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Response to SeaDoo77 (Original post)

Mon Jan 1, 2018, 04:40 PM

3. The same number as if we did something about climate change.

It's a secular change. What we do this year adds a small, incremental amount of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, removes a small portion of forest, paves over a small portion of ground. This produces a small change that gets added to the effects that have already happened, and will produce more effects.

Stop human-produced greenhouse gas production and the Earth's temperature will increase for at least another decade. It'll slow down after that. And over the course of the next 100-150 years CO2 levels would fall and presumably with a 25-50 year lag temperature levels will fall.


Now, if you'd worded it, How many homes will burn or flood in 2018 while we do nothing about climate change" it wouldn't carry with it the spurious idea that what we do in 2018 is going to have anything but an infinitesimal effect. After that, there's a lot of just plain randomness in the effects, which those deep into pareidolia like to see as somehow meaningful and directly related to immediately preceding actions. It's not quite apophenia, because the actions are connected. But so tenuously as to be lost unless you look at decades of fine-grained data using really sensitive statistical tools ... And then you see the result over decades, not from one year to the next.

It was the same with closing up the infamous ozone hole that was going to destroy life on Earth. We stopped producing so much of the chemicals that produced it, and over time their concentration declined and the ozone hole shrank. The Montreal Protocol took effect in 1989 and was to phase out the production and use of such chemicals. It affected countries like the US first. And yet if you look at peak ozone depletion, you see

https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-65bddfbb2964ca71f66d95d12db10335-c

So what gives? Some of the chemicals continued to be released. But mostly it'll take decades to stop the damage. (Notice that this isn't a great analogy to global warming, since the ozone hole entirely forms for part of each year and then goes away. Heat sinks such as the ocean will hold on to some of the heat absorbed for decades if not centuries.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion claims (and probably sources the claim, but I'm too lazy to look up the citation) that ozone levels won't return to what they were when I was a kid (in the '70s) until long after I'm likely dead (some time after 2075).

This kind of latency is both good and bad. Good, because it means what greenhouse-gas damage we inflict today won't kill us next year. Bad, in that it took centuries of build-up to get to this point so we didn't see it when it was a tractable problem. Also bad, in that no matter what we do to satisfy even the most extreme environmentalist, in the next ten years the scientists will say that it didn't have much of an effect. In other words, there's no short-term ROI. And those opposed to cutting greenhouse gases will point to that and say, "See, we didn't cause it."

As for US greenhouse emissions, they continued to drop in 2016. Still too early for 2017 numbers. But it's likely the downward trend that started in 2005 and which really took off in 2007 (pre-recession, mind you) continued.

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
SeaDoo77 Jan 2018 OP
democratisphere Jan 2018 #1
lpbk2713 Jan 2018 #2
LineNew Reply The same number as if we did something about climate change.
Igel Jan 2018 #3
spanone Jan 2018 #4
ananda Jan 2018 #5
Iggo Jan 2018 #6
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