And bleed the sky and tell the sky

Hate him or love him, Ezra keeps it real it on climate change:

I touched on this in my conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, but I’m a climate pessimist. I don’t believe the United States — or the world — will do nearly enough, nearly fast enough, to hold the rise in temperatures to safe levels. I think we’re fucked. Or, at the least, I think our grandchildren are fucked.

[….]

“We don’t know who struck first, us or them, but we know that it was us that scorched the sky,” says Morpheus. “At the time, they were dependent on solar power and it was believed that they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the sun.”

I think of that speech from The Matrix every time I hear people talk about blasting sulfates into the atmosphere to combat the consequences of global warming. It is easy to imagine a future in which the effects of climate change are considered the horrifying prelude to whatever insane thing we tried to do to reverse climate change.

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142 replies
  1. 1
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    He does keep it real on that topic. Ain’t nobody gonna listen though – at least not enough of them.
    There’s a problem, feathers, iron, bargain buildings. Thanks for making me feel my age. Have a good day.

  2. 2
    efroh says:

    Yeah, climate change is one of the reasons I’m glad I don’t have kids (I still fear for my niece and nephew though, as well as for everyone else’s children). Just read this story about puffins starving to death since the herring they eat are declining due to climate change. I fear a repeat of Easter Island, but this time on a global level. There will be no place to run to.

  3. 3

    The pessimist in me says global warming will be an easier problem to fix once it has killed billions. It is by definition a self correcting problem. The medicine will not taste good.

  4. 4

    Not a huge REM fan but like that song.

    Talked about it before on here but I always think of the humans are like viruses speech. I’m a pessimist on climate as well.

    Did like this chart on previous climate actions and effects on GDP.

  5. 5
    Joel says:

    The Rapa Nui were doing fine until the Dutch came along.

    This issue just pisses me off to no end. The fact that climate change is subject to the standard political shenanigans of partisanship, false equivalence, etc. is deeply upsetting.

  6. 6
    Cassidy says:

    The species will survive. We are built to adapt and survive.

  7. 7
    srv says:

    This must be the saddest dusk I’ve ever seen.

    @efroh:

    glad I don’t have kids

    You’re just letting the wingnuts win.

    Don’t let DougJ’s kids troll them alone.

  8. 8
    Joel says:

    @Cassidy: By definition, every species is “designed” to adapt and survive. That didn’t prvent lots of them from being wiped out in extinction events.

    Besides, survival is not nearly enough. I’d rather not return to the dark ages, or something worse than that.

  9. 9
    C.V. Danes says:

    I touched on this in my conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, but I’m a climate pessimist. I don’t believe the United States — or the world — will do nearly enough, nearly fast enough, to hold the rise in temperatures to safe levels. I think we’re fucked. Or, at the least, I think our grandchildren are fucked.

    In this he is 100% correct, but not because we will fail to hold temperatures at safe levels, but because we have failed to discuss global warming in its proper context. We may be warming the planet by dumping lots of CO2 into the atmosphere, but the reason we’re dumping all that CO2 into the atmosphere is because we have 7 billion people on the planet, well on our way to 10 billion in the next 3 decades. Global warming is merely a symptom of having too many damn people on this little planet. As is food security, water security, deforestation, and so on.

    So he is right to be a climate pessimist. And we are the ones who are fucked. But not our grandkids. Our grandkids will adapt just fine once the global order that is perpetuating this mess collapses under the decayed weight of its dead, rotten carcase.

  10. 10
    The Watcher says:

    Man, you guys give up too easy. You would have never made it on a wagon train headed out west.

    That being said, we will get our hair mussed a bit. 5,maybe 6 billion tops….

  11. 11
    matt says:

    well, nobody took on a half wagon load of crazy, lying backstabbers with them homesteading either, unless they wanted to wind up bones picked by vultures in the desert.

  12. 12
    Yet an says:

    If those fuckers in the village who are constantly crowing about how our children need school and entitlement reform actually cared about posterity this is the issue they’d spend their billions on.

  13. 13
    Cassidy says:

    @Joel: /shrug

    Okay.

  14. 14
    C.V. Danes says:

    @efroh:

    I fear a repeat of Easter Island, but this time on a global level. There will be no place to run to.

    The Easter Islanders had no place to run to, either. The nearest place for them to go to might as well have been Mars by today’s standards.

  15. 15
    Yeggman says:

    If those fuckers in the village who are constantly talking about how much our children need school and entitlement reform actually cared about posterity this is the issue that they’d spend their billions on.

  16. 16
    Yeggman says:

    If those bastards in the village who are constantly talking about how much our children need school and entitlement reform actually cared about posterity this is the issue that they’d spend their billions on.

  17. 17
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cassidy: I’m from the desert, so Road Warrior didn’t look all that bad. Like one of our winter camping trips.

  18. 18
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Cassidy:

    The species will survive. We are built to adapt and survive.

    This much is true. It’s our civilizations that will take the hit.

  19. 19
    Joel says:

    @Cassidy: What exactly are you shrugging at? Being wrong, or the impending catastrophe of global warming?

  20. 20
    Joel says:

    @Cassidy: What exactly are you shrugging at? Being wrong, or the impending catastrophe of global warming?

  21. 21
    BGinCHI says:

    We may have to scorch the sky to stop the Koch Brothers.

    All options on the table.

  22. 22
    The Watcher says:

    @matt: I beg to differ. My folks back in Texas say there are many unmarked graves out in the prairie. The night is dark, and full of terrors (usually pissed off companions who would like to live into next week).

  23. 23
    Belafon says:

    @C.V. Danes: Yeah, but the amount of CO2 in the air is not tracking with the size of the population, it spikes at the industrial revolution and is growing because of the way we are using coal and oil.

  24. 24
    piratedan says:

    I hear that there are opportunities for a better life on the off-world colonies……

  25. 25
    cat says:

    @Helmut Monotreme:

    The pessimist in me says global warming will be an easier problem to fix once it has killed billions. It is by definition a self correcting problem. The medicine will not taste good.

    Tell that to Venus. It didn’t have the proper life forms to keep the carbon green house effect in check and cooked itself.

    We are purposely putting the carbon back into the atmosphere that life locked away into the earth that kept Earth from turning into Venus.

  26. 26
    Eric U. says:

    @efroh: I have often wondered if the human race will manage to stay in existence. We are very adaptable, but there is some limited range of conditions that we can adapt to. My parents saw an amazing change over their lifetimes, but I often wonder if we will see a similar level of change, only in the opposite direction? You only have to watch the sales of pickup trucks vary with gas prices to know that we have very short time horizons as far as our planning for the future goes. Somehow I don’t think massive investment in new highways is going to look very smart by the time I die.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The people advocating “blasting sulfates into the atmosphere to combat the consequences of global warming” are all fossil fuel die hards who should be tied to stakes in downtown Miami and be allowed to drown as the ocean swamps all of southern Florida. Heaven forbid we should deny the Dark Lord and his cronies in the Awl Bidness so much as a farthing in profit to save the species. These vile people are not worthy of quick, painless deaths for their perfidy…they need to die slowly in as much pain as possible to pay for their depraved indifference to the lives of others.

  28. 28
    kbuttle says:

    @C.V. Danes:
    Sincere question: what would placing it in its proper context (ie 7 billion on the way to 10) actually do? What could possibly be done about global population growth, practically?

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Joel:

    The fact that climate change is subject to the standard political shenanigans of partisanship, false equivalence, etc. is deeply upsetting.

    Yet another in an endless parade of reasons for my nym.

    Wipe them out. All of them.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Eric U. says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: blasting stuff into the atmosphere always seemed like a bad idea. I have also heard of people that want to collect all agriculturally generated carbon waste and dump it into the ocean. It all seems like Reagan blaming air pollution on trees. Overshoot seems like a real possibility. The mitigation efforts probably should be concentrated on stopping the production of atmospheric carbon. We don’t seem capable of that.

    @raven: When I lived north of Salt Lake City, the effects of the inversion collecting all the auto pollution over the city produced a lot of cool looking lighting. Not worth the cost, but it could be beautiful

  32. 32
    lukeallen1 says:

    Not be be outdone by 95% cut/paste markymux, accidental troll DougJ phones one in as well.

  33. 33
    Culture of Truth says:

    I agree. Short term selishness will win out.

  34. 34
    Citizen_X says:

    @Cassidy:

    We are built to adapt and survive.

    Well, we’re doing a shitty job of it these days.

  35. 35
    Barry says:

    @Yeggman: “If those bastards in the village who are constantly talking about how much our children need school and entitlement reform actually cared about posterity this is the issue that they’d spend their billions on. ”

    Their idea of ‘reform’ *always* comes down to looting the system for their own benefit.

  36. 36
    SatanicPanic says:

    @kbuttle: Develop. Developed nations have less babies. Or you know, murder people. I suspect that’s not going to be that popular.

  37. 37
    srv says:

    @Joel:

    Besides, survival is not nearly enough. I’d rather not return to the dark ages, or something worse than that.

    Yet you people can’t wait to see the next GoT’s episode.

    What’s up with that?

  38. 38
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @srv: GoT is an adventure, defined as nasty things happening to people you don’t like a long way from where you’re sitting comfortably watching it happen.

  39. 39
    Cassidy says:

    @Joel: I’m shrugging at your preference for death because you won’t have air conditioning. I genuinely do not care, hence the shrug.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @Eric U.: I remember the sunsets when there we’re big volcano eruptions.

  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @Citizen_X: That’s because we’re too busy worrying about the trappings of civilization and comfort. Once people have to eat a little grass and tree bark just to stave off hunger, we’ll remember.

  42. 42
    Cacti says:

    O/T and can’t link, but the “Bergdahl deserted!” narrative is starting to unravel already:

    Source: New York Times

    WASHINGTON — A classified military report detailing the Army’s investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 says that he had wandered away from assigned areas before — both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan — and then returned, according to people briefed on it.

    The roughly 35-page report, completed two months after Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit, concludes that he most likely walked away of his own free will from his outpost in the darkness of night, and it criticized lax security practices and poor discipline within his unit. But it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl intended to permanently desert.

    I called it yesterday. The sliming of his character by his “brothers in arms” is starting to look like a preemptive CYA. Slander him before he has a chance to give his side of the story.

    We already know they didn’t like him because he preferred reading to getting drunk with them.

  43. 43
    Francis says:

    It’s weird. The first most likely thing to happen is far more frequent crop failures (heat, drought). But here in the US, we waste a staggering percentage of the food grown every year (about 40% according to some estimates) and even with all that waste food is cheap.

    What’s the event that will get Americans to respond? The collapse of wild fisheries? Unlikely. Instead we’ll just eat farmed fish. Pervasive drought in the West? The existing infrastructure allows for a lot of management. Resource wars in foreign countries? See the US response to the Syrian civil war.

    As the maps at Vox show, the rich countries are the ones best placed to adapt to a changing climate without changing their behavior — until catastrophe hits. And the unfortunate thing about catastrophes is that they are so low probability that it’s very difficult to predict what will be the spark.

    Nuclear war? Sudden major collapse in agricultural productivity? Ice sheet collapse? I dunno. But since I’m 50 and have no kids, I expect I’ll live just long enough to see the foreshadowing of what’s coming.

    Best of luck to the younger generation, and your kids.

  44. 44
    Citizen_X says:

    @Cassidy: AC my ass. We’re not going to support 7 billion people + without an industrial society. For us to go back to the good old (slavery/serfdom-ridden) days of an agricultural society, billions must die.

    Kinda like to avoid that.

  45. 45

    @Yeggman: And EK is part of Versailles.

  46. 46
    Trollhattan says:

    @raven:
    Somebody wicked smaht could possibly tell based on the color profile. For a morning sky it looks rather too yellow-orange–my guess is it contains a shit-ton of particulates (smoke, dust…?).

  47. 47
    catclub says:

    @Francis:

    The collapse of wild fisheries? Unlikely. Instead we’ll just eat farmed fish.

    Only if the oceans survive enough to support such farming.

    My understanding is that much of the food for those fish is smaller, less salable fish, which are ground up for fish meal. That only works when there is still excess productivity of the larger oceans.
    I worry about the ocean ecosystems collapsing into nothing but jellyfish.

  48. 48
    Trollhattan says:

    @Belafon:

    Imagine cutting China and India’s populations in half and simultaneously doubling their middle classes (special rapture for the rural poor). You’d have more than a billion fewer residents of earth while simultaneously increasing our resource consumption.

  49. 49
    gnomedad says:

    @Cacti:

    Slander him before he has a chance to give his side of the story.

    Get the lies out early and often, and that’s what will stick. Walkbacks will be attributed to the liberal media.

  50. 50
    MattR says:

    @Cacti: You didn’t have to be a psychic to guess that GOP operatives were going to overreach in their efforts to make sure Obama never gets credit for anything. The only real question was which detail(s) would emerge that completely undermines the narrative they have been pushing. While the info you posted is interesting, it doesn’t quite rise to that level. Yet.

  51. 51
    Trollhattan says:

    @catclub:
    Exactly right. We harvest unwanted fish to feed desirable farmed fish. At some point there are no more unwanted fish left.

    Australia just developed a completely non-marine food for shrimp farming, which has yet to go to market. No such equivalent exists for fish farming.

  52. 52
    SatanicPanic says:

    @catclub: Mmm hotdogs made of ground up fish and jellyfish.

  53. 53
    chopper says:

    @Joel:

    he was wrong? our species won’t survive?

  54. 54
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I think we’re fucked as well, and there’ll be lots of grandchildren who invent a new ritual of shitting on their grandparents’ graves.

  55. 55
    srv says:

    @Robert Sneddon: I was under the impression people here were upset with the happenings of people they liked.

    @Citizen_X: Industries evolve. Cultures evolve, or die. Tens of millions of Americans don’t consume real goods like they used to, they consume more virtual goods.

    You’d be out destroying the planet now in some way but you’re here burning pixels.

    Give enough people AC and an ipad and the population problem might solve itself.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @lukeallen1: Derp! Derp! Derp!

  57. 57
    gnomedad says:

    There’s a lot of space between life totally sucking and extinction.

  58. 58
    Harold Samson says:

    “The Matrix” was a movie, DougJ. They never even said what “scorching the sky” meant or how it was done. Also, human beings make lousy batteries; what, these super-smart machines couldn’t build themselves some nuclear reactors?

    I think of this as one of the first big lessons humanity will receive in global management, and it’s going to cost us. We *will* engage in climate engineering at some point.

    There is one bright side, our planet has plenty of land in northern latitudes currently too cold for settlement. Siberia and Canada are going to be popular locations, and there’s a lot of space up there.

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chopper: The species will probably survive, but not in the lifestyle manner to which it has become accustomed…in the First World, mind you. In the Third World, they’re living that now. Which will be a pretty severe transition for many. Like Villager scum, should any of the maggots survive the highly negative reaction of the masses to the mess the Villagers helped craft in their haste to get to another Georgetown cocktail party.

    I never appreciated indoor plumbing so much after I spent six months in Honduras having to walk several hundred feet outdoors to take a leak, a shit, or a shower. It made the morning ritual of walking a whole ten feet, indoors, on carpet, to the bathroom or the shower seem like the ultimate in luxury.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SatanicPanic: Hotdogs made up of Koch Brothers, Banksters, and MBAs.

  61. 61
    srv says:

    @gnomedad: Welcome to Fresno.

  62. 62
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: “Soylent Green is bad people!”

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti:

    We already know they didn’t like him because he preferred reading to getting drunk with them.

    He was acting like a fucking officer, that’s what he was doing. Harrumpf!

    (Officers DO, however, go out and get drunk…but only with fellow officers, not with the enlisted swine)

  64. 64
    Thunderbird says:

    ” I think we’re fucked. Or, at the least, I think our grandchildren are fucked.”

    This is pretty much a shorter version of my answer when I’m asked why I’ve no interest in having children.

  65. 65
    Harold Samson says:

    @Cassidy:

    You sound like one of those Luddites who want things to go bad so people are forced to live the way the Luddites want us to.

    Not going to happen like that.

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    @Cacti: I just watched the video. I can’t imagine that there’s a human alive who can watch that video without being moved, or holding their breath, or tearing up. And I even knew what was going to happen next.

    If you can watch that video and say the hateful things some people are saying, there’s something terribly wrong with you.

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @WaterGirl:

    If you can watch that video and say the hateful things some people are saying, there’s something terribly wrong with you.

    Well, yes. Those who are still saying those things hate the ni*CLANG* in the WH more than they feel any emotion for anything else, to include love for their own children if they have any.

  68. 68
    raven says:

    @Trollhattan: Dunno, I was looking east from Atlanta. Not a lot of industry since they moved all the textiles to China!

  69. 69
    Harold Samson says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You don’t need electricity to dig an outhouse or build a windmill pump.

  70. 70
    Harold Samson says:

    @Thunderbird:

    I like to think of “the world is going to hell so I’m not going to have children” as part of Evolution.

    Nature selects for optimism.

  71. 71
    Francis says:

    @Harold Samson: Geo-engineering is surprisingly easy. Just load up low-altitude rockets full of sulfates. What’s hard is modeling the new climate. What’s the impact on the Gulf Stream, or the jet stream? Where is it going to rain, and what’s the impact of acid rain on local biology? So it’s not clear where you want to move to.

    Also, I suspect that Americans (especially the rich ones who live on the coast and wield political power) will pay for seawalls long before they move to Saskatchewan. Next century, though, is up for grabs.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Harold Samson: Um…there’s a lot of physical labor involved in all that. Which most Americans do not have clue one as to how to perform.

    Also, too, an outhouse is not “indoor plumbing”.

  73. 73
    chopper says:

    @Harold Samson:

    There is one bright side, our planet has plenty of land in northern latitudes currently too cold for settlement. Siberia and Canada are going to be popular locations, and there’s a lot of space up there.

    of course, food will be an issue. but housing, yay!

  74. 74
    scav says:

    @Harold Samson: Tigers eat optimists

  75. 75
    Trollhattan says:

    @raven:

    Coal accounted for 62 percent of Georgia Power’s energy portfolio in 2011 and was once the most-used electric power source in the United States. Currently, power generated from coal energy is more economonically affordable than most other methods. In our role as stewards of our environment, Georgia Power has invested significantly in cleaner emission technology and development of alternative energy sources like solar and nuclear power.

    –Georgia Power

    I’ll venture this, plus ‘lanta’s famous traffic are the likely sources, trapped by a moist inversion layer.

  76. 76
    Harold Samson says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I grew up on a farm so it doesn’t seem that mysterious to me.

    People having to figure out how to do fairly simple things or die…. sounds like evolution to me! :)

  77. 77
    chopper says:

    @Francis:

    Geo-engineering is surprisingly easy.

    we’ve been doing it for centuries without even knowing it. of course, we all know the best way to get out of a hole you’ve dug yourself into is to get a better shovel.

  78. 78
    Harold Samson says:

    @scav:

    Yes they do..

    Seen any tigers running around lately?

    Pessimists may be better at predicting the future, but the future is created by optimists.

  79. 79
    Trollhattan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Tony Bourdain would happily do an entire episode on this cuisine breakthrough.

  80. 80
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Belafon:

    Yeah, but the amount of CO2 in the air is not tracking with the size of the population, it spikes at the industrial revolution and is growing because of the way we are using coal and oil.

    True, but as Ezra Klein points out in his essay, all of those billions of people are going to want to eat meat, drive big cars to far away places, and in general, burn a lot more carbon. CO2 production will continue to increase at an exponential rate.

  81. 81
    Fair Economist says:

    Population pressure is not the primary issue. We could live carbon-neutral today, we’d just have to live like people in the early 20th century with regard to transportation, accept time-of-use restrictions for major appliances (including air conditioning and flat-screen TVs), and have somewhat less consumer goods. Restrictions on that level have historically been quite achievable in major crises like wars. It’s not currently doable because of the truly vast sums of money the fossil fuel companies anticipate making from destroying the climate – the incredible sums of money corrupt our government, our media, and our intelligentsia.

    Also, human civilization will almost certainly survive. The worst prediction I’ve seen is a temperature increase of 30 degrees Farenheit, from Jim Hansen. That makes *most* of the world uninhabitable, but high-altitude mountains will be liveable, albeit with climates like Phoenix. Mexico City, for example, could still be a megalopolis, with a highest-ever temperature of 123 F. I’m not sure about the polar regions, because they’ll warm up much more than 30 degrees in the summer once the icecaps have melted.

    It would, of course, be by far the greatest catastrophe in human history to transition to that kind of world. We’d probably end up with less than a billion people, so you’re talking about something like a 90% dieoff. That’s the kind of mortality rate you saw in Nazi death camps, but everybody’s going to be in this death camp.

  82. 82
    Harold Samson says:

    @chopper:

    Humans ate insects for a long time… and we have better cooking skills now.

  83. 83
    scav says:

    @Harold Samson: your understanding of evolution and evolutionary selection seems to be gathered from Hallmark cards filtered through Precious Moments figurines. Toddle on sunshine. The future isn’t created by patterns of human thought.

  84. 84
    The Pale Scot says:

    Compare this map of predicted rainfall patterns in 2050 with this map of major grains producers and this global map of water sheds, note that there is quite a bit of overlap between them.

    So far the world has been fortunate that a drought in one major grain area has not coincided with one in the other and famine has been contained to localities. That isn’t going to be the case much longer. A major failure in say China and India, along with reduced production in Aus or the USA, is going to put starving nuclear armed populations at each others throats. The thought of using food as a weapon by those who still have it is going to be irresistible. Think of Wall Street sucking China’s capital reserves dry. Since at least a third of grain is produced by irrigation from fossil water aquifers which are being rapidly depleted, I don see a way to manage water shortages.

    On the rainfall map there is a nice green spot at the foothills of the eastern Andes in Argentina, If I could I’d learn German and retire to one of those picturesque German immigrant villages there, at least the beer would be good for a while.

  85. 85
    C.V. Danes says:

    @kbuttle:

    Sincere question: what would placing it in its proper context (ie 7 billion on the way to 10) actually do? What could possibly be done about global population growth, practically?

    If history is a guide, nothing. We are demonstrably incapable of stopping having more babies than we need to perpetuate the species. We will continue to not do so until something outside of our control does it for us: global pandemic, global collapse of the food chain, global war over whatever resources are left, etc. In this, we are no different than those who used to inhabit Easter Island. Worse, actually, because we know what the consequences of unchecked population growth are, and we’re charging full steam ahead anyway.

  86. 86
    Harold Samson says:

    @scav:

    No need for snark. I bet I understand evolution better then you do.

    Everything that happens is evolution; what most people read and hear are the stories we construct to explain certain outcomes. Stories are easier for laymen to digest, but the evolutionary process has no specific target or goal. What we call “evolutionary pressure” is a metaphor for ease of explanation.

    Our language has very poor support for describing statistical, distributed processes. That’s why we come up with cause-and-effect stories.

  87. 87
    SatanicPanic says:

    @C.V. Danes: What do you mean? Most of the developed world is below replacement value

  88. 88
    Harold Samson says:

    @scav:

    The future isn’t created by patterns of human thought.

    It most certainly is.

    Geez, haven’t you noticed?

  89. 89
    Cassidy says:

    @Citizen_X: So would I. I’m not entirely sure our hopes match reality.

    @Harold Samson: Not really. I enjoy conveniences as much as anyone else. I’m just not confident we’ll do enough. Too little, too late.

  90. 90
    C.V. Danes says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    So far the world has been fortunate that a drought in one major grain area has not coincided with one in the other and famine has been contained to localities…

    True, but I think the real issue with food security is going to be the collapse of the ocean food stocks that make up some portion of the diets of the majority of the world’s population; not just from over-fishing, but the reduction in the oceans’ ability to support life due to loss of coral reefs and increased acidification.

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    We are demonstrably incapable of stopping having more babies than we need to perpetuate the species.

    What, the Pill, the diaphragm and the condom don’t exist in your world?

    We are demonstrably perfectly capable of stopping having more babies than we need to repopulate — see the statistics from Europe and North America. What we are unwilling to do is extend those capabilities to developing nations because some religious fanatics in the US have decided that it’s immoral for us to allow women in developing nations to make their own reproductive decisions. Women (and men!) in developing nations are clamoring for birth control, and we block them from getting it.

  92. 92
    scav says:

    @Harold Samson: Think happy and cancer vanishes!! Positive thoughts guarantee Lottery wins! Visualize hard and your Nigerian Prince will come!

    Things are more complex than you’re slinging here. Having better cooking techniques doesn’t magically make the non-insect foodstuffs readily available. That’s cargo cult logic.

  93. 93
    Cassidy says:

    @Harold Samson: To add further, perhaps I wasn’t clear. Humans, as a species, are survivors. We are really good at adapting. So, in the event of climate catastrophe, life will suck, but we can make it. We are hardy and tough creatures that will manage to survive even if we are reduced scavenging for food. I have faith in our species.

  94. 94
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What, the Pill, the diaphragm and the condom don’t exist in your world?

    Its not “my” world that will be contributing to the majority of the world’s population growth. India and Africa is where most of the growth will be coming from and, as you said, they will not be given wide access to birth control. But even if we could carpet bomb them with condoms today, even the current population is far more than the planet can sustain at the US standard of living which these countries are starting to demand.

  95. 95
    Harold Samson says:

    @Cassidy:

    Have a bit of faith, man.

    If there’s any kernel of wisdom in the climate deniers perspective, it’s that we’ve all heard many, many predictions of doom that turned out to be wrong.

    We *are* warming the climate, it’s real. What we can’t really know yet is just how hard things will become.

  96. 96
    Harold Samson says:

    @Cassidy:

    Oh, I guess i didn’t need to say what I just said. You have faith.

  97. 97
    J R in WV says:

    @raven:

    Nice sunrise shot. Almost certainly aided by pollution to get the nice colors.

    Out west you can see a layer of brown air when you get high enough into the mountains with a long view over the lower plains. It’s quite remarkable to actually see the pollution, and realize that we’ve improved enormously over the past 40 years or so.

    Think how bad it is in China, or was in LA back in the 1950s.

  98. 98
    Harold Samson says:

    @scav:

    No, I meant we can eat bugs and like it. ( a dash of pepper and MSG, some curry perhaps? )

    Think happy and cancer vanishes!! Positive thoughts guarantee Lottery wins! Visualize hard and your Nigerian Prince will come!

    Well you’re not going to get any of those things by presuming they’re impossible.

    You can’t win if you don’t play.

  99. 99
    Cassidy says:

    @Harold Samson: I have faith in our survival. I don’t have faith that we can avoid a cataclysmic change in climate that will cause the needless deaths of many.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    @Harold Samson:

    there is no ‘kernel of wisdom’ in any perspective that deliberately denies reality and basic science merely out of spite and laziness. in a just world these people would be pilloried.

  101. 101
    catclub says:

    OTOH, electricity from solar is coming on quickly ( whether quickly enough is above my pay grade).
    What other technological leaps might occur before we resort to sulphate skies and iron seeding the oceans, who knows?

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Its not “my” world that will be contributing to the majority of the world’s population growth.

    Um, yes, it is, because it’s YOUR world (my world, too) that’s blocking access to birth control. It’s a conscious policy decision by developed nations.

    So you can try to deflect the blame onto the people in India and Africa, but it’s YOUR world that’s preventing them from doing anything to slow their birthrate.

  103. 103
    Brett M says:

    @piratedan: If they suggest Miranda, just turn and walk away.

  104. 104
    Harold Samson says:

    @chopper:

    I’ve talked to a ( small ) number of fairly intelligent people who are skeptical of climate change. They don’t understand the basic science or numbers, but they all express the undeniable fact that we’ve heard cries of doom many times.

    Heck, the story of Chicken Little and Henny Penny is ancient.

    Get angry at them for resisting necessary action, but don’t deny that even your worst opponent may have some reasons for feeling the way they do.

    I’ve been able to “get through” to many a political opponent by first affirming their position as being understandable and having validity.

    I mean, these are predictions we’re dealing with. We really won’t know for sure until it happens.

  105. 105
    Trollhattan says:

    @catclub:
    It is, and also, too, wind. Still a long way to go but go, we must.

    On a very different scale, ITER and NIF are intended to finally unlock harnessing sustainable fusion–the perpetually forty-Friedman Units away breakthrough power source. I think we’ll unlock the beast, but meaningful entry to the grid is nowhere in sight.

    http://www.iter.org/

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/

    Give them the F-35 budget and they’ll shove things forward some. Raise the tax on hedge funds 5% and earmark it for fusion. We’re not really, seriously serious about this stuff.

  106. 106
    Paul in KY says:

    @cat: The reason it didn’t have those life forms was because it is 30 million miles closer to sun.

  107. 107
    The Pale Scot says:

    @C.V. Danes: The state of the oceans is a whole another threat. Fish are major source of protein but they are a supplement to grain consumption in most areas. As long there is rice or bread protein can be found in other ways, roasted cockroach with chile sauce, or dried jellyfish when that’s all that is left.

    When to carbs run out, it will be like going of a cliff, and it will be forecasted before it happens, and someone is going to see the only way to save their people is securing the Himalayas or busting the Turkish dams at the headwaters of the Jordan or destroy irrigation in the upper Nile to secure river flow to their area

  108. 108
    Harold Samson says:

    @Cassidy:

    I would agree with you on that.

    I would guess you’re familiar with China’s long history of cycles of population growth and famine die offs?

    I guess at some point I won’t let myself think too much about the individual faces of death, as it just causes me pain and is out of my direct control anyway.

    You do some kind of rescue work, no? I can see how that might make you feel disaster more acutely then I.

  109. 109
    Paul in KY says:

    @Fair Economist: Back in the early Eocene (roughly 49 million years ago) and then in mid-Miocene (about 16 – 14 million years ago) the Earth was much, much warmer.

    Both those times were golden ages for animal diversity, etc. However, I don’t know what the CO2 level was back then. It could be that those climates happened without a massive CO2 spike. Due to different continental placements, volcanism, Earth axis not as inclined as now, etc. etc.,

    Edit: Also, these periods came on gradually & the animal life had time to adapt.

  110. 110
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: The having too many babies than the land really supports has been going on for the last 10,000 years or so. The book ‘Ishmael’ gives a summing up of that situation.

  111. 111
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Um, yes, it is, because it’s YOUR world (my world, too) that’s blocking access to birth control. It’s a conscious policy decision by developed nations.

    Last time I checked, condom production wasn’t constrained to the US, nor is it even a major export of ours, but I could be wrong.

    That being said, the most proven effective means of birth control is to raise their economic standing but, as I said, even if we could magically flood every third-world country with condoms and wish them to be used, the world cannot sustain the population we already have. Even if we froze it at 7 billion, that’s more than twice what the planet can handle sustainably. And the only ways to quickly reduce the world’s population by half are worse than letting global warming run its course. Global civilization as we know it is going to undergo radical, disruptive change one way or the other.

  112. 112
    chopper says:

    @Harold Samson:

    I’ve talked to a ( small ) number of fairly intelligent people who are skeptical of climate change.

    then they aren’t ‘fairly intelligent’. or they’re grifting.

    They don’t understand the basic science

    see above. this is middle-school stuff.

  113. 113
    Fair Economist says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Back in the early Eocene (roughly 49 million years ago) and then in mid-Miocene (about 16 – 14 million years ago) the Earth was much, much warmer. Both those times were golden ages for animal diversity, etc.

    True ’nuff. But – the Eocene warming was 11 degree F. We could get 30. That would possibly be worse than the Permian extinction, and would certainly be one of the great 6 extinctions.

    It says something about human survivability that even in the midst of one of the worst climate catastrophes on Earth since the dawn of metazoan life, we’ll not only survive but probably maintain a technological civilization. If we do zap civilization, it will be via something like nuclear or biological warfare and not directly because of the climate changes. Even with those we’ll still have subsistence farmers on the altiplano. It would probably take a plague specifically engineered to exterminate humanity to take us out.

  114. 114
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Paul in KY:

    The having too many babies than the land really supports has been going on for the last 10,000 years or so. The book ‘Ishmael’ gives a summing up of that situation.

    Some facts that were probably not in the book of Ishmael:

    In competition with all the other life on this planet, the currently highly lopsided economies of 7 billion people:

    Utilizes 40% of all the worlds biomass
    Has converted 40% of all available landmass into city-space and farmland
    Utilizes over 50% of the world’s fresh water
    Produces more nitrogen that the rest of the world’s biomass combined
    Introduces over 100 million tons of synthetic material into the environment every year

    Competition with other life forms has placed 25% of all mammal species, 29% of all reptile species, and 14% of all bird species at risk. The last time we had a mass extinction event of this scale was about 70 million years ago, when an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs.

    Oh, and raising the world’s population to 10 billion is expected to further increase food demands by 70%. At some point something’s gotta give…

  115. 115
    JMV Pyro says:

    Sincere question from a longtime lurker.

    Given all of this, is their any reason whatsoever that I shouldn’t just put a bullet in my brain now and save the inevitable cataclysm the trouble? If there’s no hope of well, anything remaining and if we’re all 100% fucked, why do we even care about anything? If everything is heading towards an inevitable collapse within our lifetimes, what the hell’s the point?

    Maybe it’s just because I’m so young compared to everyone else here, but it just seems like a completely alien way to go around living one’s life. If there really is no hope for us as a species, why the hell aren’t we just promoting mass suicides to speed up our inevitable demise? Why even bother advocating for literally everything we support as progressives/liberals/social democrats/etc. if it’s all going to go up in smoke anyway?

    I know this all sounds like the ramblings of a college student who is still coming to terms with the vastness and pointlessness of the universe (because it is), but I sincerely want to know what those of you who think that there’s no hope left should do in the meantime.

  116. 116
    Cassidy says:

    @JMV Pyro: I can’t speak for everyone else, but mom too ornery and stubborn to let something kill me without giving it permission. My wife has told me that I’ll probably be a single dad going into the apocalypse; she likes her hot showers.

  117. 117
    chopper says:

    @JMV Pyro:

    listen, this isn’t ‘the day after tomorrow’ here. this is, at least for the next few decades, a relatively slow-moving disaster. no need to off yourself.

    the advantage of this slow pace is it gives us more time to try to come up with some sort of adaptation, messy as it may be. the disadvantage is that it gives us excuses to put off any work until later. and the situation gets progressively more difficult the longer we wait.

  118. 118
    Joel says:

    @Cassidy: And I wrote that, where, exactly?

  119. 119
    JMV Pyro says:

    @chopper:

    @Cassidy:

    Thanks, that certainly helps. I guess my main issue here is that I’d rather be realistic about climate change then pessimistic. It’s one thing to acknowledge that it’s a colossal issue that will require a complete overhaul of how we live as a society, it’s another to say that we’re fucked and there’s nothing we can do about it so who cares.

    Though, maybe for some people it’s just burnout? If I’d been spending decades fighting for a cause only to watch things get worse and worse and opposition to it arise out of greed and spite, I’d probably throw up my hands in exasperation too.

  120. 120
    The Pale Scot says:

    @JMV Pyro: I sincerely want to know what those of you who think that there’s no hope left should do in the meantime.

    Suggestion

    German Sparkle Party

  121. 121
    Trollhattan says:

    @JMV Pyro:
    Since I have a kid who’ll be in the thick of it when the merde really hits the fan, I’ll humbly request you stick around and advocate, loudly, for change on her and everybody elses’ behalf after I’ve shuffled off to the dirt farm.

    Individually, we can do a lot to reduce our energy use. This journey takes billions of tiny steps along with many giant strides. Every incandescent bulb replaced, every bike ride taken, every double-pane window installed, every tree planted, is not only a positive step but a thumb in a Koch brother’s eye.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Last time I checked, condom production wasn’t constrained to the US, nor is it even a major export of ours, but I could be wrong.

    Look, if you don’t understand the issue, then shut up and educate yourself rather than spouting off on subjects you’re ignorant about. You know a hell of a lot less than you seem to think.

  123. 123
    JMV Pyro says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    I’ll take it. Will there be alcohol, or will the mass droughts force us to remain sober?

    @Trollhattan:

    Oh, I have no intention of giving up just yet and I fully commit to trying to live sustainably. It’s just a bit hard to deal with all the pessimism at times, especially since I was raised in a bubble of apathy for quite awhile. It’s something I have to learn to adjust to and quickly.

  124. 124
    The Pale Scot says:

    @JMV Pyro: I would think about having children very seriously.

    If you’re young enough that 2030 is feasible, by then the path will be clear and you can wait.

    In 1980 the repub had the choice between the former director of the CIA and ambassador to China and a hollywood kook who even then was confusing reality with his movie roles like Alan Swann. In the general the nation had the choice between the kook and a naval officer/nuclear engineer, they choose the kook and I decided to be child free because I couldn’t envision being able to protect them.

    Don’t count on the hairless apes being rational even if their lives depend on it.

  125. 125
    revrick says:

    There is one thing that might — might — save us: peak oil! The International Energy Agency recently released a report that says we’ll need to find $42 Trillion in capital just to find and develop oil resources sufficient to maintain growth for the next 20 some years. Plus another $7+ trillion to ramp up renewables.

    But what are the big oil companies doing? They are actually cutting back on real dollar expenditures… some even engaging in stock buybacks. So, that $20 Trillion worth of oil in the ground that Ezra Kline and Chris Hayes worry about may stay there, because we won’t have the financial wherewithal to get it.

    The problem is it would probably take oil priced at $120+/barrel, but at that price economies and their financial systems tend to break. And that will set up a vicious cycle of price spikes and busts leading to collapsing production leading to collapsing economies.

    I’m betting that we start seeing this happen around 2015 — and by 2035 world oil consumption will be cut by 90%!

    Learn to farm friends, learn to farm. Poverty is our destiny!

  126. 126
    Fair Economist says:

    @JMV Pyro:

    Given all of this, is their any reason whatsoever that I shouldn’t just put a bullet in my brain now and save the inevitable cataclysm the trouble? If there’s no hope of well, anything remaining and if we’re all 100% fucked, why do we even care about anything? If everything is heading towards an inevitable collapse within our lifetimes, what the hell’s the point?

    Did you read my stuff? Even in the worst case scenarios, provided we avoid nuclear war and the like, we’ll still have an advanced technological civilization with hundreds of millions of people. And even if we can’t stop *some* climate change, our actions can still affect the rate and the eventual severity of the warming, and that makes a big difference. If the warming takes a thousand years, we could get the population down with several centuries of Western European fertility levels and perhaps avoid genocide (still big redistributional issues on the land, admittedly). Plus a slower rate in general makes it easier to move cities and to maintain some level of river deltas during the process (= less starvation). And even small reductions in the final warming level will make big differences in saving species from extinction.

    Even if it’s bad we can make a big difference in *how* bad it is.

  127. 127
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Look, if you don’t understand the issue, then shut up and educate yourself rather than spouting off on subjects you’re ignorant about. You know a hell of a lot less than you seem to think.

    Thanks. I’ve always found “just shut up, dummy” to be an effective counter-argument. Besides the fact that you are completely missing the point. So let me break it down for you:

    Even if we could magically fix the world’s anti-conception problems…
    And even if we could magically freeze the world’s population at 7 billion people…
    And even if we could magically figure out how to support the energy needs of 7 billion people at a sustainable carbon output…
    And even if we could magically figure out how to feed them all the meat they are going to want…
    And magically give them all the water they are going to need…
    And magically figure out how to fix the ecosystem with a lot less animals in the food chain…
    And magically figure out what to safely do with all the toxic chemicals 7 billion people produce…
    And so on and so on, magically…

    We will not be able to do it all within the time constraints we have to do it. Not even if we magically create a super AI that will figure it out for us, because we probably won’t listen to it anyway.

    There just isn’t enough magic to go around.

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    I’ve always found “just shut up, dummy” to be an effective counter-argument.

    I gave you a link so you could educate yourself. If you choose not to, that’s your business, but don’t expect me to take you seriously when you whine about how people in India and Africa are overbreeding.

  129. 129
    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Individually, we can do a lot to reduce our energy use.

    Not sure about “a lot” unless you’re talking about major changes in lifestyle that few in the First World are going to undertake until they are forced (which I believe we will, massively, before the end of the 21st century).

    There are things we can all do right now short of that, of course, just not sanguine about how helpful theyd be, really, in the grand scheme.

    For instance, I finally took a step I’ve been considering – installing photovoltaic on my roof here in the aptly-named Valley of the Sun – but that will only mitigate in a small way the other side of the ledger with all the fucking driving and even flying I have to do for my job (which, ironically, is in the commercial energy management business where we retrofit large buildings across several states with new and more-efficient lighting and mechanical systems).

    I tell myself I’m not doing it just to assuage my guilty feelings – that installing a very-long payback PV system on my house and thus reducing my draw on the electrical grid is a rational decision based on the economics – but I know enough about this stuff to know that’s not really true. It really is more about the guilt, and I’m lucky enough to have the scratch to afford it (most even in my affluent neighborhood can not).

    I believe it is ridiculously obvious that we are royally fucking-over complex life on this planet, along with our civilization.

    I expect – though I hope I am wrong – that things will get bad enough on a number of fronts that huge catastrophes are inevitable on the 50-75 year time horizon. I’m old, so that will be long past my time, but I think my children, and especially grandchildren, will be very happy to have both the (still) mightiest military as well as two oceans separating them from the rest of the world.

    I’ve advised my grown son (who lives nearby) to acquire property in the ancestral homeland of NE Ohio where at least there will be plenty of water when the SW doesn’t have enough of that essential resource to support even half the current population.

  130. 130
    JMV Pyro says:

    @Fair Economist:

    I’ll admit I skimmed over what you wrote initially. At least as far as what you describe, it would be a massive logistical undertaking the likes of which we’ve never seen before. It’s defiantly something to work off of though and it’s better then just giving up.

  131. 131
    Rusty says:

    I think of a scientist like Freeman Dyson and his optimism that we’ll solve the problem of global warming, after the effects, with great geo engineering projects. As an engineer, I find such thoughts to be incredibly naive. As the piece above infers, we’re probably going to fuck up the earth even worse by attempting to ameliorate the effects.

    It’s kind of like being on Dyson’s theoretical nuclear fission powered space ship. It would be cool to be one of the first people to see a solar system light years away, but it would suck dying just months later from cancer and radiation effects because whatever radiation shielding they used was insufficient.

  132. 132
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I gave you a link so you could educate yourself. If you choose not to, that’s your business, but don’t expect me to take you seriously when you whine about how people in India and Africa are overbreeding.

    I never wrote that. Nor did I even imply that. Not in anything I have ever written here or elsewhere. Perhaps you should check your misconceptions at the (comments section) door before you decide to lay into someone.

    What I did write is that most of the gain in world’s population is expected to be coming from India and South Africa. Think I’m making it up? Maybe these people are, too. Maybe you can drop them a comment, too, describing how stupid they are accusing for India and South America of overbreeding, and how they need to educate themselves, or whatever.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    What I did write is that most of the gain in world’s population is expected to be coming from India and South Africa. Think I’m making it up?

    And I pointed out that those gains are happening because of deliberate policies made in first-world countries. You know, like the policies we have that are causing global warming. China and India’s current coal burning aren’t helping global warming, but you agree that they didn’t cause it, right? Same thing here — the population gains are happening in India and South Africa, but they’re happening because of our policies.

    This shit is happening because of deliberate policy choices made by first world countries that are screwing developing countries and, by extension, all the rest of us. To pretend otherwise is to stick your head in the sand.

  134. 134
    Harold Samson says:

    @Rusty:

    Dyson may be intelligent as all getup, but he’s made some really ridiculous statements over the years. So has his daughter.

  135. 135
    liberal says:

    @Fair Economist: the reason humanity won’t survive isn’t the environmental effects alone. It’s those plus the nasty wars they’ll bring on.

  136. 136
    liberal says:

    @Harold Samson: lol. ISTR him speculating that thru genetic engineering we could create plants that grow photovoltaic leaves.

  137. 137
    liberal says:

    @Fair Economist: yeah, but the whole problem is that we won’t avoid nuclear war etc.

    I mean, Jesus, think of the absurd folly of the Iraq invasion. And that was against a backdrop of no real pressures.

    Not to mention things like running out of fossil fuels.

    Your ideas are plausible, but (regrettably) I don’t think it’s going to play out that way. Wisdom is in too short a supply.

  138. 138
    liberal says:

    @Mnemosyne: wait…India isn’t capable of producing its own birth control, despite having a pharma industry of its own?

  139. 139
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Cassidy:

    The species will survive. We are built to adapt and survive.

    For about 99.9% of our species history, we survived as Stone Age hunter/gatherers.

    I’d rather our grandchildren’s generation didn’t have to go back to that way of life. And given that about 99% of the human species would have to die if we did, I’d rather our grandchildren’s generation had a chance of living.

  140. 140
    JGabriel says:

    Ezra Klein:

    I touched on this in my conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, but I’m a climate pessimist. I don’t believe the United States — or the world — will do nearly enough, nearly fast enough, to hold the rise in temperatures to safe levels. I think we’re fucked. Or, at the least, I think our grandchildren are fucked.

    Well, there’s a paragraph Ezra never could have published at the Washington Post.

  141. 141
    Paul in KY says:

    @JMV Pyro: You first :-)

  142. 142
    Barry says:

    @Cassidy: “The species will survive. We are built to adapt and survive.”

    We could have a full-scale thermonuclear war, and likely the species would survive.

    That’s not the issue.

Comments are closed.