Global Warming

What meddlework should we be doing?

Global Warming

Postby Phil » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:42 pm

Some of you may remember that for 18 months or so back in 2009-10 I became something of an eco nut, and was demanding that we all meddle to make sure our neighbors took out their recycling and all of that, then I suddenly dropped the whole thing. Well, what happened is that I came to the conclusion that if every person in the world recycled everything possible, it wouldn't make a fucking bit of difference; that the solution had to come from more basic changes (removing industrial florocarbons, getting rid of fossil fuels, and stuff like that). I've been hoping to come up with ideas since then, and have drawn a blank.

So, all you Smart People: 1. Am I right about the futility of recycling as an actual solution to the problem? 2. What would solve the problem? 3. What can we do?

John, I think a huge part of this falls within your area of expertise (well, and Keung, but he's never on the board). Any guidance?
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Alexander » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:13 pm

Not learned in this area, but I suppose that whether or not recycling really addresses the larger issues, it is part of a general attitude change with respect to the environment. Of course in some countries, recycling is already extremely pervasive.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:06 pm

I remember once reading a comment by some cynical person (no, it wasn't me) to the effect that trying to tell the average environmentally-concerned person that recycling is not an effective way of reducing consumption is like trying to tell a Roman Catholic that the nutrition value of communion wafers is practically zero. It's an act of faith, not a viable strategy.

The simplest thing we can do, in my opinion, is to bite the bullet and promote the use of nuclear power. (If somebody...Phil? Billy? Oskar, while you're in DC?...could convince Harry Reid to allow the Yucca Mountain waste storage facility to finally be used, that would certainly help.) It has obvious drawbacks, but it's the only non-carbon-burning technology we have at present that can work at the scale necessary to really contribute to our energy use.

My own bias, of course, is in favor of advancing technological solutions (carbon sequestration technology, bacteria engineered to digest waste plastics, improved battery technology) as quickly as possible. I would also like it if we could work to highlight the dangers of acidification of the oceans, which I think is a more pressing concern than the rise in temperature per se (unless the 4 degrees by 2100 model is correct, in which case, it was nice knowing you guys). Two degrees, which seems more likely, we can probably take. Four would be very bad.

Culturally, I think we in the US should try to work out how or if we can get a significant group of Christian leaders to declare themselves pro-environmentalism. Unlike many social questions, Christian doctrine is actually pretty squarely in alignment with where we want things to go; if we can get them to understand the scope of the problem and approach it from the viewpoint of "stewardship of the earth", I think we would be able to outface the climate deniers by making them defend both flanks (so to speak).
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Phil » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:17 pm

I agree with most of that, John, but, above all, the point about new tech. Just thinking about over the last 2000 years, I mean, in my lifetime, how much improvement we've made with R&D in whatever form.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Alexander » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:29 pm

"Fission now, fusion soon" should be the mantra. In a sane world, it should have been "fusion already, problem solved".

Don't forget, you don't only have to meddle in Washington, you also have to convince the Nevadans that a waste storage facility won't lead to a radioactive zombie horde or whatever it is they've been worrying about all these years.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:08 pm

Alexander wrote:Don't forget, you don't only have to meddle in Washington, you also have to convince the Nevadans that a waste storage facility won't lead to a radioactive zombie horde or whatever it is they've been worrying about all these years.


Hence Harry Reid. I'm not sure he can get it done, but I doubt it will get done without him as long as he's around. We could try to figure out some way to indemnify the Nevadans, I suppose.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Phil » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:53 pm

Yeah, he's from my state, so I guess I need to check into him. I've done distasteful things before.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Alexander » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:12 am

I once shook Beria's hand. How bad can dealing with Reid be? Answer: Better you than me.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:34 pm

Some progress on the nuclear front: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/51 ... naissance/
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Phil » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:08 pm

This is good! This potentially huge! If you have ideas for pushing it, John, I think you should run with them.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:55 pm

I have been trying to figure out who is in a position to help with the small reactors. Not much going on yet. I take it that the Yucca Mountain/Reid thing is a no-go, which is disappointing but not surprising.

I think this deserves our continued attention, though, because global warming is really the least of our carbon dioxide-related worries.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-envir ... r_bbcworld

As I mentioned above, in a macro sense, global warming is very bad but (probably) we-can-deal-with-it bad. A massive acidification of the oceans, on the other hand, could lead to something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian–Triassic_extinction_event
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Phil » Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:18 pm

Well, okay, John. You got my attention. Any suggestions on how we might start to address it? Do you see a point of entry for us?
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:30 pm

Sorry, missed this. I've had no new ideas, but I'm looking into ways to back Jesse's reactor work.

Maybe try to get some coral reef damage images out there? Ethan?
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Jesse » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:12 pm

(It's not my reactor work! *poke*)
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:12 pm

Jesse wrote:(It's not my reactor work! *poke*)


But isn't it about to be? ;)
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Re: Global Warming

Postby Ethan » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:14 pm

Juxtaposing side-by-sides of a flourishing reef and a dead one is easy. Making the image go viral is not. Making a viral image have any greater impact than a lot of outraged teenagers reblogging it on tumblr with beautifully caustic polemics underneath is even harder.

Two possible solutions to that. One, find me a company my bosses can consult for who have the means and interest to address the issue, or at least get the ball rolling. Two, lower the voting age to about fifteen.

Honestly, a lower voting age might be a masterstroke for us anyway.
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Re: Global Warming

Postby JWaterford » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:14 pm

Ethan wrote:Juxtaposing side-by-sides of a flourishing reef and a dead one is easy. Making the image go viral is not. Making a viral image have any greater impact than a lot of outraged teenagers reblogging it on tumblr with beautifully caustic polemics underneath is even harder.

Two possible solutions to that. One, find me a company my bosses can consult for who have the means and interest to address the issue, or at least get the ball rolling. Two, lower the voting age to about fifteen.

Honestly, a lower voting age might be a masterstroke for us anyway.


Fair enough. Obviously it's not something I'm experienced with myself. Unfortunately, it is not at all obvious who specifically is damaged by ocean acidification, so unless you can get, say, the tourism board for Australia and/or some Caribbean island on board?…

Well, I need to drop Gaston'n'Eleanor a line anyway. If you get a call from Down Under about coral reefs, it worked! But don't hold your breath.
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