T Nation

Abrupt Climate Change & Human Extinction


Are lots of scientists saying we should do nothing about climate change? From what I’ve read you might have conflict on what should be done and how much something might help but I don’t think the prevailing thinking is let’s just hang back and see what happens.


I may be biased since I’ve spent much of my life living near a nuclear power plant but you can find a lot of stuff saying it’s the safest.


Yes I do. When proper controls are put into place the only real concern of nuclear energy is how to dispose of used fuel rods. They can be transported in radiation hardened canisters to Death Valley and buried there. This is an area of the US where no life currently exists and the environment is harsh enough to keep people out. Bury the spent fuel rods deep underground there or discover some other use for them (the military is always in need of depleted uranium rounds).


This Link explains it well. It’s hard to transmit at high voltages in populated areas (areas with the most power consumption). The lower the voltage the higher the current must be and the more losses that are now present. Transmission over long cables is like passing through one really long resistor.
Putting power generation close to power use is the most efficient way to go about things.


I have been praying for climate change every day this year.


I very much am indeed. However the politicization goes both ways. In an effort to drive awareness (before social media and Kickstarter), some scientists drifted too far from the pure faith (to borrow an Indiana Jones reference) and began it on their own.

That there were co-existing influences from the other (corporate) side is a given. But it doesn’t excuse the actions of the activist first brigade in my mind.

I should note in this thread I am not anti-climate change.


To be fair, there is rational defensibility to using national emissions can per capital emissions as USMC did. To wit, a great great great many more citizens are also below the global poverty line in both India and China. As a result it is doubtful that they produce much emissions in aggregate because they lack the buying power to do so.

It’s probable that the US has a greater normalized emissions record, but I don’t think it qualifies as misdirection–gross magnitude still matters quite a bit.


It should. I believe it has a much quicker upside in terms of practical usefulness. As a practical matter, we are not able to switch more than a few percent to renewables in the next 10 years…but I think capture might be feasible.


Anyone else feel like this comment has become the “I hate Obamacare but I love my ACA” of the climate discussion?


Live near one as well. Can anyone explain the “flaw” in the methodology of the charts in this link? Is it just that the assumptions of average safety levels are off?


It is quite clear that you aren’t declaring climate change a hoax. I did not mean to suggest that.

You may be arguing to moderation, however. The “both sides” argument neglects the gross imbalance in the whole discussion. The denial side only needs to sow doubt in the mind of voters, while the action side is asked to show impossibly precise models. All this while there is little possibility of personal gain for the overwhelming majority of activists.

Is it not stark, the difference between calling for action on the basis of peer-reviewed science for personal gain, and poo-pooing warnings about potential catastrophe with little to no supporting science, again for personal gain? Which side is gonna get more shills?

One possible answer - politicians (the ultimate shills) and their funding. Since most people only trust their own research anyway, I invite anyone reading this thread to compare the amount of money being donated to congress by fossil fuel interests and alternative energy groups. The results are eye-opening, especially when you consider the both-sides argument.

Another problem, as this very thread illustrates, is the fact that those who call climate change overblown or outright bullshit love to latch on to the most outrageous claims. The older, the better. Why poison the discussion by bringing up the obvious mistakes and exaggerations? No serious mention of catastrophic climate change and extinction is made without the qualifiers “possible but improbable”. Why pretend any paper or report expresses certainty?

Climate change is a simple risk calculation. Do something, and disaster is averted at great cost. Do nothing, and the loss may be incalculable.



You are not understanding that the “product” being sold has to be taken into account. We are talking about “FEAR OF HUMAN EXTINCTION” vs support for major corporations.

Who really looks at at “impossibly precise scientific models” to make their decisions?

Look at how YOU are selling this here:

It’s still going to be equal amounts on both sides, just the channels and methods will differ. You simply don’t understand how all of this works.

If you want to argue about which side has been more EFFECTIVE, than you would have a point.


You are acting like scoring political points isn’t a factor when it comes to shilling. The public vote is just as important to them since that’s how they get, and stay elected. There are just as many politicians shilling for the other side.

Again, your argument should be about how much power one side has on affecting the implementation of policy, not about the amount of shills.


Please explain it to me.

You continue to refer to some secret knowledge. A large part of the relevant information is available to all. You claim personal gain is an important motivating factor, I reply that the resources on one side outstrip the other, by orders of magnitude.

Since I have these gaps in understanding, I ask, without sarcasm, that you explain to me what I’m missing.

In the interests of clarity, I will remind you of my suggestion above to look into who funds what, by how much. Please feel free to publish your findings here, at least for my own edification.


I certainly am not. I am questioning your ability to understand how the world works.

And I am telling you:



Please support this claim with any data at all.

This is an old, old conspiracy theory approach. Call the fools who believe in the moon landing naive.

In simple terms, explain why climate change activism is tainted by the profit motive to an extent even remotely comparable to climate change denial. It would be best if you could point to reliable sources to bolster your argument.

Talking down to sound more informed will not really help.


This would reflect more on you. You were acting like I am not privy to the knowledge that corporations have a sizable amount of power, influence and funds. This is common knowledge. It is certainly not exclusive to you.

I already gave you several very simple points. You simply skipped past them to keep pushing the “corporations have money” argument. I even told you the manner in which these corporations influence policy implementation may be more effective because of the power and influence they have over the incumbent party. What more do you want me to say?

What data do you need when most Americans believe in climate change? To shill for the other side would be going against public opinion. Is this so hard to understand?


I can’t… soapbox…

The short answer is that there is a huge resistance to the idea of nuclear energy, not the practical feasibility or safety of it. One of the biggest differences is that disasters are much higher profile in nuclear energy. Is the Fukishima disaster worse than the Juan Valdez? I’m not sure it is, but as much press as the Valdez garnered I think people perceive the reactor meltdown as worse.


Thank you.

I am in fact arguing for moderation, yes, and will defend that position to the end of my days. I think you perceive that there are only 2 options or “sides”, although I could be mistake based on my readings of your previous posts This is not accurate in my opinion.

My reading of the denialist side is that it is much smaller than many think. I despise the word anyway, because as I pointed out in one of the many numerous threads on this topic the very word “denialist” is highly emotionally charged and is therefore not appropriate for a scientific discussion. It was popularized by many of the opposite side (both politicos and scientists) to taint the perception of their foes as well as to be wielded against moderates who don’t quite see eye to eye with some of the proposed solutions to climate change mitigation. This certainly goes both ways of course.

May I ask what you do for a living?

I view this as a strawman, and also needlessly polarized. Those are only 2 positions in the spectrum and there are a great many scientists (and others) who are not comfortable with either extreme but too cautious to declare a side for fear of becoming entangled.

While you are accurate on the worst denial offenders, it is also true that grant money, speaking engagements, status, and the adoration of one’s “tribe” are very much personal gains. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that there are MANY scientists in many fields that are very much enthralled by these things to different degrees. This doesn’t necessarily taint their science - I would never say that without what I feel are justified criticisms - but it is not insignificant. Billionaires aren’t the only ones that have egos, and the ego is a very powerful influence for many people, even for some scientists.

Two things: 1st, they are acceptable qualifiers because - regardless of the motives of the one giving them - these things have in fact been quantified in the relevant literature as “improbable” with statistical approaches. No peer reviewed report or paper expresses certainty that I am aware of… because it is in fact unknown. Expressing certainty on such a matter as mass extinction is well beyond the ability of our present knowledge. So motivation aside, they are appropriate qualifiers on a statistical level. The IPCC even states such in each of their previous reports.

2nd, there is nothing simple about the risk calculation. Taleb’s approach, while intelligent and influential, is only one of several rational approaches risk management. It has much to commend itself, but it is not the only possible approach to take and depends upon one’s assumptions (philosophical and otherwise).


First, as a theoretical argument, the elevated amount of public trust given to science and scientists means that the extent of “profit motive” does not need to be comparable. Science is trusted implicitly to avoid this sort of motivation and is held to a higher standard. This means that any breach is significant.

The nature of scientific endeavor also means that potential “profit motive” is not limited to money. It means a great many things to different people. In fact, one could say that given the personalities of many who enter scientific fields and the long timeline it takes for career maturation that NON-monetary personal gains might hold more sway with that population than zillionaire dollars.

Second, dt is generally quite civil on these boards. You simply disagree with him.


If you believe the moon landing didn’t happen, your knowledge of science and physics in general should be questioned by all.

Why would anyone believe your assertions on climate change science when you refuse to acknowledge the accomplishments of other areas of science?