TED Conversations

Arjuna Nagendran

Doctor,

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Is fighting climate change a losing battle?

Climate change is and will impact us all. As alluded to, there are many countries who unfortunately stand to make very substantial financial gains from this.

What is likely to be the most successful way of fighting this battle? Who is likely to make the biggest impact - our fellow citizens or our Governments?

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  • Oct 2 2012: We need to take a holistic approach to address climate change at a systems level. In my view we need to engage everyone and all systems. From the child in the Nursery school to educational, religious, economic.....political, technological systems. So there is no either/or everyone needs to take part.

    Perceptions: We needs to address people perceptions about climate change and the potential of their small actions. Values: We need to connect people to core values /religious values.
    Practices: We need to share good practices, celebrate good practices and condemn bad practices.
    Social Media: We need to exploit the potential of social media "Mobile technology" has great potentials.
  • Oct 1 2012: Getting back to your original question, without the profit margin angle thrown in, "Is fighting climate change a losing battle?": Yes! Because humans refused to heed the warning signs in the 60s & Mother Nature is a much larger force then humans know how to deal with. The balance of nature has been thrown so far off center that all will suffer the effects.
    I have yet to hear anyone say: To heck with profits lets work together to save the very home we depend upon.
    Greed in this world has reached a point, that compassion is shoved aside for profit.
    But can you bring all the people together to save our home? No! Cause it's all about the money.
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      Oct 1 2012: Hello Gale,

      It may seem that we have become a generation of greed and selfishness. It is sad, but I do not believe that all hope is lost and that if we just worked harder on making people aware of the facts (and not scaremongering which most media seems to be good at), then I think it could change peoples perspectives. I am not talking about the in-depth scientific facts that would make the average man feel out of his depth, but the basic facts, that small changes can make a difference, and evidence of climate change that has already occurred. How can we expect the people to understand if they are not even educated on the matter? I think that if the media went about it more subtly than they have done in the past, people wont get as frustrated with it all.
      As for the money side, yes this generation is all about making a profit, but that can be turned in our favor, where we can set up industries to generate and promote green technology.
      I just feel that during this time, we need to be optimistic, otherwise we will just spiral into a void where we have just given up and no longer care.
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        Oct 3 2012: I think that the world of the next 50 years will be significant for the fact that it will be micro-concerns that shape the macro-ones. Global citizens are becoming increasingly empowered.. not in every state, and not to equal extents, but if the Arab Spring and the riots against Putin show us anything it is that no power that does not have the support of its people will succeed (oddly Machiavellian actually!) We need to educate people, not governments and the change will come.

        I completely agree with Megan, we have to steer clear of spiralling into a void, even though it's all too easy. While the world seems like an evil place, I believe that humans are fundamentally good people. It is when you create situations where people lose identitiy and accountability for their actions that the bad actions or the lack of good action occurs. Something well illustrated by Philip Zimbardo in the talk below:
        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html

        We have to find a way to change this world we live in where you buy a pint of milk and don't realise that only 1% of the profit goes to the farmer, where you rush for an iphone and don't realise the human cost it may be having, or on a bigger scale where we waste just so much unnecessary energy e.g. through unnecessary heating/air conditioning.. I'm sure you can all name another 10 examples.

        I don't believe that any person would use a shampoo, heavy with palm oil if they saw the animal that lost it's habitat die. Nor do I believe that any Manager of a company who had the power to change things would allow such waste in their organisation if they had to watch the people of the Maldives become displaced from their homes.


        We need to find ways of making people look at the impact of their decision in the face and ways of giving those people in Industry who have the power to change things A FACE, so that they know the public can see them.
  • Oct 6 2012: Yes. Humans never make a collective decision until their over the cliff and still arguing on the way down.
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    Oct 5 2012: I think fighting labelled term "global warming" is not a solution to our real problems, i.e. our approach to life and vision of the future, mainly in economic terms - energy spending, consumption, etc. How can you fight some abstract thing so vast if we are not even able to take care of ourselves and our personal lives. Dan Ariely pointed this out in his behavioral research - people are not able to plan their dentist appointment properly, they don't know how to plan their financial future etc. etc. (I am not mentioning that we were fighting "global cooling" in the 70's. Actually, we were possibly very successfull at it, as now we are fighting the exact opposite..).
    In my opinion, this fight should be about something completely different (I wouldn't call it fight, rather a quest) and should envolve making small changes and spark discussion so that people start to rethink, or rather to think for themselves, in wider perspective. That is what TED is about.
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      Oct 5 2012: Very well said Mirek!

      Fighting suggests struggle, so it does not seem like an appropriate term to use with our environment. We need to be good stewards and protect our environment which sustains us, and that begins with each and every one of us as individuals. I like using the word "quest" Mirek, and I think you are absolutely right to suggest small changes, which may cause people to be more aware. Sometimes, people get overwhelmed when looking at the big picture, and if each of us takes care of our own little space, it may add up to a big change around our world.

      I am grateful to have been born into a family who recycled, reused, restored, renovated, managed money well (never buy anything we cannot afford to pay cash for), had a HUGE garden and grew our own healthy food, which meant we worked in the garden and experienced the whole process of planting, weeding, preserving, and enjoying:>)

      That was 60+ years ago, when we were not aware of any threat to our environment. We just DID IT because it felt like the thing to do....it made sense to take care of the environment that sustains us. That is what I learned, and that is how I have lived my life. To me, it is not a struggle or a fight to be aware of our environment.....it is a pleasure:>)
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        Oct 7 2012: Colleen
        your lifestyle makes think of the acient chinese poets.you can look for some materias
        they are a kind of people who live a life full of freedom and happiness they plant at the sunrise .and rest at the sunset.when they are happy ,they just take out their wine and drink at the same they create poems ..very be pleased . they live just like the seventeenth england ,which you
        can see in the london Olympic opening ceremony..i think we are more pleased because we can drink .

        i also think they live a life of envioriment-friendly ..maybe we should learn from the acient people .they are much more smarter on enviorment issues.
  • Oct 3 2012: Fully agree with Chen Xin, that nature has itself adjusted system, the only disturbing factor is humanity with its destructive behaviour towards nature and humanity itself.
    Current crisis on every level are showing us that we have to change our ways, because we are totaly connected to eachother and every negative or positive action has an outcome in wich intention it was originally planned.

    If we stop our wasting ,over excessif, planet ruining way of life and begin to think about to obtain skills that help whole society instead value the money and material things as more important in life, Then all of humanity can grow and become a part of nature and live in harmony with it.
    Climate change will be reduced or be in balance ,and nature will recover.
    We are integral connected throughout the whole world only we dont know it yet.
    What can help us is global education wich teaches us the laws of nature.
    http://www.learnglobal.net/about/
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    Oct 3 2012: i think so
    i do think the nature has itself adjusted system . we shouldn't do much about it . what we should do is reduce our waste . and live a natural life .
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      Oct 7 2012: I think reducing waste will have a huge difference on the planet, especially plastic, and I want to believe that nature and mother Earth will look after herself but I think we are advancing and growing at such a rate that even nature will have trouble adapting and mother Earth will be drastic with her response. More unpredictable weather (flooding and typhoons) and more natural disasters are the only thing that will save Earth and (a reduced population of) the Human race.
  • Oct 1 2012: The problem is that humans have adpted to wasteful use of anything. As a person, I leave my windows open during the summer and winter time until it becomes unberable. This summer I only used my AC unit three times. In winter we sleep with the heater at 60 and during the day time we try to not have it higher than 68. We wear sweaters and carry a blanket, but we think that the money we save on energy is also resources we save for the planet.
    At my work place however, my coworkers think that blasting the AC is a better option than opening the windows even on a nice day outside. I sometimes had to wear a sweater at my desk, one of my coworkers brings a heater to warm herself when the AC temperature is too low. In winter we usually do the opposite and need fans and personal cooling systems to keep a comfortable temperature.
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      Oct 1 2012: What you have just described is a clear example, that unless the majority of people work together on the changes necessary, then our efforts as an individual will struggle to make the difference. Unfortunately, I feel that only the minority of people try their hardest to reduce emissions and who are even really paying attention to the current climate issues. The threat of 'Global Warming' has been pushed onto the public for so many years now (most of which has mostly been scaremongering), that they have just given in listening.
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        Oct 1 2012: Um i know it's off topic Meagan but is that a Falcon you have on your arm in your profile pix? is it endangered?
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          Oct 1 2012: It is a Harrier Hawk actually, an absolutely stunning bird! One of the best days of my life getting to hang out with him for an afternoon.
  • Oct 7 2012: I think citizens of this world will help make impact in fighting climate change. This will happen only if citizens are becoming aware of what is happening to our climate. I think government is connected to this in sense that they have the ability to makes its citizens become more aware of the issue.
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    Oct 3 2012: A number of bad decisions have set the efforts back years. 1) Selection of Al Gore to be the face of Global Warming who is there for the money and continues to have a extreme carbon foot print and is a joke punchline for inventing the internet not a creditable source; and 2) US President Obama jumping in and investing billions of taxpayers money in questionable companies and highly questionable probability of any success which answers your second question the losers were in this instance the US taxpayers. The winners were the political payoff companies who took the money and ran with no pretense of effort.

    I am not a creditable source so this is opinion ... my reading indicates that wind does not give me the bang for the bucks ... solar is better but I am concerned about the storage capabilities and the high initial buyin and the recurring cost for the batteries . if bio-fuels such as algae generated fuels can be maximizzed then the power problems would be delayed and dependence on fossil fuels would be lessened ... much has been done with hydronginated water and should not be overlooked as cars can be fueled and wielding equipment can be operated and on and on .. the use of corn and other crop fuels is in my mind questionable.

    The impact is absolute .. the facts are questionable ... nature is constantly adjusting ... humans can and have adapted .. and the biggest question you pose the FIGHT is never over .... only if we quit do we lose.

    The major factor IMO is to get government out of the process and allow free interprise develop and market a for profit solution. The worst possible idea is to turn taxpayers money loose (THAT OCCURS TO MUCH ALREADY) on any problem it has always become a moneypit and will develop into a multibillion dollar a year agency with staffs of millions.

    The Dept of Energy (US) was to stop the import of oil ... now staff of 1000s and BIG budget .. result we import more.

    Out of space ..... Bob.
  • Oct 3 2012: Here's a statement of core principles from The International Climate Science Coalition.

    I urge everyone to look at their website at: http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

    -------------
    CLIMATE SCIENCE

    Global climate is always changing in accordance with natural causes and recent changes are not unusual.

    Science is rapidly evolving away from the view that humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide and other 'greenhouse gases' are a cause of dangerous climate change.

    Climate models used by the IPCC* fail to reproduce known past climates without manipulation and therefore lack the scientific integrity needed for use in climate prediction and related policy decision-making.

    The UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers and the assertions of IPCC executives too often seriously mis-represent the conclusions of their own scientific reports.

    Claims that ‘consensus’ exists among climate experts regarding the causes of the modest warming of the past century are contradicted by thousands of independent scientists.

    Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant - it is a necessary reactant in plant photosynthesis and so is essential for life on Earth.

    Research that identifies the Sun as a major driver of global climate change must be taken more seriously.

    Global cooling has presented serious problems for human society and the environment throughout history while global warming has generally been highly beneficial.

    It is not possible to reliably predict how climate will change in the future, beyond the certainty that multi-decadal warming and cooling trends, and abrupt changes, will all continue, underscoring a need for effective adaptation.

    Since science and observation have failed to substantiate the human-caused climate change hypothesis, it is premature to damage national economies with `carbon' taxes, emissions trading or other schemes to control 'greenhouse gas' emissions.
    --------------

    If you seek a rational view of the climate issue, don't listen to the alarmists.

    fs
    • Oct 6 2012: You're wasting your time here F. Swemson. This is not some tabloid news site. TEDsters are smart enough to spot a paid fossil fuel troll.
      • Oct 7 2012: Hopefully TEDsters are also smart enough to spot the logical fallacy in what you just said. To dismiss our arguments because you think we are "a paid fossil fuel troll" is a logical fallacy referred to as "motive intent". It is also "guilt by association" and "ad hominem", since you are implying that we are dishonest.

        If you had simply clicked on our "Funding" button on any of our Web pages, beside putting your comments out to the world, you would discover that your accusation is also wrong since we have no funding from corporations of any kind, let alone, fossil fuel companies. You accusation is just made up.

        If you disagree with any of our core messages, as a TEDster, please address that only instead of debasing your argument by committing logical fallacies based on made up information.

        Tom Harris International Climate Science Coalition
        • Oct 7 2012: Wow Tom Harris himself! What an honour.

          I was talking to F. Swemson actually not you guys, but since you ask, I am perfectly aware of who the ICSC is. I know of your links with the Heartland Institute and other "private" individual skeptics. I'm rather surprised to hear you suggest that none of your private donors make their money from fossil fuels though?

          Still, I think it is wonderful that you've stopped by TED because this is a fantastic opportunity for TEDsters to learn a little about what makes such a high-profile climate change denier tick…? Will you humour me with a response to the same question that I asked of FS earlier?

          > Can you tell us why you want so passionately to be right on this?

          Please don't give us a cut'n'paste of that disingenuous BS on your site about caring about the economics of proposed responses to climate change though (I know you're an engineer, not an economist) - I'm far more interested in what makes you *personally* want to get out of bed every day and keep on fighting your fight? It must be really hard to be so misunderstood?
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    Oct 3 2012: Here's an idea for everyone:

    Obviously making an impact on a Governmental level is very hard - summit after summit really amounts to peanuts. Maybe a way to modernise the way in which they are bartering could be to create a Free (or semi free) Trade area of countries that comply with massive shifts to renewable energy and who can prove they are majorly reducing their global CO2 output..

    Maybe that's one way to subvert those countries who might conspire FOR climate change, like those Arctic circle countries. The minority of countries that stands to gain from climate change must surely be outweighed by those who stand to lose or stand to get no benefit? It would also incentivise these countries to spend more on renewables for the trade benefits that they would be permitted!
  • Dan F 50+

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    Oct 2 2012: I assume climate change is real and significant. It may not be perfectly understood but the big chunks are there. Also, when specialized individuals come to agree on things, it's a good indication it is a matter of true concern, despite what might mean a gain for some.

    A losing battle? It does appears to be accelerating and there does exist something called the lag effect.

    Changing the status quo is difficult at best. This means the way things have been done historically tends to protect how thing will be done in the future. This reality is at the center of addressing this problem and a fundamental hurdle for slowing this climate tend to the extent we can.

    At one time, not so long ago, the oceans were considered so big, the skies so vast how could human activity have any adverse impact? Does anyone still believe that? There have been some significant private and regulatory efforts resulting in more accountable business behavior because smart inventors, engineers and technology, etc., enabled a better way to operate to minimize environmental impacts.

    This problem is different because solutions are more esoteric, more costly or don't exist, not to mention the politics that enters the fray. Energy production and consumption are at the heart of what's adding to the warming problem. So where and how to begin to battle the status quo?
    • Oct 4 2012: Dan: as you say, it's mainly about cheap, safe, non-polluting energy. Luckily, the solution has already been invented and demonstrated , 50 years ago. The US invented a nuclear Thorium powered airplane engine, but then abandoned it , mainly because it didn;t produce bomb material. The Chinese, after borrowing the technology , now have a billion dollar program going to produce them. They will probably start replacing coal plants with Thorium LFTR in a few years; of course it will take time to eliminate all coal and oil burning, but since Thorium is going to be cheaper than either, they won;t be able to compete, as fuel. So the Carbon Cap issue is irrelevant, as are quite a few other "problems" Look it up on Youtube, for details.
      • Oct 4 2012: Hi Shawn

        Just spotted it on a past TED talk. I'll check it out. Thanks.
  • Oct 1 2012: "Is fighting climate change a losing battle?"

    We can limit it, but we can limit it less and less the longer we wait for radical action.
  • Oct 7 2012: Yes. Climate change on earth is a SOLAR caused phenomenon. There have been variations of warming and cooling in prehistoric and modern times that are NOT attributable to greenhouse gas build-up. Furthermore it is observed that the polar ice caps are not shrinking just on Earth, but on Mars and Venus too. Global warming is real. The causes reported by the media are all lies.
  • Oct 7 2012: Yes, it is a losing battle. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to use cleaner technology. There are other chemicals in carbon emissions and other types of pollution that are harmful to our health. People always talk about "protecting the environment" but really when we do that we are protecting ourselves too. Besides, a world without smog would simply be more pleasant to live in.
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    Oct 7 2012: I think that unless our governments have the courage to do what is needed and put aside political differences to do this and have the courage to do it even if it means losing the next election then it's pretty hopeless. And we the people need to let them know that this is what we expect.
  • Oct 6 2012: Both have important parts to play. But I believe we are nearing the end of a natural cycle
  • Oct 6 2012: Hi, Arjuna !
    I love your avatar ! Sometimes i feel ashamed to belong to human race. : (
  • Oct 6 2012: Yep, it's a losing battle. Climate change was started by the industrial revolution over 150 years ago. There's no way to stop it short of tearing down ALL industrial societies, and/or watching them collapse. Might as well enjoy the ride!
    • Oct 6 2012: You and Walter are absolutely right. Our leaders have the vision of a Cyclops and will tell us what we want to hear. We lack the capacity to face the "big" issues. China is building a smart grid. Where is ours? European taxes cause gasoline to cost up to double American prices, but try to tell our polititicians that we need more expensive gas to curb consumption and you would be laughed out of the room.

      Even after 99% of all scientists are absolutely convinced that climate change is driven by burning of fossil fuels, there will be countries that continue to burn them---including us.
      • Oct 7 2012: Scientists say the CO2 levels are already way too high. Even if we stopped burning fuels instantly (fat chance) the climate will continue to heat for the next few centuries. But don't blame the politicians - the time to fix this passed before anyone alive today was born.
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          Oct 7 2012: i dont think so
          maybe in the future we will research out some other clean fuels then i think it is unnecessary to use the normal fossil fuels .
          ad how do we surive without burning fossil , you say when we use up the ,we must find out the succedaneum as soon as possible .or we may face another big problem .

          we must live a much saving life . then we may have a much longer life .
        • Oct 7 2012: Sounds about right. Methane is even worse than CO2 and we know that the tundra is warming releasing stored CO2 and methane in bogs. In the deepsea there are what are called methane clathrates. As the bottom waters begin to warm they will enter the water column, too.

          Our best hope is that we are going to go into a cooling period as some climate specialists believe for the next 20-40 years before warming resumes. When the next ice age arrrives we might need our coal to spread coal dust on the advancing glaciers to warm them up!
    • Oct 6 2012: As somebody aptly said : We are at war with ourselves and we are loosing.
      But we haven't lost yet , i am hopeful :)
      • Oct 7 2012: Ah, Natasha. Hope is all we have ;)
  • Oct 5 2012: Study: Sprawling cities experience hotter summer temperatures
    Jun 22, 2010
    Report: 97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real
    Comments 1157
    By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Updated 2010-06-22 5:43 PM


    Forget the four out of five dentists who recommend Trident…. Try the 97 out of 100 scientists that believe in man-made climate change.

    This data comes from a new survey out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The study found that 97 percent of scientific experts agree that climate change is "very likely" caused mainly by human activity.

    The report is based on questions posed to 1,372 scientists. Nearly all the experts agreed that it is "very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the twentieth century."
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    . . 100+

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    Oct 5 2012: We each one can do our part, be encouraged; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVmDOJcBrR0&feature=fvwrel
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      Oct 5 2012: is not - just that now is a matter of everyone self decisions so we will feel if we do not react earlier on climate problems
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        Oct 7 2012: it is a litter hard to catch what you said .but i think we should learn from nature .we should not do regardless of the nature . now we should all together to do something to live a life of simple and enviorment protected ,
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    Oct 4 2012: I think "decrease our foot-print" is the best general statement I could make about the environment. We cannot have everything we want...when we want it. If we do continue living with that mind-set...I feel the climate will just rid itself of life and start over.

    Not so sure the planet is in danger....life may be though. If we want to take that seriously...we may want to look at how sensitive life is. One major shift in climate can have major impacts on life in every crevice of the planet.

    Green energy is not just a catch phrase for politicians. Green energy and green industry are not center pieces for debate...as they should be. Instead we discuss business taxes and profit-margins.
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    Oct 4 2012: I just have to ask, isn't our government us? Perhaps you meant to ask, public or private funds?
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      Oct 5 2012: Unfortunately I think that depends on which Government you mean - all non-democracies are by definition not "fairly" elected and are therefore unreliable representations of public opinion.

      Even the fair representation ethos of democracies is not entirely robust in itself, hence the connotations of the term "politics".

      Our Governments are made of us, but once you are part of an organisation, of which Government is just one, you tend to guide your decision making on what's best for that organisation. In the case of Governments, that can sometimes err to becoming what is best for politicians rather than the country..
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    Oct 4 2012: It really is quite simple and cheap to make a change,Paint your house roof white,if everyone did this then it will be a start towards the change.
    • Oct 4 2012: Not really...

      First, it would never have a statistically meaningful effect, and

      Second, the premise is wrong. WARMING IS GOOD!

      The only type of climate change that is dangerous to us is extreme cooling. The reason is simple enough to see... When it's colder, crops don't grow as well as when it's warmer. History has shown this to be true, with almost all of the high points of human civilization, like the pinnacle of the Roman Empire, occurring at the warmest periods in our recorded history.

      fs
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        Oct 5 2012: So you're hoping northern Europe will have nice warm growing weather like it did back then? What's happening in northern Africa today didn't happen back then but in saying so,just about all of us only look at our immediate vicinity and the affects of warming it has on it,I can't say you're wrong but neither can you say that the world population back then affected climate change like it is today,acceleration.
        • Oct 5 2012: I don't believe that today's population has any meaningful effect on our climate, other than local "heat island" effects...

          So I certainly am not claiming that the far smaller population of the middle ages had any effect on their climate...

          It's the sun... it's natural & it's good!

          fs
      • Oct 6 2012: You're wasting your time here F. Swemson. This is not some tabloid news site. TEDsters are smart enough to spot a paid fossil fuel troll.
        • Oct 7 2012: Some very smart people are incredibly stupid about certain things, as TED proves on a regular basis.

          If you wish to argue any point I might make. do so with facts, not insults.

          You can start by coming up with an explanation for the temperature record of the mid 1940's through the 70's. Here's the facts:

          http://www.swemson.com/upl/G3.jpg

          Let's see how smart you are....

          fs
      • Oct 7 2012: Ok fs, let me see if I've understood your request?

        You, (a newspaper ad guy, who through your comments in this forum have demonstrated an inability to understand either the science or the implications of climate change), are asking me (someone you don't know) to give you the "facts" that 97% of qualified scientists use to disagree with you?

        I hope you appreciate that this leaves me in a very uncomfortable position - A position where ad-hominem seems to be the only reasonable response…

        I'll try to avoid that unpleasant path though, because you are obviously passionate, and seem to enjoy researching... Instead, I'll ask you a couple of polite and genuine questions:
        1) Have you done any research into the psychology of climate change denial?
        2) Can you tell us why you want so passionately to be right on this one?

        I look forward to your considered response to 2, in particular.

        All the best.
        Jamie
  • Oct 4 2012: Vicki A made some good points on her Ted talk. We have to adjust sure,,but if one is responsible it gives the irresponsible more options to mess things up. Look at Bush43 following the Con deficit reduction.
  • Oct 3 2012: My thoughts on global warming:

    7 billion on the planet right now are having a negative impact on the environment.

    Populous countries such as India and China are generating more wealth each year, and therefore it is natural to assume that consumption in these and other poorer countries is only going to increase over time. Greater consumption is going to lead to more manufacturing and more pollution. Not everyone is going to be a consumer, but with upwards of 10 billion people by 2100, it is rather frightening to start thinking about how many of these 10 billion will be consumers, all wanting the latest iPhones, DVD players, LCD televisions...

    You can have all the fancy schemes you can think of to try and combat "global warming" eg bio fuels, solar/wind energy, but the real underlying issue is uncontrolled world population growth. We're already starting to see the consequences. The Great Barrier Reef is slowly being destroyed partly due to human activities on land. Destruction of the natural world will only increase as the world population increases.

    When we hit the 10 billion mark at around the year 2100 or so, I believe global warming is going to be a lesser concern over and above "competition" over resources such as food, clean water, and raw materials for manufacturing, and the resulting destruction to the environment.

    I'd like to end this by highlighting the stupidity of mankind... The Australian Govt is quite prepared to spend over $40 billion on a national broadband network. Yet, the current petroleum distribution network can't be replaced by hydrogen because it is "too expensive". I have no idea how much it would cost, but $40 billion would go a heck of a long way towards paying for a move towards hydrogen fueled vehicles and the refueling infrastructure.
    • Oct 3 2012: I agree entirely with Dan - but there is a further consideration which has, of yet, not received exposure because governments tend to think within the time frame of their tenure and man cannot think beyond a human lifepsan. During the last 1 million years the planet experienced ten ice ages lasing variously between decades and hundreds of years. In approx 60,000 years from now the planet will experience its next ice age. This is nature at work, there is nothing that man can do to influence this synoidal pattern of climate variation between relatively warm periods and relatively cold periods. During previous ice ages the world's population of humans was so small that those living in the frozen north could migrate to the warmer south. In a future ice age this will not be possible unless the world's population is drastically reduced in size because the nations in the southern hemisphere would not be able to support and sustain such a large population (food, water, shelter, infrasturcture, work - space). The time for action to reduce population size is now. There will be no magic pill in 60000 years to cure all ills, man will not have colonised other planets. I may sound like a prophet of doom, but it is time governments and world bodies thought long term. A little climate change at the moment is going to seem as nothing compared to the armageddon which surely lies ahead if we do not get a grip of the size of the population and start now.
      • Oct 3 2012: Tongue in cheek, while global warming is a bad outcome for some, anyone who has lived in New Zealand should really be welcoming global warming. It can get bitterly cold there during winter, and a couple of degrees warming would be nice. And if the sea temps also rise, the beaches won't be so damn cold even in summer.

        The original question on global warming is really a subset of a broader range of questions regarding humanity and what actions it needs to take to ensure longevity of existence. I'd like to see humanity get behind the "Mars-One" project. Having a colony on Mars is an insurance policy against catastrophic events on Earth, and perhaps then we could sleep a little better at night.

        I agree as well that our planet cools and warms over time. The next ice age will be interesting for sure. The issue of global warming is very complex. We install solar panels while at the same time we destroy forests, we empty our oceans of fish, and continue to build weapons that have the potential to wipe life off the planet many times over. Governments talk about needing to grow their economy, and some governments even have policies that boost immigration to support economic growth.

        Governments are part of the problem not the solution, and that if we all sit back waiting for governments to do something, then we will be waiting a heck of a long time. Or even if they manage to implement something like a carbon tax, it is all ultimately meaningless for all of the reasons mentioned in my original reply.

        A complex situation indeed, and the best place to start is with each individual ie the choices we make and things we can do to make positive change.
      • Oct 4 2012: Complex, indeed. Even if the people who think we can "fight " climate change are right, the process of doing it might well turn out to be ill advised. like. the "Ethanol " scam. Past climate cycles seem to be real, and our attempts to stop it are not likely to prevent it, just mitigate.
        But there IS a way to deal with carbon burning pollution, and several other major problems at the same time: let's start using the Thorium LFTR power plants, cheap , plentiful fuel, no significant pollution, a million times the energy density of oil and coal. It even can run on Uranium LWR plants nuclear waste material.
        As for the population problem, that seems to be a self correcting one. Those who have reached a sort of middle class level of civilization do not seem to have large families as they did when they were peasants. The rate of increase in many countries is below replacement, and as Feminism spreads, will no doubt go even lower. Also, if we get Thorium power going, we will be able to save all that money wasted on windmills, solar panels, transmission lines, etc, which are simply not economical, and can be shown to be inadequate.
      • Oct 6 2012: Richard (and others), to suggest that there will still be future natural ice ages despite anthropogenic factors demonstrates that you don't have the vaguest notion of what climate change is. I suggest that you read James Hansen's book Storms of my Grandchildren. If I remember correctly, an example that Hansen uses is that climate forcings caused by a single CFC factory are sufficient to outstrip any natural cooling cycles.
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    Oct 3 2012: NO it is not a losing battle, but if we give up then we start to die. Pretty simple. So why isn't there any progress?
  • Oct 3 2012: When a whole community or group focuses their efforts in solving one problem, most of the time the goal if accomplished. The climate change issue is like two people on a row boat that are rowing in different directions. When we all realize that its a problem that must be solved then will be a battle that can be won. when i say "all" i mean the industrial sector and the single everyday worker, the housewife, the kids at school etc...
  • Oct 3 2012: There are times when I feel that my efforts are insignificant ... like pouring a cup of water on a wildfire. Still, I feel that I would rather offer my cup of water than add a cup of fuel.