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    • Makes perfect sense.

      Do you think though as renewable sources of energy take over and energy becomes cheaper that we will just keep following the path of human nature and buy more and bigger TVs, more plastic and fill the earth with windmills, batteries and solar panels? I don't know how to calculate their environmental impact, it's probably less than fossil fuels, but gosh they're multiplying like rabbits.

    • This talk by Ramez Naam is very informative.

      (Posting on mobile so links don't work, sorry)

      We're looking at an exponential curves here. And when it comes to exponentials, a few years make a tremendous difference. Would it be better if we had responsible adults in charge over in the US? Sure, but here is hope yet, despite them.

      Don't get me wrong, it's not all good, we will have serious problems, no doubt. But all gloom and doom, all the time is in the same category as outright denial - it's an incentive to do nothing and just sit back and lament on how f-ed up everything is and nothing can be done about it. Which is exactly the opposite of what we need. We need people to know that things can change for the better, to be energized and actually start working on solutions. Because solutions do exist.

    • This was probably covered in the same talk I linked to in the previous post, but in the last few years it looks like economic growth is decoupling from growth in energy use. Electronics are becoming more efficient. Cars too. Industry processes also follow that trend. Westerners use of energy is flattening.

      The problem is the rest of the world is starting to catch up, Chinese and Indians primarily. If their appetite for energy gets to the level of the developed world, then we might have a big problem on our hands.

    • Great video. It's encouraging to see that prices are falling so dramatically. However, that doesn't mean that we're off the hook. Time is the critical factor--once we pass certain tipping points, climate system feedback loops may kick in and lead to unstoppable changes. For example, melting glaciers mean that less sunlight is reflected back into space and thus more heat is absorbed, which leads to more melting. Note that once in progress, this effect does not depend on the future level of greenhouse gases.

      The cost advantage of renewable energy sources will likely mean that China, India and less developed countries will turn to them for their future development, which is very good news indeed. But what about the huge world-wide existing infrastructure of fossil fuel based energy? Can we replace it in time? Where will the needed capital come from, especially in poorer countries? Cars and electricity production are responsible for only about half the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. What about home heating and livestock production?

      @jpop: I completely agree that we must avoid sinking into despair. You are right that some solutions exist, but I believe we shouldn't let that lull us into complacency. The problem is too big and the time is too short to think that the market will just take care of everything. Some governments are taking action as are some states within the US. But I find it discouraging that climate change is only rarely mentioned in electoral politics when it is really the elephant in the room. We can and must do better.

    • We will likely act too slowly on this and have to turn to CO2 scrubber technology. Unproven and likely many unintended consequences. I hate to assume technology will 'save' us on this but we're going to have to hope so. What countries did when addressing the ozone challenge was and is encouraging. A lot of smart people understand and want to do something about the climate change challenge so I'm optimistic that although we'll be late to the party we'll still get it done. The consequences if we don't... Let's just hope we do. I'm in the middle of reading a Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos and if we go back to those crazy unstable climates we are going to be in serious trouble. Humans will survive it but it won't be pretty.

    • I'm certainly no expert on the subject but I am very wary of geoengineering solutions, though carbon sequestration might not be risky if affordable. What scares the daylights out of me are proposals to unleash aerosols or other forms of modifying the atmosphere. It seems like every year we learn new aspects to the immensely complex interactions that affect the climate. The models keep being revised, but I'm not sure our confidence in them is growing. OTOH, we do know with high assurance things we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Isn't it better to do those now?

    • I agree with you but if we just focus on removing CO2 we might be okay. Might is not a good word to have to use. Sequestration may work but the test trials haven't been working out as well as they had hoped. Humans will figure out some way to trap and reuse CO2 and make money doing it.

      I think another part of the solution is starting to charge people the real cost of things. In other words adding in the environmental cost to the item or service they are buying. We can do this. Just look at how many intelligent people on Cake are on board to solving this problem - something can and will be done despite Trump and all of the other world challenges that have to be overcome. We can. We will. Our very survival depends on it.