Archives for posts with tag: Climate change

We were discussing ‘worst possible scenarios’ on Facebook and somebody mentioned ‘climate change’.
I must add here that the exchange was ‘framed’ by ‘skin in the game‘, a concept used by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his rather don-quixotic quest for more responsible decision makers.

OK, the whole domain of climate change is riddled with epistemological holes.
Linear models are used to approximate processes we barely know anything about.
‘Starting points’ have been, again and again, been proven wrong.
I could go on for hours.

I’ll make a small parenthesis here and inform you that according to a fresh study things might be far worse than we’ve reckoned. This paper, published by, suggests that Earth’s oceans used to be far cooler than we’ve previously thought they were.

In this context, one of the participants made the following remark:
the burden (of proof) should fall on those calling for changes, for the rather obvious reason that we could suggest changes all day long. Only a few can be implemented.

Hard to argue with that, right?

But which changes are we talking about here?

A change in our manner of interacting with Mother Nature?
Costly, indeed, financial wise, but nowadays technologically possible.

Or about the changes we’ve already – unwittingly, most of them, imposed upon our ‘spaceship’?

We’ve dramatically changed the ‘use of land’. Agriculture and transport – yes, roads and railways have a huge impact – have changed the very nature of what’s going on on a considerable portion of the Earth’s surface.
We’ve dramatically changed the composition of the atmosphere. And I’m not talking about CO2 yet. CFCs, pesticides, NOx and SOx gases, etc., etc….
And, last but not least, we’ve reversed a trend which had been going on for hundreds of millions of years. Photosynthesis used to transform atmospheric CO2 into organic matter, some of which has been steadily accumulated as coal and crude oil.

So, about which changes should we worry first?

Or, in SITG terms, whose skin should bear the brunt of change?

Ours or our children’s?

Advertisement Storms flood roads, cause train derailment in Texas, which awaits remnants of Patricia

Some people maintain that we are in a middle of a ‘Global Warming’ and that, at least partially, we have brought this on our own heads.
Some others say that this is nothing but bullshit while a third group says that yes, it might be possible that the Earth is slowly heating up but that there is no way to demonstrate that ‘we did it’.

When it comes to what to do about it people are divided among totally different lines.
Some say we need to go on burning fossil fuel because it’s the most cost efficient way of producing energy, some-others that ‘we are sorry but we really need to close the economic gap there is between us and the developed nations’ and a few try to convince the rest that the Earth is the only home we’ve got and that we should do everything in our power to keep it as close to habitable as we can.

Where do I stand on this matter?
I’m not going to enter the dispute that tries to convince us that weather and climate are two different things.
I’m not going to pretend that ‘we did all of it’. Not even the most rabid treehuggers go that far.

All I’m going to do is ask this: Are you aware of the fact that burning things produces CO2 and that is a very effective green-house gas?
Do you know that “Currently, humans are emitting around 29 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year.”? OK, some of it, about half according to some, is absorbed by the so called ‘carbon sinks’. But the rest? And how long before those sinks become saturated?
Furthermore, determining how much CO2 has been added to the atmosphere – or if any at all – is a rather murky business. Simply because of the seasonality of the plant life, volcanic eruptions and a lot of other variables.

That’s why I’m going to take another tack.
During billions of years in Earth’s history plants and animals have transformed atmospheric CO2 into coal, oil, natural gas and limestone. During this period, climate – and the Earth itself – have suffered huge transformations. Do we really think we can undo, even in part, this process – at a very rapid pace – without bearing at least some consequences?

Even some of those who, until very recently, kept saying that they need to close the development gap are having second thoughts and look for alternative methods., A wedding ceremony held during heavy pollution in Beijing (20141021)

The humble legume, savior of humanity.(Neil Palmer, CIAT)

An agricultural break through that doesn’t involve ‘invasive’ genetic engineering?
Somebody that still cares about biodiversity?

It seems that we still have a fighting chance to survive decently!

%d bloggers like this: