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Latest report on climate change and Earth’s future

“The prospect of permafrost (frozen soils) in Alaska, Canada, and Russia crossing a tipping point has been widely discussed.
The concern is that as frozen ground thaws, large amounts of carbon accumulated over thousands of years from dead plants and animals could be released as they decompose.
The report projects permafrost areas will release about 66 billion tonnes of CO₂ for each additional degree of warming.
These emissions are irreversible during this century under all warming scenarios.
(…) For a given temperature target, there’s a finite amount of carbon we can emit before reaching net zero emissions.
To have a 50:50 chance of halting warming at around 1.5℃, this quantity is about 500 billion tonnes of CO₂.
At current levels of CO₂ emissions this “carbon budget” would be used up within 12 years.
Exhausting the budget will take longer if emissions begin to decline.
The IPCC’s latest findings are alarming.
But no physical or environmental impediments exist to hold warming to well below 2℃ and limit it to around 1.5℃ – the globally agreed goals of the Paris Agreement.
Humanity, however, must choose to act.”

When I read this I get a weird feeling of concern and certainty that this is the begining of an era of a very disturbing sort of human existence.

While in the past hunger, wars and diseases surely made the human far from ideal station for consciousness, one could argue that with the right level of determination and maturity a escape could be found in simpler or more remote ways of living, including embracing the holy life.

But now, with our species having become chronically addicted to energy and all the comforts and convenience it brings to the enjoyment of senses, I see much less room for a pure escape.

Especially with this addiction to energy causing world wide effects to things as large and meaningful as weather and the seasons.

Let’s not forget that statistically a future human birth is much more likely to take place exactly where the perverse effects of the climate change us, our parents and their parents caused in the last 150 years or so…

As we find in so many suttas

… ādittacelo vā ādittasīso vā… :fire:

… it is like our clothes or head were on fire… :fire:

:man_shrugging:

:anjal:

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Still that long? Wow. Good news from the perspective of already seen it is hopeless. I have hope then, as the green industry really is increasing a lot. Lots of business falls due to lockdown, lots of opportunity to transition to green economy.

Also, for now, still don’t buy houses/ build monasteries near the sea shores, move more inland and highland, free from flood if possible. Invest in air-cons, solar power, rainwater collection system, personal garden for food for in case civilization collapse.

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Yes but that means that absolute zero would have to be achieved by mid 2030s.
No level of investment, market driven or policy driven, will achieve that!
You would need to literally enslave millions in the manufacturing and installation of wind turbines, solar panels, hydro dams, battery and other large scale storage systems, or even nuclear power stations and nuclear fuel production, etc to achieve that by the 2040s, what to say by the 2030s …

Do I think we’re on a path to zero by 2030? No. But the idea that it would take slavery to achieve it is an unhelpful hyperbole.

Robot slaves! Powered by green energy!

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It is not so distant from reality.

That’s how most of the records are broken in the renewable energy industry nowadays: in UAE the largest and cheapest solar farms are built using semi-slave labour from Southeast Asia.

In China, wind farms are built and expanded at a speed and scale only possible via quasi-forced labour (I am not saying there is slavery there but I am sure people are not lured to work on those projects by generous payments but rather because that is where they are told work is to be made or found).

:man_shrugging:

First, critically, while there probably is still true slavery especially in the UAE illegally, slavery, the ownership of human persons as property, the thing described as wrong livelihood in the EBTs, does not legally exist in either the PRC or UAE. Labor under horrible conditions, whether those conditions were caused by the employer (Emeratis taking their employees passports) or simply the accidents of history (nearly half a billion Chinese people still being rural poor in abject poverty who, until recently, would frequently break the law and illegally migrate inside of China from rural to urban Hukou to work these jobs) is not literally the same thing as slavery, despite also being bad. There is an important moral distinction, especially in the Buddhist context, between systems where human beings are traded / treated as property and those where they are not.

Secondly, while China is the single largest producer of solar power (plurality), it is far from the majority. The USA, India, and Japan combine on their own to produce as much as China, and while all tragically still likely have some illegal slavery (especially in black market sectors) none have legalized slavery in their solar industry, and have much better labor standards than China and the UAE. So clearly slavery is not necessary for for solar.

Third, there are an abundance of publications out there showing paths forward, produced by highly educated experts, which I’m reasonably confident never include slavery, but do often include things you neglected to mention like carbon capture through (re)forestation and carbon taxes.

Fourth, even if it weren’t so unreasonable to believe that slavery was the only way out of catastrophic climate change, despair is not a productive message. For example, there are goals we genuinely cannot achieve (eg 0 degrees warning by 2025), but there’s no use saying, “No level of investment, market driven or policy driven, will achieve that!” Instead it is always better to focus on what is achieveable and encouraging the hard work necessary to achieve it.

I think you’re fighting a straw man.

I wasn’t saying that the solution is slavery but the speed at which things would have to happen would be comparable to having forced labour directed to these things.

A labour market based solution would require a massive maturity and coordination by leaders and political groups.

Hopefully countries which are trying to boost these things will learn the right lessons and share those with everyone else.

All I can do is hope leaders across countries agree and enable, direct or deploy the solution to the problem without having to resort to authoritarianism and forced labour (or analogous arrangements).

And, to be clear, as a Buddhist, I do not support the idea of solving an environmental problem via the creation of a humanitarian one. And no one is!

We are all entitled to our opinions and expectations about the world.

In my case, I just don’t believe in human kind enough, I don’t think we will sort all the things we need as a species to act in the speed, coordination and maturity to really tackle the issue we have created. It’s my choice, my kamma, and time will tell. May I be wrong!

:anjal:

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Not to put the rotten cherry on the rotting Sunday but … we face major ecological problems that essentially exist on their own as well. Not as well known or sensationalized (via movies books etc) as climate change, but ecological collapse through the loss of inclusion diversity in the food webs of insects and the loss of biological diversity due to human (mostly urban) sprawl is just as pressing of an issue. The shrinking of habitats that are human free essentially ensures reduction over time of the species that live within them.

Sadly I, like many, want to believe in people. But, the reality is until there is serious profit potential for big companies they will just continue to “green wash” their efforts and compound these issues into things the individual can do like drive an electric car and recycle. When the reality is business and governance as we know it must change. These issues are huge, and once again sadly, there is not enough progress being made fast enough. But maybe this will change.

Anybody interested read the book “The Molecule of More.” It presents a theory that is not very comforting when it comes to the endless pursuit of more that humans embarked on a long time ago, and it doesn’t show many signs of slowing.

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I don’t think anyone can predict the future. Predictions of how long it would take solar power to become cheaper than fossil fuels, for instance, were off.

It’s not solipsistic to say that the way we frame our thoughts about what is possible can affect what is possible; from that point of view, we have a responsibility to retain hope and optimism in the face of the unknown. If we don’t, our thoughts and words have the potential to spread hopelessness.

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No, I’m responding to direct statements you made in public.

When you say, “I wasn’t saying that the solution is slavery” you are engaging in a strawman. From the start I acknowledged that you weren’t doing that, but were using it as a rhetorical device. I just think it was in extremely poor taste and a very bad choice of rhetorical device. Then when you said it “is not so distant from reality” I explained some of the big gaps between the hyperbolic device you used and reality.

I am sure you are a fundamentally great person trying to do good in the world by raising the profile of environmental issues in your communities. I just hope you do so without using mass enslavement as a rhetorical device in the future.

The reality is that the “natural” environment of the 1800s is as gone as the pre-earthworm North American forest, pre-dike Netherlands, or the megafauna of 20,000 years ago. If the various forms of nonhuman life that are teetering on the edge are to persevere, it will only be with active human support. The upside of this is that humanity’s transformative power, which has hitherto mostly been used for destructive purposes, can be used creatively. We can create new forests, and intentionally create habitats for helpful animals (like bees and bats) in our towns and cities, instead of just accidentally propagating geese. We need to and can build environments that are robust and support as much nonhuman life as possible.

We can even actually reverse a few of the devastating invasive species introductions of the past, without killing a single living thing, through the introduction of “daughterless” gene-drive carrying variants, which I believe New Zeeland is working towards to eliminate invasive mammal species.

We have very powerful tools and just need powerful drive.

Seriously guys?Just read the FAQ. Accessible at any time by clicking “FAQ” from the hamburger menu to the left of your user icon.

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:rofl: to the admin meme lol.

Very true. And I agree.

Cool down the mind, the world would cool down with it.

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History has shown many times that technology alone cannot end human-caused crises. The years 2021-2030 have been declared by United Nations the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This is our new collective opportunity, and could be the last, to prevent the situation from getting much worse. It is part of a holistic approach.

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So everyone here has gone vegan yet?

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Like many people I have felt upset about the recent climate report.

I tend to skip over those headlines as they make me feel terrible and there is nothing I can do about climate change.

I already eat a vegan diet and have chosen to not have children.

If there was something substantial I could do the news would be easier to take.

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A wonderful exhortation Bhante.

Perhaps a pedantic point, but often new information for some people - veganism properly refers to a lifestyle where you entirely refuse to use products that are either made from animals, or made with animal labor. So honey is not vegan, nor is rice harvested using draft animals, nor is a wool sweater, nor, at the extreme, is watching a YouTube video of a parrot who has been trained to deliver lines from a famous movie. Of course, the majority of living vegans make exceptions and aren’t crazed fundamentalists - almost all vegans are fine with guide dogs for the blind, as an easy example.

The common limited view of veganism is more properly called a plant based diet.

I think this is important to consider, not from the perspective of hardline purism, but rather as a reminder of the holistic nature of our relationship with nonhuman life.

Some non-vegan products and processes are arguably powerful tools for the benefits of the environment. For example, though there are some fine-point ethical issues with the apiary industry, clearly bee pollination and honey are a part of the path forward. As well, vermicompost is a powerful tool for making good soil, which is likely a major medium-long term solution for carbon storage (trees extract it from the air, then it becomes forest litter and carbon content in the dirt, which is somehow prevented from eroding with more plants, but does inevitably offgas a small percentage of its carbon content every year).

In terms of climate, technology has advanced to a point where basically all products from nonhuman chordate animals are inarguably wasteful, but there’s also a few examples where such animal products are a good alternative to plastics, or might be integrated into local ecology. In many of those cases though, you can always just go without.

And that’s really where I think Buddhism and Buddhist monastics send the best message. The second part of the eightfold path, right intention, is defined as the intention to renounce. The first R of the three Rs is, well, reduce.

I personally have it easy, having been born into a vegetarian family (meaning I never have any cravings for animal meat or the like) and currently being fortunate enough to have a job where I can work from home and don’t need a car. But there is always a step forward. If the only way you can provide for your family is by driving a long haul truck, you can go plant-based, and if you’re someone like me you can always go further.

The simplest, but hardest thing we can do is be an example to others. To do this effectively requires patience, perseverance, and absolutely no preachiness. I’ve gotten several people in my life to reduce their most harmful contributions without ever actually outright suggesting or requesting they do so.

But of course, individual action will never get us out of this. We need to demand our governments take serious action now.

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Vegan here too.

I think a lot of governments are afraid to promote veganism or pass laws to restrict meat, or to stop subsidy for meat, letting the price of meat go up.

Unless they can see that the voter base is mostly vegan than there’s the power of the masses. So each people’s conversion and speaking out about veganism is important. And urgent, by the looks of the climate news.

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One of the many ironies of the whole situation is that we seem to have completely overlooked the idea, if it was ever a thing, that technology might actually make things better. All the so-called “green” technologies—renewable energy, sustainable farming, and so on—are terrible for the environment. Like, seriously terrible.

Of course, they’re not as terrible as the thing they replace. But why are we only supposed to settle for the lesser evil? is it not possible to imagine that we would use our technologies to actually make the world a better place? That the first thing we ask, when presented with any new technology, is “How does this make things better for all?”

The automatic response to this is, “But that’s unrealistic.” But think about it: people behave like this every day. People, just ordinary people living their lives, are constantly doing things for others, just because they think it’s good.

We are constantly sold on this idea that technology is so advanced, so future. Why have we allowed the technologists to convince us that we can only advance by catering to humanity’s basest instincts?

I know you’re just passing on the message, but geez, the idea of a “carbon budget” is just a horrible, horrible concept. “Hey, we get to destroy 10% of the capacity of the earth for life! Woo-hoo! let’s party!” As soon as you introduce this concept, you guarantee that it will be instrumentalized to maximize the possible consumption. That’s what a budget is for: to be used up.

And the whole framing, “within X years” is just as bad. “Hey great, we’ve got 12 years. Phew, someone else’s problem then. We can just make a pledge to achieve a goal then, and it’s a win-win. We win votes now, and we can just keep doing what we’ve always done and let the future fix it.” So many policy makers have zero understanding of science and technology, they imagine there’ll be some magic wand to fix it, or some invisible economic hand that’ll balance the scales. They’ll come out on top, of course—after all, they always have.

We need to focus on reducing carbon emissions as much as possible right now. What more can we do?

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