just_steve_h 44 days ago [-]
The biggest takeaway here for me is that we collectively achieved something previously considered impossible: by making different behavioral choices, as a species, we achieved the largest cut in CO2 emissions in 75 years.

It's tragic that only the threat of a deadly disease could compel such a change, but perhaps we may find other levers to help us achieve such widespread beneficial changes in the future?

rmk 44 days ago [-]
We did not simply make "behavioral choices". Whole swathes of humanity were ordered indoors! It was achieved at untold cost (actually, much greater than the trillions of dollars that have been given away already by governments) that will be paid by generations to come. Only people who were lucky to hold a job that wasn't affected made a conscious decision to cut down.

I am willing to bet that come 2022 or so, emissions will rebound and exceed peaks as people 'catch up' on travel, including simply visiting near and dear ones, that they have missed out on.

baron_harkonnen 44 days ago [-]
> It was achieved at untold cost

This is just evidence of what we already know: our current society is unsustainable.

> will be paid by generations to come

I think you're pretty optimistic about how the future will develop given that we have not only just demonstrated our society is unsustainable, but that we are not capable of making serious progress towards a sustainable society.

Large portions of are planet are soon to become uninhabitable by humans. Major disruptions in our food supply are likely not that far off. The idea that we need to get back to "business as usual" means these things are all the more certain.

29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
In ecological terms, we are an invasive species without a predator multiplying exponentially.

We either accept reality and live and adapt to the limits imposed by nature or prepare to live in permanent war for resources.

saagarjha 44 days ago [-]
Humans tend to stop multiplying exponentially, though.
baron_harkonnen 44 days ago [-]
You should spend some time researching the estimated carrying capacity of the Earth for humans without fossil fuels.

Last I check most agreements were around 1 billion people. We’ve artificially bumped that up with an unsustainable energy source that we have no viable pathway for replacement.

It doesn’t matter if growth caps off soon, we’ve already exceeded the bounds. We’re in overtime now seeing how limited resources plays out.

29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
Fish and topsoil are also among the resources that are at high risk of being depleted within our lifetime.

Groundwater in many places is running out as well.

Retric 44 days ago [-]
So do rats with abundant food in an enclosed environment, it doesn’t end well. https://www.gwern.net/docs/sociology/1962-calhoun.pdf

Which isn’t to say the same rules apply to humans, but it’s also critical to get this right.

arcticbull 44 days ago [-]
No not that, there's a very strong negative correlation between birth rate and development. The more a society develops, the lower its birth rate. Down to well below replacement rate of 2.1, for instance in the US (1.7), Canada (1.5), Japan (1.42), Finland (1.41). Without immigration those populations would dwindle in just a few generations. [1]

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Connection-between-the-h...

mola 44 days ago [-]
This is not a law of nature, it is history as it unfolded in the twentieth century. We don't know if that'll continue to hold or not.
Retric 44 days ago [-]
Yea, but it’s still an open question when or if this stabilizes. A global population of between something like 100 million to 10 billion could sustain an advanced technical society capable of innovation. But, where slowly oscillating between say 1 and 2 billion people would be fine, regular massive population crashes could represent a great filter which generally prevents interstellar civilizations.
29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
And the more a country develops, the more resources they consume per capita. One individual in a developed country consumes orders of magnitude more than one in a less developed country.
gwern 40 days ago [-]
> So do rats with abundant food in an enclosed environment, it doesn’t end well

I have a lot of questions about whether that's true of even rats: https://www.gwern.net/Questions#mouse-utopia

zhouyisu 44 days ago [-]
Too many differences.

No awareness; No knowledge; No government; No communication; No money; No faith.

saagarjha 44 days ago [-]
I think that most modern countries are doing a reasonable job.
29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
No, they are not. They are not treating the problem as the emergency that it is.

Wasteful consumerism is legal everywhere.

miltondts 44 days ago [-]
Are we an invasive species?

wiki: "An invasive species is a non-native species that has become naturalized and negatively alters its new environment."

Seems about right.

No predator. Also yes.

Multiplying exponentially. In the past century, yes. It seems to be slowing down, and so one might argue that it is a logistic growth.

If we exceed the limits of the environment we either suffer massive problems and eventually a die-off, or we manage to invent some new tech that expands the carrying capacity of Earth.

This is all pretty much factually correct. So, can someone explain the down votes?

Geminidog 44 days ago [-]
We're no longer invasive. Almost every wild animal on every continent has evolved an innate fear of humans as a defense mechanism. We have been the apex predator across the world for a long long time and animals have evolved to deal with this fact.

Only in small islands cut off from humanity for eons will you find wild animals that feel no fear against humans.

29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
- Non-native organism to most places around the world: check

- Negative environmental effect: check

We are an invasive species. Our species originated in Africa, then as we expanded we negatively affected our environment worldwide.

Geminidog 44 days ago [-]
So every species on the face of the earth that ever expanded its territory is invasive? That's basically every living thing on the face of the earth.

Make no mistake, almost every living thing that expanded its territory had a negative effect on that territory that was expanded into which will make every species "invasive" under your hair brained extreme technical definition.

Most humans can catch the drift of what I'm trying to convey though. I'll spell it out for you because you seem to be a savant... too intelligent to understand the obvious subtleties of normal human communication.

Invasive species only refer to a subset of species under temporal conditions meaning the current ecosystem which the species invades has not YET adapted to the invasion. If all animals have died/evolved and changed to accommodate for the situation the species is no longer invasive it is the status quo.

If what I said above isn't part of the definition then it makes every freaking thing on the face of the earth invasive. So it's unspoken but Obviously invasive refers to a temporal phenomenon.

Because your a savant too intelligent for mure mortals like me, let me give you an example why what I said above isn't included in the wikipedia definition. Think of the word 'thief.' If a child steals some candy from the store he is a thief. If the child grows up to be 50 years old and never steals anything again for the rest of his life typical humans no longer call him a thief. This means thief refers to a temporal phenomenon and most humans are able to recognize this even though webster's dictionary doesn't include it in the definition. We humans call this "obvious."

But someone like you who can't figure out what typical people find "obvious" must mean that your beyond human. A person of such extraordinary logic that subtleties of human language are irrelevant to you. That or your just making up logic to support some agenda, because it's utterly clear what I'm talking about.

Also throwaway usernames are against the rules in HN.

29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
Most species on earth have a habitat, a well defined reproduction rate and population capacity, and relationship to other species.

When you take a species out of its habitat and introduce it to another habitat, and they start cause harm to other species and their relationship to other species, we call them invasive species.

It is not that hard to understand. Humans are an animal species after all.

You brag about your soft skills, but are unable to explain a simple concept succintly and without aggression. That is prime evidence of poor soft skills.

Btw, name calling is also against the rules, and invoking the rules is against the rules.

Geminidog 44 days ago [-]
>You brag about your soft skills, but are unable to explain a simple concept succintly and without aggression.

I never bragged about my soft skills. I targeted you as someone who's using the extreme technicality of a definition to serve your agenda. It appears to be an intelligent maneuver but it is not.

>Btw, name calling is also against the rules, and invoking the rules is against the rules.

Name calling? You mean Savant? You know a savant is a genius right? It's a compliment..

>Most species on earth have a habitat, a well defined reproduction rate and population capacity, and relationship to other species. And when you take them out of their habitat, they may cause harm to other species and their relationship to other species.

Yeah and it's not that hard to understand that global human expansion already occurred millions of years ago. The harm as an "invasive" species was already done because ecosystems have already evolved features and qualities designed to fend off humans. My example of all wild animals basically having an instinctual "fear of humans" is evidence for this. Predators actively avoid hunting humans even though many hikers are vulnerable due 100% to this instinct.

The harm to the environment we're seeing today is not the result of "invasion" which already occurred eons ago, but the result of technological change.

29athrowaway 44 days ago [-]
Savants are mentally impaired people with unusual abilities perfect memory and calculator-like ability to compute math operations, etc. Calling people mentally disabled is not a compliment.

Then, anatomically modern humans did not start expanding millions of years ago. And most species do not have an innate fear of humans.

Pretty much everything you said is a bunch of nonsense. I regret having read that. Clearly the educational system failed you. I do not have an agenda. Preserving the environment is not a political agenda (or at least, it should not be), it is an extension of our survival instinct. Just like food security is not treated as a politically charged topic because everyone can agree that they need food.

Geminidog 43 days ago [-]
> Savants are mentally impaired people with unusual abilities perfect memory and calculator-like ability to compute math operations, etc. Calling people mentally disabled is not a compliment.

I focused on the perfect memory and calculator like abilities of the savant as a descriptive analogy for the level of intelligence you're displaying. It is indeed a compliment of untold proportions.

>Then, anatomically modern humans did not start expanding millions of years ago. And most species do not have an innate fear of humans.

No other species has been called "invasive" after millions of years have passed. Look it up. Most apex predators do have an innate fear of humans:





The animals that don't fear humans are located here:


>Preserving the environment is not a political agenda, it is an extension of our survival instinct. Just like food security is not treated as a politically charged topic because everyone can agree that they need food.

But talking about things that are clearly not true to serve your agenda is wrong. Humans are not invasive. We are destroying the environment through technological development not by being invasive.

>Pretty much everything you said is a bunch of nonsense. I regret having read that. Clearly the educational system failed you. I do not have an agenda.

I'm a environmental biologist by trade, aka scientist. All I did was point out your mistaken attribution to humans being "invasive."

29athrowaway 43 days ago [-]
You can come up with alternative definitions of a word if you want, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. The word you used is an insult in most settings, as it refers to mentally disabled people.

Then, if you are truly a scientist then, please go and publish about how humans spread around earth millions of years ago, at a time where Homo sapiens sapiens didn't even exist yet. The only citations you will get will be from comedians.

When humans move into an area, other species lose their habitat. This happens every day. We are an invasive species, we disrupt ecosystems. If you want to feel better with yourself and believe in stupid fairy tales about how we humans are special, then go and create another concept for it. I don't care. In the end, what matters is understanding that we are ruining the environment everywhere we go, and causing the extinction of species everywhere we go.

Geminidog 43 days ago [-]
> You can come up with alternative definitions of a word if you want, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. The word you used is an insult in most settings, as it refers to mentally disabled people.


Take a look at definition 1.

>If you want to feel better with yourself and believe in stupid fairy tales about how we humans are special

I'm not, I am correcting a technical mistake you made. We cannot be an invasive species because we already invaded practically every habitat eons ago. The term no longer applies.

yowlingcat 43 days ago [-]
> Our species originated in Africa

There is an increasing amount of evidence for the MRH (multi-regional hypothesis) which contradicts the idea that "our species originated in Africa." That's not to say that thinking of anatomically modern humans as "an invasive" species is a useless frame, but I think it does weaken the footing your argument stands on.

bamboozled 44 days ago [-]
> Whole swathes of humanity were ordered indoors! It was achieved at untold cost

Climate change has untold cost too, so what you’re saying doesn’t have much weight.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
No, climate change has costs that we can estimate and base our decisions on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impacts_of_climate_ch...

The foregone economic activity in just one year of lockdowns in the US is a significant fraction of cumulative worldwide damages anticipated from climate change through 2050.

runarberg 44 days ago [-]
So loosing a large part of Bangladesh to the sea by 2050 and then loosing more to the sea by 2051, and even more by 2052, etc. with no hope of recovering... displacing therein tens to hundreds of millions of people that will need new homes, and new infrastructure that is requiring housing, feeding and transporting those people is going to cost less then then a year and a half of pandemic?

I would love to see your calculations for this.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
runarberg 44 days ago [-]
I mean, sure... if we count to 2050 and then stop counting... maybe. But that is not how the world works. We need to count beyond 2050 to get a good estimate. If (and that is a big if; ’cause I don’t really trust this number) the climate impact is gonna cost 7.9 trillion dollars by 2050, I’m sure it will cost $8.4tr by 2051, and $12.5tr by 2055, $22tr by 2060 and then $120tr by 2070. And then maybe by 2100 the economy as we know it will have collapsed and any cost estimate is void.

The climate impact is getting more severe at an exponential rate, and—unlike the pandemic—it is not gonna get better in the foreseeable future.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
Yes, but the cost of ratcheting down the economy through lockdowns to reduce emissions also has a continuing cost.

And no, climate change, even if we do nothing, won’t cause the economy to collapse by 2100: https://www.factcheck.org/2019/03/how-much-will-the-green-ne...

> “While it is true that we estimated damages as high as 10% of GDP annually at the end of the century for warming of 15°F above pre-industrial levels, the odds of a temperature change that would drive damages of this magnitude are slim,” he wrote. “In fact, they are less than 1-in-100 by our original calculation.”

It’s worth spending a lot of money to avoid a 10% GDP loss. But it’s not worth spending the kind of money you’d be willing to spend if you thought the economy was going to collapse completely otherwise.

baron_harkonnen 44 days ago [-]
I have never read any serious research that proposes what you are proposing: that climate mitigation is going to cost more than the consequences of failing to mitigate it.

We're on the path to a 4C world by something like 2100. An increase by that much might possibly wipe out the species. If it fall short of that forecast the damage will be far greater.

Not to mention that pandemic shares the same root cause as climate change. Destroying our ecosystem has increased the incident of zoonotic spillover. We'll see more pandemics as we continue on this path. And the costs of these are not separate from the costs of climate change.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
> We're on the path to a 4C world by something like 2100. An increase by that much might possibly wipe out the species.

That is absolutely not what scientists and economists are predicting. An RCP 8.5 scenario (which is considered on the worse side of what's likely in a "do nothing" world) is expected to knock 6.7-14.3% of US GDP by 2100: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019102... (p. 7). That would be about half as bad as the COVID lockdowns (but permanent): https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/us-gdp-q2-2020-first-reading....

Note that's a 14.3% hit compared to what GDP would be in 2100. That's a big impact. It's equivalent to going from 3% annual GDP growth between then and now to 2.7% annual GDP growth.

Now, the numbers hide some really terrible costs. The Florida and Gulf coast will become uninhabitable, destroying half the economy in those areas. To put it into perspective the 2018 California wildfires cost 0.75% of GDP. So this is like 20 times worse. It's bad! But it's not an "untold cost." It's not an outcome worth spending any amount to avoid.

Scientists don't think mitigation will cost more than the damages from climate change, because scientists aren't proposing to mitigate climate change by shutting down the economy the way we did during the COIVD lockdown. That's an insanely inefficient way to achieve mitigation. I mentioned the economic loss from COVID lockdown not to suggest that is actually how we would reduce emissions, but to put into perspective what the expected costs of climate change are.

Saying that climate change will have "untold cost" is problematic because it makes you believe that mitigation strategies that will have massive costs will be justified to avoid climate change damages. It's worth the U.S. spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on climate-change mitigation. The EU is planning on spending 260 billion euro annually by 2030. That's roughly the scale of Biden's plan.

But the "World War II-style" mobilization of the economy that Green New Deal advocates want will hurt economic growth by more than climate change will. If we go from 3% annual GDP growth to 2% annually we'll shoot ourselves in the foot.

baron_harkonnen 44 days ago [-]
All of the RCP scenarios assume large scale carbon capture and storage, a technology we have no pathway to scaling.

None of the RCP scenarios consider potential positive feed back loops. This is understandable because from a climate modeling perspective these are complex and involve a lot of uncertainty/unknowns. However historical evidence suggests that in all mass extinction events involving rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 there is a point at which CO2 concentrations appear to start to dramatically increase due to some systemic trigger. We don’t know what exactly that may be, but many climate change concerns are happing “faster than expected”.

Events that cause positive feedback include things like increased CO2 emissions from wild fire, destruction of the amazon rainforest, increased albedo from melt arctic sea ice, methane release from melting permafrost, etc. We really don’t know how to account for all of these but past climate/co2 events suggest there is a “tipping point” for radical climate change.

It is also worth pointing out that climate change is only one of the ways in which our current system is completely unsustainable.

Our current economy demands perpetual growth. We are already living unsustainably. The consequences for this are obvious, and if we were remotely capable of surviving in a way remotely resembling our current standard of living we would have to immediately start scaling back production and consumption. The green new deal is a joke, and we clearly are incapable of changing our path.

swader999 44 days ago [-]
rayiner 44 days ago [-]
No, all the scenarios do not assume carbon capture and storage. The RCP 8.5 scenario is actually a high emissions scenario that experts think overestimates carbon emissions given existing trends.

As to the other point, the IPCC has studied the possibility of positive feedback loops and has concluded they’re unlikely.

ericd 44 days ago [-]
Does that scenario include destabilization of societies and war? If the current level of migration is causing political strife in the US and EU, do you think that orders of magnitude more might cause much more severe problems?
runarberg 44 days ago [-]
> Saying that climate change will have "untold cost" is problematic because it makes you believe that mitigation strategies that will have massive costs will be justified to avoid climate change damages

I’m not aware of any existing technology capable that will mitigate the harm that the current trajectory of the climate disaster is projected to cause.

Hoping for new technology that can save us from the harm 30 year from now is naive. Thirty years ago we had quantum computers, microwaves, GMO, lithium-ion batteries, etc. VTVL rockets are a 25 year old technology already. Hoping for something that doesn’t exist already will save us is simply a disillusion.

In honesty “shutting down the economy” is still a better option then “business as usual”. Although, honestly, I thing there is a better option: Investing in green infrastructure, along with International agreements, and carbon taxes, which we could integrate into existing societal systems to at least slow down the harm until technology is available that can save us from this catastrophe.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
By mitigation I don’t mean “after the fact cleanup” I mean to reduce the amount of climate change that happens. (Saying “stopping” or “averting” climate change seems wrong in this context since we’re definitely going to hit 1.5 or probably 2C).

Shutting down the economy is not better than business as usual. Business as usual is worse than cost-effective mitigations. Scientists estimate those could cost up to $1 trillion per year, worldwide, by 2030. That’s under 2% of GDP. Damage from climate change in an RCP 8.5 scenario will be many times that, 7-15% in the US by 2100. But it still won’t be nearly as bad as the COVID shutdowns, which wacked 30% off GDP while they were in effect.

runarberg 44 days ago [-]
So by “cost effective mitigation” I presume you mean something akin to: Investing in green infrastructure, international agreements, and carbon tax, right?
rayiner 44 days ago [-]
Yes, that’s what I meant to refer to in my post above:

> It's worth the U.S. spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on climate-change mitigation. The EU is planning on spending 260 billion euro annually by 2030. That's roughly the scale of Biden's plan.

I’m not arguing against those investments. My point is that saying climate change will have “untold cost” suggests that massive economic shutdowns or “war time mobilization of the economy” will be worth it to avoid climate change. They won’t be. In particular, anything that jeopardizes economic growth through Green New Deal-style government takeover of vast sectors of the economy will cause more harm than it averts.

More information here: https://www.factcheck.org/2019/03/how-much-will-the-green-ne...

runarberg 44 days ago [-]
I think we have a different understanding of what a green new deal means. For me it means investing in green infrastructure, an amount that the global economy is already spending on carbon polluting ventures (including the military).

I can’t possibly see how reducing (in my opinion) stupid and corrupt business investments and increasing in sustainable infrastructure that will lower our carbon footprint can cause more harm then good. For me this fact is obvious. I think we there must be some fundamental difference between us for us to arrive at such different conclusions.

rayiner 44 days ago [-]
The Green New Deal is a specific set of proposals with that name: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/21/181441...

It advocates a “World War II” style mobilization, of the sort that existed back when the federal government took over almost half the entire economy.

I understand that’s not what you support, but people do support massive efforts like this to combat climate change. My point is simply that when you say climate change will have “untold cost” you make it impossible to understand why the programs you support might be worth it, while a World War II-style mobilization would do more harm than good.

svnt 44 days ago [-]
Have you considered that someone might use an extreme starting point in a political negotiation in order to achieve something less extreme but generally in the same direction?
rayiner 44 days ago [-]
In a real negotiation, you select a high opening bid to leave yourself some wiggle room, but not one that’s extreme because that signals to the other side you’re unreasonable and it’s not worth negotiating.
redisman 44 days ago [-]
That’s kind of absurd though. Destroying large swaths of nature for good isn’t well reflected in “what % of GDP is that?”
44 days ago [-]
roenxi 44 days ago [-]
> ...that will be paid by generations to come...

I think the lockdowns could be revealed as a costly mistake and there is a great hubris among the well off in thinking that because they aren't struggling everything is fine.

But this is particular argument is unsustainable. A lockdown can have generations of consequences - what doesn't? - but it cannot be paid for by generations to come. It was paid for now, resources were reallocated and consumed.

The risk is more subtle. If a group of people develop who have nothing to lose, then they lose nothing by being very violent and destroying stuff. Physical destruction of assets is something that can cause long-term damage. The lockdowns take away options from people who don't have many.

rmk 44 days ago [-]
I'm talking about the debt incurred by the Government in order to provide assistance to the unemployed and the businesses that were struggling. Trillions of dollars of debt (in addition to 20-30 trillion dollar debt already incurred) is not something that one generation can manage.
roenxi 44 days ago [-]
I'd guessed. Lets say they wait one generation then just say "nah, we're not paying. Just ignore that debt". Who loses? Did the losers deserve to win? These are tricky questions.

There isn't a reason to think that the US taxpayer is going to pay back their debts (in real terms). The numbers have gotten large enough relative to GDP that they aren't realistically going to honour those promises.

It may get ugly, but that debt isn't going to last generations.

rmk 44 days ago [-]
As I have argued elsewhere in this thread, default or monetizing the debt has consequences, including permanently higher borrowing costs that will exact a heavy price from future generations if they choose to go those routes. That's what history teaches us.

The biggest loser will be the (US) general public, because it holds the majority of the debt. Foreign adversaries (such as China) hold a much lower percentage of the debt (and USD-denominated instruments).

roenxi 44 days ago [-]
> ...including permanently higher borrowing costs that will exact a heavy price from future generations ...

Seems unlikely. Nobody makes reference to poor behaviour by someone's father's father when deciding to lend.

And it is already embarrassingly obvious that the US isn't actually going to pay their debts back. The people taking on the loans at the moment have hopefully accounted for that.

Is all this debt bad? Yes. Will it affect the prospects of future generations? Only if it spirals into a war and something spills over into the physical world destructively.

hcurtiss 44 days ago [-]
And watching so many small businesses in my small town close, that was not at all a thing I hope climate change policy replicates.
rmk 44 days ago [-]
One can wish, but I know that there is huge pressure on the current administration to appease the left wing of the party. Keystone XL is canceled, and the US has rejoined the Paris agreement on the first day of Biden's Presidency. A multi-trillion dollar Green New Deal that will further saddle future generations with debt is looking likely at this point. Whether it will provide the benefits it purports to do is far from certain.
huragok 44 days ago [-]
Trillions used for the GND is debt but trillions sunk into tax cuts for the top 1% is just good economics.
rmk 44 days ago [-]
Incurring debt != Foregoing revenue via income tax
JoBrad 44 days ago [-]
They have the same outcome, though, relative to future debts. Isn't this a distinction without a difference?
rmk 44 days ago [-]
Once you incur debt, it must be serviced. If you forego revenue via a couple of channels (income tax, inheritance tax), you can either (a) raise debt to replace the revenue you lost or (b) provide incentives so that the revenue foregone is invested (efficiently and judiciously) to spur growth, which brings in revenue or (c) raise revenue via other channels. You can do some combination of the above. The point being, you have fewer options at hand once you incur debt, because default has dire consequences (ask Russia or Argentina), and printing money also has less desirable consequences (indiscriminate tax on everyone including those on fixed incomes and savers).
sudosysgen 44 days ago [-]
It's actually pretty much the same. As long as the government programs you are funding aren't too wasteful - and if they are the solution is to fix the waste - incurring sovereign debt is not that much different from foregoing revenue. The difference is that if you forego revenue from the top 1% you get worse outcomes than if you tax them or cut useful government spending or print debt.
marcosdumay 44 days ago [-]
Huh? Obviously they are different things, one is consequence of the other.
eli_gottlieb 44 days ago [-]
Money is fungible, actually.
splintercell 44 days ago [-]
Unironically, yes. Remember tax cuts isn't money just given away, the 1% didn't cause the spending part of the equation. You just think 1% should pay that tab.
sudosysgen 44 days ago [-]
Taxation also doesn't reduce spending, often it causes more spending to occur than if it wasn't taxed.
dustinmoris 44 days ago [-]
The most effective way to cut emissions for a family is to have ({desired amount of children} - 1) children. Maybe if we would have let nature claim that 1%-2% of obese unfit greedy consumers then we could have achieved a more sustainable reduction of CO2.
breakfastduck 44 days ago [-]
All it does it prove how fruitless the prevention of climate change is.

A total shutdown of the entire world economy on an unprecedented scale still doesn't track enough to prevent climate change.

If that isn't a clear indicator of how severe the situation is then I don't know what else is.

openasocket 44 days ago [-]
Meh, the effect of COVID on the economy was pretty specific. You've got a drop in commuters, and a lot of office space going empty and not using a lot of energy. But now people are staying home all day, so they're still using electricity, just in their homes and not the office. According to the article, the demand for electricity only dropped 2%, the 10% drop in power plant emissions was largely due to the continued transition to renewables. And while a lot of people stopped commuting and traveling, there was plenty of shipping (including a big bump in deliveries) which is a substantial source of emissions.

I'm still optimistic. Just replacing coal with renewable power would put emission levels back to like the 1960s (maybe 1970s, trying to find that damn statistic), and that's likely to happen in the US in a few decades just by market forces.

joseph_grobbles 44 days ago [-]
I'm being pummeled far to the negatives below, but any notion that there was a "total shutdown" is farcical.

A small segment of the economy got hit -- small retail. Outside of that, everything else is BOOMING.

blake1 44 days ago [-]
I disagree with a lot of this, except the conclusion.

The economy never came close to a “total shutdown.” In most places, the overwhelming majority of jobs were classified as essential—maybe 2/3rds—even while certain sectors did shut down. You can look at various stats, but a very simple one is the output gap, estimated to be 6%, which is potential GDP minus actual. This is a fair proxy for how shut down the economy was. The severe shutdowns were relatively brief.

Mostly, we massively changed the mix of activities we engage in, substituting relatively cleaner ones for more polluting ones. Maybe you purchased more manufactured goods and used more electricity, while driving less. A different conclusion from yours is that simple behavior changes—like more telework—can have significant impacts on emissions.

It proves that we can cut emissions without living a prehistoric lifestyle. And given that renewable energy sources are cheaper than polluting ones, this gives me reason to be optimistic.

VBprogrammer 44 days ago [-]
I said this back when the emissions for the UK were announced, the reduction in emissions due to lockdown show the upper limit of what could be achieved through individual choice. And the bottom line is its trivially wiped out by a few years of ordinary growth. Real change needs to come through regulatory, industrial and technological change.
breakfastduck 42 days ago [-]
See, I disagree.

We've shut down the most we could, essentially. Which means most things need to stay open and active.

What could we possibly do to make a bigger impact?

anigbrowl 44 days ago [-]
When you're driving, there are two kinds of accidents; the ones that happen suddenly with no warning, and the ones where you realize things are going wrong but you still have some control over your vehicle. In the latter case, going off the road or being involved in a collision is still very unpleasant, but you can mitigate a lot of the damage as long as you don't panic. In many cases you can even get back on the road and resume your journey safely.
Ancalagon 44 days ago [-]
Actually I think my view on climate change is more optimistic now. The article mentioned the majority of the carbon reduction wasnt actually due to reduced demand, but rather from lowered emissions from using renewables (and more specifically the closures of coal plants). This seems like pretty good news to me. You can continue to grow and operate the economy while reducing carbon emissions to levels they need to be at by switching everything to renewables.
fbelzile 44 days ago [-]
I don't think it's fruitless, but it shows how much we'll need to rely on clean technology rather than a change in human behaviour to curb climate change.
epistasis 44 days ago [-]
> A total shutdown of the entire world economy on an unprecedented scale

Where did that happen? US GDP is down a few percent, yet emissions plummeted far far further.

pasquinelli 44 days ago [-]
we haven't had a total shutdown of the entire world economy. that would imply no one's making anything or buying anything. as far as what we need, we're still producing more than enough. we could cut more than we have and still have ample. no one would be getting rich though. so there it is, the driver of climate change from the beginning remains the driver of climate change now.
manfredo 44 days ago [-]
Adoption of nuclear power akin to France, and electrification of transportation (both road and rail) solves most of it.

There's some additional work for things like replacing steam reformation with electrolysis or thermochemical hydrogen production. Decarbonization of air and sea transportation presents a bigger challenge but it's not unsolvable.

44 days ago [-]
joseph_grobbles 44 days ago [-]
"A total shutdown of the entire world economy"

GDP has barely taken a hit the world over. Trade is virtually unchanged. Hell, some indicators went positive though the pandemic.

I don't really think there was a "shutdown". Passenger car miles might have gone down, but I suspect deliveries and cargo went way up.

sterlind 44 days ago [-]
Redistribution. I try to support local stores, and yet I've had to use Amazon much more now. The pandemic has centralized the economy and harmed small businesses - tons of restaurants shutting down here, hair stylists out of work, etc.
nostrademons 44 days ago [-]
Unpopular prediction: we're going to solve global warming by the 22nd century, but we're going to "solve" it with nuclear winter and the destruction of 80-90% of humanity. Once we're down to a billion people or so and most of what passes for advanced civilization has been destroyed, carbon emissions and warming won't be a problem.
imtringued 44 days ago [-]
That's a very stupid solution when you consider how much money you could make from reducing CO2 emissions. People just have to stop have an intensive desire to harm themselves. That is all.

The idea that you can gain anything from denying climate change and skip out on preventative measures is just wrong. The economics alone tell you that this is a losing play and I am not even talking about the impact on the climate, just the potential for economic growth that you end up denying by denying climate change.

nostrademons 44 days ago [-]
I'd agree that it's a stupid solution. I don't want 80% of humanity to die, particularly since when you do out the math on resource usage and projected population peaks, there's a good chance that everybody could live just fine.

But I've spent a good deal of time studying game theory and situations where the behavior of the whole is significantly dumber than the behavior of each individual actor, because the individual actors' interests are not aligned. I think global warming is going to be one of those. Sure, if we could come to a rational collective-action agreement, we could solve it. The history of collective-action as a solution is pretty dismal.

stretchcat 44 days ago [-]
Nuclear winter seems unlikely to me, and from what I understand I'm not alone. Cities are no longer prone to huge firestorms like they once were. Furthermore most nuclear strikes would probably be airbursts to maximize blast effects, but that means less material being thrown into the atmosphere. If the attack were calculated to cause maximum fallout instead, airbursts of salted bombs might be used, which would poison huge areas of land but would not particularly contribute to a nuclear winter.
nostrademons 44 days ago [-]
The primary targets for nukes aren't cities, they're other nukes. Most of these warheads are set for groundburst (or underground burst - I remember a bunch of research in the 80s about burrowing/penetrating warheads), because to blow up a 3-4 foot thick reinforced concrete silo you basically need to land right on top of it. That's the big fallout threat.
stretchcat 44 days ago [-]
The nuclear winter theories I've read all involve the injection of soot into the stratosphere by nuclear-ignited firestorms. Buried nuclear blasts can dig pretty big holes (Sedan crater and all the other craters in the Nevada Test Site, which looks like the surface of the moon) and are certainly a huge fallout threat, but the claim of nuclear strikes against buried silos causing a nuclear winter is a new one to me.

Some napkin math: the Sedan test was optimized to dig a big hole, was buried almost 200 meters deep, and moved about 11 million tons of earth, leaving a crater of 0.005 cubic kilometers. The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambura, which caused a 'year without summer', ejected 160-213 cubic kilometers of material into the stratosphere, something like 32 thousand times as much as the Sedan blast. I'm guessing each strike against a nuclear silo would probably create craters a fraction the size of Sedan.

marcosdumay 44 days ago [-]
Since the concept of 32 thousand nukes exploding in a war sounded realistic (a bit on the "too many" side, but nothing completely impossible), I got into wikipedia to check if that was any particularly large bomb. I have bad news for you:

> The fusion-fission blast had a yield equivalent to 104 kilotons of TNT (435 terajoules)

That is a quite small fusion-fission bomb. If your calculation is right, we are talking about some hundreds of more normal ones, not tens of thousands.

exporectomy 44 days ago [-]
Doomsday predictions about climate change are very popular.
hammock 44 days ago [-]
Bill Gates wants to test an artificial nuclear winter... https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7350713/Bill...
jessaustin 44 days ago [-]
Albedo modification is the obvious response to the situation. Of course testing should start small, but the idea that 2 kg of material in one location could lead to a runaway deep-freeze earth situation is not plausible. Those global warming enthusiasts who oppose this research seem more interested in political implications than in actually reducing warming.
csnover 44 days ago [-]
> Those global warming enthusiasts who oppose this research seem more interested in political implications than in actually reducing warming.

There are serious and legitimate concerns about albedo modification research which have nothing to do with politics. I don’t think that anyone in the field is concerned that this small-scale experiment will lead to global catastrophe, but it’s a stepping stone to something which could lead to those bad outcomes—and it’s not clear that a small test like this would be able to answer the most important questions that we’d need answered before actually embarking on a global albedo modification programme.

Of the various issues already covered by the Daily Mail story, one thing it doesn’t really talk about is that albedo modification requires a functioning human civilisation capable of injecting aerosols to the atmosphere to exist, without ever stopping, for thousands of years. A single disruption could cause up to 0.7°C of warming in one year[0].

About the only case in which something like this makes sense is if we’ve solved the emissions problem, but a bit too late, so only need a bridge for a few decades while we are actively pulling CO2 from the atmosphere.

If you want to learn more, away from the sensationalism of the Daily Mail, the podcast Brave New Planet had an episode about this last October[1], which is where most of my current knowledge comes from.

[0] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/4/4/045...

[1] https://www.bravenewplanet.org/episodes/a-radical-approach-c...

imtringued 44 days ago [-]
There are simple ways to avoid resorting to desperate measures like these. Just do them and stop worrying about extreme situations.
jessaustin 42 days ago [-]
If you can (non-violently) convince everyone on earth to suffer massive setbacks in health and material comforts, then by all means go ahead. In the meantime, something that has a chance of actually happening should be pursued, even if it isn't "simple" by some arbitrary measure.
missedthecue 44 days ago [-]
Do you realize how cheap sea walls are? The Dutch were building them 800 years ago with medieval technology and resources.
nostrademons 44 days ago [-]
My threat model for global warming is different from most people's (hence "unpopular prediction"). I think sea-level rise is going to be a non-event: the worst models predict about 18 inches over a century, which is less than tidal variation in most places.

Changing weather and vegetation patterns is going to be a big event. We're going to see some previously fertile areas (Mesopotamia, Northern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa) suffer from decade-long droughts, while other previously uninhabitable areas (Canadian & Russian taiga and the Sahara, for example) become fertile grasslands. This will drive widespread migration, which has a tendency to destroy political stability and lead to mass wars. Nature isn't going to kill us; we're going to kill each other because some of us are going to starve and others are going to get fabulously wealthy.

triceratops 44 days ago [-]
> Canadian & Russian taiga and the Sahara, for example, become fertile grasslands

It'll take a lot more than climate for those areas to become productive. Glaciers have scraped away most of the topsoil in the Canadian shield[1], for instance. The Sahara desert's sand isn't a great growing medium. And so on.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Shield

ido 44 days ago [-]
I'm Israeli and moved to Austria and later Germany in adulthood. I now live in Berlin, which is in the middle of an area the Germans consider unsuitable to agriculture due to poor soil quality.

And yet in Israel people managed to employ advanced AgTech to grow food in areas with much worse soil than Berlin-Brandenburg & with less abundant water reserves (and they also did this back when Israel was a much poorer country than Germany). In fact aside from some grains import Israel is mostly self-sufficient in food production. Germany is not despite being less densely populated and having much better natural conditions for growing food, because it is more expensive than importing food.

If need be these areas can produce food if the climate is suitable, it will just not be as cheap as the food we can currently get elsewhere (but then again AgTech continues to advance and economies of scale kick in). Anecdotally as a consumer groceries in Israel cost about 2-3x as much as in Germany but both countries suffer a lot more from obesity than hunger.

Also as an unintended result of the above Israel is today a significant exporter of AgTech.

missedthecue 44 days ago [-]
But I think what's overlooked is that these changes will happen over a long period of time. 20, 50, 100 years. We will grow different crops 100 years hence, but we were growing different crops 100 years ago. There will be lots of immigration over the next 100 years, but there's been a lot of immigration over the past 100 years, including in my family and likely in yours.

I think the costs of a changing climate are real, but I think the benefits are too often overlooked. For instance, most landmass on earth is not at the equator, but it's in the northern hemisphere. Much of it is uninhabitable at present but will become habitable as the climate changes. Canada, Sweden, Finland, and others will become more than 100km tall. A lot of Russia, and Northern Europe, as well as Mongolia and South America will become more habitable. Further, according to Lancet, very cold weather kills more people than very hot weather, so as winters become more mild and summers become hotter, the net effect will be fewer deaths.

ppeetteerr 44 days ago [-]
It's wishful to say that we achieved this, or that we were compelled to do this. Emissions were reduced as a consequence of social distancing, not as a desired goal.

I suspect we'll look back at 2020 as the year we generated the most waste from all that packaging that went into shipping products to individual homes.

I'll remind that there are airlines booking flights to literally nowhere: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/19/travel/airlines-pandemic-...

bluGill 44 days ago [-]
Most of the people I know have no interest in the current state of affairs. They are just coping because death is seen as even worse. However they are reaching the breaking point and getting ready to just give up and hope they are not one of the dead (or a long-hauler).

IF this is what it takes, then we will never get there. We need to do better. I don't know what better is, but it cannot mean travel restrictions and no ability to see friends.

yrimaxi 44 days ago [-]
We live in economies that rely on consumption. So it isn’t exactly strange that we make the “behavioral choices” that we do during normal times.

There’s been plenty of fretting regarding slowing down the economy, and for good reason.

djrogers 44 days ago [-]
It’s also tragic that the changes we made cost 20+ million jobs, and dramatically increased income inequality.
WalterGR 44 days ago [-]
Could there have been structural issues that existed before COVID that led to this outcome, but that COVID itself revealed? Much like certain pre-existing conditions lead to a greater chance of loss of life from COVID?

Some people blame COVID and some people blame the pre-existing conditions.

Is COVID to blame for the economic costs that you mention, or are the pre-existing conditions?

jessaustin 44 days ago [-]
Absolutely, yes. In normal nations, mechanisms existed to pay for both health care and lost wages for all citizens. Those mechanisms don't exist in USA. We only have mechanisms to give lots of money to the already-rich people who control our elections. So, we got "The CARES Act".
djrogers 44 days ago [-]
To say that we have no mechanism to pay for unemployment or health care for the unemployed is disingenuous at best. The poor are exactly the people whose healthcare the government does pay for. And the CARES act largely just expanded existing welfare and unemployment benefits.
jessaustin 43 days ago [-]
Perhaps you haven't spent much time on unemployment or Medicaid? I work in a dental clinic, and it seems like every month there's another wrinkle added to the Medicaid system to make it stingier and to chase away more providers. Unemployment only helps a quarter of those who are unemployed, and it pays those people on average a third of what they were making while employed.

This diagram shows that "CARES Act" was very much not about "expanding existing welfare and unemployment benefits". [0]

Americans who haven't traveled have no concept of how a functioning polity cares for citizens during a pandemic. If our government doesn't care for us, why do we tolerate it?

[0] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/CARES_Ac...

djrogers 44 days ago [-]
> Is COVID to blame for the economic costs that you mention, or are the pre-existing conditions?

I fail to grasp what you’re getting at here - what pre-existing conditions could possibly lead to millions of people losing their jobs because they’re employers were forbidden to do business?

Unless you’re suggesting that people should not own businesses or be employed by those who do...

adrianN 44 days ago [-]
I suspect that we would have had a bigger impact on the climate if we took all the money the governments printed as stimulus and built wind turbines and solar panels with it, or insulated buildings and installed heat pumps.
44 days ago [-]
sigzero 44 days ago [-]
If there was no threat, it would not have happened.
youeseh 44 days ago [-]
Sounds like de-centralized power generation, maximizing remote work, and delivery vehicles powered by electricity and hydrogen is the way forward.
jackdeansmith 44 days ago [-]
Why de-centralized power generation? I was under the impression that the electrical distribution system is very efficient in the US and economies of scale make large scale renewables much cheaper.
snoshy 44 days ago [-]
Electrical distribution in the US is actually aging quite badly and is in deep need of replacement of large parts of it. Inefficiency isn't entirely the problem, although many (including me) would argue that it isn't as efficient as it could be. DC power transmission at high voltages is now feasible due to new technologies, and it is more efficient as well as easier to step up/down. At large scale, even such seemingly small losses do start to add up and matter.

Decentralization brings an obvious benefit - if power is consumed near generation, you need less infrastructure to distribute it, thereby lowering costs. Once we start adding large numbers of EVs charging at home, our energy consumption will tilt more and more towards the home, making generation and consumption on the spot much more efficient and useful.

Another benefit of decentralization is grid resilience. Removing single points of failure by distributing them means that large scale power outages (while already infrequent) would become less frequent.

jackdeansmith 44 days ago [-]
100% agree about grid modernization and resilience being high priorities, but as I pointed out in another comment, the economies of scale for renewables are really really massive (utility scale solar is about half the unit cost of residential and commercial rooftop solar). Transmitting power long distance also partially solves intermittence problems with renewables by allowing overcapacity in one region to power extra demand in another. A bunch of good points for sure, but if I had to bet, I would guess that the future of our energy system involves far more long distance transmission and large installations.
snoshy 44 days ago [-]
Fair point about the unit costs being drastically lower due to economies of scale. As with any large scale infrastructure, it will certainly be a mix of both local generation and utility scale transmitted power. The real question is where the balance of the two will end up. Either way, distributed generation at scale will be a unique phenomenon that hasn't been seen before, and will certainly result in quite a bit of disruption throughout the industry.
cobookman 44 days ago [-]
Decentralization is also in the National Security interest. Makes it much harder for an adversary to take down large swaths of the US Grid.
snoshy 44 days ago [-]
This I'm not so sure about. It will certainly be different, but it's still an open question whether it will be easier to secure from a national security standpoint.

There's the physical security aspect of this, which is as you say, hard to take down when it's decentralized. However, as power generation gets more distributed, we'll naturally start seeing more (if not most) of these pieces of equipment be controlled over networks (private or public), and securing distributed infrastructure from a software standpoint is still a hard problem.

Just look at the state of IoT security today. It's quite bad, and that's not even realistically including nation state attackers in the threat model. I don't expect this to go well with a decentralized grid, at least not for a while initially.

cobookman 44 days ago [-]
I'm not convinced that it needs to be internet controlled. Hopefully it uses protocols like BLE or Zigbee requiring proximity. That way such an attack would require being physically near the device.
jholman 43 days ago [-]
Zigbee devices can form mesh networks. That means viruses on them can form mesh networks. If, in addition to your Zigbee-only home automation gear, you've got a zigbee-enabled internet-enabled hub of some kind, you can get comand-and-control into the network from anywhere in the world. So much for proximity. I worked briefly in a SCADA-adjacent space a decade ago, and people were delivering PoCs back then.

IoT is a raging tirefire. It's hard to even imagine how bad the security situation is.

jounker 44 days ago [-]
Decentralization means rooftop solar, and decentralized control (aka smart meters) have been in place for quite a while in many places.
conk 44 days ago [-]
How is stepping DC up/down easier than AC?
jessaustin 44 days ago [-]
Perhaps parent meant DC is easier now than DC used to be? We can't use transformers, but power circuitry has improved with better FETs.
throwawaysea 44 days ago [-]
For me, I just like the idea of self-reliance and being able to function in the event of an issue with the grid. I've unfortunately experienced weather events that have led to 2 week outages of power, for example. Fossil fuels provide that security and benefit to some degree, and also have the added bonus of transportability. Yes it is not self-reliance in the sense that you still depend on a supply chain to produce those fuels. But it is easy to store a lot of those fuels for an extended period of time. It's not really practical to do so for electricity, however. A Tesla Powerwall is much much more expensive than a tank, and only stores 13.5 kWh.
jackdeansmith 44 days ago [-]
I dig the idea of self reliance and preparedness, but like you pointed out, fossil fuels and small generators solve the problem really well. In most places in the US, the grid is pretty reliable so optimizing the system for those handful of days/year doesn't seem prudent. Granted, some places (looking at you California) have a lot of work to do on reliability.
RobRivera 44 days ago [-]
heat loss in power distribution is nontrivial
jackdeansmith 44 days ago [-]
In the US at least, transmission loss seems to be on order of 5% of total energy distributed. Source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=105&t=3#:~:text=Th....

The economies of scale seem to be much larger. For example, utility scale solar seems to be about half the unit cost compared to residential and commercial solar: https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/solar-installed-system-cost.ht...

r00fus 44 days ago [-]
Yeah, everything except the hydrogen part sounds like a good move.
gecko 44 days ago [-]
Hydrogen as part is totally reasonable. It gives us hydrocarbon density without us needing to add to the CO2 in the atmosphere. The important thing to remember when discussing it is that it's an energy storage medium, not an energy generation medium. Most of the time I get irritated is when people treat hydrogen as the latter. But if our culture is just too damn wedded to cars for now, and battery tech just isn't there yet, then using hydrogen as a stopgap--provided the hydrogen is made from renewable energy--seems fine to me.
tryptophan 44 days ago [-]
IMO ammonia makes more sense than hydrogen.

It doesn't cause metals to become brittle. Its relatively stable. It doesn't require as low temperature or as high pressure to liquidize. It also stores ~50% more hydrogen per volume, as each ammonia has 3 hydrogen, unlike elemental hydrogen with just 2.

throwawayboise 44 days ago [-]
It's also highly toxic and a leak in the wrong place could kill thousands of people.
evgen 44 days ago [-]
But we have handled ammonia on an industrial scale for more than a century and are really good at it. Any safety concerns about ammonia are ridiculous when compared with some of the other substances we handle and live around on a daily basis.
bluGill 44 days ago [-]
A a John Deere employee I can tell you that several very much wanted products have failed to be developed because someone put their safety black-hat on and came up with a to abuse that product the release ammonia into the air. Once an evil person figures out how to control our system it is trivial for them to figure out many terrorist attacks involving ammonia releases.

Yes the world deals with ammonia all the time. However we have special training for anyone who handles it. Even the most caution to the wind types wear full respirators and thick gloves when handling it.

When you buy ammonia at walmart what you get is 1% ammonia, 99% water. Then you are instructed to dilute it with more water 16:1, Even at that ratio it is nasty enough that those who use it have windows open.

jessaustin 44 days ago [-]
Please be specific. Liquid anhydrous ammonia is a common fertilizer. John Deere still sells e.g. the 2430 and the 2510. How did the hypothetical "very much wanted" products differ from those applicators? Are we talking about a handheld model? (That might have been a bad idea!) One suspects the hypothetical "evil persons" whose threat delayed product development were more interested in cooking meth than in terrorist attacks...
bluGill 44 days ago [-]
None of them can be controlled from the internet.
jessaustin 44 days ago [-]
John Deere is to be commended, one supposes, for being much more concerned about blackhat terrorists than e.g. Siemens with all their internet-accessible SCADA installations, but neither ISIS nor Putin care about killing a couple of farmers in western Iowa. Thread parent was about automobiles, and while maybe professionally-operated vehicles like semi trucks or buses would be better with which to start using ammonia on a large scale, vehicles are unlike applicator implements in that they aren't actually designed to release ammonia into the environment. Conceivably a car could be hacked to lock the brakes at high speed, but there's just no mechanism to pour out its fuel tank.
bluGill 42 days ago [-]
How do you know that the tank won't rupture in an accident? Such engineering is not cheap.
jessaustin 42 days ago [-]
Ammonia is less flammable and explosive than gasoline, which is commonly found in currently-engineered and currently-existing fuel tanks. They are both much less flammable and explosive than hydrogen, which is the other fuel under discussion in this thread. Ammonia tanks would be pressurized, which is different than gasoline, but lots of tanks are pressurized.
r00fus 44 days ago [-]
And hydrogen substrate isn't similar?
philipkglass 44 days ago [-]
Hydrogen is not toxic by inhalation, but it's a much worse explosion/fire risk.

Hydrogen is flammable when mixed with air between 4% and 75%, and it takes a minimum energy of 0.016 millijoules to ignite. Ammonia is flammable between 15% and 28% and takes 680 millijoules to ignite. It takes much more energy to ignite ammonia and there's a much narrower range of mixtures with air where it can support combustion.


ozborn 44 days ago [-]
The problem is that hydrogen is more likely to be made with steam-methane reforming, not electrolysis using clean energy sources.

It is also difficult to store, so I suspect the hydrogen ship has sailed.

gecko 44 days ago [-]
Yep, and that's a very legitimate concern and why I'm certainly not bullish about hydrogen. I just don't want to reflexively throw it out; sufficient energy production from clean sources would make electrolysis quite reasonable, even if it's not ideal, and there are approaches to handling the storage, too, if that ends up being the last bit. I suspect, based on current trends and sciences, that we'll see better batteries instead, but I don't see harm in continuing to look at hydrogen for now.
DennisP 44 days ago [-]
A company in Norway thinks it can get electrolysis to price parity with steam-methane reforming by 2025, and maybe cheaper after that.


ggreer 44 days ago [-]
Hydrogen vehicles will never become popular. There are several reasons for this:

- To be carbon-neutral, the hydrogen must come from splitting water.[1] Currently hydrogen comes from steam reforming of methane (which releases lots of carbon).[2]

- Hydrogen is a very pernicious molecule. It will slowly leak through metal and weaken it.[3]

- Hydrogen vehicles must be refueled at special fueling stations. Electric vehicles can be charged anywhere there is electricity (such as at home).

- Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are more expensive than battery electric vehicles. Toyota sells the Mirai for $57,500 and loses money on each one.

- Storage and transportation of hydrogen is very difficult. It must either be stored in gaseous form at very high pressure, or in liquid form at 20 degrees above absolute zero. Current vehicles use high pressure tanks, which also require high pressure pumps. Many hydrogen stations can only provide 5,000psi pumps, which means you'll only get half a tank (and half of your expected range).[4]

- Hydrogen is more flammable than gasoline (it will ignite in a much wider range of mixtures with oxygen).[5] Unlike gasoline, the flame is invisible in daytime. Unlike gasoline, hydrogen is invisible and has no smell, making leaks undetectable without special equipment. If an odorant is added to the hydrogen, it will likely damage the fuel cell.

- Hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline and far more expensive than electricity. Even with subsidies, refilling a Toyota Mirai costs over $80.[4] That gives you just over 300 miles of range. My Tesla Model 3 has the same range and a full charge costs me $6 at home. Supercharging is also cheaper, at around $25.

- Batteries got cheap faster than anyone predicted (except Tesla). In 2015, a study looked at past estimates of battery prices versus observed prices. They found that analysts were consistently pessimistic about cost reductions. Correcting for this, they noted that cost per kWh, "...could reach $200 by 2020." Actual cost in 2020 was $123.[6]

Given all of these disadvantages, I don't see how hydrogen vehicles could be considered reasonable. The economics, physics, safety, and convenience simply don't work out.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_splitting

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_reforming

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement

4. https://www.cars.com/articles/fill-er-up-refueling-the-2016-...

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_safety

6. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/04/will-falling-battery-...

letsgoyeti 44 days ago [-]
I think most hydrogen proponents are pushing for it to replace hydrocarbons for shipping, planes, and seasonal energy storage, not cars.

There's not a lot of other great options today if we want to decarbonize those sectors because of the energy density required.

bobthepanda 44 days ago [-]
Also add trains to that list, mostly because the cost of stringing wire is constant and below certain traffic levels batteries make more sense.
sand_castles 44 days ago [-]
There are 20 other ways to reduce emission in the cases you mention.

Look up different plane designs from the 1970s.

The only reason those designs never took off was because people wanted to trade efficiency for convenience.

ip26 44 days ago [-]
Maybe not for delivery vehicles, but a combo of batteries plus green hydrogen fuel cell might enable long haul airplanes. Hybrids, if you will.
cblconfederate 44 days ago [-]
Yeah but people already miss being stuck in traffic and their daily commute so it's not going to last
WhompingWindows 44 days ago [-]
This is anecdotal? I don't know anyone who misses traffic and commuting, they miss their office space.
44 days ago [-]
kristopolous 44 days ago [-]
I've heard people actually say this. The horror, the horror.
dd_roger 44 days ago [-]
Granted my commute is a 20 minutes walk so I don't get the The True American Commute Experience (TM) but working from home is a miserable experience as far as I'm concerned. Having the possibility to do it once in a while is nice though to make time for appointments or being done earlier to go out after work.
throwaway0a5e 44 days ago [-]
For a lot of people it was their only alone time.
kristopolous 44 days ago [-]
It really says something. Roads have long served as our public space but we've managed to convert it into the private.

I don't mean materially private, I know we're fishbowls on wheels, but culturally private, as in people often refer to it as such.

It's one of the only times most people are disconnected from internet/work-tech because there is substantial risk of life and limb if they engaged (I know people have made this work regardless, I'm talking about cultures, not outliers)

Also this human need for privacy, if that's the reason to commute, is coming at the cost of literally destroying the planet.

There has to be a healthier way to satisfy these baseline psychological needs. Climate collapsing death machines may be how humans have transported themselves for a while but it shouldn't be the main go-to for how they are alone with their thoughts

ndiscussion 44 days ago [-]
What if we didn't crowd ourselves into cesspools of humanity ie cities?

I'm being a bit facetious, but ultimately, this lack of privacy is all self-inflicted.

kieselguhr_kid 44 days ago [-]
Then we'd probably destroy our ecosystem more quickly. People in cities much more efficiently than rural or suburban people.
ndiscussion 44 days ago [-]
Agreed. It seems with our current "world plan" (infinite growth to prop up the asset class), the only way forward is to push people into smaller and smaller boxes with less and less liberties.

Someday we'll be saying that travel is only for the rich - everyone else will be forced to use VR, and they will be brainwashed to like it. As they say, American lifestyles are only sustainable for the 1%. The rest of us should eat bugs and live in pods.

As we move into cities, production becomes cheaper - which means we produce more, which means we can support more people, which means we need to increase efficiency even more.

I'm not sure that this is preferable to life without technology. Aren't family and small moments the things that make life worth living? Squeezing out a few more years of expected lifespan hardly seems worth the tradeoff to me.

Personally, I don't think this is sustainable.

devdas 42 days ago [-]
Cities offer privacy and anonymity. Smaller towns lack both. Dense urban areas with reasonably easy access to nature on public transport are fantastic resources which are missing in car oriented suburbs.
throwaway0a5e 42 days ago [-]
Cities offer you anonymity from other "nobodies".

Rural areas offer anonymity from the state.

Both are declining because the scope of government is getting bigger and their capabilities get better. In practice this means that your upstairs neighbor in a city who just doesn't like your hair (or whatever) can likely find a reason to narc on you and in the country your magic mushroom grow op that nobody local cared about will be harassed by the government who formerly didn't have the means to care about what people in the countryside violating laws without bothering people were up to.

devdas 34 days ago [-]
Rural areas don't offer you anonymity from the state either.

If your neighbours don't like you, they are likely to bring the state in. To be able to be that anonymous, you would need to be a few days commuting away from all individuals and offgrid.

In cities, the neighbour might not like you, but they don't have the time or energy to care about it. You need a reasonably big and dense city for this though.

mark-r 44 days ago [-]
My (former) boss uses the time for audio books. If traffic is bad, he doesn't care - it gives him more time with his book.
davio 44 days ago [-]
I only listen to podcasts while driving, so my "learning" time has been drastically reduced
renewiltord 44 days ago [-]
I used to commute on BART from El Cerrito for an hour. Read so many books on that ride. When I had a 10 min commute, book reading dropped through the floor till I made time again.
Jtsummers 44 days ago [-]
I converted my commute time to walking time and yardwork time last spring through fall (too cold for walking now, and yardwork is now 10 minutes of shoveling snow every couple of weeks). I think I listened to more thanks to the lack of a commute. I didn't feel bad about leaving the house at 4:30pm (end of workday for me) and finding my way back home at 5:30pm or 6pm, especially since I knocked out a lot of household chores/tasks during the workday in quick 1-5 minute bursts so I was more helpful around the house than when I was in the office.
jedberg 44 days ago [-]
Same here, I'm way behind on podcasts. The only time I listened to them was when I was driving.
retzkek 44 days ago [-]
Why not set aside some time each day to listen? Take a bath, lounge on the couch/hammock, and enjoy that time not commuting.
jedberg 44 days ago [-]
I have two young kids. There is no such thing as "lounging". :)
retzkek 44 days ago [-]
Pretend I'm naïve (better yet don't pretend): can't you set some boundaries? If you need to get out of the house why not go for a walk? Is it because doing something for/by yourself is seen as selfish (even by yourself), while before the commute was imposed by your job, so you could enjoy that alone time guilt-free?
jedberg 44 days ago [-]
It's really not about boundaries. It's about efficiency. If I'm at home, there's always something I can be doing more "valuable" than podcasts. Working, playing with the kids, helping with chores, etc.

When I'm driving, there's nothing I can do otherwise, other than audio. Which means either podcasts or phone calls with family or friends.

ishjoh 44 days ago [-]
I've been WFH for about 5 years now and also have two young ones so I know the feeling :)

I've found that any chore time is now also podcast time. So things like cleaning, laundry, or mowing the lawn I've always got one headphone in (the other ear is for listening for the kids)

jedberg 44 days ago [-]
Yeah when I'm doing yard work my headphones do double duty for listening to podcasts and being earplugs. But that was true even before I stopped driving anywhere.
spelunker 44 days ago [-]
I noticed this problem. I read during my commute (it was by train don't worry), and since I've started working from home my reading time has absolutely tanked.
r00fus 44 days ago [-]
Are these the same people who didn't spend enough time with their kids/family?
renewiltord 44 days ago [-]
It's the "I like 4 seasons" of commuting.
jedberg 44 days ago [-]
And personal savings are way up. But it's unlikely either of these trends will hold after 2021.
badRNG 44 days ago [-]
Source? Anecdotally most folks I know have had to burn through their savings after living off of unemployment or going through underemployment this past year.
polka_haunts_us 44 days ago [-]
Anecdotally as someone in a family all of whom are thriving financially during the pandemic, here are possible reasons it could be true.

* My student loan payments are frozen, I believe the total balance of student loans that are frozen is something like 85% country wide.

* People working remotely = low transit expenses.

* No live events = low entertainment expenses.

* Raging pandemic = low travel expenses.

* Investment = stock market has been very profitable since march. I made 100% last year just on random long term investment.

Basically, if you have a job that was exceeding the minimum threshold of living expenses, any of the extraneous things you were spending money on, other than eating out maybe, have evaporated.

Obviously there is a notable segment of the population that is not doing well, can barely if at all cover day to day expenses, and unemployment has gone up, but that segment isn't necessarily a majority.

That's all just speculation though, I'm not claiming parent is correct.

ssully 44 days ago [-]
You most likely nail it. The flip side obviously is people who don't have remote jobs. More anecdote, but this has been really hard on family members who have service industry jobs, and while they haven't told me to directly, I assume their savings isn't doing great based on a number of different factors.
qes 43 days ago [-]
Anecdotally, as someone who's work kept on trucking (surprisingly - we sell content for display in public spaces where people pass or congregate) - 2020 was a banner year for my family. We saved more than we ever have before and the price of our various assets soared.

We even had a 20% bump in gross revenue while bringing our costs down, and that's after 2019 was flat for us (prior to that we were hitting 30%+ for a handful of years in a row).

ogre_codes 44 days ago [-]
> stock market has been very profitable since march. I made 100% last year just on random long term investment.

Hmm. All this makes me wonder if the country opening back up is going to cause the market to flatten out for a bit as people have less money and incentive to invest. Food for thought.

ishjoh 44 days ago [-]
I could also see it flattening due to people having more options again. The majority of the companies that are listed in the public markets are businesses that didn't have to close. Nation wide retailers, tech companies, oil and gas, all the things that were deemed essential or could be done virtually. It's the mom and pop stores and restaurants that took the brunt of the shutdown, when things are more open again those businesses will be the big winners and we might see them take some revenue from the bigger stores.
jedimastert 44 days ago [-]
Intuition says that people who have to choose between investing and other things aren't the maority of investors.

I'm think the economy will liven up a fair bit once people are out and about spending again, possibly even over-correcting.

minkeymaniac 44 days ago [-]
And don't forget clothing... no need to get new outfits if you are home... no dry cleaning if you wore suits ...
francisofascii 44 days ago [-]
A recent episode of NPR: The Indicator covered this. "real disposable income per capita in the U.S. has gone up by about 6 percent year-to-date from last year. Right now, it's on track to reach the fastest rate of growth since 1984." Basically the super high savings rates by people who stayed employed and didn't vacation, go to restaurants, drive, etc. outweigh those getting hammered by unemployment. Also the stimulus checks were given to everyone. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510325/the-indicator-from-plane...
TheCoelacanth 43 days ago [-]
This is the problem with averages. For a majority of people, it is up. For a large minority, it is down catastrophically. That averages out to slightly up.
mrfredward 44 days ago [-]
St Louis Federal Reserve: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PSAVERT

Keep in mind this is savings economy wide divided by personal income economy wide, so people with big numbers (high earners) disproportionately affect it.

whimsicalism 44 days ago [-]
This has to do with the stimulus checks.
snoshy 44 days ago [-]
But also because households have lower expenses due to not being able to engage with the service industry, travel, shopping, and leisure expenditures. People are simply spending less because they're stuck at home.
flatline 44 days ago [-]
airza 44 days ago [-]
when your disposable income is zero, doesn't that drive the statistics way out of wack?
flatline 44 days ago [-]
I do not know whether it accounts for a negative savings rate, but the graph does show that people with disposable income were saving more this past year during the pandemic, which means they were spending less on consumer goods. There were probably two driving factors behind this: fear of economic instability due to the pandemic, and a lack of availability of paid activities due to the same. Presumably, consumer spending will rise again, as will travel and hence fossil fuel consumption per the original post.
SuoDuanDao 44 days ago [-]
The poorest X% not showing up in any statistics used for policy making is probably a longstanding problem... and it's probably hard to estimate by how much X has changed over the past year.
kube-system 44 days ago [-]
For every 3 people that lost their jobs in the peak of unemployment there's 17 people who still had their jobs and most of them got a couple of stimulus checks. The pandemic has increased inequality.
chrisseaton 44 days ago [-]
If you haven't lost your job then your savings are both up (markets) and not being spent (as there's nothing to spend them on.)
jkinudsjknds 44 days ago [-]
I'd wonder how evictions have affected this. What's your disposable income if your rent is $1,000 per month but you just don't pay it?
anewaccount2021 44 days ago [-]
"Source" is no poor people use HN.

Edit: this was not meant to disparage the poor. Quite the opposite. HN tends to have a blinkered worldview and part of that results from the filtered audience. Sorry, we just don't have people showing up here who got laid from serving bar, or single mothers with four kids, etc. Poor single mothers don't save money by skipping trips to Greece or not going out for Wagyu A5 twice a month...

44 days ago [-]
nostromo 44 days ago [-]
Not true... US carbon emissions have been going down for over a decade, even as population increases.


jedberg 44 days ago [-]
Of course, by not by the amounts we saw in 2020. I suspect we'll move back to the previous trend line by 2022.
andromeduck 44 days ago [-]
Mostly due to displaced manufacturing though no?
ThomPete 44 days ago [-]
That started before covid.
alexfromapex 44 days ago [-]
Don't forget about the cows eating seaweed development, that will be huge for the climate too
epistasis 44 days ago [-]
Beef is only 3% of US emissions, meat has very little to do with the US's climate woes.

The big problem is transportation. Ideally we'd have lots more muxed-use walkable neighborhoods than we have. Roughly 50% of people want to live in walkable neighborhoods, but centralized planning has virtually banned this type of low-carbon living over the past 75 years.

WhompingWindows 44 days ago [-]
First off, it's probably higher than 3%, I found estimates of 4% in an ARS study. Also, if beef is a full 1/3 of our agricultural emissions (9-10% overall), then that's a massive amount so a few people can have their cherished foods, at everyone else's expense (tragedy of the commons here).

Second, beef is proportionally MUCH worse than all other foods: we can't afford to leave a full 1/25th of our emissions on the table.

Third, you're ignoring land use, land degradation, water use, and negative health effects of beef production and consumption. To look solely at "US emissions" in a narrowly defined way misses many of the harms of beef.

Fourth, cows are mammalian species who endure great suffering and misery so that your mere 3% of emissions can lead to a relatively smaller number of calories consumed. Is it worth it to cause suffering on a mass scale for the least healthy, most emitting food source?

epistasis 44 days ago [-]
Even if all US emissions from beef stopped tomorrow, it would have far less effect than the US's drop in 2020. And the drop that we saw last year is similar to what we need to continue with each year this decade. Sure, beef emissions must be dealt with, but it's a fraction of a year's decreases, it's not "huge".

When it comes to climate (the topic here), banning beef is being used by climate inactivists as a cultural wedge issue to stop climate action. Michael Mann, a vegan, has strong opinions on not harping about beef out if its true importance in the climate policy fight:


As for the non-climate concerns for beef, sure, but that's not the topic here.

WhompingWindows 41 days ago [-]
I agree that the extreme views about banning beef are counter-productive. We saw the craziness that right-wing outlets propagated with a mere DRAFT version of the Green New Deal on AOC's website...this is just an HTML document uploaded by a staffer...that led to months of mis-characterization and damage to the perception of the left's views of climate.

I still think beef is a wasteful, unethical luxury, and every bite of beef comes via great cost to the millions of species going extinct and the future devastation of coastal and island peoples.

In my view, we need to place taxes on behaviors that are bad for society. Barring that impossibility, we need to develop meat alternatives, change hearts and diets, and also reform the beef industry towards sustainability. I think ideally, we'd always have cows, but in far, far lesser numbers.

dillondoyle 44 days ago [-]
Cows are also smart, gentle, and cuddly too!

Also if we keep saying, 'it's only 3% or 4%' and do nothing then we won't mitigate & repair at the scale we need to. We need to tackle it all.


TheCoelacanth 43 days ago [-]
Every source of emissions is a small amount if you break it down granularly enough. Transportation of people is only ~15% of emissions. Realistically, we need to reduce every major source of emissions.
shawndrost 44 days ago [-]
> Beef is only 3% of US emissions, meat has very little to do with the US's climate woes.

The second half of this sentence is incorrect. Livestock is 14.5 of global greenhouse emissions, which a) determines climate change in the US, and b) is consumed in the US, in significant part, without being accounted for under "US emissions".

fred_is_fred 44 days ago [-]
I wonder if this or fake/lab meat will have a larger impact in 10 years.
hntrader 44 days ago [-]
To what extent has this been rolled out already?
snakeboy 44 days ago [-]
From what I remember from previous discussions,

1. It's more expensive than standard cattle feed so it would need a subsidy to incentivize its use (probably a worthwhile investment for the Biden administration if they're serious about climate policy) and

2. there are some hurdles to massively scaling up the growth of the algae to supply the massive US cattle population.

hntrader 44 days ago [-]
(1) is interesting. I'm a big fan of a carbon tax over subsidies and direct govt intervention but this seems like an example of something that a tax would have a hard time incenting. I wonder if there are other examples like that.

Maybe a tax on cows but a rebate if they use this technology. But that seems like an easy system to game so maybe the direct subsidy is superior in this case.

supernova87a 44 days ago [-]
But this is like taking off your boots and congratulating yourself for losing 5 pounds.
smileysteve 44 days ago [-]
The more apt analogy would be it's like catching a cold and losing 5lbs on a soup only diet.

You actually lost weight, but not in a healthy way, and as soon as you feel better you're going to gain it, plus some.

AtlasBarfed 44 days ago [-]
Recessions/Depressions have really been the only significant reduction in GHG emissions in recent history, the paper treaties have been pretty insignificant.

I won't say that the massive progress in alternative energy infrastructure buildout isn't blunting it as well, and the promise of EVs for alleviating transportation emissions, but the Mortgage Recession and the COVID recession have been the historically largest reductions emissions in recent history.

I have good faith that alt energy + EV will result in a massive improvement, but I wonder if it will be enough.

I guess what I'm saying is ... financial deck chair rearrangers, let's cook us up a steady diet of structural financial malfeasance.

coding123 44 days ago [-]
The pandemic reminded me of my childhood days when not everything is so damn crowded all the time. My personal wish is for travel to keep staying low, but I don't think it's going to stay low forever.
ggm 44 days ago [-]
A significant number of respondents read like members of a hedonist death cult. If you really believe it's hopeless, please do not roadblock people aiming to achieve a better outcome.
marstall 44 days ago [-]
would this be expected to have a (temporary) detectable impact on atmospheric carbon concentration (ie ppm)?
FooHentai 44 days ago [-]
Yes, in a slight slowing of the rate at which it is increasing.

Hard to attribute with confidence since it's a global figure based on pooled local measurements, but so long as you agree that human-caused release of co2 contributes to increasing atmospheric co2 levels, the reduction is a safe assumption.

The depressing part is the reduction needs to be 10x greater, and permanent, and global, for atmospheric co2 to halt it's increase and start dropping.

exporectomy 44 days ago [-]
Certainly not an obvious impact, at least not yet, according to this graph: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
brandelune 44 days ago [-]
Interesting to see that even a world war would not be enough to drop C02 emissions to a safe level...
justinzollars 44 days ago [-]
I wonder if the California wildfires were factored into this? The state was on fire for 3 months.
savanaly 44 days ago [-]
Is it possible that Sars-cov-2 epidemic will eventually save more lives than it cost, through the long term and short term effects of decreased pollution and climate change? If that's true, we have to entertain the theory that the virus was purposefully initiated by a time-traveler charged with averting climate catastrophe through the only means possible.
citilife 44 days ago [-]
> Is it possible that Sars-cov-2 epidemic will eventually save more lives than it cost, through the long term and short term effects of decreased pollution and climate change?

Climate change wont directly lead to death, we'll have to adapt, but there are models showing more food produced from climate change. Simply put, we don't know what potentially will happen. We highly suspect there are 150 thousand increase in death from disease due to climate change[2]

In contrast... there are 135 - 270 MILLION people on the verge of starvation now; due to the policies around covid (or >2% of the worlds population).

> “marching towards starvation” spiking from 135 million to 270 million as the pandemic unfolded. He stressed that 2021 will be catastrophic [2]

BTW these people are still getting covid too, lockdowns slowed the spread, didn't stop it. Most American's have already gotten the disease (estimates are that 10x the number of people have gotten it over the tests[3]). Given 25 million have tested positive, by the prior estimates, that means a likely 250 million Americans have already gotten covid [4].

[1] https://www.who.int/heli/risks/climate/climatechange/en/

[2] https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/ga12294.doc.htm

[3] https://www.businessinsider.com/us-coronavirus-cases-deaths-...

[4] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

xur17 44 days ago [-]
> Given 25 million have tested positive, by the prior estimates, that means a likely 250 million Americans have already gotten covid [4]

Considering there are 328 million Americans, that would mean 76% of Americans have had the disease, which I believe would be sufficient for herd immunity. Given what case counts look like, I find that extremely unlikely.

jeofken 44 days ago [-]
A very large amount of cases are simply false positives. We have no idea how widespread the disease is, but it’s certainly less spread and deadly than feared. This has been talked about in non-mainstream news for a while, but is only recently recognised in the state and big media organisations around the western world.

Like terrorism was in the 00’s, this is proving very useful for those who want to expand their power via the state.


xur17 44 days ago [-]
> We have no idea how widespread the disease is, but it’s certainly less spread and deadly than feared.

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other. If it's less spread than feared / reported, that would mean it's more deadly than reported.

jeofken 44 days ago [-]
Would you show me the contradiction in more detail please?

When talking about case numbers, it’s (very) inflated by the large number of false positives in PCR tests.

When speaking of deaths, at least where I’m around (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Germany) the reported numbers are people dead who also tested positive for covid-19. I suppose reported deaths work similarity elsewhere.

The claim about 2020 being the best year in decades for those who want to concentrate statist power I guess we can agree to be objectively true.

mywittyname 44 days ago [-]
>that would mean 76% of Americans have had the disease, which I believe would be sufficient for herd immunity.

My understanding is that it is possible to get covid-19 multiple times. But lack of widespread testing is making it difficult to measure how prevalent this is.

There are also two known strains of covid.

There are a lot of unknowns at this point. We could be dealing with cyclical covid outbreaks for the next decade, the vaccine rollout this summer might eliminate it for good, or we could land somewhere between the two.

citilife 44 days ago [-]
They've been counting any flu related illness as COVID, hospitals also get additional funds for COVID-19 hospitalizations. Only a handful of influenza tests have even been ran: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

In all likelihood, yes we are nearing heard immunity and we're done with the illness.

Further, there's an issue with the PCR testing. Though there have been reports since August - October 2020, published in November 2020:


Basically, they started over amplifying the DNA and weren't controlling the PCR tests very well. Here's the original WHO warning in December 2020


(Since... the page has been deleted, but followed later)

With the official statement January 19, 2020:


throwaway2245 44 days ago [-]
> They've been counting any flu related illness as COVID

There are no flu related illnesses: the 2020-21 winter flu season has not happened.

Here are the results for the last 12 months of WHO's influenza monitoring (you may have to pick a country). They are conducting global testing at or above normal levels:


If you look closely enough at the x-axis, you might be able to see how much flu there is.

selimthegrim 44 days ago [-]
As far as Ct goes, 25-30 should do it. Even Fauci says >30-35 or so is dead fragments. Do you think everyone is doing 40?
selimthegrim 44 days ago [-]
Herd immunity...against which variant?
adventured 44 days ago [-]
> They've been counting any flu related illness as COVID

What you're claiming doesn't pass any sniff test what-so-ever. Low tens of thousands of people die in a typical year from the flu (in the US). The US is seeing that many deaths from Covid every ten days now.

There's no evidence the US is close to herd immunity. Deaths just hit a new daily record high two days ago. Daily case numbers have been raging at present high levels for over six weeks with zero sign of stopping naturally. The vaccines are clearly the only thing that's going to slow it during this season.

dragonwriter 44 days ago [-]
> but there are models showing more food produced from climate change.

Total global food production hasn't been an issue in hunger in the modern era, so boosting it is immaterial in this context.

Moving it out of existing populated places that are already marginal and have litle export industry to purchase imports with, OTOH, will be disastrous, even if Russia and Canada get a huge boost in arable land.

cableshaft 44 days ago [-]
If it's 250 million people that have Covid-19, we'd nearly at herd immunity levels already, at least for the population that can be exposed to the virus.

The numbers should be going way, way down already, as there are a good number of people who aren't exposing themselves to the virus hardly at all (My wife and I are two of them, but it has to be in the millions of people that are limiting their exposure).

Plus the US has vaccinated >17.5 million people, so subtract that from the population and that 250 million estimate, and there would only be 60 million more people who could catch it (assuming no reinfections).

The newest data I can find on this is from the CDC and they've estimated that through December 2020 that 83 million Americans have been infected[1] (and I saw something dated November 27 where they estimated that 53 million[2] had it, so 30 million new infections in December). To get to that 250 million estimate we would have had to have 167 million new infections in less than a month, or more than tripled all the infections we had up until now. That seems very unlikely.

Also their estimate is that 1 in 4.6 of Covid infections are being reported, not 1 in 10 like that Business Insider article (which is dated July 2020, looks like they revised the ratio since).

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/burd...

[2] https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/covid-2020-11-27/card/vNksh...

davidgay 44 days ago [-]
> In contrast... there are 135 - 270 MILLION people on the verge of starvation now; due to the policies around covid (or >2% of the worlds population).

This looks like a misquote of: "Likewise, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warned of alarming global hunger and food insecurity, with the number of people “marching towards starvation” spiking from 135 million to 270 million as the pandemic unfolded." (from https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/ga12294.doc.htm)

[Not that it isn't bad, but it's a doubling of an existing problem from X to 2X, not a new problem of size X-2X]

dillondoyle 44 days ago [-]
What!?! People have and continue to die already from climate change and it will accelerate.

looking at literally 'global warming' actual temperatures there are examples. 1000 dead in Japan in a summer.

WHO says 250k per year starting 2030 and that's only looking at heat, diarrhea, malnutrition.

Add in pollution deaths (already huge), refugees, war.

Climate change already directly leads to death and it will become more deadly


throwawayboise 44 days ago [-]
I would think if you've got the technology to time-travel, fixing the atmosphere in your present day would be trivial. Same reason the plot lines of The Terminator films never really made sense (though they were very entertaining movies).
remarkEon 44 days ago [-]
I've had this thought, but it's a thought experiment that I kinda don't want to go engage in. I've also been wondering if the death toll in the US is so high because, well, Americans are just really unhealthy and overweight and that increased morbidity in a way that was unique in the world. Non-compliance with stay-at-home and mask wearing obviously didn't help, but I can't shake the feeling that the structural problems with health in the US set us up for failure years (decades?) before the pandemic even started.
dnautics 44 days ago [-]
> I've also been wondering if the death toll in the US is so high because, well, Americans are just really unhealthy and overweight and that increased morbidity in a way that was unique in the world..

Don't forget that the EU (at the moment) has a higher overall per-capita mortality rate than the US, and it looks like wave 3 is waning in both geographies. Interestingly enough, morbidity figures are much higher in the US, but that could be a self-reporting/self-testing issue, or even false positive rate of the tests, etc.

fasteddie31003 44 days ago [-]
I actually love uncomfortable thought experiments. My recent one I've been asking my friends is how many years of the current lockdown would you trade with getting the virus and all the issues that go along with that but then being over the lockdown. My number is 1 more year of the current lockdown. My girlfriend's is 3 years.
whimsicalism 44 days ago [-]
To be clear, you're saying you would rather have one more year of lockdown than get the virus? And your girlfriend would rather have 3 years?

For me, 0 - the reason I lockdown is out concern for others, I am not personally worried of the impact Covid would have on me.

Mediterraneo10 44 days ago [-]
For my part, the reason I oppose the lockdowns is out of concern for others: by the time the restrictions are over in the EU, young people will have been prevented for about two years from doing all kinds of traditional coming of age rituals, courtship opportunities, etc. And if European countries isolating themselves leads to a new wave of nationalism and lessened cooperation with neighbors, it is their generation which will have to deal with the consequences.

I am approaching middle age myself, but I don't think it is fair to limit the lives of people in their teens and twenties for a virus, the median age of death of which is around 80. This policy of COVID restrictions is the biggest betrayal of our youth since May ’68.

lostlogin 43 days ago [-]
Just ignoring those who die is one option, however long covid is a thing. A huge portion of those who get covid are still very sick a long time later. A majority have symptoms 6 months later, and some are very significant and life changing. This needs to be considered when suggesting letting the disease run rampant.

You may actually be limiting lives more by not locking down.

My view is very coloured by living in New Zealand where aggressive lockdown has lead to normality (with limited international travel and mandatory managed isolation).


saagarjha 44 days ago [-]
I'm 21; I can survive not seeing people physically for a year or two. If I don't…well, there are people who are actually going to die.
whimsicalism 44 days ago [-]
> if the death toll in the US is so high because, well, Americans are just really unhealthy and overweight and that increased morbidity

But the US doesn't have a higher IFR than most European countries. The difference in number of dead has to do with a. the population differences, b. differences in proportion infected.

The gaps between France and the US in per capita deaths, for instance, are not that huge.

bpodgursky 44 days ago [-]
The Sars-cov-2 epidemic might easily kill more people in the developing world through food and economic insecurity than it kills from respiratory disease (esp given how young those countries are).

I don't think this is a particularly realistic take.

blabus 44 days ago [-]
I’ve had a similar thought regarding the 2020 presidential election. Had Trump and his administration properly handled the pandemic response (or never had to handle it in the first place) it’s quite likely he would’ve been re-elected. After having seen the events that transpired over the past month (to say nothing of the past four years) I can’t help but wonder if 400,000+ lives ended up being the cost to preserve democracy in the US.
StreamBright 44 days ago [-]
Not really, there are very few climate related deaths.


I think more people die from diabetes and covid than climate.

elmomle 44 days ago [-]
It isn't only climate change. Ambient air pollution causes >4 million deaths per year, per the WHO: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1
ggreer 44 days ago [-]
Almost all of that (3.8 million) is indoor air pollution caused by cooking: https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/topics/topic-detail...
elmomle 44 days ago [-]
Actually, that 3.8 million is separate from the 4.2 million caused by outdoor air pollution: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(ou...
kube-system 44 days ago [-]
For what it's worth, those cooking indoors with solid fuel are might also be less likely to be cooking anything...


JimiofEden 44 days ago [-]
There are CURRENTLY very few climate related deaths. The person you're responding to is wondering if more lives would be saved in the long run, maybe the next 1000 years.
renewiltord 44 days ago [-]
The relative value of future deaths is interesting, right? To be honest you have to discount them a little because if you kill a guy today before he has kids, you've killed his kids too.
corty 44 days ago [-]
If I refuse to mate with someone, I also killed a few thousand people over the next millenium. That doesn't mean I will loose any sleep over saying no to his proposition.
savanaly 44 days ago [-]
When it comes to short term deaths (like could be measured right now or in the coming years) I think the bigger mechanism would be pollution which causes deaths from people with respiratory illnesses and such in major cities. Not so much in the US (although LA is a problem I think?) but definitely in China and India.
Andys 44 days ago [-]
Interesting that we had a warmest year on record simultaneously.
mschuetz 44 days ago [-]
Unsurprisingly. There is still more CO2 being emitted than removed.
k__ 44 days ago [-]
So maybe the pandemic was an Extinction Rebellion coup?
somerandomboi 44 days ago [-]
I hope humanity is able to maintain these responsible habits to reverse the course of such potential consequences on future generations.
44 days ago [-]
frongpik 44 days ago [-]
Well, I'd welcome the idea of once a year total shutdown for a couple weeks: no cars, no economic activity, except maybe hospitals and other infra. That would be a sort of worldwide retreat. I still remember how clean the air felt the first time the us did a hard shutdown (empty roads, people were scared). I'm sure the capitalists will hate the idea to halt the factory for 2 out of 52 weeks.
asiando 44 days ago [-]
Nobody would like to be locked at home. No restaurants and no travel… for what? 2 weeks aren't enough to slow down the warming.
MrPatan 43 days ago [-]
This is clearly Trump's fault for not signing the Paris climate accord.
mrtweetyhack 44 days ago [-]
all thanks to Covid-19. Do your thang Covid-2021
olivermarks 44 days ago [-]
The headline is annoying to me, I feel it should read '2020 emissions in biggest fall since WWII due to pandemic'.

The prefix 'climate change' is redundant, I wish the BBC could get back to being more objective.

fred_is_fred 44 days ago [-]
You find the prefix "Climate Change:" not objective? It is setting the context for the article. Like "COVID-19: Scientists work on a vaccine".
olivermarks 44 days ago [-]
The context is the global pandemic greatly reducing travel, manufacturing and therefore emissions.

Concepts around 'Climate Change' are very much secondary to that IMO, not the lead

lcamach84 44 days ago [-]
This proves that we need a system change. Covid made that, we change from a system with the objective of producing stuff to a system with the goal of saving lives. People of HN should take a look of the clube of rome book "limits of growth". GND will not save us beacause it will demand energy and resources to swap all the infraestructure. At most developed countries will shift their enviromental cost to the poor ones
oliv__ 44 days ago [-]
Let me know how your life is going when every business around you has shut down.
lcamach84 44 days ago [-]
If the objective of the system is to produce stuff you need to think in large scale. When we do that we favor big corporations and as you say business around you shut down. So change this system will help to solve your problem to. How do you think we can solve the problem you pointed at?
florimondmanca 44 days ago [-]
This. Thank you for bringing this up. My take:

Thermo-industrial consumer societies don’t need to change. Rather, as you said, we need a system change. We need to swap our current model for something else. The outcome should (and will) be different from a thermo-industrial society — it will be another society altogether. What sort exactly I don’t know yet. But « a systemic problem can only be approached by systemic solutions » seems like a reasonable assumption to make. :)

If we don’t do it ourselves, then the currently overstretched Earth system will just regulate itself, causing pain and suffering. COVID might just be an appetizer of what lies ahead if we don’t realize old ways (more technology, keep the economy growing at all costs, etc, ie things that demand more or too energy or impede resiliency) are very likely to fail the test.

I like how you mentioned the Club of Rome’s report because it was an early work that goes beyond the scope of IPCC (whose role is limited to climate change, which to be clear has a ton of merits in its own right) and presents the problem for what it is: a systemic problem that is riddled with feedback loops and that has deep ties with the roots of our society model as it developed over the 20th century.

I don’t like the idea of a systemic change. It’s uncomfortable, and at first it sounds ludicrous. But if we’re serious and dig into the topic with a critical eye towards our own mental models, that’s a conclusion we reach very soon.

florimondmanca 44 days ago [-]
I see this answer is being downvoted; I’d be happy to discuss points of discord. I was definitely being radical on purpose — perhaps to highlight what seems to me as a blatant reality that our can’t go on forever (and that we can work towards remodeling so it doesn’t happen that way).

Instead, I see downvotes and the parent comment received a straw man argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was being seen as an « integrist », except trust me — I’m not. Please, let’s discuss and not fight against one another. I know HN is much better suited to that than some other platforms. :)

lcamach84 44 days ago [-]
Whenever I talk about this I am downvoted too. I follow hacker news for the rationality in the comments but on this subject it is rare to exchange good arguments.