🎧 | Yascha Mounk and David Wallace-Wells discuss the worst, best, and most likely scenarios for the future of climate change.
There are two predominant stories (at least among people who accept that it's real) about climate change. There's the sin-against-nature one, which has been good at motivating activists and bad in making them unwilling to accept anything but utter purity (e. g. nuclear power). The technocratic one has been incredibly successful at making renewable energy cheaper and more efficient, but unable to get people's emotional juices flowing. Let me suggest another. What if we saw our use of fossil fuels as analogous to the sort of strategies that help an abused child survive at first, but eventually it starts doing more harm than good and you have to be an adult about it and change your ways. Without coal and oil, we wouldn't have made it out of the poverty and starvation that our ancestors lived in. We shouldn't have to feel ashamed of that. But we used to be able to do it without waking up to 120 degrees in Pakistan, and now we can't. We need to deal with that reality.
I looked up the statistics on life expectancy in India, including Delhi. It looks like the dirtiest regions/cities have the highest life expectancy and vice-versa. The same pattern exists in China. The most-polluted parts have the highest life expectancy and vice-versa. Does pollution actually raise life expectancy? Probably not. Economic development brings both economic development and dirty air. The adverse effects of dirty air are dwarfed by the positive impact of economic development.
Absent a conscientious effort to limit population growth solutions to environmental problems are playing at the margins. Please explain why no politician or "leader" is not talking about this issue? When will someone step up?
Given the projection of nearly 10 to 11 Billion persons inhabiting our planet, we’re surely headed in the wrong direction to mitigate climate change or other environmental depredations.This drives energy and resource requirements, over hunting, over-fishing, habitat loss, generation of trash and recyclables, plastic use, food production, land use, invasive species and every other dimension of the problem. Every occupant of this planet requires food, clothing, shelter suitable to their locality. They will also require jobs, transportation and all the other resources essential to survival while living with numerous others; thus, ever increasing resource demands. All are the result of too many humans. We can’t have it both ways although some suggest that it is possible, which is what some of those “expert” comments imply.
I’d request those experts address some of these observation or questions:
Climate change is not an existential threat - it’s a matter of adaptability. It will be necessary to adapt to the changes, and all those changes will not be bad. Some areas will benefit others will be severely and detrimentally impacted. Humans have chosen to live, survive and thrive in a variety of environments and climates all over the planet. Why will this adaptability not continue as the climate changes?
Note that humanity and humanoids have evolved and flourished on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years. We've evolved through ice ages and warming cycles and survived hostile climates and environments on land and sea. Why will this time be any different?
I'm super-late to the party on this, but I struggled with this interview.
1) It was only in an off-hand comment, but Mr. Wallace-Wells lumped nuclear power in with fossil fuels. This seems idiotic if CO2 emissions are the cause of climate change.
2) His whole issue seems to be about "renewables." Is he aware that *wood-burning* is considered a "renewable"? Last I checked, that released quite a bit of carbon dioxide.
3) Some pretty simple industrial analysis reveals that the cost of solar and wind -- which is indeed rapidly shrinking -- has limitations. If you just need to supply additional power when solar or wind are at their peak efficiency, they are *very* cheap, and practically no electric company wouldn't use them in that situation, as they are already cheaper than gas, coal, or others in many situations. However, if you need power generation increases during times / in situations where they are *not* at their peak efficiency (or operational *at all* like solar at night), these technologies get *very expensive, very fast* because we have to both build in a significant overcapacity, and build in the ability to *store* energy so that what is generated at peak can be used to supplement non-peak times. Batteries are insufficient to this so far. There are a bunch of other ways to store energy (e.g., create two reservoirs, one significantly elevated above the other; during the day, use the excess solar / wind capacity to pump water from the lower one to the higher one; at night, when solar is unavailable, generate hydroelectric power by flowing that water back to the lower reservoir), but all of them introduce additional complexity, additional cost, and further limit the places where power can be generated. Or, one could build nuclear power plants which produce near-zero carbon emissions and can relatively easily ramp and scale to provide power during off-peak "renewable" times (wind dies down, cloudy day, night time power, etc.). We will not solve power generation through "renewables" alone, at least not in the short or medium term, and Mr. Wallace-Wells would be FAR more persuasive if he could acknowledge the reality of power generation, and acknowledge a need for this kind of off-peak power generation, and that we have very low carbon technologies we can bring to market to help solve this "off peak" problem so that maybe 80% of power is generate through wind / solar / geothermal / hydro, and 20% is nuclear.
Wallace-Wells' current most likely scenario (2-2.5 celsius) is nothing humanity can't handle. Nor is the 3 degrees the IPCC projects as the upper likely scenario. Wallace-Wells is on a mission to subtly disengage himself from his irresponsible, panic-inducing book, while saving face with gossamer constructions like the one he opens the podcast with. He states that the climate will be different than anything we've know during human civilization. The implication is that everything could become unstable - because of 2 degrees! Pathetic sophistry. Why is this man or any climate alarmist given credibility by Persuasion? Their doomsday narrative is not supported by any projections of human flourishing in the remainder of the 21st century. Meanwhile, they do real harm. See Germany and California. Most insidiously, they are impeding growth in the poorest regions of the world, thereby sentencing a billion people or more to continued misery.
What is happening in Ukraine is a crisis. "Climate change"is not a crisis. The author ignores the Medieval Warm Period; it was real. The temperature of the United States lower 48 has not changed in over 100 years. World-wide measures are less reliable but an increase of 1.5 degrees in a century can easily be accounted for by natural causes (e.g. we are still coming out of the last ice age), and the consequences of that "change" are, on balance, beneficial to humanity.
Ronald G. Havelock, Ph.D.
You lost me with Celsius