Establishing a Baseline
Here's a new gem to consider when northern Greenland was 60F warmer and a temperate forest just 2 million years ago. They mention plant and animal life flourishing.
Very stimulating article! I finally read it once and will need to read it again. Now that I'm getting a bit used to your arguments, they don't sound as "nutty" as they did initially!
If that's OK with you I'd like to create a few comment threads to discuss different parts of your article.
Most of the discussions around climate change policy are very binary -- net zero or not. That's the same with most policy discussions. More taxes or less taxes? More immigration or less immigration? Binary choices are easy to make -- I can simply look at what most people in my party think and make the same choice. I can even just flip a coin! It's a bit like multiple choice tests in school. You don't even have to understand anything in the class and yet you can get 1/4 or 1/5 of the answers right.
What you are proposing is much more difficult (but ultimately potentially more satisfying). First I need to have a finer grained understanding of what the IPCC actually says. "OMG we're all going to die of climate change" doesn't cut it. What exactly am I afraid of? What is the probability that will happen? How confident am I? Basically I pretty much have to read the AR6 WGI report (which is 3,000-page long). Already the summary for policymakers introduces biases and errors.
Then I need to understand what are my own assumptions, beliefs and biases. For instance when you write that people have always migrated, my first reaction was "But there will be war! Countries will defend their borders! And now that we have nuclear weapons such wars will be horrible!" That's a gut feeling. That's my "think fast" system speaking. I now have to look at those beliefs coldly. I also need to find more of my beliefs.
Finally, you're inviting us to *imagine* different futures. That's the hardest part. It's so easy to think about a finite "policy universe" (net zero or not). It's much more demanding to start saying "OK, if CO2 reaches 1,500 ppm, what then?" Well, oceans will rise by Y meters and so on. "OK, what will people do? What will this look like?" You show this kind of imagination when you present an alternate New York City.
I'm looking forward to continuing the discussion. I appreciate your humility. You wrote "I don’t know what the right answer is." Few (no one?) amongst people who write and talk the most on climate change say "I don't know." They seem so sure (e.g. The Unhabitable Earth), but they never explain, let alone question, their assumptions and beliefs. Thank you for doing that and motivating me to do the same!
Brilliant Essay. Well documented and illuminating. Not sure I agree with everything but it leaves me with much to research and question.
An extremely superficial and undocumented series of wha-ifs?
Interesting take, Michael. Adaptation is what we’ll do anyway, but it would be really cool if we could run an experiment to prove or disprove the IPCC models. I’m skeptical of things like CO2 removal from the air, geoengineering, or other technical “solutions”. The paleo records of climate are interesting as well, and makes you wonder about our situation today. But in general, your take of the dynamism of climate is spot on I think. We all want the weather to be Goldilocks perfect, but even that is boring, and certainly not likely for long in all places.
I love your baseline location argument! Locating your baseline in the Little Ice Age makes warming likely. But wherever and whenever you’re measuring, climate will change, and if we want steady weather, we need to move to a dead planet.
I found the piece very superficial and mostly irrelevant. Of course, the issue is adaptation. Of course, life and even human life will adapt and end up fine. 90% of the human population could die and humanity would go on. A simple adaptation would be to simply nuke the affected populations and carry on usual.
The question is who adapts and in what way? Choosing to slow climate change puts the burden for adapting on those causing the problem, which is less likely to cause violent resentment on the part of those doing the adapting. Choosing not slow climate change puts the burden for adapting on those most affected and who may not have caused the problem. This is more likely to cause violent resentment.
Given the size of the American response to an event as trivial as 911, who knows what the response to far large acts of terror might take us.
Another great post. I would love to tease this out and say here's where most people agree and disagree, but here's why some of the outcomes need to be same even if you don't agree about the causes of climate change and here's some other things we should consider too.
This article popped up in my news feed. It is just the kind of planning you were talking about.
Here's a new one. Studies show using CO2 boosts plant grown 4x in rooftop gardens.
I came across this one the other day. The ancient city of Ephesus was relocated a few times due to the shoreline and harbor shifting and then eventually abandoned though it was a regional center used through the Roman period. I share it to show how much shifts and changes over time.
Whether I die due to excessive heat, cold or pollution induced cancer is of little importance. A more pressing concern is that I have not perfected the means to choose my destination after death. https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/6/
I see you blocked me on LinkedIn. Not up to the task I gather. Your post is still vacuous unsubstantiated pseudointellectual nonsense.