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Climate Apocalypse 
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Post Climate Apocalypse
This talk by Dan Miller presents compelling evidence for the looming climate apocalypse. We are on a path to global catastrophe. In talking about a crisis of Biblical scale, Miller gives us cause to think about the reality of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, plague, war and death. These horses are now being saddled by a silent and invisible gas that is just under 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide.

Slides from Dan Miller's talk are at climateplace.org/file/Slides_files/A%20 ... 0).key.pdf.
The full lecture is at fora.tv/2009/08/18/A_REALLY_Inconvenien ... _Dan_Mille and a summary is at http://climateplace.org/file/Summary.html.

I strongly encourage everyone to watch this talk, which is a most lucid short explanation of the reality of our global predicament.

Miller explains that humans have evolved to react to threats which are visible, familiar, accepted, simple, hostile and direct. Climate change is none of these, so we have a learned helplessness in the face of it. Business as usual will cause extinction of humanity.

My view is that geo-engineering through large scale ocean based algae production is the only realistic way to prevent catastrophic climate change. Tax changes and personal behavior change are irrelevant. A systemic transformation of the global economy with breakthrough technology is the only thing that will make a difference. I explain my ideas here.

The real psychological impasse in the climate debate is that action is seen as modern and left wing, while inaction is seen as traditional and right wing. While climate debate remains beholden to these traditional political categories, with their links to the legacy of conflict between socialism and capitalism, there is no chance of effective action occurring. Climate response has to be a purely free enterprise capitalist initiative, aiming to make extremely large profit from saving the world. Socialism is out of kilter with real human incentives and motivations, and is just about big government and stagnation. While climate response remains linked to socialist groups such as green parties it has no chance of success.

Addressing climate has nothing to do with building a popular movement, it is about defining a vision for action and leadership through innovative technology and gaining investment to apply workable solutions.



Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:33 am
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
I should mention first that I haven't watched the lecture yet.

There's a great scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when the two outlaws are running away from a posse and they come to a cliff overlooking a raging river and littered with sharp boulders. Their choices are to turn around and face the posse or jump off the cliff. The two characters argue for a minute about who's going to go first until Redford finally admits the embarrassing fact that he can't swim. Newman laughs hysterically. “Are you crazy?” he asks. “The fall will probably kill you!”

I guess my point is that even if our species could get it together and address the coming climate "apocalypse," we still faces many other dire problems, environmental and otherwise. Also, I would suggest that addressing climate change, if that were even possible, only deals with one of many symptoms of a larger problem. We would still not be addressing the actual cause of all environmental destruction which is overpopulation. We are a species that is much too successful for our own good.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
geo wrote:
addressing climate change, if that were even possible, only deals with one of many symptoms of a larger problem. We would still not be addressing the actual cause of all environmental destruction which is overpopulation.


The climate crisis requires transformative technology that is simple and large scale, and that mimics natural processes. 71% of our planet is covered by ocean. Humans can move to the sea on large scale, living on floating platforms filled with fresh water for buoyancy. We can engineer processes to mimic the upwelling of deep ocean currents that currently feed the richest fisheries, in order to develop industrial-scale aquatic food and energy production. If we shift to an ecologically stable economy, our planet could sustain a population of fifty billion humans living on the sea, and give back much of the land to nature. This is possible.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
I'm still thinking about that 50 billion figure, Robert. I thought you might appreciate this:

"What makes us special is that we, alone among species, can rise above the imperatives of our genes – thanks to the lifting cranes of our memes.” We must use the abundance of information we have to fundamentally change our consciousness around the realities of our current system. We must not only pay heed to the distant past of Easter Island, but also to the failed economic experiments of laissez-faire capitalism and the short-termist material acquisition that has defined our world since the Industrial Revolution."

http://www.beyondone.org/index.php?page ... cle&aid=40


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Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:06 pm
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Did either of you notice the recent announcement that sunspots are are going dormant, perhaps ushering in a period of cooling? It's really not a wonder that we have trouble accepting a given future scenario as fact, when we can't register the change by personal observation and when the science can seem a mixed bag.
http://www.worldcrops.com/5892-the-dimi ... w-ice-age/



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
I had heard about the sunspots, but I hadn't read about the correlation between reduced sunspots and the Little Ice Age. That's interesting. Obviously we have no clue what the climate is going to do. As such it seems ridiculous for us to try to fix it. Not that reducing carbon emissions and finding cleaner sources of energy aren't good ideas on their own.


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Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:51 am
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Did either of you notice the recent announcement that sunspots are are going dormant, perhaps ushering in a period of cooling? It's really not a wonder that we have trouble accepting a given future scenario as fact, when we can't register the change by personal observation and when the science can seem a mixed bag.
http://www.worldcrops.com/5892-the-dimi ... w-ice-age/


The science is not a mixed bag. Effect of the sunspot cycle on temperature are tiny compared to the massive freight train effect of anthropogenic carbon emissions that is now barrelling down on us.

An excellent scientific paper on this topic is SOLAR INFLUENCES ON CLIMATE. It concludes (para 164) "the predicted solar cycle‐related surface temperature change is small relative to anthropogenic changes."

If you watch the lecture by Dan Miller that I linked in the opening post, you will see rather starkly how alarming our global situation is. A less active sun will not save us. We have to reduce carbon concentration in the atmosphere or our children will fry. Energy companies and their apologists are just trying to protect their vested interests with no concern for the public good.

My suggestion on oceanic industry means we can respond to climate change with a win-win approach, with no need to change lifestyles except to something better.

Geo wrote:
I'm still thinking about that 50 billion figure

Geo, my view is that if we switch our global paradigm to work with nature instead of against it, then our planet can sustainably carry a much larger human population. Higher incomes resulting from mass production of food and fuel in oceanic industrial plants will remove the incentive for poor people to have big families, while also protecting the natural ecosystems and enabling regulation of the global climate. It might take us several centuries to reach a fifty billion global population, but there is nothing in principle saying it would be unsustainable. The ocean is very big and very rich.

In work I presented earlier on Milankovitch Cycle in Myth, the linked chart shows how our modern theory of progress has evolved over the last ten thousand years to adapt to a slightly cooling planet. Business as usual means continuing methods that worked in the past but will not work in the future. We need a whole new paradigm.



Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:41 pm
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
The science is not a mixed bag. Effect of the sunspot cycle on temperature are tiny compared to the massive freight train effect of anthropogenic carbon emissions that is now barrelling down on us.
An excellent scientific paper on this topic is SOLAR INFLUENCES ON CLIMATE. It concludes (para 164) "the predicted solar cycle‐related surface temperature change is small relative to anthropogenic changes."

Well, the science is a mixed bag, as a result of climate being hugely complex and not fully understood. There will inevitably be discordant strands of evidence, or at least strands that seem discordant to the public. I'm not claiming that the lower solar activity qualifies as a valid counterweight to the global warming thesis. My point was that the public feels pulled this way and that and therefore can't commit itself to the drastic solutions called for. Granted, I may have in mind the American public as I say this. Support for action against climate change is stronger in some other countries. How does it stand it Australia?

I agree with geo that 50 billion is likely to be a pipe dream if we are to talk about any higher quality of life for the majority. And this is also where I think the exclusive focus on climate change might not be so helpful. We have a much broader resource problem to consider even with current population; with an eight-fold increase in population, say goodnight.

Is geo-engineering really going with nature instead of against it? I have reservations about the geo-engineering we've already undertaken. Working with nature means things such as allowing the Mississippi River to overflow its banks naturally, removing dams from our rivers, and practicing sustainable agriculture.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
the science is a mixed bag, as a result of climate being hugely complex and not fully understood. There will inevitably be discordant strands of evidence, or at least strands that seem discordant to the public. I'm not claiming that the lower solar activity qualifies as a valid counterweight to the global warming thesis.
Miller observes that the range of scientific opinion only partly overlaps the range of public opinion, with climate skepticism rejected by the whole scientific community except for those who are delusional or mercenary. We have had a stable carbon cycle for millions of years, and we are now conducting a global experiment whereby we are tripling the CO2 level in a time period that is instantaneous in geological timeframe. The risk is massive.
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My point was that the public feels pulled this way and that and therefore can't commit itself to the drastic solutions called for. Granted, I may have in mind the American public as I say this. Support for action against climate change is stronger in some other countries. How does it stand it Australia?
My view is that drastic solutions are not needed. All we need to do is regard climate as a security matter and put a proportional amount of resourcing into research and development. The current situation is that this massive security threat is being ignored because of short term interests of fossil energy firms. The Australian government will announce a carbon tax today. I have a very mixed view on this because the tax is more spin than substance, driven by politics rather than technological innovation. I agree with Bjorn Lomborg that the only thing that will make a difference in fixing the climate is R&D on the scale of the Apollo or Manhattan projects, to find new energy sources that are commercially competitive against fossil fuels. My view is that ocean based algae production will be the decisive transformative technology.
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I agree with geo that 50 billion is likely to be a pipe dream if we are to talk about any higher quality of life for the majority. And this is also where I think the exclusive focus on climate change might not be so helpful. We have a much broader resource problem to consider even with current population; with an eight-fold increase in population, say goodnight.
A global cultural transformation could completely change the parameters for population. If people are able to live on the sea at large scale, and if we can develop simple methods to raise rich water from the deeps, completely new orders of magnitude may become sustainable. I wrote some rough ideas on this in a short story To The Sea. I know it seems fanciful, but any such evolutionary vision is going to seem fanciful to those who are stuck in the mud.
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Is geo-engineering really going with nature instead of against it? I have reservations about the geo-engineering we've already undertaken. Working with nature means things such as allowing the Mississippi River to overflow its banks naturally, removing dams from our rivers, and practicing sustainable agriculture.

We just haven't worked out effective methods for geoengineering to address the global climate crisis. Again, I think of this in terms of large scale ocean based algae production. At the moment we go drastically against nature because of the psychological delusion that nature can be ignored. Pumping CO2 into the air like there is no tomorrow is definitely a global geoengineering experiment, but one that will end in kaboom rather than salvation. We are engineering the earth whether we like it or not.

Geo raised the problem of laissez faire economics. My view is that markets are the basis of incentive, so there has to be support for a free market, but only so far as governments regulate the market to set fair rules of the game. Real freedom is about rule of law, but this has been twisted by capitalism into the dangerous idea that there should be no rules except what suits them.



Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:55 pm
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
geo wrote:
I'm still thinking about that 50 billion figure, Robert. I thought you might appreciate this:

"What makes us special is that we, alone among species, can rise above the imperatives of our genes – thanks to the lifting cranes of our memes.” We must use the abundance of information we have to fundamentally change our consciousness around the realities of our current system. We must not only pay heed to the distant past of Easter Island, but also to the failed economic experiments of laissez-faire capitalism and the short-termist material acquisition that has defined our world since the Industrial Revolution."

http://www.beyondone.org/index.php?page ... cle&aid=40


Yes, human intelligence is the only thing that will save us, by enabling change to a sustainable global economy. Our fossil fuel economy is rather like the Easter Island statues, a linear path that leads to destruction, due to a lack of vision. Memes, meaning rationality, are the evolutionary factor that can enable change. Memetic evolution is a primary driver of progress, but our current methods, including the cult of material consumption, are very much genetic, based on instinctive drivers that lack a coherent memetic basis. I don't agree that the problems in capitalism make free markets wrong in principle. Rather, what is needed is effective regulation of a free market economy.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
geo wrote:
I'm still thinking about that 50 billion figure, Robert. I thought you might appreciate this:

"What makes us special is that we, alone among species, can rise above the imperatives of our genes – thanks to the lifting cranes of our memes.” We must use the abundance of information we have to fundamentally change our consciousness around the realities of our current system. We must not only pay heed to the distant past of Easter Island, but also to the failed economic experiments of laissez-faire capitalism and the short-termist material acquisition that has defined our world since the Industrial Revolution."

http://www.beyondone.org/index.php?page ... cle&aid=40


Yes, human intelligence is the only thing that will save us, by enabling change to a sustainable global economy.
Human intelligence is also the most likely cause of the destruction of the planet! hrm... I was going to chime in on the post you quoted but didn't since admittedly I don't really know what I'm talking about. And I'm pretty sure you do. But really, memes? Isn't it, effectively, shorthand for designating the capability of spoken language? It is then not intelligence per se, but the accumulation of knowledge through language, which sets us apart from the other species. It is not our intelligence that allows us, for better or worse, to think beyond matters such as heat, light, and food but simply the ability to pass on information - good vocal chords - there's our meme.
Quote:
Our fossil fuel economy is rather like the Easter Island statues, a linear path that leads to destruction, due to a lack of vision. Memes, meaning rationality, are the evolutionary factor that can enable change.
So are all the other species non-rational? I just don't think of meme as equating to rationality... maybe I should.
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Memetic evolution is a primary driver of progress, but our current methods, including the cult of material consumption, are very much genetic, based on instinctive drivers that lack a coherent memetic basis.
Looking at this for the third time now I can say I think I agree through the word genetic. It seems to me that this argues against memes equating to rational thought. You say that the more foolish aspects of modern society lack a coherent memetic basis but what it actually lacks is a coherent rational basis but Greed is Good is just as coherent an outlook as any other. It is also one that is catered to far more than the the others... modern society is based on it.
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I don't agree that the problems in capitalism make free markets wrong in principle. Rather, what is needed is effective regulation of a free market economy.
Capitalism, well-regulated or not, or some alternative, makes no difference... they are all symptoms of the problem. The problem is one of great intelligence stored in unwise containers. I think we kind of agree!


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Kevin wrote:
Human intelligence is also the most likely cause of the destruction of the planet! hrm...

Fouling your nest is stupid. The same action cannot be both stupid and intelligent. Human reasoning capacity can be either smart or stupid. Beginning from incorrect premises (eg that humans are above nature) and failing to examine your assumptions is stupid. So I would say our current reckless plummeting towards destruction is based on stupid reasoning, not intelligence.
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memes? Isn't it, effectively, shorthand for designating the capability of spoken language? It is then not intelligence per se, but the accumulation of knowledge through language, which sets us apart from the other species. It is not our intelligence that allows us, for better or worse, to think beyond matters such as heat, light, and food but simply the ability to pass on information - good vocal chords - there's our meme.
Good point, but I do think that language makes humans smarter than other animals. Memes are units of cultural evolution that are conveyed via the Lamarckian method of inheritance of acquired characteristics. Language is the main carrier of memes, and creates a capacity for communication and intelligence that is different in kind from dumb animals.
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are all the other species non-rational? I just don't think of meme as equating to rationality... maybe I should.
What I was getting at, perhaps in too brief a response to the article that Geo linked, was that adaptive memes, ie those that display fertility, stability and longevity, have to be in tune with their natural context, just as adaptive genes do. Adaptive memes are good and intelligent. There are also bad memes that are destructive, and it is irrational to propagate them.
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You say that the more foolish aspects of modern society lack a coherent memetic basis but what it actually lacks is a coherent rational basis but Greed is Good is just as coherent an outlook as any other. It is also one that is catered to far more than the the others... modern society is based on it. ... Capitalism, well-regulated or not, or some alternative, makes no difference... they are all symptoms of the problem. The problem is one of great intelligence stored in unwise containers. I think we kind of agree!

It depends what you mean by coherent. Coherence of ideas requires more than just internal consistency. If I say I want to foul my nest because I am selfish and will not have to worry about the impact of my deeds, and I don't care if my children die young, yes that can appear to be a perfectly consistent argument, considered in isolation. However, it does not cohere with any sense of moral responsibility, public good, future consequences or duty.

There are many memes that carry the seed of their own destruction. Nazism and communism are good examples; they seemed coherent to many people, and were successful for a while, but were based on false premises, and were not sustainable. This means that ultimately they were incoherent with regard to any claim to serve a public good.

Climate science tells us that if we move all the carbon from the crust to the atmosphere we will boil the oceans. Working back from this observation, actions that assume it is possible to steadily increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere are similarly incoherent with respect to an understanding of the public good.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Kevin wrote:
Human intelligence is also the most likely cause of the destruction of the planet! hrm... I was going to chime in on the post you quoted but didn't since admittedly I don't really know what I'm talking about. And I'm pretty sure you do. But really, memes? Isn't it, effectively, shorthand for designating the capability of spoken language? It is then not intelligence per se, but the accumulation of knowledge through language, which sets us apart from the other species. It is not our intelligence that allows us, for better or worse, to think beyond matters such as heat, light, and food but simply the ability to pass on information - good vocal chords - there's our meme.
Quote:
Our fossil fuel economy is rather like the Easter Island statues, a linear path that leads to destruction, due to a lack of vision. Memes, meaning rationality, are the evolutionary factor that can enable change.
So are all the other species non-rational? I just don't think of meme as equating to rationality... maybe I should.

Kevin, I found that use of 'meme' to be confusing, too. I generally am not too sure of what memes are supposed to be doing, but my distinct impression is that their spread is claimed to happen through primarily nonrational processes. Maybe memes are to be distinguished from viruses of the mind, which definitely are said to spread nonrationally, but as I say, the whole matter is a puzzle to me.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
My view is that drastic solutions are not needed. All we need to do is regard climate as a security matter and put a proportional amount of resourcing into research and development.

Wow, Robert, you say drastic solutions aren't needed...but you call moving people onto geoengineered islands not a drastic solution? As daunting as the engineering problems would be, I should think the social-engineering problems would be more daunting still.

You said that the big fossil firms are trying to squelch research into algae-based fuels, but I think the true picture is that, like good capitalists interested in making money, they are pretty heavily invested in developing a technology that clearly has promise.

Whatever are the merits of your vision, could I suggest that ad homs aren't the way to get people in your corner?



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
My view is that drastic solutions are not needed. All we need to do is regard climate as a security matter and put a proportional amount of resourcing into research and development.

Wow, Robert, you say drastic solutions aren't needed...but you call moving people onto geoengineered islands not a drastic solution? As daunting as the engineering problems would be, I should think the social-engineering problems would be more daunting still.
No, I don't see it as drastic actually. It is about a vision of human evolution. Whales moved from land to sea, and so can humans. The sea is more than twice as big as the land, and 'greenfields' sites in the ocean can be established with rational institutions to enable unprecedented abundance at scale. Gradual development can start in sheltered coastal locations, working out methods that will succeed in the open ocean.

I do not think that any compulsion will be needed to address climate change. If a new superior technology and lifestyle can be invented, then people will be convinced by simple reason that change is in their material and cultural interest. It is about a new manifest destiny. No one was compelled to move from Europe to America or Australia.
Quote:
You said that the big fossil firms are trying to squelch research into algae-based fuels, but I think the true picture is that, like good capitalists interested in making money, they are pretty heavily invested in developing a technology that clearly has promise. Whatever are the merits of your vision, could I suggest that ad homs aren't the way to get people in your corner?

You call criticism of big oil 'ad hom'. Yet these are the firms that bankroll denial of climate change. They are researching algae, but not on the 'sea-change' scale that is required, and in a context where they actively work to marginalize science in the media debate. Bjorn Lomborg, formerly a critic of climate science, has recently pointed out that research and development of sustainable energy solutions is actually piddling compared to the global need. A new Manhattan Project is urgent to address the freight train of climate disaster that is barreling down on our planet. Climate change is the real security threat. Against the danger of global warming, nothing else really matters.

The current state of the debate is toxic. On the one hand, we have leftists who see climate change as a new basis for socialist ideas that rely on big government, with tax proposals that won't actually fix the climate, and a straightened puritan vision that imagines if we make energy more expensive it will fix the climate. It won't. On the other side, we have climate deniers who stick their head in the sand to ignore the looming catastrophe. I am saying a market-based solution is possible, with the role of government primarily to catalyze private investment and exercise leadership on the global climate security agenda.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:20 pm
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