126 points by lmc
13 days ago
Perfect data visualization of the current environmental and climate challenges that is open to anyone. The current environmental issues we face are portrayed with "Data layers" and discussed with "Stories" beneath. Stories like this should reach mass media to raise public awareness. Before we can focus on the (final) outer space (frontier), we must first fix our inner (terrestrial) space (ship) with a priority. Or not?
> Before we can focus on the (final) outer space (frontier), we must first fix our inner (terrestrial) space (ship) with a priority.
The idea that humanity can only do one thing at a time is both widespread, and absolutely bonkers!
We're 7 billion different people!
> We're 7 billion different people!
Consider that it might in fact be harder to get 7 billion different people to do one thing than having them do 7 billion different things.
If we can't manage to exist in balance with this perfectly fine planet we evolved on, what makes you think we are even prepared in the slightest to do so with a new planet which would very likely be the equivalent of playing earth in hardcore mode?
I also think we should fix earth and explore the rest of the universe at the same time. But as of now we are doing a really, really shit job of doing the former, so maybe we should focus there first. Why, you might ask? Cause the negative impact of fucking that one up has a headcount of 7 billion + future generations.
> Consider that it might in fact be harder to get 7 billion different people to do one thing than having them do 7 billion different things.
I don’t think that is the case: getting people to focus on fewer things is hard, while getting 7 billion people to focus on 700 million things is the status quo.
Which is what I said?
More like 8 billion (next year).
No because there's very little reason we cannot do both simultaneously. Space is no more the opportunity cost of climate science than any other thing we do on earth.
You would think that. But I'm one of a few scientists that work on the only fully integrated climate observation station for the Greenland ice sheet. I'm headed to Greenland as I type this. The Greenland ice sheet is the fastest melting piece of ice in the world, and is one of the canaries-in-the-coal mine that we need to observe to understand catastrophic climate change impacts. I was just discussing with my colleagues the other day the amount funding that projects such as the JWST get, and how it's extremely difficult to get funding for climate observations. We operate the station on a paltry shoestring budget and it was nearly shutdown by the NSF last year.
And. To be clear. It's a difficult discussion to have. Bickering about which science projects deserve more funding is a lose-lose battle, like cutting of each other's kneecaps (JWST is an incredible project). Yet climate science is extremely poorly funded, in particular monitoring projects or analysis. Climate science has also fallen prey to the "must be new big and shiny" problem that everything else has.
how frustrating it is for you to do what you do and know what you know? I only know the “common” knowledge about climate change and it makes me angry every time I think about what we know and where we’re still heading.
I'm fairly early in my career (read: youngish). And, truthfully, I'm very much having an existential crisis. I often wonder what the worth in studying the climate is. After all, we already have an extremely detailed understanding of the basics. Does refining our estimate of melt and other such issues, reducing the error bars, really contribute anything more to society? I'm not sure. It feels fruitless. But I recently had a friend explain that I should consider myself more a documentarian than a researcher which shifted my perspective quite a lot. Some people here will like the quote:
"Somebody has to document what happened, it's better than selling ads on the internet. Imagine a world where we burn ourselves to death and we didn't even keep track of the specifics, it seems even more tragic."
Anyway. I think the answer is clearly... frustrating.
>And, truthfully, I'm very much having an existential crisis. I often wonder what the worth in studying the climate is. After all, we already have an extremely detailed understanding of the basics.
This same line of thought is what turned me away from pursuing a degree/career in climate science. It feels like an area where you can make significant contributions to the analysis of impacts and gain greater understanding of the future direction things will take (and the rate), it'll be akin to shuffling deckchairs on the titanic in terms of being able to actually effect any meaningful change; since I was frustrated in my current career with a sense of futility I realized the move into climate would not be satisfying, as much as the topic was of interest.
Similarly with working in industry 'tackling' climate change. Pinning hope on technological advancements are (IMO) fundamentally flawed. Plus much of 'green' industry where the majority of jobs are to be fund amount to a thin veneer of PR for organizations that are significantly exacerbating the issue.
As an aside, how much stock do you put in the notion that the first Blue-Ocean Event will significantly ramp up the rate of change being felt globally?
thanks for replying. and I like the quote :-)
But it's incorrect to state that climate science is competing with JWST more than it is competing with any other venture, scientific or otherwise, for funding.
Of course that's incorrect, and that's not what I'm stating. The comment I replied to implied that we can (and are) doing both simultaneously. I'm trying to show the degree to which that is or is not true. I even said clearly that arguing about funding isn't worthwhile, for exactly the point you make. It's philosophically useless and categorically weak. The idea is simple: we don't care about global climate all that much, either studying it or fixing it. The funding and social effort shows that clearly. We prefer sexy shiny science the same way we prefer cars and iphones shipped from China.
> The idea is simple: we don't care about global climate all that much, either studying it or fixing it.
This is why I'm so pessimistic about the future. I don't really think we are all willing to sacrifice our shiny objects and accept a less carbon intensive lifestyle when the cost doesn't seem imminent. I often compare it to being overweight due to u healthy habbits. People aren't born obese, but slowly choose that lifestyle for immediate pleasures all the while the danger only creeps up.
Not articulated very well because I'm on mobile... best of luck to everyone.
I would say no.
Without outer space there is simply not enough space (and resources) anymore. Too much tension to solve the major issues...
Counterpoint, if we can't make earth work, how are we expecting to make another planet work? It will be inconceivably harder to turn Mars into something hospitable than it would be to remedy our current planet. We have the science and knowledge we need to make drastic changes here, we are just disorganized and unwilling.
You're creating a false dichotomy that either we're staying on earth or trying to colonize mars, ignoring other options such as having a more capable presence in orbit for doing things like asteroid mining, which would supply the resources that the poster you're responding to mentioned.
No you are assuming I am against space exploration, I am not. I didn't create that dichotomy, the OP was suggesting earth is no longer suitable. To me at least they were implying colonization is our way forward. If anything my reply was more in line with what you are suggesting, fix our planet with what we have around us. Maybe that includes mining asteroids, space based research, maybe even power generation or transfer, living quarters supplied by the earth.
What I was saying was more of a challenge to our competence, if we can't pull off making earth work, with it's vast resources, and existing infrastructure, how could we move from earth in a meaningful way?
One example, OP suggests we have no room. We have heaps of room, it's just not arible or hospitable. Guess where else isn't arable or hospitable? Every other planet in our solar system! So they gave up on earth in their mind, in favour of somewhere even less hospitable
It's not a bad overview, but the level of discussion is fairly watered-down, scientifically speaking.
A more general way of looking at it would be helpful - i.e., explain how to apply the underlying concepts to any planetary body in the solar system to estimate its surface temperature. Why is Venus so hot? Why is Mars so cold? What's a radiative-convective model? How does an atmosphere affect a planet's surface temperature? What if the Earth's oceans were as shallow as those on Mars apparently were? Could Venus ever be terraformed into an Earth-like planet?
Additionally, a discussion of the economics and industry of the global fossil fuel production system (and of the staggering cost of completely replacing the existing infrastructure with non-fossil energy sources) should be included in the globe diagram in an up-front manner.
> a discussion of the economics and industry of the global fossil fuel production system
wait, you want science or not ?
Well, industrial and engineering science definitely qualifies as science, for example the history of learning how to convert crude oil into hundreds of different chemical products is a story of scientific development. The economic theory stuff doesn't hold up so well, however.
For example, it doesn't seem to matter much what socio-economic ideology a given country adheres to when it comes to extracting fossil fuels from the ground - socialist or capitalist, authoritarian dictatorship or liberal democracy, if they discover oil and gas they start drilling and pumping, without fail, and if they've got an excess, they try to sell it on the global market.
I agree the human dimension of global change is ignored in these encyclopedic data collections. Indeed scientific criticism exists for these collections: just putting together data, without new enlightening algorithms or scientific advances, does little or nothing for scientific progress.
(Edit: here the source of the mentioned criticism: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-00986-y?utm )
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