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Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

Posted on 17 June 2022 by Doug Bostrom

Where we've been

Time flies. This coming summer will mark 15 years of Skeptical Science focusing its effort on "traditional" climate science denial. Leaving aside frivolities,  we've devoted most of our effort to combatting "serious" denial falling into a handful of broad categories of fairly crisp misconceptions: "radiative physics is wrong," "geophysics is wrong," "modeling of geophysical systems is impossible," or "we're unable to measure geophysical behavior of the planet."

The roots of progress in handling our climate problem remain planted in scientific research, and so Skeptical Science has grounded our collection of rebuttals in academic research relevant and responsive to specific misconceptions. 

All of this activity has been centered on a single enduring objective by a narrow interest group, the pursuit of which creates a dire conflict. The purpose of the fossil fuel industry is to monetize fossil fuel resources. Every year that goes by without modernizing our energy systems past a fossilized condition affords more monetization. Delay is profit. This laser-focus on financial results and resultant requirement to arrest progress is in direct conflict with what's healthy for our planet and everything living upon it.

Societal responses to our fossil fuel problem require replies in public policy and governance. This ignites objections rooted in political ideology, bringing more money and energy to arguing for remaining stuck with Victorian-era energy thinking. Research tells us that political ideology is a major impetus for climate science denial. This is a potent catalyst for amplifying deceptive messaging in favor of special interests and has prolonged our paralysis over climate change. 

Reflected in everything we do, Skeptical Science's mission— our purpose— is to help resolve the conflict  between fossil fuels and our need for progress, by anchoring disagreements in the science describing our reality. We directly address intentionally fostered misunderstandings of climate science, and expose ideologically-motivated disagreement masquerading as scientific disputes. We do this by distilling academic research and packaging it in articles intelligible for a general audience. Not only can we directly answer questions in this way, but also our users can more efficiently use their own time by not wasting it on duplicative effort— thereby amplifying their own positive effect.

Where we are now

From various web access statistics Skeptical Science sees how  (somewhat mind-bogglingly)  traditional climate fables live on, seemingly indestructible. As a single example, every day hundreds of people read here at Skeptical Science that the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not contradict the effect of increasing CO2 in our atmosphere.  Our encyclopedic roster of rebuttals to climate science avoidance continues to be useful, unfortunately.

But— increasingly— we see new challenges of denial and delay emerging and gaining prominence. Perhaps thanks to massive collective effort and some genuine success communicating truth about our role in Earth's climate, the nature of bogus arguments we see is evolving.

Mounting evidence of rapid and acutely hazardous climate change now and in the future  is in plain view. Scientific consensus on climate change leads to societal consilience and broad agreement that change is necessary. Old-fashioned science denial no longer functions in our "mood of the room."  To the extent legacy energy industries are able to shape events, tactical shifts are called for to support the strategic goal of prolonging monetization of fossil fuels. 

Again, delay is profit. 

Unsurprisingly given the history we've lived— and what we'd thus fully expect to see as a continuum— we're now encountering freshly invented and refined sticking points and evasive maneuvers prolonging the monetization window for fossil fuels, features formally termed "discourses of climate delay" (Lamb et al. 2020).  Some of these tactics are not within the reach of Skeptical Science's toolbox and are better handled elsewhere. However, other discourses of delay are amenable to being yanked back into reality by reattachment to primary sources.

For Skeptical Science, "primary source" translates to "peer reviewed research publications." Tactical manifestation of solutions denial found in claims such as "EVs pollute more than IC-powered vehicles," or "[exciting but nonexistent technology] will solve our problems" can often be shown as empty arguments from the standpoint of science. 

The same unholy alliance between industrial interests and ideological predilections especially pertains as we confront our need for climate remedy.  Effective climate mitigation (aka "solutions") may require intervention by regulation, awakening ideological opposition, and thereby producing a loud chorus of "wrong." Ideologically-rooted arguments against confronting our climate problem are susceptible of exposure by comparison with what science tells us from a perspective of ideological neutrality.

Outcome and future direction

Not long ago, Bärbel Winkler introduced discourses of climate delay as a subject area of focus for Skeptical Science. Since that initial foray, we've spent more time discussing this in terms of how it stacks up in our priorities. It's a high priority; confusion over mitigation of our climate impacts is dangerous and needs to be handled in an organized fashion. Consequently:

  • We'll be tweaking our mission statement and our activities to include discourses of climate delay and climate solutions denial amenable to grounding in academic research in our remit.
  • We're creating an initial set of rebuttals for common misconceptions about "climate solutions.
  • Our initial choices for treatment will be driven by data from formal research and as well by "reading the room." 

This process leads to an opportunity to seek help from our readers.

Question to readers

Which "discourses of climate delay" do you think we should prioritize? Which misconceptions of solution denial do you often hear repeated? Let us know in comments here, or via our contact form.

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. Related article from Stella Levantesi over at Desmog:

    Climate Deniers and the Language of Climate Obstruction

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  2. My recommended priority for “discourse of climate delay” would be the diversity of misleading marketing efforts under the category “The transition or corrections must not reduce any developed perceptions of status (success) or reduce opportunities for improved perceptions of status (success)”. They include the following types of claims:

    • Being dismissive or denying that reduction of energy consumption is a required action. It is actually the action that can be immediately acted on by everyone whose lifestyle includes fossil fuel energy consumption that exceeds the minimum needed for a basic decent life.
    • Alternatives must be as enjoyable and be as cheap and as easy as the developed popular and profitable status quo. Alternatives to the developed status quo must be perceived to be an improvement by everyone. That attempts to protect perceptions of status that developed by continued or increased fossil fuel use. It hides the fact that many people, especially higher status people, have made harmful bad bets through the past 30 years and deserve to lose those bets and lose some status.
    • The marketplace has, and will, correctly govern development to limit harm done and improve things for everyone, especially for the people with lower status (versions of “without the wealth obtained from continued or expanded fossil fuel operations it will not be possible to help the lower status people live basic decent lives”).
    • Government (by the people for the benefit of the people) should not increase the cost of any pursuit of benefit or make any pursuit harder. That is a disguise for fighting against making it harder or more expensive for some people to benefit from an activity that causes harm to others. It is a version of the claim that ‘the collective benefiting from an action must be free to accept the risk of harm done to itself’ (echoed unintentionally by saying ‘the collective We are causing climate change harm to the collective We). That understandably only applies if the harm done by the group’s collective actions will only affect the group, with each member of the group suffering a degree of the total harm that is commensurate with the degree of benefit they obtain.
    • Government should not impose new restrictions on already permitted or operating activity. If it tries to do that it is claimed that the Government must fully compensate the investors and other beneficiaries of the activity for their perceived loss of opportunity for benefit.
    • Government action should not reduce any status quo employment or level of compensation of employment. The claim is that only the ‘magical market place’ has the authority to do that.
    • Lower status people will be harmed by the transition actions. Admittedly, the lower status people who are unable to afford a basic decent life need to have their circumstances improved by the transition, even if that happens at the expense of higher status people.
    • Taking advantage of harmful misunderstandings to appeal for regional opposition to the installation of less harmful more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel energy generation. An example is claiming the installation ‘ruins a view’, which deflects from the awareness of the harm happening elsewhere ‘out of sight’ due to the fossil fuelled power systems.


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  3. I welcome expansion of SkS mission to include a new focus on climate solutions. We need to see the same scientific objectivity applied to the BS around renewables and nuclear solutions. Follow the facts. Don't assume that academics have the only truth, or that peer review is gospel. Don't assume that industry experts are all dishonest. Don't become just another info bubble like most Internet forums, where opposing views are driven out by personal attacks. Recruit some scientists and engineers to expand your expertise beyond just atmospheric science. We all share a common purpose, solving our climate crisis. We all value facts and evidence, and thinking like a scientist, even if we are not expert in a particular field of knowledge.

    Recent discussions here on nuclear power are not a good start. I am looking for a better alternative.  So far the best I have found for discussion forums are the FaceBook forums Renewable vs. Nuclear Debate, and The Rational View.  For a repository of good peer-reviewed information, I like Citizendium. This is what Wikipedia should have been.

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  4. A page on solutions denial myths would be helpful. I encouter these myths whenever our daily news media runs an article on something like a new wind farm or on EV's, and allows the public to post comments. The myths just get repeated over and over.

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  5. nigelj, here is a good start: radioactive-wastes-myths-and-realities 

    Safety and Cost are two other areas where the mythology needs some debunking. I share your frustration with the repetition of these myths. Fighting them on social media is an endless game of whack-a-mole. We need a repository of good information we can link to and avoid the repetiion. 

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  6. Macquigg, material from the world nuclear association on nuclear waste is not an adequate assessment of the issues around nuclear waste because they have huge vested interests in minimising the problem. It's pretty much going to be one sided spin. 

    If this website documents myths around nuclear waste disposal, I'm confident they would take a balanced approach and read both sides of the debate, but rely heavily on published independent academic research on the issues.

    That said, I'm not an opponent of nuclear power and the problems of nuclear power do sometimes get exaggerated.

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  7. Another priority for “discourse of climate delay” would be the diversity of unsustainable harmful actions that were quick fixes claimed to be helpful but really weren’t helpful. What is needed is the development of sustainable improvements. Anything other than that is harmful or a harmful distraction.

    The BBC Ideas video “The 12-year-old who tried to save the world” is related. It expressed concern (in 1992) that adult leaders may not responsibly act to limit harm done and would try to claim that they were acting helpfully.

    Examples of this problem since then are:

    • Claims that changing the date of start and stop of Daylight-saving (a silly term to begin with) time change would significantly reduce energy demand. US President Bush did that. And he also declared that Americans did not have to change how they lived.
    • Claims that compact fluorescent bulbs were a part of the solution. They were a harmful wasteful product. It would have been better to get people to replace use lower wattage incandescent bulbs and turn off bulbs when not needing the light while the development of LED light fixtures was prioritizes and expedited. A policy step for that would have been imposing a significant tax on higher wattage bulbs.
    • Claims that wind turbines with blades that could not be recycled or that solar panels made in ways that are hard to recycle were part of the solution. It would have been better to get people who used more electricity than they needed to while the development of recyclable renewable systems was prioritized. A policy step for that would have been imposing a graduated pricing model for home electrical use, with the price rising for steps of higher use ($0.10/kWh for the first amount, $0.15/kWh for the next increment .....)
    • Claims that nuclear fission is part of the solution. Nuclear fission consumes resources without recycling ... it is unsustainable. And nuclear fission produces accumulating harmful waste ... it is doubly unsustainable just like fossil fuel use. But, unlike solar and wind which can be part of a distributed integrated sharing power generation system, nuclear will be centralized power generation that investors and executives are more likely to be able to benefit from, as long as they are ‘privatized’ rather than being ‘Public owned utilities’.

    The status quo of developing a series of harmful unsustainable things and claiming they are improvements that are ‘part of the solution’ is a delay tactic. The actions often do little to encourage the required reduction of energy consumption.

    Reducing energy demand would be far more beneficial to future generations than higher demand for less harmful energy. Totally recyclable renewable energy generation and use may never be developed. It hasn't yet been developed. The most advanced systems still are not fully recyclable and accumulate harmful waste. It is possible that fully recyclable renewable energy systems will never be developed. Seriously restricting energy use is required until fully recyclable renewable energy generation is developed. Those restrictions would seriously motivate the development of the required recyclable renewable energy systems.

    There is ‘only this one planet that is habitable for humans almost forever as long as humans don't ruin it with their technological creativity and related harmful misunderstandings about how great the new things are’. Humans have to learn to adapt to live with that reality.

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  8. nigelj @6, I proposed the material from WNA as a "good start", not the final resolution. How do we find the truth. I propose we start with a clear statement from one side, like we have from WNA. Then we can get a clear statement from the other side and compare. Academic papers are one source, but should not be given automatic priorty over statements from nuclear engineers who know the details of a process or design. Sometimes a peer-reviewed paper is simply wrong, and a good scientist will seek the truth, regardless of the prestige of the source.

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  9. Thanks for your thoughts so far. 

    As they're statistically quite reliable (like fissioning atoms*), can be processed to identify consensus and over time have proven supremely helpful in leading to where we to go— consilience, collective decisions and action thereby--  we'll be sticking with peer reviewed research as foundational primary sources. 

    We won't be able to effectively answer value questions. How many more or less permanent radioactive blotches vs. heaps of dead bats & birds on the ground are acceptable as trades for climate mitigation isn't the type of question we can satisfactorily answer.  We can look at research on attitudes and beliefs about thse things, but we can't conclude or suggest  "right" decisions between such choices. They fall in the bucket of "it depends."

    Scientific research can and does identify dependencies and help to improve our collective thinking about how "it depends" unpacks, provide a basis of facts underpinning agreements that will be thrashed out elsewhere in the marketplace of ideas and ideologies. Helping to maintain attachment of discussion and deliberation to useful basic facts is our chosen means of productive activity, the less-duplicative contribution we can make as a practical matter. 

    Thinking of nuclear power since it's a dominant theme in discussion on this thread, research helps to tell us about the plausibility of borehole disposal of high level waste, in a way that is responsive to differences in toleration of of hazard and risk. We can connect readers to that. Research doesn't help much in telling us whether centralized nuclear power generation is a exploitative tool of rent-seeking capitalists or a opportunity for an efficiently run public utility to plug a difficult gap, because the answer to that is "maybe" for both, a matter wandering into ineffability. We can't contribute to resolving this difference here.

    *No U-235 atom is perfectly reliable, yet we can with statistical certainty fission U-235 to liberate power and do work.  That's quite adequate. 

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  10. BaerbelW,

    My comment @2 was mostly composed before seeing your comment @1. My comment @7 was written after reading the item you linked in your Comment @1, the Desmog article “Climate Deniers and the Language of Climate Obstruction”. I also read the Cambridge Core article “Discourses of climate delay” that the Desmog article provided a link to. My points of recommended focus @2 and @7 are a diverse variety of the 12 strategies in the 4 categories of delay discourse that the Cambridge Core article presents as a start on identifying and categorizing ‘discourse of climate delay’.

    A more pointed example of a ‘discourse of climate delay’ is what is being claimed by the Alberta Government, the oil sands industry and the Federal Government of Canada. They claim that the oil sands operations are going to be net-zero by 2050 (though admittedly some of the political groups are making statements that are more harmful misleading populist style claims, like saying that net-zero by a later date would be OK. For them, 2050 is ‘impractical, too soon’). But the seriously misleading part is the way they will get to ‘net-zero’. They have already reduced the processing and upgrading of the extracted product in Alberta. They are shifting to doing even less in Alberta and exporting ‘a bigger problem’. The result will be more processing and related emissions outside of Alberta (reduction in Alberta is Great eh). But, of course, the bigger scam of the fossil fuel company claims that they will be part of the solution, like being net-zero by 2050, is that there is no evidence of research into how to make the final product ‘carbon-zero’ when it is used by the end consumer (and if most end consumers, except the poorest, have to stop using fossil fuels by 2050 what is the point of producing them ‘net-zero’ by then). A related aspect of the scam would be the industry ‘buying carbon credits to offset emissions they won’t or can’t eliminate’. It is now well understood that the actions that are currently being counted as ‘carbon-credits’ to excuse continued or increase carbon harm need to be done in addition to winding down the actions that cause carbon emissions harm.

    Another ‘discourse of climate delay’ could be a ‘special diverting interest group’ like the one presented in the recent BBC Future article “Do we need a better understanding of 'progress'?”. The article is about ‘progress studies’, something started up in 2016 by a pair of technology development super-fans. As presented in the article ‘progress studies’ as initiated by this pair “...doesn’t desire a world where humans live more harmoniously with nature.” Progress studies also is not very concerned about the potential harm or unsustainability of technological developments. They also appear to believe the ‘now rather undeniable refuted claim’ that increased GDP or other artificial measures of ‘progress’ would sustainably improve things for everyone including the least fortunate (a belief that is about as far away from the evidence-based understanding of reality that beliefs can get). The 2020 Human Development Report presents that case fairly extensively. There does not appear to be anything sustainable about the interests of the ‘progress studies special interest group’.

    The ‘progress studies’ group start by making up their definition of progress. And their opinion, though of course not stated this way, appears to be that uninhibited technological development of a growing stream of unsustainable potentially harmful things is ‘Progress’ and is Glorious (Don’t peak behind the curtain in search of what is causing harm. Just be impressed by the impressions of progress). After all, technological developments are meant to be temporary. They are meant to be fads. They are expected to only be popular and profitable until they are displaced (before the harm they have done becomes too hard to ignore and excuse). Their concept of ‘Progress’ rapidly replaces things with the next ‘shiny new, likely harmful and almost certain to be unsustainable, things’. So it doesn’t matter if the growing stream of ‘shiny new stuff’ is unsustainable consumption of resources without recycling or is harmful. Each development will be gone soon anyway. ‘Progress studies’ thinking would not be concerned about the harm of the ‘solutions that are developed’. They would likely think that compact fluorescent bulbs and wind and solar power components that cannot be recycled were all ‘great progress’. They would push for more ‘progress’ like that, like pushing for newer nuclear fission systems.
    That ‘progress studies’ attitude would promote increasing energy consumption and un-recycled resource consumption and waste without concern, likely claiming it is progress. They may even try to claim that it is the best way to develop solutions to the harm of over-consumption of energy and materials that is ruining the future for humanity on this planet.
    Those visions of ‘progress studies’ would create more harmful consumption of ‘shiny new stuff’ that harmfully produces the waste of the previous ‘now older less desirable stuff’. Butt people immersed in the delusion of ‘that type of progress studies’ would struggle to see it that way.

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  11. Thanks for your thoughts, OPOF (One Planet Only Forever). You mention a spectrum of concerns, some within our span and some not. It's helpful to see matters arrayed in this way, as a menu. One item jumps out as particularly amenable to what we're seeking to achieve with our increase in scope.

    A person minded to do so could use this article:

    Carbon intensity threshold for Canadian oil sands industry using planetary boundaries: Is a sustainable carbon-negative industry possible?

    which by its nature draws on a considerable body of prior work to gain a reasonably circumspect toehold on the topic, based in published literature. With that information, one could produce a usefully coherent reply to "Canadian tar sands can be made net zero," an answer grounded in numbers derived from a sufficiently broad provenance as to lend confidence in forming and offering plausible conclusions. 

    It'll take quite a bit of digging into citations to write such a treatment, some hours. But one must start somewhere, and the above article is a helpful gateway to relevant cites.

    The misconception of "net zero Canadian tar sands is just  a minor technological challenge and will happen automatically through market forces" is rather narrowly specific, but if it's a frequent tripping point the investment of effort in correction might be worth it— especially if the conclusions will map onto other analogous situations such as Venezuela.

    We talk about prioritizing misconceptions centered on discourses of delay and solutions denial. Ideally we'd be able to staff such a rational plan and crisply work through the list of priorities. We'll try to follow that mode as best we can.

    But if somebody has a passion for a particular topic and feels like investing work in a durable product that will undoubtedly end up being read thousands of times, that's an opportunity for genuine efficacy for that person and for Skeptical Science. And as a practical matter, strong personal interest in a particular subject is how choices are often made about what we end up publishing here. 

    The above is a long winded invitation to participate, with some framing about how to do so usefully for Skeptical Science. 

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  12. Thanks for the encouragement to participate in developing an item regarding the Alberta Oil Sands. My initial reaction was to get started. Then I thought about it in more detail.

    I live in Alberta. So I am very familiar with the messaging used by Alberta leaders. But my passion is pursuing increased awareness and understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of achieving all of them and improving on them. Limiting climate impacts is a major interest because rapid climate change makes it harder to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Unsustainable activities, not just fossil fuel use, can misleadingly appear to be helpful. But ‘impressions of improvements’ obtained due to harmful unsustainable activity will not stand up to closer inspection (they are just mirages). The actions cannot continue to be beneficial into the distant future. And, undeniably, humanity should be striving to constantly pursue sustainable improvements through the 100s of millions of years that this amazing planet is likely to be habitable for humans. From that perspective it is fairly obvious that consumption of resources, anything short of full recycling is consumption, and accumulating harmful effects cause long lasting damage to future generations.

    As a result of my passion I have learned that reduction of consumption is essential to Sustainable Development. I have also learned that this is not a new understanding. A diversity of versions have been presented through the ages. But they were less popular and ignored or attacked by those of higher status who were uninterested, or threatened, and resisted the understanding.

    The recent CBC News item “Internal DND study calls green technology minerals 21st-century 'oil weapon'” exposes that transitioning the developed, and continuing to grow, over-consumption of energy and resources to ‘zero-carbon’ would create different over-consumption and harm. Though the article is about the harm of conflict over the ‘Green transition resources’, it exposes the unsustainability of the resource consumption and consumption growth in a ‘green system’ future.

    Back to the “Carbon intensity threshold for Canadian oil sands industry using planetary boundaries: Is a sustainable carbon-negative industry possible?”item you linked to @11. It provides a great set of references. And I liked seeing that Planetary Safe Boundaries as a basis for the evaluation. Also, it appears that past impacts by Canada are accounted against Canada’s share of the Global Carbon Budget. But I would question the way that a portion of Canada’s Carbon Budget gets assigned to the Oil Sands. Taking the level of impact it developed to as a starting point for the proportioning of Canada’s Carbon Budget would be harmfully incorrect. The oil sands were expanded and their total impacts increased after it was well understood that ghg emissions needed to be reduced. Dividing Canada’s Carbon Budget based on 2005 impact levels would be better, but still potentially harmfully incorrect. The requirement is to rapidly end fossil fuel harm, not maximize the benefit some people can obtain by getting away with exceeding the 1.5C impact based getting a bigger share of a National Carbon Budget (and that ‘discourse of delay’ by hiding significant harm within a national total allowance would apply to many nations on many issues).

    Also, Canada is a major food producer. And it is well understood that food production, particularly the industrial type of production, will be a significant cause of carbon impacts far into the future. And those impacts need to be properly accounted for in the National Carbon Budget, no discounting of future impacts allowed. Also, global food production is far more important to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals than global energy production is. So Food trumps Energy in the priorities for Carbon Budget.

    But the major question I have regarding the paper is that it concludes that there may be a carbon-negative way of exploiting Oil Sands and suggests that Blue Hydrogen is a potential solution. That appears to be part of the ‘discourse of climate delay’ problem.

    The real issue is the need to end, not reduce the rate of, harm done by the use of buried ancient hydrocarbons. There are many more harms to be considered, not just the climate change impacts of using the ancient buried hydrocarbons as fossil fuel.

    A concluding thought leading me to lack interest in an item targeting the Alberta, Canada, Oil Sands us that there are many potentially more harmful aspects of the global fossil fuel system than Alberta Oil Sands.

    So, based on that, I would be more interested in helping prepare a more globally applicable item regarding claims made by beneficiaries of any portion of the global ‘fossil fuel use’ system that they deserve credit for suggesting that ‘their portion of the fossil fuel use system’ will be ‘net-zero’ by 2050 (or sooner, or later). It could be brief. The main point would be that the global objective, from the perspective of the future of humanity (the most important perspective because all of future humanity is by far the largest portion of humanity to be considered), would be to keep the peak of climate change impacts from fossil fuel use below the Safe Planetary Boundary of 1.5 C. That objective would be supplemented by, starting now, implementing significant measures to draw CO2 levels back down. The current generation owes the future generations CO2 levels of 350 ppm or lower. That would minimize the surprises and challenges for the future generations and make it easier to achieve Sustainable Improvements.

    However, tragically, reducing the already excessive level of harmful impact cannot undo many results of the harm already done to the future of humanity by the irresponsible over-development of harmful consuming activity. A blunt point from that perspective is that it is impossible to use fossil fuels without adding to the harm that the current generation must attempt to correct for the benefit of the future generations. Part of the fossil fuel system being ‘net-zero’ is irrelevant since it is highly unlikely, nothing is impossible, that the end use of fossil fuel can be made to be ‘harm free’.

    I would also be interested in helping to prepare an item regarding claims that Blue Hydrogen is a legitimate alternative to Green Hydrogen. By its fundamental nature, Blue Hydrogen would almost certainly be more harmful than Green Hydrogen. And it is technologically possible to produce Green Hydrogen so a more harmful temporary transition system is not necessary.

    And the Blue Hydrogen item would link to an item that evaluates the merits of Green Hydrogen rather than the alternative of having the renewable power that produces Green Hydrogen be part of the electric grid system to more rapidly displace fossil fuel generated electricity. That item about Green Hydrogen would include the harm of the Hydrogen system and the relative energy inefficiency resulting in Green Hydrogen needing to be restricted to essential energy needs are least harmfully met by Green Hydrogen.

    As a final point, I would be pushing to see the following as part of all of the items developed: The most important action is reducing energy, and other, consumption that exceeds what is needed for all humans, especially all future humans, to live a decent life on this one amazing planet with its limits on consumption and harmful impacts.

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  13. I'm now hearing about "global warming is a good thing" by previous deniers: poor climate literacy and awareness of climate deception leap decade by decade.

    One generation to the next feeds off of the sustainable prospects of future generations, "kicking the can down the road" and "passing the buck" remain at the heart of modern climate change and "better technology." So I don't see a technological "fix" for deception, denial, and delay. It comes down to public education.

    "Better technologies" translate into unsustainable growth in one way or another, and more burdens passed to following generations.

    We know the horror of searching for a perpetual motion machine—our planet's poisoned by radioactive waste too hot to contain safely. Talking about unleashing more "improved technologies" leads to unleashing ecocide on wild nature and humanity.

    It's an education matter. Expose the means and sources of climate deception, denial, and delay. Otherwise, we promote another generation perpetuating intergenerational moral corruption while seeking an improved perpetual motion machine.

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  14. Here is my rough draft of a presentation hoping to inoculate people against being misled regarding energy and material consumption. It is regarding ‘discourses of climate (action) delay’ that argue against the need to reduce energy consumption (a follow-up to my comment @12).

    First, read my comment @1 on the 2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #26 and read and view the items that it refers to.

    When you see or hear the term ‘energy poverty’ be on alert that the messenger is likely trying to mislead you. Using that term is one of many ways that propagandists for extended and increased fossil fuel use, and increased harm done to the future of global humanity, try to trick people into excusing, or desiring to be, less helpful and more harmful humans.

    Minimizing the damage done by human activity should be an accepted global objective. Regarding climate change the objective is undeniably to minimize the accumulated peak ghg levels and most rapidly reduce them.

    Reducing hedonistic gluttonous over-consumption is an obvious way to achieve the objective of limiting the damage done. That helpful correction does not require new technology to be developed. And it reduces the cost of providing the less harmful technological replacements for the harmfully over-developed systems. It also reduces other unsustainable impacts of over-consumption.

    There will likely be some degree of unsustainable impact of any human activity. With this planet potentially being habitable for 100s of millions of years it is important for humans to learn to live in ways that most sustainably fit into the robust diversity of life (constantly pursuing the fittest ways to live is required for humanity to survive). New technological developments may be helpful. But they are likely to be unsustainable developments in spite of their potential popularity and profitability (warning: popular and profitable developments can be very hard to correct).

    A major problem that is seldom stated in articles regarding climate change is the over-developed unsustainable consumption of energy and other resources. The problem of over-consumption is especially, but not exclusively, applicable to fossil fuel use. It is important to keep in mind that ending the harm of fossil fuel use is not sustainable if the result continues to be unsustainable over-consumption.

    It is undeniable that levels of consumption, especially among the portion of the global population perceived to be ‘higher-status, more advanced’, have developed far beyond what is required to live a decent basic life. Many people have developed powerful desires for hedonistic gluttonous consumption that far exceeds what they ‘need’. And less fortunate people can be tempted to believe that developing towards the ways that those ‘perceived to be superior people’ live is the direction to develop in pursuit of living a better life.

    Misleading political marketers abuse the term ‘energy poverty’. They use it to accuse promoters of sustainable development and the associated corrections of what has developed regarding global climate impacts, which includes cutting back on harmful over-consumption, of driving people into ‘energy poverty’. And they abuse the term to try to glorify continued pursuits of benefit from harmful unsustainable activities. Sure, people living less than decent basic lives may need some increased energy consumption. But they should be helped to develop the lowest impact energy consumption required for decent basic living, otherwise the perceptions of improvement will not last.

    From that awareness and perspective, the likes of Exxon claiming to be helping improve the lives of people who are “living in energy poverty” is very misleading – definitely a ‘discourse of climate delay’. It masks the reality that those who benefit most from operations like Exxon’s are benefiting from the development of harmful hedonistic energy gluttons who appear to be ‘more advanced – higher status’ people.

    Here is the quote from the article containing that claim regarding “living in energy poverty”.

    “Woods plays the blame game, which is so common, with every entity these days with respect to climate change. In this game, everyone stands around pointing fingers, blaming some other entity for climate change, absolving themselves as only responding to market forces, and claiming that action can only happen once some other entity takes action first.

    Exxon, in this case, was only responding to “consumer demand” and still responds to consumer demand, selling oil because there are buyers for it. Woods foresees continuing to meet that demand and considers Exxon the savior for people around the world who are “living in energy poverty.” But a large majority of currently proven oil reserves must stay in the ground if we want to avoid catastrophe, and that catastrophe will disproportionately affect those people living in poverty. He also blames government for not crafting consistent and efficient regulation, after Exxon has lobbied against action for decades.”

    Clearly, the expressed concerns have little to do with helping sustainably improve the lives of people who are living less than decent basic lives. In fact, it could be argued that the propagandist likes of Exxon want more people to ‘enjoy living’ more harmful, less decent, lives of hedonistic gluttonous excess.

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