NWR Climate change

Location
London
There were some bad floods in China just recently. My hunch is that their biggest issue from climate change may well be reduced water supply/desertification across the N of the country.
 
I don’t think it’s helpful to see everything as a dichotomy, and this ‘black or white’ terminology is used to shut down debate & create division.

We see these opposing labels all the time now:

Remain Bedwetters vs Xenophobic Brexiteers
BLM Marxists vs Racist bigots
Out of touch woke liberals vs Tory scum
Zero Covid cult vs Anti-vaxxers
Eco loons vs Climate change deniers

The “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” mentality is tearing society apart - there is far more nuance than that both in reality & in people’s thoughts/opinions.

You’re never going to convince somebody by labelling them or abusing them. If you want to make a difference you need to embrace everyone and be prepared to have a proper debate.

For me, the question is how do we slow the man-made portion of climate change, and what can we do to adapt? The reality is that the UK has already cut its carbon emissions by 35% over the past 20 years - the best performance of any G20 nation & only contributes 1% of the world’s carbon emissions now. Of course it’s more complex than that when you look at imports etc which have replaced manufacturing but the likes of China, USA & Germany are much bigger culprits.

I agree that we can’t just blame others & do nothing but I think it’s fair to ask how the proposed solutions would impact quality of life, compared with the impact they would have on the climate.

I also don’t think the extreme scaremongering is helpful, and the modelling which is presented as fact by the media. Bear in mind we’ve been warned continuously by scientists over the past 40-50 years that the world is on the brink of collapse for one climatic reason or another. The likes of Extinction Rebellion would have us shut down capitalism, impoverish us all and send us back to their dream of the stone age on the basis of these ‘scientific’ predictions.

We simply can’t just eliminate the use of fossil fuels for energy - the transition will take decades. The Greens have spent the past few decades opposing emission free nuclear power, but hopefully with technological advances, the conversion of coal to oil & gas, and more nuclear power, we can limit climate change to tolerable levels. But China & India are probably the places to start because without them on board we have no hope. An ever increasing global population is another significant obstacle, but that's thanks to medical advances.

Even so it might be worth putting as much time, money & effort into how we can adapt to climate change as we do into preventing it if it’s as inevitable as many of the above articles suggest.
Politics is the art of the possible and, for me, Dominic’s post recognises the practicalities of the situation facing us.
 
I *am* by nature optimistic @Alex Lake but in the case of climate change can only be selectively so. One thing I find interesting is how friends in California and the Western US in general have, over the past five years or so of really terrible wildfires, have really disabused themselves of some of the notions that Climate Change is not real, or not that bad. I suspect that we Western Europeans are just a little while behind them, but it won't take us quite as many years to figure it out.

@Jeremy Caan has it right, I think - it's the job of our politicians to create the rules and incentives for people and businesses to behave in the right way. @Jonathan Hesford makes a good point that our current political system is not set up for this kind of long term action - which could be interpreted to mean that we require some sort of benevolent dictatorship to shake us out of our complacency. This is an area where I am, perhaps, guilty of the optimism @Alex Lake accuses me of - democracies have shown that they *are* able to act for long term benefit - the creation of huge swathes of infrastructure from the late 40s on, even arguably the prosecution of the second world war itself - all delivering long term benefits at significant short term cost. Two bright lights that have emerged for me from the Covid crisis, and which I think have relevance to climate change, are (1) an ability to focus resources and deliver amazing results very quickly - I'd put vaccines and the various financial stimulus packages in that category, and (2) the ability of politicians and voters to *immediately* forget long held values and cultural beliefs the moment they are shown to be unhelpful - check out the ostensibly conservative governments of 2020 USA and UK moving double digit %s of the economy into the public sector *overnight* without even blushing.

There will surely be lots of pain, and pretty much zero chance of looking back in 30 years and not cursing the missed opportunities to have done things more quickly, but I also believe that my children's generation is the luckiest yet to be born on this planet, and should they have children, theirs will be too...I also think there's pretty much zero chance that any of us won't have significantly different lifestyles and expectations in the coming decades - we'll see TV shows with people eating a burger and getting on a plane as though it's normal and think wow, I can' hardly even remember living like that...
 
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One of the major things that I think is going to have to change is transport. We have built a global society on the cheap transportation of goods and people. Unless we can develop equivalent transport that uses renewables, that model has to break.

I often think about how a wine producer could function if they were forced to stop using fossil fuels. We rely so much on diesel and petrol to farm, to get supplies, to market our wines and to get them to our customers.
 
My impression is that there's now a really significant push among vehicle makers to transition to electric - both for passenger vehicles and more industrial versions - and also to make them driverless. The latter point is actually quite important as driverless vehicles tend to be much more efficient. As Dominic pointed out earlier, the technology brings with it plenty of other problems to do with the mineral components required, but hopefully, with so many companies doing R&D, some of those problems will be solved sooner rather than later.
 
One of the major things that I think is going to have to change is transport. We have built a global society on the cheap transportation of goods and people. Unless we can develop equivalent transport that uses renewables, that model has to break.

I often think about how a wine producer could function if they were forced to stop using fossil fuels. We rely so much on diesel and petrol to farm, to get supplies, to market our wines and to get them to our customers.
This is true! As the saying goes "amateurs study tactics, armchair generals study strategy, but professionals study logistics".

There's a lot that needs to change - but with concerted effort, it's not hard to imagine an 80 or 90% reduction in transport emissions being doable without intolerable (whatever that means in this context) financial consequences. In the UK over 80% of passenger kilometres are traveled by cars, vans and taxis. Reducing that to 10% - through a combination of better public transport, cycling facilities (especially e bikes and scooters), and increasing the cost of motoring (which could either be regarded as punitive pricing, or reducing the level of subsidy motoring receives...) would be doable, and I think in most cases increase the quality of peoples lives. There will be some trips - visiting the second home in Cornwall with the kids and dog for example - that are really hard to move to a different mode. There are others - a disabled person visiting hospital in a wheelchair, getting your book case back from Ikea - which will require some adjustment to the existing systems - but not huge - decent wheelchair access to all buses and tube stations, more bus routes, electric vans delivering your Ikea bookshelf for a reasonable cost...

What's crucial here, though, is that we can't shop our way out of this. No single individual, or winemaker, can unilaterally make the changes that are needed - in the same way that no individual would have been able to prosecute the Second World War or deliver the Marshall plan. The biggest impact that any of us can have is influencing our elected representatives to help them understand that this is important, and - crucially - our continuing to vote for them is contingent on their taking environmental issues seriously.
 
My impression is that there's now a really significant push among vehicle makers to transition to electric - both for passenger vehicles and more industrial versions - and also to make them driverless. The latter point is actually quite important as driverless vehicles tend to be much more efficient. As Dominic pointed out earlier, the technology brings with it plenty of other problems to do with the mineral components required, but hopefully, with so many companies doing R&D, some of those problems will be solved sooner rather than later.
Respectfully - I think this will end up having been a minor part of the transition. Necessary but by no means sufficient.

Electric cars - fuelled by renewables / nukes - are surely a lot less polluting, however simply reducing the number of journeys reduced pollution massively more. It's a bit like reusable bottles vs recycling plastic at the supermarket - both can make you feel good, but one is 100 times better than the other...

It's interesting how Uber (which could arguably be considered as analogous to driverless cars in some ways - certainly loads of very cheap traveling capacity was put on the roads) has actually led to a lot more cars on the roads. If self driving electrics lead to more journeys happening - then it’s not obvious that they are helping address climate change.

Scooters / ebikes on the other hand…
 
This is true! As the saying goes "amateurs study tactics, armchair generals study strategy, but professionals study logistics".

There's a lot that needs to change - but with concerted effort, it's not hard to imagine an 80 or 90% reduction in transport emissions being doable without intolerable (whatever that means in this context) financial consequences. In the UK over 80% of passenger kilometres are traveled by cars, vans and taxis. Reducing that to 10% - through a combination of better public transport, cycling facilities (especially e bikes and scooters), and increasing the cost of motoring (which could either be regarded as punitive pricing, or reducing the level of subsidy motoring receives...) would be doable, and I think in most cases increase the quality of peoples lives. There will be some trips - visiting the second home in Cornwall with the kids and dog for example - that are really hard to move to a different mode. There are others - a disabled person visiting hospital in a wheelchair, getting your book case back from Ikea - which will require some adjustment to the existing systems - but not huge - decent wheelchair access to all buses and tube stations, more bus routes, electric vans delivering your Ikea bookshelf for a reasonable cost...

What's crucial here, though, is that we can't shop our way out of this. No single individual, or winemaker, can unilaterally make the changes that are needed - in the same way that no individual would have been able to prosecute the Second World War or deliver the Marshall plan. The biggest impact that any of us can have is influencing our elected representatives to help them understand that this is important, and - crucially - our continuing to vote for them is contingent on their taking environmental issues seriously.
The voter's difficulty is seeing through the greenwash, making sure concrete commitments are in the manifesto and held firm.
 
Respectfully - I think this will end up having been a minor part of the transition. Necessary but by no means sufficient.

Electric cars - fuelled by renewables / nukes - are surely a lot less polluting, however simply reducing the number of journeys reduced pollution massively more. It's a bit like reusable bottles vs recycling plastic at the supermarket - both can make you feel good, but one is 100 times better than the other...

It's interesting how Uber (which could arguably be considered as analogous to driverless cars in some ways - certainly loads of very cheap traveling capacity was put on the roads) has actually led to a lot more cars on the roads. If self driving electrics lead to more journeys happening - then it’s not obvious that they are helping address climate change.

Scooters / ebikes on the other hand…
Use less. Buy less. Travel less. Make do and mend.

It can still be fun and just as meaningful.

And drink the wine we've spent years accumulating.
 
Regression is not a way forward. Either legislate greener technologies, or provide tax incentives to go green, but regression pleases no-one.
Agree completely on the crucialness of the regulatory stick and carrot.

But we're not children. We can do our bit too, not just wait for a big parent to compel us. We can act faster and deeper than the state will be willing to legislate because politicians fear unpopularity.

Time is of the essence so let's do what we can. The children will be grateful.

But we may even be glad ourselves. Because the effects of climate change are already burning and flooding us rather than just being something that will hit the kids.

Also I don't see it as regression. It is change. Nothing stays the same.

Clinging to what we know could just as well be considered regressive when conditions make the clinging destructive to self or others.

If I make my life more local, read the books I've been meaning to read, play the music I've been wanting to play, allow myself to live at a gentler pace, enjoy each experience thoroughly rather than nervously speed grazing, life might actually be not just different but in some ways better.
 
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The voter's difficulty is seeing through the greenwash, making sure concrete commitments are in the manifesto and held firm.
This is where I’m hopeful. I know that there is a general distaste for war metaphors…but I do think they’re valid here. During the war, we didn’t have newspapers printing optimistic views of particular battles, in order to get their own military agenda pushed. There was a tacit understanding that the generals were fighting the war, and we had to get behind it. I think we will see something similar happening - in our local area the political parties are fighting to distance themselves from the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - because they are terrified of the anti LTN protestors, who have organised themselves very effectively and campaign very vociferously. All that needs to happen is a little more vociferousness on the other side.

Regression is not a way forward. Either legislate greener technologies, or provide tax incentives to go green, but regression pleases no-one.
This is a fair point in one sense - but also very hard to argue. Any huge change will be seen by *some* as regression - the economic changes which led home ownership becoming unaffordable to people in their 20s for example, or indeed if one wants to go further back, the increasing unaffordability of domestic servants to all but the very rich. Having "century floods" every year, or having to put air purifiers in your house because of the smoke from the wildfires is one form of regression. The key is going to be which "regressions" do we trade off against each other.

FWIW my sense is that the human capacity for self delusion will become very useful here - just as thousands of conservative politicians managed to forget, overnight, their aversion to public control of the economy, I think that we will find ourselves forgetting that we ever thought it was appropriate for us to do small local car journeys, eat beef, or allow ships burning bunker fuel to roam the seas.

Again I think the pandemic is illuminating. Being unable to travel or meet people is surely a regression, but for many office workers, having 2 hours a day no longer commuting is probably not. Not being able to see my friends in the US for 18 months has been a regression - spending more time with my "running" club has definitely not...

How fast does air travel need to be? There are electric planes. Just that they're a bit slow and a bit limited in range. Perhaps airships might make a comeback?
I was looking into this yesterday (to be clear - I mean light googling and arithmetic - nothing terribly clever). Airships are awesome but don't go very fast...80ish miles per hour. Could work for freight, or leisure travel, but a business trip to New York, or even a holiday in Greece , would be tough. Long distance human travel feels to me like one area in which Pritchardian Regression is likely to have to be tolerated, or rationalised, the most. It is certainly very timely that Facebook has just invented the metaverse...
 
I was looking into this yesterday (to be clear - I mean light googling and arithmetic - nothing terribly clever). Airships are awesome but don't go very fast...80ish miles per hour. Could work for freight, or leisure travel, but a business trip to New York, or even a holiday in Greece , would be tough. Long distance human travel feels to me like one area in which Pritchardian Regression is likely to have to be tolerated, or rationalised, the most. It is certainly very timely that Facebook has just invented the metaverse...
Autonomous electric planes could do holidays to Greece. It's transatlantic that's tricky.

PS - I don't mean they can do it today (range is currently only about 500 miles or so, but I'm sure that 2-3000 miles can't be that far away). Perhaps hybrids (eg range extenders) might be viable in the meantime.
 
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There are several groups working to create effectively carbon-neutral jet fuels. The UK government has just picked a shortlist of potential producers to support.

UK government shortlists sustainable aviation fuel projects
Yes, although I'd be impressed if they can achieve more than 50% reduction without a certain amount of spin!
By way of comparison, is a wood burner net carbon zero because it comes from trees, which can be grown?
 
Agree completely on the crucialness of the regulatory stick and carrot.

But we're not children. We can do our bit too, not just wait for a big parent to compel us. We can act faster and deeper than the state will be willing to legislate because politicians fear unpopularity.

Time is of the essence so let's do what we can. The children will be grateful.

But we may even be glad ourselves. Because the effects of climate change are already burning and flooding us rather than just being something that will hit the kids.

Also I don't see it as regression. It is change. Nothing stays the same.

Clinging to what we know could just as well be considered regressive when conditions make the clinging destructive to self or others.

If I make my life more local, read the books I've been meaning to read, play the music I've been wanting to play, allow myself to live at a gentler pace, enjoy each experience thoroughly rather than nervously speed grazing, life might actually be not just different but in some ways better.

'All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.'
Pascal was exactly right, as I often observe.
 
By way of comparison, is a wood burner net carbon zero because it comes from trees, which can be grown?
Well, yes. As long as the wood is grown locally and doesn't require much processing, then it is carbon neutral. There are other issues with the production of particulates and so on, but any carbon released is carbon that was once in the air, so the process is carbon neutral.
 
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