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Forced responses: May 2019

Filed under: — group @ 2 May 2019

A bimonthly open thread on climate solutions and policies. If you want to discuss climate science, please use the Unforced Variations thread instead.

360 Responses to “Forced responses: May 2019”

  1. 351
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @348 (continued)

    “It (China) did not abandon socialism; it is still (by far!) a socialist nation; the government owns practically everything; etc. etc. (full explanation would require many words).”

    There’s simply a lot of obvious capitalism in the mix! Half of China’s industry is privately owned half is state owned enterprises. I think an accurate definition is to say China has a unique combination of capitalism and socialism. Yes the government owns the land, but the tenants lease that land, and have pretty much got full private sector rights.

    I actually like the way China combines elements of capitalism and socialism, but I would do it a bit differently with some of the details.

    “One day I can convince myself that Deng-ism was a wrong turn and they should have stayed with Mao-style peasant- and rural-oriented development along more-strict socialist lines. Other days I can convince myself of the opposite. If they had gone the slower Mao way, their development would be much more green (lower carbon etc.), but at the price of more poverty for longer and many untimely deaths on account of poorer/slower development. The faster Deng way has lifted the whole population up more quickly but at the price of big environmental stresses, and other costs. So you tell me, Nigel, or anyone: which is better?”

    Yes tough question, and I’ve wondered that one myself. I have no enthusiasm for dictators and forced collectivisation, but there is an argument from some people that China was so diverse and economically backwards it needed a strong man like Mao to unite the country, and force economic expansion through a socialist collectivisation. And socialism does suit mass public education which China needed in the early years.

    By analogy western colonialism decimated indiginous peoples, so was colonialism even justified? But it expanded economies and had a positive side. I think its hard to evaluate in hindsight. Whats done is done, (as you say) and I think all we can do is look to the future and be more sensitive to remaining indiginous peoples, and choose our economics to deal best with current challenges and be more environmentally sensitive.

    “Their (China’s) Confucian ethics, communist ideals, environmental commitments, and non-geopolitical win-win approach to investment and development across the continent bode very well for the planet and its inhabitants….. Their developmental work in Africa is highly admirable and in stark contrast to the West’s still extractive colonial mindset and geopolitical dominance orientation. A continuation of Western influence in Africa would see ongoing misery and retardation, thwarted development, out of control fertility and unmanageable population, etc.”

    Well hmmm. I wonder if you have rose tinted glasses on. Both America and China look fairly self serving to me at times. Hard to say who is worse, but I certainly don’t see China as some sort of evil empire, and Trump’s trade wars and war mongering in general is just insanity.

  2. 352
    nigelj says:

    Alan2102 @348

    “Their (Chinas) developmental work in Africa is highly admirable and in stark contrast to the West’s still extractive colonial mindset and geopolitical dominance orientation.”

    Yes look just in more detail, I think China’s investment helps overall, but it’s not done for free. China is looking to get these countries financially indebted to them and build sources of food and raw materials and to generally build some influence and self respect.

    The western worlds colonial imperialist mindset does also have a dark side by also creating debt slaves and manipulating countries for the benefit of the corporate sector. I’m not going to go into more detail. If only ALL countries had better ethical principles in their foreign policies.

    However top marks for China’s efforts with electric vehicles, solar panels etcetera.

  3. 353
    Mr. Know It All says:

    In a comment above, one person praised Mao.

    Just by accident, I ran across this video describing a period of life under Mao. It ain’t good.

    Scroll over to 10:16 to start the Mao section, which lasts for about 3 minutes. BPL got it right.

  4. 354
    alan2102 says:

    #350 nigelj 29 Jun 2019 at 8:44 PM

    “the rate of gdp growth in the early Soviet Union and China was amazing, but as I said earlier this STAGNATES and produces poor quality consumer goods. IMHO this is why China transitioned in the 1980s to having a bit more private sector in the mix.”

    Except that China was not stagnating at the time of Mao’s death. It was growing rapidly. Just not rapid enough in the view of Deng et al. Also, the FSU was not stagnating at the time of Stalin’s death. The stagnation came much later. It is amazing that they did NOT stagnate, given the titanic costs of WWII.

    “China has maintained quite high economic growth in recent decades, probably my guess by its unique combination of capitalism and socialism, huge markets hungry for progress, combined with the leader having absolute power and being a benevolent dictator, and really well educated. Its not a bad system, but god help them if a monster was to somehow gain the leadership.”

    Fortunately, they have a very good system for vetting leaders. They are all highly-literate (including science and engineering literacy), highly-intelligent, non-psychopathic technocrats. In stark contrast to the U.S. God help humanity in the face of a system which could install Donald Trump in the presidency! And in the face of a system in which one major party (currently in power!) is over-run with climate denialists, and in which both parties are over-run with warmongers and other crackpots. China, however imperfect, is a model of sanity, by comparison.

    “I simply don’t believe its a question of one system or the other being appropriate at different stages of development. It might have been in the past”

    Yes, and that’s the greater part of the evidence that it will likely be so in the future. Humanity, and civilization, are on a trajectory of development in which what was appropriate at one time is no longer appropriate today, or tomorrow.

    Methinks you (nigel) have drunk too much of the kapitalist kool-aid. I don’t blame you. It tastes nice and sweet and fruity. But too much over time will mess up your metabolism. You’re in the company of many millions of others. However, now the damn is starting to break. We’re hearing far more critique of capitalism today than we’ve heard in many decades, and it bodes well. Humanity is waking up and preparing to leave behind the successful, to a point, but now outmoded and failing, systems of the past. Even “End of History” Francis Fukuyama, fervent supporter of liberal democracy and social democracy of Scandinavian (and other) type, has been proved wrong and even admitted as much:

    “I also don’t think that us going back to collectively owned farms as in Mao’s China are likely to produce good environmental outcomes.”

    Who are you talking to? Did I suggest that the developed world go to Mao-style peasant-oriented collective farming?

    Nevertheless, our whole system must be moved toward collectivism and away from the acquisitive individualistic excesses that have brought us so close to environmental ruin. This can be expressed in many ways, not necessarily involving collective ownership of farms.

    And: the Mao era without question had better environmental outcomes than the Deng era, but that was because the very rapid industrial development and modernization of the Deng era necessarily caused terrible environmental problems. There’s no way around this; or rather, at that time (with the technology of that time) there was no way around it; past tense. Today, with vastly improved technologies, energy sources (renewables), materials and so on, it IS possible to rapidly develop with minimal environmental cost. That’s what I foresee, and hope for, for Africa, and India, and other poorly-developed places (Mideast, South and Central America).

  5. 355
    alan2102 says:

    #321 Scott E Strough 25 Jun 2019 at 8:58 PM

    “Economics are a human construct. They really don’t have anything to do with whether we can balance the carbon cycle or not.”

    They don’t have anything to do with whether we CAN balance the carbon cycle or not. They have to do with whether we WILL do so. Unless externalities are built-in to prices, and/or other methods are used to turn capitalism upside-down and incentivize sanity, then it is not going to happen. Native, unchecked capitalism cannot balance the carbon cycle or do anything but pursue a blind, profit-obsessed ecocidal course — which is not-so-incidentally a course that meanwhile intensifies inequality and general destroys societies. Powerful servant, fearsome master.

    The tide of opinion is turning. Perhaps too late. We’ll see.

    Taking Crisis Seriously: Capitalism on Its Way Out
    Wolfgang Streeck
    Stato e mercato, 2014, issue 1, 45-68
    Abstract: Advanced capitalism has been in a critical condition since the 1970s, but this was not taken seriously enough by the reformist Left. Looking back at the successive crises of inflation, public debt and financialization, and pointing to the related long-term trends of declining growth, rising inequality and growing overall indebtedness, it is suggested that now, finally, capitalism is beyond repair. Among other things, there is no political capacity in a global economy to protect the three “fictitious commodities” – labor, nature and money – from all-out commodification and, ultimately, destruction. Moreover, five disorders of contemporary capitalism are reviewed for which no remedy is in sight: stagnation, oligarchic redistribution, the plundering of the public domain, corruption, and international anarchy.
    full text here:
    May 2, 2019
    George Monbiot: “it’s very clear now: Capitalism is broken. It is like a gun pointed at the heart of the planet. And it’s got these characteristics which mean that it will essentially, necessarily destroy our life support systems. Among those characteristics are the drive for perpetual economic growth on a finite planet. You just can’t support that ecologically. Things fall apart.”
    Neoliberalism Drives Climate Breakdown, Not Human Nature
    Posted on August 8, 2018 by Yves Smith
    May 30, 2019
    Let’s Be Clear, Says Mexico Environment Minister, ‘Parasitic and Predatory Neoliberalism’ to Blame for Climate Crisis
    “Human beings are not responsible for global warming,” said Secretary Víctor Manuel Toledo Manzur, but elite capitalists and industry powerbrokers are.
    At 100, James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory Still Faces Challenges
    “With High Capitalism, ecosystems are handled like throw away Dixie Cups. As a result, a gigantic crack is starting to appear in Earth’s crust, running from pole to pole as it comes apart at the seams. Infinite growth is the greatest illusion of all time, that, nevertheless and unfortunately “turns on” Wall Street and political leaders around the world. But, that formula for “growth to the sky, to infinity,” is not working very well for Gaia, which has already reversed course downwards towards surefire darkness and chaos. Which means that something has to change before all hell breaks lose.”
    Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism’s Imminent Demise
    By Nafeez Ahmed Aug 27 2018
    “Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources.
    Climate change and species extinctions are accelerating even as societies are experiencing rising inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, rising debt levels, and impotent governments. Contrary to the way policymakers usually think about these problems, the new report says that these are not really separate crises at all.
    Rather, these crises are part of the same fundamental transition to a new era characterized by inefficient fossil fuel production and the escalating costs of climate change. Conventional capitalist economic thinking can no longer explain, predict, or solve the workings of the global economy in this new age, the paper says.”
    Full paper:

  6. 356
    Nemesis says:

    @zebra, #324

    ” FMC requires strong government regulation. That’s why the right-wing propaganda machine created a double-speak version of it that means the same as LFC. And people like Nemesis love that because they can be morally indignant/superior all the time about everything, without putting in the work to know what the words mean.”

    Nah, I don’t feel “superior” for a second like these wealthy and powerful folks do, I just feel like someone who got nothing to lose, I feel like a complete nobody, no wealth -> no power -> no responsibility for the big shit going on, so I take care of my little Karma, I don’t drive a car, I don’t fly, I eat vegan, I stay away from consumerism and funny money hoarding like hell, the less I need, the more I am free, yes, that’s what I truely feel like, I feel FREE 8)

  7. 357
    Nemesis says:

    James Hansen 30 years (sorry, Greta Thunberg et al) after his dire warning in front of the US congress, enjoy:

    ” James Hansen, Ph.D. – The Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity – Offstage”

  8. 358
    Al Bundy says:


    It’s interesting that you adamantly limit yourself to considering only ancient, inefficient, and corrupt economic systems when considering the future.


  9. 359
    Al Bundy says:

    Mr KIA,

    Yep, China is run by greedy assholes. Yep, the USA is run by even greedier and more evil assholes. The point is that communism doesn’t work and capitalism doesn’t work because both systems are designed to promote assholiness.

    So why do ALL of you say that no options except communism and capitalism can possibly be considered?

    Are you all as stupid as you appear? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am “that smart”.

  10. 360
    Al Bundy says:

    I’d like the physics of my engine analyzed. Would you like to help save the biosphere?