Existential threat?

I had a discussion with someone recently who asked if climate change really was an existential threat for humans. I responded that it wasn’t. However, I added that this didn’t mean that it couldn’t be severely disruptive or that it meant that we couldn’t be creating an environment that we’d find very hostile, both in terms of the climate we could experience and the damage to the natural ecosystems on which we rely.

I find myself in a bit of quandary, because I think the extinction rebellion type narrative is too extreme, but I also find myself getting irritated by those who seem to suggest that we should simply rely on our current political/economic toolkits. I think that even if climate change is not a true existential threat, it’s still a very different type of threat to almost anything else we’ve faced before. I don’t really feel that our current political/economic environment is well suited to dealing with it, or – if it is – it clearly hasn’t demonstrated this yet.

A common narrative seems to be that we should be aiming for policy that is palatable; anything too ambitious either won’t be successful, or might do more harm than good. The problem I have is that we can often recover from poor policies. This isn’t the case for climate change, as I try to argue in this post. So, why do we seem to reluctant to enact ambitious climate policy, while appearing to be not too bothered about substantially changing the very thing that is vital to our existence on this planet; our climate?

To me, there are 3 main reasons why climate change presents a threat that is unlike anything we’ve really faced before:

  • It’s irreversible on human timescales: Without some kind of as yet undeveloped negative emission technology, climate change is essentially irreversible on relevant timescales. At any instant in time, the best we can do is stop it from getting any worse. In fact, given that we can’t immediately halt all emissions, we can’t even do this. So, if we get to the point where the impacts are now obviously severely negative, all we can do is bring emissions down as fast as we possibly can, and try to avoid it getting too much worse.
  • It could be large: We have the potential to emit enough to increase global average surface temperatures by more than 4oC, and more than double this in places like the Arctic. This is a substantial change in temperature. This is similar to the difference between a glacial, when mile-thick ice sheets covered parts of North America and Europe, and an inter-glacial, when the only ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere is the Greenland ice sheet. Global warming of more than 4oC will almost certainly be a substantial change to our climate and it seems very unlikely that the impacts of such a change won’t be severely negative.
  • It’s fast: In the past, most comparable changes to our climate happened over periods of thousands of years. The warming/cooling during the Milankovitch cycles typically took a few thousand years. The CO2 release associated with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is also thought to have taken thousands of years. We’re doing this on the timescales of ~100 years. Not only does this mean that it will be more difficult for ecosystems to respond, and survive, but we’re rapidly perturbing a complex, non-linear system. We shouldn’t be surprised if something unexpected occurs.

So, as much as I think that some of the current narratives are too extreme, I also think that quite a lot of the mainstream narratives are too relaxed and seem to imply that we shouldn’t do anything too ambitious. I really do hope that we can effectively address this by just relying on mainstream politics and economics. I’m becoming less and less convinced that we can.

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87 Responses to Existential threat?

  1. Richard Arrett says:

    What are the non-mainstream politics and economics options? Are we talking taking over the world and imposing restrictions or what?

    I still see nuclear power as the most practical way to quickly transition our electricity and personal transportation (EV’s) over from fossil fuel to non-carbon sources of power. An ambitious goal would be to go from 11% nuclear (worldwide) to 50 or 60% nuclear. We know nuclear works – all we have to do is build them.

    It will be interesting to see how much nuclear ends up playing into the ultimate solution Earth decides on over the next 80 years or so.

  2. Richard,

    What are the non-mainstream politics and economics options? Are we talking taking over the world and imposing restrictions or what?

    I don’t have any suggestions as to what alternatives we should be considering. I’m mostly just suggesting that we currently seem to be not doing very well. Maybe this can change. I’m not convincved that it will.

    I would argue that nuclear suffers from the same issue. A reason why it’s not currently a serious contender is primarily due to societal concerns and a lack of political will. How do you change this?

  3. Richard Arrett says:

    You ask How do you change this?

    I suspect time will change this.

    We will learn more about how much fossil fuel back-up renewables require, and we will learn more about how much the temperature will really rise by 2100 and how much CO2 emissions will really occur by 2100 and we will have more information upon which to make a decision.

    People will get educated and more and more people will decide that societal concerns of nuclear are small compared to the potential problems of climate change.

    So you are doing a good thing by keeping the conversation going about these issues and educating people.

  4. Richard,
    Yes, time will change this. My point, though, is that CO2 accumulates and so the longer we take to effectively address this, the more that will accumulate, and the larger the change that we will be committing ourselves to.

  5. I don’t know if climate change is an existential threat to humans. It could be, but we won’t know until, well, ever. If it happens then we won’t be here to know about it. If it doesn’t happen it just might not have happened yet.

    But I think there’s a good case to be made that it’s an existential threat to civilization. That might be worse, to go back to subsistence farming or even gathering/hunting.

  6. hownotto,
    Yes, I think it could be sufficiently disruptive that it threatens our current global civilisation. Kevin Anderson has said that 4oC of warming is incompatible with organised global community.

  7. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: There has been a sharp increase in the number of articles in the MSM and elsewhere about the the issues you have raised in your OP. As a consequence, a substantive public discussion about these matters is finally occurring. For the sake of my children and grandchildren, I hope that what’s happening is not too little and too late.

  8. JH,
    I agree that there is more discussion about this, which is a good thing.

  9. mrkenfabian says:

    I have long thought the actual global warming part is the least of it – that mismanagement, corruption and conflict will make a difficult but manageable problem effectively unmanageable and the consequence more far reaching and enduring, and damaging, as a consequence; the past 3 decades of top down opposition and obstructionism demonstrates the point.

    That it appears it will take bottom up democratic demands to match policy with the top level expert advice rather than what we have had so far – persistent top down rejection of the expert advice to avoid it – is evidence of enduring failures of leadership. Global warming’s physical impacts may not directly threaten the ongoing existence of human beings with extinction but it does threaten our civilisation – conflicts amongst WMD armed nations reacting to climate induced famines, migrations and weather disaster. Those conflicts can greatly amplify the climate problem into real threats to civilisation and the loss of our civilisation is a real existential threat.

    I think we will see the level of concern grow with ever more clear real world consequences, to the point where acceptance of the need to make sacrifices is widespread – but far later and needing greater sacrifice than if those at the top had been taking the top level experts seriously and using the truth of it to promote necessary action rather than lies about it to prevent them. Climate science denial has been – and remains – insidious. The combination of gullibility and self interest required for elected leaders to turn aside from the top level expert advice on an issue of this importance ought to make them ineligible for high office – and it is deeply dismaying to understand those very qualities have made them popular and won them their positions.

  10. An existential threat to humans? I guess it depends whether we are talking about all humans, or just some humans.

    For 2018, it’s calculated that just over 5,000 people died as a result of extreme weather events*. Of course it’s not possible to say what percentage of the people who died, died due to climate change; but if we acknowledge that climate change made those events worse then we must accept that for a large number of people, climate change was indeed an existential threat. Furthermore, whilever we continue to fall behind targets to reduce emissions, that number will grow with every year that passes.

    *https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2018/dec/21/deadly-weather-the-human-cost-of-2018s-climate-disasters-visual-guide

  11. I disagree with your conclusion that global warming is not an existential threat, but so what? I think what John Russell said is correct. Many beings have already blinked out of existence with global warming as a contributing factor and many more will. Your position is sort of like saying, cancer or heart disease, etc. are not fatal diseases because you haven’t died from them. Good for you!

  12. In a sense, that’s what I was getting at. It may not be a true existential threat, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be very seriously disruptive/damaging.

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Other than so-called decarbonization of energy sources there is some else which could be done to make a difference: plant lots of trees, 3 trillion for starters.

  14. Steven Mosher says:

    thoughtful piece. nice job

  15. izen says:

    I doubt climate change is an existential threat to the human species, even if it triggers a major extinction event.
    The recent paper modeling the last ~3 million years
    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/4/eaav7337
    indicates that we have already transformed the planetary climate from its ice-age pattern, back to a pre-Pliocene, ice free hot-house form. But that transition will disrupt agricultural systems that presently feed the large and growing population.
    Social collapse happens most often, not when those without are denied the benefits and privileges of civilisation, but when those with some of those advantages are faced with losing them.

    The Bronze age collapse, the fall of Rome, the Mayan and various disintegrations of a unified Chinese and other Asian states seem to have been driven, at least in part by significant migrations of populations that were triggered by weather disruption of the food supply.
    The increasing magnitude of migration that is seen on all the continents at present is already straining the stability of existing societies. It provides fertile ground for populist political movements to defend the status quo by identifying the ‘alien’ as the cause of the problem. Which historically has increased the rate of collapse of the collective structures required by a large civilisation with high density urban centres.

    I doubt that the main impact of AGW will be direct damage from a rise in GMST. It is local and regional changes driving large scale population movement that will destabilise the global economic and political infrastructure we enjoy at present. I see little prospect of avoiding this pattern of events, but if anyone can give a historical example of a city based society surviving large scale movements of populations by means other than ethnic exclusion and a military response to the demographic shifts it would be a little reassuring.

  16. Some of those in the know claim that climate change was intentionally swapped with oil depletion as a symbolic existential thread. The thinking was that society can potentially combat climate change but oil depletion is a certainty, and that would be too depressing to focus on. See Jimmy Carter for historical precedent.

  17. I guess I don’t understand the nuanced position you are laying out. Our CO2e emissions are driving the sixth great extinction event. If you believe that, then it makes sense to me to understand AGW as an existential threat. Some beings and species have survived past extinction events, and I think some/many will survive this extinction event. It’s an extinction event… and we are causing it. Do we need to parse such a thing? Do we need to split hairs and embrace an extinction event by making fine distinctions about what constitutes an existential threat? Steve Mosher liked your post, so that’s a plus, I guess.

    It’s not just heat by the way. Ocean acidification is a huge problem. I think that one is a clear existential threat to a lot of beings and species who live on the crusty side of life. And, this planet is an ocean planet primarily. That point is missed by lots of us land-dwellers. We have used the oceans and the atmosphere as a garbage pile, out of sight, out of mind. I guess I need to channel the spirit of Sartre to help me sort out the philosophical distinctions being made here. I am scratching my head about this one.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  18. John Hartz says:

    Richard Arrett: You wrote,

    We will learn more about how much fossil fuel back-up renewables require…

    We already know that fossil fuel plants are not the only way to “back-up” renewable energy generation.

    Promoting a nuclear power agenda does not require one to denigrate renewable energy..

  19. Willard says:

    > I still see nuclear power […]

    As promised:

    Effectively adapting to climate change involves overcoming social and ecological system barriers. The present study uses a three‐phase adaptation framework to propose adaptation strategies aimed at overcoming socioecological barriers of the food–energy–water (FEW) nexus. Cradle‐to‐farm‐gate land, greenhouse gas (GHG), and water impacts—that derive from food consumption in the United States—are analyzed and differentiated by major demographic groups (Black, Latinx, and White). Results indicate that the White demographic yields the highest per capita GHG (680 kg of CO2 eq⋅year−1) and water impacts (328,600 L⋅year−1) from food consumption, whereas the Black demographic yields the highest per capita land impacts (1,770 m2⋅year−1) from food consumption. Our findings suggest that obtaining data with the intention of building consensus across sociodemographic lines overcomes barriers in the understanding phase, leading to increased social receptivity for many planning and managing phase processes.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jiec.12859

  20. small,
    In a sense what I’m getting at is that I find it difficult to support some of the more extreme narratives because they probably aren’t true. On the other hand, it could be bad enough that we might not care that there’s a difference between the extinction of our global civilisation and the extinction of us as a species. However, there is another reason why the more extreme narratives should be avoided; suggesting that we’re almost certainly heading for some kind of extinction might lead people to conclude that there is not much point in making sacrifices today.

  21. izen,
    Yes, I agree that the biggest impacts will probably be regional changes that disrupt those societies. What concerns me a little is that this will probably manifest itself as political instability and you will still have people claiming that it wasn’t climate driven.

  22. I strongly agree with much of this. Adapting to climate change has a cost, but I don’t see any real possibility that the climate will change so much that nobody can afford the cost. So being hyperbolic, if you are happy for the likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and their descendants to carry on the human race, but not ours, then climate change is nothing to worry about? ;o)

    I think those arguing that AGW is an existential threat to mankind are probably acting in a counterproductive way, if only because the science is so easily shown to be, err decidedly unsettled. For example, I don’t think Stephen Hawkings talk of a Venus style atmosphere did much to prompt action, even with his scientific reputation.

    What we need is a dispassionate, pragmatic analysis of the situation and work out what our true values are and determine the course of action that best achieves them. Sadly we are (as a society) insufficiently rational to do that, so we do need to consider what is palatable because it may at least get done. Even if it is objectively a stupid course of action, not doing anything would be even stupider. I don’t really feel able to say much about the political dimension of this though, so caveat lector.

  23. Chubbs says:

    Good question. We have plenty of warning and if human existence without fossil fuels is not possible then climate change won’t matter much. So I am going to say no, not existential. Doesn’t mean we won’t shoot ourselves in the foot though.

  24. sinocentric says:

    It’s hard for me to take in all the information right now and not conclude that there’s gonna be a gradual (25-75 years maybe?) collapse of global society. It’s nice to be optimistic and all, but these systems are not changing on the time scale needed. The politics just aren’t there. The path of least resistance to stem the tide of emissions may be a major disaster or a collapse of society as we know it. It’s a shitty thing to think, and I hope I’m wrong, but that’s just how I feel right now.

  25. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steve Mosher liked your post, so that’s a plus, I guess.”

    I like most of what ATTP writes

    “I find myself in a bit of quandary”

    if you look hard at many of his pieces you will find him openly struggling to make sense of things.
    He’s rarely dogmatic. It’s quite likeable. Thankfully he did not end with his usual “i’ve gone on too long”, because he never really does go on too long.

    Now any other blog you read your typical author is going to make his point, and drive it home.
    When ATTP is at his best I always feel as if I am in the room with him, listening to him think
    out loud. It’s a great break from the typical kind of stuff you read. And it makes thisreader more open to his insights, because I see him working hard with the ideas.

  26. bostonblorp says:

    “existential” is too binary and consequently polarizes the response. Some humans will probably keep going for another couple hundred years at least unless the oceans turn Canfield on us and fumigate the planet.

    A better question is whether climate change is a civilizational threat. And that requires a more nuanced answer. For example it’s a bitter catch-22 that we may run out of the huge quantities of accessible, quality oil reserves at the same time that things get bad enough due to AGW that we realize we need to do everything possible to address the threat. Except, at that point, humanity will reach into its energy toolbox to “do things” and find the needle on empty. Oops.

    Never forget for an instant that fossil fuels are the essential lifeblood of our civilization, our agriculture and our very existence. There is no substitute. Going green on the grid is an immense challenge and only addresses 20% of our energy demand. Going nuclear would require a planetary draft system to press people into the nuclear corps and we would need to start construction on literal thousands of reactors (vs the 450 in existence) today. Whatever your preferred mix – plan on the delivery of mountains of concrete and steel.

    Then there’s the lunacy of carbon sequestration. With renewables a trivial 1.5% of the global energy mix we somehow think we’re going to have so much spare green power that we can suck gigatons of CO2 out of the atmosphere? For free? Or we’ll discover a new content of fertile, arable land to grow trees on to burn in boilers to then stuff the CO2 into the crust? It’s dangerous thinking.

    We need to abandon or radically remake our economic model to cut per-capita consumption in the Western world by half or more, shelve our wasteful militaries, and start geoengineering today. Who believes any of that is going to happen?

    Zoomed out far enough it’s hard not to see fossil fuels as the ultimate pitcher-plant trap for humanity. Too tasty to resist, filled our heads with ambrosia and delusions of grandeur. “We’ve always found a way, we’re too clever to get stuck here.”

  27. It is very difficult to enact “ambitious climate policy” when the people most interested in it are comfortable providing the following reply to the question “what ambitious policy” – “I don’t have any suggestions as to what alternatives we should be considering.”

    There are many suggestions out there. Some are better than others, we have learned quite a bit about each over the past few decades. We have also learned that a global economy requires democratic (and even non democratic) nations to at least nod toward cost and reliability.

    Like it or not it’s a global, competitive economy. Western nations are aging and have very high social welfare costs. You can’t treble the price of energy in Germany and compete globally.

    If you can’t compete globally you can’t provide guaranteed free health care and early retirement with 25 years of pensions to a nation of 46-year-olds. Not without automating your factories and making them even more dependent on inexpensive, reliable and abundant electricity.

    You also can’t retreat behind a wall of trade barriers- Germany has to sell a whole lot of cars outside of the EU to people who did have children and didn’t enact policies to limit driving. That means competing against Japanese, Korean, American, Mexican, Canadian, and soon Chinese car makers.

    IMO, Angela Merkel has limited options. She can try to convince the left to reverse course on nuclear. She can use Russian gas and Polish coal while trying to shift the focus of climate action to badgering China (and the US of course). She can prod the IPCC to accept sub 2 degrees ECS, declare victory and move on. So far it looks like #2 is the winner.

  28. Jeff,

    when the people most interested in it are comfortable providing the following reply to the question “what ambitious policy” – “I don’t have any suggestions as to what alternatives we should be considering.”

    Well, an not an expert on how to influence/enact policy. There are some who claim, or have, such expertise. my impression (which is part of what I was getting at in the post) was that much of the narrative seems to suggest that we should follow a pathway that will lead to policy that is clearly unlikely to lead to us avoiding substantial warming. So, I may not have a good sense of what we could do, but I think I can evaluate if what is suggested is likely to be effective.

    The rest of your comment kind of makes my point. It’s an argument against doing too much because of the potential economic implications. Okay, but then we’re probably heading for ~4C of warming, the impacts of which are likely irreversible on human timescales. Let’s hope that we can deal with such a large change and that it isn’t (as suggested by some) incompatible with organised global community.

  29. Joshua says:

    It seems that if the choice is between doing something and accepting risk, and not doing anything and hiding from the risk, people are naturally inclined to opt for the latter.

  30. Joshua says:

    In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.

  31. paulski0 says:

    I kind of disagree about it not being an existential threat at all, though if it is it would be an existential threat taking place over tens of millennia rather than decades/centuries. Given what we understand about past extinction events it seems a bit arrogant/anthropocentric to believe we are uniquely above all that in the face of a complete reworking of the planetary climate. The simplistic counterpoint people often make is that humans are adaptable and live in many different climates, so should be able to survive a shift in climate. The simplistic counter-counterpoint I would make is that a distinguishing feature of a hothouse Earth is a reduction in climatic diversity, seasonally and geographically, so the evolutionary advantage of adaptability may become more of a redundant burden in such an environment.

    That’s probably slightly beyond the scope of what you were talking about but seemed relevant so I thought I’d lay it out anyway.

  32. Given that there are apparently children in richer countries that go to bed with fears of climate change, your post is welcome. It is a variant on arguments I have been making for some time.

    The IPCC clearly and explicitly agrees with you and I hope your post persuades others. The impacts of climate change will be real, impressive, messy to most and dangerous to some. It is well worth our best efforts to prevent what we can and prepare for what we cannot. But the IPCC clearly estimates impacts overall as something far less than a threat to current populations, culture and civilizations.

    For some who are not used to encountering this line of thinking in this venue, I would suggest that refocusing efforts would be a welcome next step.

    For example, people need hope. They already have enough reasons to fear.
    For example, there are a number of initiatives that can be undertaken by the populace that would have a material effect on our contributions to climate change.
    Etc., etc.

    ATTP, I hope you escape from this post without undergoing some of the criticism leveled at others who have arrived at similar conclusions over the past decade.

  33. Tom,
    I’m not entirely sure that what you think I’ve concluded is the same as I think I’ve concluded. What do you think this post is actually concluding?

  34. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    But the IPCC clearly estimates impacts overall as something far less than a threat to current populations, culture and civilizations.

    What does “less than a threat” mean?

    Also,
    ATTP, I hope you escape from this post without undergoing some of the criticism leveled at others who have arrived at similar conclusions over the past decade.

    Your concerns are touching.

  35. attp said: “Yes, I agree that the biggest impacts will probably be regional changes that disrupt those societies. What concerns me a little is that this will probably manifest itself as political instability…”

    I say: All that political instability should work out fine as long as it doesn’t involve too many nations with nuclear weapons. But maybe I think that nuclear weapons are more destructive than they really are? If that is the case, my concerns about nukes and AGW and ocean acidification are both overblown and I should learn to love both fossil fuels and the bomb.

    Existential threat… what a strange frame to apply to this global problem. Existential threat? like “oh no, we’re all going to die!” Oh, wait… we are all going to die. All of this focus about an existential threat allows us to be sidetracked into a pretty meaningless back and forth.

    Why not ask the right question? It’s not, “is AGW an existential threat?” or “how are we all going to die?”

    The right questions? How are we going to live? What kind of choices should we make today to reduce suffering in the world? What do we owe to each other? Should our children and grandchildren be expected to pay the cost of our unwillingmess to control our consumption and outputs? Do we owe anything to other species or are we entitled to drive other species into extinction with impunity?

    Ask the right questions.

  36. Jai Mitchell says:

    I believe that the use of the word extinction and existential is simply a tool to convey the expected impacts of BAU emissions. The term extinction is applied to the mass die off that a >4C warming in 200 years would incur, similar to other extinction events like the PETM which experienced >6C of warming in 10,000 years.

    The term existential is also simply an expression when used describing climate impacts to humans. It is not conveying that humans may go extinct it is saying that we will experience global societal collapse as a result of climate change with a likely die-off of 97% of the human population.

    I find that your lower bound (>4C) is not supported by the science which, at those lowest warming levels, will produce eventual permafrost and carbon cycle releases of over 1,000 PgC. Taking these into account and subject to civilization collapse, we could easily push the climate envelope above 12C.
    https://www.skeptical-science.com/science/will-global-warming-really-destroy-clouds/
    “There’s no doubt these feedbacks will be in play. Past work has shown it”

  37. John Hartz says:

    We must keep in mind that man-made climate change is not the only game in town when considering the future of the human race and other species. Human ingenuity has created other processes (e.g. plastic pollution) that have and continue to negatively the Earth’s biosphere. In this larger context, I opine that the human race is on a glide slope to self-extinction.

  38. You don’t need to support the extreme narratives on either end of the AGW debate. You can just shrug off the worst, most extreme misunderstandings and work on what is clearly true: we have triggered the sixth great extinction event. Is the best that our species can manage when we look up and understand the sixth extinction event: “well, it’s not an existential threat… some humans are bound to survive, right?” Is that a reasonable response to this situation? I find that to be an extreme narrative and maybe one that I should refute because of its policy implications.

    I think the middle ground for many of the folks who are feeling moved by the “extinction rebellion” is that our species should not be entitled to treat other species and future beings with impunity and such callous indifference.

  39. For example, people need hope. They already have enough reasons to fear.

    He’s not the only one, but David Wallace-Wells makes the point that the reality all around us is hardly that there is anything near too much fear, and not enough hope.

    Just go to the grocery store or pub or vacation spot. You aren’t seeing people who are much fearful about climate change. What you do see is is the huge swathe of society who are basically complacent and detached from the issue, and largely awash in a vague sort of hope that – somehow – everything is going to – again, somehow – work out fine. (Not to mention the large percentage of them that are basically in outright denial about the scientific consensus, you know, ECS and stuff, etc.)

  40. “ATTP, I hope you escape from this post without undergoing some of the criticism leveled at others who have arrived at similar conclusions over the past decade.”

    judging by the pummeling he has received so far, I think he’ll be O.K. ;o)

  41. ATTP, I don’t mean to suggest that you’ve gone the full Lomborg or become a lukewarmer. But simply acknowledging that climate change with its attendant human contributions does not threaten large scale loss of life or the collapse of civilization actually constitutes a material difference to many of the tropes currently being put forward and advocated. I was merely trying to point that out and salute it in a lukewarm way.

    FWIW, I agree with you that there is real potential for substantial disruption due to a changing climate.

  42. Tom,
    Actually, I think I’ve pointed out a number of times that there are some who regard >4C of warming as incompatible with organised global community. I don’t know how robust this suggestion is, but it certainly seems that this is possible.

  43. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    does not threaten large scale loss of life

    What’s the definition of “large scale loss of life?”

  44. Joshua says:

    judging by the pummeling he has received so far, I think he’ll be O.K. ;o)

    It’s a wonder that he hasn’t ripped his shirt off.

  45. ATTP, I have lived in communities with annual temperatures more than 4C above GAT, for example in Taiwan. Without trying to make light of the prospect or pretend that all will be well and all manner of things will be well, (and without abandoning my point of view that 4C is not at all likely–is in fact an outlier based on models and data that have been successfully disputed) I consider the prospect somewhat less than daunting.

    But if global average temperatures actually do rise from 15.7C to 19.7C it will not kill tens of thousands or even thousands. It will not topple governments or destroy institutions. It will be expensive to adapt to such a change and the process will be traumatic for some and difficult for all. We will lose some species we treasure and the world will look different. The way we practice agriculture and industry will change–but it will indeed have had to change to generate the CO2 needed to bring about such a rise in temperatures.

    I don’t think it will happen. But if it does I know that we have the technology, systems and intelligence to deal with it. In this Trumpian / Brexitian world, what I actually have to hope for is that we have the empathy to help those most affected by it.

  46. “ATTP, I have lived in communities with annual temperatures more than 4C above GAT, for example in Taiwan.”

    You do realise that the problem with climate change is the change, not the eventual temperature (excepting sea level rise)?

    “It will be expensive to adapt to such a change”

    Fortunately the countries, such as Bangladesh, where the effects of climate change are likely to be greatest are among the wealthiest.

  47. Tom,
    A 4C-5C reduction in average global temperature would lead to mile-high ice sheets across parts of North America and Europe. Yet, you’re absolutely convinced that a >4C rise in global average will be (and I paraphase) an inconvenience that we can deal with?

    A key point is that this is not so much about absolute temperatures (although actual temperatures and humidity can have a physiological impact on us) but about the change in GAT. A 4C rise in average GAT is more than 4C in some places and is a relatively large change in our climate (in terms of heatwaves, precipitation, etc).

  48. Hi ATTP, Yes, you are paraphrasing. I consider it more than an inconvenience. And yes, I’m very aware that temperature rises, as well as heatwaves, droughts, floods and precipitation, will all be expressed regionally.

    But the activity required to generate the additional greenhouse gases you are contemplating will be used, in part at least, to create wealth in the developing world that will provide resilience to climate change. While it is disturbing to contemplate hundreds of thousands of rice farmers in SE Asia toiling under ever-hotter temperatures, it is not absurd to consider that they will be in air conditioned offices directing drones and robots to labor on their behalf. The methane from those rice fields will still be just as real and just as potent–but the suffering it causes may be much less than our worst fears.

  49. “While it is disturbing to contemplate hundreds of thousands of rice farmers in SE Asia toiling under ever-hotter temperatures, it is not absurd to consider that they will be in air conditioned offices directing drones and robots to labor on their behalf. ”

    So who will be growing the rice if they are all working in air conditioned offices?

  50. Tom,

    But the activity required to generate the additional greenhouse gases you are contemplating will be used, in part at least, to create wealth in the developing world that will provide resilience to climate change.

    Except the question is really whether it’s better to power this activity using fossil fuel generated energy, or go for some alternative. The Social Cost of carbon would already seem to suggest that the latter may be preferable.

    While it is disturbing to contemplate hundreds of thousands of rice farmers in SE Asia toiling under ever-hotter temperatures, it is not absurd to consider that they will be in air conditioned offices directing drones and robots to labor on their behalf.

    This sounds a bit like techno-utopianisn. Also, you do realise that the changes are likely irreversible on relevant timescales. It’s one thing to image it being more pleasant to be in an airconditioned office, and it being absolutely required.

  51. I really don’t think robotics is anywhere near that level or will be for the forseable future. I also wonder who will pay for the robots?

  52. Neither Mrs Marsupial, nor myself have done any housework in decades…

  53. Hi ATTP, actually the technology for agricultural use of drones and robots is not only available today, it is in use in America at least on a large and growing scale. It’s not techno-optimism. It’s reading reports of what is actually happening in the fields.

    I have no objection to using green (or green-ish) energy to power this technology–I worked for a solar power provider and you won’t find a bigger fan of it than me.

    And I will repeat my ritual caution that I use whenever I encounter mentions of the Social Cost of Carbon. There is also a social cost of removing carbon. That’s why this is a fight, not a roll-over.

  54. ATTP, I get that none of us are policy experts and I think I came across as being unduly harsh. I would say that “ambitious policy” options are what the world has been debating for 30+ years. It’s a problem if we can’t all articulate one or two that makes the most sense after all these years. And if we can’t, we can hardly expect our elected officials to move.

    The rest of my comment was not a “do nothing.” It is a pushback to the (many) ambitious policy options out there that essentially argue cost is no object and impact on availability is irrelevant. The GND (as outlined in the supporting documents) was such a plan. Shuttering nuclear power plants in Germany is such a plan. Those are do nothing plans because reality prevents them.

    The fact that I won’t vacation in Caracas this year is not proof that I oppose doing anything on my holiday.

    A truly ambitious plan leaves Germany globally competitive in manufacturing. The current ambitious plan does not. There are low and no emissions alternatives available today that Germany could use and remain competitive. At this point, all of us know that.

  55. Current applications and trends
    Much of the current research continues to work towards autonomous agricultural vehicles. This research is based on the advancements made in driver-assist systems and self-driving cars.[15]

    While robots have already been incorporated in many areas of agricultural farm work, they are still largely missing in the harvest of various crops. This has started to change as companies begin to develop robots that complete more specific tasks on the farm. The biggest concern over robots harvesting crops comes from harvesting soft crops such as strawberries which can easily be damaged or missed entirely.[14][15] Despite these concerns, progress in this area is being made. According to Gary Wishnatzki, the co-founder of Harvest Croo Robotics, one of their strawberry pickers currently being tested in Florida can “pick a 25-acre field in just three days and replace a crew of about 30 farm workers”.[15] Similar progress is being made in harvesting apples, grapes, and other crops.[12][15][16]

    Another goal being set by agricultural companies involves the collection of data.[16] There are rising concerns over the growing population and the decreasing labor available to feed them.[14][16] Data collection is being developed as a way to increase productivity on farms.[16] AgriData is currently developing new technology to do just this and help farmers better determine the best time to harvest their crops by scanning fruit trees.[16]

    Applications
    Robots have many fields of application in agriculture. Some examples and prototypes of robots include the Merlin Robot Milker, Rosphere, Harvest Automation, Orange Harvester, lettuce bot,[17] and weeder. One case of a large scale use of robots in farming is the milk bot. It is widespread among British dairy farms because of its efficiency and nonrequirement to move. According to David Gardner (chief executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England), a robot can complete a complicated task if its repetitive and the robot is allowed to sit in a single place. Furthermore, robots that work on repetitive tasks (e.g. milking) fulfill their role to a consistent and particular standard.[18]

    Another field of application is horticulture. One horticultural application is the development of RV100 by Harvest Automation Inc. RV 100 is designed to transport potted plants in a greenhouse or outdoor setting. The functions of RV100 in handling and organizing potted plants include spacing capabilities, collection, and consolidation. The benefits of using RV100 for this task include high placement accuracy, autonomous outdoor and indoor function, and reduced production costs.[19]

    Examples
    Vinobot and Vinoculer[20][21][22]
    LSU’s AgBot[23][24]
    Harvest Automation is a company founded by former iRobot employees to develop robots for greenhouses[25]
    Root AI has made a tomato-picking robot for use in greenhouses[26][27]
    Strawberry picking robot from Robotic Harvesting[28] and Agrobot.[29]
    Small Robot Company developed a range of small agricultural robots, each one being focused on a particular task (weeding, spraying, drilling holes, …) and controlled by an AI system[30]
    ecoRobotix has made a solar-powered weeding and spraying robot[31]
    Blue River Technology has developed a farm implement for a tractor which only sprays plants that require spraying, reducing herbicide use by 90%[32][33]
    Casmobot next generation slope mower[34]
    Fieldrobot Event is a competition in mobile agricultural robotics[35]
    HortiBot – A Plant Nursing Robot,[36]
    Lettuce Bot – Organic Weed Elimination and Thinning of Lettuce[37]
    Rice planting robot developed by the Japanese National Agricultural Research Centre[38]
    ROS Agriculture – Open source software for agricultural robots using the Robot Operating System. [39]
    The IBEX autonomous weed spraying robot for extreme terrain, under development[40]
    FarmBot,[41] Open Source CNC Farming[42]
    VAE, under development by an argentinean ag-tech startup, aims to become a universal platform for multiple agricultural applications, from precision spraying to livestock handling.[43]
    ACFR RIPPA: for spot spraying [44]
    ACFR SwagBot; for livestock monitoring
    ACFR Digital Farmhand: for spraying, weeding and seeding[45]

  56. if global average temperatures actually do rise from 15.7C to 19.7C it will not kill tens of thousands or even thousands

    Jeezus. 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico. More than 1,000 are dead in Idai (yeah, yeah, attribution), and we are at 1°C…

  57. RNS, the number of deaths due to storms, floods and other climate related disasters has fallen dramatically. It will never reach zero, either with or without climate change.

  58. Joshua says:

    Along with the caveats about the definition and time scale specifics related to the label of existential, I think it’s also worth considering that fossil fuels use manifests in a variety of costs in addition to those directly attributable to temperature rise. For example, black carbon, the direct cost in human capital and lives that stems from empowering the government regimes that provide fossil fuels, etc.

    At some point trying to evaluate climate change cost on some existential scale, by considering temperature rise only, is a false paradigm.

  59. DM said :

    “ATTP, I have lived in communities with annual temperatures more than 4C above GAT, for example in Taiwan.”

    You do realise that the problem with climate change is the change, not the eventual temperature (excepting sea level rise)?

    Yes, that’s a bizarre statement to make. It makes you wonder if they have any intuitive sense of the scientific issues at all.

    It’s like when you are discussing a topic with someone for an extended period of time, and they are nodding their head in agreement, thinking that you are making headway, and then they say something so ridiculous that you realize that the entire previous discussion was a waste of time.

  60. Tom,

    And I will repeat my ritual caution that I use whenever I encounter mentions of the Social Cost of Carbon. There is also a social cost of removing carbon. That’s why this is a fight, not a roll-over.

    We’ve had this discussion before. This doesn’t make any sense. The social cost of carbon is the unaccounted for (and discounted) cost of emitting CO2. If this were less than the cost of removing it, or less than the extra cost of using an alternative, we’d continue to emit. If not, we would probably use the alternative, or remove it (assuming we actually add a carbon price). The social cost of removing carbon really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  61. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    That’s why this is a fight,

    Seems to me that there are many reasons why this is a fight. One of the reasons might be because people when triggered, have a short-circuit in their reasoning and make simplistic arguments – such as arguments that ignore externalities when calculating cost.

  62. izen says:

    @-tf
    ” While it is disturbing to contemplate hundreds of thousands of rice farmers in SE Asia toiling under ever-hotter temperatures, it is not absurd to consider that they will be in air conditioned offices directing drones and robots to labor on their behalf.”

    That will also require far fewer rice farmers toiling in the fields.
    It is not absurd to consider that the rest of the population, or a large proportion of it will try to migrate to an area with a ‘better’ climate that does not require air conditioned offices and has jobs that can earn them money for the robot grown rice. That is what happened the last time regional climate change drove the Goths into Rome or the Golden horde into China. Why would they stay ?

    Or do you envision a society where robots do all the work, and the 8 billion population lives in sybaritic luxury in the degraded environment, with an equable distribution of the fruits of all this automation?

    What is actually happening with the incipient and early effects of regional climate impacts is that the local population, faced with starvation, starts migrating to the ‘richer’ areas that have a more stable food supply either because of local conditions, or the economic and military might to expropriate food.
    (Build the Wall…)

  63. bostonblorp says:

    It is absolutely techno-utopian to believe we’ll mitigate AGW with robots working in the place of farmers in rice paddies in SE Asia. Never-mind how will penniless farmers afford these sophisticated machines. Or how sea-level rise is set to destroy millions of hectares of rice cultivation due to salt-water intrusion. Or how floods and storms will wreck any modern agriculture like it just did in the US. Or how we’re falling back on fossil-fuels to meet energy demand (China is restarting construction on 60GW of coal power) without mechanized farm droids. And that’s before we expect to spend who knows how many terawatt hours on CCS.

    Truly the mind boggles.

  64. Richard Arrett says:

    Izen asks “Or do you envision a society where robots do all the work, and the 8 billion population lives in sybaritic luxury in the degraded environment, with an equable distribution of the fruits of all this automation?”

    That is a very good question.

    The way we are headed, it is not impossible to see a time when robots can mine, transport and produce everything necessary to make more robots. Then robots can farm and transport food, and manufacture all products and perform many and maybe even most services (restaurants, hotel cleaning, haircuts, etc.)

    What does one charge for a product which is essentially free? What will people do in such a world?
    Without the self-worth generated by work, people will no doubt get up to much mischief and bad things will happen. Maybe all that will be left will be to write books, write songs, make movies and other types of creative work?

    It is very interesting to contemplate what the world will be like, if you project current trends in automation into the future. Machines doing everything and people doing nothing. Hmmmm

  65. Richard Arrett says:

    By essentially free I mean no cost of materials (mined, transported and produced for free by other robots) and no cost for labor (all labor done by robots produced by other robots).

    If a person needs a new toaster, could they just go down to the local supply depot and take one home? Or maybe a robot could even deliver it right to your home?

    I suspect people will need to think through this future very carefully because it is not out of the question.

  66. John Hartz says:

    Achieving what’s called for in this just issued UN report will indeed be a difficult slog for the human race.

    The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, says that achieving the financing needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the UN’s plan of action for peace, planet and prosperity – is not just about finding additional investment, but also building supportive financial systems, and global and national policy environments, which are favourable to sustainable development.

    At a press conference on Thursday, following the release of the report, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that it delivers a “sobering message”, showing low wage growth, rising inequality and debt distress, and stagnating aid levels.

    Climate change, said Ms. Mohammed, continues to threaten sustainable development in all regions, and, despite international commitments to limit a rise in global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions actually rose by 1.3 per cent during the course of 2017.

    The report also shows that it is becoming increasingly difficult to create conditions to bring about positive change. The reasons include rapid changes in technology, geopolitics and climate, and the inability of national and multilateral institutions to adapt.

    In addition, increasing inequality has hit many people’s faith in the multilateral system and, in his foreword to the report, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, says: “Our shared challenge is to make the international trading and financial systems fit for purpose to advance sustainable development and promote fair globalization.”

    Fight against climate change and poverty will fail without overhaul of global financial system, says major UN report, UN News, Apr 4, 2019

  67. John Hartz says:

    thomasfuller2: You wrote:

    RNS, the number of deaths due to storms, floods and other climate related disasters has fallen dramatically.

    Source(s) please.

  68. izen says:

    @-tf
    “I suspect people will need to think through this future very carefully because it is not out of the question.”

    People have.
    For a through examination of a post-scarcity society try any of the Ian M Banks (RIP) Culture series.

    Work is currently being done on semi-autonomous manufacturing systems that start with say, solar panels, batteries and digital printing to make more solar panels, batteries, and machines that can collect raw materials to make more machines to make more…
    Basically Von Neumann machines at the factory level. Good for a Mars base, but applicable to here as well.

    The problem with all these Utopian visions is the same that faced society when mechanisation was first developed. The Luddites did not object to the technology. They objected to the value their work previously generated now being concentrated in the hands of the few machine owners.
    There are other problems with such automation. How much more efficient to build a drone army that can steal the required/desired resources from others.

    But for a less Utopian and optimistic view try J Sladek’s The Reproductive System.

  69. John Hartz says:

    On the good news front…

    Batteries are critical for our clean energy future. Luckily, their cost has dropped so low, we might be much closer to this future than we previously thought.

    In a little less than a year, the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 35 percent, according to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Cheaper batteries mean we can store more solar and wind power even when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing. This is a major boost to renewables, helping them compete with fossil fuel-generated power, even without subsidies in some places, according to the report. Massive solar-plus-storage projects are already being built in places like Florida and California to replace natural gas, and many more are on the way.

    The new battery prices are “staggering improvements,” according to Elena Giannakopoulou, who leads the energy economics group at Bloomberg NEF. Previous estimates anticipated this breakthrough moment for batteries to arrive in late 2020, not early 2019.

    Batteries are key to clean energy — and they just got much cheaper by Eric Holthaus, Grist, Apr 3, 2019

  70. angech says:

    Joshua says: “it’s also worth considering that fossil fuels use manifests in a variety of costs in addition to those directly attributable to temperature rise. For example, black carbon, the direct cost in human capital and lives that stems from empowering the government regimes that provide fossil fuels, etc. trying to evaluate climate change cost on some existential scale, by considering temperature rise only, is a false paradigm.”
    One would consider that if any of the other costs rose to a serious enough level they would have got a guernsey in the argument.
    Sea level rise and ocean acidification might qualify for a badge on the guernsey but temperature rise is till worry number 1 to number 9. The paradigm is real as evinced by the focus on what was it, 4C, above

  71. angech says:

    Joshua, btw, thanks for your comments on procrastination which were personally interesting and relevant

  72. Steven Mosher says:

    “Zoomed out far enough it’s hard not to see fossil fuels as the ultimate pitcher-plant trap for humanity. Too tasty to resist, filled our heads with ambrosia and delusions of grandeur. “We’ve always found a way, we’re too clever to get stuck here.”

    I for one vote we go out with a bang and not a whimper, because we shall surely go out.
    The obsession with ensuring our future has always seemed odd to me. why would you live for
    tommorow when today is so awesome and the only thing you really have.

  73. “By essentially free I mean no cost of materials (mined, transported and produced for free by other robots) and no cost for labor (all labor done by robots produced by other robots).”

    You would have to have a world free of greed for that to happen in the first place. Given current attitudes to doing something about climate change at the expense of a reduction in our standard of living, I think the technical ability to implement that will be here a very long time before humans are willing to give up their power over one-another.

  74. Numbers of deaths related to climate change is way off above, even if you only count the direct ones. Then there’s the exacerbation of drought, flood and famine in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, etc. etc. There’s pollution in India, China, the Far East, and in fact in every city. Coal mines exact a heavy toll on watersheds and livelihoods. The list goes on and on. One can’t either divide these related problems out nor can one count 100% of them as climate-related. Losing home and livelihood is not good for health, but those are not counted as climate although they often are.

    Here’s one place where they regularly count and list these problems, in the form of one of Jeff Masters/Bob Henson and team articles at Wunderground’s Category 6:
    The Top Ten Weather and Climate Events of 2018
    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Top-Ten-Weather-and-Climate-Events-2018

    We do not have an insuperable problem, but we have a culture ill suited and unwilling to face the need to work together to solve the problem, habituated to marketing’s dictations about comfort, along with a highly motivated, extremely wealthy, dishonest sector that only looks at short term gain, which has captured many of our governments (US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Russia, to start with the arbitrary and obvious.

    It’s no so much that we can’t solve it, it’s that we won’t, and we refuse to face the enormity of the problem.

  75. As Tommy Sledge once said, “Treat every day as if it were your last–whimper, moan and beg for mercy.” I am the cornucopiest of the cornucuopians, but that still makes me laugh.

  76. Phil says:

    Just a footnote on Extinction Rebellion. My understanding, which is somewhat sketchy but I think I’m correct, is that they are concerned not only with Climate Change, but also the current Holocene extinction event (which will be exacerbated by Climate Change) and also the consequences of “Insectaggedon” and soil degradation on Human society. Quite what “Extinction” refers to in their name is unclear.

    I do receive links and information from a member of XR, which I scrutinise with (hopefully) an appropriate degree of skepticism. It can veer a little towards alarmism; but I’ve not seen, for example, any references to Peter Wadhams pronouncements.

  77. mrkenfabian says:

    SM – “I for one vote we go out with a bang and not a whimper, because we shall surely go out.
    The obsession with ensuring our future has always seemed odd to me. why would you live for
    tommorow when today is so awesome and the only thing you really have.”

    Truly? You have said some things here I disagree with but this one I especially disagree with. You sound self indulgent and shortsighted – and frankly, negligent. We may well lose this one badly, but if so it will be for lack of trying, not lack of options to try. There is some pride and honour in trying and failing in the face of overwhelming odds but not so much in not trying and partying whilst letting others pay for the party – which looks more akin to whimpering than embracing the good in the present. And just to be clear, I don’t think the odds have ever been genuinely overwhelming.

    Susan – “It’s no so much that we can’t solve it, it’s that we won’t, and we refuse to face the enormity of the problem.” I agree. And yet there are signs of change – of less apathy and ignorance and growing bottom up demands that leaders take the problem seriously.

    Bottom up political pressure against top down resistance is never ideal, but it is happening – and because of the congruence of global warming actually happening and mainstream climate science actually explaining it the top down opposition can change. Top down use of the truth of the problem’s seriousness is still possible, because the recurring reality of directly experienced weather and climate extremes will bring it home. Much later than could have been but broad community acceptance that it is a real and serious problem that must be addressed, even to making sacrifices, will happen.

    Someone said 4 degrees of warming should be tolerable but us Australians are noticing what droughts and heatwaves are like with an extra 1 degree. If you live where it gets almost unbearably hot without global warming – and lots of the world’s population does – adding 4 degrees sounds more like something unbearable than inconsequential.

  78. John Hartz says:

    Lauterwasser covers one heck of a lot of ground in this lengthy article…:

    The Collapse of Global Civilization Has Begun by David B Lauterwasser, Medium, Nov 14, 2017

  79. John Hartz says:

    The introductory section of Lauterwasser’ article cited above…

    Only the fewest today think that global civilization is on the brink of collapse — but it’s doubtful that the Romans, the Greek, the Mayans or the Mesopotamians saw their own fall coming either. We hear about new obstacles on a daily basis; most of the news consist of disturbing stories on increasingly overwhelming issues that, plainly spoken, seem impossible to solve. And yet, no one even recognizes that it is collapse that starts to unfold all around us.

    Civilizations are characterized by the emergence and expansion of cities, as the Latin root of the word suggests (lat.: “civis” = inhabitant of a city), that, in some instances, turn into states. A city is a permanent settlement of humans where more humans live than their immediate environment can support. Therefore, the city requires the import of food and other resources from the surrounding area. The use of the term ‘require’ hereby implies that if the rural population doesn’t agree on exporting the product of their work, the city comes and forcefully takes it (Scott, 2017; Jensen, 2006). The city continuously expands as its population grows, requiring evermore resources from the rural surrounding, and therefore depleting an ever-increasing radius of land. Civilizations can, by definition, not be sustainable, since every expansion on a finite planet logically has a limit — and “colonizing other planets” is obviously nothing but science fiction. Earlier civilizations reached this limit after a few hundred or thousand years, but with the advancement of technology we repeatedly found loopholes that allow us to artificially modify conditions in our favor. As we slowly reach the limit of technological, physical and biological possibilities to further expand as a civilization, it is of utmost importance to understand what is happening and why.

    If we can learn one thing of the past collapses of major civilizations, it is that all of those showed some (if not most) of the following symptoms during or immediately before their imminent collapse: environmental destruction, depletion of vital resources (such as water, arable soil and timber), famine, overpopulation, social and political unrest, inequality, invasion or other forms of devastating warfare, and disease.

    Think for a second. I guess you will be able to come up with a current example for each of the points listed above in under a minute. If not, here are a few examples:

  80. RickA says:

    Bring on the meat:

  81. John Hartz says:

    Gaia’s revenge?

  82. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “Bring on the meat:”

    Self regulation has worked so well in the past.(sarc/off)
    Hope you have a strong stomach, and possibly a radiation proof bunker…

    https://newrepublic.com/article/153465/its-not-just-pork-trump-also-letting-nuclear-plants-regulate-safety

    “Nobody wants to deal with salmonella poisoning. Not you, not me, and certainly not the pork industry. Companies know that if their meat is contaminated with the disease-causing bacteria, they might sicken or even kill people—and thus get sued. So it’s in their best interest to keep everything clean.
    By next month, according to The Washington Post, the pork plants themselves will be in charge of “identifying and removing live diseased hogs when they arrive at the plants”—as opposed to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for ensuring that “everyone’s food is safe.” … The day before the Post’s story on pork inspections broke, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee held an oversight hearing for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). …
    The draft version of the rule, released by the NRC in 2016, required all nuclear plant owners to do two things: reassess all flood and earthquake risks, then implement new safety measures taking the reassessment into account. But in January 2019, with Trump appointees making up a majority of the commission, it approved a final version of the rule making the safety measures voluntary.”

  83. “It is now widely understood that human-induced climate change this century is an existential risk to human civilisation. Unless carbon emissions are rapidly reduced to zero, it is likely that global warming will either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.”

    http://www.climatecodered.org/2019/04/existential-risk-neoliberalism-and-un_8.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClimateCodeRed+%28climate+code+red%29

    Do you agree that it is widely understood that human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilization? Is Spratt too extreme with what he lines out in this article?

    Cheers,

    Mike

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