400 ppm

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Jennifer
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400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 24 Oct 2016, 22:41

The global concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has passed the 400 ppm threshold.
Scientists say humans may need to take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to stop global warming

The average level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere across the globe passed 400 parts per million (ppm) last year, a symbolic and worrying milestone in growth of manmade climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed Monday.

The carbon dioxide concentration is unlikely to dip below the 400 ppm mark for at least several decades, even with aggressive efforts to reduce global carbon emissions, according to the WMO report, which confirms similar findings reported last month. Carbon dioxide can last in the atmosphere for thousands of years without efforts to remove it.

“The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, referring to the landmark Paris Agreement to address climate change. “The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans for even longer.”

Governments from across the globe committed to cutting their carbon dioxide emissions in the Paris Agreement, negotiated at the end of 2015, but most climate policy experts believe that scientists will need to develop cost-effective methods to actually pull the gas out of the atmosphere to keeping the globe from warming more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100. That’s the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement and the level that, if crossed, scientists say could bring the worst effects of climate change.

Passing the 400 ppm threshold will not trigger any devastating effect by itself, but it does provide one metric of just how fast humans are emitting carbon dioxide. It is the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere that actually intensifies the greenhouse effect, in turn warming the climate. (On Venus, where carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere reach 30,000 ppm, the average surface temperature is a toasty 864 F (462 C). Just what level of carbon concentration in the atmosphere poses an irrevocable danger is up for debate. Many scientists pegged 450 ppm as a red line, while others have said 350 ppm—which the Earth passed years ago—is the safe upper limit. (The Bill McKibben-led climate advocacy group 350.org takes its name from that number.) The reality is that there is no absolute red line—climate change isn’t catastrophic at 401 ppm and safe at 399 ppm. But we do know that the more carbon we put into the atmosphere with no ability to take it out, the warner the world will get.

The finding comes as the globe continues to experience record a series of temperature records. Eleven of the last 12 months have been the hottest on record and 2016 is widely expected to be the hottest year ever recorded. At the same time, governments from around the globe have made significant progress on the issue in the last several months—from quick ratification of the Paris Agreement to passage of new deals on aviation and HFC emissions.
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 24 Oct 2016, 23:40

I don't know who Justin Worland is, but that's the equivalent of a blog post or else Time has stopped proofreading copy.

The Aaron Sorkin HBO series Newsroom had an episode in which the Deputy Director of the EPA announced the 400 ppm threshold and concluded the Earth is doomed.

Venus has a reducing atmosphere, if I recall correctly. Also, it's closer to the Sun.
Last edited by D.A. Ridgely on 24 Oct 2016, 23:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Sandy » 24 Oct 2016, 23:41

Yeah, any strategy now has to at least include an equal amount of adaptation to carbon reduction. Unless we come up with a near magic sequestration technology in a couple of years, we are looking at significant changes to crops, water supplies, and coastlines.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Warren » 25 Oct 2016, 00:20

Bring it on.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Eric the .5b » 25 Oct 2016, 01:27

I thought we had oh-God-we're-doooooomed threads, already?

If movies from the 70s taught me anything, it's that obviously, if they're talking about unavoidable catastrophe and yet still trying to start a discussion, then it's obviously to keep us distracted while the leadership escape the planet for hidden bases on the moon and Mars.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by JasonL » 25 Oct 2016, 10:25

Meanwhile, no interest in carbon tax unless it substantially raises taxes on rich people and doesn't change anyone else's life at all.

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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Andrew » 25 Oct 2016, 11:19

JasonL wrote:Meanwhile, no interest in carbon tax unless it substantially raises taxes on rich people and doesn't change anyone else's life at all.
The Seattle experiment indicates it also needs to act as a slush fund for SJW causes.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 25 Oct 2016, 12:35

It's too bad none of the presidential debate moderators asked about climate change at any point. Given how quickly Trump denied it when Clinton (accurately) said he's tweeted that climate change is actually a Chinese-invented hoax, at least the answers would've been amusing.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by thoreau » 25 Oct 2016, 13:00

"Global warming? Listen, I know why the Chinese think the earth is getting hotter, because Hong Kong is in the tropics. Let me tell you, the tropics get pretty hot. I've built hotels and golf courses in the tropics and we have to spend a lot of money on air conditioning. So that's why the Chinese think it's so hot. I've been to Hong Kong and all the people are saying ching-chong-wong which is Chinese for 'It's hot!' That's all they say. I know a lot of Chinese people; my buddy Chang runs a casino in Macau. Great guy. Great place, Macau. Ladies all love me there, they say they will love me long time. They offer me massages. It's amazing. But man are they shrewd. You have to be careful with them. They're just saying the earth is getting warmer so they can screw us on oil. You can't trust them. Great guys in Macau, but you gotta be careful."
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 25 Oct 2016, 13:11

Moronity must be graded on a curve. By 2012 all climate change denial belonged in the "moron" category, but Trump's insistence that it's a hoax invented by China to destroy the US economy is, arguably, slightly less moronic than "Global warming is a hoax invented by scientists just for shits and giggles, because everybody knows how much scientists hate technology and modernity, and yearn to see mankind reduced to living in grass huts again."

However, I've no idea what curve to use, to judge the relative moronity of "Climate change is a hoax!" versus "Climate change is real, but any proposed solution to that problem must also simultaneously solve the problems of misogyny, racial prejudice, economic inequality and the heartbreak of psoriasis."
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by JasonL » 25 Oct 2016, 13:37

I'm starting to file Climate Change into the same category as Mortgage Crisis. You can get agreement that there is such a thing, and you can get those people to say these things can go badly for everyone in dramatic fashion, but you sure can't get anyone to do anything that affects them personally or alters their pet projects in any way. You can't say you don't want bail outs when everything you support in the rest of your life creates the conditions for bailouts. You can't say climate change is existential crisis when you pout that the most politically expedient mitigation model doesn't give you a new piece of candy.

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Re: 400 ppm

Post by thoreau » 25 Oct 2016, 13:50

I've got my Prius. Bring on the carbon tax!!!!!

Sent from a phone so their may be speling errors and autocorrect snafu's.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 25 Oct 2016, 13:58

Some years ago I read an article ostensibly about climate change, but it actually used that as a springboard to leap into the question "Why are people in general so very bad at long-term thinking and planning?" and the theory was that because "long-term planning" is something which we had to invent and teach others, not something which comes naturally to us. I think there might be something to that: even when our ancestors invented/discovered agriculture (which was extremely recent, compared to humanity's total amount of time on earth), even that only entailed planning a few months into the future: plant seeds in spring, harvest them in autumn. Indeed, long-term planning could actually lead to short-term catastrophe: any Cro-Magnon who worried about the ecological consequences of hunting sabertooths to extinction was a Cro-Magnon likely to wind up inside a sabertooth's digestive tract.

Or even now, it's downright commonplace to find adults -- people older than 25, who have reached their full-fledged adult brain development (as opposed to adolescents who look like adults, but do not yet have adult brain capacity for things like "considering the future consequences of present actions") -- who seem in outright denial about their futures: "Hmm, well, I have zero dollars in my retirement account, and intellectually speaking I know I'm probably gonna get old someday, but ... eh, I'll start saving money later. First, though, I wanna take this sweet vacation cruise, and of course I can't give up my weekly indulgence of dining out instead of at home...." and if people are that bad at denying present pleasures for their own future benefit, it's even harder to deny present pleasures for someone else's future benefit, especially when that someone else might not even be born yet....
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JasonL
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by JasonL » 25 Oct 2016, 14:03

That problem is essentially the problem we spend all our time trying to solve at my company.

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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 25 Oct 2016, 14:40

JasonL wrote:That problem is essentially the problem we spend all our time trying to solve at my company.
Thinking further on this -- that problem is arguably innate to all people, even those for whom it is NOT a problem. Consider, for example, the near-universal tendency for people to be more "careless" with credit or other non-cash money equivalents. Like, if you go to a casino, they will not let you bet cash at the tables -- you must first use cash to buy chips, then gamble with those. That's because most people will bet more with chips than with actual cash currency -- even though, intellectually speaking, they know that $20 chip is exactly equivalent to a $20 bill, even though they personally just-now handed over some $20 bills in exchange for an equivalent number of $20 chips, the majority of people will still gamble (and lose) more with $20 chips than with $20 bills.

Similarly, most people who use credit cards will, in general, tend to spend more money than people who are spending cash. And this is not remotely limited to "stupid" people, nor to "financially irresponsible" people who spend enough to get into actual financial trouble. Yet credit cards and casino chips both involve very near-term futures -- credit card bills are monthly, so you're never more than four weeks away from your next one. Casino chips are usually cashed in before you even leave the casino to return to your home or hotel room. You only need think ahead a matter of hours or even minutes, to grok the chip-to-cash connection there. It's near-immediate, and it's personal: YOU are the one who'll be $1,000 poorer if you gamble and lose $1,000 worth of casino chips. YOU are the one expected to pay the balance on your $1,000 credit card purchase.

And ff course, that immediacy and "personal-ness" does not apply to such problems as climate change or carbon buildup -- it is NOT a matter of "If I drive an unnecessary 20 miles, then my already-hot summer day temperature will go up another degree. On the other hand, if I stay home this weekend, then things'll cool down next day." Given how bad most people are at personal, near-term planning, how the heck does humanity solve an impersonal, long-term problem?
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by lunchstealer » 25 Oct 2016, 14:58

Jennifer wrote:slightly less moronic than "Global warming is a hoax invented by scientists just for shits and giggles, because everybody knows how much scientists hate technology and modernity, and yearn to see mankind reduced to living in grass huts again."
Speaking as someone who's spent some time in the planetary physical sciences, let me just leave this here:

You'd certainly think so....

I think you've got a clash between the We Will Use Science to CONQUER Nature! guys and the Humans Have No More Inherent Worth than Any Other Life So We Must Preserve Everything and Growth for Growth's Sake Is Evil and Humans Are the Real Monsters guys.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Aresen » 25 Oct 2016, 15:02

I cannot get excited about 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere for the simple reason that it was an arbitrary threshold. Short of a miracle, there was absolutely no way that we were going to stay below that threshold. There was not the technology available to replace carbon-feuled energy and there was no way to restructure the economy to do away with the need for that energy (without causing revolts that would put every leader's head on a pike and replace them with leaders who would ignore the issue.)

This was a number chosen in the sure knowledge that it would be passed. The only purpose was for new cries of alarm when it inevitably happened.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by JasonL » 25 Oct 2016, 15:17

It's a problem. It's the reason even though I'm a market guy and an individual liberty guy, I still support some form of mandatory saving program similar to social security. I don't see the outcome being "people who don't plan will suffer", but "people who don't plan, if they be sufficient in number, will vote for very disruptive toxic redistribution at gun point at the last minute". So, Id rather sacrifice freedom to save or not to prevent lots of people from taking from lots of other people because they didn't save anything.

Interestingly, we know that the hardest hurdle is moving non savers to do some saving. Once people see a pot accumulating, they tend to feed it to watch it grow. Before they start, they think the growing asset story is a lie, or that it only applies to very rich people, or it's a trick they don't have access to or whatever. We also know that default behavior and framing matter. If you default someone into saving 5% in a workplace plan, 96%+ won't opt out of it at any point later. If you require people to sign up, the number saving at least 5% varies wildly by education and earnings level, but you can go down to 65% in low education environments.

So my first instincts on these kinds of deferred gratification, future self kinds of problems are:

1) Is there a default condition that people don't have to choose to do something over and over again to do the right thing? I think pricing carbon generating behavior is a good place to start.

2) Is there a way for people to "see" progress. What's the equivalent of watching your savings go up or seeing it go down so you know if you still have work to do? Not sure on this. I think home technologies that show for example how much water you are using in the shower against a baseline - the "green dashboard" concept would be a set of things that would really help. This is a direct rip from strategies we use to help people save.

3) Beyond the baseline effort of default payment or strategy, is there a way to encourage additional action? This has to do with education and socialization of performance. Can you see what other people are doing in a 'green points' system, can you compete with them somehow, do you have a way to understand what your low hanging fruit is that could make additional difference. This will only motivate people who are inclined to care about the issue and feel good about "doing well" in whatever metric, but you still want to do that because the aggregate effects from your motivated savers/green people can be large.

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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 25 Oct 2016, 17:21

The BBC has a more detailed article about the 400 milestone:
Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for "many generations".

The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015.

But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark.

The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.
Gas spike

While human emissions of CO2 remained fairly static between 2014 and 2015, the onset of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon caused a spike in levels of the gas in the atmosphere.

That's because the drought conditions in tropical regions produced by El Niño meant that vegetation was less able to absorb CO2. There were also extra emissions from fires, sparked by the drier conditions.

In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the World Meteorological Organisation says the conditions helped push the growth in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere above the average for the last ten years.

At the atmospheric monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, levels of CO2 broke through 400 parts per million (ppm), meaning 400 molecules of CO2 for every one million molecules in the atmosphere.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago, say experts.

Prior to 1800 atmospheric levels were around 280ppm, according to the US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

The WMO says that the rise through the 400ppm barrier has persisted and it's likely that 2016 will be the first full year when the measurements show CO2 above that benchmark, and "hence for many generations".

While the El Niño factor has now disappeared, the human impact on climate change has not, the WMO argues.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations."

The report also details the growth in other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

In 2015, levels of methane were 2.5 times greater than in the pre-industrial era, while nitrous oxide was 1.2 times above the historic measure.

The study also points to the impact of these increased concentrations of warming gases on the world's climate.

Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing or warming effect, caused by a build up of these substances, from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

While welcoming new initiatives like the global agreement to phase out HFC gases agreed recently in Rwanda, the WMO argues that nations must retain their focus on cutting CO2.

"Without tackling CO2 emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial era," said Petteri Taalas.

"It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris Agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on 4 November and that we fast-track its implementation."

Around 200 nations who signed the Paris climate agreement will meet in Morocco in November to decide on the next steps forward.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Mo » 26 Oct 2016, 16:52

Jennifer wrote:Consider, for example, the near-universal tendency for people to be more "careless" with credit or other non-cash money equivalents. Like, if you go to a casino, they will not let you bet cash at the tables -- you must first use cash to buy chips, then gamble with those. That's because most people will bet more with chips than with actual cash currency -- even though, intellectually speaking, they know that $20 chip is exactly equivalent to a $20 bill, even though they personally just-now handed over some $20 bills in exchange for an equivalent number of $20 chips, the majority of people will still gamble (and lose) more with $20 chips than with $20 bills.
Uh, there's a ton wrong with this whole statement. Younger people (<45) are more responsible with spending on cards than cash because they've used them you whole life. Casinos use chips because they're easier to count and manage and also harder to counterfeit. Counting out $1,000 in $20s takes a few seconds with chips and is easily checked. It's a PITA with cash.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 26 Oct 2016, 17:43

Mo wrote:
Jennifer wrote:Consider, for example, the near-universal tendency for people to be more "careless" with credit or other non-cash money equivalents. Like, if you go to a casino, they will not let you bet cash at the tables -- you must first use cash to buy chips, then gamble with those. That's because most people will bet more with chips than with actual cash currency -- even though, intellectually speaking, they know that $20 chip is exactly equivalent to a $20 bill, even though they personally just-now handed over some $20 bills in exchange for an equivalent number of $20 chips, the majority of people will still gamble (and lose) more with $20 chips than with $20 bills.
Uh, there's a ton wrong with this whole statement. Younger people (<45) are more responsible with spending on cards than cash because they've used them you whole life. Casinos use chips because they're easier to count and manage and also harder to counterfeit. Counting out $1,000 in $20s takes a few seconds with chips and is easily checked. It's a PITA with cash.
Which doesn't dispute what I said -- the fact that chip-counting is easier than cash-counting for casinos in no way negates the psychological phenomenon of visitors betting more with chips than with cash, and the ubiquitousness of debit or credit cards cards doesn't change the numerous behavioral-economics studies showing that credit card customers generally buy more than cash customers even across the same businesses.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Mo » 26 Oct 2016, 23:10

Jennifer wrote:Which doesn't dispute what I said -- the fact that chip-counting is easier than cash-counting for casinos in no way negates the psychological phenomenon of visitors betting more with chips than with cash, and the ubiquitousness of debit or credit cards cards doesn't change the numerous behavioral-economics studies showing that credit card customers generally buy more than cash customers even across the same businesses.
The studies you linked to don't actually show what you think they do. Just because average tickets are bigger with cash than cards, doesn't mean that spending is done more freely with cash. Especially since there are stores with policies of no cards allowed under $X, which would skew the average. I can't seem to find the study on a quick Googling, but there was a study that showed that millennials and young Xers are more likely to spend within their means and rack up less credit card debt, partly because to them cards are real money. There was likely a curmudgeon in the early paper money days that likewise dismissed paper money as a gimmick to get people to spend because it didn't have the heft and physical reality of a good piece of gold. Even that form of payment study didn't break out by age considerations nor by looking at cash vs. debit in addition. It could be that not having to pay immediately has a different psychological effect than a direct withdrawal from the bank account (i.e. it's timing, rather than the physical form that is dominant). Anecdotally, I find I'm much more responsible with my card because I can track and know where my money is going, while with cash I'm always left wondering, "Where the fuck did that money go?"
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by Jennifer » 27 Oct 2016, 13:07

Mo wrote:Anecdotally, I find I'm much more responsible with my card because I can track and know where my money is going, while with cash I'm always left wondering, "Where the fuck did that money go?"
Ah, well, since the plural of anecdote is known to be data, we can safely assume that allstudies showing that people (in general) spend more with credit than cash are no longer the case -- fiscally responsible people like you are now the rule, not the exception.
A handful of academic researchers have studied what goes on inside our heads when credit cards are in our wallets, and even people who do not carry a balance each month are prone to overspending for a variety of reasons.

One of the most well-known studies, published in 2001 and titled “Always Leave Home Without It,” showed that in certain contexts, people were willing to pay up to twice as much for the same item when paying with a credit card instead of cash. This is known as the “credit card premium.”

A study in 2008, titled “Monopoly Money,” featured a gift card denominated in dollars. Even though the gift card lost value instantly when people used it, people were still more likely to spend freely with it than they did with cash. And a 2011 study showed that people considering using credit cards tended to focus more heavily on product features when shopping, while cash buyers paid closer attention to costs.

This all seems perfectly logical on the face of it. People will spend more using credit cards since the pain of paying is further away, by at least a month or so. Even with a gift card, which is akin to the debit cards so many people use today, users are one step removed from having green cash money leave their flesh-and-blood hands. And credit card users who focus more on the features of the item they are shopping for instead of price are more likely to lean toward feature- (and cost-) laden goods. The mere appearance of a card logo in some of these experiments caused many test subjects to spend more.

But the most surprising thing about these studies? When I tracked down many of their authors this week, I found that they, too, can’t quite kick the credit card habit. Why doesn’t Joydeep Srivastava, co-author of the Monopoly money study, use a debit card or cash?

“Mostly because my credit card is giving me lots of miles,” he said.

This is exactly what the credit card companies want us to think, and the math works for them. They buy the frequent-flier miles for a penny or two each from the airlines (or mint their own points that cost them a similar amount) and sit back and hope that we will pay lots of interest or at least buy more than we otherwise would have....
The good news is that if this is no longer true (or true for only a tiny fraction of the population), if people today are better at keeping long-term costs in mind when making immediate decisions than decades of "casino chip" and "credit card" studies would lead people to believe -- then not only is Jason's "convince people in the present to set money aside for their future" job much easier than he's been leading us to believe, but finding the collective willpower to fix this climate-change mess shouldn't be such a much, either.

But, anecdotally speaking, I've seen and known a lot of people -- full-fledged adults, not teens -- who are cataclysmically bad at figuring out the long-term implications of money, even such simple implications as "The more I charge today, the more I'll owe at the end of the month" or "If I continue not-putting any money in my savings account, then I'll continue not-having any money in my savings account." And I continue to suspect that, since so many people are so very bad at direct-benefit short-term future planning -- "If I spend less money today, then I personally will be better off in the not-too-distant future" -- it's sadly not surprising that people are even worse at indirect-benefit long-term future planning -- "If I drive less or otherwise reduce carbon emissions today, then I personally won't see any improvement at all but people in half a century or so might suffer from slightly less climate-change-related problems than they otherwise would."
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by nicole » 27 Oct 2016, 13:17

It's not like there is some objectively correct, rational discount rate for everyone, or like there's any real reason to care about people who don't exist, aka who aren't people at all. I'm not "bad at future planning" because I think my young, healthy, hot self will value money significantly more than a potential future old, broken-down self who might not ever exist, nor am I "bad at future planning" if I think the state of the planet 100 years from now is morally irrelevant.
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Re: 400 ppm

Post by JasonL » 27 Oct 2016, 13:31

There is data to suggest people are better at saving now than they have been in the past. Or, better to say workers entering the workforce in the past 10 years save at higher rates earlier than did my generation and waaaayyy better than the worst savers in history, the boomers.

Among people who save nothing, the big thing used to be that they didn't participate in plans that companies offered - you'd see elective participation rates like 65% in really big plans. Now, the problem is that smaller companies don't offer plans at all. The iduciary-fay ule-ray everyone loves so much is making that worse.

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