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View Diary: Climate Change Deniers: How They Think and How We Should Think About Them (147 comments)

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  •  Ah yes, "Liberal" denialism (6+ / 0-)

    Or Al Gore denialism, if you please.  You remember our pal Al—the guy who made a reasonably serious movie about the climate change problems and then screwed up the ending with some of the lamest suggestions known to the human race.  And then to prove he really didn't get it, takes the money he made from the movie and built one of the most irresponsible energy-hog MacMansions in Tennessee.

    Also remember, his "BIG" cure for climate change was "cap and trade" which is nothing more than an update on the idea of indulgences—the disgusting notion that you can redeem your sins by spending money.  An idea so outrageous it triggered the Protestant Reformation in 1517.

    See, Liberals like to think they are morally and intellectual superior because they accept the idea that the climate is changing.  But their denialism is just as profound because they refuse to acknowledge just how massive the problem is or how expensive and socially disruptive it will be to solve it.  

    When someone starts talking about climate change, I usually ask them how much they think it will cost to fix it.  Any figure less than $100 Trillion and I just assume they aren't serious.

    •  Fixes and solutions (5+ / 0-)
      Liberals like to think they are morally and intellectual superior because they accept the idea that the climate is changing
      If you have some understanding of climate science then you're going to accept that the planet is warming and that our emissions are the primary cause of this, so you may have some justification in thinking yourself intellectually superior to someone who does not understand or who denies the science. But if you're one of those who knows their is a problem and yet you simply carry on as if there were no problem, you certainly can't consider yourself morally superior to those living in ignorance or denial.

      If you want to talk about solutions, or fixing climate change, well, I think those are somewhat misleading terms. All we can do is avoid really dangerous levels of climate change, or at least improve our chances of doing so. Still, let's not let the words get in the way of talking about what we ought to be doing. For starters, I'd go for a revenue neutral carbon tax and dividend, a

      substantial, gradually-increasing carbon tax with all revenue distributed directly as monthly ‘dividends’ to each household

      Romnesia is whatever I said it is though I'm not familiar with exactly what I said but I stand by what I said whatever it was.

      by Roger Otip on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:56:39 AM PDT

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    •  If you asked me how much (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Quicklund, fuzzyguy

      it would cost to "fix" climate change, I'd not know how to answer though I might be able to come up with something like "Everything."

      "I'm grateful for my job - truly, but still...ugh." CityLightsLover

      by Audri on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:38:30 AM PDT

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    •  Al Gore's house (9+ / 0-)

      I read that his house was about as green as you can get.  When rated by environmentalists it got top marks.  The idea that he was an energy hog was a Republican meme created to discredit him.  It obviously worked.  The reasons his energy bills were high were because he and several other people used his house as an office and because he paid extra to get his electricity from green sources.

      Can't we just drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub?

      by Rezkalla on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:18:19 AM PDT

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      •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        EricS

        I'm sick of hearing about Al Gore's house in climate change discussions. It's a right wing meme. And you're right, Al Gore built a green house and uses it as an office with multiple employees.

        "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

        by Lost Left Coaster on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 03:16:50 PM PDT

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    •  Mr. Gore did not build the Tennessee house (11+ / 0-)

      which is also an office. And, after fighting the local restrictions, he's added solar panels and it is now LEEDS certified for its energy saving features.
         Your comparison of cap and trade to medieval indulgences is astonishingly ignorant.
         Cap and trade was originally a conservative idea...applying market incentives to fight pollution. It has been very successfully used to reduce sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain.)
         The idea of cap and trade is that govt sets a limit for the total amount of a pollutant that is allowed to be released throughout the US. Then, the govt sells or awards permits to emit a certain amount of the pollutant. A market emerges as firms that want to pollute more have to buy from firms that have permits to sell.
        Eventually, firms find it more lucrative to reduce pollution rather than buy permits. Pollution is reduced overall.
         The fact that conservatives now oppose cap and trade simply shows that they don't really have "principles." They
      are simply providing the political backstop for their fossil fuel company paymasters.
         As for how much it will cost to deal with global warming? Economist Nicholas Stern was tasked by the British government to provide an answer. He estimates that it would take 2% of global GDP over the next century to prevent and mitigate global warming. Otherwise, global warming will destroy 5-20% of global GDP over that time period.
        And, BTW, spending 2% of GDP creates jobs. Destroying GDP destroys jobs.

    •  There's a coda to this (and I agree with you... (9+ / 0-)

      ...entirely) which I've been promoting: Delay is Denial. And the delayers—people who know there is a deadly serious problem but keep finding excuses not to deal with it—include large percentages of leftists/liberals/progressives.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:42:27 AM PDT

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      •  I should note that I don't agree about... (8+ / 0-)

        ...Gore's house.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:04:39 AM PDT

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      •  There's a flip side to that coin too (0+ / 0-)

        I've heard countless remarks that mankind should just stop using fossil fuels, now.

        Or, in a similar vein, remarks which indicate the Big Oil/Coal Companies are rigging things and that's the real reason we keep using fossil fuels.

        These sort of comments are made in denial. Denial of the fact that fossil fuels are what enabled the global human population to grow from ~1.5 billion souls to approaching 7 billion.

        Going 'cold turkey' on fossil fuels would result in billions of people starving to death and dying of exposure. Big Oil is not forcing fossil fuels on us. Fossil fuels are where the ergs are to be found.

        This transition is not easy. So how about we limit the denial-tossing, especially the circular denial-tossing? There's plenty to sustain that fight, but that fight accomplishes nothing.

        •  People who talk about a 50-year transition... (10+ / 0-)

          ...from fossil fuels are promoting a world in which that 7 billion population will see billions displaced and starving to death. The oil and coal companies are "rigging" things in the sense that they have fed the running lie that has gone from global warming isn't happening, to it's happening but it's not serious, to it's happening but humans aren't the cause of it, to it's happening but we have plenty of time to adjust. They are "rigging" things by spending money on politicians and propagandists who have kept us wedded to policies that make a transition an iffy thing.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:24:45 AM PDT

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          •  I don't deny that at all (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades

            Do people personally invested in the fossil fuel industries work hard to protect their interests? Yes. Does their position give them great influence? Yes indeed. But the point remains that in terms of pure energy numbers, nothing available can deliver the ergs fossil fuels can.

            Fusion could certainly deliver the vast amount of energy needed, either controlled on Earth or in solar form. So on paper the transition can be made. But doing so involves certain unsolved engineering problems and will take decades.

            In the meantime, to abruptly and artificially shut down fossil fuel use would be to condemn billions to misery and probable death. The world can get by with fewer injection-molded plastic toys and 12 MPG personal vehicles. But fossil fuels also shelter people from the elements and produces the food to feed them.

            That's not going to happen, of course,  But it is the real situation. There are more powerful forces at work here than the machinations of special interest groups.

            Fossil fuels are a hard habit to break because they are so damn useful. Let's not be in denial of that aspect either.

            •  I suppose there are some people saying... (4+ / 0-)

              ...we should make an abrupt change. But nobody serious who I know is saying that. What they are saying, what I am saying, is that we've had more than 30 years of data urging us to begin that transition away from oil for scarcity reasons and 20 years urging us to do so for climate reasons but policymakers (sadly, many Democrats included) have dropped the ball, some of them collecting $$ for doing so.

              Some uses for petroleum products will be with us for a very long time and that won't matter. It's not petroleum per se that is the problem. But as long as we keep burning the stuff without a clear policy focused on hastening the day when we're not burning the stuff, we are condemning ourselves (or, in cases of superannuated guys like me) condemning future generations to very serious dislocations and excess deaths equal to those from an abrupt shutdown of fossil fuel use. So, we need to agree on what is a reasonable period for transitioning, and then act as if we've got, say, World War II on our hands and try to cut that reasonable period by 50% or 75%.

              Again, I am not saying this will be easy technologically or, especially, politically. But we must behave as if civilized human existence on this planet depends on a swift response. Because it does. If we had not cut off the start Jimmy Carter (with others) initiated in 1978, we'd wouldn't have to move so quickly now.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:47:36 AM PDT

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              •  I never intended my comment to apply to you (2+ / 0-)

                My only point was, there are people in denial on our side of the issue too.

                I agree with you personally. As said here, you do always point out the practical truth that petroleum will continue to be used for along time.

                But bottom line, yes, there is an element among our side of the issue who hold a distorted view that this sort of thing will be easy. Then, in thinking it easy, their fur goes up when they hear some of the genuine practical roadblocks.

                If that is not a form of denial it is close. So let us try illuminating those roadblocks with reason so as to rescue near-denial from becoming the bona fide article.

          •  Who said fifty years? (0+ / 0-)

            A huge amount could be done in ten, really.

            This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

            by Mindful Nature on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:10:16 PM PDT

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            •  yes. I agree. I am saying that this... (0+ / 0-)

              ...50-years-at-least is the kind of time-frame being put forth by quite a few expert people. One of those is Prof. Vaclav Smil, who posits half a century in his book, Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects.

              I don't agree with them. For one thing, I will probably be three decades dead in 50 years and I don't want to wait to see at least some of the change happen. For another thing, if it actually take 50 years for a full transition, there are going to be a lot more dead people, far younger than I.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:35:44 PM PDT

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              •  Here's why I'm skeptical of the number (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades

                Think about the original electrification and gasoline infrastructure.  Both were substantially constructed in shorter time.  Given a concerted effort, it shouldn't be so complex.

                Also, a considerable amount can be done with two changes: building signficant renewable generation, yes, at utility scale, to replace coal plants.  We are able to put up 500MW-750 MW plants here in California routinely.  It's a matter of building enough, fast enough.  That's a matter of investment.

                The other part is the turnover of the car fleet.  If we phased out gasoline cars over the next ten years, in 20 years time we could have a significant portion of both generation and transportation based on renewable power.  Certainly, that's not 100% zero carbon, but it would represent a significant part.

                However, this requires serious effort and not just nibbling at the edges the way the current approaches suggest.  Fifty years sis probably right, assuming next to no political will.

                As a note: California is implementing a cap and trade system for industry next month.  Watch this space.

                This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

                by Mindful Nature on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 04:11:00 PM PDT

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        •  Quicklund -In order to stop the increase (5+ / 0-)

          in CO2 levels, we (meaning human civilization) would have to cut CO2 emissions by about 50% (because 50% of our emissions are absorbed by natural sinks.)
             By switching from coal to natural gas, and from fossil fuels to renewables in electricity generation, we could make a big dent in that target, and the technology already exists and could be deployed without much disruption.
             Then: More reliance on railroads vs trains and cars, more energy efficient appliances, better insulation in buildings.
             Then: Structure the work environment to reduce commuting, maybe go to a four day week. More use of online education.
             Then: Emphasize walkable cities. Encourage commuting and shopping using bikes or golf carts.

          You get the picture. Nobody needs to starve. Individual virtue won't get the job done, but but a social decision to go after the problem certainly can work.
            This talk of poor people starving in the dark is just scare talk to prevent anybody from solving the problem.

          •  You make my point for me, thank you (0+ / 0-)

            What you describe is plausible but it takes time. And all during that time the activity you describe will be driven by the energy obtained by fossil fuels.

            Right down to the very bricks lifted and mortared into place by union bricklayers. Their muscles will burn the carbs they ate at lunch which was brought to them in sub sandwich form by a global food industry which was powered and fertilized by: fossil fuels.

            What you describe will take time and cannot be accomplished simply by shutting fossil fuel production way down abruptly and artificially. Not without consigning populations worldwide to the Four Horsemen.

            I do not deny there is a route to a better future. I do deny it is an easy road.

            •  Well, actually (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              If we sunk $2 trillion over ten years to building renewable energy over ten years, as we did with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I have a feeling that by 2022, we'd have a vastly lower footprint.  Quite possibly under 50%.

              This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

              by Mindful Nature on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:12:35 PM PDT

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              •  Were it only thus (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades

                It's not the dollars so much as it's the scale. Just think of all the power plants that'd have to be replaced. New pipelines, rebuild every gas station in the country, new national transmission lines - virtually everything would have to be rebuilt. Meanwhile the population keeps growing.  

                Major projects take years from concept to design to final production. We're looking at the need to chain scores of such projects together. Even w/o making any mistakes, that sort of thing will take decades.

                Tehre is a lot of low-hanging fruit though. So at least once the nation decides to face this problem a good deal of progress should be possible quickly. It'd be a major victory just to stop increasing carbon pollution on a global scale. (Insufficient yes but nevertheless major.)

                •  I'm not sure that's not entirely true (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm in the business of power plants, in part, and with some effort they can be up within a few years (which means a concerted effort should start now).  Remember a lot of renewable technologies are modular, so that they are not subject to the same constraints as say gas or coal plans.  And we wouldn't have to replace gas stations, since we wouldn't need them.  Yes, there'd need to be more transmission, but we have a lot of what we need now.  IN any event the data trasnmission lines of the internet were largely built within ten years..  So, no, I don't think decades is necessarily the time scale.  As you say, where the US puts its mind to it, a lot can be done, quickly.  Of course, we're a long way from that now.

                  This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

                  by Mindful Nature on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:58:42 PM PDT

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    •  What you describe in not denial (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, Steve Canella

      What you describe is the simple fact average people do not fully comprehend the size and complexity of themodern world.

      Denial is to insist thismodern world doesnot exist.

      Speaking of denial, if you think your form of I-am-the-only-moral-man scoldings is helpful to anyone one Earth, then you are in denial.

    •  back, troll! (0+ / 0-)

      In fact, people who work on the actual implementation of solutions have done the calcuations and determined that cap and trade is in fact a reasonably good solution.  Just because your complete misconception of how it works and why triggers some misguided knee jerkism doesn't mean it is not a good policy that has been shown to work when implemented correctly (please see Acid Rain).  

      Of course, your $100 trillion number is completely fabricated, muich like your comments about Al Gore.  Which makes me wonder just where you came from...

      This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

      by Mindful Nature on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:08:52 PM PDT

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    •  Is McKinsey not serious? (0+ / 0-)

      Their estimate of remediation costs was much lower.

      The "irresponsible" home is lit with LED bulbs.

      "Cap and trade" is a market-oriented solution, which worked for acid rain, and which was (if memory serves) proposed by conservatives.

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