogant, indifferent and self-absorbed. Our civilization / society reflects this. The Earth pays for it all, but now we've screwed the pooch and taken too much.

A society of Takers cannot exist forever and shouldn't.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 06:03:28 AM »
Future humanity (if there be any, quite doubtful) will be either similar to tribal, primitive cultures (past or present) or a tiny group of 'survivors' still addicted. If they somehow manage to survive and flourish - they'll screw it all up again, no doubt about this at all.

Mostly I agree with what you wrote - but this one thing I'm going to argue against. I agree there is a real chance that it is the outcome - and yet - by inaction or not trying to create a better outcome, we guarantee it to be the outcome and thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

For me - it is not a question of avoiding collapse, or making a major difference to the processes driving it (as these are both far beyond my reach) but rather a question of trying to have an effect where I consider it to be potentially within my grasp to do so. That means considering the post collapse question and giving thought to ways to try to construct a sustainable (truly so) premise for people to continue to operate under (there is of course a selfish dimension to that too, inasmuch as even under the optimistic predictions climate change will severely and negatively impact the second half of my life and hence it is also arguably the closest thing I will ever get to a pension/retirement plan - even if not expecting to ever get the luxury of anything resembling modern day retirement).

To assume that there is no logical actions that can be taken (however slim the chances of success may seem) is to admit defeat, and to admit defeat is to assure it. For me, that was a choice I made as a child (arguably the start of growing up) - that one might as well live life just as by default one might as well be prepared to fight as not.

Operating alone and with very limited resources that necessarily means planning for a pretty primitive starting point - but nonetheless, I'd argue it's a rational strategy, even if it can't bear much fruit for generations.

I also think it's doable, notwithstanding that some aspects might offend some softer "western" sensibilities.

ivica

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Re: Excuses
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2013, 09:47:24 AM »
Excuses, eh.
Humans are excellent in finding excuses, doing that they can fool each other (and themselves) easily.
That all goes under rules of society.

No one can fool Nature. No excuses accepted here.
That all goes under laws of nature.