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What Kind of Problem Is Climate Change? (nytimes.com)
67 points by mitchbob 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments



I agree that global warming is real. Global warming is a problem. However...

> If the summer heat, followed by Hurricane Dorian, hasn’t convinced you that climate change is real, probably nothing will.

That's an amazingly stupid comment. This is why global warming deniers exist, because people make these types of stupid comments. A hurricane strengthening and stalling on land is not linked to global warming. It's always happened and always will. What was hurricane Andrew then in 1992? What about Katrina 2005? How about in 2004 where 4 hurricanes hit Florida in a 6 week time span? I lived through that one.

Hurricane Lorenzo, right now, is a better example due to where it's at in the Atlantic and its strength. Still not a great example, but better than Dorian. Dorian was technically a normal hurricane. Nothing that special or different. Devastating yes. But devastation is not an indicator of climate change. A higher number of hurricanes and higher than average number in Cat 4 and Cat 5. That's an indicator. And to be honest, this year has been pretty chill when it comes to hurricanes. Only one FL scare. Most years there are 3-5 scares by the end of September. We're only on L when it comes to named storms. Bad years in the past are around S by now. Hurricanes are named in order of the alphabet if you didn't know. In 2004, we went through the whole alphabet, plus some.

I agree global warming is happening. But this year's hurricane season does not show it.


That's not at all why global warming deniers exist. The reason they exist is because the fossil fuel industry managed to make believing in climate change a political issue rather than a scientific one, which is why the denial is embraced by one party but not the other. The actual "arguments" don't matter, this one especially since it's impossible to tell if Dorian would've even existed or not had the climate not changed.


Okay, I do agree. But misinformation due to sloppy broad brush strokes does not help. At all. It fuels what you just said. It gives them "See, see! They're wrong about this! What do they know? They're just making stuff up for their agenda!" And to be honest, I have to agree with that statement. Because that first line of the article is simply a "the sky is falling because I say so" statement. And remember, I do agree that global warming is happening. But because I believe the science, I have to be fair on all factual statements. No matter if that fact helps or hurts me. I have to be fair.

It would have been smarter to talk about Alaska heat wave from the get-go that lasted, what was it, 7 to 9 days? I don't remember. That's WAY harder to dance around. Everyone can go "It got hot in Alaska? Weird... it got 90+ degrees hot? WTF? For how long? Holy shit!" Instead of a statement that amounted to "There was a hurricane in the Atlantic. Global warming is real."


He's a professor of philosophy, not a climate or data scientist. Talking from a PPE perspective.

Misinformation requires intent. I'm not convinced there is any intent to deceive here. More likely he's not sufficiently up to speed with a data point not being a trend. Hopefully a scientist or reader will drop him a friendly email.


You're right, and the comment from the article is definitely over the top. My only point is that sadly people would still be denying climate change no matter how perfectly presented the warnings are, and there's an obvious frustration, even anger, aimed at those responsible for this.


One thing that flat-earthers have taught me this past few years, you absolutely can't cure stupid. There will always be stupid ass people on the planet.

However, I do know rational people who don't believe in global warming. Mostly, to the degree of being fearful. They do believe that climate patterns do change. They believe the Earth can get hot. They just don't think in 2050 Florida is going to wash out like some predictions said a few years ago.

The reason, there's too many doomsayers that overblow claims or making mountains out of molehills. This article being one. This leads them to still stay on the fence or lean one way or the other. I'm generally a prudent individual. If I see potential problems ahead, I try to nip that problem in the bud. So even if I, hypothetically, didn't think we are on a crash course when it comes to global warming, I still think it would be good to make sure it never comes to that. Reversing the affects takes too long to let it happen. Best to curb CO2 production as soon as possible, just to be safe. But it's not handled like that at all. If I didn't have my own thoughts on the subject, I won't lie, I'd probably be a denier too. Too many global warming advocates have made some crazy claims with dates that never held up. They want to ban all these lifestyle activities that aren't even the low lying fruit. All in the name of "scaring people into action". That line of thought is archaic and dead. People don't function that way anymore. We need to try being rational about how we spread information. That way a majority of people who actually "change the world" and have "influence" agree and spread the word and ideas on making such change.

First we stop making bullshit claims on global warming. Then we can get people to fully wrap their heads around the real research. Which, I know sounds like a lot. But, it worked in Florida elementary schools. I argue Florida public environmental education (at least in the 90s) was a super effective program. It never overblew anything or made sweeping claims over little things. I remember well that they always said "Bad things could happen if we don't do anything", not will. So yea, maybe I'm bias. But I just know articles like these aren't helping. And sadly, people who believe in global warming because of articles like these, are weak in faith. The first to give up and do nothing.


I agree that all this fear-mongering is turning super counter-productive. While I do think we're in the middle of a climate crisis that is going to put a lot of lives at risk, I have to say that I've grown incredibly weary and tired of people constantly freaking out about it. I wish they would find a new angle: if you only make it about the negative, people will tune out because it's easier than dealing with it. If you make it about the positive, people will engage and work towards it because it's more attractive. And by positive I mean - the adoption of cleaner technologies will definitely impact our economy, and I think it will be for the better. Reducing waste can also impact our lifestyles, even with small changes, i.e. using waxed paper instead of plastic film to preserve food might make food taste better, etc etc Spin the whole "let's change our society to ensure our survival" in a positive way and there'll be a lot less climate change denial.

Don't you recognize that your words are just as meaningful if the parties are switched? For example:

That's not at all why global warming alarmists exist. The reason they exist is because the green energy industry managed to make believing in climate change a political issue rather than a scientific one, which is why the alarmism is embraced by one party but not the other. The actual "arguments" don't matter, this one especially since it's impossible to tell if Dorian would've even existed or not had the climate not changed.

Perspective matters.


Actually it does not.

Converting an scientific issue into a political (or better say an emotional) one is only needed if the science does not support your side.

Therefore it makes sense for deniers to move from a scientific discussion (which has largely been lost) to a political/emotional one, where things are more flexible and a good presented bad argument might still enable you to win.

So why should the "green energy industry" move the debate from a science driven (which pretty much supports their argument) to a political one?


You're falling into the same trap. Your words also work from the other perspective:

Therefore it makes sense for alarmists to move from a scientific discussion (which has largely been lost) to a political/emotional one, where things are more flexible and a good presented bad argument might still enable you to win.

This very submission is an example of the alarmists doing that.

There are none so blind...


Only under the premise that there is no large scientific consensus.


Did you read about the 500 scientists who wrote a letter to the U.N. a few days ago indicating just that?

Well, you probably didn't, because the mainstream media didn't cover it. You'll have to search for it. Up to you.


From [1]:

> And while some outlets described the co-signers as experts in climate science, most are not. As noted in an analysis below, a significant portion of the co-signers are either engineers or professionals in non-technical fields. Only 10 identified themselves as climate scientists.

So 10! climate scientists argue against climate change? Still looks like there is an overwhelming support for it in science.

[1] https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/letter-signed-by-500-...


Ah, gatekeeping, how convenient.

1. Invent a pseudoscientific field.

2. Make normative, political claims from said field.

3. When people outside the field express dissent, invent a non-profit to "verify the credibility of influential claims," and only allow people in said field to join said non-profit and verify the credibility of said claims: https://sciencefeedback.co/for-scientists/

> To Apply: You need to have a PhD in a relevant discipline, have at least one published article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal within the last four years in the field they are commenting on.

To criticize climate science, you must first become a climate scientist, which requires assenting to the belief in the validity of climate science, because anyone who dissents from that belief would not be awarded a PhD in the field nor have peer-reviewed articles published in it.

So only people who agree with them are allowed to criticize them. Hm, sounds a lot like HN. And so scientific! I'm convinced, thanks for the link.


I'm not sure if the inverse is particularly meaningful as much as it is potentially rhetorically convincing, depending on what one wants to believe in the first place.

Anecdotally, most of the climate deniers I know (and am related to) also believe that Jesus is coming back soon, so fuck the environment, right?


> Anecdotally, most of the climate deniers I know (and am related to) also believe that Jesus is coming back soon, so fuck the environment, right?

No, that's a very caricatured interpretation of Christian theology about stewardship of the environment. But Christians are a convenient scapegoat, right?


That's the funny part to Christianity. You have the "Christians" that think "fuck the planet". But then you get the other side that believe we have to take care of the planet because it's a gift from God. Sadly, one has a largely voice than the other because the other congregation is busy coordinating and conducting community litter pick-up events.


I also noticed that pattern with the refugee crisis in 2015. The biggest party by votes in Germany is the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of Angela Merkel. Merkel was initially willing to take in refugees but then backpedaled by not saying anything on the topic anymore. Meanwhile, all the other CDU politicians (ministers, members of parliament etc.) all called for restricting the intake of refugees as much as possible. At the time, I quipped to myself and my friends that they better take the "C" out of their name since AFAIK helping those in need is part of the proverbial "loving thy neighbor" teached by Christianity. That was only a quip but I've since heard some lower-ranking CDU politicians voice the same concerns. Same with climate change: "How can we claim to be a Christian party when we care so little about honoring God's creation?"

(Disclaimer: I'm not Christian and cannot claim any authority on how to interpret the Bible. I would most likely count as agnostic or optimistic nihilist.)


> At the time, I quipped to myself and my friends that they better take the "C" out of their name since AFAIK helping those in need is part of the proverbial "loving thy neighbor" teached by Christianity.

You did admit that you're not a Christian and haven't studied theology or interpretation, which is fair of you. So let me ask a few simple questions which demonstrate the necessity of interpretation and the diversity of views on the topic:

Who are your neighbors? Are they the people in the house next door? Are they the people in the nation across the border? Should you help the people across the border at the expense of the people next door? If so, to what extent? If you decline to let into your country every foreigner who wants in, but offer to help them by other means, are you failing to honor the command to love your neighbor?

Why does "love your neighbor" necessarily mean "admit to your nation every foreigner who wants in, and freely give them everything they want, otherwise you're violating the command"?

It quickly becomes clear that such demands are, at best, based on a very shallow theology, and at worst, deception by those who couldn't care less about any religion.


> Sadly, one has a largely voice than the other because the other congregation is busy coordinating and conducting community litter pick-up events.

No, one has a louder voice than the other because that one is a convenient fig leaf used to put the imprint of the cross on the self-interest of the Mammon-worshipping economic elites.

The other is also politically active as well as involved in direct action, but money is volume in political discourse, and the side serving money has more of it.


> No, that's a very caricatured interpretation of Christian theology about stewardship of the environment.

It's a quite accurate view of the particular views expressed by plenty of climate change deniers; there are more robust sets of Christian beliefs about stewardship of the environment, but they don't tend to coexist with vocal climate denial.


Your use of weasel words like "plenty of" and "tend to" shows that this is just your biased impression, not necessarily representative of actual populations. As well, your characterization of people who disagree with you using the pejoratives "deniers" and "denial" shows your extreme bias toward one side of the issue.

In other words, you're not considering the issue fairly.


That's right: when you can't answer, just downvote. If you didn't have 66,000 karma, maybe you'd be held accountable by the mods for religious and political flamewars. But since you do, you can act however you please.


Meaningful, maybe? The green energy industry was tiny when the original science around global warming was done. I don't see how they would have the power to do that.

Plus you would have to actually show some evidence.


You only have a point if you're someone who believes climate change isn't happening. Otherwise switching the words around as you did only shows how ridiculous opposite side is.


Global warming is a trend that can now, with thirty years of hindsight, be clearly identified. However, many people on both sides made lots of predictions that didn't come to pass, so some amount of skepticism towards certain more alarmist claims is warranted. It's too convenient to just lump any skepticism into the "denier" and "bad person" box, and that's exactly what happens.

It's also dishonest to point out that the fossil industry has a clear interest, while ignoring that the renewables industry also has such an interest. A lot of business is being made peddling non-solutions to a problem that might actually be unsolvable.


It's perfectly fair, however, to point out the difference in economic scale and political influence between the fossil fuel industry and the renewable energy industry. The fossil fuel industry is rather larger, and rather more powerful. And by "rather", I mean "tremendously".

It is also perfectly fair to point out the relative likelihood that international political problems around fossil fuels are far more likely to cost the US in blood and treasure than political problems around renewables. We don't go to war for wind and sunshine. Meanwhile, we spent hundreds of billions a year as a nation - not to mention a toll of American military and non-US civilian lives - in order to maintain our semblance of control over flow of oil.

You want to be honest? Sure, let's be honest.


One side may have more "bribe money", but the other side has idealism behind it. That goes a long way.

Clearly, the climate apocalypse is what dominates the media narrative, so if you want to make money tomorrow (not yesterday), you're pushing renewables, not fossils.


The Green New Deal represents a $93 trillion subsidy to renewable energy, if it is enacted. That’s more than comparable.


Where are you getting this from? We don't have a Green New Deal. We don't have a firmed-up bill presented in Congress, even. And how is the number you offered calculated, and by whom? Because it reeks of partisanship.


It’s the only estimate I know of. Here’s a critical look at it: https://www.factcheck.org/2019/03/how-much-will-the-green-ne...


Seems to me that link more or less debunks the $93T estimate as partisan bullshit, which is what I expected it to be.

To put it in perspective, the GDP of the US is currently about $19T, so they're saying the Green New Deal would cost 100% of the GDP for five straight years. This seems... exaggerated.


> This seems... exaggerated.

Not if you understand MMT and its proponents. AOC believes that every dollar spent by the government on infrastructure magically turns into five dollars of economic growth, so she's willing to go into deep debt to make it happen.


Now that definitely sounds like partisan nonsense.


Perhaps, but it's true. AOC is a proponent of MMT[1] and has made that "five dollars for every one dollar spent" argument[2].

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/modern-monetary-theory-mmt-e...

[2] I can't find the source for this one right now, but it was in a video interview regarding the green new deal, right around when it was announced.


Adding on to this, the five dollars for every dollar spent makes sense in some contexts. It’s a key factor in support of federally funded basic research like NASA, NSF, DARPA, etc. I actually believe this based on the reports I’ve seen for NASA spin offs.

But what AOC is talking about is not basic research, which has a multiplicative effect because it opens up new technologies, new products, and new industries. A New Deal is work for works sake, and economically substitutive... so the return is actually less than a dollar for every dollar spent.


Funny enough, worst hurricane in recorded history (according to some metrics) happened in 1935!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1935_Labor_Day_hurricane


That statement seems accurate to me, but there's a lot wrapped up with it. What should have convinced people, decades ago, is the combination of well-attested theory and numerous lines of evidence. Anybody capable of being convinced -- which is to say, able to understand science and not ideologically blinded to it -- has needed no subsequent convincing.

There are a lot of people who don't fit that category, and if they are to be persuaded at all, it won't be by the means that are used to convince the scientifically literate. For the illiterate, they might well be tipped by one summer's weather or one hurricane's damage. That's bad science, but the voting booth doesn't care whether your reasons are sound or not. The New York Times is reporting on policy as well as science: what people are going to choose to do.

In that sense the statement is accurate. Those capable of being convinced by science are convinced; those who are moved by incorrect evidence have just received a big wad of it. The only ones who haven't reached the correct conclusion are driven by ideology, and won't be convinced by any evidence.

We can bemoan the fact that so much of policy is decided on bad grounds, but that seems to be a fact of life. Most people don't understand science, and manufactured doubt can be used to sway them from the conclusions reached by science. If you care about getting things done in a democracy, you have to take them into account.

That doesn't justify using the science badly, but that's not what's happening here. They're just reporting on the mechanisms by which people have reached their conclusions.


>Anybody capable of being convinced -- which is to say, able to understand science and not ideologically blinded to it -- has needed no subsequent convincing.

I don't think this is an accurate characterization of things. Most people I know believe in climate change, but very few of them could cite any facts or graphs or science that convinced them really. They believe it because people on tv who they trust told them it was true.

I'm not saying this is bad, we should trust experts on topics without expecting every single member of the population to get bogged down in the gritty details. I myself do believe in climate change and vote for democrats. That said, it annoys me when people act like everyone who believes in climate change is a genius who knows science and isn't blinded by ideology while the deniers are cavemen or religious zealots too dumb to get it. Like it or not, it has become a political issue and people on both sides are largely just following their own side, not looking deeply into the findings and methods of scientific studies to decide for themselves if they agree with the researchers.


>the combination of well-attested theory and numerous lines of evidence

One time, I saw a graph of temperature over time. That's it. Nobody has ever tried to show me any other theory or evidence. Has anyone ever tried publicizing the science? I take issue with the "science has failed so now we have to be irrational" story because I am not convinced that the science has ever been tried.


Some skeptically-inclined people see the paucity of actual scientific argument you cite here and interpret it as, "Please don't look too closely at the science." In fairness, most of the argument is based on complicated simulations, and that's just not going to convince everyone.


Whatever convinced the climatologists that the simulations were right should convince everyone else.


That's pretty non-specific... what is the antecedent of "whatever"?


  If the summer heat, followed by Hurricane Dorian, 
  hasn’t convinced you that climate change is real, 
  probably nothing will.
I was stunned that such a callous, dismissive & low quality statement would even pass muster at The Grey Lady.

Who's proof-reading these pieces?

Pair it with a striking statistic from a reputable source, at the very least if youre going to make such a naked statement. Who is the piece trying to convince? The already convinced and dyed-in-the-wool card carrying eco-enthusiasts or the unconvinced and the leery crowd?


If I may turn a phrase: If this NYT article hasn't convinced you that climate change propaganda is real, and that the NYT is not a reputable source, probably nothing will.


> If the summer heat, followed by Hurricane Dorian, hasn’t convinced you that climate change is real, probably nothing will.

Saying that is as dumb as saying global warming isn't real because there's still snow in winter.


I think the point of bringing up hurricane Dorian is the size/strength. It's not unique by itself but cat 4/5's are at an upward trend[1]. Also take a look at hurricane Barry[2] this year. It's a disturbance that came out of the continental US, became a hurricane in the gulf, and came back to strike the US.

[1] https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/pix/user_images... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Barry_(2019)#/media/...


Big problem with that chart. Look where it ends. 2006. It looks like an upward trend. If you add the last decade it's missing, that trend won't exist. You know what, let put that together in BI really quick. I want to see if that trend holds true since it's missing the past decade of data.


Here is a larger timescale. Headings link to charts.

https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E11.html


Taking a look at the data, it's not that damning. Our upward swing really started in 1995 and hasn't increased since. 2005 was an outlying year, and the rest really aren't that much of a big deal. No real upward swing since 95.

I will say our hurricane floor count is higher on average by 2-3. I have a hard time believing there were zero hurricanes some years. Meteorology and aeronautics really was useless before the 60s (compared to today). So, numbers before then are hard to take seriously and are probably understated.

Our 5 year average of storms is trending down (slightly) since 08 as well. 10 year average peaked in 05 and has dropped since 2012.

My grand point, hurricanes right now don't make good evidence for global warming. There are far better evidence points and general scientific knowledge about greenhouse gases. Using hurricane statistics is only going to lead to ammo for deniers as they don't pay attention to better evidence. Will hurricanes potentially intensify in both volume and strength? It's definitely possible if ocean temperatures rise on average. That's how hurricanes are "fueled". But right now, we don't have good evidence of that being a truth.


>This is why global warming deniers exist, because people make these types of stupid comments.

Oh, this is why they exist? Or is this just a convenient excuse?

Either way 'some people don't make sense when describing X' is not a good reason to reject X.


To be fair to anyone that denies something, if they don't directly observe it, why should they believe it? Especially if they have to alter their day to day lives around that statement? The media makes contradictory sweeping claims time and time again over small bits of data. Why should anyone believe "the science" they pose? With the media being the leaders of dialogue, why should people believe in something that alter's their day-to-day practice? I'm not even getting into the fossil-fuel fueled propaganda. Just a human nature perspective. Not being able to observe an action/event is meant to be suspect rather than held as doctrine.

Again, I'm not saying global warming is a lie. I know it's real. Not a belief or held in faith. Just knowing. But part of the discourse as to why people don't believe it, I see from articles like the NYT article. It's just a realistic stance on the issue. Articles like these give zero benefit. Even those who believe in global warming are arguing against this article in HN. It definitely won't bring the deniers into the light.


If you're looking to the media to provide a unified narrative on anything, you're on a fools errand.

Fundamentally, the ability to understand the world involved critical thinking. The types of things we see from global warming deniers tends to be a kind of faux critical thought. Find some nugget of information that supports your cause, cling to it, and definitely do not attempt to gain some sort of comprehensive understanding of the subject.

This is understandable in one sense - the world is extremely complicated, and one cannot form a deep understanding of all the things they need to interact with.

The problem is people compensate for this by bullshitting themselves into believing they have some sort of understanding of said complex topic without putting in any of the work required to actually understand it.

I don't know what the real name for it, but talking about 'the media' has become sort of like a code smell to me. "The media" doesn't exist as a unified thing, and that's almost certainly a good thing. Instead of being a useful phrase, it becomes a wild card for assigning responsibility for whatever the source thinks is wrong with the world.


I would suggest using something other than hurricanes (at least those in the Atlantic basin) as evidence of global warming. The existing observations aren't good for the support of global warming at this point [1].

To help aide in convincing more skeptics I would suggest observations that have held up under scrutiny.

[1] https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/


Correct me if I'm wrong. What happened in Alaska, that heat wave, was BEYOND normal. Not by a little, but by a lot. They crushed a whole bunch of heat records that week, right?

Wouldn't that be the best poster child of global warming taking affect for at least 2019 (thus far)?


No. There's scientific consensus on aggregate warming and overall destabilization of weather patterns. So we can say that generally speaking we'll have a higher chance of beating previous temperature records going forward.

That doesn't work the other way around when looking at single weather events.


Yes, yes, weather and climate are two different things. It's like the analogy between a dog and a person walking the dog. The dog (weather) might weave all around in different crazy directions, but the human (climate) is the path you should be looking at.

The Alaska heatwave was a decent symptom of the general change in climate, no? At least in better respects than a hurricane.


This natgeo article seems to disagree with you, claiming that higher upper ocean temps allowed Dorian to maintain a greater intensity than it would have otherwise while stalled over the Bahamas. Higher temps also contributed to Dorians overall strength. You make many arguments about prevalence but I’m not seeing that mentioned by others as a link to global warming, only peak intensity which absolutely is rising and absolutely contributed to Dorians overall devastation. More info here:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/how-w...


Why is this comment downvoted? I’ve only been on HN for a few weeks but I’m constantly get downvoted when trying to act in good faith and engage in discussions. What am I doing wrong? It’s becoming frustrating, since none of these downvoters bother to explain what led them to downvote my comment in the first place.


It's downvoted because some random user with >=500 karma didn't like it and clicked the down arrow. That's all downvoting means here. There are no ethics for voting here.

In effect, voting is simply a measure of whether random HN users were pleased or displeased by your comment.

And you're not allowed to mention it, either. If your perfectly reasonable and polite comment gets downvoted to invisibility by random, angry users who won't tolerate diversity of opinion, then suck it up, comrade, and learn to please the hivemind--no complaining!

Of course, certain very-high-karma users can get away with saying things that would be flagged and downvoted to death if said by anyone else.

And that's what HN wants voting to be. Welcome to HN. Enjoy your stay, if you can.


> Is there any way to escape the prisoner’s dilemma facing the provision of a public good?

Wrong question. We're not creating public goods, we're preventing the creation of a public bad, aka externalities. How to prevent creation of externalities is well-known: Pigouvian taxes, which are similar to but not quite the same as sin taxes.

The prisoner's dilemma also exists here, but there is a solution which also won the Nobel Memorial Prize: William Nordhaus' climate clubs.

https://issues.org/climate-clubs-to-overcome-free-riding/


I find it very weird that the author chose to use the prisoner's dilemma and public goods as a framing for the article when the tragedy of the commons and common goods seem to be much more apt. Every ton of CO2 a country emits is consumption of a finite resource (the amount of warming we can endure before catastrophic effect) and you can't inhibit another country from releasing it. Therefore the problem is about a non-excludable but exhaustible resource.

I'd love to hear from someone more economically minded about why I'm wrong.


Using taxes to change public behavior only work for things that are completely optional, ala alcohol or cigarettes. A tax like this on essentials like fuel just leads to people wearing traffic vests burning down your capital.


Most OECD countries pay 60-100% of the price of the US price of a gallon of gasoline just in taxes[1]. It absolutely works as an incentive, and e.g. Berlin isn't in flames right now because gas is closing in on $6 per gallon.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fuel_tax_in_OECD_countrie...


Yes, if you implement it poorly. A properly set up carbon tax should end up with more money in the hands of the poor rather than less.

https://canada.citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-and-divid...


Now we just need enlightened politicians to sell these taxes to the public.


Well they're certainly trying, by parading a young girl around to make emotional appeals.


It seems as if you disapprove (apologies if I'm reading too much into your comment).

What is the alternative?

Cold hard facts don't seem to move the majority of people as they are hard to relate to.


> It seems as if you disapprove

I do, because trying to manipulate people's emotions is the lowest form of argumentation. Not to mention the fact that she (or rather, her handlers) only care to target western countries. I'd be more willing to trust her (handler's) sincerity if she ALSO AT THE SAME TIME called out the country that has a giant brown cloud, visible from space, hanging over it.

> What is the alternative?

Make a better argument for why _this time_ it's truly different. Start off by admitting that scientists aren't always correct ("the science is settled" is one of the dumbest phrases ever uttered) and admit that scientists HAVE gotten things wrong about the climate in the past (e.g., the ice age predictions of the 70s). Then proceed with arguments that detail why previous dire predictions were incorrect and why it's different this time.

Finally, be logically consistent in your arguments:

* People in western countries are told to "have fewer children" in order to save the earth. Well guess what, we're already below replacement levels. We've done our part. Lecture folks in the developing world to do so, they're the ones contributing to overpopulation.

* At the same time, much is said about per-capita CO2 emissions in western countries. Why do we hear complete silence from climate alarmists about migration from third-world to first-world countries? I would think they'd be staunchly opposed to it, seeing as how every person imported into western countries will instantly have their carbon footprint boosted sky high. Wouldn't it be better for the earth to not have these migration patterns occur?


> I do, because trying to manipulate people's emotions is the lowest form of argumentation.

You claim this, but the rest of your post is primarily about emotions. You want people to admit they were wrong, as if that makes any difference to the science.

> Start off by admitting that scientists aren't always correct

I can't imagine you could find a single scientist who wouldn't admit this, but ironically the example you give, "the ice age predictions of the 70s", is a common myth propagated by global heating deniers. See [0].

> ("the science is settled" is one of the dumbest phrases ever uttered)

The science is settled. Why do you think it's dumb?

[0] https://skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.ht...


Young people have to rely on appealing arguments to know what was talked about in the 1970s. Older people remember "the coming ice age".


From the article I cited:

"Unfortunately, the small number of predictions of an ice age appeared to be much more interesting than those of global warming, so it was those sensational 'Ice Age' stories in the press that so many people tend to remember."

There may have been more reporting of ice age predictions, but that wasn't what the scientists were saying.


I'm old enough to have been around then. There may have been some popular articles about a coming ice age, but I don't remember any sort of consensus in the scientific community about that.


No I don't think we ever heard of any consensus about that. Was that because climatology was sort of a niche field, or maybe we just didn't think about consensus as much back then?


You cited skepticalscience.com, which is John Cook's web site. He's a known scientific fraud, behind the paper Cook, et al, which is cited as the source of the "consensus" claim. If you're interested, you can google up information about their fraudulent paper, the conclusion of which they decided before writing it.

It's because of claims and citations like yours that people don't believe alarmists. It's dishonest (or ignorant) to cite a fraudulent paper as the source for a claim that the science is settled. Real science is falsifiable and can withstand dissent.


It's not often I use such strong language on HN, but you're talking complete bullshit.

There's a lot of evidence for overwhelming consensus on the science of global heating.

Starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveys_of_scientists%27_views...

Papers rejecting AGW are in an extreme minority.


Your reaction shows that we have reached the crux of the matter.

Don't take my word for it. You're on the Internet. Look up the evidence about Cook's paper. Their fraud was exposed years ago, yet people continue citing him, his paper, and his Web site. (You probably won't find much about it on Wikipedia, of course.)

And the lies are nothing new. For example, Stephen Schneider advocated scientists and media deceiving the public in APS News Aug/Sep 1996, p. 5. It's been going on for decades.

> Papers rejecting AGW are in an extreme minority.

All the science that's been proven correct was once an extreme minority view. An argument based on the number of people who believe something is not a scientific argument.

And why would you make an unscientific argument about a scientific issue?


> Don't take my word for it.

I won't. I want peer-reviewed science, like the vastly significant body of research that has been produced showing AGW.

> You're on the Internet. Look up the evidence about Cook's paper.

No. You're the one insisting that the global scientific orthodoxy is wrong. You present the evidence.

> Stephen Schneider advocated scientists and media deceiving the public in APS News Aug/Sep 1996, p. 5.

No, he didn't. Try looking up the original. But even if he did, it wouldn't matter. The science is overwhelming. It makes no difference what one individual said 23 years ago.


> I want peer-reviewed science, like the vastly significant body of research that has been produced showing AGW.

Are you also unaware of the peer-review crisis?

> No. You're the one insisting that the global scientific orthodoxy is wrong. You present the evidence.

Since you appeared to be unaware, I informed you that a particular, widely cited paper was discovered, years ago, to have been fraudulent, and that the information about it is freely available on the Internet. Five seconds on Google (or perhaps DuckDuckGo) would present you with the information.

You have refused to avail yourself of said information.

It is not my responsibility to educate you about science. If you care about scientific integrity, you can look up the information without any interference from me. If you prefer to remain ignorant and fixed in your beliefs, that is your decision.

> No, he didn't. Try looking up the original. But even if he did, it wouldn't matter. The science is overwhelming. It makes no difference what one individual said 23 years ago.

You accused me of "bullshit," but here you are simply lying. I have cited the original, and I have the original, and since you are willfully ignorant, I will quote it here:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

--Stephen Schneider in APS News, Aug/Sep 1996, p. 5

Now you can look it up and see for yourself, and then you can retract your ignorant lie and false accusation.

You obviously don't care about the truth. Climate change is your religion, and your faith is unwavering.


> Are you also unaware of the peer-review crisis?

There's definitely issues in science with things like repeatability in individual studies, but that doesn't apply to something like AGW. It's supported by thousands (millions?) of papers, models, meta-studies, science bodies, and so on, all agreeing.

See for example NASA's overview: https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

> Now you can look it up and see for yourself, and then you can retract your ignorant lie and false accusation.

Gosh, you're furious. But at least you have got the correct quote, and it just isn't the smoking gun you think it is. It's just one remark, made in public, about the need to be media-savvy. He was not suggesting misleading the public.


> There's definitely issues in science with things like repeatability in individual studies, but that doesn't apply to something like AGW.

That's nonsense. Not only have you not supported your assertion, but: 1) there's no reason to think that AGW is immune to these problems; and, worse, 2) AGW research is not reproducible, because it's not falsifiable, so it specifically does apply to AGW; and 3) even if you think models are meaningful, falsifiable predictions, the models have proven to be inaccurate. The claim fails in every way, from general to specific.

> It's supported by thousands (millions?) of papers, models, meta-studies, science bodies, and so on, all agreeing.

I have to wonder here if you actually believe what you're saying. "All agreeing"? That's a nonsensical, blanket statement. That's not science.

Five seconds on a search engine would prove to you that there are many scientists who do not agree with AGW hypotheses and alarmism. The parallels between your mindset and those of religious true believers who can't tolerate dissenting views are striking. Nope, don't look at any information that might contradict your scriptures, that might reveal their weaknesses, that might undermine the foundations of your faith.

> See for example NASA's overview: https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

See for example this former NASA employee: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20997978

I worked on NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth" program for a few years. Cherry-picking of models that produce results that meet the current agenda is not uncommon. Just as researchers have a (deserved IMHO) reputation for publishing data that concurs with their topics...

> Gosh, you're furious.

Let's recap:

1. You accuse me of "bullshit." 2. I make a truthful claim. 3. You accuse me of lying. 4. I prove my claim and say you should retract your accusation. 5. You say, "Gosh, you're furious!"

Where did you learn to act so shamefully? You accuse someone of bullshitting and lying, then when they prove they're not, your response is, "lol u mad." You can't even handle the truth, and your trolling is predictable.

> He was not suggesting misleading the public.

Of course he was. But he's practiced at couching, characterization, deflection, and projection, just like you are.

Have you looked up John Cook's fraudulence yet? Can you admit that knowledge to your psyche, or does it need to be protected from dissent?


Calling the '70s ice age predictions wrong is very misleading. They predicted that if we kept increasing particulate pollution such as smog, the cooling effect from that would beat out the warming effect from greenhouse gases.

We made a major effort to reduce particulates, which largely succeeded.


What if you are one of the public that's been deceived for, now, over 20 years? See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21115712


When I was a child, my parents were in a dooms-day cult.

When people threaten your future with vague notions of impending, and irrevocable doom, there is only one answer:

Live for today.

Why don't climate dooms-dayers not see that their very tactics of spreading irrational fear (instead of rational solutions) is antithetical to their desired outcomes?

(there's a post about planting trees I haven't read yet, seems reasonable to do _something_ that everyone agrees with instead of trying to ram down ideas very few people agree with)


> Live for today.

Isn't that the cause of the issue though ? "Who cares about 100+ years in the future, my v8 mustang and my weekly plane trips are pretty convenient, and planting a tree won't change much anyway, and china is doing anyway, plus if I'm the only one doing it it won't help that much, and &c."

> seems reasonable to do _something_ that everyone agrees with instead of trying to ram down ideas very few people agree with)

The problem is that the things most countries agreed on are not nearly enough and even if they were almost none of the goals are met.


Wouldn't you say though that "live for today" is a logical response to high amounts of insurmountable and uncertain fear? If you're an average person, what can you logically do to overcome the actions of governments and corporations with pocketbooks that make more per minute than you do per year? I'm not defending it. I'm just asking, how do you convince someone otherwise?

You can't go "Just buck up and do something!" That's something you tell someone who is depressed and that doesn't work. Plus they can point to survivorship bias to the very, very few that meaningfully accomplish anything.


People who don't have the will to personally do something about it shouldn't discuss it. It all boils down to you in the end. If you just want to continue with your life and don't care about it feel free to just do that, but at least don't try to persuade others they shouldn't care, you go from inactive carelessness to actively trying to make things worse. If you feel concerned take actions. Who's going to challenge politicians, lobbies, industries, if everybody thinks "I can't do anything and nobody can anyway", we put ourselves in this situation, we can get out of it. I think everyone aware of the issues, aware of the solutions, and not taking any actions is an insult to humanity.


But in terms of climate change, that's not viable. It's literally a global effort to make change and the current discourse doesn't say anything about that. In my youth, don't waste water by much, every little bit counts if we all do it. Don't litter, if everyone cleans up a little, there's not much trash out there. When I was a kid growing up in Florida, there was a special place in Hell for you if you didn't cut the soda can rings before throwing them away. Where even Hitler looked down on you. While living in Florida, that was the norm. I didn't know anyone who didn't do this. I leave the state to travel for a few years, NO ONE DOES IT. Colorado, Washington, Virginia and Oregon to name a few. I look like a freak to people. They all wonder WTF I'm cutting the rings for. Mind you, these are people who are at least relatively environmentally friendly. And I'm a republican (ish).

I yell at people who don't snip those rings and shame them with pictures of sea turtles. Lots of shaming. Don't use plastic straws, at least use paper ones if it has to be disposable (which Florida coastal restaurants do). Don't crank your AC too low, or get an HE fan to help it out. And again, I'm a republican. Little things compound over time.

But when someone goes "How the hell am I to offset the CO2 of a cruise ship or cargo ship?" I mean... yea. Little actions I can defend pretty easily. And while I understand the powers of compounding efforts. Still.

The current environmental rhetoric doesn't leave room for the average person to make change. In the 90s, the rhetoric was "everyone, down to the individual level can make a difference". Naive and childish statement now that I'm in my 30s. But I do see the value. And that message is no longer spread. It's just "Big companies and governments are to blame and there's nothing we can do about it! We have to rely on governments and companies to make change!"


> Isn't that the cause of the issue though ? "Who cares about 100+ years in the future, my v8 mustang and my weekly plane trips are pretty convenient, and planting a tree won't change much anyway, and china is doing anyway, plus if I'm the only one doing it it won't help that much, and &c."

This is a caricature with little bearing on reality. Indeed, the biggest share of CO2 emissions isn't due to "rich Americans" living wasteful lifestyles, but people in emerging economies living a comparably modest lifestyle. That's what makes this problem extremely difficult. We would have to deny those people the lifestyle that we enjoyed for the past 50+ years.

We could achieve far more by, say, investing into replacing more primitive power generation in those countries than replacing inner-country air travel with more primitive transport.

> The problem is that the things most countries agreed on are not nearly enough and even if they were almost none of the goals are met.

Of course, moral posturing costs nothing. When you actually try to do something as political leader, such as putting a tax on fuels as Macron did, chaos ensues.


> Indeed, the biggest share of CO2 emissions isn't due to "rich Americans" living wasteful lifestyles, but people in emerging economies living a comparably modest lifestyle.

Not really https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/sc...

> We would have to deny those people the lifestyle that we enjoyed for the past 50+ years.

It's not like they have to go through the industrial revolution 1800s UK style to attain our level, we have the tech (and they're using it, solar/wind is becoming extremely competitive for example, hell even nuclear is better than coal/gas). But yeah if everyone's going to live like the current US/EU citizen we're fucked for sure no matter how many trees we plant.

> We could achieve far more by, say, investing into replacing more primitive power generation in those countries than replacing inner-country air travel with more primitive transport.

Or we could do both since these things are 100% unrelated and not enough anyway.

We're all responsible and we can all do better, so let's stop playing dumb games and do what we can. It's not like skipping your trip to standard_tourisitic_location_#231, eating less meat, buying local food, using public transportation or buying less useless junk on amazon/ebay is going to turn your life to absolute shit so let's do it ... Yes cargo ships, asian factories, saudi's oil fields, pollute a lot, but guess who's profiting from them... Don't you see the big picture ? How do you think your colombian coffee, ecuadorian bananas, chinese phones, thai clothes, saudi's gas, japanese cameras are made / get to you to you ? "Yelp, it's not me, it's the chinese/indians/saudis, look at the stats!!!". It feels like talking about pollution is like asking your 8 years old to do his homework, "I'll do it in an hour".


> Not really

Yes, really. Those number support my point. The vast majority of CO2 emissions are from countries with "relatively modest" living standards.

> But yeah if everyone's going to live like the current US/EU citizen we're fucked for sure no matter how many trees we plant.

I guess we're fucked then, right? Because that's the trajectory.

> Or we could do both since these things are 100% unrelated and not enough anyway.

They're not unrelated at all, because money spent on one thing can't be spent on something else. Furthermore, giving up airplane travel for, say, railroads, is a lowering in standard of living. Investing in infrastructure abroad isn't.

> We're all responsible and we can all do better, so let's stop playing dumb games and do what we can.

Sure "we" can, but "we" won't, so let's indeed stop playing dumb games of moral posturing and figure out how we can have the best impact without relying on humans suddenly acting in a rational and responsible manner. It's just not going to happen.

> It's not like skipping your trip to standard_tourisitic_location_#231, eating less meat, buying local food, using public transportation or buying less useless junk on amazon/ebay is going to turn your life to absolute shit so let's do it

Yeah, fuck that. I'm not giving up on any of it. Now what? What are you gonna do about it? Remember, I'm billions of people.


> is a lowering in standard of living

Eh, what if we need to lower our living standards ? The earth is a finite space with finite resources. Do you really think we can get 8b people live like the average US/EU citizen ? We can barely do it with < 2b and it's already too much pressure on the environment.

What's the end goal ? We all have cars, amazon same day drone delivery, eat meat 3 times per day and go on vacation every 3 months ? Is that humanity's endgame ? Most intelligent specie on earth, intelligent enough to comprehend the issue, too primitive to act on it, if that's humanity's fate it's kind of ironic, I like it in some way. "I want it all today even if it means I won't have anything tomorrow"

> Yeah, fuck that. I'm not giving up on any of it. Now what? What are you gonna do about it? Remember, I'm billions of people.

I'll be long dead before it starts having real world impacts. But at least I can sleep at night knowing I'm not actively trying to make things worse for future generations. Earth will be fine even if we fuck it up, life will most likely survive and thrive. All in all it wouldn't be that bad, just like when dinosaurs went extinct, but instead of a natural disaster it's mass suicide.


> The earth is a finite space with finite resources

All important resources that are either non-exhaustible or substitutable. While there are certain theoretical limits, there is no limit to economic growth. This is the cornucopian position.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornucopian

The Malthusian position, held by many scientists who do not actually understand what economic growth actually is, has been shown to be wrong time and time again.

> Do you really think we can get 8b people live like the average US/EU citizen ?

I believe we can get 80 billion people to live at a standard that far surpasses our current living standards. In due time, that is.

> What's the end goal ?

I don't know. Fully-Automated Gay Luxury Space Communism? Why does there need to be an end-goal?

> We all have cars, amazon same day drone delivery, eat meat 3 times per day and go on vacation every 3 months ?

We'll all have space-cars, same hour drone delivery, eat meat every fifteen minutes, and go to work for a week every three months.

> But at least I can sleep at night knowing I'm not actively trying to make things worse for future generations.

No you can't. What if future generations will think of you as "one of those fucking Malthusians" that held back human development by supporting austerity politics? What if you're completely wrong about all your beliefs about the future, just like Malthus before you?


> Yeah, fuck that. I'm not giving up on any of it. Now what? What are you gonna do about it?

Tax.


> Tax.

You know what happens when you tax people too much and they don't like it, right?

Otherwise, I'm with you on that one.


>seems reasonable to do _something_ that everyone agrees with

So people will do something that has very little effect on the problem, feel good for their contributions. Then, people will learn than this "something" had no meaningful impact, feel betrayed ("but we agreed on this"), and give up. "Oh, come on, I already did "something". They'll wait for someone else to pickup the burden.

That would be big waste of time and energy.


>Why don't climate dooms-dayers not see that their very tactics of spreading irrational fear (instead of rational solutions) is antithetical to their desired outcomes?

It's not irrational fear.

Why do cynical eye-rollers like you always try and crab bucket people's attempts at changing things for the better?


It's an interesting and valid point, I think. Fear may motivate some to start changing and looking for solutions, but it has the opposite effect on many: denial is one of the most pervasive defense mechanisms in psychology. And climate denialism has got to be the most astounding example of it.


From the other perspective, it's yours that is cynical (saying that we're all going to die in a few years), and its yours that is crab-bucketing us into the past (stop eating meat, stop flying airplanes, stop driving cars, stop taking holidays, even stop watching YouTube[0]).

How far back down the technology tree are we supposed to go?

0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJn6pja_l8s "Climate crisis: the unsustainable use of online video"


Do you not worry about the world you will be leaving behind for your children? or nephews/nieces? or just the rest of humanity that will come after you?

Surely, I can't be alone in this.


Irrational fear? Climate change is an irrational fear in America? Just drives home how late we are to do anything about it.

If Americans, the richest most polluting people on earth can't be persuaded to release less CO2, good luck convincing a citizen of India or Indonesia to do the same.

And apparently a sizeable part of the population thinks that planting trees or buying a few Teslas will solve it.


The fear of climate change ruining life in America is irrational, because America is the richest country in the world and will probably be able to push most of the bad effects off on other people. Even if climate change destroys trillions of dollars the US will still have trillions left. Americans should be thinking in terms of spending a few billion now to save a few trillion later, not in terms of an existential crisis for the human race.


The Paris Agreement, as part of the way as that's going to get us, is by-and-large being globally implemented. Rising awareness about climate change has contributed to pushing for all sort of policies from more fuel-efficient cars, to state subsidies in dozens of countries for things like renewable energy, electric cars etc.

If your view of people pushing for something being done about climate change is that of a dooms-day cult you're going to have to admit that it's a rather politically successful cult.


One tactic that seems like it will be very effective is to call or write your congressperson to let them know that you support H.R. 763. The bill has support from economists and scientists alike. It's designed not just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to do it in a way that minimizes impact on the economy, and also provides an incentive for other countries to pass similar legislation (by imposing tariffs on imports from countries that don't).



The world of today is highly individualistic, and climate change is exactly how nature will punish humans for not being able to be more cooperative. It's as simple as that.

To me inequality and global warning are siblings. They are about the same thing, and share a common cause. If you cannot solve inequality you cannot solve global warming.

Unless Elon Musk or somebody else is able to finance a big breakthrough in several technologies that makes ALL greenhouse gasses machines obsolete, there is literally no way humans will avoid having their population reduced.

This article is short and it's a good summary on why individualism not only makes society unfair, but also threatens humanity.


I'd say we are making big breakthroughs in technology that will make greenhouse gas machines obsolete, and that's where we'll get eventually. But getting there will take decades, because we have to obsolete out (and/or buy out) existing fossil-dependent infrastructure - heating in cold climates, and international shipping are two big ones that come to mind. But do what we can.

That said, I'm not convinced this is going to lead to a global population reduction. In modernized economies, food isn't the boundary on population growth (all modern economies are at near-zero growth or even negative growth, and developing nations are modernizing to low birth rates at an astounding pace). Barring any huge changes, we're looking at the global population growing maybe 50% over the next century, and being completely level or shrinking after that, and most of that growth happening in the next few decades.

So for the population to shrink significantly, it would require billions to die, of famine or resource wars. So what's going to shrink the food supply that much? Enough to induce famine at a global scale? Keep in mind that global warming moves more slowly than harvest cycles. Farmers and nations can make decisions on what crops to plant and adjust their farming practices based on new information and reasonable predictions. Next year's weather won't be much different than this year's was, even if it will be significantly different than the weather in 20 years.

We are also on the cusp of two massive technological changes that will impact our farming abilities - IoT, and GMO. IoT allows plant-by-plant management of crops, reducing tilling and chemical use. GMO allows adaptation of crops to growing conditions more quickly than hybridizing does.

It just seems to me that the concerns about feeding everyone, in the wake of a previous century that absorbed a quadrupling of the population while making more food than ever and a future of at least two key technological breakthroughs, is more doomsday than solid reasoning.



Thank you!


> If the summer heat, followed by Hurricane Dorian, hasn’t convinced you that climate change is real, probably nothing will.

If you think the "other side" is a climate change denier, you don't have a grasp of the issues involved and I'm really suspect that your op-ed is preaching to your crowd rather than actually trying to engage the problem.

The issue has never been denying the scientific fact that CO2 reflects infrared light, causing a greenhouse effect. It's a question over the scale of the problem, the timelines in which it plays out, and the panic and alarmism exhibited by one side of political debate.

Moving off fossil fuels is going to cost a lot of money, and it is going to be substitutive spending, not the growth-building kind. The Green New Deal, if enacted as specified, would send us into a prolonged, generation-long recession. Is is worth it? Is it necessary? That depends on how alarmist you are in your global warming predictions. And that is where we disagree. I've lived through two major economic recessions, and seen the effect that has on young people and opportunities. I wouldn't want to wish that on an entire generation. Millennials think boomers gave them a bad break, but wait until their kids see what opportunities their climate change policies leave them with...

We need to move off fossil fuels. But we can do it in a way that is gradual and growth-positive, while exploiting the warming climate in a way that boosts agricultural yields and adds living space for the growing population of the world. That requires a healthy debate about trade-offs and choices, and recognition that this is a complex, multi-faceted issue that people come to with multiple opinions and that's okay.


The per-capita CO^2 emissions of well-to-do western countries like Norway and Germany are a little over half as much as that of the US, France is around a quarter of US emissions (mainly due to Nuclear).

You're the one who's being alarmist if you're trying to argue that the US is staring down some decades-long recession to move more in that direction, which is pretty much all that's being suggested by some fringe politicians in the US.

Is German and Norwegian youth looking at having to deal with decades of recession, rising unemployment, rising income equality etc? No, they're not.


If you're arguing that the US should invest heavily in new nuclear energy plants, you'll find no objection from me.


I'm saying your prediction of doom and gloom are obviously detached from reality if you look at a country like Germany, which has next to no Nuclear use. Yeah, it would be neat, but not necessary.


You’re comparing apples to oranges. Germany is not carbon neutral, 100% renewables.


> exploiting the warming climate in a way that boosts agricultural yields

The world getting 1.5C hotter on average doesn't mean everywhere just gets 1.5C hotter all the time. If the increase means more droughts and more excessive rainfall, it's limited what you can do to exploit it for agricultural yields.


I suggest you examine this chart:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:65_Myr_Climate_Change.p...

Which is taken from this excellent Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record

A change of 1.5C is just a nudge in the direction of historical averages.


The idea that a huge infusion of Keynesian spending into the economy is going to trigger a generation-long recession has to be the least informed take.

The choice is a stark one: either invest in technologies and infrastructure to decrease CO2 production, or give future generations the gift of a dead planet.


> The choice is a stark one: either invest in technologies and infrastructure to decrease CO2 production, or give future generations the gift of a dead planet.

The science says otherwise. Did you know that for most of Earth's evolutionary history the climate was far, far warmer with higher CO2 concentrations than today? Global warming has lots of negative ramifications, but it is not going to create a "dead planet."

Spreading outright falsehoods doesn't help things.


That's a neat fact, but the reality is that to support a human population of 7B+ with intensive agriculture and industrial production, the planet heating up is in fact devastating.

Literally the science states that continued warming is going to have devastating impact on the environment and on the ability of industrial society to exist.

We're facing ecological collapse on more than a few fronts (the collapse of fisheries, insect and bird populations, water crises in heavily populated regions, etc), why throw in a full-blown climate crisis in there as well.


> That's a neat fact, but the reality is that to support a human population of 7B+ with intensive agriculture and industrial production, the planet heating up is in fact devastating.

Are you sure of that? Increased CO2 causes plants to grow faster. Higher temperatures lead to greater precipitation. Shorter winter means you can squeeze in an additional growing season.

In fact the fossil and sedimentary record shows that until recently in evolutionary history CO2 levels and temperatures were much higher, and the world was covered in tropical rainforest.

If anything we are greening the world, reversing a desertification trend that started when grasses started out competing rainforest.

Of course we are doing it while polluting the planet and acidifying the ocean, which are real problems.


Why are you assuming climate scientists have never thought of this?

It may just be hyperbole, but I don't think you can rule out a dead planet.

Aside from a few extinction events in which the vast majority of life on Earth did indeed die, the climate has changed slow enough for evolution to take its course. If what "naturally" would've happened over the course of a million years instead happens over centuries or even decades years then things become much more bleak.


> The Green New Deal, if enacted as specified, would send us into a prolonged, generation-long recession.

Source? The last New Deal helped get us out of the Great Depression. Seems crazy to suggest that a new similar one would cause one.


First point, the last new deal didn't get us out of the great depression. You might recall that the great depression lasted throughout the 1930's. It was World War 2 and its aftermath that ended the depression.

But anyway, the only similarity is in the name. The FDR new deal built new infrastructure. The Green new deal replaces infrastructure. Adding infrastructure where there was none before increases productivity, and therefore causes economic growth. Replacing infrastructure has net-zero change and therefore while the activity adds to GDP, it has no lasting effect on the economy. And since it substitutes for things that would have led towards growth, it actually causes stagnation or decline.

In the social sciences, this is known as the "broken window fallacy." There's a lot of papers you can find with those search terms.

If you want an idea of the best-case scenario of what life would be like under the Green New Deal, look to Japan with it's 20+ years of economic stagnation. Except without nationalized pensions we'd be asking a whole generation to live through work-until-you-die conditions. I'm sorry, but I don't think I want to do that to my kids unless it is a real do-or-die scenario as the alarmists claim. But the alarmists are wrong. The world is not ending tomorrow, or even the day after. We can deal with the change at a pace that doesn't result in economic suicide.


Saying the New Deal got us out of the Great Depression is like saying Gavrilo Princip started Word War I.


Are you saying, then, that any legislation entitled "Foo Bar New Deal" will therefore have a positive effect?

If so, I would like to propose a Pink New Deal. It's even better than the Green one, trust me. And it seems crazy to suggest otherwise.


The legislation is similar, not just the name. It creates jobs, reduces wealth inequality, it builds new infrastructure, etc. It's a stimulus package, of sorts.


Wow, who could argue with such a great package.

BTW, since you care about reducing wealth inequality, can you send a dono to my paypal?


The article's opening sentence:

> If the summer heat, followed by Hurricane Dorian, hasn’t convinced you that climate change is real, probably nothing will.

However big they seemed compared to the past, they're nothing compared to the future, though everything we do affects it. We can still avoid some of the worst.


My biggest gripe with that type of argumentation is that it plays into the idea that weather and climate are pretty much the same thing, when they really aren't.


Agreed, this has repeatedly been one of the biggest failings in communicating the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change is not a single event, nor a cluster of events, that occur(s) over a summer. Strong hurricanes have occurred well before Dorian [1]. So have heat waves [2].

Extreme weather happens. The change in the frequency of (some) extreme events can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change, but a single event cannot.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1935_Labor_Day_hurricane

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_North_American_heat_wave


Yeah, if you get people used to that kind of argument, get ready for absolutely zero belief in global warming next time we have a cold winter preceeded by no hurricane.


Also because correlation isn't causation. An instance of a hurricane or a warmer summer by itself doesn't prove anything. That's poor science journalism. You need trends and models to demonstrate climate change, not an instance of undesirable weather. It's not like hurricanes or warm summers never happened before.


The notion that weather == climate is such a terrible argument and framing. It immediately devolves the conversation into anecdotes about the weather.

Resulting in endless gridlock, getting nothing done aside from increasing outrage and spectacle.


That's kind of a bad way to open it, because in the absence of other information a hot summer followed by a hurricane absolutely would not convince anybody of global warming.


it is a bad way to open for logical people, but given how effective industry has been at making people skeptical of climate change with exactly those bad kind of arguments, maybe appealing to the emotions is the way to actually make things happen?

I don't like it but I would roll with it if that is the pragmatic solution.


If one side is right and the other side is wrong, they are unequally matched in the rational debate but equally matched in the emotional debate. The pro-carbon side is just as capable, if not more capable, of putting slanted articles in the news and filling Reddit with incensed comments as the anti-carbon side. Why would the side that is right want to throw away their advantage and become wrong?


I don't know man, I've seen irrational people win a lot lately in the political world, so I'm not convinced that just being rational will work. I've seen people calmly argue rationally about climate change for 20 years now with negative progress.

How do you propose to win?


> I don't like it but I would roll with it if that is the pragmatic solution.

So, to be clear, your "pragmatic" solution is to deceive the public, because you think you are smarter than they are.

Well, you're about 23 years behind:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

--Stephen Schneider in APS News, Aug/Sep 1996, p. 5.

Which raises the question: what if you are one of the public?


>So, to be clear, your "pragmatic" solution is to deceive the public,

I've propose appealing to emotion, which I don't think needs to include deception.

>Which raises the question: what if you are one of the public?

I am absolutely am, though I've also done my own climate reconstructions from raw, unadjusted data, which was the beginning of me deciding which 'side' of this debate was correct and honest, and which side were clowns. That is to say after doing the math myself it became clear one side was not even arguing in good faith, or incredibly ignorant.


> I am absolutely am, though I've also done my own climate reconstructions from raw, unadjusted data, which was the beginning of me deciding which 'side' of this debate was correct and honest, and which side were clowns. That is to say after doing the math myself it became clear one side was not even arguing in good faith, or incredibly ignorant.

There are people on the other side of the issue who have done the same thing and come to the opposite conclusion. For example, over 500 scientists and engineers recently signed a letter to the U.N. saying:

· “Nature as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming” · “Warming is far slower than predicted” · “Climate policy relies on inadequate models” · Carbon dioxide is “plant food, the basis of all life on Earth” · “Global warming has not increased natural disasters” · “Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities”

Signers of the letter include: MIT professor emeritus Richard Lindzen; Freeman Dyson of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton, and Stanford University professor emeritus Elliott D. Bloom, as well as several signers formerly affiliated with NASA.

Are they all "incredibly ignorant clowns, not even arguing in good faith"?


I think I'd like to know more about hurricane trends and strengths. Trends in hurricane strength and frequency as the only useful metrics as damage done has more to do with where and what we build.

But I guess if I were a NYT's reader I wouldn't even think about asking these questions, I'd just yell ERMEGERD Dorian and start trash talking anyone who doesn't immediately panic.


> However big they seemed compared to the past, they're nothing compared to the future

That is not a scientific claim.


Eh, perhaps not as phrased, but it's a scientific claim made by the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C.

From the chapter 3.3.6:

> There is thus limited evidence that the global number of tropical cyclones will be lower under 2°C compared to 1.5°C of global warming, but with an increase in the number of very intense cyclones (low confidence).

The qualifiers are important - they're not as confident about this claim as others, but feel the risk of it being true given that there is some scientific support for it, merits it being mentioned so people can make informed decisions.


That's not a scientific claim, because it's not falsifiable. It's a pseudoscientific one, based on computer models that have not proven accurate, and which they admit low confidence in.

Therefore, to say, "However big they seemed compared to the past, they're nothing compared to the future," is clearly unscientific, alarmist propaganda. Of course, it's not surprising, given that some scientists have advocated misleading the public on this matter for over 20 years.[0]

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21115712


One phrase that seems to be missing from the article is is larger category of problem -- a collective action problem. The public good framing has to do with a citizen/state relationship. The collective action framing reflects a state/state relationship. A number of the more technical terms throughout the article imply this, but I was surprised that the term itself was left out because including it immediately tells us that certain solution simply will not work.

Further note (edit). I think it is unlikely that a single state will ever be able to mitigate alone unless all other states stop or drastically reduce CO2 release. Maybe one state could threaten to set off a bunch of nukes in the upper atmosphere to destroy electronics and power grids around the world as a threat to encourage compliance, but that seems extremely far fetched.


The problem of seeing this as a cost-benefit equation is when you may risk facing infinite cost.

Climate change, as a single, isolated factor, won't cause by itself human extinction or at least the end of the human civilization in a foreseeable future, but reality is complex, current civilization and most of mankind depends on a lot of connected systems. Positive feedback loops happen, in climate, economics and in cultures, and from time to time the effects catch by surprise experts. We might be betting it all, and losing the bet, forever.


You might be right, but you can make that same argument about any change in any complex system.


In this case, it is the complex system at which we all live in.

And we are not talking about the fly of a butterfly, the climate system is gaining an atomic bomb worth of energy each second https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/07/global-w...


Stronger storms, heat waves, drought, floods, erratic weather. Check. Where I live, we are on track to have the driest September on record. We have also broken or tied 7 record hot days (and looks like we might go for 8 today)[0]. How much more common does this have to be before people start acting?

Edit: [0] Had someone argue with me that this just means we had record hot months before. I'm like, no, that's not how that works. Those record days were from different years. The new ones were from the same year.


Remember when people were saying that global warming wasn't happening because we were in the middle of a particularly cold winter? Treating this year's bad weather as proof of global warming is making the same error in the other direction. The climate can only be understood as a long-term average of the quite large annual variations in weather.


I get that. I do. I said:

>How much more common does this have to be before people start acting?

Because it is becoming more common. Just as predicted.


> We have also broken or tied 7 record hot days (and looks like we might go for 8 today).

On average, how many record-high days have been recorded each year, for as long as your records have been kept?

How many record-low days?

A number out of context is not useful for drawing a scientific conclusion.


I like the game theoretic framing. Winners and losers. Currently a zero sum game. Where we non-zero sum games, filled with win-win outcomes.

Robert Wright's book Nonzero, which advocates for these kinds of reforms, deeply influenced my worldview, way back when.

https://www.amazon.com/Nonzero-Logic-Destiny-Robert-Wright/d...

--

I'm a treehugger. During the 90s, I volunteered at Wetlands Conservation Network (WetNet), a short lived Audubon offshoot trying to save the Pacific salmon.

During my time there, I somehow got the impression that all environmental (ecological) challenges could be fixed with better accounting and fair markets.

More than just addressing externalities.

With our salmon, the (economic) winners were timber companies and developers. Who reaped outsized rewards for developing habitat. (Timber companies were turning second growth forests into urban sprawl thru their subsidiaries.)

Other beneficiaries were power (hydroelectric) and some farmers (irrigation).

The biggest losers were the commercial & tribal fishers, anglers, and the hard to quantify "culture".

But for some reason, beyond my experience and understanding, commonsense structural reforms were completely out of bounds.

For instance, (I'm told) that water rights in the West are "use it or lose it", so potato farmers in Idaho continue to grow an oversupply. Whereas if they somehow rent (or transfer) those water rights in an open marketplace, that water could be put to better uses.

--

Note that I've been out of the treehugger game since 2000, so I don't know what, if any progress, has been made since.

Also, I continue to be surprised that Wright's Nonzero thesis apparently hasn't gotten any traction. Neither with the libertarian Freedom Markets™ cultists. Or the weirdly regressive leftists who reject markets and incentives, and continue to conflate corporatism & cronyism with capitalism.

Oh well.


It's an invented problem based on a belief that we control the planet. Yet, if we DID control the planet, we could simply fix it.

What if the planet got warmer without our input? What then?


> It's an invented problem based on a belief that we control the planet.

Climate change is a problem whether or not it's anthropogenic (which there is massive evidence that it is).

> Yet, if we DID control the planet, we could simply fix it.

Us having the capacity to initiate a warming trend doesn't imply that we could simply stop it.

> What if the planet got warmer without our input? What then?

Then we'd have just as much interest in bringing it under control. The impacts don't change of the source is different.


Imagine if humanity has treated other technological problems as societal ones:

>What do you mean plague vaccine? We need to stop dreaming about magic solutions and just stop living in cities

>Farming? No this will never work, just stop reproducing. And collect more berries.

>Fire? Why do we need fire? It's dangerous and hot food is a luxury.


"Humanity" has not treated problems collectively until a few hundred years ago. Some might argue it still doesn't, really.

Also, and more importantly - it's easy to categorize problems retroactively based on how they were eventually resolved; not so easy to apply this categorization with foresight.

Finally - some problems have both societal and technological aspects, and so do their solutions.


1. The plague, while probably exacerbated, was not caused by urbanization.

2. With the exception of up until modern times, farming, like many other major changes in human habitation, never threatened our existence on this planet.

3. Fire is dangerous, but the benefits vastly outweighed the dangers, and also did not permanently, in the chronological perspective of human beings, threaten our ecosystem.


Disease was as much a social problem requiring changes to the norms of "cleanliness" as a technological problem.


We don't need to imagine, we know how humanity reacted to plague prior to effective treatments. Very badly. With lynch mobs and singling out certain groups for persecution. Even having acne would do it...


the second one would have actually helped us to avoid current dilemma :-P


So what then? A few thousand humanoids would have picked berries for a few dozen thousand years until the next ELE wiped them out and be gone? That's better how?

We've got exactly one planet's worth of resources to consume in our reach for the stars. Doing nothing and doing it wrong gets us extinction on basically the same galactic time scale.

What a tragedy though, to have a real shot and burn it all up trying to get each other to click on ads for plastic crap no one needed.


In which case, you probably wouldn't exist, and neither would the medium in which we're having this conversation.

Better or worse?




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