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Climate change: has anyone actually said what life would have to look like to prevent catastrophic warming?

194 replies

workwoes123 · 09/04/2022 06:54

I’ve been reading articles about the very gloomy, completely ignored, most recent IPCCC report.

What I can’t find is anything saying what daily life would look like if we adopted the measures that are necessary to prevent catastrophic warming? Like, in the UK, if we were to do what’s necessary:

how would we Heat our homes?
What kinds of homes could we build?
How would we travel / what transport could we have?
What would we eat?
What industries would still operate?

The reports all talk about the need to move away from fossil fuel use. What I can’t find is anything telling me what my life will look like if / when we do this?

I know people make what they think are big changes (eating veggie, holidays in the U.K., bamboo toothbrushes etc) but I suspect all these personal lifestyle changes add up to bugger all on a global scale and that the actual impacts on our lifestyles - however modest we think our lifestyles currently are - would be massive and negative (and that’s why no-one’s talking about this aspect of it). Am I right?

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mellongoose · 09/04/2022 07:04

And how do we pay for the changes? Especially at the moment.

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FixTheBone · 09/04/2022 07:22

@mellongoose

And how do we pay for the changes? Especially at the moment.

We have to pay for it by sucking it up.

We had it extremely good for far too long. Happy to base an economy on shareholder dividends, house prices and the fallacy of 'wealth creation'.

What we should have been doing, 30 years ago, is investing all of that 'profit' (in reality an advance loan) in renewables and sustainability and then we wouldn't be where we are now.
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mjf981 · 09/04/2022 07:30

I'm fatalistic about the whole thing. I think the change required is impossible. Humans are just too greedy and selfish to do what needs be done. I think the future is bleak and am happy with my decision not to have children.

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workwoes123 · 09/04/2022 07:47

I would really like the activists and scientists to be honest about it. So I (we) could start getting used to the idea and to have some understanding of what life will look like.

Atm the only options seem to be personal lifestyle changes, based on one’s own understanding of the situation (which leads people to think they are already making the necessary sacrifices and that their ‘modestI’ lifestyles are sustainable) or blind panic / fatalism - blind because there is no vision of what life would be like.

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user1471447924 · 09/04/2022 07:58

@mjf981

I'm fatalistic about the whole thing. I think the change required is impossible. Humans are just too greedy and selfish to do what needs be done. I think the future is bleak and am happy with my decision not to have children.

Completely agree with this. Being child free is the best thing people can do for the environment anyway!
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DistrictCommissioner · 09/04/2022 08:02

I try not to think about the future as it’s too distressing thinking about the lives my kids will have. I think this is another reason these conversations don’t happen, the human instinct to bury our heads in the sand.

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beattieedny · 09/04/2022 08:04

It's completely hysterical talk. Individual actions are pointless anyway.

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Bluebluemoon · 09/04/2022 08:10

Completely agree with this. Being child free is the best thing people can do for the environment anyway!

And where would that leave humanity? If you choose not to have children, great, good for you. But don't make out it's because you're "unselfish" (not talking to you personally user147). People who really want children will have them - it's a nature thing.

I'd be all on board for making changes to lifestyle to pay for sustainability but when it's only certain countries getting involved and our efforts would be dwarfed by countries like china not getting on board what would be the actual point?

In a Country like ours where there is a huge NIMBY mentality and fracking etc is thwarted at every turn how can we ever make the huge changes needed? People don't want to go back to the dark ages, burning candles at night and composting their waste etc.

Green credentials is just another thing for people to moan about with little chance of anything being done by those who have to live in the real world and are just trying to have a decent life.

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heldinadream · 09/04/2022 08:12

Start here - www.amazon.co.uk/Uninhabitable-Earth-Story-Future-ebook/dp/B07H7Y6JX4/ref=sr_1_1?crid=15E8VOW7S8JY1&keywords=THE%20UNINHABITABLE%20EARTH%20Life%20After%20Warming%20By%20David%20Wallace-Wells&sprefix=the%20uninhabitable%20earth%20life%20after%20warming%20by%20david%20wallace-wells%2Caps%2C192&qid=1649487983&sr=8-1&tag=mumsnet&ascsubtag=mnforum-21

Of course it's being talked about. My DH runs a business in energy change and has been in the field for 60 years. It's always been talked about within the field. The difficulty is that no-one else wants to talk about it - politicians, I'm looking at you. Although that is changing.
But too slowly. Unfortunately that's human beings. We don't actually know how to face things until we're forced to. Sadly there's no solution to that.

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SushiGo · 09/04/2022 08:12

Individual activities can make a difference- bamboo toothbrushes, not that much. But goin down to one car and stopping flying? That makes an enormous difference. Even if you limited your flights to once every few years that would still make a really significant difference.

I would say, it is much easier for people in cities to make the transport changes required and that can lead to a culture divide. Its incredibly important that the government steps up and makes changes top down to ensure that more rural areas have the infrastructure for cycling and public transport. The changes needed are basic and straightforward (eg - make it a planning requirement that all new housing developments have cycle routes to the nearest shopping and work centres) but they aren't currently happening.

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Daisydoesnt · 09/04/2022 08:13

And how do we pay for the changes? Especially at the moment

I agree, but we either pay a lot now - or we collectively pay a much, much higher price (I mean that financially as well as in other ways) in the near future. Politicians are too scared to tell us because they are by their very nature focused on the very short term - mainly being voted in at the next election. They are too cowardly to give us the bald facts.

Standard of living is going to go down, even more than it has started to. Fuel poverty. The era of travel abroad for all will come to an end. I think car ownership/ usage will fundamentally change. Taxes are going to up, up, up.

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Onionpatch · 09/04/2022 08:14

I would like to know too. As far as I can work out, we need to move to an economic model that isnt based on growth and i dont know if that exists? I know Bhutan is carbon neutral and measure happiness, not gdp but i dont understand if that can happen world over.

I also think that the power to change things is all in the shareholders and big companies hands and they wont do anything unless there is profit in it or no profit in what they already do..

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SushiGo · 09/04/2022 08:15

Being childfree isn't actually the best thing for the environment. Those pushing that line have their own prejudices.

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ImplementingTheDennisSystem · 09/04/2022 08:16

Good point OP. I've never seen anything on this either. It would be fascinating to read a "day in the life" of someone living in the UK in a society that is geared to reducing climate change.
As just one example, the pandemic and resulting widescale WFH was an opportunity to cut down on unnecessary journeys and fossil fuel use - and we all saw our air quality and water quality improve during that time. But most of us are now back, even if on a hybrid basis (which I'm happy with for what it's worth). So how important is the green agenda really?

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Polyanthus2 · 09/04/2022 08:17

I was born in the 50s. I imagine it would be like that. No central heating, not many cars, people cycling to work and school, no plastic - we somehow managed with waxed paper and cardboard and glass, no foreign hols, bought food from vans, grocer, baker, butcher as no car.

There's the internet now so life would not be as quiet and boring (it's all relative though).

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Valencebalance · 09/04/2022 08:25

@SushiGo

Being childfree isn't actually the best thing for the environment. Those pushing that line have their own prejudices.

Why isn’t it? I always thought it was, even David Attenborough said it!
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Marchingredsoldiers · 09/04/2022 08:25

Thanks for the book recommendation - The Uninhabitatable Earth by David Wallace-Wells.

I'm going to buy it today.

I read Six Degrees by Mark Lynas. That was very informative.

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Mumoblue · 09/04/2022 08:31

Whatever we need to do, however much it costs, I wish we’d just do it. People would adjust.

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workwoes123 · 09/04/2022 08:34

@heldinadream

It’s not so much knowing what will happen if we don’t make the changes: it’s getting an idea about what our lives would look like if we did make all the changes necessary - if we managed to pay attention and take action. What would that shift away from fossil fuel dependence look like in our daily lives?

Like the pp who talks about living in rural areas: Is living anywhere other than a city going to be an option in the future? Will private car ownership be (forcibly) reduced to the point that it’s not an option, and transport is limited to urban areas where lots of people can access it? Maybe no one will live in rural areas? Maybe detached houses will not be an option any more and we all have to live in high density, efficient, urban centres?

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Arianya · 09/04/2022 08:37

I think we’ll get green energy from nuclear fusion so there’ll be plenty of electricity, but we’ll have to cut back on resource consumption. That means lots of computers, remote working and shopping, travel in electric cars. But less food, less plastic, more recycling. A bit like the 1950s but with technology. I’d be perfectly happy to live like that.

As for why we haven’t done it yet - there’s money to be made from unsustainable activities so people will continue doing it until the government bans it. Also we haven’t perfected nuclear fusion so we don’t have that endless source of green energy yet.

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lljkk · 09/04/2022 08:41

the changes will be mostly incremental & tech innovation will reduce how much our lives change.

I think ideally:
smaller homes
less stuff
less travel (for any purpose)
clever waste reduction, more recycling
far better insulation
better pollution capture (lead to cleaner air & water)
reduced infant mortality in poor countries to what it is now OECD average, so that families can make the logical decision to have fewer children (who will most likely survive just like they do in high income places). honestly, if I could magically implement just One of these changes, that's the one.

More exploiting opportunities: why isn't every new building considered for solar panels with only exceptions being ones where panels wouldn't work? why not more onshore wind, especially spaced out over agricultural fields and in low-rise urban areas (like you see in Netherlands, hugely more efficient use of land than ruddy solar panel farms), every new road scheme/upgrade needs to have good cycling built into it... etc.

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SushiGo · 09/04/2022 08:45

@Valencebalance this is a good article which explains why it's not just about not having kids: the population question

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Arianya · 09/04/2022 08:46

It’s not so much knowing what will happen if we don’t make the changes: it’s getting an idea about what our lives would look like if we did make all the changes necessary - if we managed to pay attention and take action. What would that shift away from fossil fuel dependence look like in our daily lives?
The pandemic has demonstrated that when given the choice, people spread out and prefer to avoid cities and commuting. They work from home and shop locally (which allows local businesses to spring up). So I think that’s what the future will look like - villages and small towns with local amenities and most people working from home. Rare trips into the city for work or leisure but mostly wfh, supported by rapidly advancing technology.

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BuanoKubiamVej · 09/04/2022 08:49

@user1471447924 Completely agree with this. Being child free is the best thing people can do for the environment anyway!

If all the intelligent and climate-aware people don't have children then the next generation will be dominated by the children of stupid people who don't care about the planet and cling to unsustainable lifestyles.

Far better to have one child and teach them to live sustainably, if environmental concerns are your only motivation. Of course choosing to be child free for entirely other reasons than environmental concerns is totally valid, it's just not very rational to claim that environmental concerns are the reason.

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rottiemott · 09/04/2022 08:49

We had it extremely good for far too long. Happy to base an economy on shareholder dividends, house prices and the fallacy of 'wealth creation'.

What we should have been doing, 30 years ago, is investing all of that 'profit' (in reality an advance loan) in renewables and sustainability and then we wouldn't be where we are now.

Yes we've not invested in anything people, jobs, the environment hence we have high tax & low growth. I'm not sure how we. change it

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