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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 12 2022, @11:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-let-the-changes-get-you-down dept.

Why our continued use of fossil fuels is creating a financial time bomb:

We know roughly how much more carbon dioxide we can put into the atmosphere before we exceed our climate goals—limiting warming to 1.5° to 2° C above pre-industrial temperatures. From that, we can figure out how much more fossil fuel we can burn before we emit that much carbon dioxide. But when you compare those numbers with our known fossil fuel reserves, things get jaw-dropping.

To reach our climate goals, we'll need to leave a third of the oil, half of the natural gas, and nearly all the coal we're aware of sitting in the ground, unused.

Yet we have—and are still building—infrastructure that is predicated on burning far more than that: mines, oil and gas wells, refineries, and the distribution networks that get all those products to market; power plants, cars, trains, boats, and airplanes that use the fuels. If we're to reach our climate goals, some of those things will have to be intentionally shut down and left to sit idle before they can deliver a return on the money they cost to produce.

But it's not just physical capital that will cause problems if we decide to get serious about addressing climate change. We have workers who are trained to use all of the idled hardware, companies that treat the fuel reserves and hardware as an asset on their balance sheets, and various contracts that dictate that the reserves can be exploited.

Collectively, you can think of all of these things as assets—assets that, if we were to get serious about climate change, would see their value drop to zero. At that point, they'd be termed "stranded assets," and their stranding has the potential to unleash economic chaos on the world.

Do you agree with this arguably pessimistic assessment of the situation, and have we already run out of time to take the action necessary to avoid exceeding climate goals? Criticism is easy, but what solutions do you have to the problem?


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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @04:00AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @04:00AM (#1244667)

    Then the UN doesn't understand evolution. The people who have evolved to want kids will replace those who have evolved to not want kids. It's just the way it works. If your parents didn't have any kids, neither will you. Contrariwise, if your parents wanted, and had, lots of kids then it is likely that those kids will also want and have lots of kids.

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  • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Friday May 13 2022, @04:48AM (6 children)

    by vux984 (5045) on Friday May 13 2022, @04:48AM (#1244675)

    "If your parents wanted, and had, lots of kids then it is likely that those kids will also want and have lots of kids."

    That pre-supposes there is a genetic sequence for "wanting to have lots of kids" that can actually be passed on, and further pre-supposes that "wanting lots of kids" will actually result in evolutionary success of that gene. There's no real evidence of the former, but lets for the sake of argument imagine it was a thing. Even then, it's not hard to conceive of a cynical dystopian by our standards future where a family putting all its 'genetic eggs' into releasing a couple kids that it can give all the advantages to will out-compete genes from a family that tries to create bunches of kids it can't support competitively. A future sharing aspects of Gattaca for example.

    There are all kinds of plausible futures where the best chance of gene propagation is not "want to have lots of kids". There are lots of evolutionary tracks that have taken this route.

    Nevermind the impact of genetic engineering on evolution, artificial selection, etc. In a world that might want zero net growth, and advanced technology we can just eliminate that "wants to have lots of kids gene" whenever it appears.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @09:01AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @09:01AM (#1244693)

      That pre-supposes there is a genetic sequence for "wanting to have lots of kids" that can actually be passed on

      That's kind of how evolution works.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @10:11AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @10:11AM (#1244700)

        I think it's unlikely, but it's actually possible that there isn't. There is a desire to have sex, and until recently that automatically meant kids. There must also be a drive to take care of kids once they arrive, but there is not necessarily a drive to actually have them.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @10:05AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @10:05AM (#1244698)

      That pre-supposes there is a genetic sequence for "wanting to have lots of kids" that can actually be passed on, and further pre-supposes that "wanting lots of kids" will actually result in evolutionary success of that gene.

      Genetic, memetic, technological, it doesn't matter. All your arguments just change the parameters of the selection pressure. Right now, in the western world, the single most important selection pressure is whether or not lots of children are wanted. Virtually all current human evolution is towards the desire to have children.

      Even then, it's not hard to conceive of a cynical dystopian by our standards future where a family putting all its 'genetic eggs' into releasing a couple kids that it can give all the advantages to will out-compete genes from a family that tries to create bunches of kids it can't support competitively. A future sharing aspects of Gattaca for example.

      Unless you are going to advocate the termination of those "uncompetitive" kids, they certainly will outbreed your carefully cultivated limited offspring.

      Nevermind the impact of genetic engineering on evolution, artificial selection, etc. In a world that might want zero net growth, and advanced technology we can just eliminate that "wants to have lots of kids gene" whenever it appears.

      Your totalitarian gattaca world will simply apply an additional selection to resist the authorities. Future humans will be both rebellious and pro-kids.

      • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Sunday May 15 2022, @11:48AM (2 children)

        by vux984 (5045) on Sunday May 15 2022, @11:48AM (#1245091)

        Future humans will be both rebellious and pro-kids.

        Yes, your carefree and authority averse Eloi will be unable to work together but make will be excellent breeders.
        Little better than zoo animals hunted for sport and food by the far more organized, regulated, and regimented society of Morlocks. :p

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16 2022, @07:36PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16 2022, @07:36PM (#1245414)

          Go read The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins. They are both very entertaining as well as being a great introduction to evolution. Then sit in a quiet spot for a while and really think about it.

          If you still don't see any problems with what you have posted in this thread then re-read The Extended Phenotype. At some point a lightbulb will go off in your brain and you will realize that your past understanding of evolution was woefully lacking.

          • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Tuesday May 17 2022, @07:33AM

            by vux984 (5045) on Tuesday May 17 2022, @07:33AM (#1245572)

            I get all that; I've followed Dawkin's work. The ideas in the extended phenotype don't change the calculus here one bit.

            You posit that there is some indomitable survival and propagation advantage conferred by 'wanting to have lots of kids', but that simply might well not be the case. Wanting to have a couple kids, while wanting to deprive others the option of having any kids so they expend engergy on yours instead, and going hard after anyone who wants lots of kids, while virtue signaling your choice to have a 'small reasonable number' to avoid other instances of this trait from attacking you and getting them to band with you reinforcing itself, perpetuating a society and culture around these ideas, legal systems, and the technology to support and enforce it, creating an entire advanced society in service to that strategy and to the exclusion of others ... to directly engage Dawkin's concept ... might be the genetic winningest move in the long run.