Forum: Bioinformatics vs. the Climate Crisis
9
gravatar for sviatoslav.kendall
8 months ago by
United States
sviatoslav.kendall770 wrote:

Over the last few years I've grown increasingly concerned about the overwhelmingly complex set of intersecting problems broadly referred to as "the Climate Crisis". When I first started my career, I was content to simply donate a few dollars to environmental groups and vote for politicians who at least expressed concern about things like greenhouse emissions to feel like I was "doing my part" to help avert disaster. As my concerns grew, I expanded my sense of "doing my part" to include things like: donating to think tanks that do not accept corporate funding (which seems to explain why they're able to publish reports/proposals like this), volunteering for political campaigns, organizing car pools, buying local, etc.

But one thing I have never done is grapple with the question, "What role can bioinformaticians play in averting or at least mitigating the Climate Crisis?" Off the top of my head, I can name two research areas where our skills might be helpful:

Biofuels (which might reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, I guess?)

Weather-Resistant Crops (which might help stabilize societies besieged by extreme weather events)

I'm sure there are many other areas of bioinformatics research that might prove important to dealing with the Climate Crisis so please respond with any thoughts/links/ideas relating to that. Obviously, part of my rationale for posting this is because I am considering a career change so I would be particularly interested in anything that a cancer researcher might easily transition into.

Also, I feel it is extremely important for people like us (scientifically and technologically literate) to think critically about and discuss the myriad and complex issues that make up this crisis in hopes that doing so might make us better positioned to help deal with it. Here's a few questions that I would really like to get this communities' thoughts on:

What are the incentive structures that impede governments, businesses and institutions from taking more aggressive actions to reduce greenhouse emissions?

Which countries/regions are most at risk of becoming uninhabitable and where are the resulting "climate refugees" most likely to seek asylum?

What technologies and proposed solutions actually have potential to alleviate the causes of the Climate Crisis and which ones are misguided and/or scams?

What else can people with a bioinformatician's skill set do to help avert disaster?

Since this post is very open-ended in the responses it invites, I humbly suggest that posting "Answers" that address just one of the various issues I've raised might help make the reply threads easier to read if people responding to the same issue later on post their thoughts as a reply-to-the-answer rather than a reply-to-the-original-post.

rna-seq forum climate • 1.3k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 8 months ago by Joe17k • written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
4

May I remind everyone of some important issues:

  • The question was how bioinformatics can contribute to alleviating the climate crisis (which is a perfectly valid question to ask here as Forum post), not whether there is a crisis or not (which is off-topic both as question or answer)
  • This is a bioinformatics QA and not a climate science QA, therefore, it is unlikely that anyone here can assume authority over the topic without citing relevant scholarly work. If you want to discuss, whether climate change "is real" or "urgent", this is not an answer to the question, and you can do that in a climatology forum
  • This is a scientific QA, so peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals must account for something. Please back up your arguments by facts, in particular, if it is not exactly your field.
  • Please watch your "argumental hygiene", abstain from conspiracy theories ('look at them, ...') and abstain from ad hominem attacks.
ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
1

The catch is that it is necessary to distinguish between "science" and "scientology". I have no interest in contributing to a forum that treats these two equally, and will withdraw all my existing contributions and direct all users of my software away from here should that happen here.

The best heuristic I know of is to allow discussion of technical problems and disallow evangelism. Anyone fine with a discussion with almost exactly the same technical content, just with "climate crisis" replaced with the far less controversial "climate change", is welcome here. I don't see how anyone who doesn't find that to be an acceptable compromise belongs on this forum.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
1

Do whatever you please

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
1

As I have said in my answer below, the point of this thread it not to convince anyone of the reality of climate change, or its urgency.

If you do not feel there is a climate crisis, you cannot add any meaningful content which addresses the OP, so feel free to move on. As Michael said, this is a Q&A site, and those comments do not address the Q.

If your response to this thread is to direct legitimate bioinformatics questions away from the site, that's pretty immature, and not befitting a community moderator, but feel free to take all the help requests yourself, I can't see myself losing any sleep over that.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Joe17k

All meaningful technical content addressing the OP concerns ordinary-scale climate change. There is no technical content addressing the difference between dealing with ordinary-scale climate change and an actual "climate crisis" which starts to spiral out of control. And that's not because the difference is empty (cf. geoengineering).

Since the original poster doesn't seem interested in the difference either, there is no constructive reason to use the term "crisis", and there are very, very strong reasons not to on a public forum in 2019. There are numerous climate-change-related discussions on far-higher-profile forums like Hacker News which have been derailed by people pushing back against apocalyptic language; I am very far from alone in being instinctively offended by religious authority.

I'll acknowledge that some of my direct responses to the original poster could have been more diplomatic, but that doesn't change the fact that public discussion of climate issues has been so poisoned by bogus apocalyptic claims that it is necessary for him to go out of his way to dissociate himself from them to promote constructive progress on the non-apocalyptic but still very real problems in this area. This includes using a title without the word "crisis", which is just asking for a response like Dan D's.

This particular discussion appears to have died down so it can be left untouched, but the above describes how I will moderate similar posts in the future. And if that isn't okay, this is a community that fundamentally does not include me, so I really have no choice but to withdraw (which, as you note, potentially leads to more work for me; I'm okay with that).

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
1

I'll acknowledge that some of my direct responses to the original poster could have been more diplomatic,

And I will acknowledge that I also could have been more diplomatic with you. Sorry about that. Despite our disagreements, I'm much more interested fostering a productive discussion that people can learn from (myself included) than I am in "being right" so I propose a compromise:

From now on, I'll use the term "climate change" whenever posting on this forum. I won't use terms like "climate crisis", "climate emergency", etc unless, perhaps, I am specifically discussing the merits of these terms or quoting someone. If you or anyone else convinces me that my sense of urgency is unwarranted, I will change every instance of my using the term "climate crisis" to "climate change" (including the title) except in sentences where I was either discussing the merits of the term or quoting someone.

All I ask in exchange is that you participate in some good faith discussion, share some more of what you know/think and try to be clear/diplomatic in your posts. Science is ultimately a collaborative endeavor; there's obviously a lot about it that is inherently competitive (spirited debate, forum hygiene, etc) but at the end of the day we're all trying to help each other learn more and figure things out. Maybe you could blow some new life into this forum by posting a fresh answer to the original prompt?

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770

Hi, I can tell you that the discussion has died down in part because people didn't find it worthwhile to discuss nitty-gritty details, about whether there is a crisis or not or to iterate some talking points that you had the chance to make extremely clear. It might also in part be the non-constructive undertone in this discussion that put people off. This is unfortunate because I have some more ideas about how bioinformatics could help to solve climate change or reduction of carbon emissions if you will. And some others might have posted theirs, and so the thread could have become a valuable resource of ideas for new projects. But instead, the thread got totally derailed. I would like you to read my initial comment about some important issues once more and see if it makes more sense to you now.

I hope you will find a good way to contribute in a constructive way to this forum, even though you disagree with someone on this forum about some topics unrelated to bioinformatics, and you will go on to support Pllnk, because it will be useful to many.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
3

It's not directly about the climate crisis, more about environmentalism in general, but biodiversity genomics could be a field to go into. Projects like Darwin Tree of Life, Vertebrate Genomes Project and Earth Biogenome Project between them aim to sequence the genomes of all eukaryotes on Earth. The aims of these projects are not to directly affect the climate crisis, but there is no doubt that working to preserve biodiversity will have the upshot of maintaining forests etc, which will have a positive impact.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Emily_Ensembl21k
1

I think the biogenome project is especially relevant for another reason, the loss of "in vivo" diversity by accelerated extinction of species. It has been predicted, for example, that ocean acidification threatens coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef.
We have to capture some of the diversity of genes, genomes, proteins, and enzymes in databases before it is inevitably lost. That makes me said to be honest.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
2

speaking seriously - take less flights (which means going to less conferences), don't eat beef, don't litter, sort the garbage, take bike instead of a car. that's what bioinformatics can suggest to the World.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
1

Find out the genes cascade that supports methane eruption from cows into the atmosphere and suggest a way how to fix it.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
3

These genes are mostly known. The methane comes from anaerobic methanogenic archaea (see kegg) in the bowels of the cows. One could feed cattle some anti-methanogenic compounds, but in my mind, we will not get around having fewer cattle globally. And that means consuming less beef.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k

then the challenge would be to find genes that are responsible for the beef's taste and make a vector injection into e.g. chicken. but this is kinda high-tech approach - not only bioinformatics but also genetic engineering, so does not directly answers the question raised by the author, since it requires not only efforts of bioinformaticians, but also biotechnologists.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
4

then the challenge would be to find genes that are responsible for the beef's taste and make a vector injection into e.g. chicken.

Not sure if you are joking, but just in case: there is no objective determinant - therefore no gene - that determines taste. Beef tastes "better" to us than chicken because it has higher fat content, and our gustatory receptors have evolved to like high-calorie food because back in the day of hunters and gatherers that ensured the survival of our species. Contrary to popular belief, mostly pure protein (chicken, basically) does not taste as good as fat and carbs because it is less preferred source of energy. Now that for some of us the food is readily available it would be much better if we liked the taste of low-calorie foods, but thousands of years of evolution can't be undone just like that.

Here is a more concrete argument: potatoes (starch) and grass (cellulose) have roughly the same nutritional values as they are both polymers of glucose. Yet we can digest starch and not cellulose, which is why potatoes taste "better" to us than grass. Ask the cows, who can digest cellulose, and they will tell you that grass tastes much better than potatoes. Again, there is no such thing as objectively better-tasting types of food, as it all comes down to subjective taste that has been tuned over many years of evolution.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Mensur Dlakic6.0k
1

then we need genetically modify humans so we could absorb cellulose...

yes, it was a joke, since the overall topic for me looks like "how agriculture can help in astrophysics", but I liked your explanation a lot.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
1

That is not going to be effective, the greenhouse-footprint of poultry is slightly better than beef (It might be a factor of >5x reduction, so that's a step ahead though). I think we need to go for plant-based products and possibly add some leg-hemoglobin-derived heme for improved iron uptake and for the taste.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k

This is:

leg-hemoglobin-derived heme

a good challenge for bioinformaticians! Model such organisms in silico - sounds interesting.

What if we transfer cow's genes into a potato? We will have potato with the taste of a beef. I'd write a Nature Correspondence with this brave plan.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
1

Yes, please do ;)

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
1

What if we transfer cow's genes into a potato? We will have potato with the taste of a beef.

You don't need to move any genes to achieve this. We have been doing the equivalent thing for decades by topping baked potatoes with butter. Or by frying them.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Mensur Dlakic6.0k

totally reasonable, but butter = cows. nah, we need to find a way of XXIst century.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k

I think I read about a project last year in Netherlands where they were trying to build a functioning cell in silico. Maybe by UniGroningen? If anyone has any links for this please do post.

That is already something in that direction.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by manaswwm130

Inventing a green cow it is done by science, not by bioinformatics.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by zx87549.4k

We definitely need innovative approaches to solve the problem whilst thinking a little outside the box, because I for one, will not be eating any less beef any time soon :P

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k

Is bioinformatics needed for producing lab-grown meat? That's certainly one way to reduce cattle farming and climate change, while keeping the omnivores happy.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Emily_Ensembl21k

please moderators don't ban me from this board

I guess there is a solution - even if it was reported as quite pricey

https://www.foxnews.com/science/japanese-scientists-create-meat-from-poop

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k
1

A hoax, the entire reporting for this was based on a YouTube video: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2011/07/08/meat-made-from-human-feces-hoax-or-japans-best-new-invention/#2d5a69436d9e

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by markddesimone20

then we still need bioinformaticians to fix it...

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k

Potentially, but I think a more practical solution is just to come up with technologies which can help support more sustainable farming practices

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
8
gravatar for zx8754
8 months ago by
zx87549.4k
London
zx87549.4k wrote:

Write more efficient code.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8 months ago by zx87549.4k

Interesting take. Would you mind unpacking that a bit for us in an "Answer"? Maybe provide an example of inefficient code alongside an explanation of how much energy is wasted running it on an input file of size X. Could be a pretty strong motivator for someone to realize, "Oh wow, that job I ran over the weekend had a carbon footprint 10X larger than my commute because of the inefficient way I structured it!"

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770

I don't think this needs any testing, efficient code would burn, obviously, less coal. As a dry bioinformatician the only direct effect I have is the efficient use of computing resources: HPC local and cloud, storage, etc.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by zx87549.4k
8
gravatar for Joe
8 months ago by
Joe17k
United Kingdom
Joe17k wrote:

Rather than get bogged down in the pointless discussion about how real or otherwise climate change is, I'll start by answering one of the points I think I have some more tangible information for. Even if you don't believe climate change is real, this thread is necessarily predicated on its existence as a real threat, so that should be the starting point for discussion.

If you don't believe climate change to be real, you don't have anything of material value to add to this thread with that assumption in mind, so feel free to go elsewhere.


With that out of the way:

What else can people with a bioinformatician's skill set do to help avert disaster?

I think one of the earlier comments hit a very good point. Bioinformaticians (in the broadest possible sense) have a role to play in the green revolution, and particularly in biotechnology.

Despite our best efforts, wetlab science is still horribly slow. Bioinformatics provides a tool for looking much more widely more quickly.

Examples that spring to mind, would be:

  • Database mining for alternate forms of commercially important enzymes.
  • Sequence optimisation
  • Directed evolution

And in a slightly different tack, data centres and server farms are using astronomical amounts of energy, so any advance that improves computational efficiency, or storage efficiency, can have a real tangible, immediate effect on the 'carbon footprint' of bioinformatics.

If we can discover/optimise enzymes for the production of biofuels, the degradation of plastics, cleaning up of oil spills and so on, a real impact can come of this and bioinformatics will be heavily involved.

Environmental meta--omics allows us to examine the environment potentially beneficial microorganisms are functioning in and potentially teaches us about all manner of things. For instance, understanding the micro environment around plant roots can enable improved nitrifying strategies which could offer greater yields for the same farmed area etc.

The knock on effects of any of these things is huge and difficult to predict I think. Improving yields from crops for example means supporting larger populations more efficiently, but it also means less deforestation to clear land to grow on, potentially.

Many of these tasks are 'molecular biology', but in my experience of both wet and dry lab, you don't get very far without bioinformatics.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
4
gravatar for Dan D
8 months ago by
Dan D7.1k
Tennessee
Dan D7.1k wrote:

There is no climate crisis. You have thrown your money away.

But if you're concerned about the environment and want to be a good steward (like me) and/or you think "carbon pollution" is actually a thing (unlike me), then you should head directly to India and China and discourage them to stop using and building coal-fired power plants, and especially discourage them from contributing the overwhelming volume of marine plastic pollution. If you're concerned about overpopulation there are plenty of countries outside the relentlessly-badgered Western nations with astronomical birth rates who could perhaps use and may even welcome a sobering lecture.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k
13

No climate crisis - you are kidding right? https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by kristoffer.vittingseerup3.4k
9

I think this is a good example of cognitive effects when it comes to evaluating threat-levels by humans. We are bad at anticipating slowly moving threats. If I am not mistaken, citing just two key figures: the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is as high as it has been 3 mya for the last time, and given the current emissions of greenhouse gasses we are moving towards an increase in the average temperature of 3° by the end of the century. An increase in sea-levels (estimated somewhere above 1 meters), is going to displace millions of people. If that is not a crisis, what is?

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Michael Dondrup47k
3

There is no climate crisis

Are you saying that the climate is not changing or that the change is not a big deal? Either way, this is a difficult position to hold as there is tons of scientific research supporting the case of the climate crisis.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by dariober11k
2

I meant exactly what I said. There is no climate crisis. Of course the climate changes. It's a complex chaotic system. Mile-thick glaciers over North America, anyone? These replies--imagine falling this hard for a malicious psy-op.

Look at the people who have been pushing this for decades. I mean look at the top, not the people standing in traffic. More importantly, look at their actions. Do their actions look like those of someone who actually believes their own doomsaying? Look to whom they're making endless and ridiculous demands, and whom they're completely ignoring.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k
5

No.

Look at the data.

You think we're the ones which have fallen for a 'malicious psy-op', whilst you're the one that's apparently fallen for any one of many conspiracy theories.

Ask yourself this: why would governments, corporations, NGOs etc. invest time and money in combating an imagined threat, when instead they could just be rinsing fossil fuels for all the profit they possibly can?

Yes, the climate changes and oscillates, but the point you're missing is that its happening faster now than ever before.

Besides which, even if we're all wrong: Pascal's wager.

enter image description here

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Joe17k
2

I looked at the data and you're completely wrong. There is no climate crisis. LOL at your strawman arguments and the false choice that being a good environmental steward means that one has to fall for massive wealth-transfer schemes.

By all means, open your wallet and pay climate indulgences. It's your money. Don't expect any non-Western country to do the same though.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k
2

Sure you did. Putting things in bold doesn't make them true.

Wow. You're going to accuse me of strawman when literally your entire comment is misconstruing everything I said? If you're going to be that disingenuous there's really no point continuing a discussion, but for what its worth:

You are the one that believe everyone else is hoodwinked in to some enormous conspiracy. So, either you are the chosen one and can see something 99% of the scientific community, and the vast majority of the planet cannot, or you might just be wrong.

I haven't had to open my wallet to whatever this wealth transfer scheme you've imagined is, one bit. I don't know what tree you're barking up there, but it doesn't exist.

I did not present you a false choice. Being good stewards of the environment has nothing to do with giving money to whatever this climate change Illuminati you've decided exists, is. You seem to be content with giving your money instead to oil companies?

Sounds to me like you're just a bit bitter that as a Westerner you might be on the hook in any way for the legacy of the Industrial Revolution and the current state of the West. You can't just expect foreign countries to live in mud huts while you drive your car around.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
2

As someone who can't be mistaken as white, and who voluntarily worked in a developing country at local wage levels for several years in this decade, I'm 100% in agreement with Dan D here.

Emissions reduction is worthwhile. Fossil fuel phase-out is worthwhile. Development of defensive geoengineering capabilities is worthwhile. But these are all long-term (half-century+ timeframe) issues. Beachfront properties are not tanking in value because of this. Singapore, which is very close to the equator and has most of its land at elevations less than 15m, has a government that's paying attention to the issue but is in no hurry to act (note that the Singaporean government has one of the best technocratic track records in the world).

If climate change is a "crisis", the lack of a human colony on another planet is a "crisis". It is not consistent with the usual meaning of the term, which implies a higher level of urgency. I respect Elon Musk, but I'm not giving him any sort of political blank check. The same applies to anyone working on the several climate-change-related problems I mentioned above.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
2

Here's an article published in Nature that disagrees with your assertions about urgency. Seems to me the root of the disagreement comes down to how concerned you are about "tipping point" events. Personally, I'm very concerned because I suspect that many of the projections we've seen have been overly-optimistic and I worry that increasingly severe weather events have already started to impede our ability to take corrective actions (ex: scientist in California lost power recently as a consequence of the steady increase in the risk of wildfires they've experienced in recent decades). But I can definitely understand how you might feel more relaxed about things if you're primarily thinking about how many decades it will take for sea levels to rise higher than your hometown.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
1

I don't know how new you are to science, but most serious scientists know that lots of primary claims in top-tier journal articles are wrong. If anything, the top-tier journals are currently less reliable than the next tier below because of selection for notability.

I put far more trust in the behavior of actors with lots of skin in the game and a track record of intelligent behavior. The Singaporean government fulfills both criteria here: again, it stands to suffer MORE than most other countries, rich and poor, if there is a "tipping point".

Meanwhile, your comment about my being "relaxed about things if [I'm] primarily thinking about how many decades it will take for sea levels to rise higher than [my] hometown" is based on multiple misunderstandings of what I wrote (Singapore isn't my hometown). And your comment about California wildfires, which does concern my home state, is also steeped in ignorance: there are lots of places on the planet which are similarly exposed to wildfires, and (thanks to better maintenance practices than PG&E) have not had the same kind of power-availability problems.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
2

It's good to be skeptical of claims made in "top-tier" publications like Nature but I think it only makes sense to base such skepticism on the substance of what they published rather than their "top-tier" status. Are there any claims made in that article about "tipping point events" that you think are particularly deserving of skepticism?

Your comments about Singapore are interesting but utterly unconvincing as an arguments against the "urgency" of the Climate Crisis. Seems to me that a small, tightly controlled country like Singapore has little incentive to show leadership in cutting emissions - particularly if their policy makers suspect that the rest of the world won't follow suit quickly enough to prevent us from reaching one of those tipping points described in that article I linked. Honestly, without the US leading the charge to aggressively cut emissions it's not particularly rational for any other country to do so. Why bother incurring costs for the common good when the wealthiest, most powerful nation on Earth won't match your efforts?

Regarding California's power outage: I agree with you that PG&E did a terrible job. I think the people arguing that the reason why PG&E did a terrible job is because they were a for-profit company and that is fundamentally incompatible with any entity responsible for providing a public service make some compelling arguments. But that's all separate from the point I was making: the dangers of global warming threaten our ability to counter the threat and they do so in myriad ways. These hurricane-induced chemical fires in Texas underscore this issue.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
1

It's good to be skeptical of claims made in "top-tier" publications like Nature but I think it only makes sense to base such skepticism on the substance of what they published rather than their "top-tier" status. Are there any claims made in that article about "tipping point events" that you think are particularly deserving of skepticism?

The Earth has a 4.6 billion year history, and this history includes quite a few abrupt large-scale atmospheric events which dwarf the scale of human activity; just looking at the last three centuries, there's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1815_eruption_of_Mount_Tambora . Anything that hasn't actually happened in the turbulent historical record is exceedingly unlikely to happen within a "crisis" timeframe. I am >1000000x more concerned about risks involving self-replicating entities.

Your comments about Singapore are interesting but utterly unconvincing as an arguments against the "urgency" of the Climate Crisis.

If the current global political environment is incompatible with Singapore remaining a livable place, Singapore has every incentive to do what it can to change that. Instead, while they expect some warming and do encourage greater global cooperation, they don't judge any of the truly catastrophic scenarios to be plausible.

But that's all separate from the point I was making: the dangers of global warming threaten our ability to counter the threat and they do so in myriad ways. These hurricane-induced chemical fires in Texas underscore this issue.

Is this a joke, or are you actually innumerate enough to consider this a first-order effect?

I am interested in science. I am not interested in religion.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
3

Thanks for sharing that interesting link about a volcanic repution. Are you sure that eruption "dwarfs" the scale of human activity though? The Wikipedia page you linked cites emissions as high as 120 teragrams which I understand to be equal to 120,000,000 metric tons (or "tonnes" as they're sometimes called). Right now, global CO2 emissions are in the ballpark of 36 billion tonnes.

36,000,000,000 > 120,000,000

Maybe you don't think that's a fair comparison because the 120 teragram figure is actually Sulfur emissions rather than CO2 or because "global CO2 emissions" includes non-human sources. If so, have a look at this article published by the US Government which addresses those issues in some detail.

If you're genuinely interested in science, you might want to do a better job of demonstrating that you're capable of engaging with the evidence being presented rather than your pre-concieved notions about the topic. You've now written two separate posts referring to issues discussed in the Nature article I linked earlier (and here for convenience) in ways that make me doubt you read past the title. You've also failed to address the substance of what I said about Singapore choosing instead to simply re-iterate your original point - that's not what you do in a science discussion aimed at making sense of the world, that's what you do in a shouting match.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
1

After Razborov and Rudich demonstrated that "Natural proofs" could not distinguish P from NP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_proof ), there was no further need to engage "evidence being presented" of that form.

I stated a simple principle about precedented vs. unprecedented variation w.r.t. the history of life on Earth. In another comment, I observed that the scariest widely acknowledged manmade atmospheric near-disaster to date is, as the principle would predict, a consequence of a chemical class--CFCs--that never naturally occurred; and note that our total emitted volume of stable never-naturally-existed chemical compounds is microscopic relative to the volume of ordinary emissions. It both addresses your entire class of evidence, and correctly does not address not-that-different human activity that actually has proven to be nonlinearly dangerous. Your failure to comprehend this is not my problem, or that of the rest of the users of this forum.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
1

the scariest widely acknowledged manmade atmospheric near-disaster to date

What are you referring to? I re-read every comment you've made on this page and I don't see any that answers this question. My best guess is that you're talking about ozone depletion but I'd rather be clear about what you're trying to say.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
1

But the point of the discussion here is precisely this. What is it that means that developing countries, which are playing catch-up with the West just as fast as they are able, are less likely to combat the issues?

As they no doubt see it, the climate crisis is not as high up on their list of immediate priorities, but its quite possible in 50-100 years time, they'll look back and realise it is very much their problem too, and they should also have been acting all along.

Thats not to say that these countries aren't acting though. India, which has some of the worst plastic-polluted waterways in the world has recently seen quite a surge in recyling efforts, but it will take time for it to pervade the culture, and when you're potentially dealing with other more acute issues like rampant cholera, its easy to see the climate issues as not so pressing. We have the luxury of worrying about these things in the West.

Splitting hairs over the semantics of the word 'crisis' is hardly really the point...

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
1

Splitting hairs over the semantics of the word 'crisis' is hardly really the point...

Yes it is, because of the political blank check that is being demanded by those most responsible for associating the word 'crisis' with climate change today.

These are fairly normal long-term problems that can be addressed via fairly normal political and other mechanisms. And note that your plastic-polluted waterway example confuses the far broader category of environmental issues in general with the specific issue of climate change.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
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No one is demanding a blank cheque. People are demanding that goverments take the threat seriously, via practicable solutions, and it still fits the definititon of a crisis because it requires action now to offset the damage already done. The IPCC has already said they believe we have approximately 12 years to make serious reparations to the damage done.

I don't know what your definition of a crisis is, but it fits the word well enough for me.

Your point about the waterways is correct, but I was less making a point about climate change, and more that the general attitudes toward environmental stewardship in all forms is shifting among developing nations, not just climate change specifically. These are all sides of the same coin, and I bring this up because others have mentioned similar things such as preservation of biodiversity (e.g. through minimising ocean plastic/microplastics), which can have consequences of its own.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
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While we don't have that much experience as a species with large-scale environmental pollution, we do have more than a century's worth. At this point, we've seen lots of environments get quite ugly for a while, and then turn the corner.

It does not "REQUIRE ACTION NOW" (and you should be thankful for that since otherwise we'd already be doomed). Like many long-term problems, it is better accounted for sooner rather than later, but it is within the domain of normal cost/benefit reasoning.

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
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You can't just expect foreign countries to live in mud huts while you drive your car around.

Damn, dude. Racist much?

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k

I don't know, you tell me? You're apparently the one who has a problem with non-Western countries....

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
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I think it's entirely reasonable for you to suggest that we

Look at the people who have been pushing this for decades. I mean look at the top...

and I would love for you to be specific about who you're talking about so we can better evaluate the point you're making. Obviously, I disagree with you about some things (ex: who has the motivation and means to run malicious psy-ops) but I very much appreciate critical thinking and that includes challenging dogmas I happen to subscribe to.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
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Setting aside the question of psy-ops for now, see my comment about beachfront property values and Singapore for evidence re: lack of urgency. Note that Singapore stands to suffer more than most countries from any sort of extraordinary climate change, and arguably has the most scientifically literate government in the world.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
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I think you're conflating a 'human' sense of urgency, i.e. is my house going to fall in to the sea in the next 5 years, with a global sense of urgency. That is, we need to at least begin to act now, because it will take us many years to reverse the damage.

It may well be not that urgent for you as an individual, but that says nothing about the need for urgency on a global geopolitical scale.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
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Basically the same thing can be said about the relation of space colonization to a number of growing existential risks.

I support space colonization efforts; indeed, I think it is one of the most important things someone could be working on right now. But I won't browbeat people more interested in other problems into making extraordinary sacrifices for the sake of space colonization.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k
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That's a false equivalency.

Climate change is something we can at least begin to ameliorate right now. Colonising another planet won't be realistically possible for probably another 50 to 100 years.

Fleeing the planet to find one we might survive on, with a lower quality of life, is not a preferable alternative to trying to ensure we promote the longevity of the one we already have.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Joe17k
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I stated at the very outset that I consider emissions reduction, fossil fuel phase-out, and development of defensive geoengineering capabilities to be worthwhile things to work on. And I never made the clueless claim that space colonization takes away the practical value of maintaining the livability of Earth.

But even within the set of global environmental dangers, 21st century climate change just isn't that serious. I'm far more concerned about release of new (relative to the multibillion year history of RNA/DNA-based life on Earth) chemicals into the environment, with CFCs as an especially good cautionary example (microplastics fall under this general category, too), than I am about an increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration that's well within the prehistorical range.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by chrchang5237.1k

Been super-busy, punching this out as quick as I can because I have to get back to work. I wanted to make sure I replied though, because I really appreciate your genuine curiosity. I was once very involved in climate movements, back in the mid 2000's...then I figured some things out. Please forgive any typos/sloppy writing.

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” - Eric Hoffer

"It's one big ❤🌶❤🌶in club and you ain't in it" - George Carlin

I would start with Maurice Strong. He got his start in international finance and made his wealth in oil and gas. His is a fascinating story. His wiki is actually a good starting point and doesn't leave out the important details. Briefly: he laid the groundwork of using the UN as a vehicle for this scheme, and the core of the template hasn't changed much but has rather become a fractal pattern.

You want specific examples--just look at any leader who's outspoken about this stuff. Look at how they live their lives. Turnbull, Gore, Obama, any European leader who preaches this stuff. Look at how they live day-to-day and tell me they really believe this. Look at real estate prices in Manhattan, which would be eliminated by an actual "climate crisis."

Look up any global bank along with "climate justice" and you'll see where they've committed funding to various climate change efforts. These efforts get tens of billions in private funding per year, not to mention funding from various governments. Plenty of that money will trickle down to hundreds of nonprofits that will stage protests with impunity in and around the offices of those same banks and governments. These protestors are ultimately furthering the goals of these same banks by serving as a political wedge and a distraction. Why was Extinction Rebellion allowed to use a fire engine in an attempt to coat the side of a municipal building with dyed-red water? Where was law enforcement? Do you think if you formed your own grassroots group and tried to do the same thing, for any cause, you would be allowed to do so? You'd be lucky if you weren't disappeared.

This is not a new pattern. Look at the history of the Sierra Club, which accepted millions from Chesapeake Energy executives and attempted to keep it a secret. Before that they received $100 million from David Gelbaum, who stipulated that they must change one of their core principles. That's when they became a racket. 1/2

ADD REPLYlink modified 8 months ago • written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k

All of these protests and propaganda ultimately work in their favor. Here's my attempt at a very brief summary: various central banks and international finance organizations (IMF, World Bank, etc) use sovereign debt to transfer money to developing nations, either as outright checks or as earmarked funds. The elite of these countries skims a healthy portion for themselves. They've been doing this for decades under various foreign aid schemes. The rest comes back to global finance via projects which will use firms in Western nations funded and partially owned by the same global financial institutions. Who do you think would manage an international "cap and trade" program?

But climate change is especially convenient. Some of that money is used to fund migration, which is an extremely convenient pressure-relief valve as it removes tens of thousands of unemployed males and provides downstream funding via remittances. Look up "climate refugees", "climate migration", etc. Western nations are being softened up for this, even as it happens. This is a larger version of another scheme known as "microfinance," which gives loans to poor people with land deeds as collateral, confiscates or threatens to confiscate the land, and then gives another loan to facilitate migration. The higher salaries and welfare handouts to the indebted individuals then work to pay off the high-interest loans and late fees. Look up Compartamos for one great example out of many. This larger scheme keeps the elite happy and opens the door to rapacious exploitation, which when identified can simply blamed on those "awful Western people in the global north". Read: you.

You don't feel the effects of this immediately, because it's all through sovereign debt. Like @Michael Dondrup said, "we are bad at anticipating slowly moving threats."

In return, the elite of these countries get a very easy life. When inevitable natural disasters happen and the complete uselessness of these governments is exposed, just declare a "climate emergency" and send a bunch of angry migrants north. The various protest groups in the developed nations in turn are coached to point the finger at the traditional population groups of these destination countries. The countries then pledge a few billion dollars more in indulgences which are printed into existence by central banks, and the feedback loop continues.

You have to realize that everyone involved in this scheme lives at a completely different level of luxury than schlubs like you and me. They have armed security, convoys of SUVs tailing them wherever they go, and property in places you can't hope to set foot near. It's one big club, and you ain't in it. They don't see us as being the same species. They don't care about climate or the environment (outside of their personal spaces) any more than they care about you or me. Climate Change is the best racket they've ever come up with. Meanwhile we sit in the dirt and point fingers at each other.

I was very involved in climate activism in the mid-2000s, until I started paying attention to the people running it. Then I followed the money down the research level. Scientists, like protests, come cheap.

If you want a links dump, let me know. However, it would be like me handing you rocks while we're standing in a gravel pit. Look up terms like "climate justice", "climate migration," "climate reparations". Especially look at those written by officials in developing nations, or those high up in global corporations.

2/2

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k
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This is really interesting. I agree with a lot of the suspicion and cynicism you've expressed even though I draw some different conclusions than you do. Certainly governments, non-profits and businesses alike have been known to exaggerate and even manufacture crises for the purpose of manipulating the public and furthering some agenda (enriching themselves, harming their opponents, consolidating power, etc). But that obviously doesn't mean that genuine crises do not exist nor does it mean that all entities asserting the existence of a crisis are necessarily acting in bad faith (or being manipulated by an entity that is). I think it's actually really important to think about how one can discern fact from fiction regarding such highly-politicized issues and there are several reasons why bioinformaticians are particularly well suited for this.

Firstly, bioinformaticians have a concrete understanding of data manipulation and how it can impact the signals produced from it. While most people have some general idea that statistics can be misleading, most bioinformaticians have the training to interrogate several different ways a statistic might be misleading (how was it calculated? what's being compared? how was the data collected? is it appropriate? etc). Secondly, bioinformaticians are used to working with messy data and determining how much to trust it. Understanding that FFPE DNA samples are more likely to exhibit certain, predictable types of sequencing errors is akin to recognizing certain, predictable types of media bias; the old adage "Follow the money" is particularly appropriate here - consider the differences in what a crowd-funded outlet will focus on compared to one owned by an oligarch when covering the same story. Similarly, understanding that a set of differentially expressed genes might all compromise a single shared pathway can provides a useful framework for interpreting how public figures respond publicly to news event; varying responses to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi). Perhaps most importantly, analyzing bioinformatics data to produce valuable results typically involves aggregating multiple signals from disparate sources and grappling with all of their collective idiosyncrasies to derive not only some coherent meaning but also a rational confidence in the conclusions drawn. If the Climate Crisis (or anything else) is, in fact, an elaborate deception perpetrated by people powerful enough to purchase authoritative legitimacy and destroy contradictory evidence then the way to deal with that is rationally, rigorously and with a critical eye for how much weight to put onto any piece of evidence. And yes, I want you a links dump from you; my username happens to be the same as my gmail address but I'd like to minimize the time I spend divulging that publicly so don't feel like you need to send me everything all at once if it'll take you some time to compile it.

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770
2

Ok boomer.

then you should head directly to India and China

List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita

there are plenty of countries outside the relentlessly-badgered Western nations with astronomical birth rates

Gapminder data on birth rates

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by WouterDeCoster44k

OK innumerate doomer. I looked at your data and it further proved my point. Besides, there's a lot more and a lot worse pollution outside of "carbon pollution":

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=river+of+trash&page=&utm_source=opensearch

ADD REPLYlink written 8 months ago by Dan D7.1k
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