/ Climate change and children

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MG - on 13 May 2013
Clearly there is going to be no substantive effort to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore we are looking at least 4C rise in temeperature with corresponding serious impact on the environment, including us, by around 2100. That is, those being born now will feel the full effects. Did those of you with young children consider this before going ahead?
EeeByGum - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: Throughout civilisation, humanity has always solved the problems of the day. Climate change will be no different.
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to MG) Throughout civilisation, humanity has always solved the problems of the day. Climate change will be no different.

A very good point. That is why nothing bad has ever happened.
balmybaldwin - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:


The fact that those with small children went ahead indicates they didn't give any thoughts on the matter that much credence, perhaps the question should be directed at those who didn't have children?

Its certainly something I've considered.

I've also considered the fact that the primary cause for such increased CO emmisions, and the difficulty in reducing them is the rate in increase in the human population. If there were much fewer of us (say 10% of current figures), there would be a much smaller problem, and a greatly reduced impact on the environment.

Generally in nature when populations get out of control, disease corrects the situation.... perhaps this new Corona Virus will be the sviour of earth and the human race by wiping most of us out?
GridNorth - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: Not sure that we can assume that the temperature rise will will happen. I'm sure I read recently that we haven't experienced the rise to date that had been predicted.

Why should it put people off having children. The threat of nuclear mutual destructoin didn't stop previous generations.
dissonance - on 13 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to MG) Throughout civilisation, humanity has always solved the problems of the day.

well apart from those civilisations which collapsed or, if they didnt collapse came near with high loss of life and associated distress.

John Stainforth - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Great answer!
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:
> (In reply to MG)
>

> Generally in nature when populations get out of control, disease corrects the situation.... perhaps this new Corona Virus will be the sviour of earth and the human race by wiping most of us out?

Doubt it, I think it will just cause a fair bit of chaos and suffering for people who have the smallest share of global power.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: I had children to keep your pension tap on. They might also work out how to solve the climate change problem...who knows?

mypyrex - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: In generations to come humanity will be concerning itself with the forthcoming new ice age and the debates will be about how to control encroaching glaciers and ice sheets.
cb294 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:

Not at the time (oldest child 17 yo), but my wife mentions this quite often when climate change effects and the total unwillingness of our societies to deal with it are reported. I am pretty sure she wouldn´t want to start having kids today.

As a family we try to minimize our CO2 output. We use an electrically powered geothermal heat pump to heat our house, and buy our electricity from a supplier who uses exclusively renewable sources (green deals from major suppliers that have a mix of sources are fraud, buying renewables only electricity from these guys just shifts the energy mix for all other customers).

To our great shame, we still have a car, although most our commuting to work is done by bicycle.

Unlikely to make much of difference in the long run, but at least we would like to be able to tell our children what we did to cut our CO2 output when global warming became obvious.

I guess the only thing that will help is running out of oil (i.e., oil becoming to precious to burn). In addition, I fear that we will see a dramatic reduction in world population a la Malthus in our lifetime. I still have some hope in geoengineering, mainly active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

CB

MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to cb294:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Not at the time (oldest child 17 yo), but my wife mentions this quite often when climate change effects and the total unwillingness of our societies to deal with it are reported. I am pretty sure she wouldn´t want to start having kids today.
>

Interesting. Most of us (including me) lead our lives assumming it will kind of all be all right but rationally this isn't really sensible for long-term planning. It seems to me most having children apply it nonetheless. I suppose biologically that makes sense.
pebbles - on 13 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to MG) Throughout civilisation, humanity has always solved the problems of the day. Climate change will be no different.

stegosaurus to velociraptor "stray comets have never done us any harm before..."
Sir Chasm - on 13 May 2013
In reply to pebbles: We're not going to do anything meaningful about comets either.
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
> (In reply to MG) In generations to come humanity will be concerning itself with the forthcoming new ice age and the debates will be about how to control encroaching glaciers and ice sheets.

Well yes, in many thousands of years time that may well be the case. It's the next couple of generations who will have to deal with shite caused by last 100 years worth of taking all the carbon we can find in the ground and putting in the sky instead.

Or are you one of the wise ones who know better than all the world's climate scientists, and think that the changes in the global climate observed so far are not related to the human forcing factors (burning all that carbon), and are instead due to natural factors that the scientists forgot about when they spent decades collaborating on increasingly sophisticated climate models?
Robert Durran - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> Did those of you with young children consider this before going ahead?

Not having children means your selfish genes are screwed anyway, so what is there to lose?

MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> Not having children means your selfish genes are screwed anyway, so what is there to lose?

Nothing!!! <burns 100 barrels of oil for the hell of it>

Ridge - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
> [...]
>
> A very good point. That is why nothing bad has ever happened.

Bad stuff has happened throught history, and will continue to happen. I don't see climate change as being uniquely bad.
tony on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Bad stuff has happened throught history, and will continue to happen. I don't see climate change as being uniquely bad.

Except that we know about climate change, and we know what to do about it. But we choose not to do anything meaningful.
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Bad stuff has happened throught history, and will continue to happen. I don't see climate change as being uniquely bad.

It's a different kind of bad, I think. I can't think of an analogous bad thing where everyone knew what was going to happen, but just said 'f^ck it' because it was a slow process affecting our children, and other people's children, and our immediate economic interests were served better by ignoring it.
Jonny2vests - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> Clearly there is going to be no substantive effort to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore we are looking at least 4C rise in temeperature with corresponding serious impact on the environment, including us, by around 2100. That is, those being born now will feel the full effects. Did those of you with young children consider this before going ahead?

For some, hard times and impending doom is a reason for having more children.
MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: I suspect there are quite a lot on a small scale, such as using all the trees for firewood without leaving any for the next generation. Humans aren't really wired to think more than a few years ahead, let alone a few decades (cf people without pension provision). The difference is the scale of the problem.
Ridge - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) I suspect there are quite a lot on a small scale, such as using all the trees for firewood without leaving any for the next generation. Humans aren't really wired to think more than a few years ahead, let alone a few decades (cf people without pension provision). The difference is the scale of the problem.

The scale is currently unknown to an extent, although we do have some modelling. Could be the change might benefit currently poor areas of the world to the detriment of the west.

Certainly agree with timescale thing. The human mind tends to focus on immediate dangers, with matters 10s or 100s of years ahead being an abstract concept to most.

Maybe we'll make a herculean effort a bit nearer the time?
Rob Exile Ward on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: Er ... well the flaw in that argument is that if everyone stopped having kids because of a fear of what the future holds, then there definitely would be no future at all so the worst case would definitely happen.

There are tough times ahead, haven't there been tough times in the past?
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) I suspect there are quite a lot on a small scale, such as using all the trees for firewood without leaving any for the next generation. Humans aren't really wired to think more than a few years ahead, let alone a few decades (cf people without pension provision).

Absolutely.

> The difference is the scale of the problem.

Yes. Oh well. I'll be alright and I'm not going to have kids so I won't worry too much about it either.
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> The scale is currently unknown to an extent, although we do have some modelling. Could be the change might benefit currently poor areas of the world to the detriment of the west.

If that's the case, then the people living in the good bits will get invaded.
Ridge - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to MG)

> Yes. Oh well. I'll be alright and I'm not going to have kids so I won't worry too much about it either.

To be fair that works pretty well for me...
Jim C - on 13 May 2013
In reply to cb294:
> (In reply to MG)
>
>
>
> ....., and buy our electricity from a supplier who uses exclusively renewable sources ....
>
> CB

Which supplier is that ?


MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to MG) Er ... well the flaw in that argument is that if everyone stopped having kids because of a fear of what the future holds, then there definitely would be no future at all so the worst case would definitely happen.
>


I didn't really make an argument so much as asked a question. Regardless, there being fewer people I would think is Very Good Thing if we are concerned about long term survival of humans without a castrophe. Pretty much all problems are related to too many peoplem, not too few.
Lord_ash2000 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: The human race will adapt. so the coast lines change a bit, we'll just build elsewhere, maybe use some of all that nice land over in Greenland I don't know. Either way whatever happens to the climate I'm sure the human race as a whole will manage. It's no reason not to reproduce.

I agree the main problem is overpopulation in the first place but baring strict breeding control and some mass industrial scale killing you're never going to solve that problem.
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Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Rob Exile Ward)
> [...]

> Pretty much all problems are related to too many peoplem, not too few.

Bit of a moot point really. People are biologically compelled to have children. I understand that nature makes it, on average, a rewarding experience so there is little incentive for people to overcome their instincts for the sake of other people's children. For many people in poor countries it's also economically sensible. So no incentive from a biological point of view, and no incentive from a short-term (utility) point of view. Not a thing which is really worth considering then, as human behaviour is driven by these interrelated forces.

Of course the compulsion, and rewarding nature of having children doesn't apply to every individual because there's plenty of variety in our species, but they're outliers and focusing on them is just a distraction.

tony on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> The scale is currently unknown to an extent, although we do have some modelling. Could be the change might benefit currently poor areas of the world to the detriment of the west.
>
There might be some places that do benefit, but there will be many places that don't. Poor places tend to have environmental issues which make life hard anyway, and many of these will be exacerbated by climate change.

The developed West will be relatively okay simply because it can afford to buy its way out of trouble - a luxury not available to poorer developing countries.

> Maybe we'll make a herculean effort a bit nearer the time?

When will that time be? For some people, it's already happening. There are Eskimo communities being displaced because of rising sea levels, and some commentators have suggested that the conflict in Darfur could be attributed to changing climate patterns having an impact on local agriculture.

It's also generally recognised that it will be cheaper to try to address the problem now rather than trying to sort it out when the problems are even greater than they are now, bearing in mind the fact that there's a considerable 'committed' change as a result of the lag between emissions and effects.
Eric9Points - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:

I think this should have been called the wishful thinking thread.

How about everyone just having one or two children?

How about not giving tax breaks and stuff for more than two kids, that sort of thing? How about making it socially unacceptable to have large families? A bit like smoking indoors is now regarded as something one shouldn't do.

That sort of thing.
Jim C - on 13 May 2013
In reply to cb294:
> (In reply to MG)
>
>
> As a family we try to minimize our CO2 output. ....., and buy our electricity from a supplier who uses exclusively renewable sources ....
>


In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to cb294)
> [...]
>
> Which supplier is that ?

I ask as , as far as I know, it is almost impossible to supply any particular packet of electricity on the grid from a wholly renewable source , and even the criteria for 'renewable' is interesting, and I wonder if you were aware of the criteria?
'Renewable energy' can be called renewable and still made up of 89 % fossil fuels!

"Electricity is ‘renewable source electricity’ if it is generated from sources of energy other than fossil fuel.
'Waste' is regarded as a renewable source for the purposes of the exemption provided fossil fuel does not make up 90 per cent or more of its energy content.

Fossil fuel means coal, substances produced directly or indirectly from coal, lignite, natural gas, crude liquid petroleum or petroleum products."

cb294 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jim C:

A company called Lichtblick (living in Germany again since some time). There are quite a few other companies like that over here, and most major suppliers like EON have green tarrifs, which I think are greenwash only.

I also know that Lichtblick and other companies do not really offer 100% renewables, as they have to buy in electricity at the exchange in Leipzig from time to time. I think the fraction for 2012 was 97.6%.

CB
Jim C - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> Absolutely.
>
> [...]
>
> Yes. Oh well. I'll be alright and I'm not going to have kids so I won't worry too much about it either.

Snag is that if bright people think it is good for the planet NOT to have children , and don't, then is there not less chance that someone is going to be born that will be able to 'save the planet' ;)
cb294 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jim C:

Saw your second post only after typing my response to the first.

Lichtblick buy electricity from wind and solar electricity producers in Germany, and have a large network of hydroelectric plants largely in Norway. They do not buy electricity generated by burning waste, except for the fraction they have to buy in short term to balance acute power deficits.

That the electricity actually ending up in my appliances may have been generated elsewhere doesn´t matter, but rather that my demand on the entire grid makes a wind turbine somewhere turn a couple more times.
cb294 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to cb294:

And finally, the most important point of buying from a renewables only provider is to create visible market demand for renewably generated electricity.

Nothing will happen in a capitalist society if you can´t convince someone you can make money out of it.

CB

wintertree - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bjartur í Sumarhús:
> (In reply to MG) I had children to keep your pension tap on. They might also work out how to solve the climate change problem...who knows?

I am amused at how often people with kids bring this up, as if somehow not having kids is selfish and wrong. We live in a world where automation is increasingly taking over, productivity is rising, the things we need last longer before needing replacing, people are living longer and more healthy lives, and the number of jobs is decreasing. In Britain this is augmented by our country being a desirable destination for migration of skilled workers.

To spell things out before anyone says anything I don't have a problem with migration of skilled workers - far from it I think it's had a demonstrably positive effect throughout our history and will continue to.

So I for one would rather you don't have kids to make sure I have a pension, as I see it as being more likely to contribute to a burgeoning population of people with nothing to do but sit around consuming things...
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> Clearly there is going to be no substantive effort to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore we are looking at least 4C rise in temeperature with corresponding serious impact on the environment, including us, by around 2100.

Massive non-sequitur. There's no way of predicting how our technical capabilities will develop between now and 2100. Imagine you were living in 1926 and trying to predict what technology would be able to do in 2013. I very much doubt you'd predict iPhones, Google, jet engines, GPS, cloning. There are far more educated people now than there have ever been in the past and they are supported by far better computers: the pace of technical improvement is only going to accelerate.

Global warming could get addressed now by geo-engineering for a lot less money than trying to reduce CO2 output. My guess is that if it starts to be a major nuisance to developed countries the US will spend a few billion on a fleet of transport planes and drop dust in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. After a while we will get over the windmill fixation and some kind of nuclear or massive scale solar in desert regions will displace fossil fuels anyway.


Eric9Points - on 13 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]

>
> Global warming could get addressed now by geo-engineering for a lot less money than trying to reduce CO2 output.

Unlikely from what I've read.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727702.200-geoengineering-fix-wont-suit-everyone.html

http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/geoengineering

Instead of wishful thinking why don't we all just do the things that we know can make a difference?

Having fewer kids would be a great start. After all each one of those is going to produce, on average, about 300 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime. If they live in Europe it'll be double that number.


Richard J - on 13 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Massive non-sequitur. There's no way of predicting how our technical capabilities will develop between now and 2100. Imagine you were living in 1926 and trying to predict what technology would be able to do in 2013. I very much doubt you'd predict iPhones, Google, jet engines, GPS, cloning. There are far more educated people now than there have ever been in the past and they are supported by far better computers: the pace of technical improvement is only going to accelerate.

I wish it was true that energy technologies were accelerating but they aren't. We're currently failing to make much progress in building some new nuclear power stations based on slightly modified 1970's designs, batteries are prohibitively expensive, without big subsidies, for applications like electric cars and have an energy density about two orders of magnitude less than petrol; (silicon) solar cells are close to their theoretical efficiency limits and the world's largest manufacturer of them has just gone bankrupt. The result of the recent worldwide fashion for privatisation and deregulated energy markets has been that there's been much less energy research and development in the last thirty years than before (especially in the UK). So yes, in principle we might be able to develop cheap, sustainable energy sources, but it won't happen unless we start making some long term investments to bring them about.
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG: Global temperatures and sea levels have been fluctuating on a massive scale since the start of the Earth. The earth has been (according to scientists)a frozen 'snowball', conversely sea levels have been many hundreds of metres higher than todays due to melting at the poles (stanage was formed in a delta..). IMO we might learn to regulate earths climate inhe short term but ultimately the Earths climate is not in our control long term anyhow..
Mark.
Eric9Points - on 13 May 2013
In reply to browndog33:

So, we might as well bring on global warming now, along with it's mass extinctions, famines, possibly major wars etc because sometime in the next million years the earth's climate might change because of some factor that is outwith our control.

Have I got that right?

Eric9Points - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:

Another thought if we're all going to die in a million years or so. Why don't we just have fewer children anyway? Not because it would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but just because there are too many people in the world anyway.

Don't you think the world would be an altogether more pleasant place if there were half as many of us as there are now?
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to browndog33: Ps.. also remember that the last ice age that directly effected England only receded a little over 10,000 years ago! (And technically we are still in an ice age..)
Mark.
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: I didn't say that, I said that ultimately- long term the climate is not within our control.
Robert Durran - on 13 May 2013
In reply to browndog33:
> (In reply to MG) Global temperatures and sea levels have been fluctuating on a massive scale since the start of the Earth.

I believe it is the current rate of change which is unprecedented; we might not be able to adapt quickly enough.
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to browndog33:
> (In reply to browndog33) Ps.. also remember that the last ice age that directly effected England only receded a little over 10,000 years ago! (And technically we are still in an ice age..)
> Mark.

I'm failing to see the relevance. Is it just me?
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: In my first year of my geology degree (I've only just finished my second year) I attended a lecture in Earth history and the lecturer (a professor or Dr of some sort) was talking us through the various mass extinctions, this which was all very interesting until he got to the last extinction- the extinction of the human race which is considered by some academics to be currently underway!
M.
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: You fail to see the connection of global warming and an ice age? Yea whatever.
M.
browndog33 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Ps as a trainee scientist I don't know enough about man made global warming to comment constructively on the subject! But as a Earth science student I can begin to comment on climate fluctuations over the course of Earth history.
M.
mrbird - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: Havent mass extinctions, famines and major wars happened for centuries regardless of human co2 emissions?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> Instead of wishful thinking why don't we all just do the things that we know can make a difference?

Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.
—Theodore von Kármán

Wishful thinking is the start of the engineering process, you can't do engineering if you start off assuming the world cannot be changed.

Of the seven schemes mentioned in your New Scientist article at least four of them would have a massive effect on warming, albeit with some nasty side effects. So basically the problem is soluble and it's just a question of how much we can improve on these proposals.

If things get to be a real problem the money will get turned on and the regulations stopping experimentation will get turned off, lots of smart people will start working on it and the solutions will be optimised. Look at the difference between the first transistor and the transistors Intel is building today or the first steam engine and one from the 1950s.
Douglas Griffin - on 13 May 2013
Jon Stewart - on 13 May 2013
In reply to browndog33:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) You fail to see the connection of global warming and an ice age? Yea whatever.
> M.

I fail to see the relevance of trends that happen over many thousands of years when there is an entirely independent problem happening in the next 50.
ice.solo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:

i thought about it and felt that as the less educated, ignorant, backwards-looking and impoverished will continue to have masses of children it makes sense to have a small number of switched-on ones in the mix to help out.

so im doing my darndest to raise one of those.
Eric9Points - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.
> —Theodore von Kármán

Yes thankyou for that. I'm a graduate mechanical engineer who's been designing things since 1980. Mainly cutting edge stuff in several different industries.

>
>
> Of the seven schemes mentioned in your New Scientist article at least four of them would have a massive effect on warming, albeit with some nasty side effects.

Well that's OK then, who cares about a few nasty side effects?

> So basically the problem is soluble and it's just a question of how much we can improve on these proposals.
>

Without nasty side effects?

> If things get to be a real problem the money will get turned on and the regulations stopping experimentation will get turned off, lots of smart people will start working on it and the solutions will be optimised. Look at the difference between the first transistor and the transistors Intel is building today or the first steam engine and one from the 1950s.

Lots of smart people are already looking at solutions to global warming. By the time things get to be intolerable it'll be too late, at least for a generation. You're aware of the 30 or so year lag in the response of the earth's climate?

But hang on....there are solutions out there already that don't have nasty side effects. Why don't we just implement those now? What's the problem?

Irk the Purist - on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG:

Maths tells me that as long as my wife and I only have two children we aren't contributing to the overcrowding problem. No?

In fact, by having four people in my car and house instead of 2 I'm halving my share of our emissions. :o)






Bjartur i Sumarhus on 14 May 2013
In reply to wintertree: Just like I'm amused how often people bring up having children is selfish and will use up all our diminishing resources ;-)

I have issue with a couple of points you raise

"the things we need last longer before needing replacing" Our society doesn't wait for malfunction before replacement, tell me how many people wait until their phone/tv/computer/car/clothes etc no longer works before replacing it?

"So I for one would rather you don't have kids to make sure I have a pension"

Whilst my initial comment was slightly glib in referring solely to pensions, the premise is indeed relevent and not amusing. See Japan as an example

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2001/03/muhleise.htm

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Ken Lewis - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Maths tells me that as long as my wife and I only have two children we aren't contributing to the overcrowding problem. No?


If the life expectancy of your offspring is exactly the same as your generation, then you aren't contributing to overcrowding.

If their life expectancy is greater than yours, let's say by 5 years, then during that 5 year period, there are 2 more people in the world than in the same period during your generation, where you were dead.





Mark Torrance on 14 May 2013
In reply to cb294:

In the UK:

http://www.goodenergy.co.uk

Wind (57%), sun (30%), hydro(7% and biogen (6%)

Our electricity bill is perhaps 17% more than it would be from a non-green (Brown? Black? Evil?) supplier.

For us, it's an ethical no-brainer. Small annual savings aside (about £80 a year for us) why would you not want to do this?
wintertree - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bjartur í Sumarhús:

> I have issue with a couple of points you raise

> "the things we need last longer before needing replacing" Our society doesn't wait for malfunction before replacement, tell me how many people wait until their phone/tv/computer/car/clothes etc no longer works before replacing it?

They get passed on and last longer on the 2nd hand market, and I think things are stabilising - incremental improvements to computers, cameras, gadgetry and the like are really slowing, it's only really cars where people are so status orientated above all financial and common sense, and even that was changing until the government waved the eco-catastrophy scrappage allowance at people.

>> "So I for one would rather you don't have kids to make sure I have a pension"
> Whilst my initial comment was slightly glib in referring solely to pensions, the premise is indeed relevent and not amusing. See Japan as an example
>
> http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2001/03/muhleise.htm

An ageing population is something we must face if we are to say that a pyramid scheme of population is not sustainable. I don't see this as a doomsday scenario for society, but a challenge that we have the ability to rise to, adapt and accommodate.

The alternative is to continue growing the population and pushing the problem onto future generations, much like we are doing with constant borrowing at the level of nation states.

wintertree - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Mark Torrance:

> For us, it's an ethical no-brainer. Small annual savings aside (about £80 a year for us) why would you not want to do this?

Because I'd rather pay 3x as much premium for an all nuclear energy source from a forwards looking, well managed and regulated nuclear industry and know that I am putting my money towards a power source that can actually liberate us 100% from fossil fuels in a way that is actually sustainable for the long term.
cb294 - on 14 May 2013
In reply to wintertree:

This is a huge piece of contention between my wife and me.

She is dead set against nuclear power, one of her main arguments being that allowing a base of nuclear power production lessens the pressure to convert to renewable energy sources quickly. In addition, the "forwards looking, well managed and regulated nuclear industry" you describe simply doesn´t exist. No single country with nuclear power plants has sorted its nuclear waste problem, and gradually dumping it into the Irish Sea simply does not count.

In contrast, I think that rising CO2 levels are the much more immediate risk to our welfare than the dangers of continuing with nuclear power generation for a while. I would strongly prefer running our nuclear power plants for another 50 years or so as a transition technology, while at the same time phasing out all coal power plants. We will have to deal with a load of nuclear waste anyway, and I doubt that scaling up whatever solution will eventually be picked by a factor of three or four will prevent finding such a solution in the first place.

However, it would be important to confiscate a large amount of the profits made from the largely written off nuclear power plants for investment in the development of renewable energy infrastructure and nuclear waste disposal.

IIRC it was recently estimated that more people are expected to die from the effects of increased coal based power generation after Fukushima than from the radioactive contamination (couldn´t find the source, but will look again later).

CB
EeeByGum - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tony:

> Except that we know about climate change, and we know what to do about it. But we choose not to do anything meaningful.

I disagree. We know about climate change yes, but actually, we don't know what to do about it. The theoretical answer is that we should turn everything off and stay at home eating home grown lettuce, but that answer sadly forgets to take account of reality.
Eric9Points - on 14 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> [...]
>
> The theoretical answer is that we should turn everything off and stay at home eating home grown lettuce, but that answer sadly forgets to take account of reality.

You don't really mean that do you?

wintertree - on 14 May 2013
In reply to cb294:

That's a nice summary of the nuclear debate in a family sized nutshell!

My take is that there is no fundamental reason why nuclear fission should be as bad (technologically, politically and financially) as it has been, and that with 60 years of progress since the first piles were built, there is no reason it has to suck so much in the future. Look at the transformation of space launch costs under Elon Musk and SpaceX - 10% of the cost of previous government efforts through sensible management and adoption of new technologies, without sacrificing safety. If only someone would apply the same approach to fission - I see many parallels to rocketry, e.g. cost, size, danger, large quantities of energy involved, improving fundamentally old-school technology through incremental improvements in instrumentation and materials technology.

Nuclear fissions is the safest of all current energy generation schemes by any metric other an the court of public opinion - even accounting for past insanities such as the soviet approach of building an "explode now" button and pressing it at Chernobyl. Apparently this includes wind which I guess kills people in assembly, installation and servicing.

Transmutation of nuclear waste is something we know how to do, but for now the political and financial capital is lacking. It is also something that is highly containable and without wide ranging side effects and consequences, unlike concerns over both CO2 and geoengineering, both of which are potential pandoras boxes of the highest magnitude, but really nobody actually knows as the models are lacking so much as to render them highly speculative.

Perhaps if we are lucky one of the non Tokomak nuclear fusion projects will hit break-even in the next few years and a new era will dawn, otherwise I fear that we will keep building windmills and cutting fossil fuel plants until the grid becomes unstable, and then suddenly there will be renewed interest in fission plants, and a new generation of fission will be rushed in amidst massive civil discontent and as it's rushed all the mistakes of the past will be repeated, instead of an ordered transition to the "forwards looking, well managed and regulated nuclear industry" which as you say simply does not currently exist.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/
wintertree - on 14 May 2013
In reply to cb294:

> IIRC it was recently estimated that more people are expected to die from the effects of increased coal based power generation after Fukushima than from the radioactive contamination (couldn´t find the source, but will look again later).

The statistic that blew me away was the WHO that urban air pollution - i.e. use of fossil fuels in cities - causes 1,300,000 deaths per year. In other words, fossil fuels are killing people at a rate broadly equivalent to that of the Nazi holocaust.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/


tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]

>
> But hang on....there are solutions out there already that don't have nasty side effects. Why don't we just implement those now? What's the problem?

Who's this 'we'. Are you speaking for China, India and Africa? Most of the world's population are determined to burn fossil fuels to improve their standard of living.

The UK accounts for about 2% of CO2 emissions and that percentage is falling as countries with much larger populations industrialise. We could cut our emissions to zero and it wouldn't delay the schedule on global warming noticeably.

Switching the UK to windmills to address global warming is far more wishful thinking than converting a fleet of military transport jets to drop dust in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight.

Jon Stewart - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Who's this 'we'. Are you speaking for China, India and Africa? Most of the world's population are determined to burn fossil fuels to improve their standard of living.
>
> The UK accounts for about 2% of CO2 emissions and that percentage is falling as countries with much larger populations industrialise. We could cut our emissions to zero and it wouldn't delay the schedule on global warming noticeably.

That's why, if we think it's worth attenuating the problem instead of/as well as adapting to the consequences, the only possible way is through global governance on this issue. I think the ideas which re-engineer market forces so that they steer away from burning carbon for growth (carbon trading type ideas) are jolly good.
malk - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
>
> The UK accounts for about 2% of CO2 emissions and that percentage is falling as countries with much larger populations industrialise. We could cut our emissions to zero and it wouldn't delay the schedule on global warming noticeably.

does this 2% include imports etc? should be much lower seeing as we occupy an order of magnitude less land area?
>
> Switching the UK to windmills to address global warming is far more wishful thinking than converting a fleet of military transport jets to drop dust in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight.

geoengineering fan eh? no thanks
malk - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> I think the ideas which re-engineer market forces so that they steer away from burning carbon for growth (carbon trading type ideas) are jolly good.

why? vested interests? most of the examples i've read about are full of greed and corruption with little effect apart from making rich people much richer..

Eric9Points - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Yes I'm talking about the world as a whole. However it's difficult to urge others to do something about global warming if you don't take it seriously yourself.

The average European produces about 8 tonnes of CO2 a year IIRC. The world average is half that. The average for African countries is far below the average.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

China is about 6 I think. You're right that this figure is rising as the Chinese are lifting approximately 1 million people per month out of poverty through industrialisation. There is a great pressure upon their government to continue to do this and we must understand that. You may ask yourself though, what they are burining all this carbon for? Well a lot of it is burnt to produce cheap goods that we Westerners buy so in fact the West is contributing materially to China's increasing CO2 emissions. I'd very much like to see a carbon tax where goods produced using carbon burning technologies were taxed and the money spent on converting carbon burning technologies to green technologies. That's something I can lobby and vote for and something that European Governments do favour in one form or another.

I might also point out that China's one child policy has made a massive contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With a population growth of 0.5% pa the one child policy is obviously not completely successful but with the world average at over 1% they are doing better than most of us, including the UK.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.GROW

I could go on but I've had an 11 day at work today and have square eyes.

One other point though which I think is important to make. In my view the Catholic church could make a great contribution to reducing CO2 emissions with absolutely no effort whatsoever. All the Pope needs to do is make a speech where he says that once upon time when God told Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply it was a really good idea to have as many kids as possible. These days though, for us rich healthy folk it's no longer a good idea, in fact it's a really bad idea and so we should re interpret the bible to mean that we should go forth and multiply responsibly and practice birth control after two children.

Isn't this sort of stuff preferable to carrying out a giant chemistry experiment in the air we all breathe once people start dying in significant quantities?
Padraig on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> Did those of you with young children consider this before going ahead?

With what? Buying a new rack? Buying 2 x new Quarks? GET a life bro! If this kinda thing worries you..............

Jon Stewart - on 14 May 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> why? vested interests? most of the examples i've read about are full of greed and corruption with little effect apart from making rich people much richer..

Just in principle. The problem is that market forces steer us (the human race) into basically ruining the world, or at least they will until things become really unpleasant and we are reluctantly pushed into 'clean-up' mode. That will most probably be after loads of poor people have died. So the idea of engineering market forces to incentivise responsible behaviour is in essence a good one.

If the implementation of the fundamentally good idea is corrupt and bad, well hey, that's what people are like.
Eric9Points - on 14 May 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> why? vested interests? most of the examples i've read about are full of greed and corruption with little effect apart from making rich people much richer..

Because it means that we'll produce less CO2. That's obvious isn't it? If it saves the world I don't mind some people making a few quid. A question of priorities and all that.

Are you against having high fuel duty so people drive a bit less and car manufacturers make cars that burn less petrol? That seems like a sensible policy to me.
Padraig on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG:
BTW its now 2145 and nought has happened! HAPPY DAYS!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 May 2013
In reply to wintertree:
> (In reply to cb294)
>
> [...]
>
> The statistic that blew me away was the WHO that urban air pollution - i.e. use of fossil fuels in cities - causes 1,300,000 deaths per year. In other words, fossil fuels are killing people at a rate broadly equivalent to that of the Nazi holocaust.

But how many people would have died without the energy that was produced by burning the fossil fuels?

If we had any sense we'd be building lots of nuclear to displace coal power stations but burning coal is still preferable to not having energy.

malk - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to malk)
> [...]
>
> Because it means that we'll produce less CO2. That's obvious isn't it?

well, no it isn't- that's my point..

Eric9Points - on 14 May 2013
In reply to malk:

So you don't think that making petrol expensive causes people to use less of it?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
>
> Isn't this sort of stuff preferable to carrying out a giant chemistry experiment in the air we all breathe once people start dying in significant quantities?

IIRC the planes full of sulphur dust option was costed at about $10Bn. That's the sort of thing the US or any big nation could do on it's own in a few months.

Getting the Pope to advocate birth control or implementing global governance which compels people to reduce their standard of living is a much harder proposition.

As long as there aren't any serious problems from climate change and as long as people don't actually have to pay double or triple for their energy they'll go along happily making treaties and playing with windmills and kicking the ball down the road.

My prediction is that if global warming gets scary the strategy will switch really fast and laws will get changed so nuclear can get built out quickly and people can get busy on geo-engineering.
malk - on 14 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
>
>
> My prediction is that if global warming gets scary the strategy will switch really fast and laws will get changed so nuclear can get built out quickly and people can get busy on geo-engineering.

adding to your pessimistic view, it will be too late then..
what timescales are you predicting?

Daithi O Murchu - on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> Clearly there is going to be no substantive effort to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore we are looking at least 4C rise in temeperature with corresponding serious impact on the environment, including us, by around 2100. That is, those being born now will feel the full effects. Did those of you with young children consider this before going ahead?

i've taught mine how to swim
malk - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: there's more to carbon trading than a penny on your petrol..
Oliiver - on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG: you're all hypocrites. Unless you live in Hebden Bridge and eat grass, you can't save the planet.
EeeByGum - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

> You don't really mean that do you?

Why not? If saving the planet was that easy we would have already done it. But making such massive changes requires everyone on the planet to act and significantly at that. Since humans beings are genetically selfish, it just isn't going to happen... at least not until climate change starts to threaten the lives of a majority of people on earth.
cb294 - on 15 May 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Eric9Points) there's more to carbon trading than a penny on your petrol..

Yes, mainly amazing amounts of corruption and subsidies for the large energy conglomerates. EU carbon certificates were handed out for free (why?) at levels covering the demand of the 2005-8 boom economy and then sold on for > €34.

Currrently the are trading for ca €3, causing the big energy companies in Germany to turn off gas powered plants and run their ancient but written off coal plants at maximum levels.

A plan to confiscate or buy up the excess was killed in the European parliament by a odd coalition of right wing parties (out of economic principle), climate change deniers (due to insanity), greens and leftists (unwilling to keep a toothless carbon trading scheme alive as an enviromental fig leaf) and assorted eastern Europeans (e.g. Poland) who want to keep their coal plants running to avoid moving into the 21st century.

CB
timjones - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Mark Torrance:

> For us, it's an ethical no-brainer. Small annual savings aside (about £80 a year for us) why would you not want to do this?

Have you ever considered the possibility that it's a massive scam. Renewable energy is a finite resource they're onto a real winner if they can allegedly redirect that energy to a few mugs who will pay a premium for it ;)

jkarran - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Oliiver:

> you're all hypocrites. Unless you live in Hebden Bridge and eat grass, you can't save the planet.

The planet will look after itself, it's survived worse calamities.

That's not an excuse to do nothing and not to say what survives will look anything like what we know today. We each have the responsibility to leave a world our children (all our children, not just those born on a temperate little isle in the North Atlantic) and their children can thrive in rather than simply abdicating responsibility in the hope they're better able to cope than we are.

The 'solution' to our current situation is not ever going to be an all or nothing, a conspicuous consumption vs hair shirts and hemp sandals affair. It has to be a solution that improves the lives of the living and those who will inherit our world or it simply won't happen. That said, while ever we accept no responsibility at all for the mess we're making of what we leave behind, deterred in part by idiotic criticism of hypocrisy when we do make small positive changes nothing will happen. Small changes won't save the ecosystem as we know it but momentum builds slowly and it starts with small changes and acceptance of responsibility.

jk
ads.ukclimbing.com
Eric9Points - on 15 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> [...]
>
> Why not? If saving the planet was that easy we would have already done it. But making such massive changes requires everyone on the planet to act and significantly at that. Since humans beings are genetically selfish, it just isn't going to happen... at least not until climate change starts to threaten the lives of a majority of people on earth.

Actually that isn't what you said and isn't what I replied to. The bit that I thought was particularly wrong was, " The theoretical answer is that we should turn everything off and stay at home eating home grown lettuce, but that answer sadly forgets to take account of reality."

Which is rubbish and you know it.

Don't worry about it though. This has been an interesting thread from a psychological point of view. It's not often that one sees such a concentration of excuses for inaction, justifications for procrastination based upon wishful thinking followed up by blame shifting and finally a shrug of the shoulders.
Sir Chasm - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: >Don't worry about it though. This has been an interesting thread from a psychological point of view. It's not often that one sees such a concentration of excuses for inaction, justifications for procrastination based upon wishful thinking followed up by blame shifting and finally a shrug of the shoulders.

As that approach appears to be quite widespread, how do you think we can change people's attitude?
Mark Torrance on 15 May 2013
In reply to wintertree:
>
> Because I'd rather pay 3x as much premium for an all nuclear energy source from a forwards looking, well managed and regulated nuclear industry and know that I am putting my money towards a power source that can actually liberate us 100% from fossil fuels in a way that is actually sustainable for the long term.

In the long term, so would I. But this options isn't available at the moment. And the way the government has been arsing around with nulear development, is unlikely to be for a very long time to come. So we are left with clean alternatives (wind, sun) which won't support the current fuel needs of the whole population, but will support mine, and those of a fair sized chunk of the current users of dirty energy. That seems like the obvious way to go, for now.

And (back to something like the original question) I'd quite like to say to my kids - and kids in countries that are already experiencing the effects of rising sea levels - that it wasn't me. Though I'm a long way off that.

Eric9Points - on 19 May 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> IIRC the planes full of sulphur dust option was costed at about $10Bn. That's the sort of thing the US or any big nation could do on it's own in a few months.
>


Have a read at this excellent article which reviews three books on climate change and discusses this very scheme, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n10/thomas-jones/how-can-we-live-with-it

Apparently one of the problems with the sulphur idea, apart from inherent danger of mucking around with part of the eco sysytem that we have an imperfect understanding of, is that you have to keep doing it. If you stop the sulphur ends up in the oceans but the CO2 stays where it is. Worse if we kept on pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at the current rate and then stopped adding the sulphur we'd end up in a worse situation than if we'd nothing at all. Of course the other thing about this scheme is that it doesn't do anything to address the acidification of the oceans due to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Anyway, the article and the books it reviews are far from doom and gloom and do make positive and practical suggestions for reducing the amount of CO2 we stick into the atmosphere (including China).


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