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Musing about Losing Earth

The NY Times Magazine has a special issue this weekend on climate change. The main article is “Losing the Earth” by Nathaniel Rich, is premised on the idea that in the period 1979 to 1989 when we basically knew everything we needed to know that climate change was a risk, and the politics had not yet been polarized, we missed our opportunity to act. Stated this way, it would probably be uncontroversial, but since the article puts the blame for this on “human nature”, rather than any actual humans, extensive Twitter discussion ensues…

Before we link to some of the more thoughtful responses, a quick reminder that a lot of people read the NY Times magazine (far more than follow any climate scientists on Twitter or Facebook), and that as David Roberts at Vox has pointed out, having differently-told climate stories – even if they are manifestly imperfect, might help broaden the conversation and basic awareness that this is a story worth delving into. Secondly, the last big NY Times magazine story I remember related to climate was the execrable profile of Freeman Dyson – a fascinating topic in theory, but one which focused on the least interesting thing about him – a barely warmed up stew of stale climate skepticism.

The article itself is supported by a lot of background work, some visually stunning photography by George Steinmetz and lesson plans hosted by the Pulitzer Center.

So, here is some of the more interesting commentary:

From Emily Atkin at New Republic:

“Losing Earth” is an impressive piece of journalism for several reasons. One is simply that it’s the Times’ longest-ever article—and it’s about global warming. This comes at a time when much of the news media is failing to live up to its responsibilities covering climate change, an issue that affects the entire population, hundreds of ecosystems, and every economic sector. Rich’s story, too, is proof that the climate story can be told in an engaging—fast-moving, human-centric, funny, and frustrating—way.

And the insights about human nature are worth pondering. “We’re a medium-term species,” he said in April. “We plan ahead, but only so far. We’re willing to sacrifice comfort in the present for security in the future, but within reason.” But the fossil fuel industry and Republicans know that, and have successfully exploited it for the last thirty years. “Losing Earth” is thus not the whole story of human’s failure to act on climate change. Its flaw is that it’s painted as such.

From Leah Stokes:

From Alex Steffen:

Both Climate Progress and Huffington Post have quotes from scientists (including Mike Mann, Bob Brulle, Jennifer Francis and David Titley) who are generally not supportive of the main conclusion.

Naomi Klein has her own idea of whose fault it was:

When I looked at the same period, I came to a very different conclusion: that what at first seemed like our best shot at lifesaving climate action had in retrospect suffered from an epic case of historical bad timing. Because what becomes clear when you look back at this juncture is that just as governments were getting together to get serious about reining in the fossil fuel sector, the global neoliberal revolution went supernova, and that project of economic and social reengineering clashed with the imperatives of both climate science and corporate regulation at every turn.

The failure to make even a passing reference to this other global trend that was unfolding in the late ’80s represents an unfathomably large blind spot in Rich’s piece.


At this point in a post, I’m supposed to summarise all of this and give my own informed opinion but… truth be told, I’m on vacation, and I haven’t got around to reading it all yet. So rather than demonstrate my own confirmation bias, let’s open it up. Maybe I’ll have something to say later this week…

207 Responses to “Musing about Losing Earth”

  1. 51
    Mal Adapted says:

    gavin, inline to JoeT:

    This is an interesting question…

    Boy, I’ll say! Thank you so much, Gavin, for your expert insight. I predict it will be endlessly useful on the blogs, if nothing else!

  2. 52
    Al Bundy says:

    I blame Star Trek. In most episodes a crew member, the whole crew, or the ship is degrading towards death and destruction. It comes down to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Yay! We solved it in the nick of time and everybody is instantly 100% cured.

    We’ve been conditioned to believe that as long as a solution is implemented one second before death things will be hunky dory.

    Karsten,
    Naomi Klein is steadfastly for a price on carbon. Her issue is that it needs to be high enough and equitable enough to do what it needs to do. Thus, she’s against weak broth goop that’s designed so as to enrich the already wealthy.

    —-

    Havard,

    Obama tried breaking bread with republicans. They responded with “the party of ‘no'”. Blaming republicans is the most likely path to success. We’ve got the weather on our side and ejecting them from office is key to saving a bit of the biosphere.

    —–

    Susan,
    Yeah, Carter was brilliant and good and Ray-gun was obviously riddled with Alzheimer’s during his second campaign. My brother thought that that was precisely the reason to vote for Reagan. After all, the dumber the president the easier it is to pull the strings. Can you say “W”? And seriously, the previous biosphere was lost when the US obscene court decided that democracy (counting the ballots) would interfere with folks’ feelings that the obscene court’s selection for president was legitimate.

    Dan Miller,

    Yes, people need to be terrified and enabled.

    KillingInaction,
    Folks aren’t enabled. For example, perhaps you want to eat healthier, so you search for ketchup without salt. It’s tough to find and four or five times as expensive. People have little choice but to eat toxic garbage and spew carbon because the powers that be charge incredible amounts to *not* add the salt that wounds us.

    Another example that I’ve mentioned before is that fuel cost is excluded from qualifying equations for homes and vehicles, so the consumer is steered towards the least efficient choice. The system is rigged and you blame the guy who is tangled in the rigging instead of the puppeteers who pull the strings.

  3. 53
    Richard Hawes says:

    Gavin:
    Your response to Joe T’s question is an important enough summary of what was ‘settled enough’ at what date to be forwarded to Nathaniel Rich (as is Raypierre’s comment ‘settled enough’).
    Mr Rich has done a public service in providing an incomplete history as a compelling story – the gaps need to be filled in with another big article to re-enforce the consensus.
    Perhaps Dana N could be persuaded to write another article for the Grauniad (harump harump).

  4. 54

    JoeT, #49–

    If #1 was unclear in 1979, what can you even say about #2 or #3?

    #3–“the CO2 comes from the burning of fossil fuels”–was beyond question by the time of Svante Arrhenius, in 1896:

    https://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Dawn-Of-Flight

    But it was his friend and colleague Nils Ekholm who actually remarked upon it, in a comment in a 1901 paper:

    . . . the present burning of pit-coal is so great that in one year it gives back to the atmosphere about one one-thousandth of its present store of carbonic acid. If this continues for some thousand years it will undoubtedly cause a very obvious rise of the mean temperature of the earth. Also Man will no doubt be able to increase the supply of carbonic acid also by digging of deep fountains pouring out carbonic acid. Further, it might perhaps be possible for Man to diminish or regulate the consumption of carbonic acid by protecting the weathering layers of silicates from the influence of the air and by ruling the growth of plants according to his wants and purposes. Thus it seems possible that Man will be able efficaciously to regulate the future climate of the earth and consequently prevent the arrival of a new Ice Age. By such means also the deterioration of the climate of the northern and Arctic regions, depending on the decrease of the obliquity of the ecliptic, may be counteracted. It is too early to judge of how far Man might be capable of thus regulating the future climate. But already the view of such a possibility seems to me so grand that I cannot help thinking that it will afford to Mankind hitherto unforeseen means of evolution.

    https://hubpages.com/education/Global-warming-science-press-and-storms

    (Note that “carbonic acid” is here roughly synonymous with CO2, in accordance with 19th century usage.)

  5. 55
    Bill Henderson says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45084144

    Others are concerned that the authors’ faith in humanity to grasp the serious nature of the problem is misplaced.

    “Given the evidence of human history, this would seem a naive hope,” said Prof Chris Rapley, from University College London.

    “At a time of the widespread rise of right-wing populism, with its associated rejection of the messages of those perceived as ‘cosmopolitan elites’ and specific denial of climate change as an issue, the likelihood that the combination of factors necessary to allow humanity to navigate the planet to an acceptable ‘intermediate state’ must surely be close to zero.”

    “Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that man-made climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it. ”

    George Monbiot

    “It is now obvious to Blind Freedy that our society’s structures are incapable of facing and resolving the climate threat. The problem is now so big, and the scale and urgency of the solutions required so great, that it is impossible to talk about them within the current public policy frame. The business and political spheres have horizons too narrow and too limited in time to be able to deal with the challenges and complexities of global warming.

    “We have achieved a collective cognitive dissonance where the real challenge we face is excluded from discourse.”

    David Spratt

    Wartime style coalition government; regulated wind-down of fossil fuel production after McGlade Ekin; has to be led by business

  6. 56

    For those citing the Montreal Treaty as a model for what might have happened or might happen with climate change, there were two factors unique to the CFC problem that paved the way for the agreement that are absent in the case of climate change. One was that there was a smoking gun — the ozone hole discovered by Joe Farman — which punctured the balloon of that generation of denialists. The other was that it became in DuPont’s interest to support the Treaty. DuPont dominated the market for CFCs, but they also owned the most logical replacements, which would have higher margins than the CFCs they were replacing.
    Tragically, the very ubiquity of global warming’s impacts makes it difficult to find an agon that will turn the drama (though candidates such as sea level rise and blistering summers temps are beginning to arise). And since global warming has vastly more sources than ozone depletion, there is not industrial colossus that can stand up to the fossil fuel establishment. Finally, the global warming “denialists” came from the same crew that opposed banning CFCs, but they’ve gotten a lot better at it.

  7. 57
    Carrie says:

    Klein: ” the global neoliberal revolution went supernova, and that project of economic and social reengineering clashed with the imperatives of both climate science and corporate regulation at every turn.”

    Those that attempt to disconnect economic and social re-engineering, neoliberalism, politics, denial, consumerism and climate change responses from “human nature” & our collective evolutionary Psychology including our weaknesses/flaws are seriously missing the point presented by people like Nathaniel Rich, Professor Jem Bendell, and the many articles like this one https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/03/the-end-of-the-line-a-climate-in-crisis/ already ref’d above.

    Emily Atkin at New Republic says it outright and yet at the very same times DENIES her own observations (from above):

    “And the insights about human nature are worth pondering. “We’re a medium-term species,” he said in April. “We plan ahead, but only so far. We’re willing to sacrifice comfort in the present for security in the future, but within reason.” But the fossil fuel industry and Republicans know that, and have successfully exploited it for the last thirty years.”

    Then she switches to outright denying the import of Human Nature and our Psychology – how easily it can be and is MANIPULATED by others with the ‘power’ to do so. How on earth do you think the “neoliberal sect” were elected over those 30 years across multiple nations? By applying Cognitive Science to the Psychology of the population heading into elections in the West. Cambridge Analytica knows this – why don’t you and climate scientists know it too OR at least stop denying it is so? The science/academic evidence is out there and has been for decades.

    How can anyone here Deny “human nature” is real and matters? A true knowledge of “Human nature” aka cognitive science, evolution, and psychological knowhow (including advertising and marketing practices) explains both the causes and the solutions to AGW/CC.

    “human nature” psychology
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C33&q=“human+nature”+psychology&btnG=

    Random extracts:

    Originally published in 1928 this book was an attempt to acquaint the general public with the fundamentals of Individual Psychology. At the same time it is a demonstration of the practical application of these principles to the conduct of everyday relationships

    Inclusion with Nature: The Psychology Of Human-Nature Relations
    This chapter examines the implicit connection that individuals make between self and nature, and the impact of built environments on these implicit cognitions. A psychological model for inclusion with nature is presented, containing cognitive (connectedness), affective (caring), and behavioral (commitment) components. Implicationsfor theory, design, and sustainability are discussed.

    Using a unique organizational framework that emphasizes six domains of knowledge about human nature, Personality Psychology presents an accessible, contemporary look at personality as a collection of interrelated topics and themes.

    In “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature,” an extension of his classic “Toward a Psychology of Being,” Maslow explores the complexities of human nature by using both the empirical methods of science and the aesthetics of philosophical inquiry

    This book offers readers the first book-length attempt to define the emerging field of evolutionary developmental psychology, which applies the basic principles of Darwinian evolution, particularly natural selection, to explain contemporary human development.

    Human nature in politics: The dialogue of psychology with political science This article compares two theories of human rationality that have found application in political science: procedural, bounded rationality from contemporary cognitive psychology, and global, substantive rationality from economics.

    The authors provide a definition of positive psychology and suggest that psychologists should try to cultivate a more appreciative perspective on human nature. Examples are given of a negative bias that seems to pervade much …

    Was human nature designed by natural selection in the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was—that our psychological adaptations were designed tens of thousands of years ago to solve problems faced by our hunter-gatherer …

    Human nature and the social order
    All doctrines of human nature are subject to what Durkheim rightly called the “laws of collective ideation.” In Human Nature and the Social Order, Cooley com- posed a psychology of cultural forms. His analysis of American culture, in the ideal form it took ……………….

  8. 58
    Carrie says:

    Dr John Cook (Psychology) did a good job in explaining the psychology around climate denial and how it works and why it happens. But that is one small part of the problem with the BAU that got humanity to this point in time regarding agw/cc etc. His work has made no difference to people like Victor and never will. It’s a dead-end focus. It’s fine to correct the false facts & memes presented by the victors of this world including in the media a belief that arguing with them is going to change their minds is counter-productive and as I said above is missing the point and denying the implicit effects & role of ‘Human Nature’ (whatever label is used.)

    Or to put it another way blaming the fossil fuel business interests (incl court cases) will achieve nothing of the kind of systemic change that’s needed going forward.

  9. 59
    Al Bundy says:

    It amazes me that most folks, including climate scientists, think that homo sapiens are the only species with a finger on the CO2e climate control knob. The carbon budget is NOT humanity’s budget, but all species’ budget.

    The biggest issue is the ying of carbon sequestration species, as in plants and animals, and the yang of carbon spewing species, such as bacteria (and humans).

    In freshman chemistry kids learn a rule of thumb: increase temperature by 10F and the reaction rate doubles.

    This rule applies to bacteria. But plants and animals have evolved so as to maintain a set temperature. 98.6F, for example. Increase the ambient temperature and the plant does not increase carbon sequestration, but increases its load, because it must pump more water so as to cool itself.

    But bacteria care little about temp until one gets way hotter than temps get.

    So, increase temps and sequestration diminishes while spewing increases.

    In the glacial/interglacial ying yang there was literally NO carbon forcing. Twas just orbital cycles. Carbon is a feedback.

    But this time we’ve dredged up ancient carbon from the deep. This has set the planet on a feedback loop. Higher temps reduce sequestration and increase spewing. Humanity is no longer required (but we can still join in the fun).

    We’ve blown our share of the budget and bacteria will have theirs.

    So, plants and animals have relatively narrow thermal and humidity niches. Here in Omaha many evergreens are dying, and deciduous trees aren’t happy either. I’m sure other bioregions are in similar straits.

    So, musing about losing the past biosphere begs the question: WTF do we do to usher in the next biosphere?

    The change is far too fast to just let nature take its course. But the first law of invention is that your first prototype will fail miserably. What plants do we invasively introduce? Animals?

    We’re going to screw this up but there is no other option than to screw this up.

    Thanks, Republicans.

  10. 60
    Carrie says:

    44 Dan Miller says: “We have climate change because we (the world) have a default policy that companies can pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases for free.”

    False because that is merely a side issue. Every person and every company employing people and selling “stuff” pollute the atmosphere because we were all born into societies that had in place a energy system that we all of us accepted as the Norm and a Social Good.

    People make a choice every time they buy a car, a house, go shopping for groceries and switch on their electricity at home. A choice that most have next to no alternative choice in making whether that energy comes from fossil fuels or doesn’t. The few with the power (and money) to actually make a better alternative choice then don’t make it … and have not made since Hansen rocked up to Congress one day in 1989.

    So it is US individually and collectively who knowingly are very happy to pollute the climate system with GHGs and to cut down forests and clear land for agriculture and cattle. Some of us contribute to this more than others do. To blame the fossil companies or those nations who produce the most Fossil Fuels is a PSYCHOLOGICAL cop out which completely ignores the real causes and the real sustainable solutions.

    People need to stop blaming other people and FF companies for their own individual and collective choices of what they will accept as repeated cop outs by Govts who attend UNFCCC meetings. Again some nations are making much better than others but all are failing to address the causes and institute rational science based evidence based solutions today and everyday.

    If people here and everywhere truly believed that Fossil Fuel companies are the evil organizations they claim they are then they would be calling on Govts to shut them down. But they don;t demand this because they know today or tomorrow they will need to fill up their SUV people mover or F250 truck gas tank again at an Exxon-Mobil service station on the highway.

    So, how about first stop lying to yourself about who is to blame for this mess?

    But I do agree with this point at the end by Dan because it is true:
    “… but it makes no sense to avoid scaring people about something they should be scared about!”

  11. 61
    Carrie says:

    Cutting greenhouse gases is not enough

    Maximizing the chances of avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores, for example, through improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation; and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground, the paper says.

    Critically, the study emphasizes that these measures must be underpinned by fundamental societal changes that are required to maintain a “Stabilized Earth” where temperatures are ~2°C warmer that the pre-industrial.

    “Climate and other global changes show us that we humans are impacting the Earth system at the global level. This means that we as a global community can also manage our relationship with the system to influence future planetary conditions. This study identifies some of the levers that can be used to do so,” concludes co-author, Katherine Richardson from Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

    http://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2018-08-06-planet-at-risk-of-heading-towards-hothouse-earth-state.html

    Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene
    Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
    PNAS August 6, 2018

    We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/07/31/1810141115

  12. 62
    zebra says:

    #39 Duncan Idaho,

    Interesting historical reference. But the graph showing the difference between less and more developed countries is telling.

    Abundance of a resource does not lead to population growth, rather the opposite. It is the developed countries that first produced (and still enable, I assume, production of) fertilizer.

    As with FF, the developed countries move away from using, (organic! organic!,) but continue to sell the product.

    Instead of making “moral” judgements, perhaps thinking more about how to most effectively change things would be helpful.

  13. 63
    Karsten Vedel Johansen says:

    “Mal Adapted”: “the climate-change costs of fossil fuels” can not be “internalized in their market price”, simply because those costs are paid a long time after the fossil fuels were burned. And not by those companies who produced the fossil fuel.

    The true costs of using the fossil fuels has to be anticipated by humans as politically responsible beings and cannot be anticipated effectively by them as individual consumers, because the latter is effectively prohibited by the very market system. Society has to make these decisions under the guidance of science. This is the reason why James Hansens proposed carbon fee and dividend is necessary. Putting a steadily rising fee on all fossil energy production at the source or point of import is the only way one can use the market price to stem and at last end the production of fossil energy. All fossil fuels etc. produced will be consumed. To stop emissions the fossil energy sources must be left in the ground. The only ways to achieve that is by a fee, by deinvestment and by forbidding the production. All three ways have to be used in combination, but because the transition has to be gradual, and investment will take place as long as there is profit to be made, a rising fee is the only effective way, combined with forbidding the production of the most destructive and polluting forms of fossil resources development as tar sands, shale oil, coal etc.

    By redistributing the fee (minus administrative costs) per capita to all citizens one creates a stimulus for every citizen to reduce her or his carbon footprint.

    What was possible to know in 1979 etc. is a historical question to which we will never know any precise answer. What is important is what we know now and especially how to make the owerwhelming majority realize the very staggering and urgent implications of that knowledge.

    As the political reality shows, this puts us in a deadly political fight with some of the mightiest forces of global capital: the financers of the political duopoly of the US, the russian ruling elite, the completely dominant political parties in the EU, all the mainstream media etc. etc. While some of them like Obama or the EU at least simulate understanding the climate problem, they are in practical politics not willing to do anything of any significance whatsoever, because their economic dogmatism, their laissez-faire beliefs, and the heavy fossil lobbyism (big oil and coal, chemical industry etc.) that pays their fees, stands against. The EU quota market is a joke. The Paris “agreement” (a voluntary agreement is a contradiction in terms, which Trump apparently does not understand, or it does not please the Koch brothers and others who finance him enough because they fear even the slightest admission that there is a problem. In fact Trump is a godsend gift to the “lukewarmers” like Clinton, EU etc., because he can make them seem like they want to do something which they will not do and has never done) is, as James Hansen put it november 2015: “pure bullshit”.

    Revitalizing the democratic movement of “the common man” is the only way forward. Unfortunately in the US Bernie Sanders has made himself a lapdog of the ruling elite of the Democrats’ part of the duopoly. As long as this duopoly is intact, nothing important is going to happen except the rising flood of climate disasters underneath the blanket of media nonsense about celebrities and their tweets, the usual warmongering hysteria (now on the road to repeat the Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya catastrophes in Iran) etc.

  14. 64
    Mike Roddy says:

    The problem with Rich’s article is that he glosses over the main cause of our predicament: Fossil fuel companies, who knew perfectly well that global warming could lead to disaster, spent millions of dollars to persuade the public that the opposite was true. It was a full court press: Contrarians received financial support, media companies were reassured that, if the problem did exist, we would solve it with technology, and, perhaps most important, Republicans with environmental sensitivities were primaried. “Neoliberalism” was not the problem, it was the hostile takeover of a political party that required obedience to Koch, Exxon, Peabody, and Murray.

    Well, now we know, so it’s time to put up a fight. Let’s start with a boycott campaign against Koch Industries, by urging customers to avoid all things Koch: Georgia Pacific lumber and engineered wood made from clearcuts, and impregnated with toxic formaldeyhde- Koch brands that make soft toilet paper culled from Canadian old growth forests (the texture is soft enough for delicate American butts), Exxon lubricants, and industrial products that use electricity from coal plants.

    If this plan is executed, we might win this fight. Standing on the sidelines: every environmental organization that I have approached. Someone needs to step up here, and bring money to actually fight, not beg:
    mike.greenframe@gmail.com

  15. 65
    Susan Anderson says:

    Riiight. Even the most progressive of Democrats, once in the public eye, are “lapdogs”. So we should elect Republicans, who at the top are wholly complicit, corrupt, or passive in the face of world destroying reality denial and wealthy powerful donors.

    This is trolling of the worst sort. We live in the world as it is, and though I’m not a huge fan of Bernie, due to his purity mongering and his fans’ tendency to promote infighting, I’m sick and tired of hearing that the moment a Democrat has to deal with the real world, they’re a “lapdog”.

    Personally, I’ve followed my senator, Elizabeth Warren (and the wonderful Ed Markey) from the beginning, and to describe her as “corporate” or a sellout is pure unadulterated dangerous nonsense.

  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:

    https://medium.com/@AndrewWinston/the-straw-man-arguments-of-climate-denial-af798174a944

    For some unknown reason, the New York Times decided that in 2017, it needed to hire a known climate denier away from the Wall Street Journal. The new op-ed writer, Bret Stephens, wasted no time diving into the fray, decrying the certainty of people who want action on climate change. His article is a fantastic example of how to make straw man arguments.

    Here’s the critical passage from his climate hit piece:

    Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions.

    https://medium.com/@AndrewWinston/denying-climate-denial-90c497db0bbc

    The paper’s Deputy Washington Editor, Jonathan Weisman, accused multiple people on Twitter of “not reading the article.” His more nuanced point, which many others parroted, was that Stephens didn’t deny the existence of climate change.

    Technically, it’s true. In his op-ed, Stephens says, “None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences.”

    But defining denial as only outright denial of the basic science is a narrow definition indeed. Denial has evolved, and it’s even more dangerous now. To demonstrate what I mean, let me take the discussion out of the climate realm for the moment.

    Imagine your doctor tells you that you have dangerously high cholesterol and blocked arteries. She says you may drop dead soon. [Note: Based on comments/questions, I should clarify here. By “doctor”, I mean the entire medical establishment. So imagine you got not just a “second opinion,” but 100 opinions…and 97 say the same thing]….

  17. 67
    Mal Adapted says:

    Karsten Vedel Johansen:

    “Mal Adapted”: “the climate-change costs of fossil fuels” can not be “internalized in their market price”, simply because those costs are paid a long time after the fossil fuels were burned. And not by those companies who produced the fossil fuel.

    I remind readers that I’m using the specialized vocabulary of Economics. IANAE, however, so I may be using it incorrectly 8^}!

    Karsten, the relatively brief lag between my fossil carbon emissions and the consequent increase in GMST is unimportant for my argument. I’m presently paying my share of the total cost of recent weather disasters caused by the aggregate of past emissions. I anticipate paying, over my remaining lifetime, a share of the future costs of everyone’s current emissions. My great-nephew, now two years old, will be paying for them throughout his life.

    Again: the marginal climate-change cost of the fossil fuel I, my brother’s family, and everyone else consumes today will be paid for, in money and/or tragedy, during my own and my (collateral) descendants’ lifetimes. The present value of my share of the aggregate future cost increases without limit, as long as fossil carbon is price-competitive with carbon-neutral alternatives. It’s rational, i.e. adapative, for me to want to reduce aggregate emissions to zero ASAP. Because AGW is a Drama of the Commons, only collective intervention in the energy market can do so in the time left to cap GMST below globally catastropic levels.

    Legislating a per-tonne carbon ‘fee’ (i.e. tax, duh) on US FF producers, and letting each of them decide how much to pass on to their customers in the price of their products, will internalize marginal climate-change costs for both producers and consumers. Charging a per-tonne embodied carbon fee (i.e. tariff) to importers of the manufactured goods we consume, will internalize our marginal emissions costs for producers in other countries. All the fee/tariff revenue should be returned to taxpayers as a periodic dividend; because the dividend is decoupled in time from the price of gasoline at the pump, and because everyone gets the same dividend, the price signal to consumers is preserved, while the money stays within the economy.

    To the extent fossil fuel demand is price sensitive, the carbon fee/tariff would reduce emissions immediately. It’s also expected to stimulate development and buildout of alternative energy supplies and infrastructure, keeping average energy prices low. Those energy sources will have their own externalities, but they’re much less likely to render the globe hellish before the end of this century. Meanwhile, fossil fuel producer profits will erode and their assets will be stranded, boo hoo. Consumers, OTOH, will pay a bit more for things until the economy adjusts, but the average fossil fuel consumer will break even. That’s why I support the Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment Tax proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

  18. 68
    Jerome Puskin says:

    By focusing almost entirely on the U.S., Nathaniel Rich and most of the commenters here seem to be neglecting an elephant in the room. Regardless of American political leaders and FF industry, we would probably still be facing the climate problem. The Chinese economy is now the largest source of greenhouse gases, and its emissions and those of other developing countries are growing rapidly. Unless technologies had been developed fairly early on for producing plentiful energy at a cost well below that for FF, the Chinese drive to improve its standard of living would still be causing severe problems for the climate unless the rich countries had boycotted Chinese products or placed heavy tariffs on them. It is unrealistic to expect a poor country to assign a high dollar amount to future damage by greenhouse gases.

  19. 69
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @59, yes good references and human nature / psychology is a powerful governing factor. We all have our biases, and people manipulate these.

    Although I feel humanity is flexible, and rises above the baser instincts at times, and some of us are more immune to the manipulation than others. I think we can develop insight into our own biases and inclinations and control these better. This gives me some hope that progress is possible on the climate issue.

    I suggest people have a read of New Scientist July 28th, “Hack your unconscious”. How to control fear, boost memory etc.

    However the most pertinent part of the article is the sub section “know your biases” including anchoring, clustering illusion, confirmation bias, congruence bias, endowment effect, fundamental attribution error, gamblers fallacy, hyperbolic discounting, in group bias, negativity bias, projection bias, status quo bias! (Whew I never knew there were quite so many)

    This edition of New Scientist also has an excellent in depth article on species extinctions and the shocking loss of biodiversity.

  20. 70
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @59,

    “So, increase temps and sequestration diminishes while spewing increases.”

    https://climatenewsnetwork.net/warming-soils-bad-atmosphere/

    “LONDON, 18 October, 2017 – As the world’s soils warm, they may surrender potentially dangerous amounts of carbon to the atmosphere. Rising temperatures could mean rising levels of carbon dioxide respired by the microbes underfoot.”

  21. 71
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @60

    “People make a choice every time they buy a car, a house, go shopping for groceries and switch on their electricity at home” “People need to stop blaming other people and FF companies for their own individual and collective choices of what they will accept as repeated cop outs by Govts who attend UNFCCC meetings.”

    True. However its hard to expect people do choose an electric car for example, while they remain expensive, and rely on fossil fuels to generate electricity. I mean it would just not make sense. And you are starting to sound like Mr KIA! :)

    There’s something governments can do to level up this playing field, and to help make certain choices more probable by subsidising electric cars and renewable electricity generation. And adopting a carbon tax makes fossil fuels a less attractive option.

    So in other words let this shape our voting choices.

    All these sorts of devices demonstrably alter behaviour and outcomes. For example tobacco taxes have helped reduce consumption (The Economist did a recent article on “Sin Taxes”.) Not that I particularly like taxes, but it’s probably the most viable option overall.

  22. 72
    Dan Miller says:

    #60 Carrie: You misunderstood my point. If, like many other products, the cost of the harm inflicted by fossil fuels was included in its cost, then companies, utilities, and consumers would make more reasonable choices when buying forms of energy or products that use energy (e.g., cars). Fossil fuels are the most expensive form of energy when all their real coasts are included, yet they appear cheap to consumers (and utilities). Changing the policy that allows fossil fuels sellers to unbundle the damage their products cause and shift those costs to society rather than their customers, would go a long way towards phasing our fossil fuels and it will also improve the economy because the energy sources that are truly lower cost would be used instead.

  23. 73
    nigelj says:

    Mike Roddy @64

    “Neoliberalism” was not the problem, it was the hostile takeover of a political party that required obedience to Koch, Exxon, Peabody, and Murray.”

    It’s the same thing ultimately. The Kochs economic and environmental ideology ‘is’ extreme neoliberalism. It’s all entangled.

    For some reason strong individuals seem to have huge influence in the Republican side of politics, like Koch and Sununu. Its subtly different from the Democrats possibly because they are less authoritarian in philosophy than the Republican conservatism.

    Karsten @63

    Well summed up, but its so depressing isn’t it.

  24. 74

    #68–Jerome, I fear you have the politics of emissions more or less reversed at this point. Yes, China has been the largest emitter for several years now; but the time of rapid, sustained year over year emissions growth is done. Here are a couple of pieces about Chinese emissions; the first, from 2017, asks “Have Chinese emissions already peaked?” and answers with skepticism; the second, from 2018, discusses the 2017 data, which showed the largest increase in half a dozen years or so, clarifying the context of the ‘faux peak’, but also showing that the increase was not a return to past form.

    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/03/31/chinese-co2-emissions-really-peaked/

    https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/05/30/china-co2-carbon-climate-emissions-rise-in-2018/

    Part of this is the push toward renewable energy, motivated by the desire for cleaner air; the desire for energy security; the desire to conserve water (thermal plants are water hogs); the desire to support Chinese ‘new energy’ titans, especially in the solar PV space where China dominates primary manufacture; and the desire to take and hold global leadership by dominating a vital international agenda (ie., climate change). Plus, oh yeah, they realize that they have a lot to lose under warming scenarios.

    That push has taken China to the status of global leader in renewable energy, by far; and now they are transitioning to a slower growth unsubsidized model as grid parity is being reached now, and solar PV is competitive with ‘traditional’ energy. This year they will probably install 30-35 GW of solar capacity, with 20+ GW additions following in the next few years. It’s a slowdown, but still dwarfs what most anyone else is doing.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/06/china-installs-24-3-gigawatts-in-first-half-of-2018/

    Make no mistake; the government that is the biggest obstructor on the face of the planet is the American federal government.

    In November,

    VOTE CLIMATE!

  25. 75
    Al Bundy says:

    Carrie,
    Total crap. We DON’T gladly spew. We spew because those in power have decided that spewing is Good.

    For example, I get fuel saver points at Hy-vee. I accumulate enough to get free gas. The system is set up so you get 20 gallons of free gas. Well, my tank holds less, so I bought gas cans to store the excess. Yep, I know that transferring gas to can and tank spews gasoline, and gasoline is almost assuredly worse for the climate than CO2 ,(but I haven’t been able to find the data), yet the system’s insistence that I either get 20 gallons or lose means that I screw the climate. But it is unhappily, in fact almost with rage. But the powers that be are.

  26. 76
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Tomorrow morning, August 8, 2018 is the first day of the remaining world history. Hundreds of millions will get up, and head out to work. Each of those millions who claims to “believe” in AGW belongs to one of the following groups:

    1 – Those willing to actually do something about AGW will use something other than FFs to power their transportation to work.
    2 – Those who are less serious about AGW will go via some form of FF powered vehicle.
    3 – Those who don’t give a rats ass about AGW will drive alone in their FF powered vehicle.

    Which of the above groups do you fall into? Please let us all know.

    34 – Hank
    Some folks on this website “know” enough science to know AGW is a thing; the others “believe” those who tell them AGW is a thing. The average Joe on the street “believes” because they don’t have the science background to understand atmospheric physics. Few “know”; many believe.

    On evolution, who has an outstanding link showing latest, state of the art, actual photos of skeletons or skulls, side-by-side where we can view each step in the evolution of modern man?

    Many folks are no doubt so turned off by the extreme leftists running the D party that the just can’t stamp the Donkey on election day. Maybe the party leaders need to pull their heads out?

    68 – Jerome
    You nailed it. If AGW believers would just walk their talk, the deniers would be insignificant, and CO2 belching would be cut significantly. But they aren’t willing to sacrifice unless they can FORCE you to sacrifice. The want control. Of everything. They think they know what’s better for you than you do – in every aspect of your life. That’s why they’ve lost power. We’ve had enough of it.

  27. 77
    Mal Adapted says:

    Jerome Puskin:

    It is unrealistic to expect a poor country to assign a high dollar amount to future damage by greenhouse gases.

    Unless that poor country hopes to sell its products to a rich country. Which is why it’s up to the US to impose, in addition to a per-tonne carbon fee on domestic fossil fuel producers, a per-tonne tariff on the embodied carbon on imported goods. We better not wait too long, either. The buying power of the US consumer is still globally potent, but that window is closing.

  28. 78
    Al Bundy says:

    Jerome,
    It is completely irrelevant that China is one country instead of twenty. The appropriate metric is ONE person. Per capita, China spews a moderate amount of ghgs.

    Get real.

  29. 79
    Mr. Know It All says:

    57, 58, 60, 61 – Carrie

    Excellent points Thomas!

    :)

  30. 80
    Victor says:

    “Naomi Klein is steadfastly for a price on carbon. Her issue is that it needs to be high enough and equitable enough to do what it needs to do. Thus, she’s against weak broth goop that’s designed so as to enrich the already wealthy.”

    Man, that would take way too long, be far too complicated and invite all sorts of amendments and bureaucratic tampering. Much simpler to nationalize the entire fossil fuel industry and then cut back production by as much as is deemed necessary to save the planet. That would also satisfy Naomi’s hunger for political reform along socialist lines. Funny, but I hunger for the same thing.

    Only I refuse to give up: my natural gas powered heating system, my air conditioner, my gas powered automobile (1995 Geo Prizm, still going strong), my stereo, my computer, and my God given right to stand in line endlessly at airports waiting to have my shoes inspected. Otherwise I’d be fine with trashing the fossil fuel industry — not that it’s needed, but it would be a fascinating challenge.

  31. 81
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Karsten Vedel Johansen,
    I agree that the political duopoly in the US is a big part of the problem. Unfortunately, one wing of that duopoly has utterly left the rails when it comes to maintaining contact with reality. There really isn’t a choice in the electoral system for the reality-based contingent of Americans.

    If we want to restore sanity and break the stranglehold of the two parties on the electoral process, we need to reform the voting system through something like rank preference voting. Unfortunately, this requires the two parties to vote against their own narrow interests, so it would probably have to be done via ballot initiatives. I’m watching Maine.

  32. 82
    Neutron Powered, High Side, Sideways Racer says:

    “In 1997, the US Senate voted unanimously under the Byrd–Hagel Resolution that it was not the sense of the Senate that the United States should be a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol.”

  33. 83
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/400707-epa-admits-pruitt-didnt-rely-on-science-when-making-comment-about

    the EPA released documents early this month that showed that no scientific evidence was given to Pruitt to prepare for his remarks on the show.

    Instead, the agency provided 12 pages of supporting internal EPA emails to PEER that showed how Pruitt prepared for questions on the Waters of the United States rule, the withdrawal of the Obama-era methane rule and EPA’s proposed changes to vehicle emissions standards.

    None of his pre-interview notes provided referenced climate change.

    An EPA lawyer confirmed that no additional records were used by Pruitt.

    “In addition to the above search, EPA presented the twelve pages of material … to the former Administrator before his departure from the Agency and asked him if he was aware of any other agency records that he relied upon ….

    Perhaps it would be interesting to document when the opposition to the science started to appear, on the speculation that those who knew about the problem worked for the industries, knew they needed to watch out for the science to become known, and were prepared to attack it early and often.

    The “junkscience” archive of bunk and rebunking goes way back to early years.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ironically, while solar and wind are interrupted by sunsest and weather, there’s another climate-related problem showing up:

    https://qz.com/1348969/europes-heatwave-is-forcing-nuclear-power-plants-to-shut-down/

  35. 85
    Alan King says:

    To my mind, the most important point of the whole piece was the question of “the solution”. The ozone hole had “a solution”: Dow Chemical discovered that they could substitute new chemicals for old. But burning carbon didn’t (and doesn’t) have a solution. Hence the inertia in the political consensus – and the opening for the trolls to bite back.

    What do I mean by “doesn’t have a solution”? I know folks will argue about this. But really, even if we had a carbon tax it wouldn’t have bent the curve. The billionaires and the governments are investing (why no kudos to Obama who spent most of the stimulus on energy research?) but the science and engineering is difficult and slow.

    The outlook is certainly dire. There are no silver bullets. Some options for action are available to some of us: Get an electric car. Stop your air travel. Eat mostly plants. Give money to folks who are doing the right things. We are in a bad situation, but it is getting better.

  36. 86
    Mike Roddy says:

    The Times article dwells on errors in the 1980’s, and somehow assumes that fossil fuel companies didn’t fight hard to stop change until later. That’s incorrect.

    We are on the precipice. Scientists know this, and it’s less an issue of refining the science than stepping up to fight. If much of US academia and USG agency personnel are intimidated, maybe we should enlist top scientists from overseas to educate Americans, using more direct language. Hamilton, Rahmstorf, and Wadhams come to mind.

    This is a much better summary of our situation than the verbose and largely irrelevant Times piece:

    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/08/07/hothouse-future-humanity-scientists-behind-terrifying-climate-analysis-hope-they-are?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=A%20%27Hothouse%27%20Future%20for%20Humanity%3A%20Scientists%20Behind%20Terrifying%20Climate%20Analysis%20Hope%20They%20Are%20Wrong&utm_campaign=News%20%2526%20Views%20%7C%20%27Hothouse%27%20Future%20for%20Humanity%3A%20Why%20These%20Scientists%20Hope%20Their%20Study%20Is%20Wrong&utm_content=email&utm_source=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-News%20%2526%20Views%20%7C%20%27Hothouse%27%20Future%20for%20Humanity%3A%20Why%20These%20Scientists%20Hope%20Their%20Study%20Is%20Wrong-_-A%20%27Hothouse%27%20Future%20for%20Humanity%3A%20Scientists%20Behind%20Terrifying%20Climate%20Analysis%20Hope%20They%20Are%20Wrong

  37. 87
    Susan Anderson says:

    re Bret Stephens and the NYTimes:

    A lot of people think a public news vehicle should be a closed resource. Stephens is a fine wordsmith who presents as a rational Republican (though I’m not sure rational and Republican go together these days, still …). Also, he’s in “Opinion”. Turning a blind eye to those with whom one disagrees is a mistake.

    Now, on climate, I’ve discovered he’s a fan of Roger Pielke Jr. and Lomborg. The arguments sink (my opinion) but they’re out there. Seriously, let’s all get rich (never mind the billions subsisting on less than $2 per day, the underclass and environmental injustice) and we’ll fix it later? Some technology unknown to humankind will emerge and our clever future will fix it? Not so’s you’d notice.

    OTOH, on climate, sadly, it is reasonable to complain that the NYTimes has been facing an unreasonable situation with too much moderation.

    The goalposts keep moving, but intolerance from the left doesn’t help. We have a huge problem across the board with the credibility and broad circulation offered to even the most extreme ideas (Qanon, for example). These days there’s also a lot more excess and intolerance coming from the left.

    Still, somebody who can present the more civilized side of Republican ideology does belong in a major news outlet, whether we agree with him or not. He’s bought the trickle-up is trickle-down arguments, but still …

  38. 88
    JoeT says:

    Thanks so much Gavin for a very thoughtful answer to my question.

    I wanted to point out something that I found very interesting from the Rich article. He states,

    “In 1974, the C.I.A. issued a classified report on the carbon-dioxide problem. It concluded that climate change had begun around 1960 and had “already caused major economic problems throughout the world.” The future economic and political impacts would be “almost beyond comprehension.” Yet emissions continued to rise ….”

    From William Connolly’s site I found a link to the CIA report:
    http://www.climatemonitor.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/1974.pdf

    Here’s the kicker —- this report has NOTHING to do with carbon dioxide! The word isn’t even mentioned in the entire report. It’s possible that this report isn’t the same as the one that Rich referred to. However, you can find in this report that the climate began changing since 1960, that the impact would be “almost beyond comprehension” and that it has already “caused major economic problems throughout the world”.

    This report is about global COOLING. It talks about crop failures in the Soviet Union and India, a return of the climate to the Little Ice Age, increased snow and ice cover, below normal temperatures for 19 consecutive months in Greenland. In particular it references the work of Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin.

    This is a major fact-checking blunder by the NYT.

    [Response: Agreed. The CIA report was not concerned with CO2 rises. – gavin]

  39. 89
    Al Bundy says:

    Victor,
    On the dust bowl:
    Did you know that the only individual human structures visible from space are common here in Nebraska? They’re called center pivot irrigation systems and their bright green dots are easily seen from space. We’ve got a bazillion of them. Another fun fact is that water is immensely thermally heavy. Another fact is that turning liquid water into vapor takes almost a thousand degrees worth of energy.

    So, we’ve got bazillions of gargantuan systems using fossil fuel to spew fossil water all over Nebraska. So duh, the dust bowl era was worse because nowadays it rains every day in Nebraska.

    That urban heat island effect is puny. Here in Nebraska we’ve got the farm island cooling effect. (But it’s still frigging hot)

  40. 90
    Bill Duncan says:

    Musing on the failure to date to really get to grips with the problem of man made climate change it strikes me that we have a significant part of the solution staring us in the face.

    Birth rates across the world are falling quite precipitously. So much so already in Western nations that politicians have been fretting about a demographic time bomb. But this will come to all nations when you look at the graphs of falling birth rates and their coming projections.

    Politicians and economists fret about this because it challenges our assumptions of growth that we have built our system on. They fret so much that in the west politicians have seen mass immigration as some sort of “cure ” for this. Actually we should be welcoming this and not seeking to replace our falling populations or promote rising birthrates.

    Desperately trying to boost populations by immigration etc is to look at things the wrong way round. Falling birthrates and ultimately falling populations are in fact the thing that may just ultimately save a reasonable human future. With a significant fall in population overall resource and energy usage could perhaps fall even as individual living standards rise and equalise across the world.

    Historically falling populations have almost invariably been due to war, disease or famine and here we have an opportunity to ride the crest ( dip?) of a natural demographic change. We should welcome it.

    The timescales for this transition may of course not entirely fit the urgency of the need for action on ghg cc and the economic adjustment most certainly will be difficult, but down the line on present trends it looks almost certain that around the world we will see below replacement birth rates in the fairly near future. Perhaps the question then is how in the meantime we don’t piss in the pond so much that those smaller generations still have a world fit to inherit.

  41. 91
    Tom Adams says:

    To paraphrase Romney, Republicans are people too. So Emily Atkin is wrong to say that Republicans are exploiting human nature. They must be evidencing human nature.

    The whole thing is framed as “Losing the Earth”. But really, it’s just a consensus of scientist that BAU greenhouse gas emissions are dangerous, and they have been a bit vague about defining “dangerous”. There are effects that are certainly going to happen that are dangerous to some. But not so much to the well-connected wealthy leadership Republican Party or industry. The possible effects that are dangerous to most or all humans are not really part of the scientific consensus, most of the scientists are skeptical about that stuff.

    So, a whole lot of the leadership of the human race think it not really all that dangerous to their progeny.

  42. 92
    TOM DENGLER says:

    WHAT ABOUT THE HANGING CHADS? GORE WAS THE BEST HOPE FOR CLIMATE ACTION.

  43. 93
    Scott E Strough says:

    This is where we all got snookered:

    ‘And the insights about human nature are worth pondering. “We’re a medium-term species,” he said in April. “We plan ahead, but only so far. We’re willing to sacrifice comfort in the present for security in the future, but within reason.”’

    It is everywhere. Questions like how much will this cost? How much discomfort are we willing to endure to ensure happiness for our grandchildren etc etc in a thousand different ways this premise is asked.

    They are all wrong.

    The real question should be how much discomfort and cost are we willing to put up with now to ensure the misery of our later generations?

    Please note that yes I am accusing evil plutocrats of forcing the public to pay extra now to ensure an even worse life later.

    I am accusing the governments of the world in subsidizing those systems that cause AGW while regulating against those systems that mitigate AGW.

    I am accusing those so called “neoliberals” who spend money purposely trying to make sure we don’t adopt more efficient energy and agricultural systems of being liars who actually are nothing more than parasites accepting corporate welfare. Leaches of society, sucking the general public dry. These are not neoliberals, in fact they are much better described as neoluddites begging for handouts so as to make their obsolete technologies profitable just a little longer.

    It’s time that you naive climate scientists wake up to the real world issues and frame them correctly or you have lost the battle before it even started.

    We don’t have to suffer in order to make a better world for our children, rather we need to make the world better for all of us now and in the future!

    Billions and billions of subsides prop up failing fossil fuel and agricultural systems. But that isn’t the worst of it.

    Take Trumps support of coal as an example. There is an economically and socially depressed region for certain, not to mention poor public health. They do in fact need help. But is subsidizing coal a benefit? More black lung, whole towns destroyed, entire mountains removed from the planet, massive pollution problems to water supplies too. Casual links to cancer and birth defects. The list of harm goes way way way beyond global warming. Meanwhile solar provides more well paying jobs than coal, without the health problems or the environmental damages. Wind and hydroelectric has similar benefits. The cost to the consumer for energy is actually less than coal, adds more jobs to boot and doesn’t have the huge environmental cost either. It is cheaper both now and in the future. Provides more jobs both now and the future.

    These are asshole neoluddites, not neoliberals.

    So why are we even pretending we need suffer now to make a better life for our children? We don’t

  44. 94
    Jim Eager says:

    For Mr KIA @ 76, allow me to fix the glaring error in your point 1:

    1 – Those willing to actually do something about AGW and can afford to or have ready access to a non-FF alternative will use something other than FFs to power their transportation to work.

    My point being that not even close to everyone can afford to buy a plug-in electric vehicle, and not even close to everyone has ready access to public mass transit. Most people are stuck with the built-out FF-dependent infrastructure that we have, even if they are concerned about AGW. In short, your “AGW believers should just walk their talk” argument is nothing more than the unadultrated bullshit justification you and your ilk use to feel smug about doing nothing yourself.

    For the record, I have heavily insulated and energy retrofitted the last two houses that I’ve lived in. I haven’t flown anywhere since 1995, and I regularly take electric mass transit and long distance trains. And when they can’t get me to where I need to go I now drive a plug-in EV, after driving a hybrid for 11 years. And it’s powered almost 100% by non-FF electricity because we don’t all live in the ‘efing Ununited States of America where King Coal is great again, thanks to President Shit for Brains.

    And as for the “extreme leftists running the D party,” you, like most Americans, wouldn’t know an extreme leftist if one sat beside you on a cross town bus. Seriously, get an ‘efing clue.

    And for those of you still fighting the lame blame game, there’s more than enough to go around. Exxon and the Kochs are anything but blameless, but they don’t burn the stuff, we, the people who buy it do, so it’s we, the people who burn it who should be paying the price on carbon. It’s the only way we will seek out and pay for alternatives and thus wean ourselves off FFs.

  45. 95
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA @76

    “Each of those millions who claims to “believe” in AGW belongs to one of the following groups:

    1 – Those willing to actually do something about AGW will use something other than FFs to power their transportation to work.

    2 – Those who are less serious about AGW will go via some form of FF powered vehicle.

    3 – Those who don’t give a rats ass about AGW will drive alone in their FF powered vehicle.”

    I work from home (semi retired) so transport is barely an issue with considering for me. I live in a small home and I drive a small car, a honda civic for the shopping. I will buy an electric car in a couple of years. Im well off financially, and could live in a mansion and drive a ferrari if I chose. Its not to my taste and is extravagant, but I do like to be comfortable as well.

    But I would only rate my carbon footprint 6 / 10 at best. It’s a work in progress.

    You need to understand society is set up to favour fossil fuels, and petrol powered cars. Many people can’t afford electric cars, and why would you buy one if the electricity grid is powered by coal? So this can all be changed if governments subsidise electric cars and renewable electricity, and implement some form of carbon levy and dividend to ensure petrol prices reflect the true costs they are imposing on the environment, and are less attractive as an option! This makes making lifestyle changes easier, and more likely to happen.

    “On evolution, who has an outstanding link showing latest, state of the art, actual photos of skeletons or skulls, side-by-side where we can view each step in the evolution of modern man?”

    Try this one:

    http://www.theistic-evolution.com/transitional.html

    Please note these are a wide range of species of early humans from australopithecus through to homo sapiens, and not every species evolved to the next in line, but they mostly did. It gives the general idea. If you find it hard to follow just google early humans or something until you find a photo of a sequence of early humans (homineds) that reconstructs the full body. They morph one into another quite smootly. Honestly its just so obvious.

    Transitional fossil forms have also been found for ancient horses and whales etc, but much of the evolutionary record didn’t survive as fossils because fossils dont form easily. Evolution is utterly compelling and the evidence is overwhelming.

    “Many folks are no doubt so turned off by the extreme leftists running the D party that the just can’t stamp the Donkey on election day. Maybe the party leaders need to pull their heads out?”

    People get turned off by the extreme rightists running the Republican Party and the current White House. This is reflected in the poor approval ratings currently.

  46. 96
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @81. Rank preference voting. I think J Hansen promotes this, but I might be wrong. Its similar to STV (single transferable vote). Makes a lot of sense anyway.

  47. 97
  48. 98
    Nemesis says:

    @Tom Adams, #91

    ” To paraphrase Romney, Republicans are people too. So Emily Atkin is wrong to say that Republicans are exploiting human nature.”

    Not “the” republicans are exploiting human nature, but the rich and powerful exploit the poor and powerless and they exploit the planet. But that game will soon be over, Mother Nature will make an End to it quickly. End of story.

  49. 99
    John Pollack says:

    Joe T. 88 – well, I got kicked as I read your description of the C.I.A. report. I had been a grad student at the Center for Climate Research at Univ. of Wisconsin in the mid 1970s. As I read through the list of global cooling indicators, I thought “that sounds a lot like what Reid Bryson was harping on back then.” Sure enough! Having to deal with his stuff was one of the things that got me to quit grad school and go into forecasting, which turned out to be a good move for me.

  50. 100
    Carrie says:

    72 Dan Miller, I fully understand your point. Your focus on “price” is misguided and false. Fossil fuels were not used at mass scale because they were “cheap” but because they were all there was to use apart from Nuclear energy. Your claim that increasing prices will make a difference is a logical fallacy.

    Oil prices have increased 1000% since the 1960s yet consumption has increased.

    Coal prices have increased 1000% since the 1990s yet consumption has increased.

    Gas prices has increased 1000% (?) since the 1960s yet consumption has increased.

    So what is the basis that increasing the “price” of Fossil Fuels by another 10-20% today will make a difference?

    The devil is in the details and unfortunately you and others have yet to look past your hypothetical big-picture assumptions to what happens at the farm gate, the local cake shop and in all the Office buildings in NYC.

    Your worst assumption is that “consumers” actually have a choice to make between renewable energy and fossil fuel energy when they buy goods and services. Only a few with deep pockets have such choices and they are only on the margins.

    As Kevin Anderson has presented, 50% of all GHG emissions are produced by the wealthiest 10% of people on the planet. A $40/ton of CO2 will make no difference to their purchasing choices and excesses while everyone else in the 90% have to pay more for everything. Industry and Commerce consumes about 60-75% of all energy. They all operate in the same “marketplace” and they still have NO ALTERNATIVE to using fossil fuels in all aspects of their operations. The very small % of people who can save up to install a new residential solar system or a Tesla EV will make no difference to that usage for decades.

    Flip flops will still cost the same at Walmart whether they are imported from China using coal fired power or solar power. US based manufacturers who “chose” to use renewable energy onsite and their sales team who drives Teslas to make flip flops will be charging Premium prices for them. The same as US manufacturers who “choose” to use coal fired electricity and Ford trucks for their deliveries will charge the same Premium prices for Flip Flops.

    The Market determines Prices not costs of manufacturing or delivery.

    F&D is a neoliberal bankers flawed gimmick that will make an insignificant (marginal) difference to the price, consumption and use of fossil fuels.

    Farmers will not receive a penny from the Dividend that would fund their ability to reconfigure their whole of farm operations and lifestyles from fossil fuels to renewables.

    Electricity is a Bastard Child at the power point. Most Consumers do not have a choice of where that electricity supply comes from be it Hydro, Nuke, coal or gas or wind/solar. They do not have a choice in that!

    They will be required to pay the higher prices though, because ALL electricity prices for ALL consumers will increase on the back of a F&D Carbon tax – ~75% paid for by Industry, Business and every Government in the land.

    Please stop ignoring all the details of such a change at the individual business and personal level. Stop assuming people have choices they actually don’t have and will not get to make.