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A Swedish Teenager's Compelling Plea on Climate

Posted on 18 February 2019 by greenman3610

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede, makes a moving plea for climate action, and scientists explain the rationale for it.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 56:

  1. Thinking about climate change and more droughts and consequent food shortages, this is likely to seriously intensify right at the time population climbs to around 8 - 10 billion (if we do nothing to stop this), and when fisheries collapse beyond salvation  through extreme over fishing and global debt levels reach absolute crisis point. This will be perfect storm for future generations to contend with.

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  2. All "solutions" proposed such as the GND are focused on how to keep the wealthy, wasteful, 20% of the world who are responsable for more than half the damage, just like it is or even better while the other 80% can fend for themselves and fight over whats left.

    This is impacting/killing millions right now. We don't need to wait for future generations.

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  3. Well I am going to post an unpopular opinion. While there have been opinions posted about the need for solutions that are socially just, move away from selfishness, etc (eg ), I am more interested in pragmatic approaches. Yes, it would wonderful to solve climate and a dozen other world problems in ways that are just, sustainable, and apple pie. However, the critical thing is to actually solve them and that means you might need to swallow some rats:

    The wealthy have always had unequal power and while revolutions briefly change that, long term that is still probably a given.

    To create change in a democracy, you need a majority of your representatives support the change.

    Demanding an end to capitalism or eating the rich is not going to get you there. It is just ammunition for those who think AGW is a manufactured leftist conspiracy. GND is alienating people you need to support its substance. Maybe it changes the Overton window and is a pathway to something better, but as it stands, no way.

    Human nature is what it is, and I have no faith in “solutions” that depend on changing it. Better to accept what we are and go with solutions that work with human nature (exploiting our aversion to taxes and tendencies to selfishness) and for which you can build broad support among your democratic representatives.


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  4. scaddenp@3,

    My simple response, which is also unpopular, is that the past 30 years have proven that the current system is not motivated to fix the problem. And actions to fix it that keep the richer, richer (do not socially coprrect the system) will lead to harmful consequences without actually solving the problem.

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  5. I don't think it's about getting rid of rich people and capitalism. We have seen enough failed experiments on this. I think its about reducing the undue, disproportionate influence of the mega rich and of corporations. I think that is an achieveable goal but it wont be without a big fight.

    Scaddenp, note how google has just been taxed in NZ! See it's not impossible.

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  6. The "current system" is what we have got and its not going anywhere. The "current system" is also making significant progress in countries outside the US but the polarized state of US politics is probably the major drag on global progress. Those pushing for climate change action have to figure out how to reach out to other side instead of pushing an ideological barrow. Other countries can manage this.

    Actions that result in eliminating FF use will solve the climate problem whether they further impoverish the poor or not. Objecting to effective solutions because they dont fit your ideals for fairness etc is as blind climate change denial. To me, tax and dividend, despite relying on our selfishness and existing systems, is best way to make progress. It looks to be the best chance of reaching across the aisle to get the political capital required. Eg see here. US climate activists need to work with these people, not alienate them.

    A vital component of any proposed solution is "politically feasible". Anything else is a waste of time.

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  7.  I would also say that strong scientific consensus was not fully evident till TAR in 2001, but I fully admit that to be opinion since it isnt measured.

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  8. Nigelj - a "google tax" makes a modest suppliment to our government income without creating any noticable difference to corporates wealth (isnt tax paid overseas deductable anyway) and certainly doesnt change the disproportiate power of wealth. A measure was capable of making that level of structural change (who knows what that would be) would have a major struggle to be enacted.

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  9. A more positive example of change is that around plastic bag use. While government regulations obviously are helping, I hear people using plastic bags in a supermarket apologizing to those around them. There is a social pariah developing about plastic use and our human nature is then working to make to things better. I would heartily plug again Niki Harre "Psychology for a better world" as ways of using human nature to effect change instead of demand that it change.

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  10. Scadd - You condemn all of humanity based on the actions of 1% of the population. Human nature is inclined to mutual interest and cooperation, !% who rule disallow this.

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  11. Scaddenp

    "Those pushing for climate change action have to figure out how to reach out to other side instead of pushing an ideological barrow. Other countries can manage this."

    I agree, but I think America is really stuck in a very bad space and its very hard going there. Obama was a pragmatist to an extent ( and I am pretty much). His considerable ideals transcended the usual liberal / conservative ideological ideals. He reached out many times in a spirit of bipartisan pragmatism, and tried to frame things in ways that conservatives might relate to (as did Bill Clinton a bit) but as one commentator put it each time his hand came back as a bloody stump. America are going to need something pretty special to break this level of tribalism.

    I agree about tax and dividend in theory (I've promoted it all over the place) and is seems like the most workable thing in America. It's pretty politically neutral, doesn't increase size of government, but so far it still hasn't got any real traction. Now playing "devils advocate", its actually The Green New Deal is what is getting peoples attention, despite all the social baggage, imho probably because it's an actual "plan" not just some single tax that's supposed to solve everything.

    Nikki Harri is interesting. Happiness and positivity = change. Setting good examples and copying other peoples behavious = change. Now doesn't Jacinda Adern understand this so perfectly?

    I notice Nikki also talks about framing things in moral terms and in reference about harm to others. Is that not what OPOF is doing?

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  12. jef - I am not disagreeing that systems are unfair and need improvement. I am strongly disagreeing with calls to revolution under guise of climate action. I do not accept that effective actions within the current system (eg tax and dividend) are impossible. I am not much interested in solutions that do not have a political path to fufillment or require human nature to change. I agree that human nature is also social and cooperative - the anti-plastic movement is successfully channelling that at least here in NZ. I believe that similar processes could ( and hopefully will) solve the climate problem.

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  13. " Now playing "devils advocate", its actually The Green New Deal is what is getting peoples attention, despite all the social baggage, imho probably because it's an actual "plan" not just some single tax that's supposed to solve everything."

    Spend some time on a few US rightwing blogs and see what is discussed.

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  14. "I notice Nikki also talks about framing things in moral terms and in reference about harm to others. Is that not what OPOF is doing?"

    As OPOF has pointed out though, that speaks well to the left but loyalty and authority are also important to right. For many conservatives, they will only hear the argument if it is coming from someone in their tribe. If protest actions suggest disrespect for authority or breach of loyalty, then they will alienate rather than convince.

    On the other hand, if people see that "this is what folks do" (traces), then they will tend to do likewise (whatever your leanings) which could work for you or against it. If running a petrol car causes looks of disdain from within your tribe, then you buy electric. If churches and prominant individuals put solar panels on their buildings then it becomes ok to put them on yours without worrying about "ugly".

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  15. I recently happened upon a TedTalk by Johan Rockström, the new co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research which seems to fit into this discussion - it at least provides some more food for thought:

    5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world

    The general thrust is about how to work towards the UN's 17 Sustainability Goals within the Planetary Boundaries.

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  16. Scaddenp @13 &14

    I can imagine what right wing websites say about the Green New Deal, and it won't be pretty. I have a vivid imagination. However these websites do represent the extremists.

    With the devils advocates hat still on, I think its more about appealing to moderate Republicans. While they probably hate the social provisions of the GND it's hard to argue with the first few points in the plan because they are general, and they might go with a government financed infrastructure build that is deficit financed in preference to taxes. I think they hate taxes more than deficit financing.

    I just dont see how one frames the climate issue in a way related to authority and loyalty. The EPA in America is supposed to be an "authority" and its hated by Republicans. I think they only respect authority if its their kind of authority. Perhaps a moderately authoritarian style of  Democrat President would gain their respect? Obama didn't fit that category, he was quite laid back.

    I agree its true that if community leaders drive electric cars or use solar panels others will come to copy them particularly among Republicans who value authoritarianism, but I don't see much of that happening yet in Republican communities, and it seems unlikely to happen, because such leaders could be labelled liberal sympathisers. I mean I would like to be wrong obviously.

    I think the whole thing is more likely to be driven by economics: Carbon taxes, cheaper electric cars (which are likely within just a few years), cheaper wind energy etcetera. I think The GOP is perhaps sympathetic to this and helping give it a push, but its all been derailed by Donald Trump, and he has them under his thumb. That's authoritarianism for you!


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  17. scaddenp@7,

    I refer to the past 30 years of resistance to correction of the unsustainable and harmful developments in the "global developed set of systems that clearly needs correction" in ways that also sustainably improve circustances for the less fortunate because of the clear and blunt statement of the problem presented in the UN Report "Our Common Future" in 1987:

    "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."

    Every leader on the planet has 'no excuse to be unaware of that understanding'.

    The continued successful resistance to the corrections that are clearly required (not just in the USA) is undeniable, and inexcusable. Even teenagers who have never heard of the Report understand that.

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  18. scadedenp,

    Basically, the right-wing in the USA and many other regions of the planet has developed into Tribalism that is in serious need of correction. Intervention may be required if they will not understand and admit they need correction.

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  19. Regarding the TedTalk by Johan Rockström. This is related: The original world 3 Model on population, resources and growth. You can play with it, just click on Simulate and Settings at the top of the page.

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  20. OPOF - global leaders in a democracy are constrained by what their voters will let them do. This has to work grass-roots. I hate to think what you might mean by "intervention".

    Nigelj, I have little stomach for reading rabid far right sources (or far left) but I do look for intelligent sites where it is possible to find common ground. (I am not sure my political values are far into the left - I've voted for which ever party seems to have better grasp of current problems).  Try American Conservative or Reason. (and search for Green New Deal).  I also look over Lucia's Blackboard (used to be lukewarmer hangout).

    Loyalty and authority ? Look at American Conservation Coalition (I posted the link before too). Because it speaks to conservative values, it has a much better chance of being listened to. More important is to think about any climate protest action is viewed by the people you are trying to convince, not what give a warm glow to people of your own tribe.

    But if your real aim is to try and convince of right wingers to suddenly own your values, then good luck. You will need it.

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  21. Actually, have a read of the principles on the ACC site and see how many you agree with and if not could you live with. OPF might be surprised at the possibilities for common ground. 

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  22. scaddenp,

    The Unite the Right groups forming around the world are the incorrect developments I am referring to that need to be corrected. They are groups of people that deliberately exclude Progressive Conservative types of leadership. They play misleading marketing games in the hopes of continuing to get the votes of people who developed a liking for voting for anything sounding like it is "Conservative".

    If the right-wing people you follow do not figure out how to regain control of the discourse among the United right-wing, and the proper improvement of awareness and understanding among the group that has been gathering power in Unite the Right groups, then you are likely following an ineffective group of people on the right (people who the Unite the Right leadership will dismiss).

    Sadly, many people who have developed a Tribal preference to vote Conservative continue to support Unite the Right groups that have been taken over by leadership of harmful collectives that fight against a diversity of corrections that are required to develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity. The corrections to fossil fuel burning are only one part of the diversity of required corrections the Unite the Right fight against. And their Right wing winning in many nations (USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, ...) can be seen to be impediments to the climate impact corrections that are required. Even when they do not win, their misleading marketing to the public perverts the actions that the real winners would have taken to more aggressively, more responsibly, correct what had developed (as you say, the opinion among the public is powerful, but it is shaped by the stories leaders try to get people to believe).

    Sally Kohn's "The Opposite of Hate" lays out a good presentation of the direction of development the Unite the Right are on and why they succeed. If the reasonable among the Right do not regain control, governing the Right with the Universal Moral Principle of helping to improve the future for Others and do no harm to Others, then external actions (intervention) will be needed to correct what is developing (or massive harm will be done). The same can be said for any groups on the Left that are failing to self-Govern by the Universal Moral Principle. But the mainstream Left are currently remaining in control of the Left, except in regions that suffer negative consequences created by the incorrect Right getting away with unsustainable and harmful actions.

    The most benign form of corrective intervention would be non-United Right leaderships acting in ways that disappoint believers of the many incorrect beliefs gathered up in the Unite the Right. If that does not bring about suitable corrections of awareness and understanding, then penalties may be required.

    This is no different than how any society learns to deal with and correct unsustainable harmful developments. The tragedy is that global humanity is still struggling to limit the development of harmful unsustainable activity.

    The thing to be concerned about is the potential violent response of the people who need to be corrected but have developed a powerful dislike for being corrected.

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  23. An added point related to my comment@22.

    Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" should be read in conjunction with "The Opposite of Hate".

    The abuse of the ability to tempt people to excuse doing harm to Others as a defence for incorrectly developed tribal desires, and the powerful resistance to being corrected that can also develop, is important for everyone to understand.

    Compromising what is understood to be required to 'make everyone happy' is impossible. The case of climate change is a powerful proof of that.

    People with developed desires to do things that are understandably harmful to Others (and the future generations are the largest group of Others) need to be disappointed by all Leaders/Winners (having their leading/winning ended if they managed to already become Leaders/Winners). All leaders need to be seen to be trying to correct the understanding of those types of people and be implementing actions that disappoint and penalize them unless they correct their understanding of what is acceptable (being helpful not harmful to Others, no other considerations over-ruling that Rule).

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  24. I have to agree with scaddenp. It's not actually absolutely necessary to cure world hunger, inequality etc etc to fix mamade climate change - it would be nice, but it really isn't essential. Unfortunately, anyone who spends any time fighting denialism, particularly the more sopisticated type, soon realises that the engine behind denialism isn't really the fossil fuel corporations anymore but is more the right wing's horror of the solutions put forth as 'essential' by the left wing.  I think it fair to say that a significant part of the leadership of some of the large environmental organisations and campignig bodies tends to be very left wing and its arguable that many actually are the 'watermelons' that they are characterised as - green on the outside, red on the inside. Far left individuals masqueranding as environmentalists. There are significant 'climate change personalities' such as Dr Richard Alley, Potholer 54 and Katherine Hayhoe who are right wing, even Republicans but I have sensed a curious reluctance from some climate campaigners, and some in Greenpeace, to even consider their words and 'right wing' solutions as acceptable. It doesn't seem to these 'watermelon' types that solutions which very well might work should be allowed, because they counter far left wing ambitions.

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  25. Nick Palmer,

    "...the engine behind denialism isn't really the fossil fuel corporations anymore but is more the right wing's horror of the solutions put forth as 'essential' by the left wing."

    The right-wing you refer to has been taken over by the newly developed United Right I refer to. That new leadership of the Right is the problem needing to be corrected. And that United Right leadership like to try to claim that the understood corrections required to develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity are "The Left", and are ideas of Others to be Feared.

    I support the Responsible helpful members of the Right regaining control of their side of the spectrum. I do not see them succeeding without help from the "Left" which can only be obtained by those on the Right acting to helpfully achieve and improve on all, not some, of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    The Sustainable Development Goals are blind to political sides. They are the best understanding and are open to improvement by any reasoned case presented by any side. And all siodes should accept the constantly improved understanding (very science like).

    Right now the Right substantially incorrectly fights to oppose the achievment of the Sustainable Development Goals (because of loss of undeserved perceptions of status relative to others if the corrections are achieved). That needs to change, preferably by people on the Right regaining control over the dialogue and discourse from their side to be helpful participants in the development of sustainable improvements for the future of humanity.

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  26. scaddenp @21

    Thank's for the links and I will read them. However it doesn't address the points I raised on the difficulties of framing things in a way that connects with conservatives. I do think we have to find some way, because the reality of politics means convincing enough conservatives to get enough overall votes.

    I'm very much a swing voter. I also support whatever party has the most sensible policies and capable leader at the time. I dont understand life long partisan loyalties, seems ridiculous to me. But apparently people like us are in a minority.

    I haven't suggested that a solution to the climate issue is for people to adopt my political values as such. Talking about values is is a different thing from that. Its a science website so I feel nothing should be off the table for analysis.

    I do think we are better to stay with promoting specific quantifiable climate policies.

    However the UN sustainable development goals do not seem like political values. They seem well constructed and it would seem wrong to compromise them in case it offends "unite the right". There is a danger in compromising so much that nothing of worth is left.

    I sense that a significant proportion of grass roots conservatives would probably go along with the sustainable development goals as a philosophy. I would bet money the majority of the general public would support them.

    Imho we are in effect being held hostage by a minority of more extreme voices on the right and their political and media influence and brazen and inflammatory rhetoric.  But its up to the general public to gain an awareness of this and make their voices heard. It does indeed have to come from the grass roots.

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  27. nigelj

    " However it doesn't address the points I raised on the difficulties of framing things in a way that connects with conservatives."

    With respect, I think the ACC platform statements provides a clear guide. Lets take local perspective, say issue of dairying. Which approach do you think will work for changing farming practise:

    1/ A protest at Field days decrying dirty dairying with signs about farmers destroying the landscape and putting profits before water quality.

    2/ Or this. "Tired of being told by town greenies to destroy your livelihood? Sick of people with no knowledge of farming telling you how to manage your land? Farmers have always valued the land and passed its stewardship down through generations. We also value our water (who better?), and our environment (we live in it instead looking at pictures). Come and hear some practical ecologists, with a long history of working with farmers instead of against them, talk about their discoveries and ways in which your deep knowledge of your own land could harness these insights for a better land and better business".

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  28. OPOF - the far right and far left will do what they always have. What bugs me is the belief that best way to fight a fire is pouring petrol on it.

    In any democracy, I am familiar with, changing government or policy depends on the relatively small part of the population who dont vote tribally at least some of the time. These are overwhelming the centre and so influencing such voters is the key to change. In US in particular, you can also affect change by getting some lawmakers to cross the floor. This means policy that doesnt offend their political values.

    In US, I think you could get climate policy by working with conservative groups to get policy that say, ticks every box on the ACC platform statement. Then you get conservative groups to promote it.

    Instead we get GND...

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  29. The problem with UN sustainable goals in the "UN" bit on the front of them. Anything UN is red flag to some. What would work would be nations internalizing these into nation-specific goals without referencing the UN.

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  30. Scaddenp @26 I must admit the greenie side of the protest movement is not subtle. I admit I'm basically in agreement with you on the whole issue. It is about winning over centre leaning swing voters so it needs subtlety and sensitivity and fundamentally sensible ideas.

    I question a couple of your statements because that is what robust discussion should be about,  and to avoid a group think mentality.

    I have generally progressive values, but I am not an extremist and generally take a moderate, centrist, practical position on things,  amply demonstrated I feel. It's tough going, because everyone thinks one is either secretly ultra conservative or secretly ultra  liberal. It can be a lonely place sometimes, but I have to go with where the hard evidence and logic leads, not tribal loyalty. 

    Remember we don't have to win over all people, just the majority and some of the power brokers. Too much compromise can be as disastrous as no compromise.

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  31. Scaddenp, I have had a quick look at your conservative website links and there is quite a lot I would agree with, but the trouble is The GOP and the republican congress and Trump are acting out another script entirely. 

    There is clearly a massive rift between grass roots conservatives and the hierarchy, but the grass roots are compliant because of the inherent respect for authority. Its a challenge, but I agree its good to try to find common ground with grass roots conservatives, and there is some.

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  32. The Democrats arent helping either with things like GND. They seem just as happy to fight a war of ideologies rather than finding a solution. Stepping back from polarization is  difficult and has to begin with talking across the table.

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  33. scaddenp,

    I have tried to remain consistent.

    Any political group, social group, political group or economic system is OK as long as all of its actions are governed by the objective of improving awareness and understanding and applying that knowledge to help develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity (and do no harm to the future of humanity - and do no harm to Others in the current day population).

    Capitalism is great as long as it is monitored and governed to ensure that helpful actions are rewarded and unsustainable and harmful actions are quickly discouraged (before they can develop the problematic resistance to correction due to popularity and profitability).

    I would also like to see all the parties that want to help improve the future for humanity control what happens. I see the Conservatives in Canada, Australia, the USA and Japan as no longer having any moderate influence inside them (moderate voters ay support them, but there is no moderate progressive influenceon party actions).

    So my point remains that unless the moderate progressive Conservatives regain control of those United Right Conservative Parties that deliberately kick out or stifle any Progressive members, those Conservative Parties are not the parties you refer to (the right wing you and I would like to support has no significant power).

    And the bottom line of the GND is that it helps the future of humanity with the objective of not causing more harm to any group. Correcting undeserved developed perceptions of status relative to others is not 'harming those who have the undeserved perceptions of status'. And the Unite the Right can be seen to be winning power by gathering up a diversity of groups that have developed (or want to develop) undeserved perceptions of status and resist correction of those perceptions. And that group includes people opposed to actions to correct the perceptions of status obtained by benefiting from the burning of fossil fuels.

    So the moderate/progressive Conservatives have to set up new parties or take back control of the Unite the Right consolidated Conservative parties that have developed. And I fully support either action. What I do not support is compromising what is understood to be required by 'negotiation' with political groups that have proven they have little interest in participating in the required corrections.

    Bottom line. It is only possible to discuss issues with people who have common objectives. The right have allowed their side to be taken over by a United group of people who do not share the objective of helping to develop a sustainable better future for humanity (some of them may pay lip-service to climate action, but they definitely oppose any other helpful corrections. And their actual support for the required climate action corrections is questionable). Interesting point is that the left extremists include people who are better aligned with that helpful objective than moderate Conservatives who tribally continue to support United Right groups.

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  34. OPOF - my issue is that what you want seems to involve somehow changing people. I do not see a feasible path to implementation.

    I engage with "right" and usually have no problem finding common ground, especially if I avoid demonising and respect values. I predict there will be no progress in US unless Dems are also prepared to stop gaming for their tribal values. How much time do you spend in conversation with GOPers?

    The bottom line on GND is that is unsellable (not to mention on unphysical and antagonistic, increasing polarization not decreasing).

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  35. sacddenp,

    I indeed want to change attitudes. I want to correct any developed harmful unhelpful attitudes and minimize the future development of such attitudes.

    I have a relative who is a devout GOP supporter. When I challenge them to be helpful rather than harmful they shut down rather than improving their understanding, especially when I point out the factually incorrect things they have been tempted to believe. If I do not challenge them on that essential objective to be helpful and attempt to correct their understanding the conversations are pointless, purely 'getting along'.

    I understand that chosing not to 'get along' can be hard. As an Engineer it was my responsibility to 'not get along with people who wanted to benefit from being harmful and to not get along with people who did not want to improve their understanding of a matter that mattered'. So my ability to accept that some people are not worth getting along with is potentially rather unique. But I still strive to help others improve their awareness and understanding and become more helpful to the development of sustainable improvements for the furture of humanity, even if it means not getting along with a relative (I still try to help them, but I have not yet found a way to break them out of their incorrect developed beliefs).

    As for Other values. I only respect values that are governed by the pursuit of improved awareness and understanding and helping to develop sustainable improvemenst for humanity and correct harmful developments. Any 'values' that are not governed that way are immoral/unethical/harmful. The perfect examples are party loyalty and respect for hierarchy in the GOP that has supported/excused ridiculous members who have repeatedly spouted nonsense regarding climate science. Where are the Conservatives who will publicly ridicule those among them who deserve to be ridiculed (few and far between because of that tribal trait that is stronger in the Right Wing that resists correction than in the Left Wing that pushes for changes)?

    The bottom line on the GND is that the vast majority of the younger population support it. The older generation resists it (including some, but not all, of the older Democrats in the USA). And that is consistent with Greta's perfectly pointed point.

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  36. " I want to correct any developed harmful unhelpful attitudes and minimize the future development of such attitudes."

    And your path to that? I doubt you can do it. "I have not yet found a way to break them out of their incorrect developed beliefs" - that doesnt surprize me at all.

    GND - well I didnt think Trump was electable so I maybe I will be wrong again. My money is on it going nowhere politically without a massive change. And if some miracle happens and it passes, then money is firmly on it not being achievable. Time will tell who is right.

    I still think you are demonising the right. What I hear is people scared of the rapid change, seeing themselves, friends and/or neighbours redundant, towns in decay and no apparent interest from the government. Blaming immigrants/Chinese etc is humanly easier than blaming changing technology. Distant disasters and future change are far less compelling than what is in front of there eyes. Not to mention Trump seeming the lesser of two evils. Trump went for that sentiment and GND is clearly trying to pitch there as well.

    However, I dont think center will buy GND and doubt enough of the disaffected will buy it to make up for that loss. Too many extremely obvious defects will be pointed out.

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  37. Scaddenp @ OPOF.

    It's a simple fact that conservatives have been taken over by extremists in some countries such as the USA and Britain And the Labour Party has also been taken over by an extremist leader in J Corbyn (although he means well). The following article attests to the conservative issue,  and discusses three Tory MPs talking about leaving the party as a result of the extremism.


    The system does seem to self correct like this eventually, and I would say we can encourage it, but it obviously has to be encouraged in factual ways that do not demonise conservatives  too much. Simply stating the fact that their party has been taken over by extremists is a start!

    This issue is also about changing peoples values systems and political ideologies. It's obviously hard, but I do think its possible to do this.

    One example is many of us think racism / xenophobia is wrong and immigration has value , and we have to state "racism is wrong!" Its hard persuading people if we dont identify the problem. You have to identify problems clearly. But I suggest one should not "dwell" on that problem and demonise people for their beliefs. The emphasis has to be on the advantages of multiculturalism, socially and economically, so promote it in a positive way. And even progressives should also accept unreservedly that immigration has to have some basic controls on it : so here is an example of identifying with sensible conservative concerns!

    I think this approach to racism has worked in New Zealand because conservatives have gradually become much more accepting of immigration and multi culturalism, and gay rights, although with the exception of one of the minor parties and their followers. Even if they have deeper misgivings, there is at least a level of acceptance!

    But I fully admit changing peoples core values is hard work. For example I do not take kindly to bible bashers. But it's not impossible to change peoples deeper beliefs. I recall reading some science that we are born either liberal or conservative, but it doesn't appear to be rigidly fixed. I think this was in New Scientist.

    Having said that it still makes total sense to also try to find common ground with other political groups and try and see things from their perspectives and not be too excessively preachy.

    Regarding the  GND. My preference is for carbon tax and dividend, but that has not gained traction, despite the fact it has been designed to satisfy conservative concerns! 

    The GND may be controversial but it could turn into a circuit breaker of some kind. While it is  loaded up with social provisions that do not seem directly relevant,  it has one distinct selling point, it is an actual "plan" and not some nerdy sounding single policy idea like a carbon fee or cap and trade. A lot of this issue is about perceptions.

    Time will tell I guess.

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  38. Changing core values is something I wouldnt bother to attempt. As far as I can see from literature you need either life-event that shocks worldview or tools rather associated with "brain-washing". Converting tribal GOP to Dem  or Nat to Labour in our case isnt going to happen.

    I dont think effective climate action needs to change core values. Market-based solutions are quite acceptable to right. The problem at moment, is any mention of climate action is immediately associated with people who cry "its the end of capitalism" etc. Again, the key is center. Formulate policy you can sell to the center with a charismatic salesperson and dont bother trying to convince the extremes. Generally parties dont need to worry that centrist policies offend their wings - they will grumble but vote for you anyway because that is what they do.

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  39. My thanks to all participants in this interesting and admirably rational discussion. 

    My understanding of the limits to economic growth, as well my moral discomfort with the myriad injustices arising from economic liberalism and the illiberal concentration of capital it enables, places me in sympathy with the radicals represented by jef and OPOF. Clearly, climate change due to anthropogenic global warming shares economic and political causes with other forms of pollution, loss of biodiversity and all other social costs externalized by the 'free' market for goods and services (free, that  is, of collective intervention to internalize those costs in private transactions: we all recognize concentrated capital's power to distort markets to its further advantage).

    Yet I reluctantly agree with scaddenp's #34:

    OPOF - my issue is that what you want seems to involve somehow changing people. I do not see a feasible path to implementation...I predict there will be no progress in US unless Dems are also prepared to stop gaming for their tribal values.

    Any solution the US Congress enacts will be with the consent of the governed: to suppose otherwise is to deny your fellow citizens agency. Accordingly, only broad-based public support can overcome the determined opposition of the wealthy elite. As much as I'd like to see guaranteed jobs and high-quality health care for all Americans, I don't want passage of a US national Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment Tariff to be tied to the rest of the Green New Deal, and would negotiate away the GND's other goals for an effective decarbonization measure.

    IMO, AGW is the most urgent problem the world faces, and it can be effectively addressed in advance of broader economic and political changes. A short-term (decades) solution won't require drastic redesign of global society, and will buy us time. As a consequence of free-market capitalism, AGW can be abated by targeted collective intervention in energy markets. If a meaningful fraction of the marginal climate-change cost of fossil fuels is collected from producers, they will adjust their profit margins as they see fit or exit the market. Either way, fuel prices will rise, causing consumer demand to shift toward carbon-neutral energy. Capital investment should then shift to its production, storage and distribution, bringing fossil carbon emissions to zero rapidly and at the lowest net cost. Yes, global liquidation of natural capital will continue meanwhile, but at least it will be in a stable climate!

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  40. There is a misconception that people cannot change their minds.

    Some of the more recent writings on the topic are trending towards the understanding that each person is born with a pre-disposition, but the environment they grow up in can make significant changes to that pre-disposed starting point and foundation (no one is born to be harmful).

    Sally Kohn's "The Opposite of Hate" is only one of many books exposing that the 'systems' are creating problems.

    The developed socioeconomic political systems will only stop resisting correction 'after they are corrected'.

    And I agree that the correction requires public support, which means changing the minds of people to develop heartfelt pursuit of helping develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity.

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  41. Depends on what you mean by "changing their minds". Core values, (Schwatz framework or similar) nope. Not in the ordinary course of things, or more to point by methods that only involve discourse. Happy to be presented with empirical evidence to the contrary for someone over age of around 7.

    Consider what it would take to change your values to that of a right-wing Red-state voter. A bit of a struggle?

    Far better to recognize that and work to create change within the context of other peoples values, working with them not against them.

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  42. OPOF and Scaddenp. Academic research suggests people are born either liberal or conservative as below:


    So perhaps core values might be pretty fixed and with a biological origin. But I know conservatives sometimes accept liberal positions and vice versa, on specific issues. People often get a little bit more conservative as they age and circumstances change. So some level of significant change is also clearly possible at least on some specific issues. The mechanism is obviously complicated. 

    But I'm all for finding common ground etc as well.

    None of these things are mutually exclusive. 

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  43. scaddenp and nigelj,

    As I have mentioned, my guiding objective is improving awareness and understanding to help develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity.

    A large diversity of sub-values can be gathered under that Universal Rule.

    And no matter what pre-disposition a person is born with, they can learn to develop within that governing principle.

    The human behaviour problems that develop are almost certainly due to the envirnment the individuals experienced and developed in. 'Breaking Cycles of Harm' is a well established understanding. And groups like AA rely on the ability of people to, with personal effort and support, behave different.

    As more people become aware of that, the systems will change, and so will the types of people that develop in the socioeconomic-political systems.

    Admittedly a few 'highly-resistant to correction' people will need to be kept from being able to significantly affect or influence Others (be kept from participating in public competitions for development of impressions relative to Others). But the majority should be expected to want to be more helpful, less harmful, by improving their awareness and understanding.

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  44. Biological determination is relatively new hypothesis, but immutability of values has been long observed. Whatever the underlying mechanisms, they seem set at an early age.

    OPOF - what I am claiming is about values. Behaviours are mutable - provide there isnt a perceived conflict with internal values. Which is just as well because behaviours are primarily what we want to change. Changing attitudes to plastic are a good example of where things want to go. So.. these are achievable:
    Recycling - if it has become the accepted thing, (people look down their noses if you dont), then a social instincts easily rule. Heavy handed forcing though might provoke backlash based on perceived loss of freedom.
    Switching to electric vehicles. Same as above but if EV also has status then so much the easier.
    Buying renewable power - carbon tax is your friend since buying renewable is avoidance of tax. You might even get better uptake if carbon tax revenue was spent on something reprehensible ( but a lot harder to get the tax into law).

    The drivers which switch behaviour though depend on working with human psychology rather convincing people to do things because it is "morally right".

    What is hard to do (impossible), is change the voter of a tribal elector. (Betrayal, Disrespect). And unfortunately a host of other things including attitudes to race where it is tied into tribal identity (apparently so in much of US).

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  45. scaddenp,

    All I am saying is that all Values can be governed by improved awareness and understanding of the essential importance of helping Others including helping to develop sustainable improvements, and make required corrections of unsustainable harmful developments, for the benefit of the future of humanity.

    There are indeed competing values. A set of six have been pretty well identified by studies and been presented comprehensively by Jonathan Haidt in "The Righteous Mind". What was not presented in the book is the importance of Helpfulness governing how all the other Values are Valued.

    All of those Values can be, and need to be, Governed by the Value of 'Helpfulness - Do no harm', which is One of the Six.

    The other values related to Fairness, Loyalty, Purity/Cleanliness, Acceptance of Hierarchy, and Liberty can all be understood to be able to be limited/governed in their acceptability by Helpfulness. Making any of the other Values more important than Helpfulness is not helpful, and can actually be very harmful. That can be understood by everyone.

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  46. Scaddenp @44

    "The drivers which switch behaviour though depend on working with human psychology rather convincing people to do things because it is "morally right".

    True in the main. One example in NZ is conservatives, despite being tribal, and historically a bit sceptical of immigration and multiculturalism have become more accepting of immigration and multi culturalism, and why? Not so much moral lecturing I admit. It's the potential to make money! And to be seen to be open minded?

    But I think over time this all alters the psche as well, and deeper lingering xenophobic attitudes possibly disappear as well.

    I say "in the main" because it seems to escape you that moral judgements are inescapable. Eg most of us agree stealing is wrong. This is appealing to morality and both sides have reached agreement on it. I think the issue here is it takes considerable time to solidify society wide agreement on basic morals and elements of criminal law.

    "What is hard to do (impossible), is change the voter of a tribal elector. (Betrayal, Disrespect). And unfortunately a host of other things including attitudes to race where it is tied into tribal identity (apparently so in much of US)."

    Yeah true, tribalism can become like a vicious self reinforcing cycle and then we have a war. Terrible thing. America are falling into this cycle.

    How far can people bend? Take the UN development goals (and forget the UN label). I could believe the majority of conservatives could embrace these. There's nothing to suggest they are alien to underlying values of fairness, purity, authority etc. The main sticking point is how much should one country help another? And also how they are achieved? Is itindividual initiative or state action, and here conservatives are suspicious of "big government".

    Now here is where we have a big sticking point because some things require some level of "big government", eg universal healthcare. No matter how much we try to find a psychological or economic mechanism to justify universal healthcare that appeals to conservatives (eg it gives us a strong productive population) it still comes up with a, ideological fight about big v small government ideology. How the hell does one resolve that?

    Personally I think we have to make a rational case for things like universal healthcare and hope most people accept it. Fortunately in NZ both sides do seem to accept "moderately sized government" and the fight is around the edges of issues, and is not as tribal and ideologically driven as America. We are a pretty pragmatic lot in NZ.


    Helping others is a fine basic value to encourage. I think it sits at the top of the values pyramid. The issue is conservative resentment of things like tax payer funded welfare programmes. It seems to conflcit with their deeply seated disllike of so called big government, however fortunately a rational economic case case can be made for many government programmes thus avoiding too much moralising on it.

    Not that moralising and rational  / economic cases are mutually exclusive. I think we can do both.

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  47. OPOF - literature doesn't usually conflate moral foundation with values but I guess idea is pretty similar. The idea that one can "govern" others is fundamentally at odds with concept. Foundations/values are what govern the pre-conscious reaction to something. Since it is pre-conscious, it is what it is, and you cant change it. What happens in the conscious mind after that is largely rationalization of the pre-conscious judgement.

    Helpfulness will be used to justify that conclusion (eg a right-wing denier is going claim that peoples job, hard-earned income, and freedoms are at jeopardy thanks to leftist plot. Spot the rationalization?)

    You arent going to change that with discourse. I ask again, can you think of any argument that would change your values to that of a red-state denier?

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  48. nigelj, I think things are better here because the political fights have always looked to the center and swinging voters. The policies of the extremes on either end cant be sold to the electorate and politicians know it. If for instance Labour goes ahead with a CGT, they will be committing politcal suicide if they dont make it a lot more palatable to the right (or at least centre-right). You already see the processes at work for that.  I doubt even the Greens (at least ones with any political experience) would try and sell something like Green New Deal to the electorate.

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  49. Scaddenp @48, yes. I have written detailed letters to Labour imploring them to be practical and remember centre voters. If you don't win enough votes you can't to a thing. Helen Clark understood it.  However there is the risk you end up with weak policies, so its not an easy balance.

    Lian Dann is right. The underlying plan is probably just a cgt on investment property, probably a sellable proposition. Clobbering small business is not.

    I agree I think it was a mistake to put socio-economic values in it the GND. I think what has happened in America is growing tribalism, and The Democrats are hurting form Clintons loss, and have reacted by swinging left. Some media commentary is saying this. As a result they have sort of exploded, and dumped everything possible in the Green New Deal possibly without thinking of the strategic implications.

    However The Democrats did need a "branding exercise" of some sort because its become unclear what they really stand for. But better to keep it separate from environmental stuff.

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  50. scaddenp,

    All 'learning' involves improving (increasing and correcting) a person's awareness and understanding. And learning can be accomplished at any age.

    Being helpful can be learned, especially when awareness and understandings have been established (that are open for continuous improvement) that can be used as the basis for better identifying what is helpful (like the Sustainable Development Goals).

    Achieving the economic corrections required to keep the global warming below 1.5C or 2.0C in ways that do not make more people desperately poor is the required solution.

    Other actions that pragmatically side-step the social circumstances can trigger or fuel (has triggered and fuelled) violent actions, like the yellow-vest protests in France (and worse in Syria and the Sudan).

    And a carbon tax and rebate is less action than what is now required because of the pragmatic leadership actions through the past 30 years. And the conservative middle appears to have little will or ability to support even a weak implementation of Carbon Fee and Rebate in the USA (the middle appear to have become powerless pragmatics remaining loyal in the New GOP or retiring from politics).

    The social elements are probably in the GND for Good Reasons. Pragmatic leadership actions can be seen to have made WW2 the debacle it became (corrective actions were started too late). And the inattention by Republicans and Democrats to the plight of the poor propelled Trump to the Thin Win of the Presidency he achieved, not because he cared to help the poor, but because he took advantage of the tragedy that had been created by Pragmatic Leadership on both sides.

    Admittedly, resistance to correction is a powerful thing. There is indeed plenty of evidence that it is very easy to tempt people to believe that they do not have to correct their thoughts. However, pragmatically 'getting along' by letting people be harmfully incorrect is not very helpful, and is potentially very harmful (in spite of developed perceptions misleading people to want to believe otherwise).

    Things like the GND and SDGs justifiably question and challenge developed perceptions of how Good the developed political leadership Really is in the USA and around the planet. The likes of Trump are right about change being required, but their type of change (increased resistance to correction of awareness and understanding) is not helpful.

    As to the question of me becoming like a climate science denier in a Red State: The scary thing is the way that Sally Kohn's "The Opposite of Hate" exposes how even people who were Good Neighbours can be tempted to do horrible things to their neighbours. It is even easier to get supposedly Good People to do harm to people they do not know (Sally's book also exposes how people who have behaved horribly can learn to become helpful). I would hope that I could not be tempted to become like a harmful denier in a Red State or a member of a harmful political tribe (or a harmful radical Eco-warrior that would cause harm to loggers by putting spikes in trees). I hope to resist having that happen to me by striving to constantly improve my awareness and understanding of how to be helpful (having that objective over-power the Other Moral Urges that can lead to the systemic development of harmful Values that can be hard to correct but do need to be corrected).

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