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Hopes for our climate future

Posted on 13 March 2019 by Guest Author

Stopping climate change doesn't have to stop at stopping climate change. Join me as I imagine a future that is a bit brighter than today, and not just because we don't have to worry about global warming.

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Comments 1 to 10:

  1. I want a world that understands that the economy has to be on an environmentally sustainable footing for business to survive and prosper long term, and where clean food, univeral healthcare and social security are assured. I also want to create a world that maximises individual freedom, the freedom to be different, and which maximises private enterprise and private ownership.

    A world that balances the rights of the individual with the rights of the community. A world that respects both liberal and sensible conservative concerns, because if it doesn't nobody will listen and no legislation will stick.....

    Oh and a world without confirmation bias, dunning kruger, motivated reasoning and logical fallacies...

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  2. @nigelj, this is a total illusion as long as overpopulation, greediness and the hunger for money are not stopped. Because the driving force of our economy is  making money, gathering assets and creating so-called wealth all at the expense of nature and natural habitats. Even when it becomes so obvious that the already irreparable damage created by our behaviour threatens our existence, people will even try  to profit from the self induced catastrophes until our artificial world collapses totally by itself. There is almost no chance of escape.

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  3. I've just posted this on the video comments on YouTube.

    "This is a lovely vision of a version of utopia but just 'fixing' climate change on its own is a gigantic task on its own, let alone all the other things on this wish list. It's true that some of what is planned to mitigate and reduce future emissions could help some of the desired effects to come about, but I do see a problem. I'm a seasoned climate science denialism fighter and I can tell you that the most sophisticated and effective propaganda these days comes not from fossil fuel interests, as many environmentalists still believe, but from those who are wedded to far right-wing laissez-faire freemarket ideologies, and those who espouse simplistic neo-liberal economics. Much of the motivation behind a lot of high profile denialism comes from those who believe so strongly in their political view of the world that they regard it as justified to spread miseading and deceptive denialist propaganda, that they secretly know (I have come to this conclusion after many years of engaging with these types) has been debunked a thousand times. They do this because it has a proven ability to sway the minds of the voting layman public. The propagandists have a deep seated antipathy to, and wish to sabotage, what they see as far left wing ideology being 'slipped in' by the back door under the impetus to change things that climate science gives us. In short, they believe that many of those with environmental climate related concerns are 'watermelons' - green on the outside, red on the inside... Couple this with the 3% minority of climate scientists whose work suggests either that the climate change we see is not really down to us or that climate sensitivity is much lower than the IPCC figure so that means the eventual warming won't be that bad and the benefits may outweigh the problems, and they have at least some scientific justification, even though it is limited in size and overwhelmed by the mainstream view, for 'taking a gamble' to preserve the status quo."

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  4. Every example where mankind has destroyed an environment, from the ocean to the mountains, and then completely left it alone...I mean completely, those environments eventually recover in the most amazing ways. Granted this example does not happen often but I know of many.

    What WE need to do to "solve" the destruction of the biosphere due to human waste stream/pollution is to STOP! Toughest thing ever asked of all humanity.

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  5. "we don't have to worry about global warming"???


    Safe Climate Zone

    => Global warming will happen faster than we think

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  6. Neoliberalism.

    Neoliberalism has huge implications for the climate issue. Some quick background. According to Wikipedia : "Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism[1] is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism.[2]:7[3] Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade[4] and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[12] .....Modern advocates of free market policies avoid the term "neoliberal"[20] and some scholars have described the term as meaning different things to different people[21][22] as neoliberalism "mutated" into geopolitically distinct hybrids as it travelled around the world.[5] As such, neoliberalism shares many attributes with other concepts that have contested meanings, including democracy.[23]"

    It's obvious to me that neoliberalism is a reaction against keynsian policies of the 1970's of protectionist trade and extensive state ownership going into industry and banking.

    Free trade is pretty much embraced by almost everyone in developed countries, left and right alike. The battle ground is over how far privatisation should go into core infrastructure and how much we should deregulate. I think only the fanatics and the irrational would think everything should be privatised and deregulated. This seems as ridiculous and irrational as communists thinking the state should run everything. Neoliberalism is tiresome like all ideologies.

    It's particularly frustrating because environmental problems are hard to solve with purely market based mechanism's such as "self regulation" (does that ever actually work?). At the very least we need a semi market based mechanism like carbon taxes or cap and trade (I prefer the former fwiw its more transparent).

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  7. nigelj@6
    "At the very least we need a semi market based mechanism like carbon taxes or cap and trade"

    As a minimum. The main problem with the version of the free market we have, and which got exponentially worse since the international deregulation in the 80s, is that it does not really fit the the parameters for what basic economics says is necessary for a free market to run efficiently and safely - full and open knowledge of all aspects of it for all participants and, importantly, costs of doing business should end up on the accountants' bottom lines.

    Externalities - the cost of avoiding acid rain, polluted rivers, sickened people, altered climate, degraded land and habitat etc. should be accounted for as a cost of doing business. Carbon taxes would be a big start. With this 'environmental economics', the awesome power of the free market to achieve things and supply goods and services would be unleashed. Those goods and services which were cleaner and greener and/or less damaging would become the same price or less than the 'dirty versions' and the great mass of the public would vote with their wallets. 'Bad' products, and the corporations that made them would be less profitable, investment in them would wither away.

    Doing it this way means virtually no environmental legislation, which so many kickback against, would be required

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  8. The free market also has the awesome ability to compare the cost (to self) of complying with regulations to the cost (to self) of buying political influence and overturning the regulations. Because people are clever and resourceful, they have an almost unlimited number of ways to resist coercion. This makes it almost impossible to structure any system of incentives that causes immoral people to behave morally. See for example the War on Drugs.

    Donald Trump has been gutting environmental regulations and torpedoing policy responses to climate change, proving that the resistance strategy works and it is an effective investment. It was presumably cheaper for polluting interests to install Trump than to comply with the regulations that Trump has destroyed. To solve climate change with policy, you must first somehow change democracy to insure that nobody like Donald Trump can get elected ever again. And remove all the judges he has appointed to lifetime terms.

    In contrast, when people are moral, they don't need outside coercion to do the right things. They will prioritize the moral aim above their own short-term benefits and desires. For example, a moral person would never consider flying for entertainment (such as on holiday). The moral person would proactively learn about carbon footprinting, and change his/her behavior to cut his/her carbon footprint as far as possible. This would occur in a tiny fraction of the time that any conceivable policy change would require to force the same reduction.

    Expecting policy to solve climate change requires imagining people are nothing more than passive chess pieces who can be moved around any which way. But these chess pieces fight back. As long as most people place a higher value on, to pick just one example, the benefits to self from jetting around on holiday, than they care about minimizing their personal contributions to climate genocide, humanity will remain firmly on its current trajectory to cook civilization out of existence and keep the Fermi paradox intact.

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  9. "Talking about all the negatives we want to avoid isn't exactly the most hopeful thing."

    That's why we need morality. A moral person isn't motivated by hope. For example, if the moral person chooses to avoid murdering his neighbor, for purely moral reasons, the moral person doesn't require any "hope" for a better world or any other extraneous motivation. The moral person refrains from committing murder because murder is wrong. No further justification or icing on the cake is necessary. Even if everybody else commits murder, the moral person won't. The moral person doesn't care about popularity, efficacy, larger goals, or anything else when contemplating an action - only about what is right and what is wrong.

    Imagine having to come up with some idealistic picture of a future society to persuade people not to kill their neighbors. We don't want to just focus on how horrible murder is. Let's find something else to make the message positive and hopeful. Could humanity have ever gotten past the Stone Age if that were necessary? Before the scientific revolution, material progress was negligible. Most people could look forward to a life not much different or better than their grandparents'. There was no message of hope for most people based on any expectation of material progress or political progress. For most of human history, people had to manage without hope. And they did.

    To solve climate change, we must increase the number of people who believe contributing to climate change is wrong. So they start by cutting the contributions they can control. Initially those will be their own personal contributions. Once they exhaust that low-hanging fruit (it's far easier to cut your own carbon footprint than to cut anyone else's) they can look for ways to persuade and if necessary coerce others to cut their carbon footprints. As well as organize to get government help to cut their remaining emissions that are difficult to cut.

    Pretending we can skip the vital first step of cutting our own carbon footprints is to imagine climate change will be unlike all previous moral revolutions. To abolish slavery, for example, we first had to get a substantial number of people who voluntarily freed their slaves, or refrained from ever buying slaves. Those who continued to own slaves were never going to be part of the constituency to abolish slavery. To think that people who like to fly around the world on jets to climate conferences are going to abolish fossil fuels is like pretending slave owners would ever abolish slavery.

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  10. Daniel Mocsny @8, 9

    "Because people are clever and resourceful, they have an almost unlimited number of ways to resist coercion.

    Some people will try to do this yes.

    "This makes it almost impossible to structure any system of incentives that causes immoral people to behave morally. See for example the War on Drugs."

    No with respect I think you are wrong, and on the basis of obvious, clear evidence. Criminal and property law are coercive legislation, by attempting to make people behave better or in a certain way. They certainly work because in countries with diminished criminal law and / or the related enforcement of the same law , you have high rates of crime and sometimes total anarchy and chaos, or criminal gangs take over running of those countries. Other regulations and environmental regulations are no different "in principle".

    Remember there are also tools like carbon taxes, and there is evidence they work. The UK is a good example.

    Your war on drugs analogy is flawed. Firstly it does work ok if implimented with a very heavy brutal punishments as in places like Singapore, not that I'm promoting that! However the core problem in countries like America is 1) its very hard to enforce drugs laws, harder than for example enforcing the road rules and 2) large numbers of the public probbaly see drug use as largely a victimless crime, so they simply don't support drug laws in the same way they support other criminal laws.

    "In contrast, when people are moral, they don't need outside coercion to do the right things."

    Agreed. But many people are moral, to a reasonable degree anyway. They will do thje right thing without the need of coercion. They won't commit crimes, take drugs or the like. The problem is how to deal with the rather substantial minority that are not moral? I think that only the law can realistically do this.

    To think otherwise would require we make fundamentally and deeply immoral people moral. How do you propose we do this? I don't think we know how. 

    We probably make people more moral with education, but clearly it hasn't been enough to obviate the need for laws and punishments, and I would think it never will be.

    "To solve climate change, we must increase the number of people who believe contributing to climate change is wrong."

    Yes, but again how?

    "To abolish slavery, for example, we first had to get a substantial number of people who voluntarily freed their slaves, or refrained from ever buying slaves. "

    Yes. But getting to the climate issue, a substantial majority of the public already want more done about the climate issue, including building of wind farms etcetera and they are ignored by politicians. Now ask yourself why? I would say it's the pressure of lobby groops and campaign donors. Look at how politiicans are petrified of annoying the NRA gun lobby.

    People won't do much to change their personal carbon footprints until they see a big change at the top of society in government policy. There is no point changing lifestyles unless there is confidence that others will do the same starting with the leadership otherwise you are unlikely as an individual to make a significant difference. This does not make individuals immoral it's simply understandable economic rationalism.

    Don't interpret me the wrong way. I'm all for people acting in a more moral way, and ideally without coercion, but I just dont think we have simple effective ways to do that. It's very idealistic.

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