Originally posted by sonhouse
But we are going to have to do something like that for the near future anyway to mitigate climate change as much as possible till other non-carbon energy sources come online like wind, solar, fusion and so forth.
But it might be cheaper to simply bring those sources online rather than try to upgrade all the coal power stations. So, no, it is not true that we have to. It is a question of choice, cost and political will.
The question is, will our civilization be more or less intact when the day arrives we no longer use carbon based fuel or will sea level rise so high as to destroy all beach communities, reducing land area and increasing sea area.
Sea level rise will never destroy civilisation. Sea level rise though very costly financially is actually one of the least of the problems of climate change.
I can see a sci fi story line: a thousand years hence, civilization coming back from brink of destruction from our generation causing major climate change only seen a couple centuries from now, back to horse and buggy times, new science probes arctic regions finds ice coming back, like last century, then finding archives of knowledge lost and a subsequent rebuild and new space industry coming online, finding old probes and such on Luna and Mars where now dead cities existed a thousand years in the past unable to support themselves after the loss of space travel...
It makes for great sci fi, but not reality.
The reality is that climate change affects the poor the most, and they then move, and otherwise cause political turmoil. The problems in Syria are in part a result of climate change.
What matters is how we handle those political problems. Sea level rise will eventually require a lot of people in Bangladesh to move. How we handle that will be important.
Sea level rise may cause significant damage to ocean front property in Florida. I don't care because they shot themselves in the foot.
The recent flooding in Louisiana was also due, in part, to climate change as are the fires and drought in California. But the costs etc are also to do with how we manage such things. Changes in weather are far from new and natural disasters are far from new and we just need to learn better how to deal with long term problems.
We should do something about climate change, not because it will end civilisation, but because it will cost us an awful lot of money.