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Old 11-05-2016, 04:03 PM   #30 (permalink)
Ecky
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We're certainly not going to destroy the earth, and to my understanding we are living in a period of gradual natural warming, but it's widely agreed that humans are accelerating climate change (by orders of magnitude) by contributing gasses to the atmosphere that trap heat. The faster the change in climate, the less able ecosystems are to respond and adapt to it, and the larger the loss in diversity and quantity of plants and animals.

Fun facts:

Antarctica had trees during warming periods as recently as 15 million years ago, and was temperate enough to support forests as recently as 33 million years ago. The continents have not moved significantly since then. So, the earth has a long way to go before it's that warm again.

HOWEVER, warmer ocean temperatures historically (I've studied paleontology extensively) result in decreased circulation between deep and shallow water. Earth's warmest periods have been those with the largest dead-zones and least variety and quantity of ocean life, because deep waters turn anoxic and nutrient deposits don't get recycled to the surface.

Marine vertebrate populations have dropped an estimated ~50% since 1970, and it is most widely believed that this is due to overfishing, not from major changes to the amount of habitable volume in the oceans.

Earth's warmest periods have also had the greatest extent of desertification, though there were more zones of extreme diversity, e.g. rainforests.

In the last 40 years, the earth has lost around 1/3 of its arable land, and nearly all arable land that exists is in use. Effective use of this land has improved, so we're producing about the same amount of food we did 40 years ago, but the world's population has also increased substantially so today there's less food per person than was available 40 years ago.

~


In the US, we'll probably not be affected nearly as much as the 3 billion people living on under $10 per day. Shifting growing zones, increased desertification and an increase in the severity of weather are going to cause major problems for the world's poorest people, and I honestly care about people other than myself, and people who live outside of my country.

If the poorest 3 billion want a standard of living similar to what we experience in the US, the world simply cannot support that. I don't feel it's right for wealthy countries to deny access to energy, food and goods to these people, but it's possible that by developing cleaner alternatives, the standard of living for people in the world can be improved without exceeding the world's capacity to support it. Reducing consumption in wealthy nations also helps.

My 2 cents.
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