On Greta Thunberg and Public Discourse around ASD

Scott J Davies

Scott Davies is a freelance writer and tutor. He is currently studying a Master of Education. He is interested in education, economics, geopolitics and history. He's on Twitter and has a Medium page.

Related Post Roulette

120 Responses

  1. What, no comments yet? I thought this was a great post on a touchy subject. Well done.Report

  2. Damon says:

    16 Year olds don’t have the life experience, education, maturity, or wisdom to be movement leaders or “symbols”. The fact that she’s the poster child speaks volumes. She’s merely a conduit of what her handlers and the others behind the scenes are saying. I doubt she’s even read any criticism of the issue or had extensive debates where she’s been forced to argue her positions. She comes off to me as a histrionic teenager not getting her way….ie ignore-able.Report

    • Scott J Davies in reply to Damon says:

      As I say in the article, I don’t begrudge Greta for being passionate about environmental issues or anything like that – a lot of teenagers go through an activist phase. She (and any minor, for that matter) is ill-equipped to lead such a public movement and I don’t think it’ll be good for her long-term to be in such a public and highly-scrutinised position at such a young age.Report

  3. Mark says:

    Our public discourse looks too hard at the who than the what of a statement. Elsewhere on this site we see the story of a young man who turned a joke about beer into a commendable charitable action but whose character became questioned because of something he did when even younger. We look for shortcuts to avoid the work of thinking. We even allow stereotypes that we don’t question to substitute for rational assessment; I don’t think that there is any data to show that judgments of high functioning Asperger people are less reliable than anyone else. Maybe we should look beyond the endorsement of a professional athlete before buying an insurance policy and beyond the person making a policy proposal to the proposal itself.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    If climate change is a big as a problem as many scientists predict, there is going to be a big disconnect between the real solution and what the activists advocate. Many of the climate change activists seem to come from a hippie and Counter Culture place. Its about back to nature and zero growth for them. This is politically a non-starter. The real solution to climate change is going to be a big money production impersonal technocratic solution. Less Whole Earth Catalog and more 5th Industrial Revolution.Report

    • James K in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Not to mention that there’s no way of doing “back to nature” without reducing the earth’s carrying capacity by billions of people. GDP isn’t some abstract thing only business people need to care about, a large fraction of humanity needs industrialism to survive.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    For people who acknowledge that climate change is happening, there seem to be two schools of thought. One is Ms. Thunberg’s school. This sees that climate change is going to be a huge problem and we must take serious steps to combat it now. The other school believes that doing this will be bad for various reasons, mainly because it will limit economic growth and increase poverty. More than a few of the later seem to fear doing anything about climate change because they have very strong Libertarian tendencies and are allergic to big government solutions no matter what. They think we should continue on our present path because things aren’t going to be as doomsayers believe, every other environmental apocalypse never happened, and that we can deal with climate change in ad hoc ways.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      This is why stuff like “nuclear power” is a good test. Do they think that finding better ways to use the same amount of energy is a good solution? Or would they prefer that people change their lives?Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        If only the Nuke Power is good people existed at a policy level to actually do something then progress could be made and functioning alliances could be formed. All the energy and push to do something about CC is with the Greta’s which is unfortunate. The nuke test is only for intertoobz conversation which is fine for what it is, but it isn’t putting anything into action.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think that many climate change activists do want people to change lives. I think that this politically unfeasible and morally monstrous because turning back on the Industrial Revolution will kill lots of people. Nuclear energy is weird because it is treated as a religious issue. I guess that one of the problems was that the world got introduced to nuclear power as a very destructive weapon long before anybody experienced it as a peaceful source of power. When you combine nuclear energy’s introduction to the world with some fairly high profile disasters, it didn’t have a chance.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

          politically unfeasible

          It seems to me that the only politically feasible things are engineering advancements.

          Unfortunately, politicians can’t really do anything to help with this.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

            Oh, no, politicians most certainly can help with this. Problem is one that is similar to the issues with maintaining infrastructure.

            You can’t easily leverage the political action into political benefit. Time horizons are too long and the credit & benefits too diffuse.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              The way Rickover solved the nuclear issue for the Navy was he started naming subs after cities and states instead of fish, because fish don’t vote. The industry is still naming nuclear plants after obscure place names on topographic maps, invariably places in the middle of nowhere, like Palo Verde, Watts Bar, Comanche Peak, Diablo Canyon, Beaver Valley, and Turkey Point.

              They should name one the Greta Thurnberg Boundless Zero Carbon Energy Plant and dare politicians to oppose it.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Yes many climate change activists do want people to change lives.

          Nuclear power doesn’t make trees grow faster, but makes it easier to cut them down;
          Doesn’t make more fish in the sea, but makes it easier to scoop them up; Doesn’t put more water in the aquifers, but makes it easier to pump them dry.

          The earth’s capacity to provide us with enough food, water and goods is finite, but human demand is infinite. Even if population stabilizes, our desire to consume won’t.

          So no matter what course we take, changing our consumption patterns is going to happen no matter what.

          The only question is whether we change on our own volition, or whether the change is forced upon us by events.Report

          • I might disagree on the specifics, but I certainly agree with your premise about infinite demand and ever growing desire for consumption.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Well, I hope the climate change activists have better luck than the evangelicals did.

            Hey, why not do something like say “if you don’t change, there will be dire consequences!”?Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              In some ways it is like dealing with alcoholics.

              Where they refuse to address the root cause of their problems, but act like getting fired from their job is some strange catastrophe, followed by the entirely unpredictable freakish event of a divorce.

              Then out of nowhere comes health problems, a car crash, a jail stint.

              All of which are viewed as just awful terrible bad luck. But with each step, the range of possible choices shrinks, and the walls close in as avenues of improvement vanish.

              I think environmental problems are like that, where they are both the driver and result of our political and consumer choices and things that seem entirely unconnected and freakish are actually the end result of those patterns.

              It might sound odd to say that Trump and Brexit and the rise of illiberalism are connected to climate change and consumption of natural materials.

              Unless we connect the dots between the disruptive effects of global trade and consumption and their effects on local communities, and the resultant waves of migrants and refugees.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Well a lot better connecting needs to be done. A hell of a lot better connecting, to be frank.
                Climate change has been on the publics radar for decades, environmentalism for many decades more but we know, for a bleak fact, that environmentalism is a luxury good perched pretty high up the hierarchy of needs. Any time there is a recession or a disruption in employment the number of people who give a fig about environmentalism drops like a paralyzed falcon and that is in the wealthiest and most affluent nations on the planet! For people in less affluent nations environmentalism is seen as an imperialist/colonizer fetish imposed on them by wealthy comfortable outsiders. These aren’t opinions, remember, but firmly established facts.

                So when environmentalists try and hand peripheral goals like “economic justice” or “combating competitive culture” or “replacing capitalism” on the cause of climate change they are flat out sabotaging their efforts. Climate change can -barely- hold up its own weight without other causes being tossed onto its back.

                And if environmentalists stand in front of the masses and talk about how people need to stop being focused on consuming, how they need to accept that they won’t be able to travel or how they should accept that veganism is their future lot they should be keenly aware of how massive an ask that is. And -especially- if they do it with a twinkle in their eye and a lusty catch in their voice like someone sharing their very personal fantasies they should probably be aware that, faced with the alternatives, the masses will let the world burn before accepting that prescription.*

                So that leaves technocratic circle squaring options as the primary feasible option for combating climate change.

                *And again we’re talking the first world here. Make the same prescriptions to developing worlders and you’d better hope you’ve got a clear escape route to your jet.Report

              • Swami in reply to North says:

                Excellent comment, NorthReport

          • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Good luck enforcing this without Stalinist level force. I’m serious. North and Jaybird are right that moral suasion won’t work. This leaves coercive force as the only choice. The amount needed to impose this will be tremendous.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

              I’m serious too.

              Looking at the political world today, what makes Stalinist levels of force unthinkable?

              Imagine the 2008 Great Recession, without a stimulus; and combined with a series of catastrophic hurricanes on the Gulf Coast;
              “Economic anxiety” as small towns across the West lose access to water;
              Imagine the Trump administration grappling with a fast moving tropical pandemic carried by a Guatemalan immigrant;
              And the timber forests of the Pacific Northwest ravaged by bark beetles;
              More economic anxiety as wealthy Asians stage a reverse colonialism and turn parts of the Western world into their vassal states.
              Or civil war or riots as parts of America diverge in interests and lose the ability to cooperatively build a liberal state.

              A lot of the responses I am seeing are like North above, where the gist is “Boy, you environmentalists better come up with a political solution that is sweet tasting and easy to swallow! and doesn’t cost me too much”

              Or else what? Like you all are living on a different planet, watching this from a stance of indifference?

              What I am saying is that the natural world is completely, and utterly indifferent to the human species.
              Hurricanes aren’t caused by gay sex, but they also aren’t deflected by furrowed brows and position papers.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                And which army will enforce what the environmentalists want? How will you achieve this power? Where are your enforcers?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

                That’s the problem isn’t it?

                That currently, political power rests with the forces which would react to droughts, floods, crop failures and epidemics with Stalinist force.

                There is no army which will forcibly confiscate gas guzzling vehicles; But there is an army which would round up immigrants and herd them into concentration camps, for fear of an epidemic;

                No army which will force you to buy a low flow showerhead; But there is an army that will enforce a ruling transferring all water rights to a powerful corporation, and suppress any riot which occurs.

                In other words, as these seemingly unrelated shocks and disruptions occur, the political and military forces will be marshalled not to provide a solution that is liberal and respectful of human dignity, but to shield those who hold power and wealth.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This seems to assume that it is possible to marshall forces that can be liberal and respectful of human dignity, while also enforcing the desired discipline. Rather than quickly turning into a shit show where the enforcers quickly begin to use their power to satisfy not the policy ends, but their own baser desires.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What Oscar said. I think history shows that there is no way you can do these things without great massive human rights atrocities. The more primitive you want to get, the greater the human rights atrocity. Like Khmer Rogue level because people generally like modernity.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Oh no, I’m not saying environmentalists need to come up with more policies. I’m saying if climate change is as big a deal as environmentalists say it is then they need to come up with less policies. They need to unbundle their own personal bugaboos out of the “addressing climate change” policy package they’re peddling if they want any shot at solving the problem. We can reduce and eventually remove carbon from the economy without trying to tilt at every windmill and slay every dragon that the environmentalist left has wrapped in there. Economic justice? Socialized medicine? Open borders? An end to racism? Banning entire tech possibilities because they make environmentalists feel icky? There’s all kinds of shit bundled in there that doesn’t help or is flat out counter productive.

                Frankly that’s one of the big shames of the rights utter abrogation of their responsibility on this particular topic; miserable practical centrists have to deal with wacko “lets build a new woke post-capitalist human” environmentalists AND the “climate change is a commie conspiracy” right wing nuts at the same time.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:


              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                The Shock Doctrine applies to the left, in other words.
                That’s probably true.

                If there was some big shock to the system, let’s say a couple years drought and failed corn harvests sparking a nationwide recession, I can imagine the political ramifications being a scramble for scapegoats and blame, with various power seekers trying to turn it to their own advantage.

                Thing is, just like with natural ecosystems there isn’t any way to foresee who or what would come out the other side.

                When people panic they tend to do stupid and wildly self destructive stuff.

                Stuff which makes the Green New Deal look tame by comparison. IMO,of course.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I had to look up Shock Doctrine and yeah that’s a great way of putting it. That doesn’t change the political fact that the GND is utterly toxic politics. It can’t even command a majority within its own party.

                If the eco-left’s offer is “do this politically impossible thing that checks all of our boxes or else we all roll the dice on eco catastrophy” then it will be rolling the dice. The moderate left keeps saying “we need to strip everything out of our political prescriptions that isn’t directly necessary for dealing with climate change and even then it’s gonna be a tough sledding to try and campaign on it or pass it.” But the eco-left keeps saying “well we need the social justice, and we have to include the economic justice and we certainly don’t want to do it without cutting off this whole branch of science, we don’t like that science anyhow.”

                And yes, meanwhile the right and center right is off gibbering about how it’s all an evil plot… but the right isn’t part of this conversation- not really, they’re off beclowning themselves in the corner (except the libertarians who’re principled but utterly powerless).

                But yelling at the center left as it it’s the right isn’t going to work for the environmental movement. Probably even worse than how it worked when the right yells and pretends the center left is synonymous with the far left.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                The American Center Right and Right have to ignore climate change because a pure market solution isn’t possible. They spent so much time demonizing government and valorizing the market, that climate change just stops them like a dear in headlights. The solution is going to involve a lot of government work and the biggest bugbear of them all taxes. It’s simply too much for them, so they have to ignore it or pretend it can be dealt with on a make it up as we go along basis rather than a big money production .Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The solution is going to involve a lot of government work

                No. And it’s very telling that every Left solution will massively expand the reach of gov but darn few of them seem to even attempt to actually fix GW.

                Minimal gov solutions:
                1) Carbon Tax and hand the money back somehow or reduce other taxes.
                2) All new power plants will be nuclear powered and the old ones have to be dismantled after a while.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Dark Matter says:

                And I find it telling that the Right keeps pushing for a market anarchy nobody wants or only is against government when it can be a benefit but is all for it as a tool of domination over groups they don’t; like.

                Under a worst case scenario, which many scientists believe we are facing, neither of these minimal solutions are going to be enough. Climate change challenges everybody’s priors.Report

              • Swami in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “Under a worst case scenario, which many scientists believe we are facing, neither of these minimal solutions are going to be enough.”

                Those not on the far left have read the (historically pessimistic) IPCC reports on the economic headwind of climate change. This is that we are on pace to only grow per capita GDP of the developing world by 580% by centuries’ end as opposed to the 600% in the base case without warming.

                Let me be real clear. In one sentence those skeptical of the far left’s mantra believe that:

                The authoritarian solution will be much, much worse than the cure.

                See North’s great comments for examples of why or read Chip’s excited belief that this will require Stalinesque authoritarian control. Those not of the far left believe that Stalinesque authoritarian control will completely eradicate all economic growth, and if past history is any guide, it will fail absolutely at doing anything real about climate change too.

                “And I find it telling that the Right keeps pushing for a market anarchy nobody wants…”

                I am not of the right in any way, but let’s be clear that the argument from other than the far left is that largely decentralized market based solutions (not “anarchy”), combined with largely decentralized scientific solutions are almost certainly going to be a major part of the solution. New tech. New efficiencies. Better energy sources. Certainly government is the third part of this stool, and will likely play a role too.

                Nuclear energy, carbon taxes, R&D into carbon extraction and solar and such are obvious no regret paths to addressing this headwind of progress. I think the far left would do more to obstruct these than will all the other political affiliations combined.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami says:

                One thing that could help us resist the effects of, and combat, climate change is moving as much crop farming indoors as we can. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with modern LED grow lights and hydroponics.

                But such agriculture involves considerable capital investments, even if it’s done in old warehouses/malls/big box stores/etc. The kind of capital investments your family farmer can’t make, and yet we have so romanticized the idea of the family farm (or organic farm, etc.), that I expect there would be considerable social and political resistance from all corners if we tried to move that way.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

                the Right keeps pushing for a market anarchy nobody wants

                Because clearly pushing for less government is the same thing as pushing for no government. Cutting gov spending by even a dollar will result in Somalia.

                neither of these minimal solutions are going to be enough.

                Then you need to get real comfortable arguing that we should let people die in heatwaves because turning on air conditioning is an offense against nature and so forth.Report

              • Brent F in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The Canadian Centre-Left did 1) as a keystone policy.

                Rather than applaud them for adopting their policy approach, the Right demonized it as a tax on everything and promised to do nothing.

                The problem is the modern rights’s policy wonks have no control over the political process, so are useless in helping.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Brent F says:

                The problem is the modern rights’s policy wonks have no control over the political process, so are useless in helping.

                The opposition demonizing a (potentially?) unpopular policy is expected.

                We have a lot of people who think GW isn’t a thing, i.e. the Left is just creating imaginary fears and screaming wolf again.

                Things which make that a lot worse are they’re not behaving like GW is real, they’ve screamed wolf a lot of other times, and many of the claims are clearly ranting exaggerations.

                So… keep trying I guess.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                The Right very much is a part of the conversation, because they control most of American politics.

                Whenever one of the harmful effects that we are already seeing like increasing forest fires and floods, it is Republican Senators and Governors who determine the response.

                This isn’t going to change anytime soon. If progressive ideas sound draconian, just imagine a Trumpian response.

                Wait, we don’t have to.

                The American response to a hurricane is to throw paper towels at people and scold them for indolence.
                The response to forest fires is to admonish people to rake the forest.
                The response to waves of migration is concentration camps.

                What will the response to something truly serious be?Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Gosh, I agree. Might be a good idea to unload all that far left wishlist shit off the climate change wagon so all us non-righties can agree on the integral stuff that is needed and unite against the rightReport

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                Yeah, this. I think that nuclear power is really disfavored mainly because our first encounter with it was as a weapon and because of a few high profile accidents. The opposition seems religious more than anything else. Dealing with climate change will require at least some lifestyle changes. Like I said below, the ex-urb is going to have to go most likely. The more people living in dense urban or walkable inner suburbs the better. There will need to be more use of transit over private cars. That being said, going totally against modernity is a non-starter.Report

              • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I think those may be possibilities. The irony is that a carbon tax applied a decade and change ago could have really helped but that would have been a center right kind of solution.
                I am inclined to agree with you on density but that suggests that NIMBY-ism is gonna need to be tackled in a serious way. Unfortunately our current climate leader state (CA) seems to be going in the opposite direction.Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                Well put and also what drives me most up the wall about the politics of the issue.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Hurricanes aren’t caused by gay sex, but they also aren’t deflected by furrowed brows and position papers.

                A great example. So, will dismantling the economy and getting rid of cars will end Hurricanes?

                Hurricanes long predate Global Warming. Damage created by hurricanes is GREATLY increased by us putting cities in their way and only SLIGHTLY increased by Global Warming. And if you get rid of gas powered vehicles so people can’t flee, then you’re going to vastly increase the number of corpses we need to count.

                And this is why fighting GW doesn’t get support from various groups, the solutions tend to be a lot worse than the claimed problems.

                It turns out that almost every problem is much MUCH worse if you’re poor. In the Chicago Heat-wave that was the difference between turning on the air conditioner and dying from heat stroke.

                For heat waves, the actual GW solution will turn off air conditioning for the poor (by drastically increasing energy costs and by making more people poor) in the name of reducing the temperature by an amount so tiny that humans struggle to tell the difference.

                And THAT is why the GW solution-discussions are dominated by the magic-thinking Left.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You can put a city in the path of a hurricane, but how you construct that city will be very different from how you build a city that doesn’t need to worry about hurricanes.

                And for the really big parts of a city, they are built to withstand a hurricane. When was the last time a large, commercial structure was effectively destroyed by a storm?

                But houses… There are ways to build houses to withstand hurricanes, but they are either very expensive, or they do not have a traditional style, and so no one wants them.

                Of course, if we stopped subsidizing everyone’s storm/flood insurance in those areas, I bet you the costs and aversions to those kinds of houses would quickly begin to evaporate.

                (PS Same goes for withstanding wild fires).Report

            • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Does it matter that the vast majority of US citizens, including a majority of conservatives, *want* climate change addressed via policy? or is the issue that the remainder *also* need to be persuaded/coerced?

              You guys are arguing like climate change is a contentious issue within the electorate when it isn’t. In that sense it seems very similar to gun regulation, an issue where the GOP doesn’t represent conservatives’ interests but instead the NRA’s.Report

              • They want it enforced by policy without pain. I suspect much of that support vanishes when you start down the list of things: electricity will be significantly more expensive; your next car will be an electric; you need to replace your NG-fired furnace and water-heater with electric (cheap to buy and expensive to operate (resistive) or expensive to buy and moderate to operate (high efficiency heat pump), your choice); you’ll need to change your diet at least somewhat.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

                We will have to return to denser settlement patterns because sprawling ex-urbs and McMansions really don’t help. More walking and public transit, less driving, etc.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

                We spent 75+ years building ourselves into this housing supply, and it will likely take 75+ years to build our way out of it.

                I say regularly — to much derision :^) — that one of the first fundamental questions to ask is how efficient can the suburbs become at acceptable cost? Not can a suburb be as efficient as an urban core, but can a suburb be efficient enough?

                Also that the answer will be different for different parts of the country. Now that the Census Bureau has acknowledged it’s the 21st century and can give us data based on actually-built area, rather than county area, a great deal of conventional wisdom has gone out the window. LA is the densest large metro area — the core is not as dense as NYC, but LA’s suburbs are much denser than New York’s. California is the densest state for the same reason. The West is the densest region (by a hair) for the same reason.Report

              • North in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I mean it makes sense… they’re dry and they’re wedged between the ocean and the mountains. Both those things put pressures to be denser.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I’m just adding to your initial comment about people wanting to do something about climate change but they want it without pain. Having to take more transit and live in denser environments will help the environment a lot but a lot of Americans don’t want to do that.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I suspect much of that support vanishes when you start down the list of things:

                Nuclear power.
                Converting multiple states worth of land into solar/wind.
                Giving up most Air Travel.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Yeah, they’ll need gun confiscation to pull that off.Report

          • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            “The earth’s capacity to provide us with enough food, water and goods is finite, but human demand is infinite. Even if population stabilizes, our desire to consume won’t. So no matter what course we take, changing our consumption patterns is going to happen no matter what.The only question is whether we change on our own volition, or whether the change is forced upon us by events.”

            This is something I hear repeated constantly, but it is simply wrong. In a word, the solution is


            From Wikipedia…

            “Ephemeralization, a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller, is the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing,” that is, an accelerating increase in the efficiency of achieving the same or more output while requiring less input. Fuller’s vision was that ephemeralization will result in ever-increasing standards of living for an ever-growing population despite finite resources.”

            In economics terms, the relationship between supply and demand leads to changes in price. As such, there is a dynamic toward solutions which require fewer and fewer scarce resources.

            As an example, in 1980 I bought a VCR tape to watch a movie. In 1995 I bought a DVD. In 2012 I bought a higher quality blue ray. Today, I just stream it over the internet. The same entertainment has gotten better, with better quality, available with additional variation and choice in more languages with more convenience and no physical box or product at all. Once digitized, the same movie can be transmitted to billions of people.

            The point is that demand may be infinite, but over time there can be trade offs to more and more ephemeralization. Yes, energy is still required and a sophisticated infrastructure which requires a healthy amount of physical goods and services. But as physical goods and energy become more scarce, the economics of the situation shifts this demand toward increasingly ephemeral products and services.

            Let me put it this way, a virtual reality game of hell doesn’t necessarily require any more energy or material than a virtual reality game of heaven. Consumer utility can increase without additional resources, and any review of modern trends reveals to a great extent the conversion is already beginning to occur.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

              Food, clothing and shelter do not become ephemeral.

              History demonstrates conclusively that as people grow wealthier, their demand for physical objects grows.

              We consume more lumber, more minerals, more fabrics more physical things than we ever have.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                But food clothing and shelter needs do not expand at anything remotely close to exponential rates. Look at the consumption basket 200 years ago, where these three made up most expenditures, now they are less than half in the developed world.

                Even if we, for the sake of argument, agree that human demand is infinite, the economics of scarcity predicts that the relative utility will shift toward more and more ephemeral goods and services.

                Your argument via the impossibility of limitless exponential growth is a fail. The reason is that economic growth can occur with less and less scarce resources, and the way economics works it is “attracted” to this direction.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Swami says:

                Just look at consumption in the US and Europe. It plateaued when people hit a fairly comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

                Based on consumption patterns, what do people need? They need one dish machine, not two. One washing machine, not two. They stop heating and cooling the house when it hits that comfortable spot on the thermostat. Most importantly, they quit having ten kids.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Food, clothing and shelter do not become ephemeral.

                Double someone’s income, and their demand for food doesn’t double. Increase their income by A LOT and the impossible burger becomes a thing.

                The solution is more growth, not less.

                Less growth means less money which means people worry about things like food and shelter and make short term plans, more growth and money means global warming can have money thrown at it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Do people in the United States, per capita, consume more or less natural materials than in previous decades or centuries?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                From what I have heard, food is marginally more consumed, as is fuel (people like to travel more). The real big one is clothing. Thanks to cheap production and shipping, the fashion industry is driving a lot of consumption.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I understand all that.

                But on balance, do we consume more or less natural materials per capita than in previous decades or centuries?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                In general, less, because we have less waste in production due to technological & industrial efficiencies.

                So even if a family has more stuff and discards more stuff, our production is so much more efficient that we are still doing better.

                And we are no where close to the limits of those efficiencies (except perhaps in certain areas).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Cars are more efficient than they used to be. Houses too. Agriculture is more efficient than it used to be.

                Read again, sees “previous centuries”.

                Oh. Carry on.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                US steel production peaked in 1973, when our population was around 200 million. We use less steel because we use it more efficiently. Cars and heavy appliances are much lighter.

                US per capita energy consumption peaked in 1978, and has declined significantly. We have lighter, more streamlined cars with more efficient engines, and homes that are far better insulated, filled with more efficient appliances.

                We still use much more energy per capita than Europe, but less than Canada. But that makes sense because Canadians need global warming to slow down the arrival of the next glaciation period when they’ll all have to move to Miami.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Are you saying that we have reached sustainable growth in recent decades?

                I’d love for that to be the case.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What is “sustainable growth”?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t know if I would call it ‘sustainable growth’ (for whatever definition of that you might have), because different industries have different efficiencies. But if you talk to industrial engineers, they’ll tell you that we do a hell of a lot more with a hell of a lot less.

                Now if government wanted to push it further, they could mandate consumable products have a defined sustainable end of life pathway, or the item gets taxed heavily.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                While we have gained efficiencies in some areas, we still, on balance, consume more natural resources per capita than we ever have.

                One measure is to assess the “ecological footprint” per capita:

                Calculations show that the planet has available 1.9 hectares of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes—yet the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares worth. These “ecological footprints” range from the 9.7 hectares claimed by the average American to the 0.47 hectares used by the average Mozambican.

                Another measure is to calculate the “Overshoot Day” the day at which a year’s worth of resources are consumed at First World rates;
                The earth’s overshoot day in 2019 , May 10, was the earliest ever;

                This is unsustainable; as in, we are consuming natural resources much faster than they can be renewed.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Here is graph showing that the per capita ecological footprint in the US is just slightly higher than it was in 1960;

                Even after all the fuel economy standards, energy efficiency standards, advances in technology, we use almost twice the available biocapacity per person.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                See my comment elsewhere about indoor farming. How much of our food needs to be produced in open land? How is produced that way just because that’s the way it’s always been done?

                As for that foot print data, that’s questionable. Keep in mind that, IIRC, the US still exports more food than it imports (or converts it to stupid fuels), so I’m not sure how we can be exhausting our ecological capacity if we have so much extra.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This is unsustainable; as in, we are consuming natural resources much faster than they can be renewed.

                This may not be a thing.

                There’s a famous bet between someone who claimed this was a real thing and someone so claimed it wasn’t. The guy who said we were running out would pick three resources out of a bucket of 20, they’d wait 10 years, and if the cost of the material had gone up (indicating more scarcity) then he’d win.

                Not only did he lose, but the Economist pointed out that 17 of the 20 items he picked would also have resulted in the same.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                No… but the great leap forward from “riding horses” to “everybody in the country has a car” had a nigh-asymptotic jump there. We’re getting a lot closer to a plateau and engineering advancements will do a much better job of getting us to slope back down than Mega City One will do.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Which only brings us back to Lee’s question:

                Short of Stalinesque coercion, how will those engineering advancements be implemented?

                Look at the ferocious battles over such simple things as phasing out incandescent light bulbs, and increasing fuel economy standards;

                Then look at the political battles occurring here in the West over water rights, or how our government responded to Katrina or the hurricane in Puerto Rico.

                Politics and the market can sometimes push us towards happy things, like how LEDs became so efficient they overwhelmed any political objections;

                But just as often, politics and markets result in people choosing inefficiency and waste; Reference any farm subsidy bill ever, or cola miners voting for a man who would happily let them starve.

                My point that I keep making is that the political and economic forces that produced the status quo are arrayed in favor of the status quo; That’s how it became such in the first place!

                There isn’t any reason to think that the same political calculus that produced inefficiency and injustice will react to a systemic shock by choosing the opposite.

                The system that had no problem killing Eric Garner over unlicensed cigarettes or letting Flint go without water won’t behave with any more egalitarian concern for justice when the aquifers run dry, or the salmon runs disappear.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Short of Stalinesque coercion, how will those engineering advancements be implemented?

                It’s worse than that, I think.

                I think that the technology we need has not yet been discovered.

                (Also: Does China and India fall under your jurisdiction? Should it?)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Problem is, the entirety of the leftist ecological/environmental wish list is just as utterly prone to such inefficient and wasteful choices. They just make different choices, depending on their priors and ideals.

                E.g. how many studies are out there showing just how inefficient organic farming is, and yet it remains a beloved ideal of the Eco-Left. Or Windmills and solar panels, which require the use of materials that are expensive and difficult to source and currently very expensive, if not impossible, to recycle. How many windmills are needed to match the lifetime output of one nuclear power plant. How much waste is that? How much better would the nuke plants be if the left stopped being irrationally afraid of anything to do with fission and started supporting the development of safer nukes (the kind that can not meltdown or blowout).

                Your stalinesque approach will just swap one set of crap behavior for another. And what is worse is that such an approach isn’t a failure of people, it’s a failure of imagination, and a failure of politics/politicians.

                PS When it comes to LEDs, the key technological advancement that removed opposition? Color tuning. Once the LED bulb was 2700K instead of 6000K, people stopped caring and just bought the things.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                OK, l get why you don’t like the leftist Stalinesque approach.

                What if the only viable alternative is the current Trumpian Stalinesque approach?

                For example, forcing power plants to use coal; Or forcing California to allow less efficient vehicles.

                It may be that some “moderate centrist” quasi-market approach would work better in the long run. I don’t know, maybe!

                But such approaches require liberal democracy, a political landscape of high trust and tolerance and honest good government.

                On the other hand, a corrupt government will meet environmental problems in a corrupt way;
                An unequal government will confront them in ways that protect inequality;
                And an unjust government will handle them with injustice.

                It is entirely possible, and actually quite likely that the “solution” for environmental problems will be like something out of The Day The Earth Stood Still, where the “solution” is something nightmarishly efficient.
                Like water shortages are handled by reserving clean water for the 0.1%, while everyone else drinks Flint water.

                Or where loyal party members get their beachfront houses rebuilt after the hurricane, while everyone else just lives in the ruins.

                The question isn’t “Are we going to handle environmental problems” but “How will we handle them”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Like water shortages are handled by reserving clean water for the 0.1%, while everyone else drinks Flint water.
                Or where loyal party members get their beachfront houses rebuilt after the hurricane, while everyone else just lives in the ruins.

                This is the sort of thing that I assumed you meant by “Stalinist”.

                I see now that we have a vocabulary problem. What did you mean when you said “Stalinist”?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                A ban on Big Gulps?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “If you’re not willing to pass this legislation to mandate Green Energy and ban Big Gulps, you’re proving that you’re not serious about the climate!”Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Stalinesque, to me, means pogroms. It means tossing people in Gitmo for not toeing the party line, it means heavy fines and beatings and oppressive taxes for failing to recycle a plastic bottle, and most importantly, it means exercising oppressive government power while still failing to get the basic job done, because any dissent is violently quashed, even if the dissent has scientific evidence backing it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Well, Lee was the one who raised the term, in the sense of the word meaning “draconian government force”.

                And my point is that powerful shocks to the political/ economic system tend to breed the sort of chaos and instability from which an illiberal regime arises.

                Right now people like you and me are having these 20th century types of arguments over Markets/New Deal frameworks.

                But in looking at Trump, Brexit, Orban, and Xi I think those frameworks are outdated;

                I see the 21st Century ] rise of illiberalism as being neither socialist or capitalist in nature, but a mix of both.

                Just for an example- the American response to the shock of 9-11 was a mixture of traditional conservative hawkish foreign policy, with a new emphasis on the security state where freedom was downgraded.
                The response to the shock of 2008 Great Recession now seems to be a sort of ethno-nationalism which sneers at market based solutions.

                I remember hearing a joke made by some leftist veteran of the McCarthy era, where he said that in those days you could get any big government social welfare program you wanted, just by draping it in the rhetoric of “National Security”.

                I see this in the Trumpists, where any massive government intervention in the markets is justified so long as it is given the appropriate rhetorical cover.

                So like the examples I tossed out above, where the government becomes an activist tool which seeks to shield a certain tribe from the harmful effects of environmental destruction, and maximize graft opportunities for a favored few.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Just to be clear, my impression of your argument was that you were in favor of such heavy handed approaches to dealing with climate change. Now it seems you are merely prognosticating that end state, if our regularly scheduled politics continues to fail.

                Which is it?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m saying that the opposition to proposals like the Green New Deal assumes a false choice between the painful consequences of GND and zero pain consequences of no action at all.

                I’m saying that painful wrenching consequences are coming and we should react by adopting policies which incorporate our best values;
                That the default choice of inaction will be policies that incorporate our worst tendencies.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If the GND was just about combating climate change, you’d have a point, but it’s not. Others have noted all the leftist baggage the GND carries with it.

                I will go further and say that if leftists continue to push baggage policies onto climate change policies, they are the ones responsible for poisoning the bitter pill.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I see this in the Trumpists, where any massive government intervention in the markets is justified so long as it is given the appropriate rhetorical cover.

                What do you think a President Warren would do with all of Trump’s “programs”? Obama’s green initiatives didn’t have GOP support and didn’t go through Congress so they can be removed with the stroke of Trump’s pen.

                You need to have a Green program that both sides support and take turns managing. That means no burning down the economy and no making lots of people poorer… even if you think they’re better off being poorer with the planet being a little colder.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Like water shortages are handled by reserving clean water for the 0.1%, while everyone else drinks Flint water.

                Throwing out nightmare predictions that aren’t even slightly likely just damages your credibility.

                We have the issues dealing with GW that we do not because of the 0.1%, but because of everyone else. The 0.1% would be fine with reserving electricity and gas for the rich. These games you want to play with the economy will increase various costs (especially energy and everything that uses it) and higher prices hurt the poor way more than the rich.

                Big picture GW is mostly a problem for the very poor, so in the US we’ll mostly have no issues because almost everyone is rich(*). If food becomes scarce we’ll export/waste/turn-into-fuel less. When the oceans rise we’ll raise the levels of our coasts, build dykes, and/or move inland. If there’s a heat wave we’ll turn on the air conditioner. We have oceans on two sides which are moats. If the moats don’t work we have a navy, and we can build walls and.or shoot people.

                From that point of view this isn’t our problem. Which means our local Greens are somewhat correct when they prioritize stopping nuclear power rather than dealing with GW. There are parts of the world which will really suffer because of GW, we will just throw money at various problems.

                (*) For perspective, 90% of US households have air conditioning, for the hot part of the rest of the world it’s more like 8%.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                “When the oceans rise we’ll raise the levels of our coasts, build dykes, and/or move inland. If there’s a heat wave we’ll turn on the air conditioner. We have oceans on two sides which are moats. If the moats don’t work we have a navy, and we can build walls and.or shoot people.”

                Well its certainly good to know we won’t have to resort to drastic, expensive, difficult-to-accomplish tasks which require high levels of trust and cooperation!Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Well its certainly good to know we won’t have to resort to drastic, expensive, difficult-to-accomplish tasks which require high levels of trust and cooperation!

                Actually yes, you’re correct. By the standards of the proposed (non-nuclear) solutions for GW, these are NOT expensive, difficult, etc. We already have a Navy, two moats, an army, lots of guns, etc. And the “trust and cooperation” needed for any/all of these is also way less because we don’t need China/India/etc to agree to stay poor.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                When liberals admire the Netherlands we generally think of their social welfare system.

                But your bold proposals to raise our coastline with dykes and seawalls and move our coastal cities inland intrigues me.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Your stalinesque approach will just swap one set of crap behavior for another.

                We can choose Stalinist solutions to prevent climate collapse or fascist solutions to deal with the dislocations and economic shocks after the fact.

                I mean, if we’re talking about the role state power will play, anyway.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                We can choose Stalinst solutions to prevent climate collapse or fascitic solutions to deal with the dislocations and economic shocks after the fact.

                First I’d rather live with walls and armies than burning down the economy.

                2nd you’re talking about a choice between the entire world going with Stalinst solutions or us going fascitic. Us going to war with China, India, etc is both what the first would take and probably involves nuclear war.

                3rd I’d think nuclear power would be a lesser evil to all of these alternatives.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Short of Stalinesque coercion, how will those engineering advancements be implemented?”

                Cash For Clunkers?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

                And I think Chip oversells the influence government had on getting LEDs adopted. I am very serious that once the colors got tuned, and the dimming improved, the benefits of LEDs over incandescent basically shut everyone up (except for the diehards). Even if an LED bulbs doesn’t last the advertised 20 years, the cost has dropped so much, and the energy savings are so good, that they still beat incandescent and florescent.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                and, as you point out, the solution to Consumers Don’t Like LED Bulbs was not to make all other bulbs illegal but to specifically address the things that consumers didn’t like about them…Report

              • George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I know some hard core Libertarian die-hards that stockpiled incandescent bulbs like they were food and ammo. The politics of it so affected them that they seem convinced (by some Facebook group they’re now in) that photons from LED bulbs cause brain damage or something.

                The only parameters are spectrum, flux, and any pulse repetition rate (from AC instead of DC), and the spectrum your eyes see is dominated by the reflection spectrum of what you’re looking at. “The walls look yellow or blue because they’re painted yellow or blue.” But that doesn’t satisfy them. LED photons are somehow toxic.

                It reminds me of environmentalists who get the idea that there are good CO2 molecules and bad CO2 molecules, as if some molecules carry some kind of contamination based on what emitted them.

                All I can say is that we’re lucky to have adopted fire because some people would endlessly complain that the color spectrum is wrong or it’s not flickering right or that if the fire gets contaminated with antelope fat, evil red rays will damage our children’s brains.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to George Turner says:

                “The walls look yellow or blue because they’re painted yellow or blue.”

                are you sure you aren’t BlaiseP posting as a sockpuppet here, because this is exactly the kind of utter shithead Grampa Truthbomb pronouncement that he’d makeReport

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Actually I meant to cite LEDs as an example of a happy confluence of factors, where technology made them acceptably cheap to the public.

                But also an example of how even something so minor and easily adopted became a ferocious and bizarrely irrational fight.

                Because our politics are broken; Our ability to coordinate efforts and peacefully reach consensus are being attacked and degraded.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Because our politics are broken; Our ability to coordinate efforts and peacefully reach consensus are being attacked and degraded.

                “Consensus” means “everyone agrees”.

                Most of the green programs you’re advocating would, by your own admission, require an army to force people to do it at gun point because it’s going to leave them worse off (i.e. poorer). It being hard is a feature, not a bug. It requiring something close to consensus is also a feature, not a bug.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

          The real issue with nuclear power is it costs more than anything else. China can build new reactors by massively subsidizing them, but it’s just a lot cheaper to get other sources of power running.Report

          • North in reply to Rufus F. says:

            With the current tech that is around fifty years old and in the current regulatory environment which has been carefuly curated by the left (environmentalists) and the right (fossil fuel lobby) to be hostile to nuclear power the economics of nuclear power are dubious. But considering what advancements were made in wind and solar with concentrated research and government encouragement it’s pretty obvious that modern nuclear power could be developed that’s slam dunk economical and safe if there was the political will to make it happen.Report

            • InMD in reply to North says:

              It seems like if we can find a trillion bucks laying around to throw at fighter jets that will never fly we can invest in ways to, as you put it, get carbon out of the economy. The way people talk you’d think American ingenuity hasn’t faced challenges before, or that our current infrastructure isn’t itself the result of decades of public policy and technological advancements incentivized by regulatory frameworks.Report

              • George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                The problem with getting all the carbon out of the economy is that replacements for it are problematic, which is why we weren’t using them.

                The only serious carbon-free transport fuel alternative is hydrogen, but hydrogen is extremely hard to store and not very dense. Hydrogen also isn’t really a fuel but an energy storage method, since the planet doesn’t have free hydrogen reserves we can tap. We have to make hydrogen gas by relying on some other power source to split it out of available compounds such as water or methane.

                Beryllium makes an excellent (but incredibly toxic) fuel, but it’s a rare material that would have to be refined. Aluminum and iron could be used as a recyclable fuel (their combustion byproducts are rust or aluminum oxide), and that would make them difficult to use for anything other than simple heating or an external combustion engine (like a Stirling).

                Getting carbon out of the economy is about as difficult as getting water out of the economy. It might make a great slogan but it doesn’t make much sense as an absolute goal because you’d be down to the same bag of resources that you’d have on the lunar surface, but with plenty of nitrogen and oxygen.Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    Great Post!

    To echo LeeEsq, science can identify problems, and offer up ideas for solutions, but what science suggests and what kinds of public policy are politically possible rarely align. And what activists suggest are often non-starters because they usually include a whole lot of ‘feck you!’ to certain demographics that are either just as vulnerable as other demographics[1], or they are a demographic that is very capable at working the levers of power as activists fail to focus pressure.[2]

    Speaking of stolen childhoods, she has gotten world wide attention, got to sail across the Atlantic, got to address governments, lives a middle class life in a country with robust social services. If her childhood was stolen, it wasn’t by governments being pokey on climate change action.

    I did kinda like how she scolded the UN. Politicians and diplomats need a good scolding every once in a while. Probably bounced right off all their impenetrable egos, but one can hope.

    [1] Either the demographic is viewed negatively by the activist class, or the activist class has not fully thought through the consequences of their desired policy and how it will impact things downstream, or they see those consequences as an acceptable cost.

    [2] Message discipline is one of the first casualties of activist success. I swear as soon as they start winning anything, the laundry list of desired/demanded action grows to an epic length.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Probably bounced right off all their impenetrable egos, but one can hope.

      No bouncing required. “She’s not saying this to *ME*. She’s saying this to people like Oscar Gordon.”Report

    • From what little I know about her (from this OP and snippets here and there), I speculate that her parents’ willingness to let her take such a role is what’s has stolen/is stealing her childhood.

      For example, because of her public persona, strangers like me are presuming to offer opinions on the value of her childhood and on whether or not is was “stolen,” along with a critique (by me, who have no children) of someone else’s parenting.

      I remember watching an episode of a documercial* a very long time ago about some 5th or 6th grader who had taken up preaching the gospel. It was very fire and brimstone-y, to judge from the clips and the show’s description of his preaching. He wasn’t famous like Thunberg (I assume what fame he did have came from being on that show). I was roughly a few years older than that kid and had gone through my own stage (at 5th or 6th grade) of being supposedly very devout Christian** and I had been as self-righteous as only a precocious 5th or 6th grader could be. And I remember thinking, from the “wisdom” and “maturity” of my then 13- or 14- (or older?)*** year old self how lonely that guy probably was and how dreary and frustrating his life must be. I fear the same thing may potentially happen to Thunberg.

      *My name for shows like 20/20 or West 57th or whatever passes for such shows today.
      **Long story, but it had to do with a lot of things.
      ***Memory is fallible, etc., etc., but I think the gist of my memory is probably correct, or at least correct enough for a blog comment.Report

  7. Ditto to what Michael said above. Excellent post!Report

  8. Mikkhi Kisht says:

    I’m well part the point of climate crisis news numb. In elementary school I was told that acid rain would destroy all the trees in North America by 1999. In middle school, the crisis was the next ice age would turn my state (TX) into a frozen wasteland before Y2K could kill us with computer failures. As a high school freshman I was told my classmates’ cars’s exhausts would reopen the hole in the ozone that banning Aqua Net & hair bands had fixed.

    I can do reduce, reuse, recycle. Banning straws seems dumb when it’s plastic water bottles & fishing nets clogging the oceans, but fine whatever makes the climate crusaders happy for a microsecond. I’ve been fed climate crises for so long, it’s all racket now. Which is the crisis? What is the main cause? What can be done that doesn’t completely disrupt the average person’s daily life? I’ve just run out of crisis oomph to really pay any attention. It’s all a crisis. Or, it needs to be a crisis ‘cuz that causes clicks & attention?

    What might help is to ditch the constant ‘4-10 years of time left!’ hype. I can’t buy into it anymore, not when the earlier timeline claims to environment crisis didn’t hold true.Report

    • greginak in reply to Mikkhi Kisht says:

      Well part of the answer is that we took dramatic action on acid rain and ozone hole which pretty much solved those problems. Gov regulations, among other things, saved the day. CC is a bit different from those things, but those were enviro problems we solved. High five us.

      The ice age fears were marginal and never had nearly the evidence that CC has. In fact people talk more about the ice age fears of the 70’s now then they did then.

      Heck strong gov regulation was a strong win on lead in gas, paint, etc which gets an extra high five and was win for us.

      But yeah i wish they would ditch the “we have X years to solve this” or “we’re doomed in Y years” stuff. It’s complex, difficult problem with no easy solution.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

        worth pointing out that the CFC regulation made the price of asthma inhalers spike, but, y’know, break the eggs to make an omelet and all thatReport

      • DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

        also, the acid-rain legislation did not suggest that we ought to include reparations to American Descendants Of Slaves or money for immigrant education or a no-first-use declaration for nuclear weapons. CFC-reduction legislation did not also include requirements for workplace healthcare plans to cover gender-reassignment surgeries or require that businesses which applied to tax offsets due to replacing A/C units also had to fund the construction of low-income housing in their local communities.

        Like, what North et al are saying in the other thread; the reasons these programs worked is that they focused on the problem, rather than using it as a cudgel to do all the things that they wanted people to do anyway.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck says:

          the reasons these programs worked is that they focused on the problem, rather than using it as a cudgel to do all the things that they wanted people to do anyway.

          It is used as a cudgel grouped with other issues to try to get the anti-GW people to back those other issues. Rhetoric is cheap, promises that future politicians will do something are also cheap.

          Fighting GW is to the Left what reducing the size of the Gov is to the Right. It’s something to generate enthusiasm but it’s only going to make it into policy when the other more important members of the coalition don’t object, and the bulk of the time they will object. So the Right can “cut the government” but not Social Security or Defense or, or, or.

          For the Dems, Stopping Nuclear Energy is more important than GW, ditto creating Jobs, ditto lots of things.

          All that is left is a few boondoggles, some research, and lots of empty promises. That would change if the Greens flipped to supporting Nuclear Power but whatever. NO ONE to the Right of AOC is willing to dismantle the economy. Convincing people they need to be poor in the name of Green-Socialism is a non-starter.Report

    • In the late 70s/early 80s I hiked regularly in areas where NJ/NY/PA come together. The susceptible tree species were dead, the more resistant ones were sick. You would come across ponds with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen outdoors — the pH was low enough that nothing could live in it.

      Come hike in some of the tens of millions of acres of beetle-killed forest in the American West. Canada is at least as bad. It no longer gets cold enough in the mountains to kill the beetle larva in the winter.Report

    • I’m a reluctant convert to the idea that climate change is real, is bad, and is caused by (and therefore at least partially remediable by) humans. One of the main reasons I’m “reluctant” is because of the very chicken little’ism you describe.

      Even though I’m a “convert,” I’m still skeptical about a few things. One of those is what the exact contours of the scientific “consensus” is: what do climate scientists essentially all agree on and what is still under dispute? That has never been made clear to me. (Of course, I could probably try to educate myself, but I’m too lazy.)Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    Government regulation can clearly work in making the environment better. The Cayuga River no longer catches on fire. Some of the former smogiest cities like Los Angeles and New York now have clean and pleasant air. But the success of these regulations also coincided with the rise of an arch-libertarian/market anarchist community which is low in numbers but high in power and fanatical intensity. They desire nothing more than to roll back the very useful and effective environmental legislation because that hampers unfettered growth in their minds.

    Yet LeeEsq is right. A lot of climate activists want policies that are not feasible and not practiacable considering the size of the planet’s population. I think some of them kind of, sort of realize this and try to conjure a “one neat trick” solution like abandoning meat eating and/or giving up air travel. These will not work.

    And I think a lot of people use Thunberg as the selling of an indulgence. They post her statements and then move on with their western lives.Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    If things are as bad as Greta says, politicians can only play Cnut the Great.

    And part of Greta’s problem is that old people remember the Gretas from last time.Report

  11. Aristotle says:

    Trust me Scott Greta is saying all the right things regardless if her main influences are her parents. I wished I’d had her parents. She’s not too young to have this voice. Too many of us were seen and not heard. Because there is nothing like an amputated spirit at any age. Its about time we belted ignorance for 6.Report