States have been lured away from coal by cheaper alternatives and an abundance of cleaner natural gas — market forces that are not easily manipulated by Trump’s policies. The rise of natural gas and decline of coal was partly responsible for falling CO2 emissions — 18 percent below projections made in 2008 by the Annual Energy Outlook.“Regulation will play a modest role in the future,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But the main effect here is simply price. Gas and renewables are simply becoming cheaper than coal for many plants and many situations.”
He argued that we should prepare for a cosmic exodus to take place in the next 200 to 500 years.
“We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he said via video link to the audience gathered in Trondheim, Norway. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”
.. “The Earth is becoming too small for us,” he said. Global warming is a threat, too, a view he knows is not shared by President Trump, “who may just have taken the most serious and wrong decision on climate change this world has seen.
.. In theory, an array of powerful lasers, blasting up to 100 gigawatts of power combined into space, could propel nanocraft like sailboats caught in a mighty wind. The probes would fly by Mars in an hour, Pluto in days and Alpha Centauri in 20 years, Hawking said. (He does not envision such a system being useful for human interstellar travel, though, in part because light-propelled craft have no brakes to pump.)
If humanity burns through all its fossil fuel reserves, there is the potential to warm the planet by perhaps more than 10 degrees Celsius and raise sea levels by hundreds of feet.
This is a warming spike comparable in magnitude to that so far measured for the End-Permian mass extinction.
.. The last time it was 4 degrees warmer there was no ice at either pole and sea level was hundreds of feet higher than it is today.
.. in the coming centuries it’s not impossible that we might be headed back to the Eocene climate of 50 million years ago, when there were Alaskan palm trees and alligators splashed in the Arctic Circle.
.. “Lizards will be fine, birds will be fine,”
.. Huber says that, mass extinction or not, it’s our tenuous reliance on an aging and inadequate infrastructure—perhaps, most ominously, on power grids—coupled with the limits of human physiology that may well bring down our world.
.. “The problem is that humans can’t even handle a hot week today without the power grid failing on a regular basis,” he said, noting that the aging patchwork power grid in the United States is built with components that are allowed to languish for more than a century before being replaced.
.. By the year 2050, according to a 2014 MIT study, there will also be 5 billion people living in water-stressed areas.
.. “Thirty to fifty years from now, more or less, the water wars are going to start,” Huber said
.. “None of the economists are modeling what happens to a country’s GDP if 10 percent of the population is refugees sitting in refugee camps.
.. If people don’t have economic hope and they’re displaced, they tend to get mad and blow things up. It’s the kind of world in which the major institutions, including nations as a whole, have their existence threatened by mass migration.
.. Huber calculated their temperature thresholds using the so-called wet-bulb temperature, which basically measures how much you can cool off at a given temperature. If humidity is high, for instance, things like sweat and wind are less effective at cooling you down, and the wet-bulb temperature accounts for this.
.. Wet-bulb temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or higher are lethal to humanity.
.. Above this limit, it is impossible for humans to dissipate the heat they generate indefinitely and they die of overheating in a matter of hours, no matter how hard they try to cool off.
.. 7 degrees Celsius of warming would begin to render large parts of the globe lethally hot to mammals.
.. truly huge swaths of the planet currently inhabited by humans would exceed 35 degrees Celsius wet-bulb temperatures and would have to be abandoned.
.. “In the near term—2050 or 2070—the Midwest United States is going to be one of the hardest hit,” said Huber. “There’s a plume of warm, moist air that heads up through the central interior of the US during just the right season, and man, is it hot and sticky. You just add a couple of degrees and it gets really hot and sticky.
.. the Hajj, which brings 2 million religious pilgrims to Mecca each year, will be a physically impossible religious obligation to fulfill due to the limits of heat stress in the region in just a few decades.
.. “You want to know how societies collapse?” Huber said.
This has nothing to do with serving America’s national interest. The U.S. economy, in particular, would do just fine under the Paris accord. This isn’t about nationalism; mainly, it’s about sheer spite.
.. it’s quite possible that lower health care costs would all by themselves make up for the costs of energy transition, even ignoring the whole saving-civilization-from-catastrophic-climate-change thing.
.. while tackling climate change in the way envisaged by the Paris accord used to look like a hard engineering and economic problem, these days it looks fairly easy. We have almost all the technology we need, and can be quite confident of developing the rest
.. pretending that environmental irresponsibility will somehow bring back jobs lost to strip mining and mountaintop removal.
.. you find deep hostility to any notion that some problems require collective action beyond shooting people and blowing things up.
.. driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good. Add to this the anti-intellectualism of the G.O.P. base