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Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion 
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Post Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
A plug for the book discussion Robert is leading. If you haven't been reading his chapter summaries, you should, because they give the essential information from Peter Wadhams' book. The topic could hardly be more important. Put Robert's summaries together and you have an excellent "book in brief," a great time-saver for you.



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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
Thanks very much DWill. I agree this topic of Arctic warming could hardly be more important in terms of the existential situation of the future of our planet.

There is a basic philosophical agenda that I am pursuing in this discussion, the implications of taking a systematic approach to reality. Systematic thinking involves identifying axiomatic beliefs and examining their logical implications. Looking at the effects of Arctic warming on climate change, two propositions can be considered as axiomatic.

The first axiom is that our planet exists as described by science. This might seem a simple and obvious claim, but it is important to start with things that are simple and obvious in order to build more complex arguments. In this case, the problem is that cultural politics generally overrides scientific description as a basis for prevailing social values and decisions, so most people do not in fact accept this axiom as having any importance. However, as the California Governor just said, nature bats last and nature bats 1000.

The factual existence of the Arctic and its status as a 'canary in the coalmine' for climate change and global warming flow directly from the axiomatic status of scientific observation. With the Arctic warming at double the speed of the whole planet, it is a highly fragile and sensitive indicator of the grave security peril of climate change.

The second axiom for systematic philosophy is that human flourishing is good. Our shared human perspective as part of the amazing complexity of modern civilization requires the proposition that sustaining and enhancing global human existence is a core ethical goal. That is not at all to suggest that humanity could flourish in a collapsing ecosystem. The conventional religious thinking of human dominion over nature cannot be sustained. Rather, assessing the scientific preconditions for humans to flourish on our planet leads to recognition that an integral ecology is necessary to enable society to prosper.

Integral ecology sees culture and nature as intimately entwined, and logically leads to a revision of conventional Christian dominion thinking. Integral ecology means seeing culture as part of nature, seeing wise stewardship of natural resources as core to ethics, focussing equally on natural and social values, seeing evidence and logic as moral values, and recognising biodiversity conservation as a sacred duty. Such new thinking sees the alienation from nature inherent in supernatural fantasy as a moral problem, and recognises climate change as a primary planetary problem for strategy, security and stability.

Integral ecology is the key idea of the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si from 2015, although unsurprisingly the Roman Catholic context of this document constrains its analysis. Pope Francis has since taken a prophetic lead by recognising climate restoration as a moral goal, saying "Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency."

The implications of this integral perspective involve a collision course with both the climate action movement and the climate denial movement. The reason for the collision is that the only way to achieve an integral ecology, sustaining both human and ecological goals, is to formulate a gradual transition strategy to bring the atmosphere back into balance to restore a stable climate.

My view, as I have explained at booktalk in some detail, is that the only way to achieve the climate restoration goal is geoengineering, reflecting heat to space and transforming carbon into useful products, operating at planetary scale. That agenda is not seriously discussed in the climate action movement, which closes it off by its sole focus on cutting new carbon emissions.

Understanding the Arctic situation as the leading bleeding edge of climate catastrophe can help to understand an integral ecology, and the major actions and new thinking needed to achieve it. Peter Wadhams’ great book A Farewell To Ice takes a simple and clear scientific approach, explaining the scale and urgency of the polar problem and how we can address it. As DWill mentioned, I am using the Booktalk discussion to summarise the main points in this book, hopefully to enable others to engage on the existential realities of climate change.


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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
Robert Tulip wrote:
. . . Understanding the Arctic situation as the leading bleeding edge of climate catastrophe can help to understand an integral ecology, and the major actions and new thinking needed to achieve it. Peter Wadhams’ great book A Farewell To Ice takes a simple and clear scientific approach, explaining the scale and urgency of the polar problem and how we can address it. As DWill mentioned, I am using the Booktalk discussion to summarise the main points in this book, hopefully to enable others to engage on the existential realities of climate change.


I've been reading Robert's chapter summaries, but I don't know if I'm up to reading the book, A Farewell To Ice. Not because I don't care or because I'm skeptical about climate change. I'm just worn out with bad news lately. Everything seems so bleak and hopeless.

I actually did read our last nonfiction book, The Wizard and the Prophet, but I didn't feel very motivated to participate in the discussion. Then again, what Robert says above (in bold) gives me some hope there are at least some potential solutions. Is the author more of a wizard or a prophet? Does he address overpopulation at all?


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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
geo wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
. . . Understanding the Arctic situation as the leading bleeding edge of climate catastrophe can help to understand an integral ecology, and the major actions and new thinking needed to achieve it. Peter Wadhams’ great book A Farewell To Ice takes a simple and clear scientific approach, explaining the scale and urgency of the polar problem and how we can address it. As DWill mentioned, I am using the Booktalk discussion to summarise the main points in this book, hopefully to enable others to engage on the existential realities of climate change.


I've been reading Robert's chapter summaries, but I don't know if I'm up to reading the book, A Farewell To Ice. Not because I don't care or because I'm skeptical about climate change. I'm just worn out with bad news lately. Everything seems so bleak and hopeless.

I actually did read our last nonfiction book, The Wizard and the Prophet, but I didn't feel very motivated to participate in the discussion. Then again, what Robert says above (in bold) gives me some hope there are at least some potential solutions. Is the author more of a wizard or a prophet? Does he address overpopulation at all?

Hi geo. Even though I am reading the book, I will collect Robert's chapter summaries to have a handy digest to refer to. I know what you mean about bad news fatigue, especially as it relates to the environment in general. I doubt it does much good to hammer away at how dire we've made the situation. People just retreat into a shell of resignation, or, worse, of denial. You probably saw the so-called leader of the free world tell officials in Calif. yesterday that global warming will just go away: "it will get cooler, you just watch." Remind you of another of his responses to a crisis? That's what we're up against right now.

Since you read The Wizard and the Prophet, you know that fiddling with the planet through geoengineering is anathema to Prophets. So on that basis Wadhams, who urges us to use geoengineering, is on the Wizard side. Yet I wonder if he is an example of someone with Prophet values whose firsthand view of the situation has made him go where he might not have before. He's aware of the downsides of geoengineering, not all rah-rah about it as I think some Wizards might be. Wadhams also is on board with emissions reduction and eventual decarbonization of the economy, although he is clear that reducing emissions will not, at this point, allow us to avoid exceeding 1.5-2 degrees C of warming. The geoengineering is a "sticking plaster" to give us time to figure out carbon removal. He points out that lowering temperature while not removing carbon still leaves the huge problem of ocean acidification.

I see some difference between his overall view and Robert's. Maybe Robert will comment on that at some point.



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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
DWill wrote:
Since you read The Wizard and the Prophet, you know that fiddling with the planet through geoengineering is anathema to Prophets. So on that basis Wadhams, who urges us to use geoengineering, is on the Wizard side. Yet I wonder if he is an example of someone with Prophet values whose firsthand view of the situation has made him go where he might not have before.

That's my take as well. Only Wizardly solutions can possibly save us now. Except that we may already be past the point of no return, and will see catastrophic loss of life, maybe even in our lifetimes. How close are we to the tipping point?


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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
geo wrote:
Only Wizardly solutions can possibly save us now.

The real challenge is to integrate the prophetic agenda of understanding the trajectory of history with the wizard agenda of investment in innovative technology. Prophecy is about telling a story that provides a compelling and popular interpretation and prediction of events. The prophetic story for the Arctic is all about the scientific story of what will happen under realistid=c scenarios. For example, a major report came out this week https://phys.org/news/2020-09-arctic-tr ... state.html which states that the fast-warming Arctic has started to transition from a predominantly frozen state into an entirely different climate.

What I dislike about the prophetic attitude as it frequently appears is its fatalistic attitude about technology, expressed with stupid statements like ‘technology got us into this problem so technology can’t get us out of it’. An integral ecology, to use the Pope’s phrase, has to see that the ecological situation requires technological response of a scale beyond what has previously been expected. That differs from the previous ‘wizard’ strategy of the green revolution, which assumed we could ignore the complex ecology of soil quality and instead treat agriculture like an extractive industry. Similar inadequate wizard schemes in geoengineering include the view that stratospheric aerosol injection could stop global warming without worrying about the excess CO2 level. By contrast, a prophetic view has to integrate the problems identified by system thinking.
geo wrote:
Except that we may already be past the point of no return, and will see catastrophic loss of life, maybe even in our lifetimes. How close are we to the tipping point?
The problem of tipping points is all about policy responses. A sufficiently vigorous focus could start a new ice age by cutting the atmospheric CO2 level below the Holocene level of 280 ppm. Certainly if we do nothing other than ramp up emission reduction, we have already crossed numerous tipping points, including enough warming for the seas to rise by twenty metres.

Your point about the risk of catastrophic loss of life is well made as a key theme in security. It never ceases to amaze me that the gross wastage of money on obsolete military beliefs about security flatly ignores such catastrophic risk. The failure to prepare beforehand for the pandemic as a looming widely predicted global security problem shows a similar crazy and ignorant complacency.


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Post Re: Hope You're following "Farewell to Ice" discussion
Robert Tulip wrote:
geo wrote:
Only Wizardly solutions can possibly save us now.

The real challenge is to integrate the prophetic agenda of understanding the trajectory of history with the wizard agenda of investment in innovative technology. Prophecy is about telling a story that provides a compelling and popular interpretation and prediction of events. The prophetic story for the Arctic is all about the scientific story of what will happen under realistid=c scenarios. For example, a major report came out this week https://phys.org/news/2020-09-arctic-tr ... state.html which states that the fast-warming Arctic has started to transition from a predominantly frozen state into an entirely different climate.

Your use of 'prophet' is different from Charles Mann's, I think--a more sophisticated use than he means to employ. Prophet and Wizard are purposely slightly caricatured in his book. The OT Prophet has no prediction to make other than if God's ways are ignored, disaster will befall the nation of Israel. The modern ecological prophet has in Mann's view no prediction other than if Nature's ways are ignored, disaster will visit the whole planet. There is also of course a strong holiness going along with each Prophet's prediction. For our Prophets, it is unholy to destroy Nature, and perhaps more unholy still to think we can engineer the planet's climate without making a Sorcerer's Apprentice mess of things. Prophets may not appreciate that we have engineered the planet anyway, unconsciously, through our emissions, since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Now we may need to engineer it consciously, to reverse the unintended damage.
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What I dislike about the prophetic attitude as it frequently appears is its fatalistic attitude about technology, expressed with stupid statements like ‘technology got us into this problem so technology can’t get us out of it’. An integral ecology, to use the Pope’s phrase, has to see that the ecological situation requires technological response of a scale beyond what has previously been expected. That differs from the previous ‘wizard’ strategy of the green revolution, which assumed we could ignore the complex ecology of soil quality and instead treat agriculture like an extractive industry. Similar inadequate wizard schemes in geoengineering include the view that stratospheric aerosol injection could stop global warming without worrying about the excess CO2 level. By contrast, a prophetic view has to integrate the problems identified by system thinking.

What I dislike about the prophetic attitude is how easy it is to adopt it without paying any price. For many prophets, the problem is somewhere else--with government, or with the party in power, or with the rich who consume so conspicuously. It feels really good to say we are part of nature, not above it. You have said that there will be no need to cut back on what we call our standard of living, but I've always seen it differently. There is that price to pay, an adjustment in how we view a standard of living, less in material terms than in terms of true well-being for the greatest number. Now, I'm coming around to thinking, thanks to your educating and Peter Wadhams, that part of the price for prophets is also biting the bullet of geoengineering, and after that, the hugely expensive task of carbon removal.
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Your point about the risk of catastrophic loss of life is well made as a key theme in security. It never ceases to amaze me that the gross wastage of money on obsolete military beliefs about security flatly ignores such catastrophic risk. The failure to prepare beforehand for the pandemic as a looming widely predicted global security problem shows a similar crazy and ignorant complacency.

Can a slow-moving crisis be what unites the world in action? So far we would have to say, no. Our groupishness seems to prevent this.

On the pandemic, I think that is probably right--we in the U.S. slacked off on preparation for at least a couple of decades. Adam Schiff proposed a commission to delve into the reasons for our unpreparedness, a good idea in my view. I have friends who don't want to think about any cause of the disaster except Donald Trump's presidency. I think they overestimate what Obama did regarding preparedness. In a good article in The Atlantic (Sept.), Ed Yong calls Trump a "comorbidity" of the pandemic, but not the cause of our disjointed response.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... re/614191/



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