Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

What I find quite interesting is that there are numerous high-profile politicians and media figures, along with vast numbers of trolls, who deny that climate change exists, and block meaningful action to control it.

At what point do we learn the lesson that’s deeply embedded in our collective consciousness (Noah’s Ark, the ant and the grasshopper) and decide that modern states are not capable of dealing with the problem, assuming that climate change is going to result in serious disruption, and look to make contingency plans for ourselves and our families?

Modern nation-states are perfectly capable of dealing with climate change issues. They're the only entities with the power to properly do so. The problem lies in industry-bought politicians preventing those nation-states from enacting effective policies.

Because of the free-rider problem, dealing with it requires international cooperation between those nation-states. Which is possible, but difficult.

William Nordhaus' Nobel prize winning proposal would make that easier: https://issues.org/climate-clubs-to-overcome-free-riding/

Honestly, too bad. Even if some countries might fail to contribute their fair share action just needs to be taken.

If folks can get an equitable system working then that's great - otherwise I expect the US, India and China to bear the vast majority of the cost since those three nations all have an immense amount to lose if global warming gets more extreme.

Both India and China are in extremely weather sensitive areas with large populations and a government that would be unable to cope if food shortages became a thing and economic instability happened. America just doesn't want the hassle of being the golden egg if food shortages break down, it'll probably fair pretty well for quite some time, but the 40% of Americans that are obese will be poorly situated to survive in extreme weather events.

You're right. The standard comment I hear is "Why should we do anything, China isn't doing anything and it's bigger than us"

My response is:

1. China is doing stuff. Not enough perhaps, but arguably more than we are. 2. Who are we to say anything? Canada has the highest per capita emissions in the world. If anybody should be first, shouldn't it be us?

But the free riding problem is still real. "Climate clubs" would completely demolish the "but China" problem.

> entities with the power

You assume that it will require power (read: coercion & violence) in order to deal with climate change.

For a few hundred years we've had an ever-growing state in most places in the world, reaching levels of power undreamed of by rulers of the past. Yet climate problems persist with no sign of stopping. Relying on the current political order will not result in anything different. All nations exist in a state of anarchy with respect to one another.

So we're at a crossroads: do we empower global government to control the entire population, in order to address climate problems? Or do we admit that government cannot solve the problem and look to more imaginative -- and less violent -- solutions?

I for one don't expect that global government will work out quite like its proponents envision. Is anyone fit to be King of the Earth?

What solutions do you propose? I don't really believe that we can solve tragedy of the commons style problems without governments, but I'm open to hear your arguments.

As a society we need to make the decision to take the microphone away from people who are just plain wrong or stupid. If we just ignore them, they can't do any harm.

Yes, even when it's a celebrity or elected official, we should just utterly ignore them.

Whenever I hear about a celebrity breakup like it's actual news I shudder.

As a society we are split roughly 50/50 on who is stupid and wrong, so this really just means “silence those who disagree with me.”

Anecdotally, the hn community does have an obvious majority on most issues, including this one, but is still good about allowing dissenting opinions to be heard, because it is necessary for the mission of satisfying intellectual curiosity.

If you don't understand or believe climate science at this point, it can no longer be written off as being uninformed. You are purposefully remaining ignorant and should be deemed unqualified to hold public office.

There has to come a point where a consensus is so solid that continuing to play devils advocate is a disqualifying act. We know the planet is changing, and we know we are doing it. This is no longer a subject to be debated, end of.

At this point I think it's well understood that >90% of scientists and experts agree that climate change is a real thing and going to be a severe problem.

It's not about "Those who disagree with me" it's "Those who disagree with widely accepted facts." and are causing real harm by doing so.

That's a good reason to believe in climate change (and I think its even well north of 90%).

But that isn't a reason to create climate blasphemy laws. Because the scientists could easily be wrong about a lot of it. History is littered with superseded theories in science.

I went to a presentation of a tenured climate scientist from a good school, who gave a somewhat skeptical presentation on climate change. He didn't dispute that global warming is real or is man-made. He just thought the postive feedback loops were a lot stronger than IPCC concesuss estimated.

But other professors from non-science disciplines came and read him the riot act during the Q/A portion. Being challenged is good. But some of the questions strongly implied he shouldn't publish anything challenging the status quo. That's bad.

Thomas Sowell, wrote a great book in 1995 about the phenomenon you describe. The Vision of the Anointed lays out this problematic tendency. It was quite prevalent 100 years ago as anxiety arose about the industrial revolution (radio, telephone, automobile), and labor moved from the farm (14hr days during half of the year) to the factory.

“Yet a polemical tactic has developed which enables virtually any general statement, however true, to be flatly denied, simply because it is not 100 percent true in all circumstances...Even in the days of Stalin, to make a distinction between the Communist world and the free world was to invite sarcastic dismissals of this distinction, based upon particular inadequacies, injustices, or restrictions found in “the so-called ‘free world,’ ” as the intelligentsia often characterized it, which kept it from being 100 percent free, democratic, and just.”


Sure, we need to present both sides of the story.

So >90% of coverage should be about what >90% of people think, and <10% of coverage should be what <10% of people think.

Let's make it proportional.

Cite the science supporting your first line. You are just regurgitating platitudes. And if the 10% are good enough to be lumped into your sample size, why is their opinion not valid?

Our society of popularity unfortunately means that it's not just "allowing dissenting opinions" but 'thought leaders' end up getting an outsized amount of attention.

Some celebrities are smart - some have degrees in neuroscience... but I really don't care to hold their opinion over anyone else's.

When the percentage of 'wrong or stupid' people is low enough, say below 1%, I would agree. Maybe even 10%. But the number of people who are wrong or stupid in this way is still quite high; at least 25-30% in the US, possibly more who are wrong or stupid but keep quiet about it. You can personally ignore these people, but they are legally allowed to vote in every election and consume whatever they can afford and kill or burn most anything on their property. We ignore them systematically as a society to our own peril.

What is your alternative?

1. Stop disassociating with everyone whose opinions you disagree with. Include the "wrong and stupid" in your communities, as long as they're not toxic.

2. Learn about how people actually change their minds, instead of trying to coerce and shame them and then shunning them when they don't take your point of view instantly.

3. Be open-minded to the valid points they may have. Almost no one is 100% wrong, and you are not 100% right. But when you start from a "you're wrong and stupid" perspective, your audience digs in their heels deeper.

4. Coordinate memetic campaigns to provide an alternative viewpoint to people who might be on the verge of being taken in by the wrong and stupid.

5. Provide a safe harbor for people who might possibly change their minds. Recognize that by changing their worldview they may be shunned by their existing family, friends, and/or community. They need to know that if they join your worldview they're not going to be shamed for not joining it sooner.

You don't see the irony in your statment

Are you saying the people saying we shouldn't give China free money à la TPP are the problem? Because you've basically undermined your whole argument from where I am sitting.

Because you people treat it like a religion. Some things are true, some things aren't. Your 'climate change nightmare' of what might happen in 40 years is the daily reality for billions of people. And just because someone doesn't buy into the same bs you do, does not make them a troll

I'm not sure what point you were trying to make here

>Because you people

One of the worst ways you can start a discussion if you actually want people to listen to you but ok. You people being those that trust and listen to scientists and data over politicians and pop culture figures with no scientific training or background? If anything, it is climate change deniers that treat it like a religion, blindly believing in something.

> Some things are true, some things aren't. Your 'climate change nightmare' of what might happen in 40 years is the daily reality for billions of people

Correct, and climate change is true and a daily reality for everyone living on earth.

>And just because someone doesn't buy into the same bs you do, does not make them a troll

He never said it did, he simply stated that there are a large number of trolls online that deny climate change exists which is also true

Cite the science. Do you think '90% of scientists' believe in the gravitational constant? I would say it's 100. You repeat all these platitudes like they are fact. You don't see the irony in your statements. You probably also believe 4 out of 5 dentists recommend your toothpaste

Your "argument" is incredibly fallacious, and you're clearly not actually trying to have a discussion. Have fun posting angry, poorly informed comments on the internet

thats what you say when you have nothing to say. inform me then. Cite the science. And fyi, the scientific community is one of the most political, ego driven, petty communities around. keep on regurgitating stuff you hear and never verify though.

and 'you people' which you bashed me for, is no different than saying '90% of scientists' good job trashing your own argument.

Not only that, the US leads GHG reductions.


Everyone knows China and India lead GHG growth by country, and they have no real interest in increasing the costs for their poorest and most vulnerable, and neither does the West (see "yellow jacket protests"). Increasing energy costs under the justification of protecting the poorest in the world from environmental catastrophe, which only leads to highers costs to those very same people is very sordid "logic." It's almost a thought-crime situation.

I heard a pundit on NPR this morning point to flooding in the midwest this spring as evidence of GCC, despite the problem going back 200 years[0]. Of course, addressed by our benevolent government with 12 separate Flood Control Acts[1], costing billions of dollars. It started, coincidentally, in 1917 (i.e. Lenin's Russian Revolution).

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1844 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1881 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mississippi_Flood_of_192...


"We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology..."

From a few comments below:

> Exxon internal researchers knew about the incoming crisis since 1982.

> ...they started sponsoring anti climate change material producing organizations and supporting its dissemination. A wildly succesful project that has probably paid itself back with a large factor.

So yeah, find a way for lowering emissions to create money and power and then .aybe there would be the motivation to do so.

"climate change denial" is a blanket term for anyone who disagrees with anything.

"You dont want to give No-Strings-Attached money to China to help the environment? You must be a Anti-Science Denier!"

Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact