A brief update

I started this blog to cheer up people worried about the climate. I wanted to argue, using a negative-feedback model, that humanity would inevitably fix things in time.

Now I would emphasize differently: No program of emissions reduction is capable of making a difference to the planet’s temperature trajectory before we arrive in the era of advanced nanotechnology, because that era is at most just a few decades away. Advanced nanotechnology will be capable of the enormous task of drawing down the half trillion tonnes of carbon that have been added to the atmosphere, but it will also be capable of destroying all life on Earth. Dealing with the enormous new powers arising from nanotechnology and artificial intelligence will be the real challenge to human survival, and this time I have no argument at all that we’ll make it.

So, the cheer has gone and this is what’s left. It’s a little sad for the people who have devoted their lives to stopping climate change. That process is real, already doing damage, slowly getting worse, and if it ran to its completion in a world like the present, I suspect we really would get the hundreds of millions of climate refugees discussed in the worst scenarios. But the world of the present will not stay that way, and technological change will overtake climate change as the decisive factor.

Right now, climate politics is in the doldrums. Copenhagen was an anticlimax, and the global financial malaise has made people suspicious of a scheme like cap-and-trade, and just more worried about personal factors like employment and retirement. But the floods and the fires will keep happening, so the topic won’t go away, and there is bound to be a political revival eventually. Perhaps next time a simple carbon tax will be favored, rather than the trading of emissions permits, and there may also be more emphasis on direct action by the state. My slightly sad prediction is that whatever is done won’t matter, because it can’t make a difference before the nanotechnology era arrives, and then the game truly changes.

Anyway, that’s what I’m off doing now – trying to be relevant for what really comes next.


2 Responses to “A brief update”

  1. Dale Carrico Says:

    “Transhumanists” have been pinning their hyperbolic hopes on precisely these fancies in precisely these words for well over a generation now. The stasis of the futurological imagination is flabbergasting and its insensitivity to actually urgent problems from which it would eagerly distract us equally stunning. I fear you’re just another Robot Cultist who wants to be mistaken for an environmentalist, a nano-santalogical and singularitarian variation on the usual greenwashing geo-engineering follies. Declaring science fiction more important than scientific facts or science-based public policies actually isn’t particularly visionary and it is certainly not a serious mode of environmentalism. Just saying.

  2. Update on two bloggers « Entitled to an Opinion Says:

    […] A while back Mitchell Porter decided it was less important to blog about climate change because nanotechnology will kill us all. Now he’s blogging about n=4 super-Yang-Mills theory, whatever that is. Chris from Mixing Memory is alive and well according to an unnamed internet person. I think the last name I mentioned Mitchell I also brought up Vichy’s new blog, but now that’s the old one and the new one is here, although testing now it appears to be private. Youtube user page here. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_text", "29303b"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_link", "909d73"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_border", "F3F6ED"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_url", "676E04"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "technology"); LD_AddSlot("wpcom_below_post"); LD_GetBids(); Share this:FacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   […]

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