Is there any realistic way to fight global warming?

Lets just assume human caused global warming is real, stay with me ok. And please note I am not a rabid right winger, I am concerned about environmental issues.

What realistically could be done about it? Sure token gestures like buying a certificate that certifies a tree was planted for grandma for Christmas is cute and all, but it is just feel good nonsense.

Aside from basically abandoning our modern industrial world and allowing 90% of the human population to die nothing will really help, and even that may not be enough to make a difference as the damage has already been done.

Could ocean levels rise and disrupt coastal populations and low island nations? Yup, but it won’t happen overnight and I’m pretty sure it can be dealt with(because far worse has been dealt with). I’m sick of the lurid nonsense like pictures of NYC flooded.

There is just no realistic way emissions are going to go down in the immediate future no matter how much money is spent on it, it isn’t happening. China and India and the rest of the world climbing up to a higher standard of living is only going to increase emissions.

Right now the whole issue just seems to be a political battlefield in the USA, letting both sides feel smug.

Opinions?

Yes there is; but it is not going to be cheap. It is basically switching to a non-fossil fuel world–by using renewables, energy storage and nuclear energy; combined with a major energy conservation plan (insulation, etc)–vast amounts of energy are wasted.

But these costs would be substantially cheaper than the costs of mitigating it after it happens.

I could have started this thread almost the same way myself, but I didn’t.

I don’t think humans can voluntarily do anything about it, which is of course sad.

Good, informative blog.

I’m Liberal but don’t buy the BS on global warming.

No, there is nothing realistic that can be done. One thing I have never seen from anyone is a cost-benefit analysis. “Just do this and this, and things will be OK.” Here is the numerical cost of the measures to cut CO2, here are the benefits.

I really think the whole thing is a secular religion to replace the guilt of Western religion. Instead of appeasing a displeased God for our transgressions, we are appeasing an angry environment for our, well, transgressions.

If you replace the words “global warming” with the word “pollution” - then you have a starting point upon which most humans agree. Climate change to hothouse or freezer - that can be coped with, but poisoning the air water and soil…? That is really hard to turn around.

Activists don’t actually say that. Their implication is no matter how costly our measures to prevent accelerated global warming are it will be cheaper for us to apply them now than suffer the consequences later.

They may be right, but I doubt it. We may be as powerless against climate change as flies against the cold season. And flies are one of the most resilient species on earth.

Humans do have an impact on the planet, but they don’t control anything. Climate change is inexorable and there’s only one thing we can do: adapt or die. Things happen for a reason only occasionally. Realistically speaking, the best thing we can do is find the real cause and get ready for the effects. Anything else is Hollywood, wishful thinking, science fiction, you name it.

Right. They’re too lazy, really. Much easier to say, “An infinitely bad problem deserves infinite effort to solve, doesn’t it?”

The straw man is saying that “deniers” don’t believe humans are having any influence on climate at all with CO2. Some may say that, but sophisticated “climate realists” generally admit an anthropogenic effect is possible or actual. The thing is, we don’t know what would have happened without anthropogenic effects. Thus, we can’t know to what degree we’re influencing climate. We certainly can’t run experiments. We also don’t know whether a “penance” at this point would work, even if warming were our fault.

Bjorn Lomborg did something along those lines and suffered greatly for it.

Anyway, the most significant thing humans could do is find how to synthesise usable hydrocarbons from air using nothing but electricity. Whoever does that will become immensely rich. Switch on your nuclear reactor and pump out petrol.

Reduce the world’s (human) population to about 1/10. That should buy us some time.

I don’t think humans can do anything about it either, but it doesn’t sadden me. I don’t think we have much choice. I think the damned planet has been changing forever, and so fucking what if we are actually the cause of a one or two degree average increase?

We pile garbage in garbage dumps. We stockpile spent uranium in tile holes. We launch thousands of pieces of space debris into orbit around the planet. We flush feces and industrial waste into water systems. We clear-cut forests to build housing developments. We perpetuate slaughterhouses for domestic animals to feed our carnivorous desires. We produce megawatts of electricity and modulate radio waves for our communication delights. We spread viruses internationally through air travel. We pump hydrocarbons from the ground to enable the shipment of people and goods globally.

This is what humans do. There’s no turning back. And frankly I don’t give a shit. I really don’t. This is the cost of being an intelligent species and being able to control and consume our resources. We won’t last forever. Something will eventually wipe us out. We can try to be good stewards of the planet, but we’re not environmentally neutral and never will be. I’m growing really tired of this environmentalism bullshit. The planet is HUGE and although we may have some influence it is miniscule.

I’m not that misanthropic. I’m not saying you are, I just want to point out I believe in people and I think they can really do great things when they put their mind to it, but coping with climate change seems way over their head and this does sadden me as a humanist.

And I happen to love my family and my heart cringes when I think about the challenges some of its members may have to face in 50 years’ time.

That you feel the need to say this is a shame.

How concerned? Concerned enough to stop driving and flying? Or concerned enough to recycle sometimes, if it’s not too much trouble?

Have you tried voting?

Yes, because we have two clear choices: do nothing or kill nearly everybody.

Sure, first world countries might cope, which is a great comfort, no doubt, to Bangladesh.

I think by “realistic” you mean “piss easy”.

Yeah, the US really searched its soul before letting the coal industry pick the president. STAR SPANGLED INSPIRATIONAL!

In my opinion, this thread is evidence that the Know Nothing Party is due for a comeback.

Not too big on the “winning hearts and minds” thing, are you?

I tend to agree that the kind of international cooperation on a global scale needed to affect change is not very realistic. Best to focus on dealing with the effects, because that’s the more likely scenario.

PS: Everyone isn’t going to die. That kind of nonsense does your cause no good.

The bit about killing nearly everybody was in response to “allowing 90% of the human population to die”.

Adaptation without mitigation is going to be more painful than with mitigation, so the more mitigation, the better. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from recycling when it’s convenient.

I felt the need to say that because I did not want to get into a “is global warming real” debate, which is not the point of the thread. I personally do believe human activity is causing climate change, you did read that I am NOT a climate change denier right?

Not concerned enough to live in a banana leaf hut in the woods eating bark and bugs, but concerned enough to curtail as much as possible my use of energy and resources. But most people won’t even go that far, which is my whole point.

Kill nearly everybody.:rolleyes: Is Miley Cyrus worse than Hitler too?

You seem to think I don’t care about Bangladesh or Vanuatu or etc, which is not the case. I just think the best and most humane thing would be for the UN or first world countries to help pay for engineering or absorb and relocate refugees as needed over the decades.

I do think the real solution to this would have been the first world transitioning to nuclear power DECADES AGO, and the rest of the world following. But that didn’t happen because it was politically and culturally impossible, and it remains frustratingly impossible even now. I get the feeling forbidding anyone from owning a car or using energy or fuel is even more impossible, ditto for killing 90% of humanity or the first world telling the rest of the world they have to abandon industrial society.

Do you really believe anyone who thinks solving this problem is intractable is a denier?

Fellas, fellas. Right now, the renewable alternatives cost more money than doing it the dirty way. Wind generators are 2-3x as expensive as coal, solar has gotten very cheap recently but doesn’t work at night, and so on. There are technologies in the pipeline that might change those numbers in 10-20 years, but you can’t predict the future, so…

There’s 3 valid solutions :
1. Every major polluter agrees to pay the price premium to switch to renewables now. The European Union is onboard with this, the USA is wavering, but China is a resounding “no”. The problem is that without an agreement from every major polluter, switching to renewables just makes the market price for coal and oil lower, increasing usage by the holdout. If the USA and the EU really were to make a major transition, the price for oil would plummet, and China would suddenly have an economic incentive to use all that oil as inefficiently as possible.

So it’s a non-starter. Also, even if China agreed, then it would give other countries a huge economic incentive to burn up all that surplus oil…

  1. Climate scientists have observed what happens after a volcanic eruption injects a bunch of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. They know approximately how much SO2 it takes, and what the effects are. Apparently, the amount of SO2, if injected using a gigantic hose suspended by large balloons, is a practical amount. Cost estimates for the project, at this stage, are a few billion dollars a year. We’d just inject a fine mist of SO2 (or apparently there are more reflective materials proposed that might work better) into the upper atmosphere, enough to bring global temperatures back to normal, and we pollute all we like. The relative cost difference is chump change, even if it were off by a factor of 10*, it’s still vastly cheaper than switching to renewables.

  2. Apparently, renewables are not as intractable a problem as you might think. I’ve been doing a little research, and, apparently, the wholesale price for solar cells is now cheap enough that it competes with coal fired generators. The problem is that for every watt-hour you produce via solar cells, you need several watt-hours of storage. The storage is currently too expensive, especially for the battery types that have a long lifespan.

I posted a thread on this, but, apparently, LiFeP04 batteries are a valid solution if they get about 4 to 8 times cheaper. That may sound like a lot, but they have already dropped in price by a factor of 3, and the cost of the raw materials in the batteries is a tiny fraction of their current sale prices. Once they drop in price enough, battery packs in electric cars with 300 or so mile range would only cost a few thousand dollars, and we would be able to install load shifting batteries in all our houses and commercial buildings for a reasonable price. The batteries would last 10-30 years depending on how deeply they were discharged and how often.

**Best Case Scenario : ** Technological advances make renewable solutions, such as solar cells and electric vehicles, cheaper than any other option. This is entirely possible for the following reasons :

  1. It’s a complex process to mine coal or drill for oil. Thousands of people are involved, and it involves a great deal of technology and careful decisions that have to be made for a particular well or mine at a particular time. On the other hand, solar cells and batteries are an identical product whether you produce 100 cells or trillions. You can optimize the heck out of the process to make them, and make it 100% automated.

  2. Gasoline and diesel engines are complex beasts of machinery. The equivalent electric drivetrain is dead-simple and cheap, comparitively. Excluding the cost of the batteries, electric vehicle drivetrains are less expensive than comparable gasoline engines right now, even though they are in extremely low rate production.

  3. Once you install those solar cells and batteries, you are no longer at the mercy of fluctuating commodity prices. If in 5 years, there’s a shortage of coal or oil, you will not be affected. Also, the energy is there : for instance, as Elon Musk pointed out, in 1 year on Texas there is more sunlight available than all of the oil and gas that has ever been extracted from Texas.

Anyways, best case scenario is in 20 years or whenever, we all vote with our wallets and switch over reasonably rapidly. If it ever actually were a money saver, everyone would do it.

I don’t doubt that humans have an effect on the environment. Of course we do, it is what we do. We change the environment to meet our needs. Some effects are on purpose, some are byproducts.

However, climate science has some real issues and I don’t see them being resolved very quickly. For example, the climate models, which some people believe implicitly, still do not do clouds or water vapor well. This is a huge issue. And it is just one of many things that the modelers do not know how to model.

So what can we do? Prrsently not much. The only source of energy we can build that scales is nuclear. However, that will never fly due to the vilification of nuclear by the, surprise!, environmental movement. The other energy sources that are ‘clean’ don’t scale. Add in that it usually takes roughly 60 years to transistion from one energy source to a new source.

So the option would be to drastically cut energy consumption. The ways to do that are either pull first world countries down to third world levels or kill most of the people on the planet. I do not see either happening, though I am sure some of the environmentalists would be ok with either option.

My prediction is that we will incrementally make improvements in energy production and efficency, the models will get better and find the impact will be far less than presently predicted and we will be able to adapt to the changes that do.occur.

Slee

Don’t be absurd. If anything, nuclear doesn’t scale. More solar cells have been installed the last year or 2 than all previous years combined. (I’m a little wobbly on the growth rate, but it is enormous)

To install more solar cells, you pay a distributor and wait a few weeks for them to show. A week or two of assembly later, you have an array running.

To install more nuclear reactors, first you have to find a site, then you start a permitting process $$, and so on. About 10-20 years later, best case scenario, you are up and running.

The only valid arguments for “renewable doesn’t scale” are either 1. Based on observation. Until recently, renewable was just a way to burn money. So of course no one was buying it. 2. Based on rare earth usage. Some technologies for batteries and solar cells need rare materials that won’t scale.