26 votes

"Deep Adaptation": a paper that predicts an inevitable near-term social collapse due to climate change

18 comments

  1. [3]
    asoftbird Link
    Direct link to the paper.
    14 votes
    1. no_exit Link Parent
      I read this recently and while the author's asides about the paper's journal rejection are perhaps a bit aggrandizing, I also think there's quite a bit of value in thinking about global warming...

      I read this recently and while the author's asides about the paper's journal rejection are perhaps a bit aggrandizing, I also think there's quite a bit of value in thinking about global warming from its general perspective. I've been meaning to post another piece here (Desert) that's along similar lines, I just haven't had time to write-up a decent OP comment of my thoughts for it.

      6 votes
    2. CrazyOtter Link Parent
      Doing good work here, I think everyone should read the paper rather than the Vice articles' more sensationalist take on it. Having read it I need some time to digest and understand what it's...

      Doing good work here, I think everyone should read the paper rather than the Vice articles' more sensationalist take on it.

      Having read it I need some time to digest and understand what it's trying to say as it's not exactly your average paper.

      2 votes
  2. [3]
    Deimos Link
    This is a pretty click-baity title. Can anyone suggest a more neutral one based on the content of the article? (I probably won't have a chance to read it for a while)

    This is a pretty click-baity title. Can anyone suggest a more neutral one based on the content of the article? (I probably won't have a chance to read it for a while)

    10 votes
    1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      That would be my suggestion and that's being rather generous to it, IMO. The article is kind of all over the place but focuses primarily on the author and various people's reaction to the paper,...

      Self-published "controversial" new climate change paper paints an alarmingly gloomy picture of the future, which some readers claim elicited a life-changing negative reaction in them.

      That would be my suggestion and that's being rather generous to it, IMO. The article is kind of all over the place but focuses primarily on the author and various people's reaction to the paper, rather than much on the actual paper's contents or the science behind the claims in it.

      TL;DR on it - Former advertising executive turned professor of Sustainability Leadership wrote a colourfully worded and rather alarmist paper, submitted it to a single well-respected academic journal but was rejected, so rather than try another journal or acquiesce to the journal reviewers' criticism, he decided to immediately self-publish it through the University program he created and then claimed on his personal Blog that the paper was rejected because "they thought you should not read it - yet". The journal denies that was the motivation for the rejection and has taken issue with how the professor is attempting to frame the rejection so requested he remove his allegedly false claim from his blog (which he refused to do). Some environmental think tank then later used the paper as a reference for their own less alarmist paper. And finally two seemingly unrelated, random people claim to have gotten depressed from reading the professor's paper, with one supposedly quitting their job as a result.

      TBH, the whole thing reeks of a PR stunt by an author desperately trying to draw attention to their paper via manufactured controversy over being rejected by a journal which he never had any intention of actually getting published in.

      19 votes
    2. Sen Link Parent
      The actual paper title is: A relatively decent direct quote that sums up the premise: Or:

      The actual paper title is:

      Deep Adaptation:
      A Map for Navigating ClimateTragedy

      A relatively decent direct quote that sums up the premise:

      The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near-
      term social collapse due to climate change.

      Or:

      Have professionals in the sustainability field discussed the possibility that it is too late to avert an environmental catastrophe and the implications for their work?

      5 votes
  3. [4]
    Sen Link
    The paper talks as though no one is discussing this already, but sustainability experts have been trying to get the world to realise this for years. We're past the point of no return. Water-saving...

    The paper talks as though no one is discussing this already, but sustainability experts have been trying to get the world to realise this for years.

    We're past the point of no return. Water-saving shower heads and energy-saving light bulbs aren't going to save the world.

    We need global WWII-mobilisation level action to reign in environmental damage and fix the world or we are completely and utterly fucked.

    Good book on the topic for anyone interested, from someone who has been preaching this for over a decade: https://paulgilding.com/the-great-disruption/

    The science is clear, but getting enough people to care is really hard.

    8 votes
    1. onyxleopard Link Parent
      They have not been successful, though. There have to be some global, systemic changes in order to change human behavior on the scale necessary. Humans, evolutionarily, have not acquired long-term...

      sustainability experts have been trying to get the world to realise this for years.

      They have not been successful, though. There have to be some global, systemic changes in order to change human behavior on the scale necessary. Humans, evolutionarily, have not acquired long-term planning until very recently, and even so, we still have too many other short term priorities that are muddying the waters.

      3 votes
    2. Amarok Link Parent
      Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. Mother's starting to throw temper tantrums. Once they carry a trillion dollar price tag every year, everyone will snap to work on this problem real quick. The real...

      Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. Mother's starting to throw temper tantrums. Once they carry a trillion dollar price tag every year, everyone will snap to work on this problem real quick. The real question is, do we band together and mobilize as a species or do we start shooting each other over the scraps and forget to focus on the solutions? It won't take much of the latter to derail any shot at hacking our way out of this mess.

      2 votes
    3. jackson Link Parent
      The problem isn't consumers. We need to shift away from oil/gas power and use renewable resources. We need the US to move past allowing people to lobby against the interests of the nation and the...

      The problem isn't consumers.

      We need to shift away from oil/gas power and use renewable resources. We need the US to move past allowing people to lobby against the interests of the nation and the world. We need to tax fossil fuels more and more until they are economically not worth it.

      Sure, we'll help with energy saving lights and stuff, but we'll help more by powering the grid with solar, shifting to electric cars, using cleaner ship fuel (I'm not well versed in that area).

      There needs to be change, and it's not necessarily up to the general public. Stay angry and vote. Vote for the environment.

  4. [7]
    Neverland Link
    I have not read the entire linked paper, but this other paper has had me super depressed for over a year. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12576-016-0501-0 TL;DR: Plankton makes 2/3 of...

    I have not read the entire linked paper, but this other paper has had me super depressed for over a year.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12576-016-0501-0

    TL;DR: Plankton makes 2/3 of our oxygen, rapid rise of ocean temps (7c rise) will kill off this plankton before it can adapt, after ~3600 years, the oxygen level at 0 feet will be what is currently at 30,000 feet. Seemingly all oxygen dependent life will die.

    If someone can show me the glaring holes in this, please let me know.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Sahasrahla Link Parent
      I'm not qualified to comment if there are any flaws in the paper itself but there are two things I can see to keep in mind about it. One is that the paper isn't directly saying "this will happen...

      If someone can show me the glaring holes in this, please let me know.

      I'm not qualified to comment if there are any flaws in the paper itself but there are two things I can see to keep in mind about it. One is that the paper isn't directly saying "this will happen and it will be bad," it's more saying "if we assume this bad thing with very little research about it happens, it will be bad." The second is that the human reaction to this disaster is outside of the scope of the paper. The timeline proposed that runs from now until "this is as bad as it can get before everyone dies" is on the scale of ~3600 years, comparable to how long ago the Phoenicians invented what would become our alphabet. That's a lot of time for a solution to be found.

      There's also this from the paper:

      It is important to stress that the parabolic model described here is mathematical rather than geophysical [5]. Other authors have disputed the idea that global deoxygenation on a catastrophic scale is possible [40]. One of the key reasons cited for this is that the determining factor in global oxygen decline is fossil fuel usage and current estimates predict that oil, coal, and gas stocks will last 35, 107, and 37 years, respectively [41]. Thus, is it plausible that the increased fossil fuel usage in recent years has caused a temporary acceleration of the deoxygenation phenomenon, which will resolve once reserves have been exhausted. This scenario would predict a very different decline in atmospheric oxygen from the one we have described, with a fall of only a fraction of a percent in 4400 years [42].

      9 votes
      1. Neverland Link Parent
        Thanks for that! Yeah, I spoke much too “this is going to happen” in my previous comment.. I realize that there are many reasons that this could not happen. But it is still quite plausible, right?...

        Thanks for that! Yeah, I spoke much too “this is going to happen” in my previous comment.. I realize that there are many reasons that this could not happen. But it is still quite plausible, right?

        In any case, I very much appreciate your response.

        3 votes
    2. [3]
      Amarok Link Parent
      At ~3600 years from now, if we're not living primarily on orbital rings around Earth and Mars, we deserve to be wiped out for being shortsighted and stupid. That goal is realistically achievable...

      At ~3600 years from now, if we're not living primarily on orbital rings around Earth and Mars, we deserve to be wiped out for being shortsighted and stupid. That goal is realistically achievable within two hundred years. Get off of nature's back and give her some time to recover from our idiotic youth as a species.

      A swarm of Dyson Dots at L1 is all we need to put the Earth's thermostat under our direct, precise control. That's the end of ocean warming. We get started on that project (a solar sail array the size of Texas) now and we'll have our foot on the brakes within thirty years, and direct control by the end of the century - plus a conservative ten terawatts of solar power for use in orbit and wherever else we want to beam it. That's hardly the only problem we have to fix, though.

      The hard part is getting this carbon dioxide out of the water and the air and back into the ground. That'll take centuries and re-greening and re-wilding most of the surface (a process China and India have already begun - we have more green now than we did twenty years ago). Put the brakes on the heat with the solar sail array and the plants have all the time they need to chow down and grow. What's poison to us is dinner for them.

      The specter of insect collapse is the one thing that really worries me. If that pillar falls out of the ecosystem, we're in deep, deep trouble. The plight of the coral reefs also needs to be addressed. Those issues don't go away even if we have the temperature under control, though that will help and buy us time.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Neverland (edited ) Link Parent
        In my mind, a space sunshade, and humans becoming a multi-platenary species require a really robust global economy and long term planning. It was the future I always imagined as inevitable until...

        In my mind, a space sunshade, and humans becoming a multi-platenary species require a really robust global economy and long term planning. It was the future I always imagined as inevitable until the recent global turn towards idiocracy/alternate facts/nationalism. In my view, we are currently destroying the exact global institutions which we so desperately need to solve our existential problems. We need global solutions, while we have zero real global governance in a world of multinational special interests.

        The insect collapse is a huge concern. To me, there is a pretty simple solution: stop spraying insecticides everywhere. But talking about “organic food” is derided by many smart people, including folks here on Tildes.

        I spent over a decade diving, and documenting reef collaplse in the Florida Keys. It kills me to see this, and to know that my nephews will never see the robust reefs that I grew up diving. Nevermind the fact that a significant portion of humans require healthy reefs for food.

        To sum it up, I feel like we are on the precipice of disaster in regards to many critical biosphere issues. The solutions are often obvious, but not economically viable in the short term. I feel like we are going to short term think ourselves into extinction. Given the current trends, all we have to do is nothing different(status quo) to ensure this bioshpere collapse.

        1. Amarok Link Parent
          If every human disappeared tomorrow along with all of our man-made objects, it seems likely that the collapse would still continue to accelerate. The thawing of the permafrost has kicked methane...

          If every human disappeared tomorrow along with all of our man-made objects, it seems likely that the collapse would still continue to accelerate. The thawing of the permafrost has kicked methane release into overdrive, and that methane alone is likely to cause more greenhouse effects than everything we've done up to this point combined.

          It's no longer a question of 'stopping' the collapse. We have to reverse the collapse, or at least, find a way to survive it. I wrote about the solutions to the problems we're facing (with many citations) in this old thread. Vertical farming is part of the solution to the insect problem. We won't need to use pesticides ever again.

          This will either make or break humanity as a species. We may be staring down the barrel of the great filter right now. If we fight with each other or stick our heads in the sand, we die along with most life on Earth. If we unify, we can probably still beat this mess. We're going to have to get past capitalism, consumerism, and misinformation to survive.

          1 vote
    3. Abrown Link Parent
      From what I've learned, it's not that WE won't get our oxygen from the plankton, it's that the ocean wont get its oxygen from them -- most of the oxygen you and I breath comes from Taigas/Boreal...

      From what I've learned, it's not that WE won't get our oxygen from the plankton, it's that the ocean wont get its oxygen from them -- most of the oxygen you and I breath comes from Taigas/Boreal Forests. Most of the oxygen created by plankton stays in the water and it's primarily what the fish breath, not us. That's not to say we won't be affected by their reduction directly/indirectly, I just mean to clarify sourcing.

      4 votes
  5. deciduous Link
    Remind me quite a bit of "Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush". I find Collapse Now to be a bit more convincing as a model for what environmental disaster might look like. A gradual decline of our...

    Remind me quite a bit of "Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush". I find Collapse Now to be a bit more convincing as a model for what environmental disaster might look like. A gradual decline of our standard of living as we have to make more and more changes to accommodate a worsening environment seems like a fairly realistic scenario, that, while not doom and gloom, is still dire.

    5 votes