'Resurrection plants' offer hope as climate turns hostile


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There is not going to be a technological fix for climate change. Of course new technologies can help, but ultimately we need to change our economic system and the over-consumptive behaviour that drives the destructive goal of endless growth on a finite planet.

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I fear the point at which we had real choices is long gone, warispeace. We will be delivered to a more "sustainable" world in a manner not of our choosing now. The dark clouds are gathering, from species and ecosystem extinction to endless war and oppression. All that is left are the economic optimists who believe that technology like this can always keep ahead of the decline, and crucially without also exacerbating it.

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MoonrakerNOV. 24, 2015 - 12:21PM JST All that is left are the economic optimists who believe that technology like this can always keep ahead of the decline, and crucially without also exacerbating it.

While more sustainable living is definitely desirable (prevention vs. cure and all that), the historical evidence doesn't really disconfirm faith in technology to solve our environmental problems and to a limited degree supports it. There have been several times in history where nay-sayers have insisted we hit the Earth's human carrying capacity, only to be proven spectacularly wrong by technological innovations to make agriculture more efficient. Malthus is perhaps the poster child for being as wrong as it is possible to be on this issue.

There have been civilizations in history that collapsed from over-taxing their environment but they get extremely sparse as technology gets more advanced. I can't think of a single civilization with access to Industrial-era technology that has failed due to environmental issues. The question isn't "Can science solve the problem?" It's "Will societies enact policies science provides and follow through with them?"

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It is true that evidence seems to show Malthus was wrong but we could also argue he was premature. Since his time we have seen the unprecedented use and squander of a fortunate glut of fossil fuels which our technology has enabled us to convert into agricultural inputs. The Haber process, for example, for fixing nitrogen fertiliser consumes some 2% of the world's energy consumption a year. But we also use this cheap energy for procuring other vital fertiliser inputs, for mechanical inputs like ploughing, for heating where needed, for harvesting and storing and transporting, and no doubt others I can't think of. The end result is poor soils, eroded soils, desertification, eutrophication, ecosystem decimation, etc so that more inputs are needed to make up for the problems - defensive spending. None of this is getting better. And, should our fossil reserves begin to fail or increase in price we will have massive problems. Then our technology will be used to fight over the remaining reserves and the diminishing productive land. Additionally the continued use of fossil fuels will almost certainly increase the defensive spending needed, perhaps from global warming too. Yes, it could be that we find a way through technology but it is unlikely in a biosphere we are exploiting to overcapacity already and which degrades daily but the processes of which we scarcely understand (though it provides so many free inputs into our agriculture, from pollinators to symbiotic bacteria and fungi). It is, as you rightly say, a faith that we have in technology.

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Morons. As CO2 increases, so does plant growth activity, this is already occurring. All plants consume CO2, it is essential for their life. They consume CO2 and release oxygen, every child knows this. In the past, CO2 levels have been far higher than they are today, and increased plant activity naturally reduced these levels. Already it is hypothesized that foliage and phytoplankton have increased by 11% since 1982.

But at least the researchers developing the plants have figured out a way to profit from climate change hysteria.

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Climate change has happened in the past and the world has survived. Humans are very creative and adaptable. Humanity will survive, like it always has.

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