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Protecting oil companies instead of the climate-vulnerable is elitist

Posted on 2 April 2019 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

At a recent House congressional hearing on legislation aimed at addressing homelessness, Rep. Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced an amendment aimed at demonstrating how addressing climate change could increase the cost of housing. In the hearing Duffy said, “We talk about how we care about the poor, but all the while we’ll sign bills that dramatically increase the cost of a family to get into a home” during his criticism of the cost of a Green New Deal. He continued:  “…[R]ich, wealthy elites who will look at this and go, ‘I love it, because I’ve got big money in the bank; everyone should do this. We should all sign onto it.’ But if you’re a poor family, just trying to make ends meet, it’s a horrible idea.”

The great irony is that poor families are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They have the fewest resources available to adapt or recover when struck by a climate-amplified hurricane or wildfire or flood. One study found that nearly half of the low-income parents affected by Hurricane Katrina experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. Poorer developing countries are also the most vulnerable to climate change because of their lack of resources and because they tend to be nearer the equator where temperatures are already hot. Research has shown that countries with more temperate climates like the United States and Europe are near the peak temperature for economic activity. Poorer tropical countries are already hotter than optimal, so additional warming hits them particularly hard.

Surveys have also shown that minorities in America are more concerned about climate change and more supportive of climate policies, likely in part because they are more likely to live in close proximity to coal power plants. Poorer households living near these sources of air and water pollution would directly benefit from climate policies that accelerate the transition away from dirty fossil fuels toward clean energy. And as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, noted in her viral response to Duffy, millions of Puerto Ricans were severely impacted and thousands killed by Hurricane Maria. A year-and-a-half later, the island is still struggling to recover and is now facing a food stamp crisis.

Calling climate policy efforts “elitist” is thus completely backwards, especially when considering that opposition to such policies mostly benefits oil companies, many of which are among the most profitable in the world.

That said, there are valid concerns about the financial impacts of climate policies on lower income households. Policies such as a tax on carbon pollution would raise energy prices, and lower-income households spend a relatively large percentage of their incomes on energy. A smart climate policy should take these effects into account.

For example, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would offset the effects of a carbon tax by rebating the revenue equally to all American households. Because wealthier individuals have a bigger carbon footprint and because the revenue would be rebated equally to all Americans, a study of the bill’s impacts found that it would generate net revenue for 86 percent of the poorest households, whose dividend checks would be larger than their increased energy costs.

It would make sense for Republicans to flock to this free-market, small government solution that helps low-income Americans and modestly stimulates job creation and the economy. Yet of the 250 Republican members of the House and Senate in the current Congress, only one has co-sponsored the bill (alongside 25 Democrats).

One Republican out of 250.

Some Republican legislators have opted to propose their own climate policy ideas. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, is drafting a so-called “Green Real Deal” that calls for investing in carbon capture and storage, renewable and nuclear energy, modernizing the electric grid, eliminating energy regulations, and expanding tax incentives for energy efficiency upgrades. There are some good ideas in the proposal—which coincidentally could be incorporated into a Green New Deal—but it does not include any specific temperature or emissions targets, or a price on carbon pollution. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican called for “a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” that similarly would involve investment in energy research.

However, as the National Journal reported, conservatives with the White House’s ear on energy issues immediately shot down both proposals. Thomas Pyle, one of Trump’s transition advisers, argued that they would lead to “large federal budgets and the federal government picking winners and losers.” Indeed, most Republican lawmakers would not support an expansion of energy research spending, and the Trump administration’s proposed budgets have consistently aimed to cut these kinds of programs. Other Republican leaders like Senator Mike Lee of Utah have made a mockery of the whole climate policy debate, arguing that the solution is to “have some kids.”

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Comments 1 to 29:

  1. It's year 11 economics: the more the government injection the harder it is to get rid of--> they picked fosssil fuels as 'the winner' a century ago... the great war propbably had something to do with that! And we all know science is polticial! That's why batteries never got the cold shoulder for the bulk of the last century!

    I mean, they were dreaming of going to the moon in the 20s and they'd well figured out batteries couldn't do it, ever......... that fact will never be disproven so it's almost all understandable infact!

    Go propaganda ay!!!!

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  2. "Electric cars – powered from on-board batteries – have been around since 1859. However, they were quickly eclipsed by internal combustion engine (ICE) cars which even then offered far greater speeds and ranges. The early electric cars drew their limited power from lead-acid batteries of the kind found in most ICE cars. And while improvements continued to be made to electric motors, it was battery storage that proved to be the limiting factor for electric cars. The development of modern lithium-ion batteries – coinciding with the global drive to curb greenhouse gas emissions – helped propel Elon Musk’s high performance (and once again massively subsidised from the public purse) Tesla electric cars to prominence. Following the release of the Roadster and the development of new longer range Tesla cars, we have seen several other companies including Nissan, Daimler and BMW bring electric cars to market. Nevertheless, for all the competition and technical input to electric car design, the weight to range ratio of lithium-ion batteries places practical limits on the utility of electric cars when compared to ICE cars."


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  3. Postkey @2 ,

    I am not sure it was worth your while quoting from blogger "consciousnessofsheep".

    His ovine opine [scuze the Inglish] seems to be that what was impossible 20 years ago, will consequently & necessarily be impossible 20 years in the future, or 50 years in the future.   And furthermore, that modern industrial society will collapse when diesel fuel (petroleum-based) runs out.

    Are the other articles on his blog any the better?

    Or were you quoting him ironically, as an example of uncritical thinking?

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  4. "Nevertheless, for all the competition and technical input to electric car design, the weight to range ratio of lithium-ion batteries places practical limits on the utility of electric cars when compared to ICE cars."

    Yes and no. The 2019 nissan leaf electric car is moderately priced, and can go 150 miles on a full charge and a new model available shortly will do 200 miles. This is quite sufficient for work and travel for the vast majority of people, assuming some recharging stations. The venerable toyota corolla can go 500 miles on a full tank of gas, but this is largely superfluous unless you do very long trips somewhere with few petrol stations, and not many people do this. So the difference between the two cars is psychological rather than real.

    In addition 10 disruptive battery technologies are under development and some will no doubt extend range for those needing 500 miles. Even if some of these fail, and being careful of getting carried away technological hype, it still looks very promising. So  consciousnessof sheep is too pessimistic for me as well. But the article on Britain as Venezuela is interesting. Just chose it at random.

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  5. Dana's article is really good, but it unfortunately it looks to me like a carbon tax and dividend isn't gaining much traction in America. Perhaps there is just too much ideological paranoia about taxes for it to ever work.

    The government infrastructure spend in the GND might be the only thing thats viable. The senate have voted down the GND but a government spend at realistic levels might be viable. Subsidies around the world for wind power etc have yielded results. The GOP is quite happy to subsidise things when it suits and run deficit financing.

    It's troubling though because without a price on carbon things become complicated.

    America's climate policy is a train wreck.

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  6. Sometimes governments have "picked winners" and so backed things that have failed, but so has the private sector,  with numerous examples in the technology area. Picking winners is an inescapable part of life.

    The private sector has backed fossil fuels just as much as governments.

    Governments can minimise picking winners by treating all forms of renewable electricity generation the same.

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  7. Talk of the limitations of electric cars is interesting. But the reality is that electric rapid transit was effectively implemented about 100 years ago.

    And debating technical details regarding climate change and responsible actions is interesting, but can be a damaging distraction.

    And claiming that the choice is 'reduce the harm done to future generations' or 'help the poor today by doing more harm to the future generations' is clearly a false choice. Poverty and reduction of future climate impacts can been achieved simultaneously, at the expense of people who gained status in ways that are not sustainable, ways that create poverty and climate impacts.

    The reason there is still poverty in a nation as collectively wealthy as the USA has a similar cause as the reason such a wealthy nation has such powerful resistance to behaving better regarding climate change. And it is similar to the reason there is poverty in any nation (almost every nation has wealthy people and deep poverty).

    And that brings me to the point of referring to a book I highly recommend to people who want to better understand what is going on, regarding more than climate change, but with climate change as a powerful case study.

     "A Perfect Moral Storm: the Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change.", by Stephen Gardiner published in 2011, is a comprehensive and hard to argue against presentation of the ethical issue (the moral corruption of leadership) that climate science has exposed in a big way.

    The 2016 SkS Weekly News Roundup #3 included the following presentation by Gardiner:

    Why climate change is an ethical problem by Stephen Gardiner, In Theory, Washington Post, Jan 9, 2016

    It is an updated summary of the thinking he presented in his book. But some here may remember that back in 2012 his book played a key part in the following SkS item posted by Andy Skuce in 2012: "Changing Climates, Changing Minds: The Great Stink of London"

    In that item a series of points regarding climate change impacts are presented and followed by the following:

    "In his recent book A Perfect Moral Storm, The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change, Stephen Gardiner identified three “storms” that come together in a wicked synergy to make the climate crisis an especially intractable problem.

    1. The Global Storm. The unequal dispersion of cause and effect across the planet. See b), c) and d) above.
    2. The Intergenerational Storm. The effects of our emissions are deferred and will persist essentially for ever on historical timescales. See e) and f) above.
    3. The Theoretical Storm. We currently lack the institutions, conventions and tools—political, moral and economic—needed to tackle the exceptional problems posed by climate change and we are going to have to invent them as we go along. See g) above.

    "After this analysis it shouldn’t be difficult to appreciate why we’re not doing any better than the Londoners were in 1855. Actually, to quote climate scientist Ray Pierrehumbert (pdf):

    So far, we’re not doing any better than cyanobacteria."

    The Green New Deal is proof that some people are trying to do better than cyanobacteria. But they still face massive resistance from morally corrupted wealthy people and the type of leadership the morally corrupted want.

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  8. I will add an important point to my comment @7.

    Perceptions of prosperity or reduction of poverty that are the result of unsustainable and harmful pursuits cannot be expected to continue as benefits into the future.

    That is an inescapable reality. Unsustainable harmful pursuits have a competitive advantage when the measures of 'value' are popularity or profitability. Once valid ethics is introduced (not claims about morality that are just poor excuses for harmful unsustainable pursuits) everything changes.

    The current developed world has become highly morally corrupted. Misleading marketing is a major reason. Politics being a free-for-all regarding misleading marketing has only made things Progressively (and Conservatively) Worse.

    Progressive development of sustainable improvements, and related corrections of what has developed based on constantly improving understanding, is compromised by the easy popularity of resistance to correction, the resistance to learning, the resistance to changing an incorrectly made-up mind.

    The resistance to correction has made many problems worse. The result is the development of requirements for more traumatic corrections. The required corrections today are larger and more urgent that they were 30 years ago.

    The key to improving the future is to make the corrections earlier, and ensure that the reduced trauma of the correction (reduced because it was started earlier) is experienced by the people who benefited most from the creation of the problem before the corrections started to be implemented.

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  9. ExxonMobil shareholders will not get a vote on whether the company should set targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, following a ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    New York State’s pension fund and other investors had called for the oil company to start setting targets for reducing emissions in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

    But the SEC ruled on Tuesday that Exxon could keep the proposal off the ballot at its annual shareholder meeting next month.

    => Exxon shareholders denied vote on emissions targets | Financial Times

    Exxon have been notorious liars and will probably lose their lobby registration at the EU-Parliament therefore.

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  10. A wrap-up comment related to my comments @7 and 8:

    Climate science has unintentionally exposed a significant required correction of what humans have developed. The Present is significantly morally corrupted. That is the fundamental reason for the difficulty climate scientists face in their efforts to improve awareness and understanding.

    The awareness and understanding presented by Stephen Gardiner is not fundamentally new. It is a rigorous presentation of fundamental understanding that has been presented in the past. A recent clear presentation of the understanding was in the 1987 UN Report "Our Common Future" (24 years before Gardiner published his detailed presentation of the Moral Corruption Storm). And the fundamental idea was also presented by many people before that time. One of those presentations was by John Stuart Mills back in the 1800s.

    In "On Liberty" Mills stated "If society lets a considerable number of its members grow up mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame for the consequences."

    Gardiner's Global Storm is regarding a location-based Distant Motive (concern for Other locations on the planet). And his Intergenerational Storm is a time-based Distant Motive (concern for the future). And a third Distant Motive would be related to consideration of Other Life including Other people (an item mentioned by Gardiner as an issue covered/impacted by the Perfect Moral Storm).

    That understanding was summarized as follows in opening section of "Our Common Future":

    25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management.

    The winners in politics and business have no defence for failing to be aware of this understanding and how it relates to their actions, especially today (and little defence for being unaware since 1987).

    Gardiner, and so many others, point out that what is lacking is institutions that will hold the morally corrupted accountable and penalize them for failing to help improve awareness and understanding in pursuit of sustainable developments for the benefit of the future of humanity.

    And the lack of such institutions can be understood to be the developed result of moral corruption being allowed to Win. Because the Winners establish what the Institutions will be and what they will do.

    The fundamental rule of Ethics is "Do No Harm". The aspiration or objective of being Ethical is to "Help Others". That leads to an understanding that:

    • being Ethical is restricted to 'only those actions that Do No Harm to Others, including not harming other life because Others may depend on that Other life as an essential part of the intricate web of life'. Only actions helpful to Others are Ethical.
    • One person or group cannot ethically benefit if their actions will harm any Others. And future generations are Others.

    The current generation faces an ethical dilemma. The actions of past generations have developed popular and profitable activities that are understandably harmful and ultimately unsustainable. How is that incorrect development to be corrected? (because it undeniably must be corrected). The Perfect Moral Storm'spowerful motivation toward Moral Corruption must be able to be Over-powered by Good Helpful people or there is no future for humanity, and that is clearly not an acceptable future option.

    Clearly, to the greatest degree possible, the continued harm to others must be reversed. The damaging intergenerational cycle of moral corruption must be broken. Those who have become the most fortunate by benefiting from harmful unsustainable activity must be required to lead the correction, including giving up some of their developed perceptions of status relative to Others.

    A likely required correction is that Status would be contingent on how helpful a person is. Anyone not wanting to lead that way should have their wealth and influence legally corrected to match the degree of responsibility the person is choosing to want (there being no expectation of helpfulness from the poorest).

    Richer more influential people must morally be required to:

    • develop the ability to have lower impact lives than poorer people
    • put more effort into helpfully improving awareness and understanding.
    • sustainably help the less fortunate live decent lives

    They cannot be allowed to remain Richer and more Powerful if they choose not to be more ethical than Others.

    And that required correction has been unintentionally exposed by climate science. It is the fundamental reason for the difficulty climate scientists face in their efforts to improve awareness and understanding.

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  11. Perhaps in the near future, elected officials and political candidates will be 'embarassed' out of staying in office or running for election because of their previous harmful behaviour related to improving awareness and understanding of climate science and their resistance to the required corrections that are clearly ethically essential to improving the future for humanity.

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  12. There are two types of change. Change with the promise of something better like the next model of smartphone and people mostly embrace this form of change. Then theres change forced by uncomfortable circumstances that requires paying a few costs and making a few lifestyle changes, like the need to stop using fossil fuels, and this is when people become much more conservative about change.

    I've noticed that politicians who want to mitigate climate CO2 emissions and take moral positions on the climate issue are viciously insulted, labelled do gooders, or virtue signalling by the internent trolls. 

    Moralising about the climate only does so much. We are trying to draw a connection between a distant harm to future generations and present activity, and theres a lot of things that get in the way of making this connection. People claim future technologies will solve the problem, etc, and dont like being told they are doing the wrong thing.

    Yet moral judgements form the basis of many of our laws so the morality of climate change seems very important. I just think its going to be a slow process educating people.

    We could also additionally try to promote climate change mitigation by accentuating the positives, like less particulate emissions from burning coal. Shift the discussion more towards the first form of change of expecting something better because people embrace this.

    Of course these things are not mutually exclusive. Raising awareness usually proceeds on several fronts simultaneously.

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  13. nigelj@12,

    One of Gardiner's expressed concerns is that moral corruption can be subtle. An example would be diverting attention from the awareness and understanding of the main moral matter, like talking about particulate reduction benefits.

    The governing moral issue is the need to rapidly curtail the use of fossil fuels. It is OK to make that point and add mention of the side-benefits like:

    • reduced particulate
    • reduced absolutely certain to occur environmental damage (the damage allowed to be done by the extraction, processing and use)
    • reduced risk of harm due to 'accidents' (most of which are no accidents, and their likelihood was increased by the permission of cost-saving or time-saving approaches)
    • reduced increased costs as the unsustainable harmful activity gets harder to do ethically (more sustainable economic activity, less future challenges for the less fortunate).

    But it is morally corrupt to focus on the side-benefits without ensuring the main point about the need to rapidly curtail fossil fuel use is made Front and Center.

    A diversion to the side-benefits can support claims about the acceptability of things like 'Clean Coal' as excuses to not more rapidly reduce the burning of coal.

    In Alberta, where one of the least ethical fossil fuels is produced for sale (very high CO2 impact per unit of end usable energy), the current sales pitch is that the activity is being done very ethically because it is done to very high 'environmental standards'.

    Even the potential to cost-effectively scrub CO2 from the air (As presented in BBC article here) could be abused for morally corrupt purposes to delay the curtailing of fossil fuel use. In addition to aggressive reduction of fossil fuel burning, the scrubbing of CO2 from the air could help limit the harm done to future generations.

    A focus on the benefits of the 'magic bullet' of scrubbing CO2 from the air could be abused to excuse a diminished effort to reduce the use of fossil fuel. That would be a morally corrupt diversion of attention and action. Only as an addition to the required action is the 'magic bullet' helpful. It needs to be sold as the way the wealthiest of the current generations can be even more helpful to future generations.

    In addition to leading by example towards the lowest impact ways of living, the wealthiest would pay to have the CO2 scrubbing done with no personal financial return benefit, done at their expense not-for-profit. All they get would be the recognition of moral character benefits. Anyone not interested in having status measured that way can be poorer and less influential, become the less fortunate and less powerful would be 'less expected' to be 'moral leaders by example'.

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  14. OPOF @13, no you might be misunderstanding me. I'm not promoting clean coal, which is an idea that doesn't really work very well. I'm just saying we should all do more to emphasise the side benefits of transitioning to renewable energy. The media could do far more in this respect.

    For example stopping using fossil fuels has obvious health benefits through less particulate emissions and nitrous oxides. Renewable energy has a range of advantages as well as the climate advantage. We need to emphasise these things because people respond well when they see they will be better off. Psychology 101. 

    By all means promote the moral duty aspect as well, because that is central to the issue. I do the same on various websites, (you do it here so no need for me to repeat what you say). However it won't be sufficient alone, and it's hard, slow work shifting peoples moral positions. It also has to be promoted in a way that connects with people positively because people can get a bit defensive about moral judgements.

    I agree CO2 scrubbing by direct air capture  must not be used as an excuse to go on burning fossil fuels. It may have its place to reduce some atmospheric CO2 but not all.  It's important for people to realise it's costly, and is untested at scale. To directly capture all or most of the   CO2 from the air will require tens of thousands of scrubbers (someone calculated this I cant remember the exact figure) and the planet probably doesn't have have the reserves of specialist metals required for this. While its ok to be optimistic about technology to a point, faith in  future generations finding a way to scrub all the CO2 from the air rather than this generation reducing emissions is blind optimism and very irresponsible. 

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  15. nigelj,

    I should have been clearer. My concern about pointing out the benefits of reduced particulate is that morally corrupted leaders could try to claim that reduction of particulate is a moral justification to continue burning 'clean coal'.

    Reducing excess CO2 is the main ethical objective. As you said, reduced particulate is a side-benefit.

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  16. Reducing CO2 in the atmosphere would be a good thing of course. But reducing the particles in the atmosphere would lead to very rapid warming by reducing the reflectivity of the atmosphere, aka "Global Dimming". If we actually succeeded in eliminating the "Asian brown cloud", the increased solar energy reaching the surface of the planet would lead to a very rapid increase of the global average temperature of up to .5 degrees C, within a few days to maybe a week. 

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  17. "the increased solar energy reaching the surface of the planet would lead to a very rapid increase of the global average temperature of up to .5 degrees C, within a few days to maybe a week"

    Sunspot, I'm going to assume that's conjecture on your part, unless by some remote chance you can cite a credible source that supports that assertion?

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  18. There are many sources of information on Global Dimming from the internet. There is a 2005 BBC Horizons documentary. Some of it may be speculation unsupported by peer-reviewed journalism. How about if I had said "could" instead of "would"? 

    I am interested in all facets of Global Warming and the Climate Change it is creating. I don't know what is going to happen. I am convinced big things are likely to happen soon. Websites like this that are so restrictive of the subjects that are allowed for discussion that it just seem unscientific to me. Global Dimming is a real thing. So is the potential for massive methane releases from the Arctic, and elsewhere. Deal with reality or reality will deal with you.

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  19. So you don't actually have any evidence to support your assertion, got it.

    Let's then return to the topic of this post.

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  20. Regarding 'global dimming from particulate' as a potential way to 'address the climate vulnerability' problem.

    If the particulate is due to human actions that are unsustainable and harmful, then the global dimming is unsustainable and harmful. At some future date the unsustainable harmful human action has to be stopped. It would be morally unacceptable for more harmful CO2 impacts to be created because 'human induced global dimming is claimed to be helpful'. There is more harm from the burning than the excess CO2 that stays in the atmosphere.

    Therefore, the people wanting to promote global dimming must be required to prove conclusively that no harmful consequence will occur as a result of the 'added human impact on the global climate system' or the diversion of human brilliance from the need to reduce the harms of fossil fuel burning. That means proving that maximum effort to curtail fossil fuel burning will still happen if global dimming is considered.

    Another way to state the moral requirement is that global dimming would be done only if it is almost certain to create no harmful impacts and be done in addition to aggressive reduction of the harms done by fossil fuel burning.

    The current generation is clearly morally challenged by the growing need to minimize the harm done to the future generations. The development of unsustainable and harmful pursuits of profit has been morally corrupting societies and the development of their economies for a very long time. For many decades the ability of societies to develop sustainable improvements for the future generations have been overwhelmed by the burden of having to try to minimize the developed and developing harm done to future generations by popular and profitable attitudes and actions. Economies are loaded with harmful activities. Correcting them without reducing perceptions of prosperity and opportunity is virtually impossible. And the required decline of perceptions of prosperity and opportunity for the increases each year of 'continued progress in unsustainable and harmful directions'.

    Regarding climate change, the identified moral requirement is to limit of impact to 1.5 C warming, with impacts to the level of 2.0 C reluctantly identified as an absolute upper limit of impact.

    Regrading global dimming, the temperature limits must be understood to be met without any additional help from human induced global dimming. And the global dimming actions must also be proven to have virtually no risk of causing any harm to people in any region of the planet. Global dimming promoters may be able to met that standard of proof to be able to morally justify consideration and pursuit of such an action. But discussing human induced global dimming without clearly correcting for the morally corrupted reality of currently developed socioeconomic-political environments is likely to result in more harm being done.

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  21. "If we actually succeeded in eliminating the "Asian brown cloud", the increased solar energy reaching the surface of the planet would lead to a very rapid increase of the global average temperature of up to .5 degrees C, within a few days to maybe a week."

    0.5 degrees c is conjecture with no evidence, but even if it was correct use of all coal fired power won't stop simultaneously,  so temperatures could not possibly rise 0.5 degrees in a week. In fact any gobal dimming would be gradual spread over years. It's just another in built problem created by burning fossil fuels.

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  22. I have no idea how anything I have said can be interpereted as supporting an intentional program of combatting Global Warming by using a Global Dimming strategy.  I don't support such efforts.

    There is evidence for a rapid rise in temps in the few days after 911 when the planes in the US were grounded. Here's the BBC Horizon video from 2005: There is a lot of other information on Global Dimming, some from sources that people here might actually trust. At any rate, you'll be hearing more about it - I just saw it in a MSM article the other day...

    "If the particulate is due to human actions that are unsustainable and harmful, then the global dimming is unsustainable and harmful." Well, in this case, the "cloud" actually does reflect solar energy back into space. Just like any cloud, right?? This has a cooling effect. I have certainly noticed that it is generally cooler on a cloudy day. Brown pollution clouds certainly act the same way, and I don't think that's conjecture. So, a bad and immoral (I guess) action by humans actually has a beneficial effect. Maybe everything isn't so black-and-white after all...

    While we're talking (before you ban me) - the Methane video being promoted here ignored the real issue as to a SUDDEN release of large quantities of methane. The video discussed permafrost discharges from the land, which of course really can't come out suddenly due to the nature of the situation. However, the video didn't even mention the vast amount of methane stored in the sediments of the Arctic Ocean, which certainly can be released suddenly in large quantities. Clathrates are very unstable, and a warm pulse of salty water just might trigger something. MIGHT! Please don't accuse me of thinking that I know what is going to happen, BECAUSE I DON'T. And I'm sorry if these concepts don't fit neatly in the Skeptical Science philosophy that the warming will be linear, we can fix it with enough windmills and solar panels, and we will go on living our middle-class lives with just a little tweaking. And bad things might happen in 100 or 200 years. I suppose it's comforting to think this, but for a site that pretends to be all about science, you have to ignore a lot of science to come to that rosy conclusion.

    So you can ban me before or after publishing this comment. I'm sure I once again violated all sorts of rules and regulations and guidelines or whatever. Forgive me for using plain English.

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  23. Sunspot:

    Here at Skeptical Science we try to focus on what data is known.  The scientific consensus is generally accepted as what is known.  Sometimes there is no consensus on a topic and it is interesting to review the various proposals.

    In any discussion we support our arguments with data that comes from the scientific literature.  BBC documentaries are sometimes helpful but are not considered authoritative.  If you say what you think based on something you read on the internet that is hearsay and not acceptable.  You might want to read the comments policy.

    The rule that you have to provide evidence to support your claims keeps the discussion within limits.  Sites that allow anyone to say whatever they think devolve into arguments we do not like.

    Your claims have been made before.  They are at the extreme of scientific views.  We all hope that they are incorrect.  If you want to discuss them someone might engage you if you have a less hostile attitude.

    A word to the wise: the fastest way to get banned is to suggest you should be banned.  Any complaints about moderation will cause you problems.  If you provide evidence to support your worries people will engage with you.

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  24. sunspot,

    I strongly recommend that you read Stephen Gardiner's "A Perfect Moral Storm-The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change" published in 2011. Gardiner's 2016 article in the Washington Post "Why climate change is an ethical problem", is a partial presentation of his ethical argument about the moral corruption that can be observed to be occurring in matters related to climate change.

    Re-read my comment with the awareness that people can be easily tempted into moral corruption. Ethically artificially 'dimming' the sky would require 'proof that the artificial action chosen to be allowed to be done by humans is almost certain to not harm life in any region of the planet'. The same moral obligation, or governing limit of behaviour, is the reason for the need for the rapidly correction of the incorrect over-development of the use of fossil fuels.

    Almost everything I have read about the impacts of global dimming indicate that such an action is almost certain to result in harmful impacts on life in many regions of the planet (admittedly some shallow presentations make no mention of that aspect of artificial global dimming).

    It is essential to appreciate the moral obligation to protect the entire robust diversity of life on this planet that humans survive as a part of. That obligation includes the need to limit actions based on the obligation to not harm people in remote regions that we will never meet and future generations who, of course, never can be met.

    Humans have very little understanding about the parts of the web of life that they do not need to survive. Future generations find out after the fact what parts of the diversity are helpful to our survival, typically most tragically after popular and profitable human activity develops that resists correction. And more tragically, it is impossible to find out 'after the fact' what aspects of life that our actions cause to become extinct could have been helpful.

    The challenge of 'proof of no harm done by deliberate artificial global dimming' is unlikely to be provided. My point remains, discussion of global dimming can become a morally compromising problem if it in any way distracts from the needed focus on efforts to rapidly correct the incorrectly over-developed use of fossil fuels. And the greatest danger of discussions of how to do such a thing in an already morally corrupted socioeconomic-political environment is the potential that morally corrupted leaders In One Nation could try to get away with benefiting from it to the detriment of others by delaying the reduction of use of fossil fuels by the population of their nation 'because it is claimed that something like global dimming can deal with the problem', or worse that the nation Unilaterally causes global dimming in a way that they 'believe and claim will benefit their nation'.

    In an already morally corrupted socioeconomic-political system the helpful actions need to be restricted to actions that correct harmful developed attitudes and actions. It is morally corrupt to consider additional artificial actions to be a 'cure' based on the unjustified hope that they will fully helpfully counter-act a harmful artificial action that needs to be stopped, no new harms done.

    Based on that understanding about the only artificial action I see as morally justified is the addition of CO2 scrubbing if it can be proven that there are no harmful side effects. And as nigelj has correctly pointed out, ethical helpful (no harm done) CO2 scrubbing is unlikely to be able to be significantly helpful.

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  25. OPOF @24, what you say is true and needs to be said, however  I dont think sunspot was advocating some form of solar geoengineering. I think he was just listing various concerns, although in a rather haphazard sort of way. 

    Regarding rapid, sudden climate change, methane clathrate bombs etc the following article is a good assessment of worst case scenarios.

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  26. nigelj,

    I understand the current very low probability of a catastrophic future climate impact event triggered by accumulated human impacts. But as the decades of slow action to curtail fossil fuel use drag on, the probability of such unbelievable events increases. And the distraction of a search for improved understanding of 'other possible emergency actions' becomes more tempting. And the 'lesser of the evils' arguments become tragically more likely.

    The current generation already faces a tragic 'lesser of evils' decision making process in the face of a more daunting requirement for action because of the lack of corrective action by previous generations. Popular and profitable over-development in incorrect directions has created a bigger problem needing more rapid correction that is actually harder to increase the rate of correction of (because many more fortunate people would be less fortunate because of the required correction, especially if the progress of poverty reduction has to be maintained and improved upon, which it does).

    Sunspot's comments lead me to believe that they likely consider global dimming to be a potentially helpful action. They may also support delaying actions to reduce the global dimming produced by the current use of fossil fuels. Sunspot may even support increasing the global dimming impacts from use of fossil fuels while the global economy is being corrected by leadership taking actions to more rapidly curtail the use of fossil fuels.

    The consideration of the benefits of particulate reduction started in your comment @12. And our back and forth comments quickly clarified our alignment on the ethical points related to that issue, concluded with my comment @15.

    Sunspot then commented @16 indicating concern about reducing particulate, implying the potential benefits of artificial global dimming. And Daniel Bailey @17 correctly challenged Sunspot's claim that very rapid and significant change of global average surface temperature would occur today if the artificial global dimming due to fossil fuel use was to suddenly be stopped.

    Sunspot @18 added the concern about massive methane release from the Arctic, implying a potential support for the idea of artificial global dimming to reduce the risk of that potential result.

    Sunspot @22 then declared there were ethical benefits from global dimming. Sunspot's response to my comment @20 included “So, a bad and immoral (I guess) action by humans actually has a beneficial effect. Maybe everything isn't so black-and-white after all...”. That presumption of Good being produced by a 'supposed immoral' action needed to be challenged in depth.

    I will go through it in a little more depth because it is so important for people to be aware of.

    The core ethical argument against that line of thinking starts by pointing out the moral risk of leaders allowing more CO2 to accumulate because global dimming is popularly claimed to be able to counter-act it. If that excusing of more CO2 emissions was actually successful, then the disaster threat of the rapid ending of global dimming could indeed become a very tragic reality that was avoidable (the only barrier to it being avoided being the moral corruption of leaders). It would be the result of promotion, research and discussion regarding global dimming that incorrectly encourages people to care less and do less about reducing the burning of fossil fuels.

    Additional ethical arguments against artificial global dimming would include the likely negative impacts of the global dimming on life in many regions of the planet, impacts that are in addition to the added risk of more massive future harm because of a loss of focus on the core ethical requirement to rapidly curtail the harmful impacts of the use of fossil fuels. And the negative impacts of use of fossil fuel include the artificial global dimming it also produces.

    The discussion of artificial global dimming being potentially helpful in a socioeconomic-political system that is already morally compromised can develop a very insidious potentially popular claim-making. It could be claimed that as the use of fossil fuels is wound down they should be burned without abatement of the production of global dimming impacts, because dimming is beneficial.

    There is a clear moral peril associated with the consideration of any alternative to the actually required rapid termination of the use of fossil fuels and all of the associated negative impacts. Other actions need to limited to being potential supplementary beneficial actions. As such, as supplementary actions deemed to only be helpful additional actions, they must not have any potential negative aspects related to them. And the worst negative aspect would be 'less focus and effort on curtailing the use of fossil fuels', resulting in increased probability of future catastrophic climate change events.

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  27. OPOF @26, yes the probabilities of problems has only got worse. And will continue to get worse if we do nothing.

    I do think the article on worst case scenarious is good science overall. It's a sober, solid risk assessment in most ways. Some people get a little carried away with climate risks and have made big exaggerated claims about imminent human extinction, imminent methane bombs etc.  The denialists use this to then discredit global warming theory and the whole scientific extablishment by association. 

    Having said that, the realclimate article struck me as too conservative in some ways. Essentially their theory is there are a number of dangerous tipping points that could lead to rapid change including relatively sudden methane releases, amoc slowdown, thwaites glacier collapsing, but these are all very unlikely, things will be slower. Ok I accept this, but if the experts are wrong about even one of these tipping points it could be catastrophic. With so many potential climate problems the chance of an underestimate increases. I hope I dont sound contradictory. 

    I agree Sunspot was sending very mixed messages, which I initially found frustrating and confusing. He's not the first to do this. However he clarified his point @22 in the first paragraph, and that was good enough for me.

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  28. nigelj,

    The opening statement of Sunspot's comment @22 is contradicted by the content of the 3rd para. of that comment. That was what prompted me to not accept the opening statement of the comment.

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  29. All the comples psycho-babble doesn't negate the simple fact that if the politicians depend for the financing of their next election by vested interests, they will do their bidding.  Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune.  It really is a simple as that.

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