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New debate: Hopeful or Doomed?

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The answer is both: the day breaks both to doom and a hopeful dawn.


A good friend writes of his internal debate on global warming.   Are we doomed or is there reason for hope?

We seem to agree that - at least for now - Obama is the very best leader if we want to see any of our DNA make it into the future.  Global population decimation is inevitable.  Decimation has a dual meaning; it can be 1-out-of-10 or nine-out-of-ten.   By the end of the century, some scenarios, derived from IPCC models,  say that our global population of 9 billion will probably be one billion - and only if we are very lucky and smart.  Starting now

Although James Lovelock may stand firmly in the alarmist wing of climatologists, nothing he says is impossible.  All is within model scenarios.  As you can see from the combined graphic on the site   Science can describe the projections for how bad it will be, we didn’t really know when things might unfold, but now with early arctic melting - we are starting to know the when.

Every day, I am ever more astounded that there is not rioting in the streets over this issue, because soon enough (years hopefully) there will be food riots, and refugee riots, and climate refugees etc.

“If your children ever found out how lame you really are, they’d murder you in your sleep” -Frank Zappa

Its a pity that Obama is so nice.   Human civilization needs a Climate Czar with the ruthlessness of a Stalin.  Otherwise we will have to wait until a sufficient number of our citizens, along with other global citizens, get the message, learn the science and decide to act to assure the future of human life.

But I am buoyed by the recent reports and the direction we are going.   The NOAA report the other day had some powerDr Hansen always has something new to say.  Be sure to check for the news and the policy stuff.   And for the science overview to a lay audience.   We are in a time of rapid change now.

We are in constant rumination over doom or hopes.   The astounding enormity of  our colossal blunder is so difficult to apprehend.  Denialism is a normal psychological reaction.  In order to survive humans have to act with ruthless intelligence and logic.  If we are lucky and smart now, in 1000 years, it will be a new species that emerges

Personally,  I suppress my anger, but refuse to suppress the truth.   One neighbor is a retired professor of Atmospheric sciences, who tells me that many scientists have shrugged and moved on with their lives - enjoying their days. They no longer speak out.   Scientists think it is up to politics and human will-power now.  They have done their job, and really shouted all they can.

Yep.  Both doomed and optimistic.   Now we can debate how much of each.

Humans shall persist and thrive - Pro or Con?

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Crazy is doing the same thing over-and-over and expecting a different result. continues crazy postings trying to establish and prop up a false debate - promoting doubt about global warming.  More accurately their own words claim they are debating "Calls to Action" or "Dissenting Voices "  (inaction).  But that is not the debate I read there.

Their headings actually are saying "Do we act or not?"   And I can see a reasonable discussion on that question.   But looking at the content on each side, they are not really debating what they claim.  Their global warming postings seem to be divided between new science discoveries versus the magical thinking of global warming denialists.  Science verses religion is an old, tired debate.

suncloudss.jpgThey seem to want to divert and delude us from facing the real issue: human extinction.  Do we want to accept it?   Maybe they can re-label their standings as a debate like:  Pro-extinction and Con-extinction

It is crazy continuing to criticize  They will
never change.  So I am expanding my messaging beyond theirs.  It is time to ponder the real issue:  "Humans shall persist and thrive - Pro or Con" 

They can frame the debate through the selection of materials they choose to post.  "... of what ultimately goes onto the page, the editors' decisions are final."

So when I ask them ( to step up and start talking about the real issue - I know that is a crazy request.

Are we a crazy species?   That's still another debate.

Argues with Idiots

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That would be my Indian name.   Argues-with-Idiots. 

I am tilting at the windmill of human denial about the danger of global warming.   


And AGW is worse than ever. Even TIME magazine thinks we should wake up to our dangerous misunderstanding of climate change.  This article ran just a few days before the election.

"... carbon emissions would need to be cut drastically from current
levels. Yet almost all of the subjects in Sterman's study failed to
realize that, assuming instead that you could stabilize carbon
concentration simply by capping carbon emissions at their current
level. That's not the case -- and in fact, pursuing such a plan for
the future would virtually guarantee that global warming could spin
out of control. It may seem to many like good common sense to
wait until we see proof of the serious damage global warming is
doing before we take action. But it's not -- we can't "wait and see"
on global warming because the climate has a momentum all its
own, and if we wait for decades to finally act to reduce carbon
emissions, it could well be too late. Yet this simply isn't
understood. Someone as smart as Bill Gates doesn't seem to get it.
"Fortunately climate change, although it's a huge challenge, it's a
challenge that happens over a long period of time," he said at a
forum in Beijing last year. "You know, we have time to work on it."
But the truth is we don't. "

I am gradually growing to accept this human deficiency.  Our species is unable to see, unwilling to act on far off dangers - no matter how certain.   As the future of global warming becomes clearer,  the ONLY global survival solution requires a total unified human effort - with 100% support.. which is, of course, impossible.  The differing opinions and different thoughts and actions are all quintessentially human. This trait works best by having sizable factions in disputed survival judgments and errant thinkers taking different actions.    So whole populations with one trait may thrive, while those with another trait will fail.  It seems like a nice way to design a species: to allow groupings with individual differences to best adapt to a changing future.  This assures that random changes may still act to allow the species to change.
hotsuns.jpgWe are not ants.  But in this case it may bite us back, for the errant few with denialist tunnel vision are working to constrain any unified effort to change.  And that spells doom. 

They may no longer deny, they may only want to delay. That delay will kill us, the delay means tipping points are passed and runaway global warming cannot be stopped, no matter how strong the human will and effort.   And a destabilized climate will continue to wreak havoc, and the predicted increase in  temperature (11 degrees C ) can extinguish most animal life at sea level.   With less heat increase, perhaps we have better survival chances.

First comes the decimation of our species -  it will take a few decades, disease, drought, storm floods and the attendant wars and violent struggles to survive - met with violent defense.  Eventually the chaos will wean out the weak and the unwilling and the remaining population will have full commitment to survive - but almost no capability to affect global cascading events.  Then in a hot and changing age the struggle will be to survive amidst dwindling resources and scarce living places - perhaps limited to mountainous areas near the poles.   Pretty grim future.  Even though that struggle may be a few generations out - it may be good that people don't realize this just now.  How does one tell a young person about this?

And so I am not going to argue with idiots anymore because the ship is now hitting the iceberg and no change of direction can prevent it.  Now the discussion is about how to best deploy the lifeboats and figure out how best to slow the sinking. Bush was the captain that crashed the boat, Obama is the new captain.  So this is a change of attitude.   The science and the projections remain the same.   I realize this is dystopic - but it is not implausible, and it conforms to IPCC climate predictions.


Cross posted to

The 'Shutup and Be Happy' Debate

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I think we have about 4 generations left

I am not shouting this.  But I think it may be so.  And I know most will ignore my Jerimiahed screed.

Humans have about 4 generations left on this planet.  Not much more. 

That puts it into the next century. There are plenty of serious climate model scenarios described out to the year 2100.  Some are not so bad, some are horrible.  Even the more optimistic views are predicated on very radical changes to our civilization to fight this.  Something we are not doing in the slightest.  Not even started. No real plans. As David Letterman said recently about global warming, “We are so screwed”   

So We Humans are pretty much doomed, but not Us Humans now. Right now everything is pretty nice.  Beautiful summer, plenty to eat, and for the most part, skies are clear and cool.  . But climate destabilization is so great, and carries such momentum, that we have long passed our opportunity to effect change.  Now, today all we can say is Adapt, Mitigate and Accept.

I really don’t want to stand on the corner in a hair shirt and sandals preaching doom.  Nobody wants to hear it.  No one wants to spoil the party. And it is not fun for me.  Some want to stay oblivious for fun, some for profit, and some because they really cannot face it.  Many, many know it, but carry on with civil grace, social acceptability, and economic momentum.

The internal debate I hold is about how I let that affect my life today.  Since I am 59 years old, I may not be facing much of the big problems that the future generations will be facing. We might figure that our grandchildren will be living in a world that we cannot even imagine  - if they are lucky.  What do I owe them in preparing and warning and accepting?   If I cannot really change much, shouldn’t I just shutup and be happy?

I suspect this is a very big debate.  Philosophical, existentialist, grief and everything you want to think about applies here.  A much better debate, I think than anything else.

You might modulate your tone.... says KiMcG

Kind of like we are having a debate about style - excellent comments from dear friend KiMcG who writes:

It is perfectly fine to find yourself in a fury at liars who appear to be getting away with it.  What you may want to consider it how best to disrobe a liar, in public, for maximum effect -- e.g. credibility damage to liar, least harm/disruption to you.
That's why I adopt a more clinical tone in my writing in cases such as these.  Anger had to be carefully modulated, and name-calling kept to a minimum, in order to have one's point heard -- especially in a forum where many/most of your readers do not know you personally, and can only understand your emotions as they are expressed in a particular context.  Written rage cannot take the same form that spoken rage does; it must be framed, and crystallized.  Otherwise it's like reading about how someone feels like he's about to barf -- not appealing in either the run-up or the follow-through.
Maybe an approach for you is to break it down into bite-size pieces -- one floe at a time, if you will, rather than the whole damn iceberg in one go.  Take one point, and one only, on any given day; find no more than three links most relevant to discrediting that one point.  Write no more than one good (5-7 sentence) paragraph about the point and your disagreement, drop in the links, post, and breathe.  Then you must let it go until tomorrow.
To do otherwise is to risk health and mind for people who have no regard for either.  It also will give you no balance, no rest, and little perspective.
Shout or whisper, steely or hot, but be very aware of the forum in which you air your thoughts and feelings, and consider carefully the best way to express them to people you will never meet.


Preserving energy/resources is not just an environmental concept; it is deeply personal.  Especially when health's reins are being held by anxiety and adrenaline, calm is the only path to travel.  The ride will be rough enough due to the driver!
Rants are always a good start.  The get the thoughts and passions out.  Then they need to be sorted by a steady hand and a cool head, to be presented as the best of all the elements they contain.  But the main things an angry human teaches us is to stay at a good distance from him or her, and to be cautious in our words and deeds involving such an individual.  The "best" battle?  Maybe to act as bellwether -- pointing the way to the good information, the solid studies, the sound science.  Communicating with those who do the work of compiling and analyzing the science, to offer words of praise and encouragement, or to offer a few moments of respite for them to express their frustrations over lack of attention/funding/results.
I have long seen one of my main modes in this world as helping the helpers -- not being on the front line myself, but staying just a couple steps back, ready with towels and bandaids and a hot meal...revival and encouragement so that the fighters can return to the fight. So I offer it as a worthy effort, a possibility you may want to try, to stop the personal depletion and frustration, and to be able to end each day knowing that in small ways you did great good.  IT may not suit, but no harm in trying, eh?

  - KiMcG