Is anybody actually doing anything about climate change?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by parmalee, Aug 8, 2023.

  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    The title kinda says it all, but... well, yeah.

    It seems that we have gone from talking about "prevention" to talking about "mitigation". And not really doing much about it, regardless.

    Or am I just delusional and/or misinformed?

    I'll preemptively address those apt to take me too literally: Obviously, some nations are doing something or other, but will these efforts really count for much?
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Yes, there is renewed effort in policing published papers to ensure that they do not slack in adhering to the standards of the apocalyptic narrative. Hopefully this patrolling will eventually extend to the IPCC itself, which could (embarrasingly?) be faltering short a bit in that respect, according to some.

    Surely whatever the administrative paladins around the globe are doing is contributing to stopping or at least ameliorating the impending annihilation. But the important thing is utilizing eschaton to impel much needed social change. And continuing to invigorate green manufacturing and alternative energy industries whose ethical visages and honorable slogans lead to profitable marketing.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
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  5. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    (emphasis mine)

    Think you've got that backwards. While there are undoubtedly alarmists out there, the "apocalyptic narrative" is hardly the dominant one--though it's certainly a convenient strawman for denialists to argue against. Acknowledging that there is a serious problem which needs to be addressed is hardly the same as preaching "impending annihilation".


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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    To the extent that we can do much about it with growing populations and all, there are now electric cars, solar power, wind power, nuclear power, recycling, filters on manufacturing facilities, general awareness.

    If we are comparing those aspects with the awareness of the first "Earth Day" back in the 70's, yes, it would seem that we are doing something. Is it enough? Time will tell.
    Pinball1970 and exchemist like this.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    And the climate change detractors will thank you for admitting such, for downgrading it. That's kind of the whole point of feeding the apocalyptic headlines of mainstream media back to their rivals as a form of condensed mockery. To generate enough embarrassment to make those of little faith either backtrack or come out of the closet.

    We're not going to achieve the full array of social justice goals that the oppressed need with lackluster confessions like it's just a "serious problem".

    Fortunately there are still crusaders holding down the fort, not intimidated by the sarcasm. (Albeit far from being in the same class as the UK's Extinction Rebellion. But few can hope to ever be talented enough to belong to a club of virtuoso activists.)

    Hold firm, sibling of the flame! Don't be seduced into overtly mitigating "climate apocalypse" to it's just a "serious problem".

    Release that inner howl of truth to the world. That it is "extraordinary, terrifying, uncharted territory". Spread the word, be an instrument for overthrowing the privileged, wave the flag of justification for social change in face of great menace. Seize opportunity, dream big to commence utopia.

    "The world is blasting through climate records as scientists sound the alarm: The likelihood is growing that 2023 could be the hottest year on record, and the climate crisis could be altering our weather in ways they don’t yet understand. And they are not holding back – “extraordinary,” “terrifying” and “uncharted territory” are just a few of the ways they have described the recent spike in global temperature."

    Climate apocalypse

    Many scientists have repeatedly warned about severe risks up to the level of what may described as "climate apocalypse". For example, in September 2021 more than 200 scholarly medical journals published an emergency call for action, saying that a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees would bring catastrophic harm to global health from which the world will never recover.

    Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure that's a question anyone can answer at the moment, as it's too early to say how many of the plans promised at COP 26 and 27 will be executed in full.

    What is undeniable is that there is a massive global effort under way. I read the Financial Times. Every day there is a slew of articles about investments in battery plants, wind farms, EVs, electricity grid infrastructure, heat pumps and so forth, all across the world, not to mention the political arguments associated with climate policies in various countries. It's clear that trillions of dollarsworth of investment has been and is being committed to non-carbon and low carbon technologies, and that the subject is now fairly near the top of many political agendas.

    So are we doing much about it? Yeah, we kinda are. But whether it will be enough in time to prevent, say, a 2C rise in mean global temperature, must remain open to doubt.
  10. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    I am not on a ”side” so take this as a neutral comment.

    Firstly are we doing anything?

    Yes, some governments have initiatives and big business.

    Will it be enough? – No idea.

    Sustainable and renewable energy has its problems, something nuclear fuel does not have, I think that is the way to go for clean energy.

    A question that that needs to be answered though is regarding anthropogenic verses natural climate change.

    No one is questioning whether the earth is heating up, the data tells us that.

    And obviously 40 billion tonnes of CO2 via industry per year is going to have an impact, but the deny side say it is impossible to tell whether a natural cycle would be taking us there anyway.

    I have read some of the literature (totally not an expert by any stretch) and there are some studies that claim this period of warming is AGW NOT natural.

    Unfortunately, the methods are beyond my knowledge, I will find the one I had in mind and post it here.
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    You seem to be a bit behind the science on this. There is not really any "question that needs to be answered", any more.

    The science consensus is now solid that the unprecedentedly rapid warming, by historical standards, that we are seeing is definitely due to the increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. I am not aware of any serious science that challenges this any longer.

    It would however be interesting to see the source you have in mind.
  12. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Certainly. However, in 1970 the planet's human population was "only" 3.6 billion, and now it's well over 8 billion. Billions of people in developing nations are aspiring to the lame-ass Lifestyles of the Rich and Unknown. And, as my bias in this regard is already on record here, I'll just say it: in 1970, 12 percent of Americans were obese, and now it's nearly 40 freakin' percent! I don't have the data to back me up, but I can confidently state that obese people typically aren't vegans and they are far more reliant upon machinery to do the real work (they're not biking to work).

    Also, a lot of people seem to be flying these days an awful lot. I think they are mostly flying to California so that they can get into a well air-conditioned car, drive to Death Valley, and take a picture of a goddamn thermometer.
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    On the other hand, the energy efficiency of technology has improved greatly since the 1970s, as this graph of "RPK" (Revenue Passenger Kilometre) per kg CO2 emitted indicates.

    There are similar trends for vehicles, power generation etc.

    Also obesity in developed countries may well be associated, not so much with meat eating, as with things like soft drinks and high fructose corn syrup in pre-prepared meals and highly processed food items. (I suspect the Coca Cola culture of the post-war USA has a great deal to answer for. There may be a reckoning one day for these companies and their relentless promotion of a lifestyle, as there has been for tobacco companies. But it's just my personal view.)

    I don't suggest population growth, or the lifestyle aspirations of emerging economies are not big issues, but the picture is a lot more complex than simple extrapolation from population trends would imply.
  14. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Aren't we nearing--or even surpassing--90 percent efficiency in most relevant areas? Which is good, of course, but it also means we can only get so much more efficient. But the flying thing really gets to me. Even with vastly improved efficiency, it's still the worst way to travel. Europe has an excellent rail system, and while it may not be as quick as flying, it's still pretty damn fast. Also far more comfortable IMHO. Likewise for much of Asia and Central and South America.

    I can't pretend that I haven't flown when rail was a reasonable alternative. When I'm in Europe, I have to travel a lot--and often very great distances, like say, Geneva to Berlin. I always wind up flying one of those cheapo airlines with their own special airports out in the middle of nowhere that always kinda make you feel like you've stumbled upon--or even into--a human trafficking circuit.

    Also, unfortunately, in many developing countries, where the affluent nations often grow their corn.

    Still, while meat eating may not be the primary cause for obesity, I think it's still reasonable to assume that obese people consume considerably more than the rest.

    This is warming of an altogether different nature, but I often think of the incomprehensible idiocy of cities like Phoenix, Arizona. When the temperature is over 110 F/45 C for days and weeks on end, virtually every house and business is operating central air-conditioning 24/7. And, of course, that in itself results in even more heat (what some have termed "deep warming" <<< compounding countless other contributing factors. Somehow, people are still moving to Phoenix in droves.

    What I find to be conspicuously absent from efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change is any emphasis upon behavioral and lifestyle changes. Encouraging people to "fly less" and, perhaps, consume less meat is hardly the same as telling people that they need to walk or bike everywhere and be vegan. Changing human behavior on such a scale would be enormously difficult, certainly, but very few people drive drunk these days and that was once quite common.
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  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Not even close. Most gas cars are 20-30% efficient. Atkinson-cycle gas engines in hybrids can hit 40%. Gas CCS plants can come close to 60%. Illumination is closing in on 50%.
    In what way? I agree it is inefficient - but if we could solve that what are the remaining problems?
    Cheap land and jobs.
    I've seen several efforts in that direction. Nothing makes conservatives more angry.
  16. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    I think I meant 80, but regardless, I was way off. I might have been under the impression that RGB pixel leds were "magic" (which would be beyond 100 percent efficient, I guess?). They're awfully distracting and they somehow compel one to waste many hours away putzing around with them.

    Are you referring to flying specifically? If it were made that much more efficient, there wouldn't be a problem. But realistically, how far away are we from that?

    edit: when I said "vastly improved efficiency" above, I was referring to the present--not future improvements.

    Or cheaper, at least. Setting aside everything else, it's hard to fathom moving to a place where you can't really do much of anything outdoors for about three months out of a year.

    The Covid era will prove a fascinating study in that regard. Not that lockdowns and such offered people much of a choice, but not all of the behavioral changes were compulsory.
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes I sympathise with your frustration, but it is going to be a long slog, involving generational change. My son, now 20, is very keen on bringing about these changes (he joined Just Stop Oil for a bit and got arrested for invading an oil terminal). A lot of his peers think as he does. Convincing 50yr olds to change is going to be hard though. Easier in a dictatorship than a democracy.

    We also need more government interventions, to tilt the various commercial playing fields in favour of renewable options. In the UK at present, the cost of investment in the electricity grid, wind farms etc is recovered in domestic electricity bills, whereas gas, which is supplied through an established network and currently heats over 80% of of our houses, doesn't have any of those costs. Result? Gas is a third of the price of electricity per kWh. That's daft. But politically the problem is that loading the charges onto gas makes it prohibitively expensive for the less well-off to heat their homes in winter. So this has to be handled with care if it is not to blow up in the faces of politicians.

    And then heat pumps......I looked into that but gave up, as there is no heat pump big enough, it would cost 3 times the cost of a gas boiler and I'd need to change all my radiators to get enough heat from the lower temperatures it would supply. So I got new more efficient gas boiler and have spent the money on insulating the windows and a new front door, to try to make the house less wasteful of heat. But this heat pump issue needs to be tackled by the government if they are serious about weaning us off gas. Or else we keep the boilers, change the burners and put hydrogen through the existing pipes. But then we need to manufacture green hydrogen at scale.....

    A long, hard road indeed.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
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  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Parmalee, I think some of your comments just aren't accurate (not all of them). I'm not trying to make a point about climate change either.

    I lived in Phoenix during grad school. You can do things outside during the 3 hottest months. You do it early or late. You go hiking very early and you play tennis later at night. During the day you could sit outside by a pool at a table with a large sun umbrella. You can also do more things outside for the other 9 months than you can do in many other places.

    IMO it's more pleasant for those 3 months in Phoenix than it is in the eastern half of the US in the summer due to high humidity in the east and low humidity in Phoenix. I don't know how people live in southern Texas and Florida for 4 or 5 months out of the year.

    I'm American, I'm not fat and I haven't flown in 30 years. When I'm around my neighborhood and in the local stores I don't see more than the occasional fat person. The few times I had to go to a store like Walmart, the fat count goes way up.

    So it's a socioeconomic thing and it has to do with excess carbs and sugar and not with eating too much meat.

    Europe has a lot of rail coverage as does the East Coast of the US where it is densely populated. It's not economically efficient in much of the rest of the country.

    Some issues with Phoenix also apply to San Diego and Las Vegas. California (as I recall) gets an outsized share of the water from the Colorado River. You can do something about the heat in Phoenix by living just north of the city and the elevation increases rapidly all the way to 6,000 feet in Flagstaff.

    It's not my cup of tea as a place to live but it does have a certain beauty (desert beauty) and it is appealing to live where it is sunny most every day. I could live there and as an example I don't think I could live in Florida, particularly central Florida (or Southern Texas).

    I grew up in N.C. and the summers really aren't pleasant. The only summer weather that was pleasant was during my college years when I lived in the Western NC mountains.

    Regarding being frustrated with humans, that's not a healthy characteristic to develop. They aren't changing easily. Yes, it's true there is now less smoking and drinking while driving but telling people how to travel, eat, live,'s only going to result in frustration on your part.

    Also, because you are human (right?)

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    you are often inaccurate (along with the rest of us) so you can be frustrated or even angry but it doesn't mean that the facts are as you suggest. Eating meat isn't why someone is fat. Trains are never going to cover the US to the same extent as Europe and air conditioning runs no more (24/7) in Phoenix than in anywhere else in the east in the summer in the US which is 24/7. Because of the characteristics of the desert, the heat is also released more rapidly after the sun goes down. In October it could be very hot during the day and you might need a light jacket if you go out at night.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
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  19. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    What years were you there? I spent my adolescence in Phoenix--the 1980s--and my mother still lives there. She stays in Prescott over the summer months. In the 80s, it was hot but not unbearable. Now? The highs are not substantively higher but the lows very much are. Throughout much of July, large parts of the city do not drop below 95 or even 100 in the evenings.

    Same here--but then, you live in Seattle and I live in the Berkshires (western Massachusetts).

    I didn't say that obesity resulted from eating too much meat. I said that the obese, by virtue of being obese and requiring more calories, eat more meat.

    I don't think I'm really the one who suffers the consequences for others actions and inactions--apart from being annoyed, that is. The innumerable species that have gone extinct during the past 150 years are, as are the remaining ones who are forced to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

    Again, never said that about meat. Nor did I say anything about rail travel in the US. And Phoenix is not desert: it's a concrete jungle--you know, urban heat island effect. The heat is not released after the sun goes down and that is the problem. It's not like this is my own original hypothesis, it's kinda well established at this point.
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Here's a video showing the growth of Phoenix (time lapse) over the past 40 years. As I mentioned above, the warming of Phoenix is less to do with climate chaneg and more to do with rapid, and non-sensical, development.

    Edit: I know it sounds ridiculous to state that the climate of a city could change that much over 30 or 40 years, but it has--and it is pretty well documented. I've lived in South Asia and parts of the US South, where it's both hot and humid. And yeah, dry heat is generally more pleasant, but Jesus H, when you walk around Phoenix at midnight on an evening when Sky Harbor reports the temperature as 95 degrees--and it's a lot cooler out there--it's kind of surreal. The heat just wafts up at you from the concrete and blacktop. In the actual desert, and pretty much everywhere else, the ground is typically a lot cooler than the air just a foot or so above it.

    In the 80s there were warm evenings, but even a low of 90 degrees was somewhat a rarity. Now you can go for weeks on end without the temperature dropping much below 90.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
  21. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I was there in the early 80's. I remember 90 degree temps at 11 pm and playing tennis. Anything below 100 F seems "cool" comparatively. Staying out of the sun was the main requirement. Under a sun umbrella by the pool was nice.

    We used to climb up Squaw Peak (since renamed I believe) at 7 am before school. My ex-wife lives there now. I miss cool breezes so I wouldn't like to live there permanently. I remember one Easter it was 90 F in Phoenix and we drove up to Flagstaff and went skiing at Snow Bowl and then back to Phoenix.

    Quite the change in environment in one day. I went to someone's house that lived just north of Phoenix with views of mesas and their house was designed for that environment (many aren't). They had tall ceils, ceil fans, small window vents near the top of the ceiling, no or few south facing windows, a covered deck facing north overlooking the mesas and a mister hose wrapped about one post of the covered porch that cooled the air. It was quite pleasant.

    In my apartment in town, the view of the courtyard was green grass constantly watered and the view from the back window was brown. We had blackout curtains for the bedroom just to get some sleep past 5 am.

    A few of the buildings at school weren't air conditioned, some were and some had swamp coolers. We just walked slow, and tried to stay in the shade. I'd rather deal with that than with high humidity but I'd rather have a little more mild temperatures. Sunny every day was nice though. We used to consider a day below 100 F as "cool". I remember many 110 F and higher days in the summer.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Oh, they are great. But they have a ways to go in efficiency. Some monochromatic emitters are close to 80% - but the only ones I know that hit that efficiency are infrared.

    BTW solar-PV for commercial silicon is now hitting about 25% at the cell level; 22% at the panel level. GaAs cells (VERY expensive) have hit 34%. The best non-concentrator cells have hit 39% and the best concentrator cells have hit 46%.

    The reason that doesn't matter nearly as much, of course, is that that energy is free to begin with.
    Ah, OK.
    Keep in mind that for many people, life involves being in a house, then being in a car, then being at work, then being at a bar, then being at a movie, then being at a store etc. They can live their lives 99% air conditioned.
  23. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    Which actually sucks. I miss the days when I was a kid and I played outside from sun up til sun down even in temperatures over 100 degrees. The heat never bothered me back then. But now that I've become used to living in air conditioning for the last 50-plus years, I can't even stay outside for more than 10 minutes without feeling like I'm suffocating.

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