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Discussion > Who likes it hot?

Sandy you say that "we" survived the end of the last ice age. There were probably very few humans at that time, certainly not 7 billion, so what has that experience got to teach us? Changes in climate that you have highlighted are known to have caused civilizations to fall in the past. How can you be confident that, in that famous phrase, "this time is different"?

Dec 8, 2015 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff
You still haven't explained why you think more heat is bad. Before I answer more of your Yes Buts pl;ease tell me why it will be detrimental.

Dec 8, 2015 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

How can you be confident that, in that famous phrase, "this time is different"?

Raff, this time is different for a million reasons. Make a list for yourself.

Dec 8, 2015 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin, yes of course every time is different. But if you accept the reality of climate changes being able to destroy civilizations but are unworried by the prospect of such change in a world that, in many places, is arguably at a higher level of stress than ever before, you have to have a good reason for thinking it won't damage ours.

Sandy, you are full of examples of past climate change altering history, but seem intellectually unable to analyze that any further than to think "it'll be peachy". It is as if you are a computer - great at accumulating data but unable to understand them. I don't know what warming holds for the world and neither do you. It might be great. Or maybe bad. My preference is to start a process of change now so as not to risk the bad; yours is different.

Dec 8, 2015 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

" in a world that, in many places, is arguably at a higher level of stress than ever before"


can you give us the arguments?

Dec 9, 2015 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Hi Raff - previously you were talking about 'causing civilizations to fall' . 'damage' is not the same.

The Soviet Union was damaged by nazi Germany on a huge scale but that did not cause its fall.

The level of adaptability we now have is hugely greater than even a generation ago.

Dec 9, 2015 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

I think this is why I dislike climate alarmism in a gut visceral way.

The part of the argument I don't like isn't that we have affected the climate in some way, I can understand and even agree with that to a certain extent. It seems inevitable when we deforest, change land use, use and redirect water, and put extra gases into the air, that this will change climate in some way.

What I hate to my core is that once that is generally agreed to a degree, then the ONLY solution on the table is NOT to use what separates us from the animals - the intelligent application of technology - to mitigate or adapt to these possibly changing conditions. Instead of saying "what can we do to fix it?" the alarmist movement says "we're effed, we need to all stop breathing NOW" And then when we don't agree, to make up scarier but less realistic things to scare us with,.

This is a massive collapse in the human spirit which I cannot countenance. It's cowardice to attempt to retreat our technological advances in order to placate the unknowable climate gods. If we've broken it, then we will fix it. This is what we've always done, at least the enlightened technologists amongst us. The supernatural rabble who seem to be in charge at the moment can continue to make sacrificies to their climate god, while the rest of us will continue to A. See if we've broken anything (not conclusive) and B. If we have then we will come up with ways to fix it. As we've always done.

The children can run along.

Dec 9, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Sandy S

The significant figure is a wet bulb temperature of 35C. Once the environment exceeds that temperature your body is unable to dissipate heat fast enough to maintain a constant body temperature. You overheat and die.

This is for a healthy individual. If you are elderrly or in poor health the limiting temperature is lower.

A recent heatwave in India reached dry bulb temperatures of 48C and caused 2000:deaths. As average temperatures rise worldwide such events become more frequent. If temperatures above the human tolerance limit become a regular occurrence, that region becomes uninhabitable.

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

TheBigYinJames

Do you really want to live in an environment where your survival depends on the reliability of your air conditioning?

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM,

apart from that being a gross hyperbole of the reality of climate change, we already live in a world where we are utterly dependent on technology for survival. Many of us would be dead within a fortnight if it stopped working. So what? Did Palaeolithic men decide to stop using flint spears because their survival depended of the sharpness of their weapons?

In some ways you have encapsulated what I was saying - as soon as we picked up the first stick as a weapon, we leveraged ourselves out of the natural world. Every advance since then has elevated us farther. This is a beautiful and marvellous thing. Why have some people suddenly become scared of it?

Dec 9, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

'[...] Do you really want to live in an environment where your survival depends on the reliability of your air conditioning?"

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


Wrong way round, again. Imagine what a blessing it is for those who live in hot/humid climates to be able to afford air conditioning. The most important factor in the value of Florida real estate.

You also seem to be ignoring obvious facts, again. Humans have always, and still do, manage to live in tropical hot climates, dry and humid. During the heat of the day, you just do nothing, sit in the shadiest place with some air movement, and drink clean water if you can get it.

You know.... only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Extremes are not new, and not shown to be getting worse. Only global warmers think that people never previously suffered from extremes before we improved our lives using technology.

Canadians and Russians, and even the British, also depend on technology to survive their climate in winter. Originally it was just called "fire".

Dec 9, 2015 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

When I said "fix it" I wasn't talking about AC system, this again illustrates a cultural problem with alarmists. They cannot see beyond the small-scale tech that they have personally experienced. SO if it gets hot, everybody gets AC units is the only way to fix it. Such a lack of imagination.

Dec 9, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Entropic Man
You mean in the way it has risen in the last 18 years? Compared with excess winter deaths in the UK's low tech heated/cooled houses there's a long way to go before a warming world becomes a problem, if the figures you quote for India are correct.

What are regions in the world which are currently uninhabitable?

Dec 9, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Entropic Man,
As you'd piqued my curiosity.I just did a quick Google to see where it is currently too inhospitable for humans, for whatever reason, You basically get this list or variants for population (sorry about caps it's cut and paste I'm afraid).

GREENLAND
FALKLAND ISLANDS
PITCAIRN ISLANDS
MONGOLIA
NAMIBIA
FRENCH GUIANA
AUSTRALIA
ICELAND
SURINAME
MAURITANIA

There seem to be four categories, Hot and Dry, Cold, Hot and humid and Pitcairn.
Paramaribo has about half the rainfall of Snowdonia annually (Snowdonia12 people per sq. km, Suriname 3.46). I have not been able to get a concrete reason for the low population densities in Suriname and French Guiana but as people, including escaped slaves, have been able to survive in the interior for centuries it would appear the heat is not the sole reason. The two major reasons why areas are uninhabited are cold and dry. A warming world is likely to make these places more habitable (cold getting warmer and dry getting wetter, see Harrabin for that one) long before any area becomes uninhabitable by permanent wet bulb temperatures of 35'C.

Dec 9, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

TheBigYinJames

The rulers of Machu Picchu, Angkor Wot and Chaco Canyon were probably as confident as yourself that their technology would keep them alive.

Unfortunately we cannot ask them. They are gone.

Dec 9, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

SandyS

Thi is our limits.

Cold is easily compensated for by technology, ie clothing. Heat is harder.

As Michael hart pointed out, given shade and a reliable water supply it is possible to survive dry heat above 50C for a short time. Sweating is a very effective mechanism, and our main response to heat. It is part of our adaption to our original human liestyle as savannah cursorial hunters active in a hot and dry environment.

From a physiological viewpoint, we are not optimised for hot and wet conditions. We pick up heat by conduction and radiation and struggle to lose heat by evaporation. There is no behaviour we can use to dodge the problem This make it easier to get caught beyond our lethal limit.

Dec 9, 2015 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I wonder how the natives of the Amazonian rainforest survive? As the rainforest is too humid for sweating to be effective for cooling, they do not sweat, thus reducing their water requirements. It is quite amazing the way that life can adapt for their conditions.

I have experienced the somewhat dubious pleasure of summer without central heating in the Persian Gulf, with daytime temperatures usually well above 40°C, and very high humidity – the ITCZ that moves over it in summer being a very effective pressure-cooker for the region. It is surprising how you can adapt to endure it, if forced. So, EM, where is it that the wet-bulb temperatures presently exceed 35°C, and how uninhabitated were these areas before air con was invented? Having answered that (I am applying a bit of wishful thinking, here), where is it that wet-bulb temperatures WILL rise above this critical temperatures in the near future, such that they will have to be abandoned with the failure of air con?

Dec 9, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

You were there.

Dec 9, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Radical Rodent

"Despite the popular image of the Amazon as a region of blistering heat, temperatures of more than 32 °C (90 °F) are in fact rare. The annual average temperature in the region is 22 to 26 °C (72 to 79 °F), with not much variation between the warmest and the coldest months."

Dec 9, 2015 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

So, a low-lying and humid tropical region has temperatures a long way from the dangerous limits? And we are expected to be frightened that the rest of the world is going to reach such levels?

Now, how much do the present temperatures have to increase to hit this dangerous limits? How long is the projection allowing for this temperature in southwest Asia to be reached? Is it a projection based upon present temperature rising, or on some mythical model? Oooh! OOOH! Let me guess – it’s a model! And how accurate have the models been, to date? You really are quite gullible, Entropic man, when it involves anything in which you have such quaint faith.

Dec 9, 2015 at 7:50 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin, earlier, Sandy illustrated something or other with examples of climate changes causing civilization failure. He can't however bring himself to discuss the damage modern climate change could do - all will be peachy in Sandyworld. You are right that there is a spectrum between no effect and complete failure, and of course what caused ancient states to fail might only damage a modern Western country. But what would just damage the West might devastate many developing countries. And according to your "all aid is harmful" doctrine they should expect no help from the West to recover. It is good that you accept that climate change could be damaging, even if you feel insulated from it in France.

Big Yin, when you said:

"I think this is why I dislike climate alarmism in a gut visceral way"
the only "alarmist" commenting up to that point had been me. So was "this" something I said? I think the only thing I said that could be referred to as a "solution" was that my preference is for starting a process of change now so as not to risk bad outcomes. You said
"What I hate to my core is that once that is generally agreed to a degree, then the ONLY solution on the table is NOT to use what separates us from the animals - the intelligent application of technology - to mitigate or adapt to these possibly changing conditions."
Where do you get that in my comments? How does imposing a revenue neutral carbon tax (my preference) equate with what you wrote. It does nothing to prevent "the intelligent application of technology", in fact it helps by making non-polluting technologies more profitable and hence more likely to be developed and adopted.

Dec 9, 2015 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Entropic man
These are our limits/this is our limit?

'[...] Do you really want to live in an environment where your survival depends on the reliability of your air conditioning?"

and

Cold is easily compensated for by technology, ie clothing. Heat is harder.

From what you have said it would appear that we need technology all extremes of temperature/humidity. The thing is that we have had centuries of coping with cold which without technology would kill a large percentage of the population. Despite historical warm periods which were warmer than today there has been little need, apart from building design and white render, cooling technology. The conditions for human life are limited by cold and dry rather than warm and wet, there is still a lot of slack in the system for warm and wet not so much for cold and dry.

Given the choice of a restart to global warming or a return to the LIA I'll stick with further warming. I've had enough of Scottish winters of the 1960s and 1970s thank you very much.

Dec 9, 2015 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The rulers of Machu Picchu, Angkor Wot and Chaco Canyon were probably as confident as yourself that their technology would keep them alive.

Unfortunately we cannot ask them. They are gone.
Dec 9, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM - ask yourself why your comment comes across as totally fatuous.
As I've said before, better to say nothing than something like that.

Dec 10, 2015 at 7:54 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Raff,
I actually do discuss by putting a counter view to the gloom which you deny having but you also accept that the models (as does Entropic Man) predicting detrimental affects. Entropic Man quotes examples of fallen civilisations, implies that they fell due to warming without presenting evidence in the same way you present no evidence or what you think is going to happen. Despite localised steps backwards the history of humans during the current interglacial has been steady progress, during warmer and cooler periods than currently being experienced. For the 100K years prior to that humans struggle to survive why should I be pessimistic about the near future (a couple of centuries) for humans in general although it is unlikely that every region will have positive outcomes, but your revenue neutral carbon tax is unlikely to benefit every region either.

I really would like to know what you actually think is going to be the downside of any future modeled warming. For me the future if the warming continues won't be as bad as if the cooling returns. You fall into the Robert Burns' black depressive category summed up very well here


But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Although I tend to agree with Robert Burns and Helmuth von Moltke's assessment of best laid schemes.

Dec 10, 2015 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

EM

The rulers of Machu Picchu, Angkor Wot and Chaco Canyon were probably as confident as yourself that their technology would keep them alive.

But they were technologically primitive, we are not. I'm not saying it's impossible for our technology to fail us, but let's wait until it actually does fail us before getting despondent about it.

This is a good example of what I mean about the collapse of the human spirit.

Dec 10, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames