[extropy-chat] Alleged Climate Collapse

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Mon Feb 23 18:21:30 UTC 2004

Robert J. Bradbury wrote,
> I *would* like to see a real (in-depth) analysis of whether 
> global warming could be good for humanity.  For example there 
> is a *lot* of land in Alaska, Canada and northern Russia 
> which is problematic from an agricultural standpoint.  There 
> can't be that many people on islands that can't take a 5, 10, 
> 15m, etc. rise in sea level who could not be relocated to 
> land which has become habitable due to global warming.  Hell, 
> the deicification of Greenland and Antarctica would open up a 
> lot of land.

You think the solution is to relocate tropical island people to Alaska and
Antarctica?  These are not large enough to replace all the warmer lands.

Seriously, it is not just islands.  It is Manhattan, Miami, US coastlines,
etc.  Much of our infrastructure is on the coasts.  We can't even keep our
infrastructure maintained now.  What would happen if it started
deteriorating at a much faster rate?

> It seems to me that an extropic discussion of this topic 
> should not focus on the details (though one needs them for 
> good discussions) but should instead focus on whether or not 
> a significant change in the architecture of the Earth would 
> be extropic or unextropic.

We can't make such decisions without analyzing the details.  High-level
handwaving and optimism don't really answer fundamental questions.

> For example -- did the study cited list any benefits that 
> might develop as a result of global warming?  If not then it 
> would seem to be biased on the negative side.

This is really a non-sequitur.  A lack of positive notes does not dispute
the negative ones.  Do you dispute the Columbia disaster findings because
they didn't present a positive side?  Do you reject possible asteroid impact
studies because they don't give a positive side?  If you really believe the
positives might outweigh the negatives, then do some research to demonstrate
some examples.  We have plenty of negative examples now.  Shouldn't we have
an equal number of positive examples by now?  Has agriculture in Alaska
greatly increased?  Are catches of fish going up in northern latitudes?  Are
people migrating from the equator toward the poles?  Some examples would
greatly bolster your claims.  Otherwise, they are unsubstantiated wishes.

> I read an example of this earlier today where the predictions 
> were that global warming was going to kill off the Great 
> Barrier Reef by 2050.  None of the authors bothered to 
> consider the fact that sequencing the genomes of the coral 
> and algae involved in creating the reef structure is feasible 
> *now* and engineering strains with greater heat tolerance is 
> feasible within the next decade.

So its OK to let the Great Barrier Reef die because we can build a new one?
I think we need to get our backup plans working before we let the original
copy get destroyed.  Even if we can rebuild it, it is almost always easier
to protect existing assets rather than building new ones.  I am not sure we
understand all the workings of the Great Barrier Reef or other large
ecosystems, like the Florida Everglades, enough to build artificial
replacements that operate outside their normal parameters.  It is not even
clear that these ecosystems can functions at higher temperatures, if we
modify them or not.

Basically, you seem to have faith that we can solve these problems, but no
real details or examples.  I am not willing to give up major portions of the
Earth on unsubstantiated faith right now.  Would you willingly die and get
frozen today on the hopes that future medicine could bring you back?  Do you
forego diet and exercise in the hopes that futuretech can rebuild you before
you die?  I don't.  I want to preserve myself and my world as long as
possible until the solution actually arrives.  I believe in the future, but
I wouldn't bet my life on it.

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