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Climate lock

26

Is anyone aware that our (US) air is less poluted now than it was 30 years ago? And even more surprising is the fact that the government had nothing to do with it. In my job as a electrical engineer, we began incorporating clean air exhaust systems for every type of industrial manufacturing facility that has been built since the 70's. I have to wonder why not a single "gloom and doom" prognosticator ever brings up that fact.

– PlayerOne

You're missing the point regarding Greta's addressing the issue of climate change. She's not pointing fingers at individual nations....yet, but rather she's bringing into the limelight the state of the world's pollution, not individual countries, neither chiding the biggest offenders nor giving a big thumbs up to countries like Northern Ireland and Denmark for striving for 0 emissions asap. The issue is the state of the world's environment and if significant reductions of CO2 aren't made and made soon, the point of no return for the atmosphere will be met and exceeded. As far as the US is concerned - Canada's further down the list but still too high - it's yearly contribution is growing yearly and hasn't slacked off.

And she hasn't even started on what humankind's plastics have done to the oceans. The atmosphere is the focal point first.

27

Is anyone aware that our (US) air is less poluted now than it was 30 years ago? And even more surprising is the fact that the government had nothing to do with it. In my job as a electrical engineer, we began incorporating clean air exhaust systems for every type of industrial manufacturing facility that has been built since the 70's.

Of course. I recognize that. It's part of the whole point that all that has been done without jeopardizing our economy. Making changes and improvements isn't an economic zero-sum game. It can be win-win.

BUT. Let's also recognize that, because of lower labor costs elsewhere - and the expense of building new, clean power and industrial facilities - American corporations have chosen to compete by offloading their manufacturing and its associated pollution and emissions to Asia. It's a little cynical (and disingenuous) to point fingers at China and developing economies for their environmental abuses - when they're making the stuff we consume.

The American people are all for American jobs and industry - until it costs them more at Wal-Mart (or Guitar Center). It would be helpful if we could get over that.

And in any case, neither air nor water observe national boundaries.

It's like we live in a shared house, with nowhere else to go, and the people with the best noses have smelled smoke and are pretty sure there's a fire...and we're all rationalizing away the whiffs we get, claiming our sense of smell is as good as theirs, and arguing about how the fire started and who dunnit. Or worse, we all see the smouldering, but claim it was spontaneous combustion and will burn itself out before we all choke.

28

In my narrow mind this issue isn’t just about emissions, legislation and treaties. The single largest carbon removing machine on the planet is the Amazon rainforest, and its disappearing faster than you can spell it. 30 million people live in and off of the forest. Slash and burn agriculture is vaporizing nearly 80 million acres a year. It’s their only means of subsistence and the governments there have nothing else to offer up.

Try working that into the equation.

29

Yep, global solutions will require global considerations. No one says it's easy to balance all the competing (and legitimate) human concerns. To the extent the world comes together on a way forward, there will be mistakes, and we can only hope an iterative process will tune the equations as things go forward.

It's not like we have to be perfect. We never have been. But we do have to have the will - and the goodwill - to start.

30

Think about it - the climate has been changing for 14.5 billion years

If you're taking into account everything back to the formation of the first black holes, and considering everything that transpires across the expanse of the universe as "weather," OK - and it's always changing, mostly from conditions and to conditions that are utterly incompatible with biological life as we know it.

But if you're talking about weather on Earth, that couldn't have started until there was an earth to have weather, which was about 4.5 bn years ago - not 14.5. And the weather was toxic till around 2,500 million years ago, when bacteria started making oxygen. Not till another 2,000 million years of hostile weather had gone by did vertebrates evolve.

So of Earth's 4.5 billion-year history, for only about the past 540 million has it been more or less habitable by humans.

Yes, earth's climate constantly evolves, with or without us. Some of the ways it evolves can kill us.

When the vast majority of the world's scientists agree that human activity is accelerating the kind of evolution which is incompatible with the continued vitality of human civilization as we know it - whether or not we cause all or most of it - we need to take heed.

We've been shaping the environment to suit our purposes for millennia; it seems that some of those adaptive activities have been fouling our nest. Recognizing that we are certainly not omnipotent (much less omniscient) in our domain over natural forces, it's still obvious to our most sober and earnest scientist that we've been more powerful than we may have thought. (And really - can we have it both ways? Can we be bragging proud of our power to harness nature, and then deny we've had any impact?)

In any case, if we hope to hang around for more millennia, we may have both to backpedal on some of our activities - and initiate new industrial, social, and technological strategies to mitigate and minimize the threat.

Because the threat is to our species and all it has achieved. The Earth doesn't care about humanity. Millions of species have come and gone. It will be fine without us, too. The universe doesn't care about Earth; its seas will be boiled off and the surface denuded of all but the most primitive life long before the Sun expands into a red giant and swallows everything out to the orbit of Mars. In the ridiculously vast universal scheme of things, untold multitudes of rocky planets with liquid water orbit stars. The only thing that makes Earth special is that we're here - that its conditions permitted our rise and development - but we’re only special, so far as we know, to us. If we don't care about us, no one will. There will be none to mourn us.

I continue to marvel that people who know little (or not enough) about the science - who have followed completely different professions and have no apparent standing to make such calls - presume to discard the overwhelming weight of scientific consensus in favor of socio-economic ideologies. (I note these folks rarely reject all the products and benefits of the clumsy and clueless science which has created the material conditions under which we live.) It is always argued that because "those stupid scientists" don't know everything, and have made mistakes in the past, we should ignore all prudent warning signs and do nothing.

And we can do that. The worst impacts won't affect any of us. Our children and grandchildren, and generations succeeding them, will not be so fortunate.

– Proteus

George Carlin has a great bit about this.

“The planet isn’t going anywhere... we are! ...the planet’s gonna shake us off like a bad case of fleas”.

The Earth will survive, even if we don’t because of human arrogance. I take comfort in that.

31
  1. Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it's not true.

  2. Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right.

  3. Nothing any single one of us does isn't going to change anything in the long run.

– wabash slim

In all fairness, to make this list complete, I just have to add:

4 Just because you believe it doesn't mean it's true.

32

Curt, to answer your original question, I eventually (arguably belatedly) decided it was falling on the wrong side of the politics, religion, great pumpkin standard.

I think it's an important issue, and would urge people to look past talking points and take a look at facts. But I don't think here is the place to do it. There are plenty of other venues.

33

Is anyone aware that our (US) air is less poluted now than it was 30 years ago? And even more surprising is the fact that the government had nothing to do with it. In my job as a electrical engineer, we began incorporating clean air exhaust systems for every type of industrial manufacturing facility that has been built since the 70's.

Of course. I recognize that. It's part of the whole point that all that has been done without jeopardizing our economy. Making changes and improvements isn't an economic zero-sum game. It can be win-win.

BUT. Let's also recognize that, because of lower labor costs elsewhere - and the expense of building new, clean power and industrial facilities - American corporations have chosen to compete by offloading their manufacturing and its associated pollution and emissions to Asia. It's a little cynical (and disingenuous) to point fingers at China and developing economies for their environmental abuses - when they're making the stuff we consume.

The American people are all for American jobs and industry - until it costs them more at Wal-Mart (or Guitar Center). It would be helpful if we could get over that.

And in any case, neither air nor water observe national boundaries.

It's like we live in a shared house, with nowhere else to go, and the people with the best noses have smelled smoke and are pretty sure there's a fire...and we're all rationalizing away the whiffs we get, claiming our sense of smell is as good as theirs, and arguing about how the fire started and who dunnit. Or worse, we all see the smouldering, but claim it was spontaneous combustion and will burn itself out before we all choke.

– Proteus

Spot on with the fire analogy.

34

Curt, to answer your original question, I eventually (arguably belatedly) decided it was falling on the wrong side of the politics, religion, great pumpkin standard.

I think it's an important issue, and would urge people to look past talking points and take a look at facts. But I don't think here is the place to do it. There are plenty of other venues.

– Baxter

I agree with your assessment Bax, being the OP of the locked thread. Folks were turning it into a fight, which was never my intention with my original post. I simply thought that on such a landmark day, Greta chose Canada as the location for her to participate. No question my country needs to do more to move away from the use of fossil fuel. While our contribution to CO2 isn't at the top of the world's list of offenders, our tar sands production which a lot of which goes to the far east, is a big offender. It's very intertwined with all levels of government so that's a tough battle. Debating the yes/no of climate change is best debated on those specifically focused website to be sure, but the naysayers are getting overwhelmed by the day as science has come together to state change is a reality.

35

The trouble with politics is that politicians use real-world issues to transfer wealth from those who created it to the political class and their client groups du jour. Very often, the real-world issue is either not addressed,or is made worse by the initiatives created to address the problem. Certainly,if Global Warming were(or became) a "real thing",the solution is more likely to be found in Earth Orbit than at the desks of tax-calculation authorities.


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