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Latest Posts


2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

Posted on 29 September 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100

Ranch Fire Brea CA 08-01-18 

Firefighters from Brea, Calif., inspect and cut fireline on Aug. 1, 2018, as the Ranch Fire burns near Upper Lake, Calif. A day earlier, it and the River Fire totaled more than 74,000 acres. (Stuart W. Palley/For The Washington Post) 

Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.

A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 by Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis & Chri Mooney, Health & Science, Washington Post, Sep 28, 2018 

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Sep 23, 2018

Mon Sep 24, 2018

Tue Sep 25, 2018 

Wed Sep 26, 2018 

Thu Sep 27, 2018 

Fri Sep 28, 2018

Sat Sep 29, 2018

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Comments 1 to 32:

  1. So Mr Trump, is climate change a hoax or is it leading to 7 degrees of warming? The mixed messages are astounding. It seems at best that one arm of America's government does not know what another arm is saying, or perhaps they do and its something similar to Orwells book 1984's and his ministry of double speak. Either way America is becoming a huge global pain in the neck.

    "The world would have to make deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming, the analysis states. And that “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

    Have these people not observed electric cars, wind farms, studies showing negative emissions technology works etcetera ? What alternative universe do they live in?

    By not economically feasible they appear to mean it will "cost us more" but this ignores the costs of climate change on future generations, and studies show some extra money spent now will have substantial savings long term. Plenty of studies show that wind and solar power is alreadly cost competitive with traditional generation anyway ( refer to the  Lazard analysis) and the costs of electric cars are looking attractive, so the governments transport study looks like its "gone off the rails".

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  2. What is happening in the USA is one of the most powerful case-study examples of the downward spiral of unacceptable results that can develop when less deserving people Win competitions for popularity and profitability.

    Undeserved perceptions of prosperity and of superiority relative to others have developed because of the incorrect belief that competition for perceptions of superiority relative to others will naturally develop good results and deserving winners. The truth is that without all members of a society pursuing improved awareness and understanding with the objective of helping to sustainably improve the future for everyone, not harming any others (including and especially not harming future generations), the behaviour of the people who will not responsibly helpfully self-govern their development and behaviour need to be governed by responsible helpful collective government.

    Many Americans may indicate that they support action on climate change. But they have other 'more important to them' interests and desires that are understandably contrary to the achievement of one or more of Sustainable Development Goals which include the Paris Agreement (and those desires were also contrary to the achievement of one or more of the Millennium Development Goals which included the Kyoto Accord). They will support the Group that promises to deliver their most important personal desires, even if that group will oppose the Climate Action they indicate that they want (because that group is led by the collective of wealthy and powerful people who are opposed to one or more of the corrections required to achieve a sustainable better future for humanity).

    What has been happening around the world can be understood to be undeserved winning by harmful people in nations at all levels of development, including (and likely to a more damaging degree) in the supposedly most advanced nations.

    For many decades, Leaders (Business and Political) around the world have understood the future consequences of the lack of actions to rapidly correct unsustainable and harmful developments and directions of development based on the constantly improving awareness and understanding of what is really going on. They fight to maintain the status-quo, or get back to the good old days when they had more freedom to get away with personally benefiting from less acceptable behaviour.

    The problem that needs to be corrected is the ability of the understandably more harmful pursuers of Winning to be more profitable and more popular than their competition. Getting away with unsustainable or more harmful actions will make delivering what people desire cheaper, make it easier to 'give people what they want' (note that it costs wealthy people very little to support socially harmful actions in order to get less tolerant people to support their greedy desires, hence the Uniting of greedy people with less tolerant people on the Right of the political spectrum).

    People can easily be tempted to prefer and excuse cheaper quicker easier ways to get something they have been encouraged to develop a desire for. And people can be easily tempted to desire things that they would 'personally enjoy or be more comfortable with' but do not 'need'. And those people will seek ways to ignore and excuse any understanding of the unacceptability of what they desire.

    People can tragically be easily tempted to fight for harmful and unsustainable perceptions of personal benefit, perceptions of superiority relative to others. That includes fighting for beliefs about their superiority relative to other life rather than properly understanding that Darwin's observation of Survival of the Fittest means that humans only have a future by acting in ways that Fit sustainably into a robust diversity of other life on this or any other amazing planet.

    The behaviour of leaders and the examples they set needs to be understood to be very powerful. Any political or business leader who claims that leaders only 'do what the people want' and should be rewarded if they do that, is probably also actively participating in developing unacceptable desires and popular support for unsustainable and harmful actions. They understand that they can be bigger winners if they can get away with being secretive and misleading through deliberate appeals to the primal selfishness of people in the general population. They can get people to desire things by triggering attitudes like greed and intolerance. They can develop powerful desires for actions that impede efforts the development of a sustainable improving future for humanity.

    Those types of pursuers of winning are the real problem. Helping to improve the awareness and understanding of the general population and helping achieve the corrections of what has developed so that humanity will have an improving sustainable future is contrary to their short-term selfish interest.

    The UN has been working on improving awareness and understanding of the required corrections of development since its inception (created after the failure of the League of Nations to achieve that objective). And those unacceptable pursuers of personal benefit have been fighting against those United Global Efforts any way they can get away with (with less success than they had fighting against the League of Nations pursuit of the objective - but still massively harmfully successfully at fighting against being effectively corrected).

    The reality is that the supposedly more developed nations have developed many seriously incorrect perceptions of prosperity and opportunity, and have seriously incorrect and unsustainable perceptions of superiority relative to others (because they have developed the unsustainable and harmful desires to be perceived to be superior relative to others).

    Political leaders in the USA, and all other nations, need to tell their population that many among them have developed unsustainable and damaging delusions as a result of the tragically flawed results of competitions for popularity and profitability in socioeconomic-political systems that increase, rather than reduce, the development of unsustainable and harmful beliefs and desires (desires and beliefs that are contrary to the constantly improving awareness and understanding of what is really going on and the corrections required for humanity to have a sustainable and improving future).

    What politician or business leader is going to 'succeed more and be more rewarded' if they tell the general population that many of the wealthiest and most powerful among them do not deserve their developed perceptions of wealth and power? Those undeserving wealthy powerful people are United globally to collectively fight to defend their undeserved perceptions of superiority relative to others. And they are masters of tempting the general population to be greedier and less tolerant, tempting them to like the less deserving among the winners and dislike the more deserving among the winners.

    The world 'needs' smaller government everywhere, which can only happen by developing populations that 'need' smaller government to develop sustainable improvements of human activity. Smaller government does not develop the type of population that can sustainably develop with smaller government oversight of the development. Increasing the proportion of the population that self-governs responsibly is required before government oversight and correction of development can be reduced.

    The winners/leaders need to be the examples of the self-governing behaviour that the rest of the population should aspire to. Effective means of correcting the unsustainable and harmful behaviour of winners/leaders is what is required. The politics of popularity and profitability can develop damaging inertia in a population that makes it more difficult to correct understandably incorrect developments. It is highly unlikely that incorrectly developed activities will be corrected without first correcting the incorrect understandings of what is really going on and the unacceptability and unsustainability of developed perceptions of prosperity and superiority.

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  3. It makes one sputter with frustration. Humanity has achieved so very much with our technology with a beginning understanding of the true deep roots of biology, our electronics, ability to talk with anyone anywhere in the world, our understanding of physics and on and on. And these venal, stupid, self serving politicians are going to wreck it all for a handful of silver and a feeling of power. Any reasonably bright year 12 student could tell them exactly what we have to be doing to avoid this catastrophe and they refuse to listen. The key to the whole sorry mess is the old adage WHO PAYS THE PIPER CALLS THE TUNE. As long as vested interests finance our politicians, the politicians will do their bidding and we will pay the price. We think we are getting some sort of a bargain by having someone else finance election campaigns instead of the money coming from our taxes but the cost to us is orders of magnitude larger than if we footed the bill. Only if we finance politicians will there be any chance of making headway on the many solutions we must put in place to survive as a society and perhaps as a species on into the future.

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  4. A wholly expected scientific outcome If a participant in a discussion identifies you as the opposite party, then they fail to learn anything from you. Looks to me like a "Republicans for Climate Action" site could be a more effective communication tool in the US site than politically neutral sites like this where all too many commentators identify as liberals and demonize the right.

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  5. scaddenp: Your wish has already been filled. Check out

    The About Us page of its website states

    We are 5981 Americans educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change.

    Members of republicEn are conservatives, libertarians, and pragmatists of diverse political opinion. We stand together because we believe in American free enterprise. We believe that with a true level playing field, free enterprise can deliver the innovation to solve climate change. But America's climate policy needs to change. Change requires that conservative leaders step-up and lead.

    Climate change is real and we believe it's our duty and our opportunity to reduce the risks. But to make a difference, we have to fight climate change with free enterprise instead of ineffective subsidies and regulations.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link

  6. Excellent - I did look but didnt find anything. Depressingly small at moment, but I seriously hope they grow like hell. Their viewpoint is what I was trying to find when I wrote "GHG emission mitigation solutions - a challenge for the Right?"

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  7. John Hartz  posts "Climate change is real and we believe it's our duty and our opportunity to reduce the risks. But to make a difference, we have to fight climate change with free enterprise instead of ineffective subsidies and regulations."

    The writer would need to elaborate, but one assumes he would be referring to the efforts of people like Elon Musk, and the general power of competition to drive innovation, all laudable things. But sadly not everyone acts in these ways.

    The "ineffective subsidies and regulation" can be fairly interpreteed to mean either no regulation, or no regulation that I dont like. But it would be good if people acted responsibly without the need for regulations imposed by governments as the writer, and OPOF alluded to,  but such a world may be implausible because of the  well known and fascinating social dilemmas discussed in this article.   At the very least we might need a carbon tax in some form.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Point of clarification: I did not write the quotes you have attributed to me. What you are quoting is from the About US statement posted on the RepublicEn website. I reposted that statement in my comment #5.

  8. Scaddenp says "Looks to me like a "Republicans for Climate Action" site could be a more effective communication tool in the US site than politically neutral sites like this where all too many commentators identify as liberals and demonize the right."

    Scaddenp gives some of us a bit of a telling off and fair enough it makes sense to avoid adding to the tribalism by discussing ones own politics and talking too much about left and right, although I think regular contributors here are pretty restrained compared to my experience of other websites.

    The article was actually political, so its very hard to not make a political response of some form, although clearly we should avoid demonising other tribes of people, or engage in extended cynical and mocking rants ( tempting though I find this ha ha).

    But I think Jacinda Adern handles Trump and related matters rather well by focussing on her beliefs and agenda, rather than personally attacking Trump or his agenda. Scaddenp would appreciate this. John Key did much the same to his credit.

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  9. Well I am absolutely no angel either here but my son did his masters on this sort of stuff and it was a bit of wake up call. Tamino, who is somewhat abrasive at best of times has also tried to tone it down. Locally in NZ, protesters screaming "dirty dairying" arent going to win over any farmers whereas people and groups etc willing to work beside farmers are being effective. Assuming people with different views are selfish morons is not a good way to make progress.

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  10. nigelj,

    Getting a carbon tax implemented and reasonably rapidly increasing it will almost certainly require the type of correction I am taking about, the type of correction you indicate is unlikely to sustainably develop, but can and must sustainably be developed.

    The Social Dilemma claim may be an excuse for a 'lack of interest in interacting rationally based on the objective of developing a better collective result'.

    The Prisoner's Dilemma only exposes the way people can behave when there is no back-and-forth interaction based on reasoning to develop the best common action plan (and the reality is that both participants know that they deserve to be penalized - I get back to this point later regarding how some people are Uniting).

    The Social Dilemma discussion presents similar cases, where a person is able to avoid or evade others becoming aware of the reality of their behaviour (aspects of the behaviour of those Uniting greedier and less tolerant people).

    And the Tragedy of the Commons is the ability to do something that others should be concerned about stopping, but lack an awareness and lack the ability to identify and act against the appropriate sub-set of the population to stop the unacceptable actions.

    They all involve a lack of ability to be, or interest in being, helpful to developing a sustainable better future for humanity. They involve limited awareness or limited understanding of what is going on. And their prevalence in a population can be understood to be the result of the socioeconomic-political system (games and refereeing) that they develop in.

    The problem is the system. And a sustainable solution will not be developed without effectively addressing and correcting the error in the system.

    Carbon Taxes in Canada appear to be hit-and-miss. They depend on what political party wins power. And the evidence appears to be that leadership that implements them reduces their chances of staying in power (one possible exception is BC, but future incremental increases of carbon taxes in BC may lead to a loss of the leadership that does that).

    Those opposed to a carbon tax willingly join the United greedier and intolerant who collectively oppose climate action as well as opposing the other corrections that the understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals point out are required for humanity to have a future.

    The Uniting of the greedier and less tolerant is an interesting phenomenon. It is a common sense development, meaning that it is understandable how people with a diversity of selfish interests can be expected to realize the importance of Uniting to support each other's understandably unacceptable interests. It indicates that selfish people can act collectively, which would appear to be a contradiction of the claims made about human nature based on the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Social Dilemma. And the collective actions of those selfish people can powerfully limit efforts to correct cases of Tragedy of the Commons.

    What is tragic is the failure of those who have been tempted to join the United greedy and less tolerant to realize the unacceptability of what they support (which includes their personal motive for joining that group). And one of the potentially most tragic results is the devolution of a society past a tipping point, away from responsible governing of actions in the society as more people are tempted to join a United group of greedier and less tolerant people (money in politics is not a problem, money in the wrong hands is the problem, and the more invisible those wrong hands are the worse the result).

    The pursuers of smaller government can often be seen to join those types of groups, or believe they are staying in a responsible rational Conservative group. But they fail to realize that government actions can only be reduced when responsible self-governing has been effectively and sustainably increased in the society. They fail to realize that supporting the United collective of greedier and less tolerant people makes it harder to reduce the requirement for Responsible Government (government of the people by the people for the people encouraging better behaviour and refereeing and acting to effectively penalize less acceptable behaviour that is unjustifiably trying to win, or has actually gotten away with unjustified winning).

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  11. This recent BBC article, "IPCC: Climate scientists consider 'life changing' report", further exposes the unacceptability of the developments in nations like the USA, Australia and Saudi Arabia (and Canada is not mentioned, but its leadership efforts to expand the rate of export of oil sands bitumen mean it should have been named along with the others, along with Russia).

    The article also explains the process of writing the IPCC reports. That process includes government-minders pushing for the wording to be the least opposed to the their interests, with scientists trying to ensure that the weakened wording is still reasonably consistent with the science.

    That pressure by political self-interest to compromise the scientific understanding of the public interest is most powerful from many of the supposedly most advanced nations. And it is likely due to the reality of how undeserving the winners of the games played actually are, how many wealthier and more powerful people do not really deserve their developed perceptions of superiority relative to others.

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  12. @scaddenp #4: This website,, has a completely different mission and audience than does the RepublicEn website. 

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  13. An article this week describes how the effects of climate change will be felt disproportionately by the poor of the world.  There is some truth in this but if you are living in a tin shack or a bamboo, thatched hut, it is not all that hard to upstakes and move upslope or out of the flood plain.  Granted, there may already be someone there that is not too happy with you intruding on his space.  Look, however at a rich Florida retiree who, before he retired lived up north and contributed to climate change.  He has his life savings tied up in his very ellegant brick and mortar house right on the beach.  What does he do when the insurance companies, who know what is coming, refused to renew his flood insurance and he finds his lounge is more often than not a swimming pool.  Even if the insurance companies did renew his insurance, the cost of the completel flooding of coastal city after coastal city will simply be too much for them.  After all, the premiums people paid went to give obscene bonuses to their top brass, not to invest in stocks that would preserve and grow their reserves.  They will falter and default. The higher you are the harder you fall.

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  14. OPOF @11, I came across this article a few days ago about politicians trying to weaken statements in the summary for policy makers in the recent IPCC report. It gives some specifics on what they wanted changed and left out. Its of course extremely concerning that they would even attempt to do this. 

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  15. William @13, what you say is true and people need to be aware of this. It could wipe out your lifes savings. However I think by climate change falling disproportionately on the poor I think they meant that  poor people in asia will be hit very hard and it will be a question of survival in many cases, especially in low lying countries, while the home owner in florida who loses his house will never starve (strong economy, social security etc) 

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  16. John, I agree about different mission but if you have someone with a Republican identity coming here to look at the science and then discovers the masses of GOP bashing and demonizing of the Right, then that paper suggests they are unlikely to even read the articles in a way that might educate them. By contrast, visiting a denier site, that while full of garbage, reassures the reader by being full of liberal-bashing. When someone is evaluating conflicting statements without the means (say a college physics degree) to accurately analyze them, then it comes down to what sources do you trust. Sources friendly to your tribal identity win every time.

    What intrigued me, was that RepublicEn not only sort the same aim, but also promoted a solution (Fee and dividend) which I think is most popular in the science community. What is different is the way it is being sold. They appeal directly to right wing sensibilities.

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  17. Hi guys.  Found this on the Guardian today.  By Grog, who has a good grasp of data and numbers.  Political, but worth a read in the context of where Australian emmisions policy is........or isn't.  :(

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  18. Ahh...sorry, should maybe have read the posting policy better.  :(

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] The comment threads to both the Weekly News Roundups and the Weekly News Digests are considered to be "open" threads. The Op-ed that you posted a link to is acceptable as long as everyone knows that it is an op-ed. In fact, I will likely post a link to the op-ed you flagged on the SkS FB page in the near future.

  19. Scaddenp @16 you dont like people criticising those on the right (or left), because it alienates them, and I agree there is a risk of this.However the article above actually criticises Republicans as does the latest article on the social cost of carbon, in a restrained sort of way. Its therefore not surprising that people follow this lead. The articles also simply pretty much just state whats happening.

    Should such articles not even be written simply because it might upset some people? Wouldn't that be precious or artificial somehow?

    However I dont think strident or nasty political rants are helpful. It needs a certain sensitivity and some restraint.

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  20. Many people appear to evade and avoid improving their awareness and understanding, especially avoiding understanding that the primary objective of living as a human is to help others, particularly to help (not harm) the development of a sustainable better future for all of humanity.

    People wanting to hide from the challenge of improved awareness and understanding of climate science (because of the corrcetions of what has developed that are required), can be expected to seek places where they will hear comforting claims like 'things will be better if everyone is freer from being restricted by government', a claim that side-steps the reality that less 'government of the people by the people for the people' actions/restrictions can only produce decent results if more of the people, particularly more of the wealthier people, are self-governing responsibly to help develop a sustainable better future for everyone.

    And many of those who seek that type of limited awareness do not suffer from cognitive dissonance. They are consistently selfish in their seemingly dissonant claims about wanting to help others yet trying to defend unhelpful/harmful actions. They can be understood to like to claim that they support some aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (because they understand how appealing a claim about wanting to be helpful can be), while resisting the understanding that all of the Sustainable Development Goals need to be achieved, and climate action is a key Goal (the less climate impact created and the more that the more fortunate help the less fortunate, the easier it is to achieve almost all of the other goals).

    The people who isolate themselves in such ways probably like to excuse their behaviour as natural human actions based on the Prisoner's Dilemma (how humans who deserve penalty can be expected to act if they have no opportunity to interact and collectively rationalize what they are doing). And their behaviour can be understood to be attempts to get away with committing Social Dilemma style unacceptable actions (hoping to get away with understandably unacceptable behaviour - but liking to claim that the Social Dilemma only applies to examples of less fortunate people unacceptably trying to get away with something). And they probably sense that their actions are contributing to a massive Tragedy of the Commons, but changing their mind based on that sense of awareness would be inconsistent with their developed selfish interests - better for them to evade and avoid improving that awareness and understanding - better for them to evade and avoid having to rationally justify what they prefer to believe.

    Bottom line: I do not agree with compromising improved awareness and understanding just to 'get along with' someone who is trying to evade or avoid the challenge of improving their awareness and understanding. But I accept that some hard to justify beliefs are benign or may even be helpful. As an example: I support efforts to help people who want smaller government to understand that the required first step is getting everyone to self-govern more helpfully, reducing the need for external governance to limit or correct what is going on. Another example: The result of a person having a spiritual belief can range from helpful through harmful. Almost all religions encourage their members to try to be helpful to all others and be accepting of diversity. Yet many religious people choose to restrict how they will help, who they will help, and what limit of diversity they will accept (desiring an excuse for their otherwise unacceptable interests any way they can get away with). Some of them have even become so unhelpful in their selfish pursuits that they have created the absurd excuse that their religion teaches them that Their God has created This Planet in a way that humans cannot harm - their ultimate refutation of any aspect of climate science (or environmental science) that is inconsistent with their selfish interests.

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  21. OPOF - firstly I think you are seriously mischaracterizing the opposition and imputing motives that are no more important to right-wingers than left. I think you should try having some respectful conversations with right-wingers to see what I mean.

    Secondly, I think your tub-thumping (for want of better word) is hopelessly ineffective, alienating and at best preaching to the choir. At worst you are alienating even people that agree with your beliefs. That is what the research shows. Do you actually want people to change how they behave or are you just content to feel self-rightous and rant at them? Everything you say might be true, but it is no help if the person you are trying to talk to switches off without reading/hearing it.

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  22. nigelj - I dont think there is anything wrong with criticism/critique (quite the reverse) but I think there are good and bad ways to do it. Critique of policy is vital, normal/expected. How much notice someone takes of criticism however depends on who is making criticism. In USA, I would guess that Dems and GOP pretty much ignore anything said by the other party. Criticism by non-partisan experts is another thing altogether. If you immediately show your colours with some value-based statement, then the criticism will be ignored by the other colour. Probably wont read past that identifier even. I think you have to focus on the detail from a strictly non-partisan perspective, avoid value-based judgements and respect all moral foundations.

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  23. scaddenp,

    I will present my comment at 20 in a different way.

    I am currently reading "The Enigma of Reason" by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. I am only a short way into the book but have come across their reference to Daniel Kahneman's "Three Cognitive Systems". The three are Perception, Intuition and Reasoning.

    People who are avoiding improving their awareness and understanding can be understood to have developed Perceptions about what is to their benefit, that they Intuitively defend (intuition is that gut feel about something), and they will avoid or evade having to develop and present good substantiated reason for what they intuitively prefer to believe regarding their perceptions. This behaviour is strongly related to selfishness, and will not be very strongly related to altruism.

    The overarching good reason, what all good reasons would be a sub-set of, is helping others - particularly helping to develop a sustainable better future for all of humanity, and certainly not wanting to harm the future of humanity in any way. Let me know if that is what you refer to as my Tub-thumping. And if so, I am open to hearing a presentation of a more rational overarching purpose for a human. btw, I have no interest in compromising that awareness and understanding for anything less than the good reasons I understand are the basis for that being the overarching good reason basis for determining the acceptability of human actions, just as climate scientists should not be interested in compromising their awareness and reasoned understanding to accommodate the perceptions, intuitions and preferences of people who have self-interests that would have to be corrected if they accepted the awareness and reasoned understanding of climate science and its implications regarding the future of humanity.

    I appreciate that that may disappoint some people. But anyone who is that determined to not improve their awareness and understanding about how they can be helpful rather than harmful is sort of a lost cause, in need of external monitoring and governance until they change their mind.

    Looking at it the other way, all evidence indicates that compromising the understanding of what needs to be corrected has not worked out well for the future of humanity. And I know, that reality is a Reasoning Challenge for some people who would prefer to maintain their Intuitive preferences for favourable personal Perceptions. But playing along with harmful delusions is not really helpful, even if it gets people to Like you.

    Good Leadership is hard work, especially when Harmful Leadership can easily be more popular.

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  24. OPOF - I havent read the works you mention but I am happy to concede them true in every particular. What I am getting at is effectively the difference between science and science communication, or more generally, truth and apprehension of truth. You cant convince people of the value of your "good reason" if you present in a way that guaranteed to stop them listening to you.

    Carrying on about the planet being destroyed by people with selfish, shallow motives is tub-thumping. Selfishness and altruism are essential parts of our makeup. I struggle to think of anyone I have met who didnt think they were essentially "good" and with altruist impulses even when I see them as mostly grasping and self-serving.

    There is some doubt as whether we can even discover our motives - humans are first class at post-hoc rationalization. Have a quick look at Moral Foundation Theory and note the heavy experimental backing. Telling people to think differently will not work.

    You dont have to compromise your beliefs to respect the beliefs and world view of other when you are talking to them. If you dont show that respect, then they will not listen. You might feek good and justified but you wont change a thing. Which is actually important to you?

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  25. Scaddenp @22,

    I agree its not a good idea for people to identify their own political leanings on websites, because it creates an us and them mentailty and immediate distrust and hostility to the other sides views. I have no disagreement with the research you quote because it just doesn't surprise me in the least.

    I believe I have mentioned my own political leanings once or twice on this website, but it is really because of the nature of an article, and in a discussion one on one with OPOF I think (from memory) but as a general rule I dont self identify my leanings on websites.

    In fact one reason I like this website is its moderated, so you don't get the pointless political points scoring competitions on other media websites of the nature where pages and pages are devoted to "you stupid lying liberal / conservative / fill in with whatever group you want." Man it gets boring fast.

    Having said that, immediately one even politely criticises for example the GOP you are tending to hold up a flag saying you are probably a liberal, or conservatives will jump to the conclusion that you are. However I suppose theres nothing that can be done about that, other than minimise the possibility by trying to make fair minded, rational and make objective criticisms. Humour always helps diffuse tribalism.

    It's interesting because theres certainly an opposing point of view that says just the opposte that people should speak their minds and both self identify, and be harshly and rudely critical - play Trump at his own game. However Im sceptical of this. While a certain level of harshness is often appropriate, I dont like vicious personal attacks, and theres an old saying "dont get down in the mud and wrestle with a pig because the pig might like it".

    But I go along with what OPOF has said that sometimes points have to be made, even if they upset some people or you are not liked as a result. Imho there has to be a forum for open discussion on tough political issues as they relate to the climate issue, provided its polite and I see nothing rude by anyone on this page. It's important to analyse group dynamics and peoples motives whether selfish or altruistic and discuss such things. I hear what you say that putting a value jusgement on it creates a problem and alienates people. Making people feel guilty doesn't always work, yet some things just seem wrong and ultimately I feel they have to be pointed out.

    Its a sad truth that right now the GOP is being obstructive on policies that would make a difference on climate change - although this is not a personal criticism because some research I have seen suggests Republicans make as many efforts at reducing their carbon footprints in their personal lives as democrats. But they oppose the science and mitigation at federal level in many cases and more than the Democrats. This is anobservable fact, the very stuff of science so it would be anti scientific to ignore it. Its also an observable fact that some people are greedy and some aren't - for good or bad.

    But anyway I'm sure you would see my point.

    I don't like tribalism by the way. It may be part of the "human condition" but it's destructive, and I have never strongly identified with groups and I go my own way. It should not be encouraged or it will lead to civil war.

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  26. nigelj, we signal our political colours in many ways. Sadly i think published in Washington Post (or CNN) is enough of a red flag for GOP. (I think - I am not that up on US media). Criticising a person rather the policy is always a flag, especially a president - seems worse in US because a president has so more power than normal democracies. I dont think you would have much trouble thinking of clues you would use to identify someone political leanings. [ and on strictly NZ note - can you guess where Geoff Robinson's vote went? (miss him badly). A great example of strong questioning without any sign of bias ]

    Tribalism is ingrained in us but right wingers value loyalty and respect for authority much more than left wingers. (see Haidt for example fig 3).

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  27. scaddenp,

    The claims made and actions taken by people regarding climate science, including what type of political leadership they will vote for, are 'what they are'. Raising awareness and improving understanding regarding those behaviours, particularly focusing on the acceptability of the behaviours, is not 'polarizing'.

    My commenting here is motivated by the evidence of the behaviour of people and the claims they make regarding climate science and the related corrections of developed human activity and fundamental beliefs regarding the acceptability of human activities.

    The information on this site improves my awareness and understanding. And the feedback I get here helps me develop a more robust improved awareness and understanding.

    Every human has the ability to altruistically examine reasons and use the result to change their mind about intuitive preferences they may have developed. The developed socioeconomic-political environment they are in can be understood to significantly influence how they develop their thinking.

    The 'polarization' of political opinion can be understood to be largely due to a portion of the population choosing not to engage in, being able to avoid or evade, altruistically evaluating their intuitive desires and beliefs and correcting their opinions accordingly. That can happen on the left or the right. But the history of behaviour regarding climate science leaves little doubt which side is most resistant to altruistically improving their awareness and understanding of the corrections of developed human behaviour that are required to have a sustainable improving future for humanity.

    I believe it is important to improve the awareness and understanding of the ability of everyone's modern human mind to make altruistic helpful larger worldview reasoning govern over primitive intuitive limited worldview self-interested temptations (How to be helpful, or at least not be harmful). I understand how much easier it is to appeal to Intuitive selfish perceptions that can be harmful or unhelpful.

    My professional engineering career was based on constantly improving my awareness and understanding to be more helpful and less harmful, and never allowing popularity or profitability considerations to compromise the minimum standard of acceptability and encourage the achievement of higher than minimum levels of safety (risk of harm) and reduction of harm. (a related point: making it harder or more expensive to benefit from burning fossil fuels changes how people live or profit which 'disappoints' some people but does not 'harm' anyone. The less fortunate people still need assistance from the more fortunate. And assistance to poorer people that is contingent on more fortunate people getting away with burning more fossil fuel cheaper is not a sustainable way of helping the less fortunate.)

    A major point made in “The Enigma of Reason” is that arguing (reason based discussion regarding an issue) is how we learn, because it requires reasoning to justify/confirm an Intuitive belief.

    The evidence of behaviour regarding climate science indicates that many people will not engage in an argument/discussion to improve their awareness and understanding if they sense that they will likely be proven to have to change their mind, correct their Intuition based beliefs. To help the future of humanity it will almost certainly be necessary to externally govern and limit the freedom of those people until they learn to change their minds. A related example of resistance to behaving responsibly is the undeniable need to correct the thinking of people who Intuitively believe that their ability to be a safe driver is not compromised by driving faster, drinking alcohol, smoking pot, texting or similar compromises of their best effort to focus on helpfully driving responsibly safely. Those people need to be 'made to change their mind' to reduce the harm or risk of harm to others. And they may even need to have their permission to drive removed until they learn to correct their understanding and behave according to that improved corrected understanding.

    I admit that pushing for everyone to be helpful can be 'too much for some people to take'. And being helpful is an aspiration not a minimum requirement. So the limit on acceptability is really the 'minimum' requirement regarding behaviour that 'no one should personally benefit from or enjoy an action that harms others or creates a risk of harm to others'. That is the fundamental ethical and moral basis for Professional Engineering (and medical professionals). It is also the basis for the creation and enforcement of laws. Any laws created that are contrary to that understanding (like the undoing of EPA restrictions related to fossil fuel activity) can be understood to be incorrect legal actions (the rule of law often requires correction, especially when popularity and profitability have been able to influence the making-up, or enforcement of the law).

    The pursuers of benefit from burning fossil fuels have a long history of resisting limits on the harm done by their pursuits. The USA did not implement reduced sulphur content in diesel in step with the European improvements, and that lack of corrective action was popular. The technology to do it was not the issue. The issue was the relative competitive advantage of not doing it. Economic politics compromised the implementation of a technically viable reduction of harm from activity in the USA, and it was popular. (a related point is that the Europeans have resisted implementing recent stricter requirements to reduce NOx from diesels, including major car makers deliberately cheating the testing of their vehicles because they wanted to give the buyers the higher power and performance that can be achieved by not reducing the NOx, while appearing to be behaving better).

    Applying the above stated minimum measure of acceptability to the human activities related to climate science awareness and understanding means that the burning of fossil fuels is simply unacceptable because it causes harmful consequences for others, particularly for future generations, no matter how regionally and temporarily popular or profitable other beliefs may be. And there are many other harmful consequences of the activity. It is also an activity that cannot be continued by future generations. The non-renewable resource gets more difficult to obtain benefit from. Even if it was simply a matter of the unsustainable consumption of a non-renewable it could be argued that it was harmful to future generations because it reduces the amount of resources, or makes it harder to access remaining resources they may be able to develop a sustainable benefit from (or use in a real emergency like an impending ice age that can have its impacts reduced by the deliberate burning of fossil fuels to create a helpful CO2 blanket).

    Sticking with the minimum requirement to not harm others, the aspiration to limit the accumulated human impacts to 1.5C can be understood to already be a compromise of the minimum acceptable principle. And 2.0C impact is an even larger compromise of that understood minimum evaluation of acceptability.

    Without an alignment of understanding regarding the minimum measure of acceptability, and the related understanding of the aspiration of the activity of all humans (to help develop a sustainable better future for a robust diversity of humanity), there is no way to discuss or debate or argue about the required actions. The people who do not accept the undeniable understanding of the measure of minimum acceptability of human actions will not understand why their unacceptable proposals are not being allowed to compromise the minimum threshold of acceptability.

    I have tried to stick to the facts in the political portion of this comment. What is undeniable that altruism will align with acceptance of the minimum requirement of acceptable human behaviour and pursue the aspiration of helpfulness, and selfishness will do the opposite. And the evidence of which political groups most strongly resist improving awareness and understanding of the undeniable minimum and aspiration regarding acceptable human actions is becoming harder to deny because of the behaviours exhibited related to climate science. The facts of the matter show that people perceived to be on the Right are typically very wrong regarding climate science and the required corrections of what has developed. The required corrections include correcting undeniably unsustainable beliefs about what is acceptable.

    Changing minds is hard work, especially when others can get away with misleading appeals to selfish interests. It is not helped by 'compromising improved awareness and understanding' with the preferred beliefs that some people have developed an unjustifiable liking for, no matter how popular or profitable such unjustifiable beliefs have become.

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  28. "The 'polarization' of political opinion can be understood to be largely due to a portion of the population choosing not to engage in, being able to avoid or evade, altruistically evaluating their intuitive desires and beliefs and correcting their opinions accordingly."

    I strongly disagree - this is just demonizing the opposition and completely at odds with published literature on causes of political polarization.  Even a cursory glance at the literature will supply better models.

    Altruism is alive and well in Trump-supporting, climate-denying citizens often to degrees much higher than in liberal climate-change action supporters. I do not think your model has empirical support whereas better models (eg MFT) do.

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  29. And a further thought, how effective do think lecturing someone on their lack of altruism is going to be when in fact climate denial is rooted in identity ("that is what my tribe believes") and authority ("the authorities I trust says its a hoax")?

    I value crusading for climate change and have no doubt about your intellectual grunt in advocating for the planet. I do however think you are operating from misconceptions about motivations and which is limiting your ability to communicate effectively.

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  30. scaddenp @28, yes Geoff Robinson was commendably neutral, another recent example might be Patrick Gower. 

    I think whats happened in America is climate change has been identified as a left wing thing, possibly due to Al Gores book and so has become rather tribal.

    But it also looks like conservatives in business are particularly sceptical so lets explore this. I think MFT is pretty convincing but only part of the story. I've read plenty of articles in reputable magazines that conservatives and liberals are born that way and have different characteristics that go beyond MFT although the evidence suggests characteristics are not rigidly fixed either. Conservatives are more sceptical of change and big government (because it represents change in some ways?) and this is unfortunate because it's hard to effectively resolve the climate problem without some government input.

    The climate problem is basically a consumption problem, and tragedy of the commons problem. I would contend to solve this on the basis of individual initiative alone would be far too slow, if it would work at all, hence the need for things like carbon tax and dividend, or regulations etcetera, yet these are an anathema to conservatives who prefer private sector initiatives. But they are simply wrong on this one, and I guess the thing is to convince them without telling them they are wrong as such or demonising them or playing the blame game That has been my position.

    A lot of this comes back to Democrats. They are not perfect and need to own the climate issue more, and this will propel Republicans to make a response, a point argued some time back.

    It's a complicated beast of an issue with a lot of things going on. Government can help change behaviour and build electricity grids but they can't make individuals completely change their behaviour in democratic societies. The issue is in all of our hands.

    A few people in power like the Koch Brothers have far too much influence and are just plain destructive and self centred, lets call it for what it is, but its important not to demonise all wealthy people or conservative wealthy people. Many are the complete opposite. And even if their influence was removed it would not completely resolve the climate issue.

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  31. scaddenp and nigelj,

    Your feedback has led me to more thinking/reasoning.

    I understand the importance of helping to change the minds of others to be more altruistic, particularly within political groups. SkS develops and presents improving awareness and understanding that helps change/correct minds.

    My interest is ethics related to achieving and improving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the Climate Action goals. The more rapidly and dramatically climate goals are achieved, the easier it is to achieve the other goals.

    I follow SkS and comment, appreciating the feedback, to improve my awareness and understanding of ethics related to climate science and share what I learn as I develop it.

    The basics of Altruism

    Altruism is 'Self-sacrifice for the benefit of others'. It is the opposite of Selfishness. Governing or limiting behaviour that way is Ethical.

    Altruism is a governing principle that everyone can accept including: religious, agnostic or atheist; and all socioeconomic and political types. It's benefits/necessity to developing a better future for humanity has been recognized for as long as there have been records of what people in societies were thinking.

    Altruism can be understood to be constantly challenged. There are many cases of the harmful consequences of anti-altruistic interests temporarily regionally winning power.

    A climate science test of altruism, that the Right-wing and Conservative leadership have failed

    There is a clear altruistic response to the awareness of the production of harmful consequences by burning fossil fuels without rapidly fully neutralizing the resulting impacts -> The burning of fossil fuels is unacceptable regardless of its perceived benefits, popularity or profitability.

    What has developed is altruistically unacceptable and needs to be corrected. Increasing that awareness has generated a divisive polarized response by some people.

    Harm is done to future generations by a 1.5 C warming, no matter how beneficial the burning is today. I have not seen compelling proof that 1.5 C warming, and all the other impacts from burning up that much fossil fuels, will create any sustainable improvement for the future of humanity.

    Warming beyond 1.5 C may be very likely to occur, not because it is acceptable, but because there are errors in the socioeconomic-political systems that have developed a serious lack of altruism, a lack of ethics, particularly among winners/leaders and authority figures.

    Regarding Conservatives and Right-wingers potentially accepting the idea of a Carbon fee and rebate program

    Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, and other Conservative and Right-wing leadership in Canada have recently shown what a Conservative response to putting a price on Carbon should be expected to be (see this CBC article).

    Conservative or right-wing groups around the world can be expected to behave in similar ways. They share their strategies and talking points. They are shifting from the now failing, but temporarily regionally successful, claims that climate science was incorrect or a conspiracy.

    Confronted with a price on CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels they call it a tax (and they have primed people to believe that all tax is evil). And the article includes information regarding other anti-altruistic actions of the current developed Conservative Right-wing in Canada. They are anti-altruistic about much more than climate science.

    Conservative and Right-wing groups have devolved away from altruism in a polarizing socially divisive way. They have become collectives of anti-altruistically self-interested people supporting each other's unacceptable interests. And they hope to continue to get the support from people who are reluctant to change their mind about what group they vote for. Their actions related to climate science are just the tip of the anti-altruism icebergs that these groups have been developing into.

    I admire people who try to change the climate science related opinions of people who still support Conservative or Right-wing groups that have deliberately devolved away from altruism. But they have to find the people who are willing to becoming more altruistic, people willing to Leave the New Conservative United Right.

    Regarding claims that people cannot change how they think, cannot become more altruistic because it is not their nature

    How a person responds 'in the context of a specific emergency' is likely to be their natural intuitive response to that type of situation. In an emergency people could react in a range from: 'trying to help others at significant personal risk of harm' through 'helping but at low personal risk' and 'ignoring what is happening' to 'running away or trying to hide'.
    However, 'responses to the improving awareness and understanding of climate science' are not responses in emergencies. There is time to learn more and consider how to respond.

    In non-emergency situations people have the time to govern their thoughts and actions altruistically. And they should do that whenever there is the potential for harm to be done, as climate science has proven to be the case regarding fossil fuels.

    People can learn to be more altruistic. Emergency responders learn to be more altruistic in emergency situations than they would have instinctively behaved. They also learn to keep themselves and others safe while putting themselves at risk to help others. Surgeons also learn to think about what they are doing when they respond to an emergency during surgery.

    All humans have a brain that can learn to be more altruistic. They can learn to be willing to make a personal sacrifice rather than allow what they do to be ruled by their impulses or intuitive desires.

    The actions of leaders and authorities of Right-wing and Conservative groups show that they have developed away from altruistically governing their thoughts and actions, particularly, but not limited to, them having little concern for future generations of humanity. Their anti-altruism is on full display in their response to climate science and the undeniable altruistic requirement to stop the harm being done to future generations of humanity by the unsustainable pursuits of personal benefit from the extraction and burning up of non-renewable ancient buried hydrocarbons.

    More about Altruism

    Everyone can easily claim they are being helpful or are pursuing freedom. As a minimum they are helping themselves be freer to do what they want. They can also claim to be helping others like them. It is more difficult to provide justification that what is being pursued is altruistic.

    Selfishness readily accepts and defends gut-instinct first-impressions.

    Altruism constrains freedom and beliefs. It requires justification based on specific criteria. Identifying examples of helpfulness is not the same as 'being governed by altruism', especially if the helpfulness is not evaluated from the perspective of the future of humanity.

    The evidence continues to grow. The future of humanity requires altruism to govern over selfishness, regardless of temporary regional perceptions of superiority developed by anti-altruistic people winning.

    It is tragic that anti-altruistic people can still win wealth and power in the nations that have developed to be the most harmful or helpful to the future of humanity, nations that are supposedly the most advanced.

    As the understanding of the importance of altruism has increased (including, but not only, the string of developments that have led to the Sustainable Development Goals), political groups have evolved in pursuit of winning. Some become more altruistic. Others continued to excuse unjustifiable personal economic interests and tried to improve their chances of winning by appealing for support from other groups who were also on the wrong side of what is required for humanity to have a future.

    The anti-altruists have developed collectives of altruism resistant minds. The SkS developed and promoted efforts to inoculate people against misleading marketing related to climate science will likely not change those minds. And compromising what is altruistically required in an attempt to 'get along with those type of people' is not helpful. Those type of people will need to be externally governed altruistically until they learn to change their mind, for the benefit of the future of humanity.

    A final summary point regarding political polarization

    Presentation of evidence and related improved understanding (like the new IPCC report) that is contrary to the interests of a politically identifiable group (the new IPCC report is clearly critical of the results of political parties that have tried to delay climate action), is not being political or being divisive. However, the responses of such groups to being confronted with such evidence and improved understanding can be seen to be socially divisive and politically polarizing. Unjustifiable resistance to changing their minds leads to differences of opinion that are unlikely to be resolved though reasoned discussion, because the groups do not share the objective of being altruistic. One group will have to govern/over-rule the interests of the other group. For humanity to have a future Altruism has to govern

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  32. I found it very interesting that in the most recent IPCC report scientists are warning that if strong action is not taken immediately there will be catastrophic results.  As I recall, only 5 years ago "skeptics" would use the term CAGW to deride scientists and Skeptical Science.  Scientists then would say they were not warning of catastrophie, only future problems.  In such a short time the prognosis has gotten much worse.

    We have to do all we can now to limit the damage as much as possible.

    Vote climate.

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