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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #42

Posted on 17 October 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Oct 11, 2020 through Sat, Oct 17, 2020

Editor's Choice


 Field Guide

The presidential election is just weeks away, and climate change has broken through as a defining issue for Americans this year, even amid a historic pandemic and deep economic uncertainty weighing upon the nation.

Two-thirds of Americans say the government isn’t doing enough to reduce the effects of global warming, according to a June survey from the Pew Research Center, and the two presidential candidates’ approaches couldn’t be further apart. President Trump has often dismissed global warming as a hoax; his rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., calls climate change an “emergency” that requires rapidly overhauling the nation’s energy system.

Their differences raise profound questions about the government’s role in shaping the United States economy and America’s place on the world stage. Here’s a guide to major climate questions in the election.

Click here to access the entire article as originally published on The New York Times website. 

A Field Guide to the Election and Climate Change by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Oct 14, 2020

Articles Linked to on Facebook

Sun, Oct 11, 2020

Mon, Oct 12, 2020

Tue, Oct 13, 2020

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

Thu, Oct 15, 2020

Fri, Oct 16, 2020

Sat, Oct 17, 2020

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Studies trying to evelauate the costs of climate change and  putting a price on  carbon,  like Nordhaus's study have been heavily criticised as understating the costs of climate change and the price on carbon. It looks like a very difficult exercise to be definitive about any of this.

    I would look at it the whole thing a different way. What we know is the very worst case scenario includes as much as 6 degrees c of warming this century, and 12 degrees c of warming, by about the year 2200 - 2300, from the IPCC studies, which would obviously be genuinely catastrophic. Only a fool would think otherwise or need to do nit picking studies. The risk of this is probably small, but the consequences are very grave, so this should be considered. Its not worth taking the risk. Its the entire planet we are talking about.

    An immediate plan of infrastructure spending and regulations would stop the worst of this problem eventuating, without strangling the economy and in fact studies show it would create jobs.

    Doing nothing will mean being forced at some future date to suck CO2 out of the air, a technology that would cost a fortune to scale up, if its even possible. Wind and solar power along with other policies prevents the problem and provides a tangible benefit with electricity generation. Throw some nuclear power into the mix if it can become economic and built quickly enough, but right now it has to prove that.

    Doing nothing also has a huge irony. In about 50 - 100 years time we will be running out of economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves. These are absolutely finite reserves. So we will have no option but to consider things like wind and solar power, so this strengthens the case for more immediate action.

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  2. And it would be better to keep remaining fossil fuel reserves for use as petrochemicals. Make them spin out as long as possible and the CO2 they generate can be released at a much slower pace or buried in landfill.

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  3. nigelj,

    I agree with your assessment and would add that a significant part of the problem is that 'Future people' will be the ones to suffer from what 'current day people' do that they can understand, but resist understanding, are causing harmful consequences for 'future people'.

    This harmful misunderstanding, or resistance to learning to be less harmful and be more helpful, is an expected result of the human made-up artificial games of competition for impressions of superiority relative to Others. Those games have boosted the tendency for humans to be selfish rather than helpful, and developed the belief that 'Harm Done is justified by Benefit Obtained or Money Made'.

    An insidious aspect of the current socioeconomic-political environment is that the more harmful someone can get away with acting the more competitive advantage they can have over more caring and considerate people - including people in the general population who do not need to care about the harm done by their purchasing or vote choices or the choices of how they will enjoy their lives.

    Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" is only helpful if the economic-political games are Dominated or Governed by requirements to eliminate harm done, with related constant learning by everyone, especially by people in leadership roles in everything (business, politics, social institutions). Without that Helpful Governing, the "Invisible Hand of Competition" is bound to be Very Harmful.

    The solution requires systemic changes that make consideration of impacts on Others, including future generations, an essential part of the evaluation of acceptability of an activity. And the pursuers of benefit should not be the ones to determine the harm done by their actions.

    People hoping to benefit from an activity can be biased against ensuring that no harm is done. They may even try to claim that what they want to benefit from is acceptable by comparing their perception of the benefit obtained to their perception of harm done and as long as there is a Net-Positive it must be acceptable. They ignore the undeniable understanding that unsustainable harmful activity must be eliminated in order for sustainable improvements to be developed. That type of selfish evaluation insidiously makes it appear as if "Harm Done is justified by the Benefit Obtained by the people benefiting from the harm being done".

    Harmful activity will likely always have a competitive advantage, including the way it can get people to make-up evaluations that justify continuing the unsustainable harmful activity. Those incorrect justifications for actions harmful to future generations include 'discounting the underestimated costs of future impacts' and comparing that 'level of harm done to the future of humanity' to over-stated costs of eliminating the harm being done.

    The measure of acceptability needs to be "No Harm Done". And that understanding is resisted because the current developed ways of living are very unsustainably harmful. That understanding illuminates the reality that the socioeconomic-political systems that have developed need to be significantly changed in order for sustainable improvements to develop.

    Profit and popularity have failed miserably as means of developing sustainable improvements. In fact, games of popularity and profit have made it harder to limit the harm done by human activity. And being able to get away with misleading marketing, especially in politics, is the major impediment to humanity developing a sustainable improving future.

    As a final note I would add that fossil fuels should be kept in reserve for a real future emergency, like keeping people warm after something like a tragic asteroid impact, or using a little bump of CO2 to get through a future period of significant reduced solar energy input.

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