Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I'm gonna have a baby
      The Pretenders
Baby Baby Baby
Oh baby
     -The Carpenters
     Well, we find ourselves in interesting times.  Sometimes it seems  like we are like an addict staring at his next fix.  You want it, but....  Here's how Dave Roberts puts it. (Yes that Dave Roberts.  The one who gave that stirring Ted X talk  
"Yet here we are. The fact is, on our current trajectory, in the absence of substantial new climate policy, we are heading for up to 4°C and maybe higher by the end of the century. That will be, on any clear reading of the available evidence, catastrophic. We are headed for disaster — slowly, yes, but surely.
Even as many climate experts are now arguing that 2°C is an inadequate target, that it already represents unacceptable harms, we are facing a situation in which limiting temperature even to 3°C requires heroic policy and technology changes.
And yet ... the world doesn't appear to be ending; there's no big, visible threat. Climate change moves so slowly that its pace is evident primarily through graphs and statistics. It rarely rises above the background noise."
Or see his recent piece on the the ludicrous gulf between where we are and what it would take.   In fact, even if the "voluntary commitments" from the latest climate summit were actually implemented  they "would limit global warming to between 2.6 degrees and 3.1 degrees Celsius, a significant overshoot.",      (even "green" Oregon has had trouble staying on track toward it's 2007 goal. )
OK, so 2 percent is pretty much in the bag.  Maybe as early as 2030.  Here's Dr Micheal Mann predicting 2036
And so, one might ask ask why .  Because we want what we want, I suppose.  Maybe its cultural inertia.   Here's an interesting piece  from NPR about a professional philosopher who has  concluded that it is immoral for a "westerner" to have children.  That the additional burden on the environment, and the future , cannot be justified .  
"For years, people have lamented how bad things might get "for our grandchildren," but Rieder tells the students that future isn't so far off anymore.
He asks how old they will be in 2036, and, if they are thinking of having kids, how old their kids will be.
"Dangerous climate change is going to be happening by then," he says. "Very, very soon."
Rieder wears a tweedy jacket and tennis shoes, and he limps because of a motorcycle accident. He's a philosopher with the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his arguments against having children are moral.
Americans and other rich nations produce the most carbon emissions per capita, he says. Yet people in the world's poorest nations are most likely to suffer severe climate impacts, "and that seems unfair," he says.
There's also a moral duty to future generations that will live amid the climate devastation being created now.
"Here's a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them," Rieder says.

Oregon State University researchers have calculated the savings from all kinds of conservation measures: driving a hybrid, driving less, recycling, using energy-efficient appliances, windows and light bulbs.
For an American, the total metric tons of carbon dioxide saved by all of those measures over an entire lifetime of 80 years: 488. By contrast, the metric tons saved when a person chooses to have one fewer child: 9,441.
  But don't stop there.   Read on.  See what the philosopher's wife has to say!  .  Of course I feel for the philosophers wife.  She wants to have a family.  Don't we all?   And we all want to fly to see Aunt Mary, and drive to the coast to cool off, or get that cool new gadget.    We want what we want.
      So, it's only natural that the only possible "solution" to climate change, would involve magical technology that would either give us instant access to clean energy,  or shield us from the impact of using our current energy mix  .   "Solutions" that do not interfere with getting "what we want"        And it's pretty clear that these "solutions"  if implemented will not have the desired effect - they will not prevent 1.5, which us the new line between dangerous and non dangerous.  They will not prevent 2 degrees.  Could they prevent 3 degrees?  4?  
        One surely hopes that something will.  But, based on history , it quite possible that we will continue to burn as long as we can.  And at some point, it will no longer matter whether we do or don't .   Other mechanisms will take over.  Blue ocean absorbing more heat,  forests that used to be sink become sources,  tundra releasing co2 and methane .
       I had an interesting experience last week.  I was invited to sit in on a session with a largish charitable foundation, and a bunch of environmental groups to think about how philanthropists might deal with climate change .  And of course it is great news that the organization is thinking about climate change.         But I found myself in a strange position. I felt like the participants were fighting the last war.   
       At this meeting, all the emphasis was on preventing dangerous climate change -    -  education, messaging, providing, information.    This is all good, but it seems like the train has left the station.  I think it may be time to put more focus on looking at how to deal with the impacts.

And some of the dangerous tipping points may hit before 2 degrees.  Here are nine of them  
       Maybe at least some of attention should be focused on building reslience.   Basic stuff - food, water, shelter.    These things are about to become problems .   Water is already a problem for 3/4 of this state , and are likely to get worse."The chances for a water crisis are high in Oregon."    says Oregon Climate Change Research Institute  

        On the food side, here is something to think about, from Gwynne Dyer, an independant journalist. .
If you want to go on eating regularly in a rapidly warming world, then live in a place that’s either high in latitude or high in altitude. Alternatively, be rich, because the rich never starve. But otherwise, prepare to be hungry.
.... the World Bank, for example, has long known approximately how much food production every major country will lose when the average global temperature is 2 degrees C higher. At least seven years ago it gave contracts to think tanks in every major capital to answer precisely that question.
What the think tanks told the World Bank was that India will lose 25 percent of its food production. China, I have been told by somebody who saw the report from the Beijing think tank, will lose a catastrophic 38 percent. But these results have never been published, because the governments concerned did not want such alarming numbers out in public and were able to restrain the World Bank from releasing them.
"In other words, just in the past 17 months, 8 rain events that are considered very low probability (i.e., less than 0.2%) occurred. Three happened in the past 3 months. Flooding like this should happen very rarely – there are AEP maps for only 18 more events, one of which was in 1913, all others having occurred since 2010. As our hearts go out to the families affected by the flooding, we may be asking; is this a series of unfortunate events? Certainly. The sheer loss of life and property is staggering, and heartbreaking. Totally unexpected? Unfortunately, the answer is hardly.

At some point we may come to realize that we cannot prevent the emergency, but that it is already here.

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