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This diary was suggested by two recent pieces on abrupt climate change: Joseph Romm's piece on Salon.com (The cold truth about climate change), and a paper in the journal Risk Analysis which was seized upon by columnist John Tierney in a column for the New York Times: "Global Warming Paradox"?  I discuss these articles in order to suggest that there is a general state of denial as regards the social and economic causes of abrupt climate change, thus to suggest that therein lies the discovery of social and economic solutions.

(crossposted at Docudharma)

(Full credit to Meteor Blades for noticing the Romm article)

"Now, wait a minute," I imagine you readers objecting, "aren't the people who accept the theory of abrupt climate change the good guys?"  But they're in denial too; they're just in denial about a different set of propositions, social propositions rather than climatological ones.  There's so much denial about that things are looking really scary as regards humanity's ability to survive abrupt climate change.

1: problem

First off, there's the denial that abrupt climate change is happening.  That's the denial you hear from the so-called "deniers" -- do a Google search on "global cooling" and you'll see them out in force.  The cult newspaper Washington Times told the public late last year that "Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world."  Fox News (!) grants us a recent soundbite showing evidence of global cooling.  Only in winter!  The explanation is obvious: as the polar icecaps melt, you're going to see cold winters in many places, because the south-moving icecaps will dump lots of snow on temperate areas.  We'll be back to "global warming" by August.  Fun fun fun!

But then there's the "accepter" position -- not only is abrupt climate change real, it's understated in the IPCC report.  There are plenty of diaries on DailyKos.com that discuss this, but then there's the article in last week's Salon magazine authored by Joseph Romm, famous of ClimateProgress.org and Gristmill.

From Romm's scientific perspective, the IPCC is itself in denial about abrupt climate change.  Romm shows how the models used by the IPCC consistently underestimate the danger to which Earth's ecosystems are exposed by increases in CO2 levels.  There's no "consensus" on abrupt climate change, because abrupt climate change is a matter reducible to hard scientific fact.  As Romm argues:

In fact, science doesn't work by consensus of opinion. Science is in many respects the exact opposite of decision by consensus. General opinion at one point might have been that the sun goes around the Earth, or that time was an absolute quantity, but scientific theory supported by observations overturned that flawed worldview.

The deniers, Romm argues, use the idea of "consensus" to dispute the thesis of human-caused abrupt climate change, when said thesis isn't based upon consensus at all, but rather upon the collection of reports driven by scientific method.

This is where Romm's endorsement of the IPCC report ends.  The hard scientific facts are, Romm argues, far worse than the "consensus" represented by the most recent IPCC report.

First, the basics, from page 2:

Scientists have come to understand that "forcings" (natural and human-made) explain most of the changes in our climate and temperature both in recent decades and over the past millions of years. The primary human-made forcings are the heat-trapping greenhouse gases we generate, particularly carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas. The natural forcings include fluctuations in the intensity of sunlight (which can increase or decrease warming), and major volcanoes that inject huge volumes of gases and aerosol particles into the stratosphere (which tend to block sunlight and cause cooling).

So, with 85 million barrels of crude oil and untold amounts of raw coal and natural gas being burned into Earth's atmosphere every day, what kind of forcing can we expect?  Well, this one is human-caused, and:

Thanks to humans, carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been for millions of years. Even more worrisome, carbon dioxide emissions are rising 200 times faster than at any time in the last 650,000 years.

If the "Earth's climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges," what will happen to people foolish enough to keep punching it in the face?

So here's where the denial comes in.  The people who are punching Earth's climate "in the face" are not foolish.  They're global society's economically privileged classes, and they burn so much carbon because that's what it takes to have the luxuries of the American Way of Life, or whatever way of life is common to the privileged classes in their national economies.

When Romm suggests on page 1 that the deniers are wrong in their attitude toward science, he's missing the impact of science upon society.

Consensus of opinion is also dismissed as groupthink. In a December article ignorantly titled "The Science of Gore's Nobel: What If Everyone Believes in Global Warmism Only Because Everyone Believes in Global Warmism?" Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote:

   

What if the heads being counted to certify an alleged "consensus" arrived at their positions by counting heads?

   It may seem strange that scientists would participate in such a phenomenon. It shouldn't. Scientists are human; they do not wait for proof. Many devote their professional lives to seeking evidence for hypotheses, especially well-funded hypotheses, they've chosen to believe.

   Less surprising is the readiness of many prominent journalists to embrace the role of enforcer of an orthodoxy simply because it is the orthodoxy. For them, a consensus apparently suffices as proof of itself.

How sad that the WSJ and CNBC have so little conception of what science really is, especially since scientific advances drive so much of the economy. If that's what Jenkins thinks science is, one would assume he is equally skeptical of flossing, antibiotics and even boarding an airplane.

For privileged thinkers like Jenkins, see, scientific advances are good only when they do "drive so much of the economy."  Abrupt climate change doesn't drive the economy.  Thus Jenkins disputs its science as mere "orthodoxy."

The social, political, and economic realities currently being denied by the climate change accepters are granted a new vividness by a recent New York Times article.  The idea that scientific knowledge is going to drive humanity to deal with abrupt climate change out of ethical responsibility is disputed in today's online New York Times: John Tierney's column, "Global Warming Paradox."  Columnist Tierney argues:

If only the masses could understand the science of global warming, they’d be alarmed, right? Wrong, according to the surprising results of a survey of Americans published in the journal Risk Analysis by researchers at Texas A&M University.

Their findings?

After asking a national sample of more than 1,000 Americans how much they knew about global warming and how they felt about it, the researchers report that respondents who are better-informed about global warming "both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming." Another unexpected result: "Respondents who showed a great deal of confidence that scientists understand global warming and climate change showed significantly less concern for the risks of global warming than did those who have lower trust in scientists."

There's the faith in science, that the scientists will somehow work out a solution, but then the Risk Analysis paper's authors also come up with this one:

Global warming is an extreme collective action dilemma, with the actions of one person having a negligible effect in the aggregate. Informed persons appear to realize this objective fact.

So this is why "global warming knowledge" does not spur people to action.  But this isn't an objective fact: it's just commonly-accepted ideology.  The actions of one person on "global warming" can have a rather dramatic effect in the aggregate, by increasing the effectiveness of modes of collective action which solve the problem.  One-person actions on "global warming" are only ineffective when reduced to the "50 things you can do to save the world" model of social action, in which the world is ostensibly "saved" while the social structure remains the same.  The Risk Analysis logic is status quo logic, and until climate scientists have the ganas to challenge it, they themselves will continue to be ineffective.

And is it meaningful to ask whether the scientists will be able to save us in the end, like the race of superbeings we expect them to be.  The current, faddish response to abrupt climate change is all about technology; more technology will allow us to stop consuming so much fossil fuel.  This is in fact a rather unlikely hypothesis.  More probably, under the current economic system, more technology will merely increase the sphere of the privileged class which uses said technology, increasing the overall appetite for energy, thus also for fossil-fuel energy.  Please see two articles where an appropriate social model is sketched: Capitalism's environmental crisis: is technology the answer?", in which the matter of Jevons' Paradox is explained, and "The Pentagon and Climate Change", which takes a look at the crucial question here: which social system will allow us best to cope with abrupt climate change?

To put it bluntly: all of the "alternative energy" we can afford, whether it be through individual expenditure or through government crash programs, will do nothing to prevent one barrel of oil from being pumped out of the ground and burned.  There is only one way to keep the oil from being burned, and that is by keeping the oil in the ground.  Thus we should imagine a pending international treaty to stop pumping oil, stop mining oil, stop taking natural gas out of the ground.  But no such thing is occurring; and this is because fossil fuels will remain profitable.  In fact, it seems safer to say that fossil fuels will become more profitable with their shortage, as reports of record oil company profits under shortage conditions have been a commonplace since the embargoes of the 1970s.

I suppose it will become a commonplace topic of abrupt climate change to discuss "carbon sequestration," but at present, the term "carbon sequestration" seems to be part of the public relations strategy by which "clean coal" is presented as an environmental strategy.  (Do see the critique in Treehugger.)  In short, it's greenwash.  What comes to mind is Josee Johnston's critique of the discourse of "sustainability," as presented in the anthology "Nature's Revenge":

What the case of a "sustainable" mining industry reveals is how the sustainability discourse works to maintain and legitimize an overall system goal of economic growth.  Once a few minor adjustments are made to account for the most noxious externalities, such as untreated sulphur dioxide emissions, the global economy can feel free to grow exponentially.  Here the sustainable-development discourse works to facilitate commodification and capital accumulation by mandating sustainable profits over the long term. (45)

So we can have all of the capitalists speaking sweet and pure sustainability discourse, but, as Joel Kovel points out in the new edition of The Enemy of Nature, there are fractions of capital which have a specific financial interest in the destruction of Earth's ecosystems, in urbanization and carbon-burning and overfishing and so on.  No sweet words will overcome that fact, I argue.

2: solution

We must do something, then; abrupt climate change will happen anyway, but we can keep it from getting worse.  What's to do?  As I've pointed out, the world economic structure is what keeps "carbon pollution" in place.  Maintaining one's status in the world economy requires "carbon pollution"; the economic infrastructure is set up to grant privileges to those with individual mobility, thus the car economy and, at the top, the "jet set."  The "free market" brings consumers the benefits of wage labor as collected around the world, and transports them to corporate stores like WalMart via the benefits of a global fossil-fueled transportation network, available all the more with those with good jobs and the money to pay.  More technology will only push this fossil-fueled economy onto classes which are not currently so privileged to "enjoy" car ownership and its economic benefits; that 40% of the world which currently lives on less than $2/ day, as well as some more privileged folks who still aren't privileged enough.

As I suggested above, an agreement to cap the oil wells and abandon the coal mines would keep from exacerbating global warming.  We could embark on a global program to gradually end the exploitation of fossil fuels.  The resultant energy shortages would motivate deep, broad programs in "alternative energy."  But such a measure would require that the world get off of the capitalist plan; otherwise there would be too much of a temptation to go back to full exploitation of fossil fuels for the sake of "economic progress."

Getting off of the capitalist plan will also be necessary for the creation of an economy dedicated to the "means of subsistence."  Our world society promotes the capitalist economy by claiming that capitalist production caters to "demand" -- this is the propagandistic function of mainstream economics, its promotion of the "laws of supply and demand."  But, in reality, capitalist production caters to "effective demand," demand backed by money; and so what we have with global capitalism is an insane production system designed to chase an out-of-control money system.  This after all, is the point of The Politics of Money, which I reviewed last month.

I suppose we could each, individually, become "voluntarily poor," forgoing the benefits of car ownership and other benefits of fossil-fuel burning.  But such a measure is unlikely to be adopted at a general level; what would work at a more general level would be a campaign to promote a sea-change in modes of self-creation; from capitalist discipline to ecological discipline, as I suggested in my second diary here.

Originally posted to Cassiodorus on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:03 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips for ecological discipline -- (32+ / 0-)

    "The future does not make us.  We make ourselves in the struggle to make it" -- Paulo Freire

    "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:04:59 AM PST

    •  And here's to basic numeracy... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinazina, Sychotic1, Cassiodorus

      ******
      "We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are." - Max DePree Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-??

      by Akonitum on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:26:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not Necessarily (0+ / 0-)

        "More technology will only push this fossil-fueled economy onto classes which are not currently so privileged to "enjoy" car ownership and its economic benefits; that 40% of the world which currently lives on less than $2/ day, as well as some more privileged folks who still aren't privileged enough."

        Not if we change to non-polluting cars, cars for instance that burn hydrogen as fuel or run on solar power instead of pouring CO2 into the atmosphere. Power generation, not using coal is similar area. These technologies are within our grasp right now, but are not favored by government. They "cost" more because the external costs of the automobile and petroleum industries are not taxed to those companies. Instead of the cost of pollution is borne by society in general, so we pay for their profits with the effects of pollution, including global warming.

        There's no reason why the 3rd world development model has to parallel that of the west and make the same mistakes and use outdated technology.

        We spent half a trillion dollars invading Iraq. That money could have been spent funding the production and change-over to alternative non-polluting fuel sources. Once such technologies are developed they don't cost as much to replicate and can be translated to the developing countries instead of using polluting sources of energy.

        •  half a trillion? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          Try three trillion already spent on the Iraq war. Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winning economist) said that this is directly driving the sub-prime disaster; money borrowed by the Fed unwound through the financial industry and showed up in our local neighborhoods as sub-prime loans to bad credit risks.

          If the money had been spent on green R&D and deployment, we would be on the way to solving at least some of the problems.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 02:26:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Since the Federal government prints the money -- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            One Pissed Off Liberal

            it can generate as much "effective demand" as it wants -- and this case it has generated $3 trillion in "effective demand" for a war in Iraq.  

            This is what we get for trusting the capitalist money system.

            "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

            by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 05:03:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Now pay attention -- (0+ / 0-)

          Not if we change to non-polluting cars, cars for instance that burn hydrogen as fuel or run on solar power instead of pouring CO2 into the atmosphere. Power generation, not using coal is similar area. These technologies are within our grasp right now, but are not favored by government.

          Who is this "we" who are going to "switch"?  I'm not employed right now; I can't afford some fancy car that you technophiles want to sell me.  

          Did you read the part of my diary where I discussed solutions?

          There's no reason why the 3rd world development model has to parallel that of the west and make the same mistakes and use outdated technology.

          The reason is called "capitalism."  Go back and read the diary again.

          "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:50:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Short Form: Our Economy and System of Government (10+ / 0-)

    block appropriate timely action.

    They have other shortcomings too.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:07:50 AM PST

  •  But how many of us are willing to give up (5+ / 0-)

    comforts and work a little harder to reduce our carbon footprint. I drive in the winter and bike in the summer. That helps. But where are the Gov. policy in providing mass transportantion? And who are the people that will ride? Who will give up there cars?  I just don't see the interest until it is too late.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:15:31 AM PST

    •  More mass transit -- (0+ / 0-)

      will only push the car economy onto that part of the capitalist economy which expands outside of the transit lines.  The eventual solution is to end capitalism.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:21:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A terrific diary, thank you (5+ / 0-)

    with excellent questions and substantial thinking needed.  Climate change, by its nature, forces the question of long-term planning...responding to climate change in "crisis" mode will make it worse.  But we have to admit that maintaining chaos is the way the deniers will continue to maintain control and toharm the earth.

    What I see is huge human displacement, aka, "refugees", and along with that tremendous disruption of cultural cohesiveness.  I also see enormous water and food shortages, which will lead to war.

    On the other hand, the global climate change offers us yet another chance to come together as human beings, to understand our interconnectedness, and could lead to tremendous change.  Like, for example, with this scale of a problem, can anyone afford to use war as a tool to "resolve" an issue?

    It is the challenge of our time.

    sign the petition at http://www.impeachbush.org

    by DrKate on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:19:20 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary. Thanks for this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, Cassiodorus

    I wasn't surprised to see the AOL homepage had an article questioning "Global Warming" with pictures of record snowfall in various regions of the world (Snow in Iraq - which is rare).  Next summer there will be articles about heat waves and droughts. People have to look at the long range picture - which, sadly, they rarely do.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:21:13 AM PST

  •  IF you are telling me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, A Siegel, Cassiodorus, Eirene

    that the choice is between ending capitalism, or saving the planet - we will destroy the planet.

    However, I would argue that there is a third option, and part of it is the faulty of you analysis - and that is that we have a limited energy resource.  

    We don't - we only have a limited energy resource if we restrict ourselves to this planet.

    •  You misread me, IF -- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, JohnnyRook

      you think I am saying that energy sources are "limited."

      Read carefully -- what I am arguing is that the development of "alternative energy sources" will not do anything to stop the exploitation of fossil energy.

      If you wish to argue against me, that's all right: but please do choose to argue against statements I actually make, not ones I don't.

      As for this idea that "we only have a limited energy resource if we restrict ourselves to this planet," what you have done is you've reduced the problem of the capitalist system's relation to the environment to a mere "energy problem," ignoring all of the other ongoing environmental disasters.  And then you've suggested that the energy problem is only one of "how much," ignoring the problem of energy costs.  We have a fossil-fuel economy today, and we'll have an abrupt climate change problem tomorrow, because fossil fuels are cheap.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 12:17:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't dispute that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        rapid climate change is a real (and, if we don't change things, very likely) possibility.  

        Secondly, the way I read it is that the reason that alternative energy sources won't do enough to reduce energy costs to the point that, economically, it makes sense for a massive number of people to stop using them (that is, on the consumer side).  For something to remain profitable, there must be enough of a demand for it such that it makes economic sense to extract the resources from the ground.  

        If thats the situation, then that would argue that alternative energy sources are too limited.  Because, if there was enough alternative energy source available to the majority of the population, then there would be no need for continued pumping and burning of fossil fuel resources, and you would see oil companies (and coal companies, and the rest of the the fossil fuel companies) go out of business.  

        As for reducing the problem - the premise of your diary is that, because of fossil fuels (which are used for energy production) we are facing the real possibility of rapid climate change, and that alternative energy won't alleviate that fact.  I don't deny other environmental problems, but I don't see them as part of what this diary is discussing.  If we could, somehow, magically replace all fossil fuels with a form of clean energy, all of the associated environmental problems would disappear, as well.  Thus, to me, this is an energy problem.

        Finally, price (not cost, but price, which is what you are actually talking about) is directly linked to quantity and availability.  If we had enough alternative energy, that was cheaper than fossil fuel energy, and it was accessible by a majority (or even most of) the worlds population, then we wouldn't be faced with this problem.  

    •  While I certainly hope there's a "3rd Way" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      We don't - we only have a limited energy resource if we restrict ourselves to this planet.

      I don't see it being to go harvest some Planet of Coal or Saturn's Moon of Frozen Methane (sorry, I don't remember which one it is).  Space exploration and travel is orders of maginitude too expensive to bail us out of this problem.

      Now, I recall when the Space Shuttle program was first getting underway, that one of the hopes was to use the microgravity conditions of low-earth orbit to massively reduce the cost of growing silicon crystals for the production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.  Since we've gotten there, I literally haven't heard one more word about it.  Has anyone else?  

      Something like that (reducing PV-generated electric $/kW by a factor of 10) actually would be a big help on this issue, but something like that's the only help I see "space" allowing us.

      •  No, we aren't going to go harvest Titain (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        for methane.  But space can help us.  And that is in the form of space based solar power.  Basically, the idea is to place satellites in space that collect solar power, and beam it down to the planet.  Why is this better than just putting them on earth?  You get access to a lot more power, if you are off of the earth.

        Concerning the issue of cost to space - while many people tend to think that the reason for its expense is due to the need for more and better technology, if you look at what is happening in the industry, it is becoming more apparent that the price of spaceflight is high because of poor planning and operations, rather than any sort of fundamental issue with spaceflight.  This is why its very likely we'll see a major price reduction to get into orbit.  

        So when I talk about space helping us deal with these problems, it will be through things like Space Based Solar Power, and the silicon crystal production you talk about.  

  •  Agreement ... and disagree (3+ / 0-)

    First, as always, you force me to think.  This is an excellent piece that merits far more traffic than you've seen.

    Second, I think "cap coal" is perhaps possible and gradually restrict oil pumping, maybe. But, by the way, the real "value" proposition in oil might be its rich mix of materials for use other than burning.

    Third, I do see (very difficult) paths to energy efficiency, changed consumption patterns, renewable energy, planetary restoration that allow some variation of (hated) capitalism while also navigating the perfect storm of peak oil & global warming.

    •  economic democracy -- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, EthrDemon, A Siegel

      is where the people get a democratic "say" in major economic decisions.

      Economic oligarchy, on the other hand, is where a rich few make the economic decisions to a much, MUCH greater extent than do the rest of us.

      The reason we have economic oligarchy in this world-society, I argue, is because economic life is controlled by the money system, and the rich have so much more money than the rest of us.  I analyze the money system in this diary.

      My preference, then, is for economic democracy.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 07:20:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed - this warrants more traffic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    This was highly thought-provoking, and from my perspective, an excellent analysis.  I had glanced at the Risk Analysis article (I'm an SRA member), but now will elevate it on my reading list.  Another theme that can be woven into this analysis is how crisis is a catalyst for change.  Currently, I'm reading The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, where she introduces the linkage between crises (natural disasters and war) and corporate profit.  The same model of crisis as a catalyst for change can be expanded beyond corporate profit - and might be a cause for real steps in greenhouse gas mitigation and climate adaptation.  Some of this might be happening now; there is recent news of a decrease in the number of coal-fired plants under construction in the U.S.  

    However, it will be interesting to see if the capitalist model goes away as part of the societal and technological change that's going to happen whether we like it or not.  Charles Stross says that "capitalism will learn to clean up its own shit once it acquires a new set of taste buds and realizes it's delicious."  The big question is whether or not that's going to happen quickly enough to avoid the hard landing of chaos and megadeath.  

    I'm doing science and I'm still alive

    by JLowe on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 09:23:13 PM PST

    •  The Shock Doctrine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JLowe

      Currently, I'm reading The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, where she introduces the linkage between crises (natural disasters and war) and corporate profit.

      Reviewed here...

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:36:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  An Afterword - John Tierney is slippery (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        Thanks to the encouragement derived from reading your post, I'm skimming the paper in Risk Analysis.  There's a risk associated with reading stat-laden social science research (Cronbach's alpha?  WTF?) over coffee at 5 am Pacific, and I find that I'm going to have to do a bunch of cross checking and research to obtain a full understanding of things.  Look for a follow up blog post in the near future.  However, be advised of the chance that John Tierney is being slippery with how he's read the paper.  

        I haven't read Tierney's column yet.  I generally don't bother with him because, for me, he's in the category of a purveyor of "manufactured uncertainty" (Google SKAPP and David Michaels for more information).  I think I will in this case, to see if he's over-extrapolated based on the money quote that people who trust scientists don't fear global warming.  The full quote from the RA paper is:

        Respondents who showed a great deal of confidence that scientists understand global warming and climate change show significantly less concern for the risks of global warming than did those who have lower trust in scientists.  Though this effect differs from our expectations, it is consistent with the notion that people trust scientists will be able to, somehow, to devise technical solutions to any problems that arise because of global warming and climate change.  The effect is statistically significant, but not particularly large:  moving from the extreme of a "very unclear" understanding to the other of a "very clear" understanding produces, on average, a movement of approximately one-quarter of a point shift on our four point scale for the dependent variable.  The effect is discernable from zero, but its magnitude should not be overstated.

        So, he could be blowing things way out of proportion.  However, that shouldn't detract from the call to arms in your essay, and I still think that a lot more Kossacks should be reading it.  Again, good job.

        I'm doing science and I'm still alive

        by JLowe on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 05:07:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Cassiodorus. I'm saving your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    post so I can more thoroughly peruse all the links and information when I have more time.   Intense and imperative.

    Damn the neo-cons! Full speed ahead!

    by Aaa T Tudeattack on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 09:37:42 PM PST

  •  Denial is about identity and system change (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, petral

    primarily. We are conscious biological creatures who have created massive power outside of our biological container. We have developed an identity and a systems model that presume a separation between nature and humans and since the scientific and industrial revolution include an assumption that we can control nature using our power and make it serve our purposes. None of that is fully true but we could afford to see it that way and act accordingly until our industrial power became so damaging to the natural world.

    With the length of time Co2 stays in the atmosphere and the amount we have already put in the atmosphere putting thousands of years worth of Co2 in the atmosphere each year to maintain our current system makes no sense at all. In the sustainability discussion the underlying thing being sustained is the current economic system and levels of industrial production, not the natural world.

    One easy to see this is the strange talk about carbon sequestration via newly developed technical means. Plants have been doing this for a very long time and there is little talk of a massive effort to cover the earth with vegetation. Combined with cessation of burning coal and oil, radically decreasing material consumption, and focusing our human time, and remaining material and energy use, on services that improve human life we would be able to live happily and in productive relationship to nature.

    Thanks for the great diary, I get so tired of only seeing techno fix diaries and appreciate your voice calling attention to deeper systems and social issues, it makes me feel less alone.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 10:01:18 PM PST

    •  Techno-fix diaries (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Guyer

      are for writers in the sales business...

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:39:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The mind set is as if technology is generative (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        of life not derivative from human social systems that emerge from humans who are 100% dependent on the natural world, primarily plants. We are in a crazy mode  of perception generated by the industrial revolution and the economic system which makes most of us perceive we are dependent on our industrialized economic social system.

        Practically we are dependent on the economy because we have been separated from connection nature, but we are separated by a mindset and a system of our own construction. Our system and mindset have no necessity demanded by nature that is similar to the necessity of our niche in the world of plants and animals.

        Thanks for your book reviews too. After reading eco-capitalism v. eco-socialism, I think we still need more breakthrough thinking about systems. The author's critique of eco-capitalism made sense to me, some parts of eco-socialism made sense, but I think both are coming from the philosophy of materialism and show all the limits of that foundational assumption.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 08:20:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  fairness doctrine will dis-enable much denial (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope, Cassiodorus

    a major impediment to rational progress on this issue is and has been the uncontested repetition of coal industry talking points to tens to millions of talk radio ditto heads.

    many are ready at a moments notice to, at a local or national level, make life miserable for (for eg) a local or national weatherman who might mention climate change and has the misfortune of getting the attention of some right wing 'think' tank news reader who gets to contribute to rush limbaugh's morning pile of talking points.  not to mention the al gores, or any other politician who gets serious about the most important issue and biggest battle we have.

    and thanks for the post.

  •  Cassio, thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, petral

    for a very careful analysis of a subject that is very much in focus for me right now.  I want to take some time and read it carefully.  The psychological and socio-economic aspects of denial about climate change, overpopulation, peak oil and other pending resource shortages are powerful.

    Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

    by In her own Voice on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 10:13:16 PM PST

  •  Puhleeeze (0+ / 0-)

    This Marxist tripe has been circulated forever.  That crap doesn't work!!  It denies a fundamental truth about every living creature that has ever existed.  Greed.  You can talk about a "higher" level all you want, but talk about denial!  You're worse than the GW deniers if you think that any sort of "revolution" like you're suggesting has any chance at all of ever occurring.  On a voluntary basis or any other, for that matter.  Even the forced societies (Lenin/Stalin/Castro/Mao) couldn't get very far.  Why would you?

    Whatever it is, lighten up. Get over it!!

    by Tom 11 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 05:49:00 AM PST

    •  thanks for sharing! (nmi) (0+ / 0-)

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:14:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  actually, greed has been linked to masturbation (0+ / 0-)

      and may not be human nature after all----

      the sex on the wrong brain theory suggests irrational greed may be the result of the left mathematical side of the brain being powered by sex energy meant for the right orgasmic side of the brain.  on the mathematical side of the brain sex energy satisfies itself in terms of magnitude--- with more, bigger, faster.

      unfortunately the reason the sex energy ends upon the wrong side of the brain is that most humans learn masturbation with the right hand, which is connected to the left side of the brain.

      •  Yeah, well (0+ / 0-)

        that theory sounds about as smart as the rest of your post.  Greed takes many forms, some are like more, bigger, faster, but other forms would include nicer, smoother, softer, prettier, healthier.  If you want the world to be better for your children than it is today, that's greed, too.

        Whatever it is, lighten up. Get over it!!

        by Tom 11 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:34:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  greed- an excessive desire to acquire or possess (0+ / 0-)

          more than one needs or deserves, esp. of material wealth...
          american heritage--

          equating all desire with greed sounds like something some irrational ayn randian wet dreaming free marketeer would say to rationalize some irrational greed.

          •  Fine, then call the thing that Marxists (0+ / 0-)

            have always ignored desire instead of greed.  Nonetheless, it exists and cannot be "learned" away by indoctrination or any other permanent means.  And it will always interfere with the socialist agenda.

            Whatever it is, lighten up. Get over it!!

            by Tom 11 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:04:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  excessive is the problem- irrational when it (0+ / 0-)

              comes to survival

              many early 'religions' were based on the fables, myths, and anecdotes that passed on warnings about getting too greedy when harvesting particular flora and fauna. i thought until about the reagan (talk radio) revolution greed didn't use to be good.

              right now , thanks in large part to the lack of a Fairness Doctrine and the ability of the gOP to use TR to do most of the framing and media management our 'democracy' is broken and unable to make rational decisions about how to deal with the climate problem.  its got nothing to do with socialism or marxism unless you believe rush limbaugh.

              right now and for the past twenty years especially, the republican inspired  culture of greed- basically a bunch of lazy sacks of crap so afraid of nature they can't come out of their caves, live in a 'free' market fantasy devoid of any consideration of nature and now after they've fucked it up so bad they still want to deny it out of fear that the solutions are too complicated for their simplistic capitalist/christian fairyland.  and the greed freaks are still trying to make it so bad we end up in an emergency situation, and we're about there, so bad we end up taking their neanderthal problem compounding centralized solutions.

              the marxist bogeman isn't your problem

              •  Unfortunately, (0+ / 0-)

                the problem remains - people, and all living creatures, innately do what serves themselves. Substitute their family, their tribe, their homeys, their race, etc.  It all comes down to identification with groups.  None of us innately identify with "human" or "planet inhabiter".  We identify with much smaller groups that are then by nature, in competition with each other.  That is the inalienable fact that you guys just don't seem to get.  Christian?  Typical.

                Whatever it is, lighten up. Get over it!!

                by Tom 11 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:56:31 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  A Greenhouse Gas Tax... (0+ / 0-)

    ...would be the simplest solution:

    There is a way to make a GreenHouse Gas tax palatable:  sell it as a GHG Credit, funded by a GHG tax that would be used exclusively for the GHG Credit.  This credit could be in the form of a monthly check or direct deposit, perhaps delivered by the Social Security Administration.  All Americans of driving age would receive a full share, with those under 16 getting a half share.  

    The tax could be phased in, starting with say 10 cents per gallon of gasoline equivalent, then keep raising it until our economy is GHG-free.   For each dime of tax increment, every child would receive approximately $83 per year, and each adult would get $166 (based on current USA carbon emissions and population).  To keep the USA competitive, there would need to be a GHG Tariff applied to imported goods from non-GHG-taxing countries to cover the GHG emitted during their production and transport.  

    People could use their GHG Credit as they see fit - using it to offset the increased cost of fuel, to buy more energy-efficient devices, to move closer to where they work, to pay for public transportation, etc.  As GHG-based fuel demand destruction set in (such as happened post-Katrina), fuel suppliers would lower their prices, so the GHG tax would be partially offset.  Demand would increase for alternatives, which would stimulate research and development.

    As we became more energy-independent, we would be less reliant on our military to protect our fuel supply.  By having fewer carbon-related pollutants, our medical bills would decrease.  As our economy became more efficient, our products would be more competitive in the world market.

    This proposal would provide a simple market-based solution that would not involve the political and practical complexities of Cap and Trade or vehicle MPG limits.   We should also do away with all energy subsidies, and let the markets decide which solution is most effective.  This is something that we can do right now.

    •  Then the businesses -- (0+ / 0-)

      would migrate to the countries with the lowest greenhouse gas taxes!

      Still trying to get around the problem of production by limiting consumption?  If you don't want the grease to be burned, keep the grease in the ground.  Period.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 01:36:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I mentioned above, (0+ / 0-)

        To keep the USA competitive, there would need to be a GHG Tariff applied to imported goods from non-GHG-taxing countries to cover the GHG emitted during their production and transport.

        This would negate any benefit of attempting to offshore our emissions in the manner in which we've offshored so many other environmental disasters.  I'm guessing it would probably require rewrites of the major trade agreements.

        •  How about a tariff on pseudo-solutions? (0+ / 0-)

          This would negate any benefit of attempting to offshore our emissions in the manner in which we've offshored so many other environmental disasters.

          Actually it would make goods more expensive for US buyers while encouraging foreign sellers to look for markets elsewhere.

          You are trying to save capitalism for a dying planet.  Good luck with that.

          "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 03:43:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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