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View Diary: The Antarctic Half of the Global Thermohaline Circulation is Collapsing (215 comments)

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  •  Its not that we don't have the words (15+ / 0-)

    we lack the ability to grasp that its already too late. What we do from here on out can't undo what we have already done. There is no possible mediation with the conservative IPCC telling us to prepare for a two foot rise in sea levels along our coasts by 2050 and 5 feet by 2100 with it all just rapidly getting worse after that.

    When temperatures are already projected not to hold at 2°C by 2050 but to be over 4°C by 2100, there just isn't anyway to deal with the immediately obvious problems let alone the implications of dying oceans ad rain forests, species extinctions, water shortages, crop failures, famines, plague, pestilence on a Biblical scale.

    Just to move 100 US cities on the East coast that can't be saved with levees or sea wallsl back sufficiently far that we don't have to do it again in another century takes more than our gross national product for the next 85 years. Then consider that the problem isn't limited to our east coast, its global.

    Without infrastructure you have none of the communication and control governments need to operate. Now add to that a fossil fuel shortage as medication efforts demand all the carbon be left in the ground. What happens when the methane hydrates begin to release?

    How do you get selfish foolish people to embrace giving up their present quality of life for something that would make the bronze age seem technically advanced?

    Our present population of 7 Billion people will probably spike upwards at first then crash as the tropics become uninhabitable and everything in the Southern Hemisphere is simply written off.

    We are going to be lucky if we can maintain the populations of hunter gatherers we had during the last ice age and if we do there will be nothing to hunt or gather after the species extinctions, and beyond that we will have to adapt to breathing carbon dioxide because the organisms which give us all our oxygen are going to die off soon.

    I read about the problems with Fukashima and I try to imagine servicing and or decommissioning and abandoning in place every Nuke on the East coast after it sinks beneath the waves

    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

    by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 01:38:04 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  you're not making sense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scorpiorising, MaryAskew

      It is neither selfish nor foolish to not embrace giving up our present quality of life, especially if, as you say,

      its already too late. What we do from here on out can't undo what we have already done. There is no possible mediation
      If things are really as completely hopeless as you seem to believe, what possible difference would it make?

      You're going to have to offer something better than prophecies of unavoidable doom if you want people to "embrace" giving up their present quality of life.


      •  Have to disagree with both you and rktect. (11+ / 0-)

        rktect is right that some of the effects of what we have done cannot be undone.  However, rktect's unspoken premise that this we can't keep the negative effects from getting worse is not reality based.  Nor does it reflect the attitude of the type of liberal that I like to hang out with:  I prefer the kick-ass type to the bleeding heart type.  

        But you are both operating on the premise that things can't get any worse.  They can by a long shot.  You can stop reading right here if you'll just remember that we can stop doing harm to the atmosphere.  

        But from the perspective of here and now, on this site dedicated to political discourse, what I find most damaging is is your shared unspoken premise that making change to keep things from getting worse means sacrificing our "quality of life."  This is a right-wing talking point and it enables those who are whiny and looking for an excuse to sit on their hands in the middle and on the left.  

        Disabuse yourself of it.  Want half of the unemployment that we have now?  Launch a program that combines the best of the Apollo project and the WPA to bring our renewable contributions to the grid up to the 30-40% that the current grid can handle.  And then to replace the grid to bring it even higher than 40%.  Build the Steel Interstate.  Eeek another few percentage points of efficiency out of algae diesel and start recycling atmospheric carbon, rather than releasing the fossil variety.  

        Think even bigger.  Want to neutralize despots like Putin?  Launch the above project in collaboration with the OSCE.   Free Ukraine and all the rest of Europe from dependence on the Russian oligarchs.  Bring in Brazil and India.  Lead the world's democracies in saving the planet and removing us from the grips of the petro-dictatorships.  

        To get the congress we need to do this, you're also going to have to have to stand up (and speak up) for Obamacare and fight to reduce structural inequalities.  You're even going to have to suffer some schmucks like Mark Prior, who are unwilling to do either, but who we need to control the congressional leadership along the way. Swallow that bitter pill.  

        But don't just sit there and whine, or look for an excuse to do nothing.  Both are an example of surrender.   We can do better.

        If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us. -Sir Francis Bacon.

        by Res Ipsa Loquitor on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 07:30:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tell me how you intend to kick energy company ass (1+ / 0-)
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          I have been looking for a solution all my life and the solution may well be there but its greatly unloved.

          Bad sci fi movies have come closer to addressing the situation than any governing body. Apocalyptic, distopian scenarios abound and are correct.

          Most of us are going to have to die miserably to reduce population levels and energy consumption to where the carbon we put in the atmosphere tapers off.

          Even if we do that as a species there is no free ride. Survivors if any won't have civilization, cities, economies or any well organized group to get things done collectively. The "Road Warrior" community eventually ends up as nomadic bands living off the land in deserts.

          In centuries to come what we have already put in the pipeline leaves whatever survivors there may be doing the "On the Beach" thing only in the Northern hemisphere with the southern hemisphere and tropics gone and no polar ice in the arctic.

          Coastal cities may be close enough to the surface to dive for artifacts as per "Waterworld", but its doubtful the oceans and rain forests survive so its also doubtful oxygen breathers survive unless they can somehow produce it artificially.

          With every species except humans extinct what do humans eat? The "Soylent Green" solution isn't really where I would like to see us go.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:05:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Point by point (1+ / 0-)
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            The solution is unloved at the moment.  We need leaders who can develop more and better ideas and sell them.  That doesn't include just the politicians, pundits, and empowered, but you and anyone who feels strongly about this issue.  

            Yeah, the governing bodies are a problem, but that just means that we need to turn to NGOs and liberal philanthropists to get the momentum going until we can get government on board.  And the government problem is not universal.  Look at what Germany has done with renewable sources of energy.  

            We're all going to die.  I hope that you die well.  I hope that as few people as possible have to die because of climate damage.  But even if you are right, and climate change will kill most of us, that is not the end of the human race.  Even if we face a a significant bottleneck, we can survive as a species, and as a culture.  And there is something good worth preserving in that culture: perseverance, ingenuity, creativity (e.g. FDR, da Vinci, Rodin).  Even if those skills and those personalities become only the basis of the mythos of the post-bottleneck, they are worth preserving.  Not to mention the fact that even in your road warrior society (which I do not accept), the survivors can build on the artifacts, just as we did with Rome.  

            And what will be lost to the waters?  Yes, we lose much of New York and London, but there are repositories of knowledge less than a week walk away from each that could last for centuries (Ithaca, Oxford, Cambridge). If we are going to postulate a post-apocalyptic world, we shouldn't favor Road Warrior over Asimov.  

            Finally, every species will not go extinct: even a thermonuclear war would not lead to that result.  Earth is a planet in the Goldilocks zone.  Climate change may create a bottleneck, but life on earth will survive.  Homo Sapiens has a fighting chance.  If we choose to fight.

            I so choose.  I welcome you if you want to join us.  

            If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us. -Sir Francis Bacon.

            by Res Ipsa Loquitor on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:54:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You represent survival by society (0+ / 0-)

              organization, consensus as to how to proceed. I don't expect nation states let alone empires to survive the loss of the coastal cities. I don't expect industries to survive.

              And yes we agree we are all going to die. I don't expect to die well. I'll be sick and tired, hungry, dirty, sad, depressed, anxious, no longer strong enough to keep things going. Now I have an orchard, dug wells and a spring; I have hand tools and a garden. I'm expecting that in my lifetime the climate here will be like North Carolina is now. What I don't have yet is off the grid power. I will need that for my well pumps.

              I expect somebody better able to use it, somebody with more perseverance, ingenuity, creativity, will come take what I have from me before I pass natural.

              What I expect to be lost to the waters is any reason to work for a living, government, religion, military discipline, institutions such as the family in the sense of organization by gene and oinkos and rather instead organization by extended family, by bands of brothers.

              I don't expect any industry to survive, no large scale agriculture, no chain stores, money as something people can use to buy things.

              There will be no workers commuting to work, no energy powering infrastructure, refineries and power plants, water treatment and sewage, utilities, no healthcare, transportation, communication, or control. No FEMA or disaster relief. No money.

              There will be a lot of species extinctions, how will you take care of domestic animals without stores, are we all going to hunt and gather without agriculture rain forests to forage in or or oceans to fish in, seven billion of us, hungry and looking for food and no stores to buy it in. What species survive that?

              Will there still be police, fire, ambulance, hospitals with healthcare, rescue workers, people who aren't panicked and irrational, any sort of organized militia which can keep order?

              I don't think any of that that is going to be there. I don't expect people who need leaders to act to survive.

              Those who are self actualizing outlaws may have to take some risks that won't appeal to the followers that have to pay the price for failure.

              You speak of fighting for survival farther down. I don't know if you have ever been a street fighter, I don't recommend it. Its not an old man's game. I'd be inclined to hole up as best I could and let the well armed finish each other off.

              We don't live in communities that are in walking distance of one another anymore. A lot of our ideas are on electronic media that it takes a source of electricity to recover. All we are going to take with us is whats in our heads already.

              Cities and their slurbs have a socio economic influence that crosses state borders. New Englands Bos Wash corridor extends for hundreds of miles. Without its cities there is no economy, no transportation, no stores selling stuff; very soon the coastal populations become refugees headed inland toward the mountains.

              The people already living in the mountains may not welcome them with open arms but rather see them as a horde of locusts ravaging crops, looting, so there will be another band of destruction extending still more hundreds of miles inland.

              I'm not a joiner, but good luck to you and yours.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 10:28:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is possible that you are right on many aspects (1+ / 0-)
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                of these things.  

                But I don't think the final outcome turns on people who need leaders.  I think it is about the same people who have made a difference over the ages: those who can both lead and be led.  

                The anthropological data suggests that any society over about 200 develops specialists: police, healers, jurists, protectors (militia).  If the climate goes really bad, these small community units will become the functional units of humanity.  If the historical genealogical data is correct, we survived bottlenecks down to the level of a few dozen as little as a couple of hundred of thousand years ago.  Leave behind societies even an order of magnitude larger than that specialization baseline of 200 and you will see the appearance of historians, teachers and engineers.  I am convinced that the odds are good that humanity will survive a climate crisis.  

                Mind you, what I hope for is much more.  We have challenges to face.  We have obstacles to overcome.  But we can do it.   We can survive as a species, even in the face of a really bad climate outcome, on a scale that preserves a significant fraction of our technology and knowledge.  Something that preserves understanding and theories that allow us to maintain both analog forms of critical information (many of which still exist), and information theory.  

                If we are able to build distributed systems of energy and food supply in the near future, we can preserve even more.  In that way, minimizing climate impact is an insurance policy for survival.  Honestly, if we lose malls and reality television, we might be better off.

                No.  I have never been to war.  I have never been a street fighter.  But I think when survival is at issue, when people become more connected with and dependent on the people around them, the dynamic changes.  Yes, you protect your own, but when survival is dependent on the survival of the group, you present with force that is overwhelming to outsiders, but you ask questions before shooting.  

                All this is somewhat hypothetical with respect to how climate change plays out.  But I choose to approach it with optimism, rather than with certainty of doom.  

                If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us. -Sir Francis Bacon.

                by Res Ipsa Loquitor on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 12:29:34 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ok you remain optimistic (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm generally pretty optimistic myself. As regards the sociology of survival I'm wondering what node causes the coalescence of groups of 200 and that's where it breaks down for me.

                  We used to have family groups that lived close together, people stayed in the same neighborhoods, got together regularly.

                  Now people are much more closely tied to their jobs, their friends are co-workers who come from suburbs to work in a city. Most live outside some radius that defines the urban area where they work and is usually on the order of ten to fifty miles.

                  That puts the diameter of participation at twenty to one hundred miles. In some cases there may be two or more states involved in furnishing the extended group.

                  Even in rural areas where there are clusters of small towns of perhaps 1,000 to 5,000 it would be hard for you to get a group of 200 people out of politics, religion, family, co-workers, team sports, education, or people who have breakfast in the same diner to organize in a survival strategy, to prepare in any way, to have a secure place to go to avoid or escape chaos.

                  I think disaster comes on us slowly at first, takes out one small group after another like Katrina or Sandy as hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, so called natural disasters, and then gets complicated by a second wave of some less natural cause, power outages, gas shortages, a blackout, then a lack of response because of some circumstance nobody thought of, plague, pestilence, famine, and its the combination of blows that brings some region to its economic knees causing government to fail, riots to break out, looting to take place.

                  If you look around the world you can already name dozens of places that have become bogged down in their no more business as usual personal disasters, war zones, drought ravaged famine stricken places with people fighting over food and water.

                  By 2050 we will have hundred year storms every decade, heat so oppressive that large numbers of people will die from it, heat that saps peoples will to live to do what is necessary to grow food, to take care of each other. With mass death comes epidemic disease, the guards begin to abandon their posts to take care of their families, stockpiles of resources get looted, you and I will remain bright and chirpy and optimistic, other people will want to kill us for it.

                  Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                  by rktect on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:09:35 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The incredible economic stratification (0+ / 0-)

                    I believe that the intense economic stratification we are seeing is a buildup to what will come. Most of us by the next century will be fighting not to live in conditions like Haiti or central Africa. A few of us will be insulated and protected and coddled by technology in secure enclaves. The future is already out there a-building.

                    •  I don't think we have to the next century (0+ / 0-)

                      Much of what I'm seeing is being rolled back to 2050. There are more of us doing things; too many people doing too many things in too small a geographical area. That's why some concerns get squeezed out of the attention of media pundits and left to shift for themselves.

                      As an example look at the coastal flood plain insurance maps. The decision has been made to abandon our coasts. All the people with pricey shore front property are now on their own, no more replenishment of beaches, jetties, sea walls, levees paid for by tax payers. A policy in category V will now cost $2.10 per $100 per year; a prohibitive expense for most people so even if you desire to stay and rebuild again and again you will have no neighbors, shops or stores.

                      By 2050 all our coastlines will be several miles inland and all of our transportation and utility infrastructure will have gaps in it isolating any urban areas not drowned by floods, burnt by fires or blown away by hurricanes and tornadoes. In Maine which has more coastline than the rest of the East coast combined all our peninsulas will be cut off from Route 1.

                      Go back for an instant and look at how fast the Americas have changed since the Vikings first landed.
                      That's one millenia of time. Not much happened for the first five hundred years of it.

                      Take a look since Columbus. Half as much time rather more going on but up until the American revolution half as much time again what would become the United States were still a handful of European colonies.

                      Look at us in the period of the French and Indian wars

                      Social rather than economic focus is the first mapping and its principally ethnolinguistic.

                      In this period my data suggest relationships were loosely organized by gene (kin), oinkos (tribe) and phratre (brotherhood).

                      Certainly there was a subsistence level economy plus trade. If you think about how and when was American settled by Indian tribes, what was their economy based on its dramatically different than what came after this period.

                      Plains Indians had economies that went beyond hunting and gathering to nomadic pastorialism with the Sioux becoming horse people c 1750. There were some maritime fisheries and agricultural settlements but its a Chalcolithic economy, in some places still aceramic neolithic.

                      European colonization focused on economic interests as opposed to religion, military expansion, exploration, but all of those things also put down their roots and grew

                      There was a period of exploration for scientific cataloging of fisheries, fur, agricultural interests, mineral resources, not just gold but also copper tin, iron and coal.

                      In the last hundred and fifty years, since the American Civil War we have gone from a land of pioneers, virtually every man woman and child an immigrant surrounded by a strange land already occupied with other people some of them themselves having civilization and economies based on slaves and indentured servants acquired by conquest, to what we now refer to as the end times.

                      We might blame all of this on the rise of the corporate state beginning by bringing military conquest often with mercenaries and following up with an industrial revolution of trains, shipping and logging interests, mining interests, agricultural and manufacturing interests directly a nation focused on the provision of franchised services. That's just the way its always been with people.

                      There is as much of a gap between the days of the Pinkertons and the cattle drives and the slaughter of the great herds of buffalo on the plains and what the United States looked like around the time when I was born in the forties prior to Eisenhower's great American Defense Highway System when I as a kid could go to the fourth of July parade and watch the Red Men and the Civil War veterans marching on dirt roads, and Steam Locomotives tooting their horns in celebration of the United States left in the role of the Worlds Greatest arms dealer following the second world war as any of those gaps preceding.

                      Suddenly the entire world and not just the US got covered with miracle miles of automobile dealerships,  gas stations, malls, fast food restaurants, big box stores, automotive stores, office buildings, ambulatory healthcare, electronics outlets, grocery stores and all of that connected by suburbs that have swallowed up all the thousands of years of previous history.

                      Thus its understandable that in the next 35 years change again comes with unimaginable rapidity and our present economic disparities and hopes for re-distributions of wealth will be the least of our problems as the mighty ships of state sink beneath the waves and we all find ourselves in the same boat

                      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                      by rktect on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 05:06:55 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Preserving culture/heritage (0+ / 0-)

              "And what will be lost to the waters?  Yes, we lose much of New York and London, but there are repositories of knowledge less than a week walk away from each that could last for centuries (Ithaca, Oxford, Cambridge)."
              Scratch Oxford and Cambridge - Oxford practically drowned in the winter floods this year, and Cambridge is near the North Sea in a very flat landscape. but Ithaca yes, and it's time to think of more places inland, elevated, that can become repositories of the contents of museums, libraries, galleries, scientific collections, etc. - a bit like the plant and seed collections now being stored in caverns, etc. that may save whatever humans manage to make it to the next century. These places will of course also be under tremendous pressure from ordinary human beings and also animals - so it will be interesting to see how cultural artifacts fare in the scramble for higher ground. It will be interesting to see which locations become important: during the Viking invasions of the British Isles, islands like Lindisfarne and Iona with their monk-inhabitants became important citadels of preserving knowledge. Will that be replicated in other places in the near future? Places that can maintain power to keep computers going, or other communications systems? Or will these only belong to the elite, like James Bond's Blofeld on his island?

          •  3 possibilities: 1 Bribe fossil fuel firms to turn (0+ / 0-)

            into renewable energy firms including buying reserves as mineral rights, 2 Give up and die with fossil fuel firms insisting on extracting and selling fossil fuel full speed ahead and ** the torpedoes, 3 Consumer boycotts of fossil fuel and crowd source funding of renewable energy.

            With Algae Systems funded by US Navy expecting to get down to $10/gallon diesel algal bio-fuels in 2016, and probably needing between 5 and 10 years more to get to $5/gallon and tar sands being 3 times as dirty as conventional crude oil, it should be worth over $3/gallon subsidy to replace tar sands fuels with algal bio-fuels.
            Bribing existing powers that be is always more politically feasible than fighting them.  It will mean huge amounts of fiat money borrowed from the Federal Reserve--but that is still a lesser evil than famine or suffocation.
            Algae is edible--not food we are used to but better than hunger.  If algae fail to thrive outdoors--we are really in trouble.  The powers that be will do as in Australia now, move underground and air condition.  They will grow both algae and something like salad hydroponically in their underground air-conditioned homes with LED grow light.
            If oxygen really gets to be a problem, PV might fail in the heat, but concentrated thermal solar will still work to generate electricity--just keep birds etc. out of air space over it.  Electricity can easily split water into oxygen and hydrogen.

        •  you misinterpreted me (I was probably unclear) (1+ / 0-)
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          I do not believe it's pointless to adjust our lifestyles and take other actions, because I think we can still make climate change significantly less bad than it will be if we do nothing.

          I was merely pointing out that if someone believes humanity is already hopelessly doomed to total catastrophe, then it makes little sense to make even minor adjustments to your lifestyle, let alone  devote gobs of time and energy to environmental activism. The sensible thing to do would be to eat, drink, and be merry.

          Also, I don't think our current "quality of life" is really very "quality" — we'd undoubtedly be much happier if we slashed our consumerism, restructured society away from dependence on automobiles and long-distance trade, etc. — so I personally think many (though not all) of the adjustments necessary would be a positive change rather than a miserable imposition.


          •  I appreciate your response. (0+ / 0-)

            Sorry if I misinterpreted you.  I have a tendency to focus on's what I do.  From where we all stand here on a Dem/progressive blog, I like to try to keep our messages positive.  It is one of the biggest strengths we have.  

            I don't think we are doomed.  And even if we are, I think we can make the sorts of preparations that falloch lays out above to make sure that the species and the culture are not.  In fact, I think we must.  

            Let's work together to minimize the damage.  

            If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us. -Sir Francis Bacon.

            by Res Ipsa Loquitor on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 10:13:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Remember "while there's life, there's hope" (0+ / 0-)

            so even if "hopelessly doomed to total catastrophe" there is always something we can do to improve the situation. Most of all, I hope that if a situation of great trials is in our future, that we can bring out the best of us, caring and cooperation, instead of wasting our energy and resources fighting each other.

        •  climate change (0+ / 0-)

          Thank you!  Rational thought and the beginning of a plan!  Amazing.

      •  Leaving carbon in the ground (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Paul Ferguson

        would be the only chance of any mediation. Not choosing your only hope is short sighted and foolish even if costs you a great deal.

        Putting all of the already discovered reserves energy companies see simply as profits into the atmosphere will kill us all, but in order to decide on that change we need to give up planes, trains and automobiles, electric cars fired by burning dirty coal for electricity.

        We can't go nuclear, that just makes things worse.

        We can't go back to the horse and buggy we no longer have either the necessary livestock or technology to provide commuters with horses to get them in and out of cities.

        Solar and wind are good alternatives for many things but as alternatives for mass transit I don't think so.

        We are used to cheap fossil fuel lifestyles. Take that away and we no longer have a civilization or an economy.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:53:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Electric trains, electric buses. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Creosote, Poor in a Rich World
          Solar and wind are good alternatives for many things but as alternatives for mass transit I don't think so.
          Much in-city rail transit is already electric.  

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

          by Calamity Jean on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:44:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Where does the electricity come from (0+ / 0-)

            After you take all the coal and diesel fired plants off line? There are some hydro electric facilities, not enough. There may be tidal, geo thermal, still not enough. Wind and solar will help still not enough. What it comes down to is there will be pressure to have more nuclear power plants, and some of them will be located in the wrong places and not be something a reduced level of technology can maintain.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:05:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We may not have enough wind and solar now. (0+ / 0-)

              But we can manufacture more if we start now.  Wind and solar are already close enough to competitive with fossil fuel for liberal state governments to subsidize them.  Utilities are not happy.  It will take a system where instead of plain net metering, net metering applies only to generation charges, not transmission and distribution charges to make utilities happy.

        •  One solution to two problems: bicycles. (0+ / 0-)

          Of course not always possible and not everywhere, but if we start using up our own excess calories, we will be healthier and also address the obesity epidemic. The problem is that most roads and streets are not safe for pedestrians and cyclists. We should pressure our city governments for safe sidewalks and crosswalks, and more encouragement of human powered transportation (including skates, skis in winter and all you can come up with), of course complemented with public transportation.

      •  climate change (0+ / 0-)

        The reason we should try to do what we can, as well as trying not to make it worse, is that 2050 is only 36 years away.  People who are alive today will be alive when the disasters begin.  
        The scientists have begun to talk about a new "great extinction," one that has been caused by and will destroy us.  Ready to sit on your hands and wait for Armageddon?

    •  We survived the last ice age. (1+ / 0-)
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      I do not see our technology surviving though, at least not the large time-zone spanning ones.

      Massive migrations, failing governments and global economic collapse are survivable, for at least some significant fraction of the population. And not just the uber-riche and survivalists. But we are so reliant on some key technologies (anyone a fan of electricity?) that cannot survive without serious inputs that cannot be continued in perpetuity without major^n development of alternatives.

      A return to a more tribal lifestyle would perhaps generate better (or perhaps even worse) forms of self autonomy. And the social Darwinists would be extremely pleased by the hardening of the gene pool.

      I for one don't want to throw the dice or prognosticate on what happens 100 or even 50 years from now. In a perverse way, it makes me some how glad I won't be around to see it. But future people (they will survive) will spit on our graves and institutions.

      We will be remembered as the dark ages version 2.0.

      •  During the last ice age (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, Calamity Jean

        Humans came pretty close to extinction, but they still had oxygen in their atmosphere, other species to share the planet with, and a million years of lithic technology backing them up.

        Can you pressure flake a Folsom point, make fire in a desert, walk for hundreds of miles, find food after we have killed off every other species but mankind?

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:09:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can make a spear point and fire, (1+ / 0-)
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          but at my age I would be left to die in such a 'society'.

          Finding food would be a challenge, as few sustainable types might be left. Care for some fresh grasshoppers? Maybe some worms or larvae. Yum. Won't be much mammalian life left after humans eat them all. And forget about fishing for your dinner. Extinct or toxic. Potable water will be scarce.

          Lovely future we leave for our descendants.

          •  The old, the women and children won't die first (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            Hunters know that if they don't preserve the old folk they lose the old folks knowledge of medicinal and edible plants, (assuming any survive) what species of insects are safe to eat and which are poisonous (I agree insects are a good candidate to be able to survive as long as we can) If they don't preserve the women and children they have nobody to hunt and gather for them when they get old.

            On the other hand hunters get the lions share of food so gatherers need to be clever.

            Potable water will still seep out of rocks in springs but bands of hunters will probably fight over them.

            Where it gets sticky is surviving the first few centuries where its doubtful anything can live on the surface and underground there is cabin fever.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:55:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  It is too late to prevent calamity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, flitedocnm

      It is almost too late to prevent catastrophe. It is not too late to prevent cataclysm.

      The deaths of tens of millions are now inevitable. There is only a little time to avert the deaths of hundreds of millions. Whether some form of technological civilization can survive the deaths of billions, which will not be baked into the cake for another decade or two, is not entirely clear.

      Yes, disaster is already upon us. No, the scale of that disaster is not yet decided. Orders of magnitude matter.

      •  Splitting hairs (0+ / 0-)

        We aren't able to function very well in calamity. Look at Katrina and Sandy. We wait for a governor and the president to declare us a disaster area and then FEMA to come to the rescue.

        We expect somebody else to rebuild our homes, reestablish communications, provide transportation, find our missing relatives.

        If the IPCC is correct between now and 2050 things get bad fast. First we lose our cities to the seas. Think how that effects us economically, globally. By 2100 everything south of New York is toast. Where do we go from there. Imagine it with no planes, trains or automobiles.

        We lose our ability to feed ourselves, cloth ourselves, heat and cool ourselves, transport ourselves. We lose the ability to survive as a group.

        People begin to die in massive numbers, literally by the Billions. Its a very Malthusian scenario; something worse than and bad movie you have ever seen.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:18:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Moving cities can be done by putting functions of (0+ / 0-)

      cities on boats and mooring them over the site of the old city.  Not nice, but probably about the best we can do.  If we start now, making up our minds that the situation is desperate enough that we can do what needs to be done faster and cheaper by bribing our too big to fail fossil fuel firms with LOTS of money to do the right thing, we stand a chance of doing it for $2 trillion/year for foreseeable future.  We might get lucky and manage to bribe fossil fuel firms early enough to barter much of their reserves as mineral rights for the equipment to make carbon-negative algal bio-fuels being developed by Algae Systems for US Navy.  
      Already wind, solar, and geothermal are close enough to cost-competitive with coal for electric power that many liberal states are already subsidizing them. It will also be necessary to buy the coal displaced at a high enough price and quickly enough to persuade fossil fuel firms to sell to our government (federal or liberal states) rather than China, India, or various less-developed nations.  We also need to supply equipment to harness renewable energy to those foreign nations as foreign aid because it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so.  We can't be sure yet that we can do what we need to do soon enough to salvage the situation, but we also can't be sure that it is already too late.

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