Tuesday 23 August 2022

One more reason I dislike linking climate change and extinction

Life is full of suffering. Especially in its final stage. Sorry to bother you with this truism we spend so much effort keeping away. But visiting a hospital I found one more reason to dislike the talk about climate change and extinction.

Trump supporters using this argument, or its more vague alternative that we should only care about climate change if it is catastrophic (CAGW, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), is clearly in bad faith. They would never ask themselves whether Trump should sign his main legislative achievement, a 2 Trillion Dollar give away for corporations and the rich by asking whether not doing so would be catastrophic. Whether every baby, kid, adult and elder keeping their 6,000 Dollar would lead to human extinction. (The money will have to be paid back some day and without big change it will not be the rich and corporations doing so.) They do not argue like that about topics they care about. Doing it for climate change is your typical nonsense from the US culture war.

Lately people who care about climate change seem to have mirrored the talking point. It looks like people thinking: if they say climate change is not catastrophic, I will say it is. (And without defining what you mean, you enter one of the more pointless twigs of the US culture war.) The term "catastrophic" does not convince people? Let's call it the end of civilization or the end of humanity. (While people are actually convinced, polls all around the world show majorities that see climate change as a problem. Insufficient action is due to incumbent power and politics.)

The end of humanity or even "just" of civilization is not in the IPCC reports. This simple fact makes me rather unpopular on the Reddit forum community on the collapse of civilization, where the cheerful people hang out. If you want to fight fire with fire and mimic Trump supporters in their lack of care about whether a claim is true please note that it is also counter productive to make people despair about solving climate change. Just like talking about inaction, rather than insufficient action. Saying we need to do 3 or 5 times more to stay below 1.5 °C or 2°C warming makes solving the problem sound much more doable than saying we are going extinct after decades of inaction.

Now the new, for me, argument. My reason to care about climate change is that it leads to more suffering, the more warming the more suffering. Until extinction ends the suffering. So extinction is kinda downplaying the problem.

Maybe I am strange that way. I am not a vegetarian. But I do care that the animals had a good life. That they are mostly outside enjoying the weather and having fun in each other's company. That they get real food, are healthy and are selected for their robustness, not maximum productivity. I wish those rules were much more strict.

Dying is naturally not nice for the ones you leave behind. But in case of extinction, our cows, chickens and pigs will not like it, but most species will thrive and rejoice if they could. The suffering is the problem.

That we will not collapse due to climate change alone, does not mean civlization will not collapse and may have to recover (which is another good reason to keep fosil fuels in the ground). My favorite animated science channel just made a video on this.

In a Nutshell: Is Civilization on the Brink of Collapse?