(Friend, fellow congregant, and committee chair Will Rico of First Parish in Needham sent me this highly appropriate link.)
Those who deny that climate change is real are engaging in what psychologists call “simple denial.” But those on the left aren’t much better. Liberals who think global warming is real often resort to “transference denial”: they blame the right and corporate polluters even though we’re all responsible. The scale of the climate crisis and the level of sacrifice and disruption that would be necessary to mitigate it feels overwhelming.
Here’s where we are. I’m not focussing upon Republicans, who have, as Mr Rall points out, 44% of their polled cohort denying human caused climate disruption is a real thing. While 92% of Democrats say they consider climate disruption both actual and human caused, this is where their priorities lie:
That’s a summary of a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll from early September 2019 rating the importance of issues to them. Overall, when the Yale Program on Climate Communication and George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication joined to survey American’s views on climate change and its risk, reporting in December 2018, only 70% have any worries about climate change, and just 30% are “very worried”:
Mr Rall quotes and somewhat agrees with Dr Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute who said:
The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.
I strongly disagree, along with Andrew Gottlieb of APCC and consider it a bit arrogant, reminiscent of “After me, the Deluge“. The biosphere will be just fine. There may be appreciable species rotation, meaning, that, no doubt, a bunch of species will go extinct. But that’s how Life responds to a significant environmental challenge. We seem to have difficulty accepting that all species eventually go extinct and how, the proper response, say, for landscaping is to embrace the hardiest of botanical species, even if it violates canons of landscape management taught, pursued, and implemented over years, even enshrined in law. Wake up: Things have changed. Life will be here, but we shouldn’t be sure of human civilization’s part in it. Pursuit of “sustainability” has failed, and it’s time to make some uncomfortable tradeoffs.
Still, Mr Rall sets out the current problem. We meet in committees, doing cleanups of brooks and streams, hearing lectures about migrating birds, lamenting roaming cats and what they do to wildlife. We rail against fossil fuel companies, and champion measures to defend the vulnerable far away. But we drive CO2-spewing cars, nod in approval of housing developments which keep our taxes low, oppose gasoline taxes, put in that third bathroom, and go crazy buying things for the holidays. Business as usual. We sure aren’t acting like this is urgent. All the Democrats schemes as pretty anemic, for no one wants to utter the essential word: Degrowth (see also).
Mr Rall ends with a flourish:
None of this should come as a surprise. We were warned. “The oceans are in danger of dying,” Jacques Cousteau said in 1970. Life in the oceans had diminished by 40 percent in the previous 20 years.
If you really believe that the planet is becoming uninhabitable, if you think you are about to die, you don’t march peacefully through the streets holding signs and chanting slogans begging the corrupt scoundrels who haven’t done a damn thing for decades to wake up and do something. You identify the politicians and corporate leaders who are killing us, you track them down and you use whatever force is necessary to make them stop. Nothing less than regime change stands a chance of doing the job.
Nothing else—the struggle for income equality, gun control, abortion—matters as much as attacking pollution and climate change.
Anything short of revolution and the abolition of consumer capitalism is “minimizational denial“: admitting the problem while downplaying its severity. Anything short of a radical retooling of the global political system that establishes state control of the economy with environmental impact as our first, second and third priorities is a waste of time that dooms the human race to extinction.
There is no middle ground, no splitting the difference, no compromise. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Mere progress won’t cut it. Human survival is a pass-fail class. The final exam is tomorrow morning—early tomorrow morning.
Time to get serious, godammit.
It’s come to my attention that Kirkpatrick Sale has written a follow-up to Mr Rall’s piece described above, with Mr Sale’s piece titled “The illusion of saving the world“. Whether or not you agree with Mr Sale or, for that matter, Mr Rall, there are a few things about climate disruption Mr Sale gets wrong. I fear many people misunderstand these, too, including many climate progressives and environmentalists who agree upon the urgency of acting on zeroing greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are some basic facts most people do not know, even those concerned about climate disruption:
- Carbon dioxide (and its precursors, e.g., methane) is not like other pollutants. The natural mechanisms for scrubbing it work, but half of it remains in atmosphere for 1000 years or more, and the rest takes centuries to remove. This means what matters is cumulative emissions, not emissions intensity. Also, the United States and Europe own most of the CO2 in atmosphere, because of our tremendous growth and success since the beginning of the industrial age.
- We know the overwhelming amount of excess CO2 in atmosphere is from human sources. This is because our fossil fuel fingerprints are in the isotopic signatures of the Carbon and Oxygen atoms in the excess CO2.
- We have known about the dangers of climate change for a long time: The first U.S. President briefed on the seriousness of the matter was LBJ in 1965. Svante Arrhenius essentially had all the science right in 1896. He even made estimates of warming, but did not foresee the amount of CO2 we’d emit. He was followed by Callendar in 1938, among others, and Revelle in 1958. Each succeeding U.S. President was also briefed.
- Because 90+% of the excess warming from greenhouse gases goes into the oceans, and oceans have a huge thermal capacity, even if CO2 emissions were zeroed, we will not see an improvement in climate conditions. Deterioration at that point will stabilize, but it won’t get better on any timescale of typical meaning to people: Thousands if not tens of thousands of years. This is why the expectation, which Sale raises, that things might eventually “cool down” is exactly the straw man it seems. They won’t cool down, essentially ever. We can keep them from getting warming, but that’s about it.
These are all the reasons we need to stop now: It should have happened in 1990, but it didn’t. We need to come down as quickly as possible. And it is so late that to do it fast enough will mean economic hurt. This will, eventually, result in less economic hurt from climate disruption, for everyone, including us.
“Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Some reaction, including some from the fiendishly uncivilized. As Ms Thunberg says, this means this movement is having an impact, and Knowles and 45 are afraid.
Actually, they did. I missed it. (Too many balls in the air.)
Apologies to Moderator Bart and Resilience.org for jumping the gun.
I have withdrawn my misleading post.
Keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Fund restoration of natural processes.
Protect natural systems that are left.
Stop development of new land tracts, including new lots and subdivisions for housing and commercial development, especially expensive housing.
This is from the Economist‘s special issue this week on climate disruption.
What’s striking is how quickly delay in substantial action takes us from +1.5C to +2C tp +2.5C to +3C, and it’s almost independent of how much we cut, except for the really dramatic pathway, but just about the schedule. Accordingly, wait 10 years and, accordingly, while it may not be “too late”, it’s gonna be both much harder to achieve, and there’ll be hell to pay whatever we do.
In a tangentially related comment, I wrote earlier today elsewhere about:
[how] some high quantile of climate disruption might come true. The basic rationale is statistical: There are, stochastically speaking, many more long tailed distributions than symmetric ones (proof by 1-1 pairing since asymmetry is a free parameter), so an arbitrary error in forecasting can land you in hotter water than you otherwise thought you’d might, Black Swans and all that. … [P]eople [are] planning as if climate sensitivity [is] Gaussian.
“You’re right to strike; you’re right to march; you’re right to feel your fear and rage and longing for a better world. You are the victims of a terrible intergenerational crime, and you are as right as humans can be to demand justice. You are so right that — even though I’ve been fighting this fight for decades— your truth brings tears to my eyes.
“It is so hard to look at a planetary catastrophe and not feel at times lost and lonesome, disconnected and doomed. If older people were less cowardly, the planetary crisis — what it means, what to do about it, how to work with our feelings about it — would be the topic at every public meeting and over every dinner table. Instead, we offer young people stale platitudes and emotional silence.
“Of all the many intergenerational injustices, that emotional silence may be the worst, because it leaves each of you to struggling to find connection during the most profound crisis humanity has ever faced.
“You will meet people who tell you to give up, that you are already defeated, that the fight was lost before you even got here. They’re wrong, and their hearts are ugly. Treat them like poisonous snakes.
“You will meet others who want you to be ‘reasonable,’ to believe that acting quickly, and boldly, and in ways that help the most people possible, would be an unfair burden on their business or their wealth. When you meet them, you have met your opposition.
“These days, it’s not the ones denying climate change entirely that you have to watch out for — it’s the ones working to delay action. The world is being destroyed not by monsters, but by committees — committees of smart people with loving families and good educations, following well-planned agendas, and agreeing to do nothing while the ice caps melt and the Amazon burns.
“Here is the simplest truth of the climate crisis: Speed is everything.“
Societies in most countries rumble on, worried about other things. The French are arguing about wealth distribution and church restoration. The Americans about abortion and trade tariffs. The British about Europe. The Chinese worry about – actually, I have no idea. A 2018 OECD survey, “Risks That Matter” identified the issues most concerning the populations of 21 countries. The top issues are health, wealth and accessing social services. – no mention at all of climate change.
So either we aren’t worried about climate change, or we are so worried about it we don’t want to think about it. In fact, there is evidence our populations are divided along climate lines. Many, probably most, continue reaping whatever benefits capitalism and technology provide: fast fashion, disposable packaging, short lived cell phones, cheaper flights. The list is endless. Others (e.g. Extinction Rebellion, are fully aware of the existential threat posed by climate change, and are close to panic. Their protests sound alarmist and shrill. Their remedies draconian and infeasible. Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly fatalistic, feeling there’s nothing they can do to save themselves and their as yet unconceived children. Talk of not having kids, because of climate change, is commonplace.
So what of the sustainability community? I’m pretty sure most of us started out with good intentions. But I think we have gone about it the wrong way. We have spread our efforts thinly over a vast array of issues.
Take a look at a typical company sustainability report. The contents list will include a long list of environmental and social issues, each with its own set of sub-headings, metrics, targets and highlight examples. All wrapped in a viscous layer of management process. Not quite ready to set an absolute CO2 target? Oh well, let’s feature volunteering this year. And so it goes on. Doing some good here and there, but not conclusively dealing with the problem threatening our existence. Can you name the companies that have cut their absolute carbon footprint while growing their business? These should be our role models.
By trying to tackle everything at once we’re diluting our impact, giving too much weight to secondary issues and too little to the really big one.
We must stop talking about water, plastic, diversity, workers’ rights, and volunteering. These are housekeeping issues. Just get on and do them quietly. We need all our energy, resources and focus on climate change. Talk about nothing else, to your board, investors, political connections and customers. Measure your success in $ and tons CO2. If we beat climate change, we will automatically make many of the other problems better, and we will have re-established a collective belief that we can act to save our common future. Don’t tell me if we can cut global CO2 emission by half, we can’t fix packaging.
So do Democratic presidential hopefuls who sparred on climate policy last week. While roundly demonising the fossil fuel industry, none called out the American public for embracing a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality. None acknowledged that energy has been far too cheap for far too long. And none admitted that if we really want to tackle climate change, we must be willing to pay for it.
This has been part of my concern about the emphasis upon environmental justice, climate justice, and a Green New Deal. Surely many people have been harmed in recent history because of exploitation by rich, powerful, and privileged. I simply suggest, as does Propper, that now is not the time to try to set all things right. As Professor Nunes points out, people aren’t getting it, including progressive Democrats.
For starters, let’s acknowledge the truth that climate change is a job killer — and it is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
For starters, let’s acknowledge the truth that climate change is a job killer — and it is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
- Segre variety, about
(These will be updated as I make progress through the talk.)
Just hit the “arXiv streets”:
N. Dalmasso, T. Pospisil, A. B. Lee, R. Izbicki, P. E. Freeman, A. I. Malz, "Conditional Density Estimation Tools in Python and R with applications to photometric redshifts and likelihood-free cosmological inference", arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1908.11523v1
My interests are different, however, in that I want to borrow their empirical likelihood methods for other applications.
Note parallel multivariate variations on slice sampling are now known, although I’m not aware of work on how well these go.
And, just for information, there’s very recent work on something called generalized elliptical slice sampling with regional pseudo-priors which I have not read.
There is also another 2019 connection to elliptical slice sampling called Bayesian Tensor Filtering which is interesting because:
- David Blei is involved
- It is connected to slice sampling
- It is related to tensor methods in Statistics which I am just studying, after McCullagh and Gross. These have apparently been used in finance under different names for quite a while.
Claire and I and our home are featured in the section on “Electrifying our energy supply” in the section “Local households making the switch to electricity”.
Claire and I and our home are featured in the case study in section “7. My home is not right for solar”.
“… the ability to express [hypotheses] as distributions over parameters …”
Bayesian estimation supersedes the t-test:
(Also by Professor Kruschke.)
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
― Lao Tzu
Professor Johan Rockström, again.
Yeah, and that makes me feel, this way …
(Ricardo Maranhão with Indiara Sfair)
(Indiara Sfair and Joe Flip)
(Indiara Sfair and Harry Hmura)
So, I hereby promise to read, assess, and report here on the following new paper:
Y. Zhang, C. Song, L. E. Band, G. Sun, "No proportional increase of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration from the greening Earth", Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2018JG004917, 2019.
This is scholarship along lines I have studied before, such as:
Everyone is talking about emissions budgets – what are they and what do they mean for your country? Our CO2 emissions are causing global heating. If we want to stop global warming at a given temperature level, we can emit only a limited amount of CO2. That’s our emissions budget. I explained it here at RealClimate a couple of years ago: First of all – what the heck is …
Source, RealClimate: How much CO2 your country can still emit, in three simple steps
The class “Climate Science for Climate Activists” I have taught for the last 6 or so weeks is now completed.
Certainly, for me, one of the reasons to get out of bed is that we really haven’t tried everything. Having done miserably at communication, having done miserably at policy, having done miserably at market responses to climate change gives us a ton of hope, because we could do so much better.
The other thing is we’re short-sighted human beings on many counts, and yet our species has managed to build cathedrals that took 300 years apiece. So it’s not like we can’t. The future isn’t written yet. It is still open in terms of how it’s going to be shaped.
Still, what we have to realize — and what’s dawning on many people now — is that we have put a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere that won’t just come out tomorrow. That’s why we have to make space for grief, fear, and all the rest of it in public spaces and in our private lives.
We’re dealing with a global system that’s highly interconnected. We have set so many things in motion that if you tried to control it right now, you couldn’t. We have sailed a ship, and the question is, are we going to keep blowing wind into its sails and sending it off into even more troubled waters, or are we going to do what we can to smooth out the waters, and make sure the opening to the harbor is wide enough for everyone?
There is a ton of space left in terms of what we can do. We can’t just do anything we want, because of the things we have already set in motion, but we can stop making it worse, and there are so many options to deal with the challenges and to make life much less miserable for the vast majority of the world’s people.
So I think it’s a matter of priorities and values, and reckoning with what we have done. In the public sphere, it’s called political work. In the private sphere, there is deeply personal transformational work that needs to be done.
I worked at IBM Federal Systems Division in Owego, NY from May, 1976 to March of 1994. I did a lot with the IBM System/4 Pi and its operating and support software.
A lecture at MIT, in 2018, as the Hoyt C Hottel Lecture in Chemical Engineering.
Notable quote: “The half-life of CO2 in atmosphere is 10,000 years.” (Professor Steven Chu)
“What does it take to unpack and repack R/V Neil Armstrong?”
A bit appropriate as the 50th anniversary of Moon Day approaches.
In case you wondered if Carbon Dioxide (also called, carbonic acid, CO2) increases caused climate change, here’s the latest news … from 1856-1896: