Feature Article

Global Warming Is Not Your Friend In Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Global Warring.

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The British Empire is on the verge of collapse. Government House, nestled on a headland just across the Thames from the center of London, is somehow simultaneously underwater and ablaze. Once the home of Oasis, the city of Manchester is now little more than a shrinking island as entire coastal neighborhoods disappear into the rising sea. Maybe the sun never sets, but it’s getting awfully late in the day.

However, this is no post-Brexit apocalypse. It’s simply the state of play in my game of Civilization VI. The upcoming expansion, Gathering Storm, introduces the concept of climate change and, as I and every other civilization on the planet burn through consumable fuel resources, global temperature rises precipitate the polar ice to melt and the ocean to breach the walls of London. Time to rethink my strategy.

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Following last year’s Rise & Fall, Gathering Storm is the second major expansion for Civ VI and, based on the evidence so far, it suggests a continuation of Firaxis’ efforts to disrupt the established meta. Where Rise & Fall delivered the ability to transition from a Golden Age into a Dark Age and back again--a system designed to chart the ebb and flow of an empire throughout history--Gathering Storm is more concerned with a gradual accumulation of choices slowly building over the course of the game before unleashing fury towards the end. You can see the dark clouds approaching. The question is: how long can you keep them at bay?

“We usually look at the second expansion of a Civilization title as the one where we make sure our content is robust and complete all the way to the end of the game,” explains Civilization franchise lead designer Ed Beach. “For Civilization V, that was the additions of ideologies in Brave New World, with an emphasis on the World War period.

“We’re taking a different tack in Civilization VI--this time we are focusing on the present time and the ecological struggles with climate change that face mankind in the 21st century. That’s the big new addition with Gathering Storm, confronting players with decisions about how they are relating to the planet. There are winning strategies both ways: the diplomatic player probably wants to treat the planet well and participate in worldwide climate accords; a more militaristic player may not care and may even consider the fact that rising sea levels could deal damage to some of his coastal enemies.”

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Beach says Firaxis built their climate model using the predominant scientific conclusions on how the Earth is changing. It’s a fairly straightforward relationship: CO2 emissions from exploiting resources such as coal and oil add to the global temperature. As the planet gets warmer, polar ice melts, sea levels rise, and finally flooding, storms, and droughts become more frequent.

Weather events occur from the very beginning of the game. Settle on the floodplains of a river and at some point, the banks will break. Similarly, some mountain tiles are now designated as volcanoes, which can become active, erupt, and cover adjacent tiles with lava. More randomly, blizzards, typhoons, and dust storms can now spawn on the map and trace a path of destruction through your lands.

Early on, these events aren’t too bad, and can even be beneficial. A flood might injure a warrior you had stationed along the river or require you to repair damage to a wheat farm. But once the flood passes and you’ve cleaned up the mess, it’s likely the tiles' soil will have been fertilized, providing additional resources for the rest of the game.

No Caption Provided

The idea of “playing the map” was a big part of the design ethos driving the development of Civ VI. Opening specialist districts constructed outside the city center to all kinds of bonuses based on adjacent terrain, as well as restrictions on where World Wonders can be built, requires you to adapt to the specific circumstances in front of you. You’re playing the map as presented, rather than relying on some pre-defined optimal strategy. This idea is explicitly reflected in Gathering Storm’s climate change and weather events.

“These changes were indeed deliberate additions to accentuate this feeling of playing the map,”

“These changes were indeed deliberate additions to accentuate this feeling of playing the map,” says Beach. “Settling in a floodplain or near a volcano is obviously fraught with peril, yet mankind has continued to do just this for centuries. Why? Well, these are some of the most fertile agricultural areas on earth. With these tradeoffs in mind, these two natural disasters were the first ones we prototyped for Gathering Storm. They proved immensely popular with our testers so we kept going and added coastal flooding, droughts, and four kinds of storms before we were done.”

In the late game, as storms and floods hit with greater frequency and severity, these events can be devastating. In my game as England, I’d been engaged in a border skirmish with India when a freak storm ripped through the city of Bristol, pillaging my only Encampment district. At a crucial moment in the war, I was unable to resupply my frontline with reinforcements until the armory and stable had been repaired. Thanks to the weather, I had to pursue a peace deal or risk being overrun.

No Caption Provided

Worse, in the situation I describe at the top of the page from later in the same game, the rising sea meant my Government Plaza district was destroyed, presumably for good, taking with it the powerful bonuses of its Audience Chamber and other internal buildings. Meanwhile, Manchester lost five workable tiles, including a Neighborhood district, its sole lumber mill, and the very spot I’d planned to build a Theater Square, leaving it with a population of 23 but a housing capacity of just 14. The Civ late game has rarely been so unpredictable and dynamic.

Indeed, according to Beach, “Our primary goal with this expansion is to make the world and map seem more dynamic, more alive.” He also helpfully points out where my England game might have started to go wrong, and suggests some of the choices I could have made to, if not prevent environmental catastrophe, then perhaps mitigate or decelerate it.

“Our primary goal with this expansion is to make the world and map seem more dynamic, more alive.”

“Coal, and subsequently Oil, unlock much earlier in the game than their renewable alternatives,” Beach says. “We have added extensive bonuses to the third tier district buildings if your cities are powered, so you’ll want to get going initially with coal and oil so you don’t spend three eras of the game missing out on these significantly higher yields.

“Once uranium and renewables come online, there are several more factors to consider. Solar and wind farms consume a tile around your city late in the game when such spots are very precious. A nuclear plant has high output and very low CO2 emissions, but you need to spend city resources maintaining it regularly or an accident could result. All in all, we have eight different buildings or improvements that generate power all with unique terrain or resource requirements, outputs and tradeoffs.”

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Along with some of the other existing civs and leaders, England has had its abilities revised to suit the new features found in Gathering Storm. Specifically, England gains extra Iron and Coal resources, and derives greater additional yields from powering its cities. In combination, this means England comes into its own during the Industrial Era and, to gain full advantage of the country's unique abilities, you should be building coal power plants in every city and, uh, filling the skies above London and Manchester with horrible black smoke. Needless to say, the first time I checked the in-game World Climate report, my empire was responsible for over 90% of the world’s CO2 emissions. As the water lapped at the door of No.10 Downing St I really only had myself to blame.

Since the beginning of time--well, 1991, to be precise--Sid Meier’s Civilization has tended to view humanity through an optimistic lens. Of course, it’s a very Western Civilization-centric perspective that, amid depicting the atrocities of war and colonization throughout history, one can remain hopeful and keep faith in the idea of the march of progress. So, perhaps, all is not yet lost for England, just like all is not yet lost for our own planet.

“Our warming planet is a story that is still unfolding and will take at least the first half of this century before we get to any conclusive outcome,” says Beach.

“So to give that phenomenon time to play out, we needed to extend our game 25 to 50 years into the future. That meant adding a few new steps or considerations to both our Science and Culture victories. It also meant the era needed to include new tools to battle climate change, help with these extended victories, and provide high-tech military options.

No Caption Provided

“Since all these items are advances that mankind hasn’t yet fully unlocked, we felt it was a bit presumptuous for us to know their precise order. That’s why we hit on the idea of shuffling their order and position within the trees each game. The contents of those nodes remain hidden until you research the prerequisite.”

In previous Civ games, you would still pump Science or Culture into researching generic “future” technologies and civics once you reached the end of their respective trees. There was little point to this--it was merely counting down to the eventual winner. With Gathering Storm, there’s the admission that, however hopeful we might be, we still don’t quite know what the future holds. And as a strategy game, Civilization still has that one final curveball to throw our way. Will it be enough to save England?

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm releases on February 14.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

davidwildgoose

David Wildgoose

Freelance video games journo. Former editor of HYPER, PCPowerPlay, Kotaku Australia.
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SemiENU9

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You will never get through these types of people, if you don't believe in climate change, I feel sorry for you and also have a book to sell you. They are the types that think Alex Jones has answers. Most of the gaming community is very low info/ignorant. Knowledge is the only thing that would make them see but unfortunately they are just not bright. I recommend Secular Talk for all you mega maga guys, I GUARANTEE if you watch him for a while, you will change for the better. Don't believe me, then try me and watch him he has like 650k subscribers as a "leftie" youtuber. He literally owned Politicon and dunks on paid Kochsuckers like Shapiro on a weekly basis.

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ICING

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As per usual the Gamespot comment section is where I go when I want my faith in humanity to be destroyed beyond repair.

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southsouthsac

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Excellent? We only have 12 years to get this fixed. This is, like, our world war 2.

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Moonco

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Moonco  Moderator

@southsouthsac: 4367 more days lol

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EdwardNygma

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@southsouthsac: We should involve all three chambers of government!

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waelse1

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@southsouthsac: It’s twice as important! It’s our World War 4.

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EdwardNygma

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Edited By EdwardNygma

The only way I would be scared of "global warming" is in a video game because otherwise it doesn't exist.

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Spectralfire0

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Edited By Spectralfire0

@edwardnygma: It doesn't matter if you think it exists or not. Take a look into space and think about why every other planet we've every encountered is barren. Then think about the Earth's proximity to the sun and the atmospheric layers that had to develop over millions of years in order for life to exist in this particular place. Or just believe a bunch of conservatives in America that have no idea how science works. For the record I'm conservative but I'm not one of these morons. You think those are the people that have it right? You can at least say you don't think it's man-made and regain some level of credibility. But to just say it's not happening... Come on man.

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southsouthsac

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@Spectralfire0: very astute and intelligent point! I also believe that conservatives in America know nothing about science. I am putting all of my eggs into the Professor AOC and Dr Kamala Harris basket. 2 of our best and brightest when it comes to science.

WE HAVE 12 YEARS TO FIX THIS!!!!

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EdwardNygma

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@southsouthsac: LOL!

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Zaryia

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@edwardnygma:

Here. 1000's of pages of proof, pastes on 100's of Peer Reviewed Studies. Published in 2016, 2017, and 2018. By 13 Federal US Agencies.

https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

Oh and even the CIA agrees. Oh and I won't mention other modern countries, because they all agree too. As well as 90-99% of science organizations and climate scientists.

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oo7superdave

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Edited By oo7superdave

First off its not global warming it's climate change, and we should enjoy the time we have left the New york representative already told us we only have 12 years left.

Also for those that really believe this i have a bridge to sell you.

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Zaryia

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@oo7superdave:

Here. 1000's of pages of proof, pastes on 100's of Peer Reviewed Studies. Published in 2016, 2017, and 2018. By 13 Federal US Agencies.

https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

Oh and even the CIA agrees. Oh and I won't mention other modern countries, because they all agree too. As well as 90-99% of science organizations and climate scientists.

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EdwardNygma

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@oo7superdave: Hahahaha! Yeah Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is easily the least intelligent politician I have ever seen.

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Bamda

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@edwardnygma: No that would be the Dotard. LOL

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oo7superdave

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@edwardnygma: its kinda of scary that this person is allowed to make decisions for the country

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Vojtass

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Edited By Vojtass

ROTFL @ global warming deniers. I guess some people have to experience this on own skin, otherwise they won't believe it. It happens. Nothing will surprise me right now. People deny that Earth is round or that vacciness are good or that Germans killed millions of people in death/concentration camps. What else?

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mari3k

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I would pay the full prize to get an expantion that JUST make the braindead AI better....

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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Global warming is a scam

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lonewolf1044

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@illusivepickledonionman: Global warming is not an hoax and what most people do not understand it is an gradual happening. The earth had an ice age and doesn't mean it can't or won't happen again. It takes many, many years for it to occur. We may not get the blunt of it in this century but it is coming and the change is so subtle. You think the earth going to be here forever, hell no it will die like any other planet and what is different than other planets that die it has humans on this world. Keep on disbelieving that is okay. I believe it is happening but it is going to take an long while and I am going to enjoy my time, as far generations in the future I do not know. If Florida experiences an Ice storm or an few blizzards I bet my last dollar most non believers would start to believe.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@lonewolf1044: it is a scam, that's why they call it climate change instead of global warming now. They would have you believe that co2, a gas that allows plants and trees to grow and for earth's species, including us, to survive is somehow some massive danger to us all. Let me tell you something, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now without the very thing they are trying to push as a massive threat. I also find it funny how they go on about humans causing global warming yet they are ok flying around in private jets. Global warming is a part of agenda 21 which included other things like dealing with overpopulation by destroying sperm count, weather manipulation, eventuality of a one world currency and many other things.

One thing I've also learned is that if the likes of george soros and al gore are anything to do with it then it's a scam. Once you do the research it starts to come together and "global warming" is just one of the pieces of the puzzle.

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Zaryia

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@illusivepickledonionman:

If Climate Change is fake, why is there overwhelming evidence for it, why do all federal agencies confirm it is real, why does the CIA confirm it is real, why do all modern countries confirm it is real outside of the southern USA?

Can you quote which portion of this 1000+ page report is false? https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

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southsouthsac

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@zaryia: because the computer models only put out results based on the info thats put in? If the computer models are wrong, which they constantly shown to be, the predictions don't work. Meanwhile, in the real world, we are all still here. Professor Gore said in 2001 that we had until 2012. LOL.

THEY WANT YOUR MONEY!

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Zaryia

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Edited By Zaryia

@southsouthsac:

1. Al Gore is not a Climate Scientist. If he said something wrong, I honestly don't care. So far, AGW and CC have not been objectively refuted.

2. 99% of climate scientists, and the factual evidence they have presented, show you are wrong. The models (which are not the only evidence, mind you) were generally accurate with observed warming. I have cited 1000+ pages of confirmed data, which cite 10,000+ peer reviewed studies. You are dead wrong on this, the evidence is overwhelming.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jun/25/30-years-later-deniers-are-still-lying-about-hansens-amazing-global-warming-prediction

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-models-projected-global-warming

3. An entirefield of science. 13 Federal Agencies. The CIA. All modern countries outside of southern USA. You said this about Evolution. You said this about Smoking and cancer. You said this about vaccines. You said this about Flat Earth. You conspiracy theorists are ALWAYS WRONG.

You are worse than liberals who say there is no sex.

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ICING

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@zaryia: You have a better chance of convincing an ant. I applaud what you're trying to do but some people can't be helped, at least not over a internet forum.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@zaryia: lol, you honestly trust the likes of the CIA? I've already talked about agenda 21 and how you can't trust these federal agencies and you literally link me some biased report by a bunch of federal agencies. That means nothing. For every biased report by the US government on global warming or every george soros speech there is a list of scientists who think it's all bs.

It's co2 for christ's sake. We literally cannot live without it, why do people fall for this crap?

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Zaryia

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Edited By Zaryia

@illusivepickledonionman:

Hello FlatEarther 2.0,

Refute 1 entire page of that 1,000 page 13 federal agency report I linked (with peer reviewed citation, DIRECTLY contradicting said page).

If you do this will stop calling your FlatEarther 2.0 AND I will ask a Gamespot moderator to permanently IP ban this account.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@zaryia:

hello brainwashed drone 2.0,

Give one solid shred of evidence that I'm a flatearther.

If you do this i will stop calling you brainwashed drone 2.0 AND i will actually let you off the hook for believing everything you see and being short of a few of your own brain cells.

Also, asking moderators to IP ban an account to silence somebody is exactly the kind of thing that the CIA and other similar federal agencies are all about. You aren't by any chance somekind of salesperson for this report or know anybody that works for these scummy agencies do you? That would explain a lot if you do.

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Zaryia

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@illusivepickledonionman: Oof, you couldn't refute even 1 page of that 1000+ page report?

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@zaryia: oof, you couldn't even prove that I'm a flatearther?

On a more serious note, why should i go reading through a 1000 page report that was made by agencies controlled by the same people that are responsible for the shit show in the middle east with the project for the new american century that's caused the loss of countless lies? All you need to know about that report is what agencies are involved and once you have researched those agencies and know of other things they've previously been behind then guess what? You have an accurate understanding of what they are about and you know you don't have to read through that crap because scheming and plotting is what they're best at.

Tell you what, if you can prove that I'm a flat earther i may consider reading through that trash and debunking a page, deal?

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Zaryia

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Edited By Zaryia

@illusivepickledonionman:

"Tell you what, if you can prove that I'm a flat earther i may consider reading through that trash and debunking a page, deal?"

I said Flat Earther 2.0. That's a joke term, because Climate Deniers are the new Flat Earthers. You are conspiracy theoriests, who think disagree with an ENTIRE field of science. Most of those specific 13 federal agencies did not start any wars. NASA did not start any war. Most major science organizations that agree with the facts of CC and AGW do not care about your opinions.

The fact that you can't refute the overwhelming evidence, is quite revealing. This is usually what happens with conspiracy theorists. They run when asked for data/facts.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@zaryia: damn right I'm a conspiracy theorist. Look at the definition of conspiracy, the world is swimming in them. What i find hilarious are you coincidence theorists who are so naive and gullible that you think the world is run by people who care about you and that the world is just full of unconnected coincidences. These agencies like the CIA don't care about you, they are built on pulling the wool over people's eyes including your own and if you don't think they would do it with global warming when they've done it with so many other things then that says more about you than it does me.

You don't seem to understand that many of these science organisations you are speaking of are run by the same people behind the curtains, these agencies in various sectors are all in the same web and there's a spider sitting smugly in the middle controlling it all. Also, there are scientists who have been doing their research on this and those that are not apart of the web have come to the conclusion that it's bs too. The fact that these science organisations don't care about my opinion is a compliment because if they did then then that means i fell for their global warming scam. I don't care about their opinion either so that's fine.

Instead of believing everything they say, actually do your own research about it and stop being spoon fed by these government agencies who plot and conspire for a living.

This argument is getting awfully boring now. Perhaps in 10 years time you will look back and realise how naive you were once you've done the research and come to understand that the world is not run by people who have your best interest at heart.

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Zaryia

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Edited By Zaryia

@illusivepickledonionman:

"This argument is getting awfully boring now."

There never was an argument. I've referenced massive amounts of peer reviewed data and an ENTIRE FIELD OF SCIENCE. Meanwhile, you're giving my your opinion. You're done here.

"actually do your own research about it and stop being spoon fed by these government agencies who plot and conspire for a living"

I have done my research. All major science organizations, including ones that are not from the US GOV, agree with the consensus and do so with massive evidence.

Flat Earther 2.0. You're only saying CC and AGW aren't real because you're in a weirdo cult. You can't give me any data, refute 1 page of that 1000+ page study. Facts > Feelings.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@zaryia: if you weren't an idiot you wouldn't have to have me spoon feeding you information. Stop being lazy and look for it yourself because you clearly haven't done the research. Research to you apparently is clicking on the first website and linking people to a 1000 page document from government agencies that you most likely haven't even read yourself.

I'm telling you to do the research for yourself. You say that all I've given you is an opinion but all you've given me is opinions by corrupt organisations in a document you haven't even read.

And as for your FIELD OF SCIENCE argument, science doesn't hold all of the answers to the universe my friend. There are plenty of theories and things that we used to take as fact by professionals that have been proved wrong over time. To hold these so called professional scientists in such esteem and take everything they say as proof is to not have a mind of your own.

And I'm neither a flatearther, in a cult or even american full stop nevermind from the south so all of these accusations are inaccurate, i see a common theme here.

Damn right I'm done, done talking to someone as naive as you. Even my cat isn't as naive as you. Don't expect a reply because I've got better things to do than to have a back and fourth convo with some gullible child that hasn't done their research on gamespot. Don't bother replying because you won't get a response.

Fairwell.

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Zaryia

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@illusivepickledonionman: Oh, you're trolling.

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IllusivePickledOnionMan

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@Berserk8989: I'm not an anti-vac or a flat earther actually so that just goes to show how narrow minded and ill informed you are.

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Yams1980

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global warming isnt real cause i saw it snow outside in the winter once

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Kootur

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@Yams1980: it’s probably not real because none of the predictions were even close from the alarmists on the last 50 years.

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Zaryia

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Edited By Zaryia

@kootur: A majority of the predictions were close. There objectively was observed warming, and it got close to what they though it would.

Fact check:

https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

10,000s of studies, 99% of climate scientists, almost all modern nations vs. Sean Hannity? You guys are on the level of flat earthers now.

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Yams1980

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Edited By Yams1980

@kootur: i was being sarcastic. You are a 100% legit retard if you think its wise to ignore and do nothing to address climate change.

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JamesBR27

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Its also the worst enemy in left middle US right now and in Rio with 4 weeks straight on 37 to 44 °C, even with a stormy day.

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Kootur

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@jamesbr27: that’s called weather

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Berserk8989

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@kootur: Found the anti-vaxxing flat-earther.

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OldDadGamer

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OldDadGamer  Moderator

@Berserk8989: No, he's right. What it's doing NOW is weather. What it's doing over time is CLIMATE. What's happening on any given day, week, even month isn't important. What IS important is the overall trends.

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Berserk8989

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@olddadgamer: Touché

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