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Altherion

Are the best years of our civilization still to come?

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8 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Should we draw the conclusions when most of Bangladesh is wiped off the map and tens of millions of refugees seek passage to the West? Should we draw the conclusions when most of New York is under water? Should we draw the conclusions when our crops fail and food becomes scarce? Or when we have lost the bees, the fish, and almost all animals that are not domesticated or behind bars? When half the globe has become hostile environment for humans?

We've faced this problem for decades and the main thing we've come up with is greenwashing. Sure, we've also developed technology that could help, but we've yet to see any plans for large-scale implementation that would actually make things better. We keep waiting for some magical solution coming out of our sacred market or something.

There's a very simple and unassailable conclusion here: the current socio-economic system has failed. The current ideology has failed. The current elite caste has failed. We had a shot at preventing climate change, and we didn't take it. Now, we're talking about mitigating its effects (limiting it to +1,5°C or +2°C).
And we're also screwing that up.

It's not too soon to draw conclusions, it's already too late. Now is coming the time for very hard decisions.

Your first paragraph is a bit too apocalyptic. Even in the worst of the global warming scenarios, the changes are not predicted to be that bad (e.g. there will be great disruption of ecosystems, but hardly the end of almost all animals and fish).

Regarding the rest... well, the current system has failed so far, but it's a massive system with a lot of inertia and it appears to be turning around. The question is how quickly it turns and whether it is fast enough to avoid a large temperature increase.

8 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Have you forgotten that the Star Trek utopia was built on the ruins of human civilization?

Sort of, but not really. It was built after a devastating nuclear war, but this war did not stop progress and colonization of worlds other than Earth commenced shortly after the war.

8 hours ago, Rippounet said:

"We" will not succeed, humanity might. You and I belong to the generations that have already failed, and are now counting on the next ones to make the hard choices and sacrifices that we couldn't make.

I disagree. Even now, we've mostly created the technology to solve the crisis; now it just needs to be refined and implemented on a massive scale. This is not an easy road to travel, but very few people or even generations have had an easy road (think of what the last century was like -- especially its first half). The story continues...

8 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Reduced comparatively, not pulled out.

Well yes, it won't be completely pulled out until there are no more Ford cars being sold at all and that does not strike me as likely (just like every other car company, Ford is transitioning to fully electric vehicles). However, at this point Ford is worth less than 3% of Amazon which makes it a whole lot easier for someone with a diversified portfolio (i.e. one weighted according to market capitalization) to not worry so much about what happens to it.

3 hours ago, Rippounet said:

This implies that most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable.

Interestingly enough, the pandemic helped us out with this. We will have a clearer picture at the end of this year because we'll see the rebound, but it's possible that we've already passed peak production for oil and it's possible that coal will also be reached this decade. We'll see in December.

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On 9/8/2021 at 6:05 PM, larrytheimp said:

Peak civilisation will be when bidets are standard fixtures in all bathrooms.

 

:ack: Excuse me but the sogginess of my butthole is not a measure of civilization.

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11 hours ago, Altherion said:

Your first paragraph is a bit too apocalyptic. Even in the worst of the global warming scenarios, the changes are not predicted to be that bad (e.g. there will be great disruption of ecosystems, but hardly the end of almost all animals and fish).

According to the WWF we've lost a staggering 68% of animal life since 1970. The problem is that this trend has been accelerating.
For instance, the figures were 52% in 2014 and 58% in 2016. The unassailable conclusion here is that eco-systems are crumbling. We're witnessing mass extinctions, and we're now talking of the "anthropocene."

11 hours ago, Altherion said:

Regarding the rest... well, the current system has failed so far, but it's a massive system with a lot of inertia and it appears to be turning around.

There's a lot of lip service to the cause, but we haven't started doing anything.

For instance, for all the talk about renewables, they aren't even covering new energy demands. As for EVs, their construction has a significant carbon footprint, and as long as electricity isn't green, they have no impact. "Cap and trade" has been a dismal failure. Etc...
There are decent ideas around, but we delay their implementation to 2030, 2040, or even later, because we don't want to "hurt" corporations. SMH.

The only reason why we might appear to be turning around is because we talk a lot about the problem, and many people (including here, on this board) are concerned - to say the least. But even that is hardly encouraging, since there are also lots of people, like you, who believe there will be some sort of miracle.

11 hours ago, Altherion said:

Even now, we've mostly created the technology to solve the crisis; now it just needs to be refined and implemented on a massive scale.

Oh, FFS, it doesn't work like that.

Take transportation for instance: we just CAN'T make EVs for everyone, we're not sure we have the raw materials for that, and even if we do, such production will have a massive carbon footprint.
And that's not even getting into the fact that EVs need green energy to be green, and we're a long way from that.

You want to keep saying technology can work: prove it. Give us a list of the technologies you have in mind, and show that they CAN be implemented on a massive scale (i.e. we have the raw materials for them), and without making the problem worse.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but FFS, if you can't prove what you're saying, you need to stop with the bullshit. I'm actually not a pessimist, I agree that some things can be done, but technology is only a piece of the puzzle.

Take EVs for instance. They can help, but we'll have to accept that every household won't have one. Individual vehicles will become a luxury. Otoh, we can share the EVs we have and achieve a comparable level of freedom of movement. But this means going beyond our current material culture/civilization! People won't use their car, they'll use a car, shared between neighbors, friends, or co-workers thanks to algorithms.
This shift isn't happening yet though. Throughout the West, people who shift to such "alternative lifestyles" are still a tiny minority, and the dominant socio-economic system isn't helping them.

11 hours ago, Altherion said:

However, at this point Ford is worth less than 3% of Amazon which makes it a whole lot easier for someone with a diversified portfolio (i.e. one weighted according to market capitalization) to not worry so much about what happens to it.

I think you're deliberately missing the point. The point isn't "value," however we define it. The point is that, as long as Ford has shareholders, its primary aim is profit, and it will always prioritize profit. Its "value" compared to other companies doesn't change that and is almost irrelevant.
Take an oil company like Exxon or Total. The value of its stock going down isn't important as long as it's greater than 0. As long as these corporations exist, they're a threat to us all.

11 hours ago, Altherion said:

Interestingly enough, the pandemic helped us out with this. We will have a clearer picture at the end of this year because we'll see the rebound, but it's possible that we've already passed peak production for oil and it's possible that coal will also be reached this decade. We'll see in December.

Well, the study seems to say that "oil and gas production must decline globally by 3 per cent each year until 2050."

So, the pandemic will be two years old in December. If oil and gas production has declined by 6% at that point, it will in fact be encouraging.

I won't be holding my breath.

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Good post, Rip.

 

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

So, the pandemic will be two years old in December. If oil and gas production has declined by 6% at that point, it will in fact be encouraging.

Mmn hmn. The flipside, is that lack of investment [due to social pressures] in exploration will lead to at least a period of supply crunch, which will drive oil prices up and thus more extraction [thinking shale plays here, China, US, Canada in particular] it's a nasty little causal loop. 

Edited by JEORDHl

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10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

The only reason why we might appear to be turning around is because we talk a lot about the problem, and many people (including here, on this board) are concerned - to say the least. But even that is hardly encouraging, since there are also lots of people, like you, who believe there will be some sort of miracle.

It's not just us talking about the problem though -- it's being discussed at the highest levels of governments around the world and that is progress because this was not the case before. For example:

Quote

President Joe Biden’s climate ambitions will face a critical test on Monday as a major portion of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill comes up for a vote. If it passes, the sprawling legislation will push the American economy to rein in its carbon emissions by spurring advancements in clean energy, electric vehicles, grid modernization, and more.

...

The most significant piece in the bill is the Clean Electricity Performance Plan, a suite of carrots and sticks intended to steadily increase the amount of clean power produced by utilities and producers. The House is considering a target of 80 percent clean power by 2030, a significant increase from today’s 20 percent but one that falls short of Biden’s stated goal of net zero by the end of the decade. 

To hit the target, the bill would provide $150 billion in tax incentives for clean energy, which the bill defines as anything producing less than 0.1 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, a level that effectively eliminates natural gas from consideration.

This specific instance might not go anywhere, but sooner or later (and more likely sooner than later) something like this will happen as it has already happened in several other countries.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Oh, FFS, it doesn't work like that.

Take transportation for instance: we just CAN'T make EVs for everyone, we're not sure we have the raw materials for that, and even if we do, such production will have a massive carbon footprint.
And that's not even getting into the fact that EVs need green energy to be green, and we're a long way from that.

You want to keep saying technology can work: prove it. Give us a list of the technologies you have in mind, and show that they CAN be implemented on a massive scale (i.e. we have the raw materials for them), and without making the problem worse.

We can make it work like that, it just requires a lot more work. There are many technologies some of which will pan out and some of which will not. There are many lists of these online; here is one as a example. I do not know which of these can be implemented on a massive scale in the next decade or two; that's why I said it is a race.

There are also a few that are almost magical and result in nearly an order of magnitude of savings. Electric cars are the most famous examples, but the one that is closer to a complete rollout is LED lighting. Not only does it consume 8-10 times less energy, but the bulbs also last longer so there's less trash.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Take EVs for instance. They can help, but we'll have to accept that every household won't have one. Individual vehicles will become a luxury. Otoh, we can share the EVs we have and achieve a comparable level of freedom of movement. But this means going beyond our current material culture/civilization! People won't use their car, they'll use a car, shared between neighbors, friends, or co-workers thanks to algorithms.

There are no algorithms that will reduce the number of cars in places where one needs a car to go pretty much everywhere. Also, if you try to take cars away from Americans, there will be violence and no politician wants that. It's not actually that difficult to simply replace gasoline cars with electric ones -- we naturally replace some fraction of the global fleet every year and with incentives we can replace them much faster. Remember, electric cars are naturally simpler than gasoline ones; it's only the battery that is new and those are becoming cheaper and more efficient every year.

11 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I think you're deliberately missing the point. The point isn't "value," however we define it. The point is that, as long as Ford has shareholders, its primary aim is profit, and it will always prioritize profit. Its "value" compared to other companies doesn't change that and is almost irrelevant.
Take an oil company like Exxon or Total. The value of its stock going down isn't important as long as it's greater than 0. As long as these corporations exist, they're a threat to us all.

You would be correct if the shareholders of Ford and Apple were completely distinct, but this is not how it works. Almost everyone who invests in these companies does so as part of a diversified portfolio (i.e. they own hundreds or maybe even thousands of stocks and bonds and other financial products) and this is true of both individual investors and investing firms. Thus, they don't particularly care if Ford becomes less profitable as long as this is offset by a larger gain somewhere in their portfolio (e.g. in greener companies).

14 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Well, the study seems to say that "oil and gas production must decline globally by 3 per cent each year until 2050."

So, the pandemic will be two years old in December. If oil and gas production has declined by 6% at that point, it will in fact be encouraging.

Oil production went down by 8% last year and is not expected to rebound to 2019 levels this year, but of course this is due to the pandemic. Whether it will ever come back to 2019 levels is not clear and depends a lot on what will happen with the EV initiatives.

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On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

It's not just us talking about the problem though -- it's being discussed at the highest levels of governments around the world and that is progress because this was not the case before. For example:

This specific instance might not go anywhere, but sooner or later (and more likely sooner than later) something like this will happen as it has already happened in several other countries.

I'll wait to see what Biden's reconciliation bill looks like in the end. Putting a lot of money on the table is a good thing, but mechanisms like "tax incentives" have proved rather inefficient in the past.
The hard truth is that governments will need to wield more than a checkbook to put an end to consumerism.
Also, few countries can put 3,5 trillion on the table in the first place.

On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

We can make it work like that, it just requires a lot more work. There are many technologies some of which will pan out and some of which will not. There are many lists of these online; here is one as a example. I do not know which of these can be implemented on a massive scale in the next decade or two; that's why I said it is a race.

I'll have to study that list to know if it's worth anything.
For instance, I happen to know someone who's writing his thesis on lithium-ion batteries, so I know from him that they're unlikely to help that much (not that I can claim to understand the details).

But if you don't know whether these can be implemented, it means your optimism is baseless. It's basically blind faith with no substance. And you keep repeating falsehoods. For instance;

On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

There are also a few that are almost magical and result in nearly an order of magnitude of savings. Electric cars are the most famous examples,

Right now, EVs' impact is still negative.
Random number I've just picked up: the battery of one -rather efficient- hybrid vehicle "costs" 700kgs of CO2. And that's on the low end.

On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

There are no algorithms that will reduce the number of cars in places where one needs a car to go pretty much everywhere.

Fortunately, urbanisation continues throughout the world, so that might not be that big a problem.

On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

Also, if you try to take cars away from Americans, there will be violence and no politician wants that.

I don't think anything radical will come from the US. I expect China or the EU to take the lead within the next fifteen years.
Perhaps much earlier than that if Trump is reelected in 2024.

Of course the US is capable of the best as easily as the worst, so who knows. But conservative Americans will die fighting for their individual comforts rather than be part of the solution, so I don't think it's useful to take them into consideration.

On 9/11/2021 at 3:58 AM, Altherion said:

You would be correct if the shareholders of Ford and Apple were completely distinct, but this is not how it works. Almost everyone who invests in these companies does so as part of a diversified portfolio (i.e. they own hundreds or maybe even thousands of stocks and bonds and other financial products) and this is true of both individual investors and investing firms. Thus, they don't particularly care if Ford becomes less profitable as long as this is offset by a larger gain somewhere in their portfolio (e.g. in greener companies).

Shareholders having a diversified portfolio means jack shit for major corporations' priorities.
I find it hard to believe that anyone can be that naive.

Anyway, I'm listening to an interview with the French co-chair of group 1 of the IPCC. She's far from being a radical, and yet the reality she's describing is still miles away from the one you try to describe.
Funnily enough, the interviewer is kinda making the same points I am, that we might need some radical thinking now to prevent some form of fascism in the future.

Edited by Rippounet

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