The relevant point isn`t the local weather somewhere, but the destabilization of Earth`s climate. Warming in some places may lead to cooling in others. (Increasing arctic ice melt strengthening the Labrador current, for example.) That said, the exact consequences of this destabilization, or our ability to prevent it, are each hard to predict. It`s better to focus our resources on preparing for the worst, than to try to prevent it and find it didn`t work anyway.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
Strawberry Feels ForeverYeah seriously, the evidence for anthropogenic climate change isn't in anecdotes, it's in actual counts of atmospheric carbon and worldwide temperature records. This isn't hard to understand. You put an ice cube in a glass of water and let it melt. The ice will get warmer and shrink, the remaining water will get colder, but over time the average temperature of the whole system will increase. That's for a simple system like a glass of water - for something as complex as the Earth's atmosphere, there will naturally be a large variation in temperature changes between different regions.
likes the cheeses.I have absolutely no confidence that any significant climate change solutions will be politically feasible before it's too late to do anything about it. Without miraculous advances in scientific development or a similarly miraculous shift in the public's will, we're eventually going to reach a point where the focus shifts from how we fix this mess, to how we can best preserve as much human culture and scientific knowledge as possible for the next intelligent species that comes along.
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If it comes to that probably the only thing that will survive of humanity are the few probes that have left the solar system (Voyager and Pioneer), and our leftovers from the Apollo missions. I doubt that we would care enough if our species was being driven to extinction to bother preserving something of ourselves - we'd be too busy cutting each other's throats in our death throes. That's actually interesting to think about - what would a future intelligent species think of us, based on the limited archaeological evidence that they find on the Moon? It would probably leave them with a lot more questions than answers (they'd also assume that Richard Nixon was the ruler of the Earth and conqueror of the Moon, haha). One thing I'm thinking here, is that we ought to bring back the words "climate change", as not only is that more accurate and less confusing than the term "global warming", but "global warming" almost sounds like a positive thing. Why did we let the neocons win in the spin-doctoring contest anyways?
edited 14th Dec '11 9:43:16 AM by MyGodItsFullofStars
Michio Kaku is quit the awesome fellow. I love his books, too. I have to agree with his assessment, for the most part, though I think that there's a decent explanation for why we haven't found any other civilizations - competition. Once societies move beyond their parent star, they probably don't get very far before bumping into another civilization trying to do the same thing. With limited resources, even if these two civilizations aren't trying to destroy each other, they still place limits on how far they can spread. For instance, let's say that your generation ship can only reach stars within five light years, and it takes roughly a hundred years for a colony to grow to the point that it can launch its own starships. So you start off colonizing all star systems within five light years, and a century latter you are ready to expand again - but wait, someone else has already grabbed up a handful of the nearby stars, so you are cut off from spreading any new colonies in that direction (because you wouldn't be able to "island hop" beyond your current location). Even if there are empty, available stars within, say, twenty light years, if your ships can't reach them without first stopping at a planet ten light years away, you are stuck. So its possible that the reason why no one has reached us yet is because its too crowded for them to move around a lot.
edited 14th Dec '11 11:40:33 AM by Fighteer
Cold.Competition would be visible. Also, how would you know other systems are habited and you can't go there unless you can see the civilization there?
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Strawberry Feels Forever
Anyway, right now this rock is all we've got. Dreams of setting up self-sustaining extraterrestrial colonies are exactly that, without an effort far greater in size and scope than the one required to tackle global warming. Also, you'll forgive me if I say that it seems a bit... callous to declare the Earth a write-off and head out for space. "Yeah, we messed this one up good, but the few hundred thousand worthy survivors can just go find a new planet to wreck."We don't have the tech to support populations of that size without food exports from Earth, so good luck with that. Ironically, if GCC gets really bad, we might be using the tech we DO have to survive right here on Earth when the worst effects hit. I want to remind the people who argued that carbon taxes were an intolerable overreach of the government into citizen affairs and the economy of this when we all have to crowd into biodomes to survive.
Who Am I?We all will soon be living in these (if we're lucky).
TrivialisI remember Biosphere 2 had a failure and ended up not being able to support a team of 8 people that lived there as an experiment. We should try to sustain the one we have instead. But this CO 2 craze should calm down. It's really the materials that are actually toxic, and not plant-recyclable, that harm the environment.
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Strawberry Feels ForeverIt's not a craze, it's levels higher than any we've known during our short existence as a species. Toxins are bad for the environment, yes. The environment may be able to adapt to higher atmospheric carbon levels, sure. But we are not the environment and there's no guarantee we'll be able to adapt enough to survive. Climate change isn't an environmentalist issue so much as it is a human issue.
Dollars, TaxesHomo sapiens is likely to muddle through. Not very comfortably, though.
POWAHWe've survived ice ages and warming periods before. we'd survive. Our current systems would be fucked up, and living conditions would go down(well, most would. My dad's an AC guy so he'd probably be doing better actually ), but we'd make it.
Hi.The end of humanity or even civilization was never really the issue with climate change. The biggest problem is how it's catastrophically going to ruin the lives of countless people, particularly poor people, and the rich assholes who are the most to blame won't care, because the civilization that supports them will almost certainly continue and as long as they have money they'll be fine.
[Insert seemingly profound or amusing phrase here.]
NOT THE BEESThe most serious result of global warming would be winter not depositing enough glacial mountain ice, and summer melting it off too quickly to last year-round. This would cause severe summer droughts, which in turn cause famine and violence over remaining freshwater. As an example we've been directly observing for a while, Pakistan and India are getting hit by this really hard. Dwindling Himalayan glaciers supply a good deal of both countries' water supply, and they really don't need any more reasons to be at each other's throats. In addition, polar melt causes a lot of Pakistani lowland to be submerged (avg. ~80 acres a day in Sindh), displacing a lot of residents and agriculture. The problem is "self-solving" in a really horrible and sociopathic way, in that humans will effectively cull their own population and demand by warring over dwindling resources. Note, though, that rich industry magnates would be on top of that catastrophe, and thus have no incentive to stop causing the problem. The fact that it isn't an extinction-level problem is in many ways worse than if it was and everyone on the planet had a personally compelling reason to cut it out.
edited 17th Dec '13 8:28:37 PM by Pykrete
Well, the Warsaw conference was packed with U.S. hedge fund guys negotiating ways of profiting from climate relief, so that seems to be the direction we're going in. Representative government's out, obviously. I can't picture most first-world privileges, like human and women's rights, carrying much weight in these circumstances. It would be basically a hive society, with a privileged few and an enslaved underclass, with no possibility of relief or escape.... Holy shit. It's the Hunger Games.
edited 17th Dec '13 11:38:06 PM by johnnyfog
Face-PuncherThere is probably the biggest obvious question I'm genuinely surprised that nobody's bothered to ask yet - wouldn't it possible to convert C02 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere into, well, something else? Thin out the atmosphere a bit so less heat is trapped? I know it sounds a bit comical, but it's still worth asking. Or, hell, suck up the greenhouse gasses and dump them into space if we can't convert them into something useful. It's not like we'll need 'em...
edited 18th Dec '13 3:46:28 AM by Cronosonic
wouldn't it possible to convert C02 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere into, well, something else?Methane can be converted to carbon dioxide by combustion, and it has a much shorter lifetime than carbon dioxide anyway. CO 2 itself...well, that's the point of biological carbon sequestration efforts, basically asking plants to pick up some of the excess CO 2.
Feeder Of PigeonsThe other big one is water vapor and well, we are not getting rid of that one anytime soon.
As is in accordance with prophecy.
Dollars, TaxesWater vapor is itself temperature-dependent. The other greenhouse gases are far, far less so.
Hi.There are plans to convert deserts into forests. The main issue is getting governments to fund it, and also increased rainfall and cloud covers as possible side effect.
[Insert seemingly profound or amusing phrase here.]
Dollars, TaxesIt strikes me as probably more cost-effective to protect existing forests as is; I know people have been concerned about the Amazon forests, which actually generate their own rainfall (which could itself be at risk if they experience too much dieback).
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