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Climate Adam reacts to Bill Nye: "The planet's on f@*&ing fire!"

Posted on 20 May 2019 by Guest Author

On Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Bill Nye went on a sweary tirade about climate change. But does shouting at the audience about global warming make anyone more likely to do anything about it?

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Comments 1 to 38:

  1. The Bill Nye video clip is being taken out of context. Its context is the John Oliver segment that it was 'a Part of'.

    The question should be if the full context, the complete John Oliver segment including the Bill Nye bit, is helpful when viewed from start to finish.

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  2. BTW, I think the 20 minute John Oliver presentation on the Green New Deal and Carbon Pricing, including the other two Bill Nye video clips that set up this Grande Finale video clip that spectacularly wrapped up the entire segment, was and is brilliantly effective at presenting a proper understanding of the issue, including an understanding of how absurd the people resisting correction are.

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  3. Simple Question:  Why are sand deserts so hot during the day and so cold at night?  Again, simple question, but I have yet to find a Climate Scientist who correctly knows the answer.  And NO, it has nothing to do with lack of moisture or any greenhouse effect.  Can anyone help me out?

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] And hopefully you are citing peer-reviewed literature in support of your answer.


    "And NO, it has nothing to do with lack of moisture or any greenhouse effect."

    Why not?  

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  5. nigelj

    The general consensus of most Climate Scientists seems to be just that, everyone in the business is so focussed on the theoretical science of global warming that they have ignored the basics of actual physical science.  The greatest desert on earth, the Sahara, is also the greatest natural “RADIATOR “ on earth.  Sand has over 30% porosity and almost limitless permeability as well as a massive grain surface area thousands of times more than just the area of the desert.  The conductive transfer of heat from the sun by the sand to the air is huge and convection provides the circulation.  The reverse happens at night, with convection stealing the heat from the sand very quicklY because of the sand’s surface area and conduction.  

    The implications of desert radiators on global climates is undoubtedly significant yet I have not found a single climate scientist that truly understands the basic properties of sand and it’s effect on global temperatures.  Anyway, food for thought.

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  6. Moderator

    Sorry, no peer-reviewed literature, just an old retired Geologist with an understanding of sand porosity and permeability and the basics of heat conduction from increased surface areas (radiators) and convection.  Want to cool a desert, seal the surface and prevent circulation.

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  7. This sounds somewhat handwavy without doing the maths. The ability of any surface to radiate is highly dependent on the radiative properties of the atmoshere above it. ie, no matter what the porosity, the thickness of the thermal blanket on top governs rate of temperature loss.

    What would be your intuition on how deep into the sand that a diurnal temperature change would persist? A quick look seems to suggest that it is quite shallow compared to a moist temperate soil - air being a poor conductor of heat compared to water

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    What part of the Climate Adam video prompted you to ask the question?

    More generally: What does the question have to do with improving the understanding of the potential harmful effects on the future of humanity produced by unsustainable activity like the rapid burning of buried ancient hydrocarbons (which also produces many other harmful consequences)?

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  9. Also, what would be your expectation for day/night variation of temperature on a solid rock outcrop compared to neighbouring dune? What is your expectation for nighttime temperature over a desert when cloud cover moves over it compared to clear sky?

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    What Scaddenp says. I would say the main reasons deserts are cold at night is the greenhouse effect from all I have read and it makes sense, and I would accept sand is going to amplify the cooling a bit, but given the extent of the sand is not changing much over time, I'm mystified what implications do you think it has for climate change?

    This is not to diminish the value of geology to the climate issue. I came close to doing a degree in geology.

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  11. Scaddenp

    When I am talking about a radiator, I am talking about a conductive heat transfer device that uses an increased surface area to transfer heat to the air like a common house heater or furnace Or even a car radiator.   In the case of a desert, the sand is the solid medium with the increased surface area that goes below the surface because of the porosity of the sand.  The sun heats the sand grains and because of the huge surface area of the grains of sand, the transfer of heat to the air within the sand is significantly higher than a solid surface with no porosity.  That’s how a radiator works, the air within the sand is super heated as convection pulls the air out of the sand.  At night, when all heating of the sand stops with the setting of the sun the movement of the air through the sand cools it very very quickly, and very little residual heat is left into the night.  In the case of a solid surface, the cooling is much slower and heat is radiated out over a longer period into the night.  A large rock outcrop In the middle of a desert would absorb a lot more heat than the surrounding sand and give off some of that heat into the night.  The sand cannot retain the same amount of heat because of the rapid cooling by the air within the sand.

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  12. nigelj

    As a sedimentary geologist, our entire field of study is centred around past climate change and changing depositional environments.  The changes are recorded by varying sedimentary rock types both transitionally and abruptly.  I don’t think there is a geologist on the planet that believes all these past changes were caused by changing greenhouse gas levels but that is our privilege.  The fact that some Climatologists believe that ALL past climate change events were caused by greenhouse gases scares the hell out of me.  My original question that came with a simple logical basic explanation that excluded greenhouse effects just confirmed to me just how narrow a focus your industry is taking, there are NO valid explanations that don’t include greenhouse gases.

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  13. RBFOLLETT @11 and 12

    Yes I can accept sand is like a radiator so will cool more than solid rock, but the air percolation is probably not going to go down very far. You would really have to calculate it.

    By climate change I was referring to the current situation. Should have been clearer. However sand absorbs heat energy and releases the same heat energy. I'm not seeing a link to past climate change unless vast areas of the world were changed to deserts.

    Climatologists don't believe all past climate change is caused by greenhouse gases. Some is caused by solar changes, but these tend to also cause a CO2 feedback. I mean it "is what it is" unless you can prove the science wrong. Why the resistance to thinking CO2 is such a big factor?

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  14. Getting back to the subject of the article. Humour is known to release tension and help unite people. I think it would therefore have a positive effect in climate terms, although the F word might annoy some people.

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  15. Nope, radiative heat loss from earth surface is much larger conductive or convective heat loss. This is simple measurement. I gave you a couple of examples where you could test your theory versus mainline physics.

    If you want to test a theory against data, then can I suggest the Desert Rock archive? Not only does it have basic met dat like humidity, temp, wind speed etc, but it has also got instruments measuring incoming and outgoing radiation in various parts of the spectra.

    "Climatologists believe that ALL past climate change events were caused by greenhouse gases scares the hell out of me. "

    That is a ridiculous claim with no basis at all. A simple read of just the Paleoclimate chapter of any the IPCC WG1 reports would contradict that. You could summarise climate change theory as being that climate (30 year meteorological averages) changes in response to NET forcings. The principal source of forcings are change in solar input (or distribution); change in albedo; or change atmospheric composition. These are not independent variables. I strongly suggest you acquaint yourself with the science by at least looking at an IPCC WG1 report.

    PS, also a geologist/geophysicist. I look after a model for thermal evolution of sedimatary basins and the consequent oil/gas generation. Actually mostly past tense - my country has more or less ended petroleum exploration and as from June I am reassigned.

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    l'm not a climate scientist or a geologist, but I do have a pretty good understanding of heat transfer.  I'd say the reason deserts are hot in the daytime and cold at night is primarily because of the low moisture in the sand and the air, and the greenhouse effect has nothing to do with it.  Low moisture means the specific heat is low, so a given amount of energy causes a relatively higher temperature change.  There's also no evaporation, which would otherwise absorb a lot of energy with no temperature change.  At night, the lack of moisture in the air means that heat is radiated into the upper atmosphere where it's much cooler - thus higher heat transfer rates and lower surface temperatures.

    I don't think there's any significant movement of air through the sand except when the wind is blowing sand around.

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  17. "Why are sand deserts so hot during the day and so cold at night?"

    Just as a rain forest creates a local 'low pressure' above its abundant moisture, a sand desert creates a local 'high pressure' above its abundant lack of moisture.  This local high drives moisture away, no clouds: the air above the sand desert is transparent to both visible and infrared radiation, so it both heats up faster under sunlight, and cools down faster under starlight.

    I understand this is what you said, but it is fascinating.  Not sure its relevance to this article, however.

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  18. I'm an engineer.  But before I got my masters in ME, I was accepted into a PhD program in Atmospheric Science.  Eventually, I asked to study climatology.  This was around 1981.  My professor was studying the 'heat island effect'.  I told him I wanted to study the 'desertification effect': the effect you asked about, which is why I answered you.  I was pretty sure this was the cause of desert behaviors, but I actually left Atmospheric Science after a few months and went back into Engineering, so never completed that course of study.

    I find it very strange, all these years later, to hear people like you claim that climate science is the study of global warming and nothing else.  In 1981, my professor was not studying global warming.  He asked me what I wanted to study, and I told him the desertification effect, and not global warming either.  There was a simple reason neither of us mentioned global warming as a course of study: in 1981, it wasn't going to happen.  Right?  Fresh from solving acid rain, and just then taking on the ozone hole, neither of us saw any future in which a democracy wedded to science would ignore global warming.  And therefore, it wasn't going to happen.  And therefore, why would anyone study it?

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  19. nigelj @14,

    The F language actually is 'fitting' in the context it is presented in.

    If you watch the entire 20 minute:

    • near the beginning John Oliver asks Bill Nye to explain the complexity of a Carbon Tax. The brief video starts with Bill Nye donning his safety glasses then turning to a flip chart that essentially says: Making something ore expensive - discourages people from buying it. Done.
    • John is dissappointed and asks if Bill Nye could present something more detailed that includes one of Bill Nye's showy-entertaining science in action bits.
    • Bill returns with a longer segment discussing the harm being done and the benefits of correcting human activity...followed by popping Mentos into a big bottle of Cola to get the gushing gyser.
    • John is childishly delighted then carries on with the rest of the 20 minute well investigated and presented segment concluding with a final request that is oblidged by Bill Nye's frustated over-the-top 'F laced' final clip.

    Taking the final clip out of context is the problem. And that should be the response to anyone questioing the video clip - Did you watch the entire John Oliver segment? Or did you just see what you wanted in the criticism of this video clip and not bother to understand that the bit was taken out of context?

    The same argument applies to any presentation of understanding. It is possible to take any part of any presentation out of its context and turn it into an effective criticism that will appeal to easily impressed people. That is the power of the science of misleading marketing.

    What is interesting is that many points made in the 20 minute John Oliver segment are about the way that the people resisting the improvement and correction of understanding of what is going on abuse 'Bits' out of context.

    So a presentation about the abuse of 'bits' out of context is being criticized by abusing a 'bit' out of context.

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  20. Kubler-Ross‘s model of grief has as its first two steps denial then anger. Bill is obviously past denial and is now in at least anger. We should be so lucky that the rest of the sleepless public gets to where Bill is.

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  21. I think it makes little difference whether Bill Nye had tried a reasonable tactic, one with less colorful language and less angry or the one he used on this program.  I think most people have pretty much gone to their corners on this issue.  Those of use who already understand and trust the scientific method will find it amusing and those that deny the science will simply dig in deeper and use echo chamber terms to ridicule Bill Nye and John Oliver.  The issue of AGW is a slow enough moving train wreck that little can be done to convince anyone either on the fence or dug in on their denial.  So, this is simply comedy and that is how I see it.  Unfortunately the issue at hand is far less comedic and cannot be resolved at the 11th hour as so many things in our society seemed to be pushed to that extent.  

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  22. Regarding the side-show discussion about 'Desert things':

    An additional point is that water vapour is a powerful GHG. And as has been noted, deserts have less moisture (less water vapour GHG) in the atmospheric blanket above them. That lower amount of GHG above deserts may be a more significant factor influencing how quickly a desert cools at night than air circulation among the grains of sand.

    But the consideration of GHGs has already been 'robustly dismissed and discredited' by RBFOLLETT as narrow-minded thinking - So I must be mistaken.

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  23. Ikaika @21,

    Have you watched the entire 20 minute John Oliver segment? Like other John Oliver presentations it is a very well researched and detailed presentation of the actual facts of the matter, with some comedy scattered in to try to lighten the mood.

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  24. cpske @20,

    Watch the entire 20 minute John Oliver segment, then share your perception. BTW, in that segment you will see how desperately in despair those opposing the improving understanding of 'climate science and the required corrections of what humans do' are.

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  25. cpske @20,

    My understanding from the entire John Oliver segment is that in the final clip Bill Nye is putting on an act of frustration with 'adults' who want to be 'entertained' rather than pay attention and actually become better educated.

    Everyone becoming frustrated by adults 'wanting to be entertained rather than educated' could be helpful, but may not be what your comment intended to hope people would become.

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  26. One Planet Only Forever @23

    You missed my point.  These videos or comedy/news segments are meaningless to those already dug into their position.  I found you can provide all the research data and evidence necessary for your argument. Those in denial will simply revert to their talking points and dig in deeper to in their corner.  BTW, I watched the entire segment.  Th

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  27. I think when it comes to AGW, it is best to try a educate the young and realize just as Max Planck understood:

    ”A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

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  28. Rbfollett:

    I am not a geologist.

    Scaddenp asked several simple questions in post 9.  You have not answered them.  I have vised many deserts that were rock or gravel with little sand.  Your speculation does not describe the effects there.  

    It appears to me that you are just an old crank who likes trying to Poe us.  If you are serious you must answer Scaddenp's questions.  I suggest Rbfollett's posts be blocked until he answers the questions that test his wild suggestions.  His claim that he alone knows the correct answer does not ring true.

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  29. Ikaika @26,

    Agreed that any presentation is meaningless to a fundamentally made-up mind. And the already well informed are already well informed.

    The issue, as Climate Adam mentions, is how to get the attention of people who are not in either of those categories.

    My suggestion related to this clip is to point out that what people are seeing is likely taken out of context. Hopefully that will get them to watch the entire John Oliver segment which could improve their understanding.

    And regarding the Planck quote: Adults are not 'lost causes'. They just have more incorrectly developed preferences to over-come.

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  30. RBFOLLETT misses the obvious because he has convinced himself that he has caught out the climate scientists.

    While he is correct about sand being such a very effective radiator*, and he is also correct that conduction and convection transport heat up into the atmosphere, he misses the fact that conduction and convection can not transport heat to space. Only radiation can do that, be it directly by the hot sand or by the air that has been heated by the sand. (*The word “radiator” is a rather obvious clue here.)

    What he misses is that conduction and convection also dry out the sand and the air above the desert, and since water vapour accounts for around 85% of the natural greenhouse effect, much of the sand’s heat is radiated directly to space instead of being absorbed by H2O on the way out. Same for the heat carried aloft by convection since the natural greenhouse effect is so greatly reduced above a sand desert.

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  31. Ikaika 

    You are right many people have become very fixed minded over the climate issue. Basically some people are excessively worried the science could lead to so called big government and taxes, so they attack the science. It's also become politically tribal to take certain positions.

    However like OPOF there is a more open minded group in the middle, and as you say there are young people.

    And people are not quite so rigid as you might think. Facts on climate change can change at least some peoples minds, as long as we dont attack their world view in the process. Read the followingarticle.

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  32. Just to put some numbers around it. If you could imagine at situation (eg a katabatic wind?) where you could get a temp diff of say 10C between surface and say a few meters above in atmosphere, then you could get maybe 2-3W/m2 of conductive heatflow. (Fourier law). In practise conductive heat loss is much lower.

    By comparison, radiative heat flow from the surface at desert night time temps would be 300-400W/m2 (Stephan-Boltzmann equation). That is what is measured too at sites like Desert Rock so easily verified.

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  33. niglej @31,

    The future of humanity undeniably has to matter most. I am open to considering arguments explaining why it doesn't. But I have spent enough time considering and debating this point to be fairly confident it is correct (though unpopular), and therefore unlikely to be successfully argued against (though many will try).

    A strong supporting point is that "Nobody Has to do something that is harmful to the future of humanity - because if Having to do something harmful was True then the future would Have to be worse." That does not fully end an argument about climate science and the required corrections of developed human activity. But it can establish a Helpful framing for the discussion.

    On matters that matter to the future of humanity, such as climate science and the related improved understanding of the required corrections of developed human activity, incorrectly developed worldviews must be 'challenged to be corrected'. The actions of every person Add Up.

    In many cases, on many issues, people cannot be allowed to believe whatever they want and do whatever they please (contrary to harmful popular opinions and the harmfully profitable pursuits those opinions can encourage and excuse). And as the BBC item you pointed Ikaika to presents, most people will 'get over being corrected' even though they will initially 'kick up a fuss'.

    However, the BBC item “The best way to win an argument” that is referred to in the article you pointed Ikaika to is potentially more important. It is part of the reason many of my posts are so long. I try to more thoroughly explain my thoughts, learning in the process and from feedback.

    A fundamental understanding is that to achieve Sustainable Good Results (to achieve and improve on the Sustainable Development Goals - all of them), actions need to be governed by 'The Principle Objective of Being Helpful, Not Harmful' considered in the widest possible sense.

    The widest sense is consideration for all life now and into the distant future. It requires Governing to limit harm to Others (which includes Other life and all future humans), with the understood restricting objective being Do No Harm to Others (No excuses allowed for harm done to Others), and the inspirational objective of aspiring to maximize Helping Others (which can be reasonably limited, but not eliminated).

    That will require expanding and correcting the worldviews of people for them to be more Helpful to any and all Others (many worldviews, like spiritual ones or desires for personal entertainment, are not necessarily harmful, but may also not be as helpful as they could be). More important, worldviews that are understandably harmful, impede the required helpfulness, will need to be corrected. People holding viewpoints that impede the required Helping need to be challenged to explain how their desires are Helpful. And those who persist in resisting correction rather than changing their mind will need to be limited in their influence until they learn to change their minds.

    It is inevitable that some people may perceive those required improvements of worldviews as attacks. However, that potential perception cannot be allowed to compromise the efforts to correct harmful worldviews or limit their influence.

    A narrow application of the Help/Harm participle can be undeniable unacceptable. It would be Helping yourself and protecting yourself from Harm without any consideration of how your actions help or harm others. And extreme examples of that uncorrected or unlimited Egoist worldview would be actions like:

    1. As part of a group that is partying you over-consume and over-react because of self-perceptions that it maximizes your enjoyment and image/status. In addition to leaving none of the consumables to be enjoyed for future parties your actions create a mess including you having 'enjoyed' participating in damaging the party place (and you would not participate in finding replacements for the party consumables or repairing the party place, you would seek a different party to crash).
    2. As part of a group that is struggling to survive for a day to travel to safety and has sufficient food to do that, you eat all the available food to maximize your chance of getting to safety and refuse to expend any energy to help any others, and if you know a quicker safer way to safety you secretively leave the group and pursue it without telling any of the others (after eating all the food), because travelling with those Others may slow you down (and you will call for, and expect, help if your way turns out to not be quicker or safer).
    3. To defend against a perceived threat you attack other people.

    A slightly wider version that is actually more important to correct would be acting those ways as part of a Tribe or Gang (more important to correct because a larger group can do more harm).

    Entertainment performers and fans, especially the passionate sports ones, can generally be left 'unchallenged' and 'unlimited' because entertainment is generally rather irrelevant (as Douglas Adams brilliantly had interstellar travel guide researcher Ford Prefect update the description of entertainment saturated and distracted Earth in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from “Harmless” to “Mostly Harmless”). But even such potentially benign issues as sports can 'get out of hand, become unacceptably harmful, and require governing to limit the harm done (by fans, players, and particularly by any pursuers of status - image or wealth, popularity and profit).

    Therefore, there probably is no limit to the matters that the Help/Harm Principle needs to be Governing. It even needs to govern the making-up of and enforcement of Laws in order for the Rule of Law to be Helpful rather than Harmful.

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  34. OPOF @33, you are probably taking things a bit the wrong way. Imho  "attacking someones world view" in the context of discussing climate science might go along the lines of "and you self centred, scientifically illiterate change opposing conservatives need to wake up". Perhaps thats rather a crude example, but the essence is categorising a person and their group as wrong and bad which will always get a defensive reaction even if its true.

    What you are saying is a rather more subtle, respectful and analytical, and I have no problem with it in general terms. And we have to be able to discuss world views providing the context is right. Its difficult territory to navigate, and I would say content is most important but it needs a few PR skills as well. 

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  35. nigelj @34,

    Thank you for clarifying what you meant by " long as we dont attack their world view in the process."

    I had indeed taken it as saying you can't question or challenge a worldview.

    Sadly, my experience, as a engineer and trying to promote improved awareness regard Sustainable Development Goal related issues like climate science, has been that when it comes to dealing with people who are actually 'wrong about something' the people with higher developed perceptions of status can be much harder to correct.

    And as a resident of Alberta, Canada, I encounter many people with worldviews selfishly based on benefiting from fossil fuels. That incorrect worldview makes it even harder to get them to correct their understanding of climate science because of the clearly required global economic corrections it has identified. They also refuse to recognise the reality that a Carbon Fee and Rebate program is helpful. They ignore the Rebate part and call the Fee a Tax. And they have been indoctrinated by Right Wing propaganda to believe that Tax is a four-letter word.

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  36. 'Others' 'selfishly based on benefiting from fossil fuels.'?

    "Australia is the latest democracy to discover that climate emergencies are incompatible with neoliberal inequality. In a repeat of the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes, all of the polling for last week’s general election predicted that a strong environmental platform would propel the Australian Labor Party into government. Instead, in defiance of the opinion polls, the Liberal/National coalition was re-elected with what the BBC reported as a “miracle” majority."

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  37. "But does shouting at the audience about global warming make anyone more likely to do anything about it?"

    This is a question for social scientists to investigate. How does a given messaging style influence beliefs and behavior? What factors of personality and prior knowledge affect a person's receptivity?

    Military drill instructors have long relied on shouting and verbal abuse to train and indoctrinate recruits. (The stress hormone cortisol may play a role in the formation of long-term memories, as any trauma victim can attest, but prolonged exposure can impair learning.) However, this is always in concert with the training camp environment, which uproots recruits from their familiar surroundings and social influences. "Climate boot camps" might be effective for changing minds but they probably aren't compatible either with democracy or with the scientific ethos of collegial debate.

    However, the question from the original post is ill-posed in this portion: "make anyone more likely to do anything about [global warming]." Technically, the typical individual (anyone) cannot do "anything" about global warming. That is, no action available to the typical individual (short of perhaps unleashing a bioweapon epidemic that would depopulate the globe) can have a measurable impact on the rate of global warming.

    Rather, the only thing an individual can "do anything about" with respect to global warming is to reduce his/her individual contribution to global warming, and to exert whatever pressure they can on others to reduce theirs. By analogy, suppose a large mob is stoning someone to death. One individual in the mob probably cannot stop everyone else from throwing stones. That individual can only choose not to participate, and to try to influence a few other individuals to stop throwing stones. Framing the problem as "doing anything about the stoning" might lead the individual to conclude there is no reason to stop throwing stones, since the victim will die in any case. The correct framing is about morality rather than efficacy. Suppose the mob cannot be stopped - what then will a morally virtuous person do, when given a choice to participate? A virtuous person will do the virtuous thing, which is not to participate in a collective evil.

    Applied to global warming, the first step is to inventory one's carbon footprint. Typically one's sources of greenhouse gas emissions follow a Pareto distribution, with perhaps the four or five largest emitters accounting for 80% or more of one's footprint. These will typically be expensive behaviors (since raping the planet costs a fortune) such as driving, flying, heating, cooling, eating meat, owning meat-eating pets, and procreating.

    Thus to speak coherently about an individual "doing anything about global warming", we must really mean an individual doing something about his/her largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which is to say either stopping or greatly reducing those behaviors or switching to zero-emission alternatives.

    Voting in elections for politicians who promise (or aspire to) green policies is another potential way for the individual to "do something about global warming". However, this only has an effect on emissions if vast numbers of other voters vote similarly and durably (and if politicians manage to defeat the giant bag of dirty tricks that fossil fuel interests use to capture governments). Until that happens, green voting is merely gesture politics. It may make a high-emitting individual feel good, but it has no impact on emissions, thanks to winner-take-all elections and the vast constituency ready to defend every source of emissions. The only policy options open to politicians to fight climate change are those that inconvenience no one. In general, convenience is inversely proportional to efficacy, since individuals strongly "feel" their carbon footprints. Your life on a high carbon footprint is obviously different than your life on a low carbon footprint. Much as the life of a slave owner is obviously different than the life of a person who owns no slaves.

    By analogy, suppose everybody was addicted to heroin. A few addicts might vote for government policies to eliminate heroin, but they won't make any difference. Until a voting majority demands such policies and accepts the enforcement costs, the only meaningful actions against heroin that an individual addict can take are to quit using and to persuade others to quit.

    And, of course, the chances of actually getting policies to eliminate heroin will be higher as more people choose to quit. As more and more addicts quit, they can begin to form a social movement.

    The typical messaging from the climate movement tries to put the cart before the horse, by pretending we can get governments to do all the heavy lifting first, or that social movements can be built from people who don't actually change their behavior. As if a society of heroin addicts can vote their way out of their addiction. While governments have a role to play, individuals have a far bigger role. This is easy to verify empirically just by cutting one's own carbon footprint. A motivated individual (which is to say, a morally responsible individual) can attain a lower carbon footprint in a matter of months than any government policy can create for that individual in decades.

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  38. One Planet Only Forever @19:
    The brief video starts with Bill Nye donning his safety glasses then turning to a flip chart that essentially says: Making something ore expensive - discourages people from buying it. Done.

    Not quite done. Making something more expensive encourages selfish people to look for ways to minimize their costs. Consuming less is only one option. Defeating the policy that makes something artificially expensive is another option.

    There are many options for defeating carbon pricing. One is voting for Trump. If people don't care about their individual contributions to global warming, they will resent being forced to pay for the external costs they inflict on others. They can then attack the policy directly (such as with a Trump vote), or they can drive to Washington D.C. in their tractors or trucks to protest high fuel prices, or they can riot like the Yellow Vests, and so on. They can write sob stories to their representatives and beg for exceptions, which will be doled out (if the track record for cap-and-trade is a guide).

    History suggest that people tend not to submit meekly to policies they don't personally believe in. Look at the failure of Prohibition in the USA, and the Trumpian success after decades of Republican/Koch efforts to undermine environmental regulation.

    The only way to really make fossil fuel more expensive is to change most people's morality, thus instilling them with an internal carbon compass that can't be corrupted by the Kochtopus. Coercive policy can only ever be effective against the remaining tiny minorities. As long as virtually the entire population sees nothing immoral about the high-emitting behaviors a carbon tax would have to target to be effective (such as driving, flying, heating, cooling, eating meat, owning meat-eating pets, and procreating), we won't have any coercive policies that are intrusive enough to be effective. And if we get them, we won't sustain them against the inevitable backlash as long as the vast majority of people remain amoral on climate change.

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