Freedom of Speech on the Backs of the World’s Poor

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

Related Post Roulette

184 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I thought that one of the biggest issues for global warming/climate change was that developing nations really want to play industrial revolution catch-up. Doesn’t China and Brazil and India frequently cry fowl over stuff like the Kyoto Protocols because Western nations can handle the transition to lower greenhouse emissions better?

    The Maldives care because they will be under water.

    The battle over the environment can often seem to be about wealth and jobs. Even if this is a false dichotomy it is clearly felt. This happens in Western Countries as well. Australia ousted their Labor PM because of cap and trade legislation. The fights between environmentalists and loggers (as in actual lumberjacks) in the 1980s in the Pacific Northwest also come to mind.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

      I need to start writing under Saul DeGraw.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to NewDealer says:

      This is true, but the gap between what the BRICS will suffer (particularly given their rapid development) and what the truly left behinds will suffer is growing by the year, and there’s no real way for them to make up that gap because they’re not nearly as big. Bangladesh is probably the poster child for storm victim, and they’re only going to get hit even harder.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        As I said before, here is the problem I see.

        1. Climate Change scientists and their lay allies often can sound like Chicken Little from a Rhetorical Standpoint. Maybe this is true and deserved but psychologically makes it very clear that chicken little arguments don’t convince people. They just cause people to shut down.

        2. The mantra seems to be consumer less and less but less is never quantified as to a number.

        3.The constant tug and war between people like me who believe in climate change but point out 1 and 2 and environmentalists never ends. People like me or greginak get considered part of the problem.

        4. People need real and concrete solutions. You need to be able to say what needs to change or people will just imagine that the enviornmentalist movement just wants to create the Shire again. The Shire never existed. Don’t treat humanity like a bug.Report

      • Honestly you know what my concrete solution is?

        Massive wealth transfers.

        We give up on the ability to actually stop this stuff, so why don’t we just deal with it?

        Every country under a certain GDP (per capita? I dunno on this one, it lets China cheat too much) gets a huge chunk of cash from a fund contributed to every year by the top 20 economies in the world (say totally about 1% of G20 GDP) , They then spend it on mitigation.

        That’s it.

        It’s honestly cheaper and easier than reducing consumption.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        That works for me but I think things need to get really bad before it will work or if it will ever work.

        IIRC Ecquador tried to get wealth transfers in exchange for not drilling for oil in their very pristine Rain Forrest. The plan didn’t work. Western nations seemed to largely treat it like blackmail. “What? You want to get paid for not doing something?”Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        We give up on the ability to actually stop this stuff, so why don’t we just deal with it?

        That’s a good idea.

        So at the risk of going Full Moral Hazard, at what point, if any, are these emerging nations contributing to the problem?

        If your birthrate is over 6, and your elevation is under 6′, are you more culpable for your future expenses than if your birthrate is under 2.3 and you’re outside the tropic zones?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Nob Akimoto says:


        ‘Cause I have to be blunt, we could give $100 billion to Bangladesh and I don’t expect that $100 billion to do $100 billion worth of climate change mitigation work.

        I rather expect most of it to go elsewhere.Report

      • Given the scale of human catastrophe that tends to happen in Bangladesh, I’m not sure if the hundred billion going elsewhere is really that bad of a thing. In general the whole point of mitigating externalities is to free up resources in a different way.

        For the moral hazard aspect, I’d imagine you’d do it as a general trendline. Are people using the money wisely? Are damages going up or down? Is the economy doing better? Food scarcity? Birth rates? You can measure a lot of variables. After say the first 50 years, you can then start asking if their choices are actually helping them.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I’m not sure if the hundred billion going elsewhere is really that bad of a thing.

        Well, neither am I, but if you give $10 billion to Bangladesh to mitigate climate change and they use it to build hospitals and schools under the 2070 water line, you’re going to get a different result than if they spend $10 billion other ways.

        Those other results may be morally worthwhile, but if you’re not getting results in line with the program ideals from the program, I’m imagining that your popular support is going to evaporate rather swiftly.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Nob Akimoto says:


        How cynical can you be with your western colonial superiority? Surely those folks in the third world are going to use the money wisely as they have with all the aid they’ve gotten from the west.Report

      • The thing is I’m pretty sure the Bangladeshis (or anyone else for that matter) have dealt with so many disasters that climate change will make worse (rather than start causing out of the blue) that they’re more likely to already be using scarce resources on the problems they cause anyway. So while your hypothetical has some merit, I don’t think it’s at all likely that it’s a realistic scenario of how things would turn out. Simply put: Yes, they might build new hospitals and tennaments, but it’s likely those same buildings would be located away from flood areas and cyclone hit areas, because they’re already used to that killing so many people. For example in the past fifty years alone, cyclones have killed over half a million people in Bangladesh. That’s 10,000 a year even if all you do crudely divide those numbers in a country with a population of about 150 million.. If given the money and expertise necessary to really cyclone proof their buildings, I’m betting they’d take it quite willingly to proof these things.

        Same in other places, whether the Philippines or Cambodia.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Honestly you know what my concrete solution is?
        Massive wealth transfers.

        Is that really concrete? “Concrete” suggests to me a plan that one has a reasonable prospect of enacting. How do you envision getting this put into action?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        “Honestly you know what my concrete solution is?
        Massive wealth transfers.”

        It would be somewhat easier to just let everyone move where they want (and give all the women a college education)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        You come up with solutions like “massive wealth transfers” because you’re a good guy.
        Problem is? The world ain’t run by good guys. The world is run by rich sons of bitches who would rather let most of the third world ( and a good deal of the first) die, than pay to fix it.

        “Free Market” is buying land in Cleveland, as a hedge for global warming wiping away the NYSE. They can take care of their own.

        I suppose I probably have more personal (and secondhand) experience with these bastards than you do.

        The rich, as of right now, are the problem, and they are the problem on a global scale.

        [That said, it doesn’t exactly help when a first world country thinks that “genocide” is a good 25-year plan.]Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        letting people move where they want is letting them go to countries whose idea of planning for massive immigration is “genocide, trail of tears style.”
        (yes, I’m rather ticked off that genocide actually constitutes a real plan, on the books, for a first world country).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Ok, first of all, NYSE (and other exchanges) have been building up back-up data centers for redundancy against natural and manmade disasters for decades, now. Second, NYSE is more of a tourist attraction these days than an actual center of global capitalism.

        But I’ll (finally) bite. Kim, what’s this genocide plan you’ve been referring to over the last few days?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Are you familiar with the trail of tears? That’s the particular variety of genocide i’m referring to. The plan is to basically put Pacific Islanders (and other Climate Refugees) in the middle of the Australian Outback, with about as little money as possible being spent to prepare or to help them cope.

        [How do I know this is on the books? Because I know the guy who wrote the more expensive plan.]

        How do I know that it’s going to wind up killing oodles of people? Well, besides that we’ve already done this in America, it’s standard operating procedure to forecast number of deaths in different scenarios.
        Here’s a simple one:
        I consider that one to be relatively inaccurate — deaths based on insurance are a little more tricky to calculate than deaths based on privation.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        as a sidenote: Disaster Recovery data centers are statistically more likely to be hit by disasters.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Kolohe, a borderless world where everybody could live where they want is somehow more unimaginable than a world where massive wealth transfers take place. The politics with immigrants already living where they want is tricky enough. If AGW is as bad as imagined than most people in the unaffected areas are probably going to be a lot more comfortable with letting peopl like the Bangledeshis drown than actually helping them even though thats morally monstrous.

        As to your other point, the birth rate is decreasing even in many developing countries. A decreased birthrate isn’t necessarily going to ameliorate the negative consequences of AGW. There will still be plenty of people in the screwed areas.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        How do I know this is on the books? Because I know the guy who wrote the more expensive plan.

        Really? Who’s that? I might have heard of him.

        Disaster Recovery data centers are statistically more likely to be hit by disasters.

        You’re gonna need a citation for that one, old bean.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        yeah, you probably have heard of him. Not sure what nom de plume he’s using for this study (he’s worked for RAND too).

        As for datacenters? I’m not sure, that might have been industrial research (transl: not finding a quick cite on the net. was talking with a guy who runs a data center).
        so, an alternative cite:
        make your own conclusions.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Not sure what nom de plume he’s using for this study (he’s worked for RAND too).

        Also, I heard he’s Canadian.

        You do know that DR data centers are distinct from primary data centers, and are not physically located where the operational data centers are, so that they can be switched over to in the event of a disaster at the operational data center, right?

        That said, IMO some organizations don’t separate their operational and DR centers far enough, and I can conceive of “standard” (not comet strikes or anything) disasters that might impact both locations…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Yes, as a computer professional, I am very much aware that DR sites tend not to be at the same place as the primary site.
        As such, it’s not really a /problem/ if the DR site tends to get more disasters than the primary (though it is a funny and surprising statistic). The problem comes when the DR and primary are hit or affected by the same disaster. (or alternatively, while your primary data center is still running on tequila, your secondary datacenter gets taken out by flooding)Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Kim, my point is that your link is for Data Centers. It does not break out DR data centers separately, and your statement pertains to them. IOW, you need a link that shows that DR data centers are more prone to disasters than primary data centers.

        I would *hope* that most orgs large enough to need DR data centers are smart enough to locate them out-of-state from their primaries (but know for a fact that this is not always the case).Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Thinking about this some more, I can certainly see a way in which it might be true – if a preponderance of companies that provide DR services are located in the disaster-prone states, and multiple orgs tend to contract with these companies.

        In fact, this wouldn’t surprise me much at all, even though looked at objectively, it’s dumb for DR services to be located in one state that is disaster-prone, instead of one that is not prone (or being located in two that are prone but geographically distant from each other/prone to different disasters).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Is it me, or did Kim accuse the Aussies of planning to starve refugees to death?Report

      • I think her suggestion is that Australians are the host, but not the (only) culprit. Though if it’s in their back yard, obviously they would be a culprit.Report

      • @chris In fairness, Australia’s immigration and refugee detention and resettlement program really is quite brutal:
        See also:

        If there were a plan to start housing asylum seekers in the Outback, it’d be an automatic improvement over the status quo and a clear bow to international pressure, so it’s quite plausible that a plan to settle refugees there exists. Given Australia’s history on the issue, it’s also quite plausible that any such project would be woefully underfunded.

        That doesn’t make Kim’s assertions of a planned “genocide” justifiable in the least, though.Report

  2. Avatar notme says:

    I always find the “let’s wallow in out liberal guilt” posts amusing. Clearly you don’t know or care that the chinese are the biggest carbon emiters and don’t show any signs of slowing down. No matter the facts let’s rage against the evil westerners.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to notme says:

      And I always find the complete sociopathy inherent in the tu coque by morons like you to be utterly exasperating.Report

    • Avatar Catfish in reply to notme says:

      For what it’s worth, the Chinese have held this mantle for a few brief individual years, whereas the US is by far the aggregate leader in carbon emissions since 1971. We’ve produced 30% of the world’s carbon pollution since 1971, and have produced more than four times as much carbon as the number two country in that time frame, Germany.

      Clearly China’s emissions are troubling, but it’s farce to pretend that the US doesn’t bear significant responsibility for this issue.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to notme says:

      ” Clearly you don’t know or care that the chinese are the biggest carbon emiters and don’t show any signs of slowing down.”

      The Chinese government would like to respond: He who smelt the carbon emision, dealt the carbon emision.Report

  3. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    This seriously begs the question of whether climate-chant-denial groups are the primary reason we’re not doing anything major about climate change.

    Passing laws that would make climate-change denial illegal strike me as not only far more problematic but more difficult (especially in the US, with the First Amendment) than passing a carbon tax or removing all subsidies to fossil-fuel-emitting industries. Not that the latter are easy, but the ethical and policy arguments for them are a lot stronger than the arguments for banning “climate-change denial” while trying to split hairs about what qualifies as “denial”.

    If we’re going to address climate change, we need to address climate change, not address the fact that some people are (falsely) claiming that it isn’t happening or isn’t human-caused. And we’re only going to do that when the cost of fossil-fuel emissions rises substantially – Europe’s taken more measures to respond because oil costs more there.

    “Forbid any further oil extraction in the United States” or “implement a substantive carbon tax” are absolutely politically difficult, but they’re not more difficult than trying to make climate-change denial illegal; the only thing the latter would achieve would be making the denialists look like martyrs.

    In addition to the need to reduce climate emissions, we need to recognize that even if all greenhouse gas emissions ended today, we would still be facing major climate change, which means we need to simultaneously tackle emissions reductions and mitigation measures – which, yes, should include transfers to low-income countries harmed by climate change, as well as automatic refugee status to any citizens of island nations whose countries are predicted to be submerged. Trying to ban climate-change denial would only be a needless distraction from seeking to implement any or all of these policies.

    (I do admit to an instinctive skepticism towards predictions of imminent apocalypse, though. When it comes to predictions of what the world’s going to be like in 100 years….a hundred years ago we had just started having cars. Granted, innovation’s slowed over the last 50 years compared to the 1850-1950 period, but the technological advances we could make in 100 years are scarcely imaginable from the present-day. I think climate change will make life worse for a lot of people. I don’t think it will produce the collapse of human civilization.)Report

    • I’m kind of saying whether or not the denalists are worth censoring is beside the point. The very fact that the OECD world and we partake of it changes the moral calculus in a way that makes the fact we’re having the discussion at all seem trite, especially when it’s treated as nothing more than a political football.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Well, we tried. The government (not USA) said, “too expensive”. The plan on the books is for genocide, trail of tears style. I don’t even get a vote — and here I expose my American jingoism, in that i’m used to getting a vote on everything of some importance. Here, I don’t get one.Report

  4. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    When the bill comes due and they come looking for justice, what then?

    As my friend Chris put it: “We will likely refer to it as “terrorism” and open the paper to see if Whole Foods has any sales on tilapia.”

    I think you’re seriously overestimating what very poor countries are capable of doing. I’ve read the same things said about global food crises. Impoverished nations in a state of collapse tend to present serious dangers to their citizens and to neighbouring poor countries, but very little danger to developed countries half a world away. And yes, I say that in spite of 9/11 – compared to the people who die every year in civil wars, who die of hunger and disease in places where the only political constant is chaos, 3000 people in 13 years (2001-2014) is relatively insignificant. And the terrorists were mainly from richer nations such as Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to KatherineMW says:


      Quite so, the answer to the question “When the bill comes due and they come looking for justice, what then?” is that nothing will happen – nothing is what always happens. Justice is for people powerful enough to obtain it.Report

    • Sub-point 2: It’ll be labelled terrorism and people will shrug because it’ll take place in places that aren’t important to us.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Indeed Katherine. The window of of passenger planes being used for terrorist attacks opened with the crash of Flight 77 and closed with the crash of Flight 93. There’s no group of airplane passengers in the world who can be expected to meekly sit by while their plane is hijacked now. Terrorists can destroy a plane but using it to destroy anything else? They’d get dogpiled before they forced their way into the cockpit door.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

        Oh, please, decently trained martial artists could probably take out people one by one.
        You’ve noticed that most people sleep on flights? I wonder what a garotte would do? (or, more particularly, multiple garottes).

        The fact that the terrorists are not as creative as good strategists does not mean that the next terrorists won’t be smart.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to North says:

        Pure speculation… but do you suppose that’s what happened to Flight 370? I mean… they’re saying the tracking system was disabled and the plane was turned around and then… they don’t know what the hell happened.

        If the passengers collectively said, “Fuck this noise,” and stormed the cockpit you could have ended up with a plane on autopilot headed for the open ocean with no one on board who knew how to fly it.

        In the world of baseless speculation it makes as much sense as anything.Report

      • Avatar Gaelen in reply to North says:

        Damn right Kim.

        And what happens when Steven Seagal retires. Who will protect us then?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Kim, the available window of reliable nutbars recruitable to fly a plane into a building and kill themselves is already narrow. Adding martial arts -expert- (and I remain skeptical that even an expert could hold off an entire survival desperate mob in a contained plane) to the list really hurts a terrorist groups probability. As to the rest, the time to abduct a plane is early on when it’s full of fuel. You won’t be sneaking around assainating the entire passenger contingent until you’re well on your way on a long trip while somehow also evading the notice of the flight crew and then breaking into the cockpit and then finding your way to a target (giving authorities hours and hours to potentially figure out what’s going on not to mention questions of whether you can reach your target).
        It’s a massive rube goldberg of a terrorist plot- the basic fundamentals are that prior to 9/11 people were socially conditioned to sit quietly in the event of a hijacking in the expectation that they’d eventually be handed safely over to their nations of origin. Post 9/11 with the expectation being that they will die horribly in a firey crash any terrorist or even suspected terrorist is going to get pummeled to oblivion before they have offed even one flight attendant.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        @Road Scholar I am skeptical that Flight 370 was a terrorist job personally but it is possible. I suspect that had passengers stormed terrorists down they would have, very gingerly, figured out how to send out some kinds of signals. Alas, Occams razor suggests a very sad simple story.
        -Flight 370 takes off, flight proceeds.
        -Electrical Fire! Flight crew pulls the breakers to cut power to the fire. This disables trackign systems.
        -Pilots adjust heading to head for nearest landing strip. Overshoots due to lack of instrumentation or trouble with fire/smoke.
        -Fire continues, smoke amelioration equipment begins to fail. Desperate pilots adjust course again seeking possible landing site.
        -Flight crew (and God[ess?] be kind the passengers) succumb to smoke.
        -Ghost plane continues on her last course until either fuel or cascading system failure brings it down in the Indian OceanReport

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

        sorry, I meant to say “one on one” (implying a relative parity between terrorists and passengers). I do agree that you are making the whole thing more difficult. But it’s just a few years to learn martial arts — at least enough to be competent.

        You’re right about hijacking at the beginning of the flight, hadn’t thought of that.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Kimmie, I’d recommend some of the articles by journalists who delved into what it takes to turn a human being into a suicide-anything (bomber, hijacker etc). The circle of people who learn advanced martial arts have very bad overlap with the circle of people who are good potential recruits into a suicidal attack squad.

        Additionally, while I am no martial arts expert, my general understanding is that when it comes to brawls in enclosed spaces quantity has a significant quality of its own. Airplanes are simply not being hijacked and crashed into things and I strongly suspect that the NSA and Homeland Security has squat all to do with that. Hijacking a plane was always a psychological game more than a physical one. People sat quietly because they feared you could destroy their plane if they resisted and they hoped that if they didn’t resist that they would survive. 9/11 inverted those assumptions and anyone trying to hijack or do other funny business on a plane have learned to their detriment just how aggressive that civilian in the next seat can be. Ask the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber, they were buried under so many angry passengers that the Flight attendants had to try and pull people off of those morons for fear that the suspect would die before the plane got onto the ground.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to North says:

        I’m pretty much with @north here. Passengers and crew will no longer allow planes to be taken over with threats of violence. The number of news articles about passengers subduing violent and unruly passengers is a pretty good testament to the new set of rules.

        I suspect the only difference between “violent drunk screaming and hitting people” and “suspected terrorist” is whether you get beaten and taped to your seat or simply torn limb from limb. Nobody beats a mob.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

        except a bigger mob. What’s to stop terrorists from buying 50 seats on the plane?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Kim, again serious logistical and secrecy problems. Convincing a handful of people to willingly violently commit suicide is very difficult. Convincing 50 of them to do it is exponentially harder (and possibly impossible because being one of a small heroic few is one of the major psychological levers used to make a suicide attacker).

        Also the more people you have in the plot the less inconspicuous they are and the harder it is to keep secret (both because of their group size and because of the large and growing secrecy footprint they leave in their wake). Logistics also become a serious problem since now you have to move, hide, coordinate a large number of people.

        Also, if you somehow manage to cultivate a group of 50 suicide attackers spending them on a single airplane attack is a terrible return on investment and even worse risk management.

        What it boils down to is that 9/11 is not an easily repeatable event. The conditions that permitted it were destroyed by its success. There is a reason no planes have been used as weapons since 9/11 and it has not been due to some lack of desire on the part of backwards camel fondling mass murderers the globe over.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Do we remember what happened the last time when we gave the government the power to censor something as simple as a PPV movie?

    That’s right: Citizen’s United.

    Why not instead push for a Constitutional Amendment?Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird says:

      I think you’re going in the wrong direction. The point is from a bigger view, even the discussions about freedom of speech and censoring talk is well, immaterial. Or rather that the externality is something created by the society itself, so talking about what that society is doing internally is the wrong way to look at it.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Do we know what kind of houses, cars, and lifestyles will be considered “sustainable” eventually?

    Because, I imagine, that’s the end goal.

    I’m thinking housing with 200 square feet with an additional 400 square feet per adult and 200 square feet per child (so two adults could have 1000 square feet and a family of four could live in a cozy 1400 square foot house). We would have no more than one car per family and it’d be a Yaris or similar (for trips to Costco… grocery stores would be in bus/bicycle distance). How much energy does the average house use now? I think we can all agree that the goal is probably somewhere around half that.

    We should probably also outlaw such things as unnecessary air travel. Get there by rail or ship. You shouldn’t have the option of choosing between “Saving Time” and “Saving the Planet”. We’re doing the latter. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of great vacation options within a few hours of your house.

    And, might I add, *HUGE* swaths of the planet are already well within spec of this.

    It’s mostly Americans who would be affected.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird says:

      Is that really the point?

      I mean, you’re usually the advocate for keeping other people from having to bear the costs of the action of someone else. Hoisting the costs of externalities generated by your own actions and things that you continue to benefit from on someone else, I think, counts 1000% in that category. It’s more a matter of just leaving folks alone. If we didn’t exist, would those people have the same combined level of costs to deal with? And the costs aren’t necessarily financial of course.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Is that really the point?

        It seems to me that the point is the creation of a sustainable lifestyle that does not create more CO2 than can be addressed by mitigating practices (and, ideally, to even cut down on existing CO2 and other greenhouse gases).

        This should include cultural expectations and *BEHAVIORS*.

        If that is not the point, I have no idea what the point is.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Jaybird has a point in that if AGW is as serious as imagined and something needs to be done about it, than certain aspects of people’s lifestyle in the developed world needs to change. We probably need to eat less meat for environmental reasons and use less energy through smaller housing and more use of transit over cars and planes. The suburban lifestyle of the Americas and Oceania isn’t exactly that compatible with doing something about global warming. People are really bad at making these sort of sacrifices though.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Apparently I’m entirely wrong and all that we need to do is add a gas tax that, seriously, will not be used to shore up the pension funds of state workers.

        Which is one of those things that you’d think could be negotiated.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        As someone who downsized and got rid of his car, I can say that those sacrifices are, at least if you live in a place where they’re possible, surprisingly easy once you get over the initial psychological barriers. I suspect that this is true of many other consumption-reducing life changes.

        In fact, I actually prefer life on this side of the choice, even if I occasionally wish I had a car so that I could get somewhere faster: less stress, fewer unnecessary attachments, and perhaps to some seemingly paradoxically, more freedom. The sense that we need all this shit that we have, that it makes our lives better and easier, is an illusion.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        you mean we probably need to eat “grown” meats rather than off the hoof.[okay, give it ten years].
        Smaller housing, yes, but more efficient housing Always!

        Streetcar suburbs will be fine — and people are moving away from the rural areas and into cities anyway. 1 in 7 Americans is in LA/NYC or Chicago.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I think this here is exactly why I have a hard time taking the GW political issue seriously.

        I’m not a denier, and I recognize that things might well have to change. But it’s hard not to notice that the side (and I count this as my side, fwiw) that pushes for change invariably demands economic sanctions, sacrifices, and vilification from those that aren’t them.

        Every political solution I hear from my side says (without saying it directly) that people like us need make nothing more than the most superficial and minor changes to our current status, amount of wealth, or day-to-day inconvenience. We will drive a luxury hybrid car! But only if and when we can really afford it. Otherwise, hey – gotta have a car, right? And it doesn’t matter that other than heat the biggest energy suck in you house is modern TVs, gaming systems, and computers. We love those things.

        The ones who we should really stick it to always end being those like oil company execs, coal magnates, conservative pundits, and GOP pols and lobbyists. Who just kind of coincidently are the same people we don’t like and consider our opponents on all of our other pet issues.

        It’s hard for me to take that seriously.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @tod-kelly there’s a whole lot of hippie punching here. The stimulus included money for alternative energy; wind and solar power, for instance. This won’t, alone, solve the problem, of course, but it’s some of the thousands of drops that will help. Likewise, there were tax incentives to properly weatherize houses and purchase energy star appliances. And of course there’s light bulbs. (I hate this one, most energy efficient light bulbs trigger migraines; I prefer the old-fashioned kind, 40 watts, please.)

        So while what you say seems true on the surface, I also suggest that the hippie punching has contributed to the perceived lack of ‘change my ways.’ And if you don’t think that hippie punching is going on and has a big impact, recall how some people made jokes about Obama suggesting a tire gauge was a good tool to save energy? That’s the kind of hippie punching I’m talking about.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        1) More public transportation is coming. We’re getting too poor for our current transportation.
        2) There will be fewer rural areas — Walmart is pulling out (or going under, take your pick).
        3) NO MORE BUILDING IN FLOOD ZONES. Also, if you bought in a flood zone, you can’t sell. Tough Shit. [First Legal Action!]
        4) After heat comes air conditioning, for most people. Then comes refridgerator/dishwasher/washing machines. Believe it or not, even running a topend server is still pretty cheap (our computer bill is ~$20 a month, and that’s with one computer working most of the time, 6 cores…)
        6) Airsealing and other energy savings have improved dramatically over te last 5 years. Invest in it now, before the energy spikes come.

        Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff on my list…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        have you tried LEDs? They dont’ flicker, I promise!Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Putting aside my growing frustration at this growing tendency to refer to anything less than loving caresses of liberals as “hippie punching” — which is fast becoming as clever-sounding as Taxachuesetts and The People’s Republic of [Insert Region’s Your Liberal City or Suburb Here]…

        I have to strongly disagree with you here, zic. I am pretty sure it’s the other way around.

        I think we don’t change because we don’t want to change, and that so many of us either embrace anti-science or sanctions against people who aren’t us precisely because we don’t want to change. Even the things you mentioned here were either things that didn’t require us to do anything (wind farms being built) or things we got paid to do, rather than got sanctioned for (tax incentives, which really only work for those of us who can easily afford to by the right kind of light bulbs anyway).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Oh, god damn it. Are you seriously trying to tell me that spending $40,000 is GETTING PAID TO DO SOMETHING?
        I like free loan programs, I really do. But 20% off a $5,000 furnace is NOT getting paid to do it (replace your furnace early. If you wait until it breaks, it will cost you $10,000 more. Now, that? That’s getting paid to do it).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Putting aside my growing frustration at this growing tendency to refer to anything less than loving caresses of liberals as “hippie punching” — which is fast becoming as clever-sounding as Taxachuesetts and The People’s Republic of [Insert Region’s Your Liberal City or Suburb Here]

        Yeah right. So what would you call the process of Action: liberals put forward policy to help alleviate energy waste; Reaction: that action is derided because ‘it won’t solve the problem,’ even though it’s a baby step toward a solution?

        Minimizing energy consumption isn’t just a big, self-sacrificing top-down central government problem, it’s fixing a billion small leaks, too.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Can I suggest you look at the tax code for these tax credits? The only things getting anything substantial are economically unfeasible otherwise (geothermal, solar, etc.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Putting aside my growing frustration at this growing tendency to refer to anything less than loving caresses of liberals as “hippie punching”

        Dude, you’re way late to this game. It’s been going on for a decade or so. I’d recommend catching up quickly by getting all your frustration out in one short sharp shot so you can get back to thinking clearly again.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Unless you just want to talk about how much liberals suck, of course. And that’s fine too. But let’s not mix things up, ya know?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @zic I confess I kind of have a fork in the road with my thinking here.

        For example, when conservatives got on Al Gore’s case for making a movie about global warming when he still rode in airplanes!!!, I thought that was kind of stupid. And I still do.

        For me, there’s a material difference between what I was trying to get at above and someone (say, Gore) seeing a problem with modern society and commenting/researching/warning on that problem without somehow removing himself from modern society. And I think the very idea that we can’t take warnings seriously from someone who doesn’t live in a yurt made of cow poop and mud is not only stupid, it’s a totally disingenuous argument.

        But for me the road forks when we start talking about punishment: Who needs to be punished? Either economically, socially, politically, or — as Lawrence Torcello has pitched — criminally. That seems a very different conversation.

        And on that front, my perception is that the conversations and policy pitches tend to be that the government needs to either let me and mine have our things or pay us to replace them, but we need to fine/sanction/hold liable those on the other side of the fence for not bucking up and making the change on their own.

        Now, is that just my perception? Maybe… but it’s hard to think that perception doesn’t have a little bit of truth behind it. And since I have that perception, it’s hard for me to think that there aren’t things that drive the political issue of CC that have nothing to do with CC or it’s effects on the planet.

        Clearly, if you think that perception has zero merit then ymmv.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Doesn’t seem to really be advocating much in the way of punishing the oilbarons.

        I will admit that some of the Don’t Build In Flood Zones is trolling — but it’s trolling the gulf coast “Eat the Rich” folks just as much as the barons who keep on building on the coasts.

        And, I’ve gotta say, I’m starting to kinda get annoyed with you not looking at what I’m specifically advocating. Community Energy? That’s part of the political process too — specifically energy deregulation, along with some favorable rulings to pull it off.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        like it or leave it 66% of folks in America don’t have $1000 in their banking accounts. Gov’t either needs to incentivize folks… or it ain’t gonna happen for most folks.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:


        Who needs to be punished? Either economically, socially, politically, or — as Lawrence Torcello has pitched — criminally. That seems a very different conversation.

        My beef with this is that it still misrepresents what Torcello seemed to be suggesting — he was talking about fraud. If you took this same type of fraud, and moved it to another domain — say pharma clinical trials, it’s obvious.

        And on that front, my perception is that the conversations and policy pitches tend to be that the government needs to either let me and mine have my things or pay me to replace them, but we need to fine/sanction/hold liable those on the other side of the fence for not bucking up and making the change on their own.

        This is just so twisted, I hardly know where to start to untwist it. But: it’s a long and time-honored tradition in this country to offer incentives to do the right thing. Tax breaks for employer-provided health care, home mortgage deductions, tax credits for children. So a tax credit for replacing your refrigerator with a more efficient refrigerator doesn’t strike me as ‘pay me to replace them,’ so much as incentive to, when replacing, opt for the model that better serves long-term goals of decreased fossil fuel use.

        There is a constant droning that all these things won’t solve the problem, they’re a joke and so not worth while. I wish someone would do an economic study on how many people don’t avail themselves of tax credits and don’t purchase energy-efficient appliances because of that droning. I don’t see it as a different behavior from saying Gore wasn’t worth listening to because he didn’t live in a yurt; I see it as all part of the same set of behaviors — one set on defining ideological enemies instead of addressing actual problems.

        I called it hippie punching; because I think that’s what it is. Equate the policy with an already derided group to diminish/dismiss it. If you make a joke about hipsters drinking fair trade coffee, you don’t actually have to think about workers on coffee plantations being treated fairly.

        It’s contemptible, and should be challenged. And I embrace my 1st amendment rights to do so, as both free speech and deeply-held spiritual belief.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Kim –

        Apologies. I had not meant to ignore you, I just haven’t been reading the threads. (I’ve been responding to sic cause she’s been using the “@” and I’ve been getting emails.)

        I actually agree with much of what you say, and I would completely advocate for the things listed on the Skeptical Science page you linked to. Though I would also point out that I don’t know that most of those who advocate for punishing/sanctioning the other side would. After all, the energy needs in the SS article lean kind of heavily on nuclear power, which I see liberals in this country embracing right about the time that it gets so bad that conservative embrace climate change.Report

      • @tod-kelly One of my hangups is… how many of the proposals tends towards things that would be supported anyway. Weening our way off fossil fuels? They support that with or without global warming. Energy conservation? Supported (in the abstract sense, at least) with or without global warming. Living in more dense communities and a preference for the urban over the suburban? There seems to be a lot of overlap with people who support that for cultural or other reasons. So on an instinctual level, it’s hard for me sometimes not to see climage change as an exclamation point to provide emphasis for what is already supported. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is often a different matter. Bad things might happen if we use nuclear power, and nuclear power unlike most of the others conflicts with other goals, and so reasons are often found why that’s not a significant part of the solution. (To be fair, this last part isn’t the case with a lot of people and a fair number of people around here at OT.)

        Now, maybe all of this is absolutely right. The potential terror that is AGW does actually happen to coincide with other environmental, social, and spiritual aims. Also, the science is the science and whether it’s being used for political convenience or out of heartfelt belief has absolutely no bearing on the truth of it.

        I was reminded of all of this when I was reading Jonathan Last’s book about the birth dearth and the threat it (allegedly) poses. A lot of people concerned about the demographic crunch have a tendency to view it largely through the lens of what they would support anyway. Last had some exceptions (his views on immigration appear to have been moved), but even within his book he seemed to find reasons that the solution did not involve things that were antithetical to his more general worldview.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        And now, I’m going to follow the long-standing rules of my inner-Conor that tell me never to comment in thread’s that are about abortion, phonics v. whole language, and climate change.

        I officially concede and am now bowing out.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Chris, however Buddhist of you. More seriously, I suspect that people really don’t need as much housing, yard, cars, and the rest as they think they do. You can own a smaller house, less yard, and get around by transit and still live a prosperous life. That being said, a lot of people are going to holler loud if told this.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        +1 Zic

        And though I disagree with Tod a lot lately, +1 to him for being a virtuous disputant and overall good person, and +2 for his mellifluous voice.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:


        I agree on Tod’s mellifluous voice, and recognize that mine’s feminine shrill.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Todd does have a point, though. Environmentalists and AGW advocates would probably make more of an impact if their proposed solutions to AGW didn’t almost perfectly track onto their policy preferences and the policy preferences of environmentalism pre AGW. Maybe if environmentalism had some Sister Souljah moment where they told some of their own that some eggs would have to be broken?
        -I know we love the spotted desert sand frog but the solar plant needs to go there.
        -I know we hate development but those windmills need to go in on your coastal view.
        -I know we hate nukes but nuclear power is carbon free.
        -I know we love zoning/height laws/nimbyism but denser cities reduce sprawl and carbon intensity.

        Something like that maybe?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I understand where Tod & will are coming from on the convenience of some people’s proposed for reducing carbon emissions. But as Will says, that really shouldn’t cause us to think differently about the issue …to not take it seriously. All that shows is that people tend to be self-serving. That’s just a trivially true observation about people.

        We still have to decide for ourselves based on the evidence whether this is a threat we have to work to address regardless of “people’s” inevitable shortcomings at being consistently self-denying in their assessment of the requirements for such efforts. We have to decide, again, regardless of our impatience with perceived inconsistencies by some advocates, whether some serious consequences can still be averted by altering the “change” aspect of the process, or whether efforts now have to be redirected toward mitigating, adjusting to, and making ethical distributional adjustments for the effects of the changes. And we’ll have to decide what measures, whether to avert some changes or adjust/mitigate the effects, are the ones we’ll take. And there, we’ll have to acknowledge that there won’t be a purely rational way to decide what measures are best to take; rather, there will have to be a process that balances both potency of effect and existing preferences about required sacrifices. (To put it crudely, it won’t only be absolute effectiveness that will decide whether we’d dot the landscape with nukes or outlaw automobiles… people’s preferences in the aggregate will bear on those choices. Or, to put it another way, self-serving will be a part of how we choose whatever it is we choose to do about climate change… and should be.)

        I’d make one last point about self-serving. I take Tod’s point about many who do seem to merely point fingers at certain others (oil companies! car companies! China!) as the parties who (at least first) should have to sacrifice to make these adjustments. But in my experience the far more common position of those who aren’t purely arguing that we all need to individually change our consumptions patterns is one of realism about that likelihood. People tend to recognize that their ability to make these changes absent imposed constraints is very limited, and to the extent they are able to make the changes personally, in all likelihood it’s for naught as a matter of aggregation because of collective action problems. So the position ends up being one of, let’s place some coordinated pressure on incentives. Let’s impose a carbon tax, raise gas taxes, cap emissions, etc. Artificially raise the cost of our lifestyle because we’re just not going to significantly cut back without a change in incentives. (Will that hit a lot of businesses harder than households as an initial matter? Yes, but that will be passed along as well.)

        What I wonder is whether Tod hears not just the actual fingerpointing but also this kind of thinking as the kind of concern that only calls for others to make sacrifices. If he doesn’t, I have a hard time seeing how he sees it as so typical that it causes him to be unable to separate his reaction to people’s unwillingness to be self-denying to the degree he’d like to see from his ability to take the issue seriously in the first place.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @north, I wonder if there’s some observer bias going on here? Meaning we observe the instances of NIMBYism, and ignore the rest?

        I wrote the modifications to our town’s zoning laws that encouraged increased density; they became one of the samples used by our state’s municipal association. I didn’t get any awards for that, nobody stood up and shouted, “Look at what the liberal did.” I’ve attended lots of hearings on proposed wind projects (I live in a mountainous and rural area; there are two such projects within a half-hour drive of my house, and others are on the drawing board.) I’ve seen environmentalists on both sides of the issue; and those opposed typically do so because of their values for wilderness and wildlife, not because it will be in their back yard. But I’ve also seen other environmentalists stand up for the wind-project development, siting the greater concern of climate change.

        Honestly, much of this criticism seems based on conjecture and stereotype; not on any sort of actual fact.

        So the trend Tod’s describing doesn’t really accord with what I see from people who actually donate their time and energy to environmental causes.

        I do have some issues and concerns with environmental groups. I’ve seen some serious misrepresentation of fact that goes unchallenged because the press takes the numbers many environmental organizations toss out at face value, without challenging them; and this can cause some serious hardship for businesses. I see this with pollution permits; environmental groups want the permits issued with maximum levels at stable operating levels, and industry typically wants the numbers pegged higher so that small fluctuations don’t constantly but them in violation of their permitted emission levels. And lots of scare mongering to raise funds that’s loosely based in reality; as if people will only help if it’s a crisis. I see this same tendency in the democratic party, and this may speak to the nature of the greater liberal population; but I don’t think it’s what Tod’s getting at.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        if corps want some fluctuations built in, I want to put the burden on them to show that they’re on average under the limit. Because regulators are often overwhelmed, and being able to say “but this was one of our high days” ought not to cut mustard.

        My objection to certain environmental groups is a bit more personal than yours.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @kim, all I can say is that operating any equipment at full capacity all the time is not wise; and while I suspect there are some industries that do this (aging coal-burning power plants may be one,) I don’t think it’s common. Exceeding your limits can be expensive and cost good will in the community. And running below our limits creates good will.

        I’m also not a fan of the whole notion that regulated industry and regulator should 1) be at odds with each other or 2) be buddy buddy and party together. They are a team, however, and should work together.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @shazbot3 Thanks for both giving and teaching me a kind word.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @zic Oh indeed Zic, I would never want to even imply that my mild criticism is a blanket indictment of environmentalism writ large or liberalism overall. Both movements are far too big for any one criticism to encompass them without massive numbers of exceptions. Still, the most energetic proponents of liberalism can be a bit twitchy about the empiric’s and environmentalists can be positively religious about their positions. Look at GMO crops for instance, the AGW/AGE-Denier camps essentially switch places. The science is overwhelmingly in support of GMO’s yet still the environmentalists generally oppose them.

        But setting aside the distant time horizons and disproportionate impact aspects of AGW (and that’s a lot to set aside) what undecided or uncharitable people see with environmentalism is people doing what they always did; crusading against industry. The only difference is the words on the banner.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @north, true environmentalists favor higher urban densities and transit because it is more environmentally sound. The less space needed by humans, the more is left for pristine wilderness. NIMBYs cloaking themselves in environmentalist language aren’t that smart.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird says:

      You spend entirely too much time inside your own head with your personal tribe of imaginary liberals. I know no one who advocates or talks about any of the weird shit you dream up that way. Not saying they don’t exist; extremists of every stripe* exist. The issue is whether anyone is listening to them.

      I, for one, have approximately zero interest in the kind of central planning you like to ascribe to liberals. For one thing, I have neither the time nor energy. That sort of shit is just exhausting! I would be perfectly satisfied if we just had a proper accounting for negative externalities that resulted in proper free market prices and then let the chips fall where they may.

      * For example, if you like, I can point you to an essay by a fairly staunch, self-described libertarian on the BHL site non-ironically advocating licenses to reproduce. I don’t consider it as indicative of libertarian thought in general — or anything else really.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar says:

        a proper accounting for negative externalities that resulted in proper free market prices

        This seems to me to be far more likely to result in a proper black market.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Road Scholar says:

        You spend entirely too much time inside your own head with your personal tribe of imaginary liberals. I know no one who advocates or talks about any of the weird shit you dream up that way.

        Yeah, this. It’s amazing to witness, actually.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Road Scholar, I am wondering what the plan actually is (and, for that matter, what the point actually is).

        Is the point to get carbon emissions down to a “reasonable” level? It seems to me that that will entail significant lifestyle changes (and I hammered out what I thought they’d be).

        If it turns out that it’s something else, what is the something else? What would achieving that particular goal actually entail? A tax and then everything else will follow from that tax?Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @jaybird , yeah, a tax to rationalize resource pricing and then free market after that. But the full answer is grounded in Georgist economic theory and too involved to properly discuss in a combox.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and even most of Latin America and the Middle East would be affected to by sustainable living. Other countries besides the United States have sprawl, large houses, and relatively miserable public transportation systems compared to elsewhere. The countries most in line with the sustainable lifestyle are the European ones, South Korea, and Japan.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Do we know what kind of houses, cars, and lifestyles will be considered “sustainable” eventually?

      At the risk of sticking my neck out here, there isn’t one answer to that unless you assume the ability to move hundreds of millions of people, terawatt-hours of electrical power, and/or high megatons of freight between continents. A region with a temperate climate, modest population density, built-out infrastructure and rich renewable generating (and other) resources is one thing; the North American Western Interconnect has one answer. Absent those blessings, things are much tougher. The arc of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan — current population 1.6B with a 2050 forecast of 2.2B and (currently) limited infrastructure and resources — is going to have a very different answer.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    You know, I’d be a bit more interested in this subject if we didn’t have a massive debt and a shitty economy at home and we weren’t spending cash destabalizing countries and meddling all over the globe because we’re “exceptional” and all that crap.

    That being said, I’m willing to let history judge me. It will be written by the victors and will be mostly propaganda, and I’ll be dead, so I really won’t give a damn what those people think about me. I get enough scorn from people on this site and where I live for my political/economic views as it is, I ain’t helping add to the pile on.

    Morality? That’s never been a factor is politics. The poor will get screwed because that’s what happens to them. You want to worry about a “climate change”? Worry about what happens to the US when it goes from a first world power to a secondary or third rate power.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “This comes as no surprise to my poor D&D players, since intent has never mattered to me when deciding the alignment of an action. If you murder an innocent, you’re still doing evil, even if you claim it’s for the best of causes.”

    I think that Oscar Pistorius should be found guilty of murder regardless of whether or not he thought he was shooting a burglar – because in the end, he wasn’t – but I’m not quite ready to generalize from that and jettison intent as an underpinning for the western criminal and civil justice systems.

    Otherwise, any mistake automatically becomes a capital crimeReport

  9. That said, the more I read and think about disaster planning and the impacts of climate change related changes, the more I’m inclined to think that, yes, in fact there’s a serious moral problem with people who profit off of killing any attempts to address it.

    I think it’s possible to say in the same breath “AGW denialism is morally wrong and it is also wrong to criminalize AGW denialism” and not be guilty of any hypocrisy.Report

  10. Avatar Kim says:

    Think a bit bigger, if you please. 20 years from now, the internet won’t exist.
    We can preserve freedom of speech for as long as we can… but it won’t be forever.
    Hell, it’s barely a generation from now.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    A few years ago, we went to Lake Atitlan (Guatemala), a high-mountain lake in a collapsed volcanic caldera. The major transportation used in the towns around the lake are these little three-wheeled diesel cars, tut tuts. We were told that they came from India, where they’d been banned because they created so much smog. Out on the lake, away from the towns, the air smelled of two thing: sulfur (from the volcanos surrounding the lake) and diesel fumes.

    So the problem isn’t just the technology of developing nations, it’s that as one nation steps up efforts to improve with cleaner technology, their old poisons get moved down the economic ladder.Report

  12. Avatar Wardsmitty says:

    A lawyer has already addressed the Weinstein drivel here. Many of you will refuse to read it because of the hosting site. As you will refuse to become informed on anything outside your chosen (but factually inaccurate) world view. You will then ascribe this identical behavior to your opposite number in the political spectrum.

    Meantime here in Taiwan I recently experienced an earthquake of 5.5 and have observed reporting of subsequent quakes along the entire ring of fire, plus the biggest quake in decades at Yellowstone. I can easily state with much scientific certainty that there will be a massive quake with untold loss of life far far sooner than the imaginary rumblings of incompetent computer climate models can produce real world deaths of any kind. Can I sue the climate scientists for distracting our attention from this very real threat? They have squandered $10billion per year for at least 20 years and have produced nothing of concrete value. They have made millionaires out of dozens of people however.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      As I recall, there’s some speculation that there’s a link between melting polar ice caps and increased volcanic activity.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic says:

        Increased volcanic activity means increased atmospheric ash, etc., means reducing solar incidence, means cooler temperatures.

        Perhaps our climate is a relatively stable system for a reason…Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        yes; the shifting weight on tectonic plates that would produce more volcanic activity would introduce a temporary cooling effect; but I’m uncertain if it’s long term, or causes additional greenhouse effect after the particulate matter has been equally distributed through the higher levels of the atmosphere.

        I think there are also some feedback loops in ocean salinity that would cause greater ice formation at the polar caps as the oceans become less salty; something about how convection currents work from the equator to the poles; but I’m very unclear on the concept.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic says:

        My point is, Earth has a relatively stable climate for a reason. There are likely numerous mechanisms in play to keep things stable, many we only just barely understand or realize.

        Of course, such mechanisms may not exactly be friendly to fleshy things (earthquakes & volcanoes being two that come to mind).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:


        About 15,000 years ago, where I live was under five miles of ice. Or so I’m told, I wasn’t around at the time, but I can clearly see the evidence on the ground, just as Muir saw it in Yosemite.

        So yeah, ‘relatively stable’ has some not-so-fleshy takes.

        My sweetie’s uncle is one of those climate scientists. (A big deal in the field, actually, the dude who built global weather maps.) He’s often frustrated with the way I and others not versed in the field of climate modeling discuss it; we do not comprehend. I can seem seriously anti-AGW to listen to him. But it isn’t; push him on it and you’ll start getting response about how scientists still don’t understanding the upper atmosphere, where weather happens, etc.; inaccurate information in the models (temps from airports that are now asphalt compared to temps from airports that were previously concrete). He’s pushing on the stuff that the models are based on, looking for information that’s as accurate as possible, but it’s really easy to hear it as denial of the science, not as effort to improve the accuracy.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        my problem with “but the earth is stable” is… yeah, but we’ve been putting an AWFUL LOT into the atmosphere.
        And we’re at the HOT end of Class M planets.

        Of course the models are crazy approximations. We’ve got a whole world to simulate, and extrapolation is always dicey.

        Thing to remember is: our extrapolations have been, time and again, proven too low. I’m preparing for a pretty bad scenario, because every single time we look, the scientists have been too conservative.

        Even if you don’t believe, though — why not hedge? Say the doom-n-gloomers (me included) wind up being right? What then?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic says:

        If I had time, I’d do an OTU post on the difficulty of modeling physical systems in computers (as an intro to how it is done), but, as it is, I am busy wrangling some of the difficulties of modeling physical systems inside computers right now.

        Le Sigh…

        When things quiet down, I’ll get that done.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to zic says:

        There’s still sufficient modeling of say the effects of particulate matter in the atmosphere that gives us some sense of human impacts. For example Saikawa et. al. did an atmospheric model on Chinese emissions to see if their overall contribution in terms of green house gases were counter acted by the sheer amount of particulate matter they tossed into the air. The answer was (rather unsurprisingly) yes, but that the balance was expected to shift as China started addressing its air quality issues, particularly given the big public health costs that were coming out of the emissions.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      Lost thousands in Eurasia (heatwave), and Egypt has lost many more due to strife caused by a shrinking economy that is being blown away by global warming.

      People are already dead.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      Meantime here in Taiwan I recently experienced an earthquake of 5.5 and have observed reporting of subsequent quakes along the entire ring of fire, plus the biggest quake in decades at Yellowstone. I can easily state with much scientific certainty that there will be a massive quake with untold loss of life far far sooner than the imaginary rumblings of incompetent computer climate models can produce real world deaths of any kind.

      Ward, “much scientific certainty” needs a confidence interval here.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        FWIW, it’s roughly 60% likely that we’ll experience an earthquake on the order of the 1906 quake (> 8.0, longer than 90 seconds) within the next 30 years somewhere on the San Andreas.

        Now, an 8.0 longer than 90 seconds in a modern populated state is like nothing we’ve seen in the U.S., ever… because the biggest earthquakes in post-industrial history in the U.S. have all been in Alaska and the biggest earthquakes in California pale in comparison to what I’m talking about here.

        So, yeah. Economically, a quake of that size will probably knock the hurricanes off the top of the “most expensive disaster in U.S. history” list.

        Probably still won’t kill tens of thousands of people, though.

        It will be worse than anything we’ll experience directly as a result of global warming for the next 30 years, very very likely.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        I’ll note, sorta doesn’t match your thesis, m’friend.

        It’s also not really all that relevant, really, because we could lose 100,000 people in an earthquake (plausible along the Ring, not very likely in the U.S.), but it wouldn’t be untold, it would be just another large earthquake in a country with terrible building codes… but the whole projection of AGW damage is decades in the future, so you’re pretty much saying, “Well, somebody will get shot on the streets of Los Angeles before somebody in the U.S. dies of a hurricane!”

        Ward, there have been a few times we danced around the AGW maypole and more than once I’ve asked you what it would take to change your mind on the question and you’ve never actually answered that question so I’m pretty sure that as far as that particular topic is concerned, we’re not going to be particularly well suited dance partners.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick says:

        Patrick asked and answered. NO stinking computer model predictions. None. Build a physical model. You don’t need to do the whole planet just prove the Keystone tenet, that increased co2 will cause the water vapor multiplicative effect every numerical model depends on. I could write you a program where gravity doesn’t exist on earth but that doesn’t make it so. The climate scientists have written models not to figure out what is happening but to support a hypotheses.

        The circular reasoning that you refuse to acknowledge says, “We believe “x”is happening so we’ve written programs and told the computer that “x”is happening and our proof is that the programs say “x”is happening.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Patrick says:

        @wardsmitty , the relationship between the temperature and the saturation pressure of water vapor has been an established scientific fact (as in measured and tabulated in the laboratory) since at least the 19th century. This has to be one of the most ill-informed skeptical attacks I’ve ever run across. Good G-d man, it’s how a fishing hair dryer works! It’s why I have a gizmo on my furnace that humidifies in the winter and the opposite in the summer.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        The climate scientists have written models not to figure out what is happening but to support a hypotheses.

        See, Ward, this is a specific claim on your part.

        And I don’t accept this claim (for a number of reasons, but also specifically I’ve met up with some of these guys and talked to some of them about their research and what I hear – instead of what you’re claiming here – is that they’re attempting to get their models to more accurately reflect a system – one they admit they have only partial understanding of, which they’ll also readily admit – by changing the models when observational data doesn’t match their predictions. By figuring out what mechanism they’re not incorporating into their models, and adding it in.)

        Now, if that’s not what you see, then what you would want to do here – rather than issuing a blanket ad hominem attack at the entire climate research community (which I’ll note is outside the bounds of the comment policy and this is probably the last time I’ll respond politely to it) – is offer an analysis that supports this claim.

        You know, something more than, “I went to this conference one time and tore a graduate student’s research to pieces because she didn’t know what she was talking about”, which is not very compelling.

        But like I said, yet again: “I’ve asked you what it would take to change your mind on the question and you’ve never actually answered that question ”

        And I’ll not that you’re still not answering that question, although you’re claiming that you are.

        Build a physical model.


        If I show you a physical model that models the climate (you know, they do exist, right?), you’ll say (rightly so) that it insufficiently reflects the physical system that makes up the actual earth climate.

        The fact is that any physical model you could build would be trivially encapsulated in a computer model.

        Literally, what you’re asking for here, is a piece of evidence that would model the climate less accurately than a computer climate model built fifteen years ago, let alone what they can model now.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick says:

        The climate scientists have written models not to figure out what is happening but to support a hypotheses.

        It’s really difficult to imagine a situation in which pretty much everyone engaged in climate science is reversing the normal scientific methodologies by looking for evidence to confirm a theory. I mean, that’s a blunder of gargantuan proportions that could only be accounted for by some vast conspiracy theory. It strains credulity, so much so that the burden required to justify the claim is set reallyreally high.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick says:

        Didn’t Richard Muller set out to prove climate change was a hoax, and change his mind, and decide, after reviewing the science, that it was real?

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick says:


        Didn’t Richard Muller set out to prove climate change was a hoax, and change his mind, and decide, after reviewing the science, that it was real?

        I mentioned that back before the BCP published their results. Here, for the record. You can follow the rest of that section of the comment thread for context.

        The notable part of that particular comment:

        “CRU’s data set is currently being analyzed by this project. So far, they have testified that their results, using methodologies which are supposed to answer the criticisms you list here, do not significantly vary from the CRU interpreted data set.

        So I ask you again, Ward. What would it take to convince you that you are likely wrong? If the Berkeley Earth project results in a data set that corresponds reasonably to the CRU set, will that satisfy you? If the GEOSS program, when online, verifies global mean temperature is going up, will that satisfy you?”

        Ward’s response was not to talk about the Berkely Climate Project, at all.

        Until several months later when the results were published, when suddenly Ward knew all about Richard Mueller and knew he wasn’t a True Scotsman all along.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmitty in reply to Patrick says:

        Patrick, not going to litigate it again here too hard on mobile web app 15hrs removed from you. Bottom line you refuse to meet me where I am and like Road here talk about meaningless factoids that have Nothing to do with the topic at hand. The IPCC and the climate “team” (their term not mine) have circled their wagons around the following premise, which you can’t refute and won’t address: “The earth’s climate is warming Solely because of C02 and Solely because of man’s influence”. They will NOT allow for any apostasy including but not limited to solar activity (proven) and multi-decadal oscillation in the ocean currents (also proven). Then they falsely programmed their software to create a radiative forcing of water vapor (since any idiot knows the c02 is already saturated at its IR frequency) because only the water vapor could produce the sky is falling temperature increase they project with a doubling of C02. Ask your friends or hell I’ll ask them to show you the source code. Oh and if they’re using Navier Stokes they are lazy and stupid because that is geared for conductive and not convective heat transfer. There is more but this far down a rathole that is no fun on a mobile web browser and a tiny box.

        For the record and it is in the previous discussion, the business about Mueller being a skeptic was ALWAYS bullsht and I noted as much at the time. You asked me to accept a “proof” that was akin to pointing to an Anderson audit of Enron’s books followed by a single accountant auditing the Same books to prove Enron was above board in their dealings. No thanks, and it never addressed the core issues I’ve brought up again and again. Ask your buddies to write an OP here and defend their code if they can or will.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmitty in reply to Patrick says:

        And waddya know, an article posted here that says it even better than I did, and in response to a climate scientist no less. If you appreciate math like I do, watch this evisceration of climate models by an applied mathematician who used to write them before he was “furloughed” for not juicing the models. They were aiming to blame man since the 80’s not following the science but driving an agenda, exactly what I’ve always said.

        BTW I brought up Muller not being a true Scotsman in my very first posts here, long Before your OP about the data rebuild.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick says:

        really, you think nobody but you knows about methane?
        I think someone’s full of hot air…Report

    • Avatar daveNYC in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      Indeed, we should put some serious money into making sure that buildings in earthquake zones are built to a standard that will help them survive any seismic activity. Already done? Excellent, now back to this AGW thing.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to daveNYC says:

        The building code in California, when taking into account seismic activity, is probably the best in the world.

        There’s a lot of grandfathered structures out there, though.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      Agree with Ward,

      It is fascinating to see how the internet echo chambers on all sides of the political spectrum self amplify into absurdity. We assumed more and better communication would lead to intelligence and rationality and what we get is this.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger says:

        Agree with Ward


        It is fascinating to see how the internet echo chambers on all sides of the political spectrum self amplify into absurdity.

        Do tell.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        You agree with Ward that the “climate scientists” think the only thing that causes global warming is Carbon Dioxide?
        No mention of methane at all?

        … are you SURE you want to agree with him?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Wardsmitty says:

      that the balance was expected to shift as China started addressing its air quality issues,

      See, environmentalism is the real cause of global warming.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I’m just realizing that I got so caught up in reading the threads that I never said: great post, Nob. Throwing it up top.Report

  14. Avatar Shelley says:

    We need more bumper sticker responses. We need one to “class warfare” even shorter than the sign held up.

    Never overestimate people’s attention spans.Report

  15. Avatar j r says:

    There’s three broad pieces of empirical evidence that we need for this discussion:

    1. What are the economic effects of doing little to nothing about climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

    2. What are the economic effects of the most radical set of actions that we can presently take to slowing, stopping or reversing climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

    3. What are the economic effects of not taking drastic action to stop climate change, but taking action to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

    Without an answer to these three questions, this is all just somewhat empty moralizing.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

      1) We’ll lose Florida, Manhattan, and over 50% of where people currently live (which is right at coastlines, surprisingly enough). Sealevel rise is one thing — but before then, the storms will cause massive damage, leaving many people destitute. [That’s just one ramification, but it’s a doozy. This is surprisingly easy, because what folks are arguing about is not “how bad is it going to be” but When.]
      2) Throw a bunch of soot in the air (a good way to achieve global cooling): Think this, writ large:
      2b) Okay, realistic: putting a lot of unemployed (or soon to be unemployed) construction workers to work fixing houses. (net good: saves money in the long run, decreases dislocations in the short run). Reorganizing for public transportation (also allowing more forests). Growing beef rather than ranching it (okay, that’s 10 years away). This is pretty bad, in the realm of billions per year (worldwide), particularly if we start moving everyone out of flood zones.
      3) I think these would more concentrate the areas of distress (towards more first world countries) Please bear in mind, we’re talking substantial portions of the world becoming uninhabitable, with attendant cultural destruction.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

      Haven’t read the book, but I would enjoy your opinion:

      Around here, removing emissions from coalmines (I think that’s methane?) is being experimented with — folks want to be able to hit the ground running when we put a carbon tax in.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      For #1, you could start with these google search results.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

      1. What are the economic effects of doing little to nothing about climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

      We don’t know, and probably disproportionately on the poorer nations. Canada and the United States will both probably disproportionately be less affected. We have much more than our share of the world’s fresh water.

      2. What are the economic effects of the most radical set of actions that we can presently take to slowing, stopping or reversing climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

      We don’t know. Virtually entirely upon the most wealthy nations.

      (note the answers to these first two questions point to “nothing being done” being likely).

      3. What are the economic effects of not taking drastic action to stop climate change, but taking action to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and how will those effects be distributed?

      We don’t know. However, many of mitigation aspects are effective for things other than long-term climate change.

      Increasing the building code requirements for roof strapping in hurricane-prone areas will reduce costs of hurricanes, whether we have global climate change or not. Changing zoning laws to reduce development along coastlines will reduce the costs of hurricanes, whether we have global climate change or not.

      Exporting California’s urban center approach to water and power to the east coast will reduce health care costs, whether or not we have global climate change or not.

      When you’re talking countermeasures, you examine the aggregate benefit, which usually includes a number of benefits that aren’t directly related to the thing you’re protecting against.Report

  16. Avatar Kolohe says:

    @leeesq in the American context at least, the political constituency for immigration reform (and a result of more open borders) is much greater than the constituency for raising taxes, based on the rhetoric in the last four Presidential election cycles*. Moreover, if the American people are asked to cut one thing from the federal budget, it’s always ‘foreign aid’ – to the point that nearly everyone grossly overestimates how much of the US federal budget consists of that spending. So yes, I think letting people move where they want strains in the Infinite Improbability Drive markedly less than ‘massive wealth transfers’ – though to be sure they both do make that device work hard.

    *that action has not matched rhetoric – i.e. we have had tax increases but not immigration reform – is a result of the intraparty Republican civil war that started at the tail end of the Bush Administration (that continues to this day), and of agenda decisions at the beginning of the Obama Administration (that have paid large political dividends – but will have to be reckoned with sometime during Clinton’s first term)

    @kim thank you (really) for your answer. Your objection to Australia’s refugee policy(ies) is noted, and partly agreed with, despite significant exaggeration of the enormity and a dubious historical analogy.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

      You might be right for America but I still can’t quite imagine a United States that basically returns to an Ellis Island type system of basically welcoming most people with some exceptions for health and other reasons. The failure to get amnesty passed suggests that lots of Americans are opposed to this sort of thing to. You also have other countries to deal with. Many of them would prefer massive wealth transfers to allowing people to live where they want. Open borders is something that needs to be close to universal, especially if AGW is as bad as imagined.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Many of them would prefer massive wealth transfers to allowing people to live where they want”

        Can you elaborate on ‘many of them’? They’re really aren’t many countries that are both big (in population) and rich. (It’s pretty much the G-7, minus arguably Canada). As it is, the US gives more in absolute terms (because of its sheer size and wealth) than the next two big guys (and everyone together gives about three times what the US does by itself, but a total of about 120 billion dollars which is a drop in the bucket of global or even just US/CAN + EU GDP. Germany and France (to take two rich big countries) are not that opposed to immigration either, at least on the basis of having about 8% of each’s population being (non-EU) foreign born.

        Have we tested the hypothesis that the political class can finagle donations better than immigration? (as it is these two political views are highly correlated worldwide, istm)

        In any case, people are going to move. That’s why we’re not speaking Algonquin or Celtic on this board, and on a more somber note, why there’s now five generations of multiple refugee crises up and down the shores of the eastern Med.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Japan springs to mind — notoriously xenophobic.
        Also, the European States are getting a bit xenophobic when it comes to Islam.
        Dunno where that’s headed.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Japan is the most obvious example. A lot of European nations are souring to immigration, some more than others, but politics prevent them from saying things that are too xenophobic. Denmark isn’t known as an immigrant friendly country. Switzerland recently took an initative action against European immigration.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

      I’m not exaggerating.
      And trust me, it’s far from the worst thing that’s been done in the last 20 years or so.
      (Yeah, so I’m not a strict Kantian or anything, but some of what exists out in the world today… pretty revolting).Report

  17. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    To any graphic design people/typographers in the crowd – can you confirm that the sign in the teaser image for this post on the FP is actually stenciled or some such? I was thinking that the printing was really nice, and looked closer… and the repeated letters are damn-near identical. It’s either a *really* consistent calligrapher or a cardboard-box sign made to look like it was freehanded with marker but actually stenciled or decal-ed or something. Look in particular at the dots on the i’s.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I’m not the type of person you asked for, but comparing other repeated letters, h, a, l, and y, I think you’re right.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Yeah, the ys caught my eye, but the curly-cue tail seemed pretty easy to duplicate. But then I noticed the e’s cross through the back just the same tiny bit each time. And the l’s all have the exact same angle. And etc. So, yeah.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        And the aitches nave the same little kickout that ends at exactly the same height just above the base of the letter.

        People should always pay close attention to aitches.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Oh lordy…font punks!!!, can font hipsters be far behind.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Man! At least it ain’t Comic Sans,

        says the font hipster.

        (For the record I like Comic Sans. It’s quirky.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        But do you like it ironically?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        @greginak – do you watch Portlandia? They had a pretty good sketch this season, with Jello Biafra being in a coma since 1986, and waking up in the dystopia of 2014 Portland.

        He’s horrified that EVERYONE in “weird Portland” is just one variant of yuppie or another (“no, we’re FOODIES”, Fred and Carrie protest).Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Not really; in fact I don’t do much ironically. I just think it’s kinda cool looking.

        I mean, I guess it gets overused or whatever. But so what? It’s a fucking font, as if Helvetica doesn’t get used all-the-freaking-time. Or whatever. Font nerds. Good grief.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        @glyph Don’t watch Portlandia but i’ve seen a few clips on the web. Jello Biafra concept sounds funny.

        Comic Sans is to bourgeois and jejune for my taste. I prefer a font that is fresher with a touch of insouciance and playful naiveté but still serious enough to be taken seriously because it has something meaningful to say.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I’m pretty much immune to fonts, unless they’re so weird that they’re unreadable. The guy who ran the VIE (and was an artist) insisted that he needed to create a new font to capture the essence of Jack Vance. There were huge battles fought over this, but I really couldn’t have cared less.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Luckily my parents vaccinated me against fonts as a kid.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I think the fonts jumped the shark a long time ago.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I think people’s main objection to comic sans is when Graphics Designers let corporations use it, to “look cool”. It was designed for comic strips,and looks fine there.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I had assumed it was one of those blank things that people photoshop words on. I swear I have seen that photo in multiple places with different messages. Which I suppose is the apex of the technological revolution: you can attend protest rallies for whatever without ever leaving your den.Report

  18. Avatar Wyrmnax says:

    The problem with massive wealth transfers between the countries is that you will just benefit the 1% of said countries populations, and not the ones that will be affected the most by the climate change.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Wyrmnax says:

      This is manifestly not true. We’re providing decent economic charity now (see that 538 piece on Bolivia), and there’s little to suggest it won’t be scalable.Report