The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

(A Just World) Hang’em High

In a just world, all the leaders responsible for doing nothing (including corporate leaders) would be hung high and all their property confiscated (including that given to relatives and friends). This is going to lead to well over a billion preventable deaths, is genocidal for other species and may be genocidal for ours. As crimes goes it will be seen to exceed those of Genghis Khan by a wide margin.

Criminal negligence IS a crime.

As for those who were active deniers, since I don’t believe in torture, there is no punishment severe enough.

Also, as I have pointed out in the past, this is going to de-legitimize every ideology which failed to deal with it, including representative Democracy and Capitalism.

I’ve seen fools saying that the failure to deal with climate change wasn’t a failure of democracy. Such people are indeed fools. The major nations during the period when something should have been done were democracies.

Let me be clear, this is going to lead to famines and droughts which kill hundreds of millions of people, minimum. It will lead to water and land wars. It will lead to mass migrations which make past refugee “crises” seem as nothing.

With luck, it will transition to a new stable state which is not too bad for humans. It may even be plenty fine (even if most of the tropics will be uninhabitable for half the year if you want to, y’know, go outside.)

But getting there will suck, and we don’t know that we won’t get a runaway cycle that doesn’t stop anywhere good, or even survivable. I like to think it probably will, but the truth is that our understanding of climate is still too incomplete to be sure.

(Oh, ok, probably shouldn’t capital punish. Just lock’em up for life. Somewhere in the tropics.)

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  1. Billions will die, and billions more will migrate.

    You can’t stop it, ask the Neanderthal.

    To ensure survival: thicker skin.

    It’s all about the grandkids.

  2. jrkrideau

    I don’t support the death penalty, besides in this case it’s too quick. I have no objection to confiscating anything they have and dumping everyone on a small Pacific island were they can watch the water rise. We probably should supply fishhooks, knives and some iron pots. Oh and some flints and steels.

  3. Bill Hicks

    Nearly all of us who live in North America are culpable to a greater or lesser extent. Almost every aspect of how we live our lives contributes far more to the coming catastrophe since our whole economy is inoperable without enormous inputs of fossil fuels. Just having a car alone puts one in the global top 20% or so of climate criminals, and driving a hybrid or EV only slightly mitigates the damage. Most Americans/Canadians who claim to care about climate change don’t want to make the required radical changes in their lifestyles any more than the denialists do.

    It’s as if fossil fuels were injected like heroin into the bloodstream of our society, and we’re all junkies who simply can’t kick the habit because we imagine that the withdrawal will be too horrible to contemplate.

  4. Damn, with people writing things like this, democracy is certainly more likely to be delegitimized. Thanks.

  5. Wyoming

    What democracy? Where do you live?

    For people who live in the kind of places that you can spend time reading and commenting here there is no big issue relating to survival – at least for a few more decades. That is a core reason there is not more action in the G7 world – we are rich and somewhat insulated from what is going to happen to the unfortunates. So why worry I guess.

    When the shit really hits the fan our vaunted military abilities and capabilities will be used pretty much indiscriminately to hold off the unfortunates and maintain our relative superior positions as long as possible. This is just what humans do who are being backed into a corner. All of us will fight rich and poor. Us who are rich may not really win but we will not really lose either – at least compared to what is going to happen to the rest of humanity.

    One might fantasize about the population of a place like the US turning on our masters and smoking them out. But what is far more likely is that we workers and soldiers will band together with our masters in order to keep the barbarians from coming over the wall. It is what we have always done. There is not going to be anywhere near enough to go around so you fight to have something and make sure the ‘grandkids’ are not slaves and whores to a new set of masters.

    There is not going to be some kumbaya moment when we all discover our better sides and come together to solve our problems. That is not how humans have ever reacted to existential issues. We maneuver and we fight it out. Some win, most lose. Then humanity moves on.

  6. highrpm

    how many of us replace even a single car trip w/ an alternative, even once per week? doing so is laudable.

  7. Wyoming

    “doing so is laudable” laughable you mean???

    If you own a car you are part of the problem not the solution. And an electric car makes no difference.

    If everyone on Earth lived at the same standard of living as the average African CO2 levels would still be going up at a significant rate. And no one who does better than that has any intention what-so-ever to join them at that level of affluence. They, of course, are hell bent on joining us. In the meantime we are very likely to grow the global population another 2+ billion by 2050. Unfortunately those extra babies are going to want to live the high life just like us, or at least like Africans. Hmm …

  8. someofparts

    I wish all of our cities were walkable, with nice bullet trains connecting them. It would be a pleasure to give up cars if our communities were designed to make it reasonable. Instead, it seems that walkability has been monetized. It is a marketing point that raises prices on properties that can claim the distinction. So walkable neighborhoods are a luxury not available to the people who need them the most.

    Also –

  9. someofparts

    Well, after posting the link to Naomi Klein’s perspective, I found this critique of her thinking at Angry Bear. It seems like a more realistic analysis.

  10. V

    Speaking of hang’em high: today is August 6, the 73rd year since the U.S. atomic bombed Hiroshima. And then on the 9th is the date for Nagasaki.
    Crimes against humanity never before (or since) achieved in the history of the world.

  11. V

    Fuck you’re moderation!!!

  12. V

    My apology for the above; uncalled for.

  13. someofparts

    maybe uncalled for, but funny anyway

  14. V


    Then I used the wrong you’re; should have been your.
    Total hose job… 😉

  15. False Solace

    It’s taken humanity a millennia and a half to suss out what happened to Rome, and people still disagree. For most of the centuries that followed, the conclusion most people reached was that the Christian god punished the heretics and replaced the degenerate classical world with a godly one. What I mean by that is whoever survives what’s coming will evaluate our society harshly — but the answer they reach is likely to be one we’re incapable of understanding. It would be like expecting Marcus Aurelius to debate Pelagianism or original sin with a 9th Century monk or quantum physics with a 20th Century professor. The Roman not only doesn’t accept the premise, his tools for understanding the world are based on something else. Our descendants may reject everything we know. Why stop at democracy and capitalism? Science, personal property, logic, the idea of an atomic self, all could go out the window. We’re leaving future generations nuclear reactors built on coastlines and empty, arsenic-injected aquifers, what is there to like about us?

    Everyone alive today is going to die. Almost all before the century is done. That happens no matter what, all 7 billion of us. The lives we lead in between, and how fast and how miserably we go, that’s what the argument is about.

    As for people quibbling over whether “democracy” failed — they’re the same sort who quibble over whether “communism” failed. The democracy that manifested in the real world and interacted with human nature — real world democracy — that’s what failed. It was corrupted at all stages by human self-interest and greed. The question is whether any system of government would have handled fossil fuels successfully. The answer to that depends on your opinion of human nature. It’s impossible to prove a negative so perhaps hope squeaks by.

  16. Hugh

    I agree with Wyoming that we don’t have democracies. We have kleptocracies. We don’t have serious discussions on climate change and overpopulation or wealth inequality and political disenfranchisement because the rich and elites don’t want them. They would get in the way of their looting and privilege. As I have said before, the greatest contribution our rich and elites could make to our society is as corpses rotting in a field. Yes, it really is that bad. Their betrayal of the rest of us is that deep, and their war on us, you know those they are supposed to serve and who are the source of their wealth and power, that vicious.

  17. Sandra

    What’s often missed because it’s not as visible and tangible as something like cars is simply the culture that is being exported (mostly from US) around the world.

    People here are discussing human nature, greed, “what always happens” yet ignoring the fact that all of those things result from choices to mold individuals into those things.

    The technology exists today to give every inhabitant a good life (the African co2 argument misses the fact that the low tech tools forced to use are dirtier). Problems getting there?

    Copyright & Patents
    Privatized banks
    Lack of free shelter, healthcare, education, food
    Ignorance of how money works
    Universal basic income at a level that divorces survival from wage labor
    No animal agriculture

    These are what we need to tackle, among other things. Get rid of all restrictions on knowledge sharing by abolishing intellectual property (which is really theft of the commons).

    Nationalize all banks, create money out of thin air to actually benefit the people not the already wealthy. Note we already do this now, we just create money to bomb brown children, or bail out wall street, and allow private banks to create money to inflate true cost of shelter.

    All survival needs must not be done for a profit. It’s absolutely immoral.

    So much environmental harms result from forcing people to have a wage job to survive. Unnecessary commutes, infrastructure, vehicles, individuals to support those vehicles and infrastructure, fast food, janitorial staff, etc etc. At least 50% off all work is useless and or harmful. Let’s stop.

    Finally, we must stop all animal exploitation. Not only does this have a massive environmental impact, but by placing those so like us in a position to be treated so poorly and harmed so greatly, we make it easier to harm marginalized human groups as well. Which makes our quest for justice that much harder to achieve.

    Heavy lifts with the current status quo? Certainly, but by tackling the foundations, striking at the roots, it makes all the small incremental stuff easier or even unnecessary to achieve. We either take aleap or we perish.

  18. nihil obstet


    Dorman’s piece at Angry Bear is the mushy one. He doesn’t know what “ideology” means, so it’s like arguing that feudalism prevented a strong nation-state. Individual barons were simply trying to maximize their own power; they weren’t fighting each other because they believed in feudalism. He’s just being silly.

  19. Jack

    Recently I read an article about a paid speaker who attended a conference where he expected an audience of 500-800 people. The subject was the impending climate disaster.

    Instead he was sequestered in a room with 3 hedge fund managers who picked his brain on how to handle people once the “Event” happened. As far as the hedge fund managers were concerned, the disaster was already baked into the cake. As for their response to the “Event”, well, they wanted to know if they could control their guards with shock dog collars and have multiple level entry codes to their food stores. Further, they summarily discounted the idea that they would be better served by building community, namely because they believed THEY had singularly built their wealth – which will be worthless when the “Event” actually happens – and that they did not have to share on an equal basis. After all, they’d never shared before so why start now?

    Simply put, these people should die early.

    While it may sound noble to “be against the death penalty”, the fact of the matter it is time for raising Jolly Roger and slit the throats of those most culpable for our collective impending disaster. Neither they nor their children nor their relatives of coddled associates deserve our sympathy – they deserve a noose around their necks. Further, the faster they are removed from our system the better the chances of those who remain.

    Summarizing people are going to be required to build alliances with those they can ally with and decide to kill those who want to enslave them. It really is that simple.

    The good news is this. Once you’ve killed another human being, doing it again becomes exceedingly easy, especially if you have a better reason to make subsequent kills than some goddamned uniform.

  20. V


    Ahrrr matey! Let the blood flow…
    Kill them all!

  21. Tom

    And meanwhile:

    EU just ordered all companies not to comply with US Sanctions on Iran, allows them to recover damages from the US, nullifies US court rulings per new Blocking Statute.

    Its a half-way setup. They really need to ban Companies from dealing in US Dollars and slap counter-sanctions on the US like Turkey did when the US sanctioned two of its ministers over the blatantly guilty Brunson. Unlike the Turkish Ministers who had no assets in the US, the US Secretaries of Interior and Justice actually had Turkish Assets which were promptly seized.

    Well lets see if NATO lasts much longer.

  22. Wyoming


    “The technology exists today to give every inhabitant a good life (the African co2 argument misses the fact that the low tech tools forced to use are dirtier). ”

    Not correct actually. The low tech lifestyle of the average African is much ‘less’ carbon intensive than our rich lifestyles in the G7. That was the point I was making. Even if we go low carbon low tech we still do not reach zero emissions. CO2 levels would still steadily climb.

    Technological Civilization is not sustainable in any meaningful sense. It is not possible to live any kind of lifestyle based upon it that does not result in carbon emissions. In a rapidly rising global population this means that there is no possible solution without an immediate and complete overhaul of how everyone lives and values life – and that just ain’t happening…period full stop.

    While we can all point out a wide variety of actions which result in less carbon emissions none of us can point out a way of life which is carbon neutral or carbon negative which is even close to acceptable to a significant number of people.

    This puts us in a situation where an immediate and rapid and deep reduction of the global population is absolutely essential to avoid the alternative (which appears inevitable) of a catastrophic global civilizational collapse resulting in a violent population reduction forced on us by climate change and collapsing agriculture/ecosystems. It would be much less painful to manage a population decline than to just experience a full on catastrophic collapse. If we manage a reduction we get to keep a lot more of the civilizational niceties we like than if we try and hold onto everything to the last moment and then it all falls to the ground.

    I think we all know where this train is headed. Build some resiliency into your lives and then do your best to survive. And be cheerful in the face of adversity as that will carry you further than anything else – after all it is an adventure! In the bigger sense it does not matter all that much as the Universe could care less what we make or break down here on Earth as we are not any more significant than a grain of sand on a beach to it.

  23. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Hey Ten Bears –
    In light of Facebook and Apple censoring Alex Jones, your recent obsession makes more sense. For some reason I was assuming you had some independent thought of your own, but it turns out you were just flogging the party line line a good commie rat.

  24. someofparts

    Speaking of different visions of what a post-petroleum future might look like, here’s a series that might be interesting to some of the commentariat here –

    If you follow the link, there are four volumes in the series.

    The books, which are collections of stories, were the result of a request by JM Greer, formerly of Archdruid, asking that readers submit their stories of what they imagined our grim future might look like. Greer said that he got such a wealth of good material it had to be broken out into volumes. The volumes are organized by proximity to the present. So the first volume is a collection of stories set in the near-term future, with each succeeding volume describing imagined futures farther out the timeline.

    Greer’s reasoning is that, with massive changes already underway and bigger ones to follow, the furniture in our imaginations matters, because we must imagine a world before we can build it. So the thinking is to start now sharing our ideas about possible futures so that, as events sweep us up, we don’t default back to re-creating the doomed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place.

  25. someofparts

    Moderators – you missed one from Blizz

  26. Synoia

    With luck, it will transition to a new stable state which is not too bad for humans. It may even be plenty fine (even if most of the tropics will be uninhabitable for half the year if you want to, y’know, go outside.)

    Record heat is frying the temperate zones of the norther hemisphere.

  27. someofparts

    Speaking of a green future, here’s one adaptation most of us will live to enjoy.

    I predict that cooking skills are about to become a lot more important.

  28. Sandra

    This idea that technological civilization is incompatible with sustainability is nonsense. There is a certain number of resources needed to feed, house, clothe, educate, provide healthcare, etc. Now if we bolt on unnecessary hurdles and hoops that are required to go through in order to acquire those things, the resources needed go up dramatically. That’s what’s not compatible.

    Forcing everyone to struggle for no reason is incompatible, the toxic addictions like consumerism and casual cruelty that stem from such exploitation is incompatible.

    That we see so many willing to accept these lies, to turn inward seeking to selfishly protect those objects (for they’re no longer seen as individual beings) we are particularly infatuated with is simply another sign of how deep those with power of narrative have spread the rot.

    For millennia these people with their varying ideologies have been allowed to feed upon us to increase their power status wealth. As long as we allow them to continue noone you love is protected. If we really care, if they’re not simply objects we’re infatuated with, then what separates them from others, what allows us to consider offering up their finite lives in exchange?

    A better world is possible, beware any messiah preaching salvation through empowering them but also beware those preaching that we are stuck, that there is no alternative. Each day collectively the world is built.

  29. Willy

    We’ve never figured out how to efficiently raise hell against the powerful few without creating chaos for ourselves afterwards. The problem is that too many people need to be led. Too many people are easy suckers for opportunists. Too many people put faith in some powerful alpha to empower themselves.

    And the Deep State (which is nothing more than a culture of insider crony capitalism), messy as they are, are far better at unifying against us for their own ends. Maybe because their goal/focus is much simpler – money and power ?

    Before a revolutionary phase must come an education phase. But we still have a hard time knowing exactly what it is that should be taught.

    With the PTB being experts at dividing the mob into energy-wasting factions that bicker amongst themselves, instead of unifying against the real enemy, good luck. We need to figure that one out too before it’s hit-bottom mob-chaos time.

  30. Willy

    I don’t think PTB have an ideology, besides doing whatever it takes to own the oasis (or mountain, island or whatever is considered most desirable real estate).

    Against the rest of us, when ‘innate superiority’ dogmas don’t work, they’ll use shadowy divide and conquer strategies. It may not even be beyond them to try and herd honest intellectuals into ineffectual little ivory towers.

    (I don’t just make these things up. I’ve seen these things in real time, in real live meatspace.)

  31. Sandra

    Ideologies come in many forms.sometimes elaborate stories and justifications, other times a rather simple set of principles taken to or near their logical conclusions.

    Those with power believe in the commodification of all non-humans and land, resources, etc. They believe in the partial commodification of humans through institutions like wage labor. They believe there must be winners and losers, might makes right and that there is no alternative. From those simple beliefs much horror stems.

    How to combat?

    Don’t accept their imposed reality. Educate yourself, find a world you’re willing to die for and go out and preach it. Mark the trail, light the signal fire, bring others with you. Don’t simply try to save yourself or your close kin.As long as one of us is chained all of us are chained.

    Or perhaps you can’t, because, so then find the fires, educate yourself, call out the liars, the con artists, help others do the same.

    We are fast approaching a crossroads, we still have choices we can make, but nothing good will come from allowing a reality to be imposed on us from above. We must face these choices with the knowledge that so much of the world today is a choice, we can choose to build something based on true equality and justice. But there will be costs to pay, there will be no kumbaya disney movie option.

    Those with power will stop at nothing to retain their hold, but much of their power is an illusion.

    Within the next decade we each have a choice to make.

    Choose wisely.

  32. Willy

    Maybe it’s a bit messed up to censor Alex Jones. Now we free speechies have one less conspiratorial clown to mock.

    Methinks it might be Jesus time. Time for Jesus to fly his ass down here and smite the demons of Facebook and Apple with brimstone and lightening bolts before standing at the right hand of Donald Trump. And then all shall be good. Maybe we should pray for this.

    Why are there no Fists Of Jesus video games?

  33. bruce wilder

    I think if you are rich enough, you tend to think you will be able to buy your way out of any future problem, for which there is a solution. That can be narcissistic or not; it does not matter. Your experience is that you go with what you know in the moment with some confidence that you can adapt to most of the slings and arrows of outrageous fate, including the later consequences of your own folly. Because you have money, you can command the resources to devise a remedy.

    The political ideologies that appeal to you as a rich person are the ones that confirm your self-regarding confidence in the goodness of your intentions, including your own selfishness, and the rightness of your power (over others).

    From the point of view of the society as a whole, from the point of view that desires that the society function to serve everyone who is a part of it, that is, from a point-of-view that confirms the general welfare and public interest as meaningful concepts, what matters, what is essential is constraining the power and discretion of the parts in conflict with other parts and the interest of the whole.

    If you have not thought deeply about climate change, you may well imagine that you can individually cope by adapting. It gets hotter, you turn up the air conditioning. Sea level rises, you move. Implicit in the “individualism” of the rich and powerful, great and good, of course, is that you are off-loading some of the suffering onto the powerless. Economists blithely call those “market externalities”, but that categorization is misleading: it is about the powerful doing as they will, the powerless suffering what they must.

    Globally, adaptation just makes things worse, of course, because you expend energy in the adaptation adding further to the driving force of additional carbon in the active carbon cycle by adding still more carbon.

    It is not as if the self-deceptive power of individualism isn’t widely distributed. A lot of well-meaning people would rather express their good intentions by buying a Prius that try to wrap their minds around what is really necessary, even in barest outline. Collective action is not easy and most of us feel very ambivalent about handing power to central authority and if you do consent to that, how do you know “they” are doing the right thing?

    Human beings, at least since the end of our hunter-gatherer days, have relied on hierarchy, and it has seldom worked out all that well for very long. Who will guard the guardians, indeed?

    The industrial revolution may have been an unhappy accident, rather like the neolithic revolution, but more broadly consequential. It seemed like a good idea for a few decades and various feedback loops turned it into various shades of misery for most people — the only thing that changed was that there were a lot more people to be miserable.

    Perhaps, Homo Sapiens 3.0 will figure something out in a thousand years or so.

  34. The sort of denialists who claim the climate isn’t changing or that if it is, it isn’t being caused by human activity are simply hopeless fools. Ignore them.

    The dangerous sort of denial comes from the oh-so-virtuous who believe they are so important that they must fly around to conferences and marches to signal their commitment. Not long ago, I read about a climate scientist who had flown over 50,000 miles in ONE year to spread his message. Excuse me, how serious can such a person be? And why should anyone listen to such a hopelessly unserious person?

    If you really believe in climate change, show me what you are doing to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Have you AT LEAST swapped out your light bulbs for LEDs? Have you stopped flying to conferences? Have you made significant progress towards making your housing net-zero?

    NO? Then shut up until you have. And stop pointing fingers at others.

  35. bruce wilder

    @ someofparts

    I saw Peter Dorman’s critique of Naomi Klein’s critique of Nathaniel Rich’s NYT magazine piece. (I actually read and commented on the post at Econospeak, not Angry Bear, but I am sure it is the same essay.)

    Peter Dorman is often a supremely articulate and insightful critic of politics and I thought he largely agreed with Naomi Klein in taking Nathaniel Rich to task for blaming “human nature” while ignoring neoliberalism and the rise of the plutocracy.

    The Left really does need an economics. Marx is sorely missed. Even Klein herself must feel how silly it is to preach a transcendent consciousness. (And, I think a transcendent consciousness might follow from doing what needs to be done — she’s not wrong that our plutocrats and their neoliberal enablers are ignoring the implications of exceeding global resource limits.) But, it was clear to me that Peter Dorman has swallowed the neoliberal blue pill.

    Seeing someone so well-intentioned and bright be so stupid is a painful cause of despair.

  36. @jonathan

    “The sort of denialists who claim the climate isn’t changing or that if it is, it isn’t being caused by human activity are simply hopeless fools. Ignore them.”

    To conflate the idea of “climate change” with the idea of “human induced, catastrophic climate change” shows the efficacy of the propaganda saturated environment in which we live. It also speaks to the dumbed down educational system, certainly in the general case, here in the US.

    My cousin is one of the “hopeless fools” who adheres to the latter, rather distinct concept. And he often wonders why the prophets of doom don’t pursue carbon mitigation schemes, and instead pursue solutions to “climate change” – oops, I mean “human induced, catastrophic climate change” – that involve taxation and/or other means of centralized control and manipulation. Freeman Dyson has basically made a similar claim. (My cousin doesn’t know about Maurice Strong.)

    In times past, when I have spent a lot of time arguing this, I’d make a similar case for fusion*, at least as a Plan B. “Hopeless fool” that I am.

    My cousin’s undergraduate degree is in biology, while mine is in physics and math. So, that’s probably one reason why these two “hopeless fools” diverge.

    We converge in considering people like you “hopeless fools”, yourselves. You’re not worth my time, so if this comment isn’t censored, consider yourself a fortunate hopeless fool, who was pointed in the right direction by somebody who has broken his own current pattern, and needs to get back to work.

    Not that it’ll make the slightest bit of difference. “Hopeless fools” are like that, ya know.

    * in particular, aneutronic schemes like Eric Lerner’s Focus Fusion. I’ve met Eric, and helped a friend of his move to Newark, NJ, who I would try and get some info from. Lerner has to waste time raising funds, instead of applying his talents exclusively to research and development.

  37. Willy

    Alex Jones said global warming was part of a plan to control the global economy through a World Bank imposed carbon tax. I’m wondering how so many scientists could all fall in line with that one.

    Late one night the climate lab door suddenly flies open. Four men in black enter, followed by a gang of public schoolmarms wielding rulers…

  38. someofparts

    “But, it was clear to me that Peter Dorman has swallowed the neoliberal blue pill.”

    Thanks for the tip. I read the post again to figure out how I missed that. I think I see what you are talking about, but clearly still have a lot to learn.

    Also – “The Left really does need an economics.”

    To that end, how does this site stack up?

    or this writer?

  39. someofparts

    This link is a correction to the version of WWII history many of us in this country were taught. It seems off-topic to veer into history, but I think it does relate to this conversation.

    When we talk about climate change we keep speaking of the need for massive organizing and effective opposition to misrule by predatory oligarchs. This clarification of our recent history doesn’t offer solutions to those concerns, but it does bring our context into better focus, which is decidedly helpful IMO.

  40. George Job

    ‘ the truth is that our understanding of climate is still too incomplete to be sure.’ and that is due to sustainability experts losing their funding, careers and status if actual truth came out that would lead us toward a coherent global trend of deep adaptation after the economic and societal breakdown which lies directly ahead of us.

    That is to say the research and data to date has been watered down so as not to instill panic. A climate change event is well underway. Our daily carnage of Co2 into the atmosphere ensures it. Think fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, ocean acidification, two thirds of the Artic ice cap gone, toxic air and seventeen of the warmest years ever recorded have all occurred since 2000, is all a coincidence? And that is still watered down if the truth were to be known so no, I am not going to waste more time and rope hanging people. There really is no place to hide and your wealth is not going to mean squat. We all have to breath the same air, drink the same water.

  41. @metamars

    The nature of climate change is actually very easy to describe. Humans discovered the best fuel ever found and other humans designed a million ingenious ways to burn it. Because this was old carbon, the biosphere simply could not adjust in any circle-of-life way. Next thing we know, we have passed 400 ppm.

    Easy to describe. A killer to understand. Because what this means is that to arrest the damage we must 1) Find replacements for all those clever fires, and 2) Come up with some kind of synthetic photosynthesis that removes CO2 from the atmosphere—get it back down to 300 ppm. Try wrapping your head around the idea of doing without fire.

    Now if you do not agree with this description, I have nothing more to add. I am 69 and do not have the energy to debate with nonsense.

  42. highrpm

    sop, religions and their blind spots. there are other revisionist narratives of the great wars. how about the one arguing britain’s role in starting ww1 because of concern over german economic power? narratives pale against science. and they’ll pale against co2 runaways. some of us have gotten rid of cars. and set summer thermostats to 83. while others continue to argue the effectiveness of these laughably insignificant individualist actions. maybe nyt’s new hire ms jeong can help us all out with more laughable narratives.

  43. someofparts

    “do not have the energy to debate with nonsense”

    Thankyou jonathan. Well put, a welcome and, sadly, necessary reminder.

  44. different clue

    The man-made global-warming denialists have prepared their psychological-warfare defenses in depth. When one line falls, they retreat to the next line and defend that.

    Metamars’s comment demonstrates this denialism-in-depth principle. Since he can no longer deny the obvious fact of a heating-up more-energy-expressing climate all around us, and have given up on pretending that man-made carbon skydumping isn’t retaining the earth-side heat that he and his kind know it is retaining; he and his kind have fallen back to the next defensive line of clever word games. He and his kind have injected the word “catastrophic” into the debate so as to trick people into wasting time and energy debating what “catastrophic” is and isn’t.

    Manmade global warming is creating an unpleasantly hotter future with unpleasant whipsaw oscillations from flood to drought to flood to drought etc. And unpleasant heat-waves here and there, now and then; and unpleasantly longer and stronger fire seasons, etc. The new-wave denialist will attempt to engage me on whether any of that will be “catastrophic” on not. I , of course, have the freedom to not bother engaging, if I choose to use that freedom.

  45. Hugh

    The sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will not be out until 2022. The fifth report from 2014 states:

    “The evidence for human influence on the climate system has grown since the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period). Anthropogenic forcings have likely made a substantial contribution to surface temperature increases since the mid-20th century over every continental region except Antarctica. Anthropogenic influences have likely affected the global water cycle since 1960 and contributed to the retreat of glaciers since the 1960s and to the increased surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet since 1993. Anthropogenic influences have very likely contributed to Arctic sea-ice loss since 1979 and have very likely made a substantial contribution to increases in global upper ocean heat content (0–700 m) and to global mean sea level rise observed since the 1970s.”

    Again this is from 2014, and as bad as it is, the IPCC reports tend to underestimate human-induced climate change and its effects.

  46. Brucie A.

    Speaking of running away, we have Climate change: ‘Hothouse Earth’ risks even if CO2 emissions slashed based on a PNAS article: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.

    If it gets much hotter, it might get a lot hotter.

  47. @ differentclue

    ” and have given up on pretending that man-made carbon skydumping isn’t retaining the earth-side heat that he and his kind know it is retaining”

    a false statement, which you can ascertain by googling “metamars” and “climate” (though I’m not sure you’d understand what I’ve written) I’ve heard of maybe 2 or 3 scientists who don’t believe CO2 is green house gas, whose direct effects (absent feedback loops) are as predicted by standard theory. Tim Ball (author of “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”) is one of them. Martin Hertzberg is another such outlier.

    “He and his kind have injected the word “catastrophic” into the debate so as to trick people into wasting time and energy debating what “catastrophic” is and isn’t.”

    On the contrary, rational thinkers having been trying to get the sophomoric doom sayers to sharpen their utterances, perhaps vainly hoping to have a rational argument. It’s arguing at the level of “drunk Joe at the bar” that’s a waste of time. One can hope – for a while – that pointing out to people that they’re conflating 2 very diffent levels of an abstraction ladder is not productive. For one thing, it makes impossible understanding what a guy like Lomborg has done (cost benefits analysis of mitigation strategies, taking IPCC reports at face value.)

    Oh, and it’d be nice if you and your kind got the {cough}{cough} leading lights of CO2 catastrophism to do another intelligence squared debate on the subject. Or, better yet, a bunch of them, as it’s a big subject. You’d think that saving the planet would be motivation enough, but you’d be wrong. Probably because they’re scared of a repeat of what turned out to be a debacle (for them). Al Gore famously avoids debates (and won’t appoint a second, even though he could easily afford hiring a small army of seconds with climate-related Ph.D.’s), as “the science is settled”.

  48. @Hugh

    IPCC reports are partly political documents, especially the summaries that generate headlines. See work by Donna Laframboise. An excellent interview is here:

    In general, it’s good to be skeptical of science, also (without throwing the baby out with the bath water). See wikipedia on the replication crisis:

    More info about corrupted and/or dysfunctional science processes at Denis Rancourt’s blogs, especially articles by David F. Noble. Also recommend “Not Even Wrong” and “The Trouble with Physics”.

  49. debts paid

    First time reader and poster. I’m not trying to troll, but half the commenters here sound as nutty as Alex Jones does:

    “If you own a car you are part of the problem not the solution. And an electric car makes no difference.”

    “Perhaps, Homo Sapiens 3.0 will figure something out in a thousand years or so.”

    “Easy to describe. A killer to understand. Because what this means is that to arrest the damage we must 1) Find replacements for all those clever fires, and 2) Come up with some kind of synthetic photosynthesis that removes CO2 from the atmosphere—get it back down to 300 ppm. Try wrapping your head around the idea of doing without fire.”

    “These are what we need to tackle, among other things. Get rid of all restrictions on knowledge sharing by abolishing intellectual property (which is really theft of the commons).

    Nationalize all banks, create money out of thin air to actually benefit the people not the already wealthy. Note we already do this now, we just create money to bomb brown children, or bail out wall street, and allow private banks to create money to inflate true cost of shelter.

    All survival needs must not be done for a profit. It’s absolutely immoral.”

    This is some crazy stuff here. It’s the chemtrails and sandy hook of the left. Really, it is. Same personality type, different political view. Both whacky conspiracy theories that the earth is ending because california has forest fires. Jeez.

    Let’s take some perspective here. California has been and will continue to be a large desert punctuated by forests in the mountains. There’s a reason the clovis culture mostly bypassed the area and instead flourished in the midwest (kakasia), northwest, and central and south america. It just happens to have nice weather and doesn’t rain much. But the natives recognized this and move to places where it actually did rain and you could grow things without large scale irrigation or tapping aquafers 1000 feet deep.

    As for rain, well, California has basically always flooded. Check out the great flood of 1862 on wikipedia. The entire west coast was flooded. This was before cars or plastics or oil.

    As for climate change, recorded history has show all sorts of climate change in Europe’s history, from teh Roman climatic optimum to the mini ice ages and famines of the calumnious 14th century.

    Do you people have no sense of history? It is barely any different today than it was for thousands of years. I get called a climate change denier when I try to explain this to people because they’d rather believe conspiracy theories than reality.

  50. V

    debts paid
    Welcome to the echo chamber.
    History isn’t sexy, well actually it is, if you’re willing to do the work.
    But, some of us haven’t quite decided which is what… 😉
    As for the rest?
    They speak for themselves…
    Anyhoo; thanks for your pov; worth thinking about.

  51. debts paid


    I’m totally not an infowars guys but the comments section are as crazy to the right as this place is as crazy to the left. Don’t tell that to either side though.

    And lets just say, for argument’s sake, that climate change is happening. That’s a good thing for people. It creates more arable land in the north with longer, warmer growing periods. It makes formerly uninhabited areas and makes them inhabitable WITHOUT air conditioning … which is better for the environment. The great lakes are at some of their highest levels recorded – this is lots and lots of fresh water for people in the midwest! and the warmer weather takes the bite out of the cold winters.

    During the greek and roman ages it was REALLY WARM. So warm that we’ve found olive presses up high in the mountains suggesting that olive trees once grew there. Whereas today its cold and not suitable for olive tree growth, and hasn’t been for thousands of years. This would be a good thing if food production again could be done in places that today are unarable. Instead, it’s just people screaming and pulling their hair out in a panic because they use plastic straws.

  52. Willy

    This isn’t a conspiracy theory website. Anybody who always takes the opinions of controversially opinionated laypeople over that of studied scientists should not be taken seriously, unless their logic is clear and obvious.

    debts paid has proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in global warming, but if it was happening, that it would be a good thing for people. That’s pretty opinionated in the face of the science.

    How do you back up what you say without science?

  53. V

    debts paid
    There is so much we do not know.
    In our very short life times, we act above our pay grade and believe we know more than is possible for our very narrow view of life on planet earth.
    I’m just watching the theater surrounding the dance of ignorance we seem to enjoy.
    History does give a clue as far as it goes; history does support change as the norm over time; time far exceeding our 7 to 8 decades of existense.
    At this point in time I’m agnostic and not getting too excited about much of anything…

  54. Willy

    V, you should be excited about the rate of change of power being transferred upwards and ever increasingly beyond your control. I’d suggest that you use your self-proclaimed expertise in history to offer suggestions.

  55. V


    Oh calm down for crying out loud; and where did I ever proclaim expertise in history?
    And, you’re going way off topic with your strawman crap.
    Get a grip.
    And I’m done, with you, on this, okay?

  56. Willy

    V, from the books thread a few days ago: “I’m a history maven; possibly you are not; your move.”

    And in your comment previous to mine: “History does give a clue as far as it goes; history does support change as the norm over time; time far exceeding our 7 to 8 decades of existense.”

    So what exactly is it you’re trying to sell here?

  57. You still haven’t answered the question, Blizzard of Ooz, are you one of those who like Alex Jones believes those dead children and teachers and grieving parents, first responders and Sandy Hook community members were paid crisis actors, and that those dead children are not dead?

    It’s not an obsession, As whole, it’s a question.

    Nineteen seventy-one and seventy-two I did a Tour of Duty with the third air armoured assault group, AAA, 1st US Army, 7th Cavalry, Ranger. Any time you’d care to step outside, egg-sucking dog, I would take great pleasure in applying the only know solution to am egg-sucking dog.

  58. someofparts

    Maybe we can sense how important a scam is to our lizard overlords by the number of trolls they line up to wreck any sensible conversation on the topic. From the look of it, denying climate science ranks right up there with denying reality-based economics.

  59. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Actually Ten Bears I did answer … if you were interested in hearing anything, and not just spamming Trotskyist agitprop.

  60. someofparts

    Ten Bears – no dog deserves to be compared to Blizz. Dogs are great and deserve respect, not insults. Actually, there is no animal I can think of that deserves insults like that.

    Remember that our little batch of trolls are not good faith participants. They are probably paid by some right wing dirtbags to show up here and disrupt us. My dog has higher moral standards. Actually, my dog has very good moral standards, so that is an unfair comparison.

  61. someofparts

    Willy – Don’t forget that time is on your side. Because of the kind of person you are, your kid will probably grow up to become a capable, decent person. Long after we are gone your child we be an adult, out in the world making things better. The goobers don’t matter. One day their kids will grow up and go postal on school kids somewhere.

  62. someofparts

    Boy was I wrong about Alex Jones.

    The platforms have no business banning Jones or Assange.

  63. someofparts

    “So, you know, standing up for Alex Jones today equals standing up for the Constitution. That is harder for people to understand than it is that calling for Julian Assange to be protected and freed is, But it is the same thing. This is proven more than anything by the fact that Jones gets shut down at the very moment he seeks to protect Assange.

    Swallow your pride and your disapproval of Alex Jones. Sign the petition to Trump to Free Assange.. It’s much bigger than your pride, or whatever you happen to like or dislike. This is about your future. And the people in the past who gave their lives to make it what it is. Don’t give it away. Prove Orwell wrong.

    That we must defend Alex Jones just to stand up for Julian Assange should be all you need to know. You can’t defend Assange without also defending Infowars’ right to speak. And if they say things that go against the Constitution, a bunch of geeks in Silicon Valley should never be the judges of that.”

  64. DMC

    I’m guessing the checks from the Heartland Institute(look it up) just showed up in the mail. Just as a point of clarity, anthropogenic climate change is about a number of Greenhouse Gases, not just CO2. Methane, for instance, is vastly worse for the climate than CO2 and is getting dumped into the system through the melting of the permafrost tundra. It actually forms explosive pockets, according to some Russian reports. We need to STOP burning things for energy. We have alternatives, we should use them.

  65. Willy

    Thanks someofparts. Actually I know a few of those kids, young adults now, and they’re not all thinking so much like the parents. I tell them tales of what life was like when I was their age, then let them figure out for themselves why things are so much harder for them now.

    Remember that our little batch of trolls are not good faith participants. They are probably paid by some right wing dirtbags to show up here and disrupt us.

    Why is it that modern conservatism must always resort to the same old obvious dissembling, lying, gaslighting and tired old emotional manipulations? If conservatives know they’re absolutely right about something, hell… anything, why can’t they just fall back on good ol’ respectable expertise?

    I’ve known a few scientists. Every one was a blend of humility and carefully worded reason. I’ve also known a lot of Dunning-Kruger fools. Far too many. Every single one of them absolutely certain they’re smarter than everybody else because “they didn’t read the same book as me”.

    What we need around here is a real live anti-AGW scientist who can credibly explain all the flaws in the reasoning of the 97 to 99 percenter crowd.

  66. Hugh

    Mendicino fire is the largest in California history, but climate change doesn’t exist. Nothing to see here, move along. There are none who are so blind as those who will not see. It is like people on the Titanic with water up to their nose who sagely refuse to see or acknowledge anything is wrong.

  67. Wyoming

    Debts Paid

    “Do you people have no sense of history? It is barely any different today than it was for thousands of years. I get called a climate change denier when I try to explain this to people because they’d rather believe conspiracy theories than reality.”

    Simplistic and dead wrong. You ARE a denier. Period. Full stop.

    Step outside of your ignorance and read the science. Actually go read the research itself (it will take months to just get a good understanding but stick with it). You don’t have to trust anyone’s opinion nor especially your common sense (which is seldom right for anyone). Just read the science. Read the actual facts and watch them add up to 2+2=4, not 5 as you seem to think. When you are done you will never say what you said above again.

  68. R

    i always thought a fitting punishment for the elites would be to create them their very own galts gulch

    somewhere with the basics to sustain life. fence it off, let all the exceptional ones fend for themselves and see how they go.

    maybe broadcast it as a sort of reverse hunger games reality show

  69. V

    Ian’s has become an echo chamber allowing no dissenting voices.
    The arrogance is expected, but the operational belief system is just stunning.
    Many here are so cock sure of a science that is far from settled; even the scientists admit to that, as any scientist worth that title would agree.
    Identity politics is rife here and self confirming belief systems have found a solid home as well.
    And when all else fails, name calling, bullying, and purposeful misquoting of other posters.
    Reading comprehension is abysmal causing much consternation.
    But, do not be too upset; you’ve found a comfortable home with a compliant host.
    I’m an outlier/outlaw and have never been of the fold…

  70. scruff

    I remember that I was upset when Ian turned on comment moderation. It seems so long ago, now.

  71. bruce wilder

    The case of Alex Jones and InfoWars is more than a bit scary: the moral panic that results in near simultaneous action by the several “platforms” looks suspiciously like central direction.

    I watched Anderson Cooper last night for a little bit roasting Trump for Trump’s defense of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. I have no particular sympathy for the birther-in-chief, but Cooper just threw all pretence of journalistic integrity aside. I could not help wondering who among the powers-that-be authorized this mad dog attack and why.

    Having a local climate change denier in the house seems passé, doesn’t it?

    The war on truth is being escalated on other fronts in a completely new and different direction.

  72. bruce wilder

    V: At this point in time I’m agnostic and not getting too excited about much of anything…

    I think your attitude, or view if you like, is actually pretty much the majority take on current events.

    I also do not think it is necessarily wrong exactly. Who can process the sheer volume of untrustworthy propaganda?

    Just considering climate change as an issue, I do not see much written or produced for a general audience that is both sophisticated and accurate, but still accessible. It is not that the science is bad, so much as that the demands of journalistic narrative run away with meaning or understanding.

    One way the narrative goes wrong, frequently, is that it goes “tribal”. Another is that the narrative goes Hollywood, and becomes like the script of a disaster movie.

    Really “serious” treatments as in the IPCC Reports get bogged down by failed attempts to thread a needle thru contentious and poorly understood issues. The formal economics used by the IPCC seems designed to obscure.

    It doesn’t seem real, I think. To most people. And, in important ways, the consequences are not real . . . yet. Yeah, yeah cue the tribal propaganda to the effect that we are seeing dramatic effects everywhere. Lord knows I am among the billions sweating thru a northern hemisphere heatwave. But, no, in a scientific objective sense the “costs” of our current collective behavior remain in the future: those costs can only be imagined now as part of an imaginative exercise in counterfactual projection.

    I personally am convinced that those “costs”, the consequences of current behaviors, will be made manifest and real as the future becomes the present. We all understand that the past becomes our heritage. If we learned French in high school or contracted chicken pox in childhood or inherited property from a rich uncle, those past events have consequences for our present and future.

    The science is telling us that the present will have consequences for posterity. Not that there will be a moment of screen-worthy apocalypse. But, people in the future will have their choices seriously constrained by the past we hand them.

    I feel like many, perhaps most people, are overwhelmed by the cognitive demands of their lives, never mind the idiot news cycle. And, they do not try to sort out the implications of science. They are very short-sighted. If the stock market is up, the price of gas seems reasonable and they can pay the rent, they move on to the next day. It is hard to imagine it could be otherwise.

    People in a position of leadership, charged with governance, need a longer perspective, one that monitors the system for outcomes and looks ahead. We need statesman and critics who lead the whole society to see ahead.

    I think we do not have that kind of leadership at the moment. The lack is part of the acute legitimacy crisis in American politics and the politics of the American Empire.

  73. V

    bruce wilder

    No where have I said climate change is not genuine.
    The fact of the matter is complex going far beyond simplistic answers; climate change is very much a part of a living planet. That humans exist makes it axiomatic they have an effect.
    Humans also tend to grab that which confirms their biases.
    You used the term “denier” which is both name calling and identity politics and says nothing more than that.
    The critical thinking skills exhibited here are abysmal. It make reasonable conversation impossible.
    But then, the internet invite a shallow discourse not worthy of serious inquiry.
    I’ve been here for many years (well more than 5); first as Celsius 233, then as V. Arnold; and now as just V. Somebody called me a troll offhandedly; more bloody name calling.
    You have likewise been here for a long time; the downhill slide is steepening…

  74. V

    debts paid also was affirming the climate of the planet was changing.
    Whether or not he/she has a right to their pov is the point here.
    I thought it was a reasonable critique’ of the various factors of a very complex systems involved in climate itself.
    As Bruce intimated; climate change is a convenient disstraction from far more immediate and dangerous attack on Usian’s freedom of speech, assembly, and travel.
    As the old addage goes; one should clean up their own house before worrying about others…
    Usians and the west in general have some life threatening situations going on right now!

  75. bruce wilder

    V: the downhill slide is steepening…

    Indeed, it may be.

    I saw a film a couple of weeks ago: Shock and Awe, a film made by Rob Reiner about the role played by Knight-Ritter’s Washington Bureau in the run-up to the Iraq War. The Knight-Ritter newspaper chain’s bureau played their role straight, eschewing the glamour of so-called access journalism to report objectively on the Administration’s effort to propagandists the nation into war.

    They did a good job of professional journalism, adhering to the old standards of practice and were thoroughly ignored.

    The film had a good cast and adequate direction, but the script was didactic. The screenwriter was too young to have any adult memory of his own of when newspapers were politically important. He did not show the professionalism; he showed speeches that would please the “tribe” that would see the movie. Rob Reiner, playing a starring role as well as the producer and director, Wikipedia informs me, “serves on the Advisory Board of the Committee to Investigate Russia”

    It made me reflect on the extent to which even people who try to remember the recent past cannot seem to take in the reality. Gore v Bush, the fake WMD used to justify the Iraq War, the corrupt incompetence of the Reconstruction in Iraq, Obama unable to find a bankster he could prosecute after the biggest financial crisis in 70 years (a crisis brought on by rampant fraud).

    No one in the political establishment paid a price for showing gross irresponsibility over and again. Obama not prosecuting banksters has some pretty obvious consequences for the prevalence of predation in the economy. It would be shockingly inconsistent to do anything consequential about climate change.

  76. NR

    Some people around here have a pretty poor understanding of what free speech means. Here’s a quick and simple primer:

  77. V

    bruce wilder
    I remember it all.
    The comedy routine currently going on re: Russian meddling is just mind boggling; on purpose of course.
    We used to be a nation of laws; now, we’re a nation of people; rich people.
    The U.S. justice system is nothing more than an extremely high priced whore…

  78. Hugh

    Anthropogenic induced climate change is settled science. There can still be questions about rates and specific mechanisms. What we already know is that it is real and going to be very bad. What we are learning is that it could be even worse.

    It is a form of trollery to attempt to relitigate climate change or pretend that there are questions and doubts in the scientific community where there are none. It detracts from Ian’s point that we have been betrayed by our political classes who knew about climate change and deliberately chose to deny, obfuscate, and do nothing about it

    Re Alex Jones, he has no expectation of First Amendment protection for his hate speech because, irony of ironies, the platforms from which he has been banned are private entities. Ouch! Now if they had been relegated as public utilities, he might have a course of action (unless his speech was libellous) but such regulation, for a conservative, is so commie socialist dontcha know.

  79. V


    Some folks here have far more problems than that!

  80. V

    It is a form of trollery…
    Really? Name calling to support your opinion?
    “Anthropogenic induced climate change is settled science.” Hugh
    No it is not! That is not true!
    As I said up post; That humans exist makes it axiomatic they have an effect.
    But that effect has not been quantified! And that is a fact.
    It may never be; however name calling is a pretty low blow.
    You want certainty where there is none…

  81. Willy

    People in a position of leadership, charged with governance, need a longer perspective, one that monitors the system for outcomes and looks ahead. We need statesman and critics who lead the whole society to see ahead.

    Even in the lowly corporate trenches the grunts usually have to do some form of project postmortem lessons learned. Yet we appear to be increasingly choosing (or allowing) leaders who have no such sense, at least not publicly. And now we get to have all this “I am perfect so fuck you” attitude trickling down. I understand the political need for leadership to always appear alpha. But I don’t think that continuously ignoring mistakes or scapegoating others for them, all so painfully obvious to underlings, helps anything. Maybe this is how the post-truth age shall be defined.

  82. Willy

    What Hugh said made complete sense. Where specifically is climate change unsettled science?

    And who got called what names? Should we all have a booboo hurt time out?

  83. You should study the history of weather modification and weather war before assuming all anthropomorphic is due to negligence. has gotcha covered. Geoengineering is genocide brought to you by the same people bankrupting and enslaving the mass of humanity.

  84. bruce wilder

    @ Hugh

    This morning I see Twitter is milking its NOT banning Alex Jones for publicity. Twitter did ban Peter Van Buren (Iraq reconstruction whistleblower), Scott Horton (, and Daniel McAdams (Ron Paul Institute).

    Cries of “fake news” rarely cite brand names like the New York Times or CNN as sources of fake news before launching into moral panics over “racism” or Russian troll farms (never David Brock’s troll farm for Hillary).

    I would not smugly excuse the banning of Alex Jones or get bogged down in defending a dubious freedom either.

    I think we should just try to notice how the “fake news” meme and the precedent of bans are being wielded now. Against a range of “personalities”, some of which were promoted to be part of the right-wing noise machine. Packing peanuts? Maybe.

    The cable news obsession with Russiagate continues. You would think the Trump tower meeting with the Russian lawyer promising but not delivering “dirt” on Clinton was the crime of the century. (If the hysteria manages to create a crime, not sure what that means.)

  85. BlizzardOfOzzz

    It’s hard to imagine a more asinine mantra than “the science is settled”: it *immediately* signals that you’re utterly full of shyt. No science is ever settled, even the most rock-solid theories backed by centuries of experiments. By the late 19th century classical mechanics was as settled as any science could be, and it was totally upended by quantum mechanics and special+general relativity.

    If you want to sell us on the “science” angle, maybe try out some buzz-phrases that don’t broadcast scientific illiteracy.

  86. Willy

    I’m still waiting for my scientist. They don’t have to be an ‘upstart Einstein during the ether days with a Max Planck in their back pocket’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    By wild coincidence, yesterday I drove past an oil change place with a banner proclaiming that “9 out of 10 mechanics recommend an oil change every 3000 miles*” (*=using standard oil).

    I thought, but whattabout the other 10%?! And I bet half the rest gonna be addicted to some substance. And the other half gonna be in it for the money. So fuckem, fuckemall. I’se just gonna keep on a-drivin’ and let the good ole lawd take carra my oil.

  87. V


    Well, blow me down.
    You are correct; science is never settled.
    “Settled science” would be the antithisis of science.
    You beat me to it…

  88. (Climatic) Winter is coming. (In temperate latitudes, anyway.)

    That should give us some respite from the doomsayers, plus allow them the time and motivation to do their homework. Unfortunately, it may also kill a lot of people. Historically, cold climate periods are associated with starvation, warm climate periods with civilizational flowerings.

    A preponderance of evidence shows that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than now (and not just in Europe). Even mediocre minds should be able to spot the contradiction between the this fact and the “hottest year ever” headlines.

    My understanding, BTW, is the Piers Corbyn (Jeremy’s brother) has a very good record with long range weather predictions.

  89. different clue


    Thank you for your interest in my comment. I am always happy to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any other concerns.

  90. different clue


    Newtonian Classical Mechanics was never upended. It is what was used to get to the moon and back, among other things.

    What it was . . . was discovered to be limited in its area of coverage. It still explains just fine the interactions of big mass-having objects within gravitational-interacting range of eachother.

    Relativity merely added areas of explainability which Classical Mechanics can’t help to explain. So did Quantum Mechanics. But they didn’t upend or cancel the applicability of Classical Mechanics in its own limited area.

  91. Mojave Wolf

    I could make several different from the way the comment sections are going, and it doesn’t really make sense to do them all together, so I’m going to start by (and possibly only) replying to Ian’s original post. This reply is very much relevant to a lot of the follow up comments, fwiw. In Ian’s “books” post, I mentioned next up on my “to read” list was “The Coyote: Defiant Songdog of the West”.

    I finished it but haven’t turned it back into the library yet, so I can still quote from the finale chapter, “one for all” (and keep in mind, this was written way in 1977, and he was talking about how we were screwing up the world entirely apart from climate change, which is going to overwhelm everything else):

    “Whose earth? Have other creatures no rights? Is the planet really ours exclusively to enjoy, manipulate, and plunder as we please? If so, by what right–Divine Right, or right of might? Have we no sense of sharing, of stewardship, of kinship with other living things who are our unlucky fellow-travelers aboard Spaceship Earth? It seems not.”


    “All such steps, however essential they may be in themselves, will remain mere palliatives unless and until we can change our fundamental thinking on man’s role, rights and responsibilities on this planet and can alter our goals and manner of living accordingly.

    This is an immense challenge to all of us, which I am not at all sure that we as a species will be ready to accept until nature rams it down our throats. And even if we can achieve the very broad, fundamental change in attitudes which I see as vital, it still will require the creative imagination and dedicated labor of countless men and women of vastly greater expertise than I possess, to translate the attitudinal change into a workable system of living in which we will be the stewards, not the plunderers, of the earth. The enormity of the task, and the unwillingness and incapacity of the vast majority of mankind–leaders and followers alike–to even begin to recognize it, often lead me to a state of existential despair. There sometimes seems to be so little that you or I as individuals–even well-meaning individuals–can do when there is so much to be done. And the time is getting short!”

    This latter bit both sums up what little is right and how much is wrong w/the NY Times “human nature is why we didn’t take steps to act on climate change” — as individuals, the best we can do is shift the direction of the great governmental and corporate powers — our individual acts *won’t* be enough (though heaven knows it doesn’t hurt and might help to do what you can, if for no other reason than to get the psychological momentum to enact needed change going.

  92. Hugh

    This thread illustrates a fallacy that I thought we had dealt with years, that there are two sides to every argument: some people say this, others say that, and we should give equal weight to both. The problem is this isn’t true. Flat Earthers, Holocaust deniers,and climate change deniers are examples. You can say something, but that doesn’t make it an argument, and it definitely does not give it the same heft as one backed by the vast mass of the scientific community. Einstein did not appear out of the blue but because classical physics came up against a wall. He wasn’t the only one working on these problems, but supporting evidence for his solutions (the transit of Venus, for example) was found. This is vastly different from and not equivalent to the rants of the drunk at the end of the bar. And it is a form of nihilism to equate them.

    The same can be said about Fake News. The Establishment media does lots of bad reporting and non-reporting, but this is not Fake News. Fake News is a propaganda ploy by a corrupt and embattled President equating anything critical of him as fake, even if it is true. We can criticize the media because it fails to live up to a standard, but Fake News is nihilist. There is no standard, only the whim of the Dear Leader.

  93. highrpm

    @hugh, the difference between science and religion: one is quantifiable using instrumentation, the other belief based resulting in nauseatingly endless inventions of straw men and “my logic is better than yours.” gawd awful dead end streets to find oneself on. (and for awhile, at least waay back in time, ian’s commenters for the most part stayed off of religious shit. until ole reality checker showed up. remember him. and ian attempted to reign it in with comment moderation. poor ian. he’s worked consistently for years. no telling when a good sound baseline can go south.)

  94. bruce wilder

    I think the establishment media, as exemplified by CNN or the New York Times, has turned pretty nihilistic in their abandonment of professional standards. That abandonment happened quite a while back and arguably has been driven by changing economics, but it is all “fake news” now.

  95. bruce wilder

    Politics — the endless talking aspect of it at least — is a form of competitive storytelling: we keep pounding away on certain arguments in the hope that our argument will prevail in organizing the norms, myths, imperatives, taboos and guiding ideas of the political culture. The actual arguments weaponized and deployed in political struggle are more hypnosis than logical or evidentiary proof. The premises are chosen for their reliable emotional associations and, inevitably, as politics is a team sport, the identifications adopted socially.

    Our politics in the West, but especially in the USA given its advanced political decadence, are drowning in the sheer volume of propaganda narratives. As the volume of argument increases, people become numb. It isn’t possible for individuals to make sense of numerous contradictory claims, but those competing for attention and volunteering to be guides and critics, curating the flow for others, as pundits and journalists, face competing and conflicting incentives themselves. In our media system, the journalists have to navigate careers in an ecology in which employers and advertisers have definite preferences in conflict with the interests of the great mass of readers and viewers who are offered quantitatively much more (and more attention-grabbing) content than they want to consume, as well as content whose qualities must be more pleasing to publishers and advertisers than to the target audience. The quality of content is compromised and the quantity excessive and sensationalistic.

    The media system is dysfunctional on its own terms in the sense that verifying and communicating useful and meaningful facts is impaired, but more than that, the sheer volume of attention-seeking noise imposes a narcotising dysfunction on the remnant of democratic politics. Most people barely pay attention, so that political memes float thru the political culture in a disconnected fashion. People pick them up and project uncritically blame or suspicion onto whatever caricature is a handy target of hostility. A minority of the more politically aware — like we blog commenters — are led into futile efforts to try to understand issues, which has the effect of creating apathy and leads people to substitute knowledge for action. Instead of real purposeful social association and political organizing, we settle for rhetorical poses and bullying.

    It is pathetic. Trolling to get a reaction or people whose politics is all about feeling righteously self-satisfied or cheerleading for a politician who could not care less.

    I am impressed by how far climate science has come in a generation. The ability of humans to organize the social enterprises that are the pursuit of the public good of common knowledge is quite impressive. Human beings do amazing things!

    But, the political project of educating people and creating a workable politics cum economics has failed miserably to date.

    The argumentative strategies being attempted with the purpose of changing the political culture –the entries in the storytelling competition — have proven so far to be losers.

    I do not see how the politics of “Science Says” is workable. People are not going to simply accept a dictatorship of the alleged experts. Especially given recent experience with the claims of elite experts. If you try to withhold science from your opponents and it just becomes a further excuse for ignoring their plight, all that gets us is the loser politics of Hillary Clinton. Self-righteous big time, but ultimately nihilistic.

  96. V

    bruce wilder
    “I do not see how the politics of “Science Says” is workable. People are not going to simply accept a dictatorship of the alleged experts. Especially given recent experience with the claims of elite experts. If you try to withhold science from your opponents and it just becomes a further excuse for ignoring their plight, all that gets us is the loser politics of Hillary Clinton. Self-righteous big time, but ultimately nihilistic.”

    Science has been used and abused forever. It is incumbant on the population to educate itself; no mean feat. And most just won’t do that; so, they fall back on confirmation biases.
    As you have pointed to, a media overwhelming entire societies with propaganda and outright lies.
    I have people asking me all the time for recommended sources of information; but again, without an education how does one judge?
    So I try for a broad range of foreign media from which one can read and compare and recommend these to those who ask.
    I’ve spent years finding these purveyors of accurate reportage and information.
    The sources are varied, Russia, Iran, England, U.S., China, Korea, Ecuador,and Germany.
    There are more, but that should give the example.

  97. I basically only eyeballed the the article Ian linked to, via the cnn tweet, long enough to see that there were no references (though there were links) and there were no graphs of historical data.

    I assumed that the fires were somewhat anomalous, but probably not a record-setting extreme (so analogous to Hurricane Sandy, the “storm of the century”, which ignored the fact that a similar weather disaster had occurred which took out Katherine Hepburn’s house; that storm, was, in fact, worse, but the media basically lied; or else didn’t do their homework).

    IOW, I didn’t take it all that seriously. “Shredding records” was a familiar narrative for CO2 catastrophist friendly media, but not the most honest one.

    Well, I see Lomborg has weighed in, and in general (through 2010), “climate change” (anthropogenic, or otherwise), has NOT led to more wildfires in the US and Europe, where they’d be well documented; and probably this is true throughout the world, as a whole. Even IF there was data to show that recent fires in the US and Europe bucked the trend that was in evidence through 2010, one would still have the problem of explaining why “climate change” did not produce the fires that the CO2 catastrophists would have us expect, at least through 2010.

    As it turns out – according to Lomborg, who pays attention to these sort of things – these claims “ARE BASED ON ANECDOTES, NOT DATA”. (Emphasis mine. But I’ll guess that the Greek fires are actually record setting.)

  98. @bruce wilder

    “I am impressed by how far climate science has come in a generation.”

    And just why would that be? I stopped following climate science closely a few years ago, but I clearly recall that, despite an investment of billions, the error bars in their climate model temperature predictions hadn’t shrunk, at the time I left the arena.

    Furthermore, due to work by Monckton and others, it’s become known that the “holy models” all suffer from a misuse of the feedback. They’re not even correct, ignoring comparing their results to reality, which is ultimately NOT what you want to do! As you might guess, the ubiquitous misuse of feedback skewed the models to run warm.

    As a predictive science, climate science is pretty miserable. That’s largely unavoidable, as climate is a chaotic system.

    Now, as a forensic and experimental science, I agree it’s quite impressive, though you’ll still have unavoidable problems with fuzziness of data. I’m thinking especially about temperature proxy data from plants.

  99. Willy

    Science is always unsettled which explains our current scientific community consensus. Now that’s horse sense.

    Ether was widely accepted as a best fit theory. AGW is far less so. Why? Among groups least likely to get sucked into groupthink (besides commenters here) I’d think scientists would be at the top of the list. If they deny, there’s more lucrative work to be found working for oil companies. Is that it – the losers do science? Or, is there some mysterious competing oligarchic faction to the oil barons, flush with cash prizes?

    Personally, I find it so much easier to assume that people want to do what they’re made to want to do (plus the influence their experiences has had on said genetics).

    Any complex system will have fails easily cherry picked for display. But an entire community of human skeptics failing all at the same time means that this race will not make it past what are sure to be more significant challenges ahead. So what’s the point of even trying? Is this what metamars is saying?

  100. bruce wilder

    me: “I am impressed by how far climate science has come in a generation.”

    metamars: “And just why would that be? I stopped following climate science closely a few years ago . . .”

    Well, there you go then. You stopped paying attention, I didn’t.

    Just to take one example: your concern about just how warm the medieval warm period was relative to the “present”. When scholars were working on this question in the 1970s and 1980s, the evidence did seem to indicate that the medieval warm period, at its warmest, may have been a bit warmer than the then-present (circa 1980).

    An enormous amount of scientific work has gone into getting finer resolution of detail in estimating historical climate, including the medieval warm period. The role of changing climate in history as well as the factors that can go into driving variations in climate are up for investigation because there are resources available and techniques are advancing quickly. This is the kind of thing I find impressive.

    So, here we are in the 21st century. And, our “present” (circa, say, 2015-8) is considerably warmer than the 1980s or the medieval warm period. Estimates for the medieval warm period have gotten better, based on a wider variety and volume of data and proxies, and confirmed that the medieval warm period had some moments that were quite warm, compared to, say, most of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. How well Europe’s apparent temperatures correlate with conditions elsewhere has been explored in greater detail.

    You can google up charts showing estimates of average temperatures in northern Europe, using consistent proxies from 6th or 7th century thru the 20th century, overlaid with the instrument readings for the last 25 years as well as I can.

    Look, I am not a scientist. I did do any of that tedious, complex work of measurement. (I also didn’t invent the iPhone I like so much and understand so little.)

    I also won’t tell you that a chart of temperatures for a thousand years past, with 25 years at the end rocketing up to the right like a ramp waiting for Evil Knievel is “alarming”. I know proxy estimates for decades do not necessarily compare neatly and safely to instrument readings for years or months. And, being told that something you personally have no control over and little personal understanding of is “alarming” and you are a bad person for not clucking worriedly is annoying at best.

    Being lectured about “anthropogenic” global warming does not impress me much either, as far as storytelling aimed at producing change in political culture is concerned. The sheer biomass weight of the human population, numbering ever closer to 9 or 10 billion individuals makes the scientific claim trivial to “prove” and multi-syllabic adjectives are an affectation at best. (My affectation as it happens, but we are not talking about me, here. 😉

    Climate science modeling faces a remarkable challenge, in trying to find ways to sort out the relative magnitude of various factors driving even historical climate. Fascinating stuff in a way, but clearly beyond my ken.

    What is not beyond my ken is the economics and the economic analysis from elite establishment academic economists has been beyond dreadful. If you wonder why the emerging scientific consensus and deepening insight into natural processes has not resulted in a better policy response, I think you can properly blame the economists, who apparently have no real understanding of how the industrial revolution of the last 250 years has worked and no interest in finding out.

    There’s a big missing link between rising CO2 ppm (ppm means tiny numbers really, but still measured with precision and certainty), rising average global temperatures (still small magnitudes of a degree Celsius or less, but also measured fairly precisely and with considerable certainty) on the one hand, and what it all implies for the prosperity or survival of the world.

    That missing link — a yawning chasm in our knowledge of what global warming means practically — is a big old blank that people of good will and bad have been filling in with cheap hyperbole, Hollywood movie scripts of Apocalypse Now and demands that you, too, should be suitably “alarmed” by hockey stick graphs.

    The science is the science, but it does not get us to what we need to do politically.

    For what we need to do politically, we need economics and instead of a scientific economics we have neoliberalism, an ideology that rationalizes the stupid, infinitely greedy selfishness of extremely powerful psychopaths who have more than they could consume and enjoy in a thousand lifetimes.

    When someone tries to do economics conventionally, they produce mush. And, when someone like Naomi Klein tries to offer an alternative, they produce . . . mush. (See Peter Dorman at Angry Bear or Econospeak for his brief critique of Naomi Klein; my comments at Econospeak, for what little they are worth.)

    The science is what it is — I cannot argue it with you beyond the most superficial observations gleaned from the popular media. I can claim no authority of my own for anything. Discussion has some entertainment value, but I do not suppose I could teach you anything. But, like Willy, I have not seen a scientist show up to argue with the commentariat (and would think it a waste of their time if they did).

    The ultimate scientific issues will be resolved when it may already be too late to solve the economic problems. That’s the political problem we face: we do not understand the economics and the economics we are being handed by elite economists is near-total crap. (That’s the technical term of art: “crap”)

    How do we respond to the emerging realization that human economic activity is undermining ecologies globally? The science of ecology is what it is, but it does not tell us how to structure human societies politically or economically. What does it mean for the global political economy that temperatures are increasing? It may be that we need to take radical steps to restructure the political economy. Eliminating the use fossil fuels that dump carbon into the active carbon cycle seems to many to be imperative. Is it imperative? That is a political and economic question basically. It is not obvious what the strategic levers for an architect of political economy to use are. (Here’s one clue for you though: it ain’t a carbon tax or marketable capped permits for carbon emissions — that is just neoliberal idiocy.)

  101. BlizzardOfOzzz

    This thread illustrates a fallacy that I thought we had dealt with years, that there are two sides to every argument: some people say this, others say that, and we should give equal weight to both. The problem is this isn’t true. Flat Earthers, Holocaust deniers,and climate change deniers are examples.

    Hugh I realize you’ve dumbed yourself down to own Drumpf, but you’re overshooting the mark. At this point even the average Salon commenter thinks you’re retarded.

  102. BlizzardOfOzzz

    bruce wilder, great comments, you have been on fire lately. I think the bit about political rhetoric being more hypnosis than persuasion is spot on.

    The debate over the AGW stuff seems to have petered off recently — it seems like a bit of a farce nowadays. If even its proponents (like Ian) are saying it’s too late to do anything, and that any conceivable measures (short of some dystopian global dictatorship) fall way short of what’s needed, then what is the point? The political advocates say out of one side of their mouth that if we don’t act now, now, now, we’re all gonna die — and then out of the other, they won’t give up one jot of their other pet politics (I’m thinking of mass immigration and explosive population growth, but also nuclear energy). And then the idea that the world’s lumbering bureaucracies could somehow coordinate over decades to alter the planet’s climate according to desired targets (the same ones that couldn’t predict the 2008 financial crisis)? The whole thing is a farce.

  103. Mojave Wolf

    In light of some recent comments, let me add to Jack’s view (I think it was Jack?) — the day someone goes all Frank Castle or Takeshi Kovacs on the happy sociopaths promoting the destruction of the biosphere for the sake of increasing their bank accounts, I will be very, very happy and engage in much joyous celebration.

    For those of you who think this makes me a bad person . . . I. DON’T. CARE.


    ::smiley face brought to you by thoughts of such carnage, however unlikely it is to ever happen::

  104. @ bruce wilder

    “So, here we are in the 21st century. And, our “present” (circa, say, 2015-8) is considerably warmer than the 1980s or the medieval warm period. Estimates for the medieval warm period have gotten better, based on a wider variety and volume of data and proxies, and confirmed that the medieval warm period had some moments that were quite warm, compared to, say, most of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. How well Europe’s apparent temperatures correlate with conditions elsewhere has been explored in greater detail.”

    Although it’s underfunded (and may be a dead project), fairly recent survey work on the MWP is described here:

    Clearly, the MWP was global, in the reasonable sense of warmer locations, throughout the world, greatly exceeding cooler locations (with obvious concentrations of data points away from the equatorial region).

    Now, while proxy temperature comparisons still show that the MWP was warmer than present day, the instrumental temperature record diverges from the proxy data, and does, in fact, exceed the proxy data values from the MWP (as well as present day).

    Given the apples to oranges aspect of this comparison (and keeping in mind the blatant data fudging that’s been indulged in by some aspects of the climate science community, documented by Tony Heller aka Steve Goddard), I wouldn’t place too much stock in catastrophist interpretations. I would agree, though, that bringing up the instrumental record (however fudged it may or may not be) is legitimate from a precautionary principle point of view.

  105. Willy

    I’m thinking that all the usual dissembling, lying, gaslighting and tired old emotional manipulations won’t be working much around here anymore. Reeks too much of Russian troll farm excrement. And kleptocratic spew. And then all the regurgitated forms… Blech! Plus at least most scientists wipe their mouths and bottoms when they’re done.

    I’m wondering what (proven!) economic hits that nations doing the most to combat AGW are experiencing. I’m also wondering when fusion power will finally really this time turn that corner and get to that promised land. But the conspiracy side of me wonders what PTB machinations those good scientists are experiencing (if any) in their travels as they try to get there.

    It’s always something when the wrong people get in power.

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