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

Baked In, Baked Off: The Trump Administration Climate “Admission”


The next century from this point on is likely to be pretty awful, and unless something changes drastically Real Soon Now, a lot of that will be due to very large global temperature increases. Not much will change for the better, though, because the world’s largest economy was willing, after all, to elect a man whose platform includes digging for and burning more coal, doing more offshore drilling, etc. More importantly, be believes shouting out loudly that these are good and praiseworthy things to advertise to the world, which makes it all significantly worse because saying is doing.

There’s a lot of hullaballoo about a report that appeared in the Washington Post (paywalled but sometimes you can get through). Everyone is saying that it reveals that the Trump administration accepts that a four-degree-Celsius increase in temperature is baked in. If you read the fine print, however, what is being argued that if a four degree increase is baked in, then the contribution of some emissions control measures is so small that it is not worth the alleged economic drag created by regulating them. The intended corollary being that if there is no global warming in the first place, there is no point in regulating emissions, therefore there is no point in regulating emissions either way. It is either insignificant or useless.

There is no “admission” here — the Trump administration is not accepting the likelihood of a four degree increase. One should consider who is running Trump’s environmental policy. I have been following the right-wing for a long time, and what were once internet trolls and small-time lobbyists are running the show. One of those characters is Steve Milloy, the tobacco and chemical industry lobbyist who has blogged for a long time at In a nutshell, Milloy vociferously denies the worth or necessity of any pollution control, particularly air particulates of the kind people blame for respiratory disorders (after all, if tobacco smoke can’t hurt you, how can small amounts of particulates?), and he most certainly rejects the prospect of global warming. Milloy now also boasts, quite credibly, of having a direct line to the people dismantling the EPA (they cite his work in their justification of doing so).

And for quite a while now, Milloy has been saying precisely what the Trump administration is “admitting” — that if car emissions standards are enforced, they will have a trivial effect on the climate, if the worst forecasts — which he and other denialist lobbyists love to emphasize — are true. But under no circumstances are they advising “resignation” to a fate they have consistently claimed they don’t believe is going to happen. (Whether they secretly believe it and are knowingly lying is one of those “stupid or evil” debates that are, on the whole, rather distracting and pointless. Maybe there will be a smoking gun screenshot of Milloy’s phone or something.) The draft government report to which the WaPo article refers uses a reference scenario in which no climate action whatsoever is taken to emphasize how small the effect of the regulations being relaxed really are.

So if the Trumpists don’t really believe in global warming, why would they deploy an argument based on the premise that regulation would have a trivial effect even if it were true? After all, it would be more straightforward to deny global warming full stop as a justification to cancel regulation. The reason is ideological: They know that other people believe in anthropogenic catastrophic global warming, so they know that regulation is tempting. And they believe firmly in a regulatory slippery-slope argument (this goes along with the deeply embedded libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism) — that if they allow a little regulation that has small effects, the regulatory system may entrench itself and produce much larger regulations. (And worse, people might like those regulations.)

And they’re right. The — alas — too-slow path to large-scale regulation under our present systems of government do mostly work their way through using small/insufficient regulations as wedges or levers to much larger regulation. That is why they vociferously scuppered US participation in the Paris Agreement, because the Paris Agreement admits that regulation is necessary, regardless of how small the Paris Agreement’s actual goals were.  And saying is doing: The minimal regulatory “admission” is necessary for anything else to proceed.


Kavanaugh Discussion Thread


How Over-priced Is the US Housing Market?


  1. highrpm

    start by owning one’s one actions in one’s own tiny world. (like the backpackers’ mantra, leave no trace.. and another, minimize your presence..) what’s your personal energy consumption metric, mandos?
    – no car?
    – thermostat settings as a f(seasons)?
    – climate-controlled living space?
    – ???

  2. UserFriendly

    Your first paragraph lays the blame of Climate Change largely at Trump’s feet. If we had a politician in the last 2 decades that wasn’t completely worthless then Trump would be largely irrelevant to the matter.

  3. highrpm: I don’t have a car and my day to day life is comparatively low-carbon for someone in a developed country in the “Global North”, however, my life overall is probably very high-carbon because of work and family travel, i.e., air.

    HOWEVER, I really do think that the “consumer environmentalism” has been a fatal error. It allowed skeptics to convert the issue into a choice of personal and household self-denial in a manner analogous to the failed ideology of dieting, subject to the same psychological limits. It has allowed the largest carbon offenders (meaning, industrial use) to maximize profits and sidestep the political questions of regulation, and present themselves as being on the side of the “ordinary consumer” being told to deny themselves the fruits of industrial civilization in comparison to their neighbours.

  4. UserFriendly: it seems to be a common reaction around these parts that any reference to a negative Trump or Republican characteristic in the policy or propaganda realm is automatically met with a “Yeah but all those other politicians including Dems don’t have a good record either.” Yes, sure, but that was not what I was saying. Instead, while no recent US presidency has demanded the full regulatory revolution, economic policy change, and technological investment that should have been the main presidential instruments of climate policy, in this case, Trump campaigned on overthrowing even the rhetorical acceptance of the need to do anything and what little was done. And appears to be fulfilling that promise. And his base jubilates about it. That is qualitatively different and has consequences.

  5. It’s locked in – in the pipeline, as a frequent though subdued commenter here used to say – seven billion people on a ball of rock that can barely sustain one. Do. The Math. Grow thicker skin.

    The only thing that counts is my grandchildren’s survival.

  6. Peter

    I wonder why anyone would buy this globalist regulation snakeoil when EU CO2 emissions continue to rise while US emissions continue to fall. Their collective mandates have failed increasing electric power costs there at about double the rate of costs in the US.

  7. highrpm

    ah, the power of the masses: hollywood wouldn’t be the hollywood it is if fewer folks patronized their products. i think of david foster wallace. writing about the pervasive entertain me, entertain me mindset of the contempory masses. i admire him for turning off the ignition and tossing the keys.

  8. Stirling Newberry

    Terrible taste in videos.

    Things will get done when the vast mass of humans realize that it is going to affect them. Then there will be some response based on a range from democratically elected government to armed riot – the specific content of which will be determined by when the vast mass of humans realize that they are all going to die. It is just that enough humans in the United States think that they will get away with it for a little while longer.

    After the vast mass of humans realizes that they cannot trust property – because property is a backward-looking estimate of value – a new theory will be adopted and enforced, and that will run us until the next really global scale problem. For the people who are more awake than average, your job is to try to get a government which will tax appropriately, and set up an instant just read surcharge on the Fed, ECB, BoJ, and others which will go to solving the problem. This may work, then again it may not, but the human species will survive, even though many of us will not.

    Basically, when the human species realizes that the temporary rich cannot be trusted, and make their feelings known, to the point of violence if necessary, the problem will be solved. Until then we are going to do our little games about the South China Sea &c.

    Have a nice day.

  9. Hugh

    I do not think you can talk about human driven climate change without also discussing overpopulation. They go together. Almost no one talks about overpopulation. As for climate change, people talk about it, but they don’t do much about it. The Paris Accords are voluntary and are not slated to start until 2020. They are framed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which went into force in 1994, that is 24 years ago. Hardly a blistering pace from where I’m sitting.

    Trump is out to destroy the EPA because he is a kleptocrat. Belief doesn’t really enter into it. Kleptocrats don’t care. They will loot to a collapse and then loot the collapse. It is all and always IBG, YBG. I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone. Despite all the hoopla, coal is not coming back no matter what Trump wants. Many utilities have switched to natural gas. The plants are already built.
    Others are still on the drawing boards. They are not going to switch back. As for coal jobs, there are only about 50,000 left in the whole US. They aren’t coming back both because of this and also because the coal industry moved to hilltop removal which is environmentally damaging but requires few workers. Also, many of Trump’s attacks on the environment through sleazy corrupt hacks like Pruitt are tied up in the courts. Other attacks on the environment like hilltop removal, fracking, and deep water drilling predate his administration.

    I saw an article in the paper today that people are enlarging their garages to fit their ever more monstrously sized SUVs. If we were having a serious public discussion on climate change, I would think an important part of it would be on the social irresponsibility of such vehicles. But that’s just it, there is talk but no serious discussion and even less action. As I have often said here, we have until 2030 to have serious responses up and running to both climate change and overpopulation. If we do not, it will not be us but Mother Nature who will determine our fate.

  10. Stirling:

    Terrible taste in videos.

    🙂 I have a weakness for 90’s pop and new age stuff as well as present-day synth pop/ambient electronica/lots of autotune. I also admit to, haha, just a teeny bit of trolling in the video choices relative to the overall demographic that seems to read this blog and their tastes. I also try to maintain some symbolic/figurative connection between the music video I pick and the content of the post.

  11. Peter hath spoken.

  12. Piter hath spoken. Fixed.

  13. Hugh:

    The problem with emphasizing overpopulation are severalfold, but two major issues off the top of my head are:

    1. specific Malthusian prophecies have historically a way of going awry, because the people who make them tend to drastically underestimate (presumably due to pessimistic ideological overcorrection) the ways that the irons can get pulled out of the fire

    and 2. emphases on overpopulation raise thorny questions of “how” and (possibly even worse) “who” that tend to be hijacked by other agendas, leading (at best) to counterproductive political backlash.

    I do believe in the concept of “carrying capacity”, but I am less confident that we can estimate it well or even set a “safe lower bound” on it. Contra popular analogies, humans are not really analogous to bacteria in a growth medium (which actually gives too little credit to many species of bacteria as I understand it). I’d rather focus consideration on the regulation of environmental outcomes. In addition, low birth-rate societies have very energy-intensive individual consumption…

    Your last point on SUVs: again, I can’t warn strongly enough against continuing this focus on the household consumption side and consumer environmentalism. I don’t own a car and don’t view an SUV as a status symbol or even a need, but I have also done what most people cannot do and steered my life towards mid-size European cities where you can live affordably as a pedestrian or with transit — not immediately available to most people, which is why I end up flying to visit family (who live in places where you need cars…).

    I find however that the emphasis on reducing transport consumption has counter-intuitively only increased the value of the SUV (and likewise) as a status symbol and a political declarator.

  14. Peter


    US coal production is increasing again with those 70,000 miners set to produce about 750 million short tons this year. These extremely productive members of our society can count on Trump to champion their industry and protect their jobs if not expand their number. The conversion from coal to natural gas fired generators is a slow but steady process that will continue so long as fracked gas is not overconsumed and remains a cheaper alternative to coal, Obama’s Paris Agreement mandated rapid conversion to gas fired power generation would have driven gas prices higher increasing all gas consumers costs as we see happening in Europe. China and India along with other developing nations will continue to drive the demand for coal and our exports will grow protecting existing mining jobs. The only part of the EPA being eliminated is the overregulating activist agenda part that had gained too much power to regulate far beyond their mandate. The big SUVs you whine about are available with high efficiency gas or hybrid drivetrains and get better gas mileage than an old VW bug while producing less pollution.

  15. Dyēus Phtēr hath spoken yet again.

  16. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Trump is one of relatively few world leaders (Viktor Orban another notable exception) who has children and grandchildren – he surely does not believe in IBG YBG. The left and its institutions have negative credibility by now – everyone has seen you all openly, shamelessly lie about the Russia hoax, etc. “Oh but we’re telling the truth about this other stuff though” – yeah, sure you are. No one believes it anymore except the cultists.

  17. There’s lots of people with grandchildren who still think IBG YBG or some variant thereof. These are people who generally have an instrumental view of other people. Also, not believing in IBG YBG can easily be compensated for by Pollyanna delusions of various kinds, fallacies of continuity, etc.

    I have no strong opinion on the Russia stuff and never did, and it’s not relevant to this topic.

  18. Heliopause

    “unless something changes drastically Real Soon Now”

    That point was thirty years ago. It really, genuinely is hopeless, human societies simply don’t make profound changes in lifestyle overnight, and especially not Americans. Furthermore, the laughable solution proffered by liberal centrists — an agreement with aspirational goals set decades into the future with no enforcement mechanism, premised on the nutty assumption that only liberal centrists will ever get elected again — is already a failure.

    Yes, we should push for various policies that will slow things down a bit, make things less bad, buy some time. But don’t fool yourself that driving a Prius and recycling your Coke bottles and giving up the plastic straw in your Starbucks drink is turning the tide.

    What societies can do right now is start planning for mitigation. As an example, do we want to spend trillions keeping Miami dry or spend trillions moving everybody there to higher ground? Not that we’ll do that either, since we have a bipartisan consensus for worldwide military empire, but it’s something to think about.

  19. Ché Pasa

    If I understand the prediction, it is that We’re Doomed no matter what, so get what you can while you can, the Devil take the hindmost. Western society has been through this phase many times.

    I’ve been saying that Our Rulers have long known and believed and acted on precisely this. And they have no intention of becoming the victims of what is to come. They are fully prepared to sacrifice the Rabble in its entirety so long as they themselves stay safe and served, even if it’s in their bunkers or on a freaking other planet.

    They are determined to survive and prosper no matter what comes, including a Climate Catastrophe or Revolution. They care not at all what happens to the rest of us, and would just as soon we disappear sooner rather than later. Thus, why not accelerate the inevitable?

    The Overpopulation Thing is one area where parts of the Rabble and their Betters are in perfect sync. The only question is who gets eliminated and how quickly. No matter what, the Overclass is busy ensuring it won’t be them.



  20. StewartM

    Peter, aka our resident fossil fuel junkie:

    US coal production is increasing again with those 70,000 miners set to produce about 750 million short tons this year.

    At tremendous environmental and human cost, which I can say as a resident of Appalachia.

    With “friends” like Drumpf, we don’t need enemies. Drumpf sure the hell isn’t concerned about the grandkids here. Nor really, the people living here now. A coal-first strategy for Appalachia makes as much sense for the grandkids as the Saudi’s oil-first strategy.

  21. Willy

    Since we’re the frickin USofA, a Floridian version of the Zuiderzee Works would be at least twice as big as anything those clompy shoed dutch could do, employing at least twice the number snowflakes. Where the money come from? Like everything else meant to enrich True Capitalists, we frickin finance it. Make the dumbass children pay. They always start out as snowflakes anyways.

  22. Al

    Kill your TV, stop driving and quit breeding otherwise adios naked killer ape. And good riddance. This beautiful blue planet will heal itself after the cancer of humanity is totally and utterly destroyed.

  23. DMC

    As I understand it, the underlying soil substrate in the Florida coastal regions are sufficiently porous that dikes won’t work as the water will simply rise through the soil. Maybe Miami can be re-engineered into a latter day Venice but I wouldn’t bet on it. If we were serious about mitigation, we’d be talking mass reforestation as well as reducing greenhouse emissions. Forests are nature’s own carbon sequestration schemes.

  24. Hugh

    According to the Establishment survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 53,200 in coal mining, seasonally unadjusted, in August. This is 500 more than last August. This followed a 1500 increase from August 2016 which followed a 13,900 decrease from August 2015, which is to say that the number of coal mining jobs this August is still 9,900 fewer than in August 2015.

    According to the EIA (US Energy Information Administration), fossil fuels accounted for 62.7% of electrical generation in the US in 2017. 1.273 billion kWh or 31.7% came from natural gas. 1.208 billion kWh or 30.1% came from coal. Marginal contributions from other fossil fuel sources accounted for the rest.

  25. Willy

    Indeed. The future of this Great Land Of Ours involves the coal miners. That wind energy is becoming competitive with coal power for cost is a buncha liberal hot air:
    and more polluting:

    All the best true patriots know that gays, not global warming, is what’s really causing
    Floridian hurricanes (well, maybe the trailer trash who’d rather be drunk than at church). Unfortunately if we move gays into trailer parks well into the interior, tornadoes will happen. It’s always something with this tough love God of ours.

  26. Peter


    It must be humiliating waking up every morning knowing you are part of a failing collective that can’t even meet modest CO2 reduction goals so I understand why you need to project your failure onto others.


    Making the people of Appalachia even poorer by ending coal mining is a brilliant idea. We will never see a shortage of hand-wringers who demand the low cost energy they produce while condemning them for producing much of the coal that provides their affluent lifestyle. Diversifying the economy in Appalachia is difficult for many reasons but they need coal mining now more than ever to produce the tax revenues while they address the problems that keep them poor.

  27. Peter: I am not part of any such collective as far as I know, and I have no idea what is supposed to be ‘humiliating’ here. I do not think in such terms. *shrug*

  28. Hugh

    Again from the EIA, in 2016, Wyoming produced 297.2 million short tons of coal or 41% of the total. West Virginia came in a distant second at 79.8 million short tons (11%). Pennsylvania: 45.7 million short tons (6%), Illinois: 43.4 million short tons (6%), and Kentucky: 42.9 million short tons (6%). So Appalachia, .i.e. Kentucky and West Virginia, produce just 17% of the nation’s coal.

    Also it is important to note that coal mining has been going on in Appalachia for more than a century. Coal has not enriched the region. The money from coal does not stay there. It never has. What does stay is poverty, black lung, and a poisoned landscape from hilltop removal and strip mining.

  29. StewartM


    Making the people of Appalachia even poorer by ending coal mining is a brilliant idea.

    1) Coal ain’t making them rich. The environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal replacing underground mining and mechanization is what is driving down coal employment, not the EPA. In fact, one of the reasons why mountaintop removal was in 2002 the Bush administration started allowing mining companies to dump mining waste into the region’s natural waterways, while making more lax the restriction that the land had to be restored.

    Appalachia does not make much money on coal. It is an extractive industry and the profits from it gets largely exported elsewhere. In that way you could consider Appalachia a ‘colony’ of sorts for the rest of the nation. Appalachia is being *plundered*, not helped, by coal.

    2) Appalachia can be economically diversified. In fact, some of it already is:

    Might I add that the more prosperous counties in blue aren’t the ones being plundered for their coal? The problem with more diversification is that this, can’t be done solely by Daddy Warbucks any more than Daddy Warbucks would have brought electricity to this region. You need something like the TVA.

  30. Willy

    Georgia’s Scherer power plant gets all of its coal from the great state of Wyoming. It emits over 20 million tons per year of “Greenhouse Gas”, tops in the USA for any single facility. Its newest Halliburton-built stack is a source of great pride for patriotic smokestack enthusiasts.

  31. Stirling Newberry

    “I do not think you can talk about human driven climate change without also discussing overpopulation. ”

    Sure you can, most people doing the polluting are from developed societies. The poor people do not add that much to the total. The only difference is China, and that is not because of population but because they want power. it is not the number, it is the impact.

    Largely, it is the rich and their followers who want to keep coal place that is the biggest contributors (though at this point is to simply cutting coal is nowhere near enough). They want free pollution, because to them it is free. The people pay for it, of course, think differently. But largely their children or not yet born.

  32. Stirling Newberry

    ” Diversifying the economy in Appalachia is difficult for many reasons ”

    All of them are political. Ergo, real problem is that the millions of deaths in the US, and probably 1 billion worldwide, do not seem to matter. Again, when the millions of people realize that they are the ones that are to be killed, things happen rather quickly. At that time the event rich will be guillotined, because right now when they could do some things differently they’re not going to.

    A peaceful revolution is rapidly coming to a close, and a more violent revolution is starting. It seems fairly clear that since they have a little amount of money to hire people whose job is to promote false talking points, they’re willing to do that. It is actually a bad move for their great-great-grandchildren, but it is really great for really, obscenely rich 80-year-olds who want to die happy.

  33. different clue

    I normally don’t read Mandos but the topic is important so I read the post.

    It will take a lava flow-load of multi-million citizen pressure against the political system for many years to force the political system to countenance and then begin to apply any even-the-mildest regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

    It would take a multi-million-member movement many years to apply that level of citizen pressure against the political-government complex to force that complex to begin the kind of regulation which Mandos considers a minimal first-step start. And it would take a culture of millions of members to support and sustain such a movement. How would such a culture emerge and from where?

    For example, in America the Slaves began accepting the reality of their shared fate and position in the Enslavement Society. They evolved over several generations a culture with shared language and lifeways-and-lifemeans, and a shared Church. This became the Black Church which became culturally coherent enough to support a multi-decades-long Civil Rights Movement.

    How might Americans for DeWarming the Global find some way to see eachother through the social fog and hear eachother through the social static and cultural pink noise? One way might well be through visible personal conservation lifestyling. If the numbers of people doing conservation lifestyling rose to some tipping-point threshhold-number of millions of people; those people might co-ordinate elements of their social and conservation-lifestyling lives enough to begin forming up into a culture. If they could retain or even strengthen their culture-of-conservation group-coherency, they might be able to power up a movement for pressuring the political-government complex into beginning the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions which might lead to successful control of such emissions. In the context of that approach and set of steps, personal conservation lifestyling could become a useful pursuit.

    How much actual de-greenhousing effect such a conservation-based culture-movement of millions could have from the personal behavior-sphere by adding up their millions of personal greenhouse-reduction lifestyling arrangements is an interesting topic for debate and would remain to be seen. If 50 million Americans decidec to take this approach . . . evolving themselves into a Conservation Culture able to support a Greenhouse Control Movement long-term strong enough to force the political-government complex into Greenhouse Control Regulation . . . . we would get an answer to that question.

    If America has 250 million people adult enough and brain-functional enough to know what “culture” is and what a “movement” is, then 50 million of those people could develop a Conservation Lifestyling Culture and make it strong enough to support a Global DeWarming Movement. And if they did so, that would still leave 200 million Americans able to divide themselves into 4 OTHER groups of 50 million people apiece pursuing 4 OTHER culture-creation and movement support approaches in distinction from or even in opposition to the Conservation Culture approach I am suggesting. These 5 separate TAGS ( Theory Action Groups) need not jealously poach eachothers’ members or spitefully put broken glass in eachothers’ shoes. They could each focus on their separate goals and approaches and see which goals and approaches meet with Darwin’s approval.

  34. Hugh

    The sustainable population for the US is probably between 100 and 200 million. According to the US Census, the current US population is 328.7 million. So yes, population matters even in the first world. In the developing world, you have areas like Amazonia, one of the great CO2 recyclers on the planet, being slowly destroyed by population and development pressures within Brazil. Similar things are occurring in Sumatra and Borneo. Overpopulation in Africa is increasing desertification in the Sahel and is in the process of destroying so much of the wildlife we associate with that continent. When you consider that one country like Nigeria will have by 2050 a population about the size of the US at that point (~400 million), you can’t just dismiss the effect of those millions on climate change and on the stability of the continent. When you consider that by about 2040, the world population will hit 9 billion, again you can’t ignore the CO2 contributions of those extra billions whether they live in the first or third world.

  35. Webstir

    dc: “I normally don’t read Mandos but the topic is important so I read the post.”
    ….. what a douche.

    Nice to see you over here. And thank you for all the work you do over at naked capitalism.

    On topic, and carrying over from a previous thread, none of this changes until the boomers are out of power. You know the old saying about teaching a old dog new tricks? Well, this is what we’re experiencing. They were brought up in Mayberry. There was no climate change. There was no sexual assault (at least that made the news). There was no great depression (that they could remember). Growing up, the world was just one big happy Dr. Spock love fest. Take the show Mad Men as instructive. That is how the boomers were raised. No regard for shit unless it benefits them personally. They are simply a massive Dunning-Krueger demographic that can’t relate to the modern problems that they allowed to transpire on their watch, because they had no ability to wrap their heads around the problems from the way they were raised.

    Seriously, these are my parents. All of these new problems we face, they honestly STRUGGLE to understand them. Now, Ten Bears & dc, I know this isn’t you, and apologies are in order for my personal attack in an earlier thread. I apologize. I don’t like myself when I get that way. But I mean it when I say you guys need to own it.

  36. highrpm

    i’m a boomer and i’m w/ you. why these threadbare washingtonians like feinerstein and peelosied and ilk don’t move over and let the next gen through is profane. and the worst of their sins: permitting their children to become indentured to the payday loaners for the cost of post-secondary education, after allowing the public education system to mostly waste the first 12 years of schooling in accepting hollywood’s ownership of the narratives in socializing and sexualizing the children. may they choke on their perkins pancakes.

  37. highrpm

    and i categorize hollywood w/ religions, as both market the imaginary for entertainment. and as anyone knows, too much of a good thing — entertainment in this case — can wreak havoc.

  38. DMC

    Sweeping genereralizations, how do they work?

  39. Willy

    How does the greatest generation spawn the leastest generation? You’d think that painful lessons from the past would be gradually diminished over many generations, instead of being almost completely lost on the very next one.

    Of course not everybody is cut from the same rationalistically selfish me-first cloth. There are rational empaths from every generation who can figure things out for themselves, to see reality for what it is and do the cause-effect reasoning it takes to discern where things are heading, while caring about the impacts to everybody else. But they seem to underestimate the number of babbling tribal sycophants wired to mindlessly follow devious power players like a bunch of silly yellow minions. They don’t know how to counter things like stampeding mobs or overgrazing herds since logic doesn’t work well on the masses when emotions are in control.

    IMHO, boomers were ripe for manipulation by the always present worst elements, because of certain circumstances already described by others here. I’m curious about how many of them can learn the painful lessons which they never had, by observing the struggles of their own children.

  40. Webstir

    Willy: “I’m curious about how many of them can learn the painful lessons which they never had, by observing the struggles of their own children.”

    Check my parents off the list. All the troubles later generations are experiencing are due to their own failings. Stock Fox news stuff. Honestly, I don’t know if my Mom could handle the existential guilt that comes with owning it.

  41. different clue


    I note you recently referred to my “diminished mental capacity”. I think I remember you having TESS- tified to having been a practicing alcoholic in your past. I also remember realitychecker having brought it up from time to time when he felt it helpful or useful.

    If my memory is wrong about that then that would show my mental capacity is indeed reduced. If I remember correctly, that might serve to indicate that my memory at least is pretty strong. For your part, I wonder how many millions of brain cells you might have killed during your past alcoholism. I suppose your own personal experience and possibly present condition might well make you an expert in diminished mental capacity.

    Be that as it may, you are still a Youth-Nazi and an Age-Racist. And I am still . . . In the Way and In your Face.

  42. different clue


    The Greatest Generation built the world the Leastest Generation grew up in. The Greatest Generation built Suburbia, enshrined the Personal Car Lifestyle, systematically destroyed mass transit all over the country in their Bonfire of the Trains, Trolleys and Streetcars.

    The Greatest Generation recruited America into the Vietnam War and sent the Leastest Generation to go fight it. The Leastest Generation is everything the Greatest Generation raised it to be. The pasture pie doesn’t fall far from the cow.

  43. different clue


    By the way, I accept your apology, now that I have circled back and read it. I don’t like it when you get that way, either. And I will respond in the very nastiest way I know whenever I am subjected to it. And I will do it again if provoked, every single time.

    Also, the good people at Naked Capitalism have noted the logical fallacy and failure of thought and analysis involved in broad brush generational stereotyping. Their thoughts on the subject deserve a close and careful reading.

  44. Synoia

    Where is safe?

    Not the western side of continents. They appear to be becoming deserts. Even the UK has a record drought.

    Not the Eastern side of continents. They are having record Hurricanes, or Typhoons.

    High inland maybe safe. I used to believe the Africa Plateau, the High Veldt was possible, but they are having droughts as well.

    Which leaves highlands in the tropics. Which are poor for agriculture because the topsoil is poor, plant life is so vigorous that the plants contains the nutrients, not the soil.

    High is the underpopulated tropics may work. Ina spen some time near Lake Taba, and that might work for a few people.

    Personally I think the word’s human population will be reduced to around half a million people, in the next 35 years.

  45. Ibod Catooga

    Womandos, you are a dumbass nigga and I don’t usually say nigga, nigga. But I am satin nigga a lot in this post mah nigga!

    LOLOLOL I makes myself life like Jesus with a turnip in his bumhole

    Did you here the joke about the grammar Nazi? He also gassed the Jews and then gassed irregardless! ROFLCOMPUTER

  46. Webstir

    different clue:
    Well, I managed a 3.97 GPA getting my undergrad psych degree; 3.82 for my M.S. degree in bioregional planning and community design; and a 3.47 for my J.D.

    You tell me how diminished my drinking made me. Seems the evidence points to the opposite conclusion. As many in AA will tell you, our experience, strength and hope are assets, not liabilities. It’s a new lease on life, and I’ve made the most of mine.

  47. highrpm

    sweeping generalizations: let’s take walmart, as a simple example. who keeps their massively complex store shelves supply chains working? the ceo, their corporate mba’s, the local store employees, or all of the corp’s employees and stockholders and board? at some point, when discussing issues, the context demands appropriate labels, simply to reduce drowning in details. in the present case of the greatest generation affecting the leastest generation, i think sweeping generalizations are more appropriate than naming my bestest most greatest fifth grade teacher who perhaps set my life compass more than any other of my puplic school teachers. why name all of them?

  48. different clue


    On the evidence, I see no mental diminishment. Then again, on the evidence, I show no diminished mental capacity due to late middle age.

    I will speak no more of it. Nor will I get nasty in any other way so long as I am not insulted or defamed . . . either individually or as part of an artificially-defined demographic group.

  49. different clue

    A general question for the readers: on what basis is a bunch of future warming considered to be baked into the future from the current present? On the basis of heat already in storage in earth’s surface, the oceans, etc.? Or on the basis of global warming gases currently in the atmosphere which are considered to be difficult or impossible to remove in less than a century or so?

  50. Willy

    @dc Bonfire of the Trains, Trolleys and Streetcars.

    I blame Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, which libertarians might proclaim was one of the greatest malinvestments in US history. Sure the lawn mower and barbeque grill industries went nuts, but at what ultimate cost?

    On the plus side, GGs built some amazing aircraft, the worlds best public works projects, went to the moon, accepted the Fairness Doctrine, bitched far less about labor unions, defended the borders better, respected what “loyal opposition” meant better, often lived within their means, and were (mostly) happy to live as their Bibles told them to. In short, they were better at working/playing together as “Americans” (outside of the racism and homophobia).

    The peak of our civilization in terms of overall happiness and liveability was in the decades before the turn of the century. Now it looks to be all downhill from here. But that’s a bit beside the point I was (probably poorly) trying to make.

    What I was looking for was more commentary about how a generation gives up so much power to kleptocracy, against the interests of their own children, and how to get it back.

  51. Hugh

    different clue, reducing human contributions to climate change is like trying to change the course of a supertanker. It’s not going to be easy. It is a combination of where you already are, how long you delay in acting, and how much you do to change course.

    It’s the trajectory, and the world is not doing that much. The stated goal of the Paris Agreement was to keep world temperature increase well below 2°C. But the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) said that the Paris Agreement pledges are “only a third of what is needed to avoid worst impacts of climate change.”

    It went on to say:

    “The Paris Agreement looks to limit global warming to under 2° C, with a more ambitious goal of 1.5° C also on the table. Meeting these targets would reduce the likelihood of severe climate impacts that could damage human health, livelihoods and economies across the globe.

    As things stand, even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions makes a temperature increase of at least 3° C by 2100 very likely.”

    There are also other things like ice sheets that once melted would take centuries or even millennia to refreeze under the best of circumstances, and along with that salinity levels in the oceans.

  52. different clue


    Here is the problem with blaming just Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System. Even before it was very much built out, a three-way conspiracy composed of General Motors, Firestone Tire and Rubber, and Standard Oil of New Jersey artfully created “front” and “dummy” companies such as National City Lines which were tasked with buying up streetcar and trolley line companies all over America. And ripping out the tracks and destroying the streetcars and trolleys and replacing them all with buses. “Oh!!” some may say. “Conspiracy Theory. I smell Grassy Knoll”.

    Well, it isn’t a theory if it happened.

  53. different clue


    I was asking a different and narrower question having to do with the energetics of the mechanism of the warming buildup. Is it the heat already in the oceans which will keep the global warmed no matter what people do about levels of greenhouse gases in the air? Or is it the greenhouse gases currently there and new amounts expected to join them which will keep preventing pre-industrial levels of heat re-radiation from earth back into space . . . which is what will keep the warming going?

    I will propose my own “theory”. It is the greenhouse gases themselves which will keep the warming going because they will still be incurably up there still reducing earth-heat infra-red re-radiation into space which will cause the onrolling heat buildup. It is the gases themselves, not the heat already “down here” in the oceans, which will keep earth-surface heating. Am I wrong about that? Strictly at the physical mechanism level?

  54. different clue


    The generation did not uniformly give up their power to the kleptocracy. The generation was divided into kleptophiles and kleptophobes. The kleptophiles ( people like Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton) supported Free Trade and all the other mechanisms of kleptocracy. The kleptophobes ( people like Marcy Kaptur and other legacy New Dealist officeholders) opposed legalizing all the mechanisms of kleptocracy.

    Many ordinary boomer voters voted against kleptocracy. They didn’t know that Clinton was a kleptoconspirator. They didn’t know that because Clinton lied about that. He pretended to oppose the Reagan-Mulroney-Salinas NAFTA while secretly supporting it all along. He pretended many things, all lies it turns out. I was young at the time of Clinton. I didn’t know much, but I noticed that something smelled kind of sewage-y about Clinton, so I supported Harkin in the primary . . . till Harkin dropped out

    How can people get power back? That is a very good question and worthy of some posts and threads. People would have to think about what “power” is . . . power through what and over what and against what? Power to do what?

  55. different clue


    Feinstein is pre-boomer by many years. I haven’t run the numbers, but she is either Silent Generation or Greatest Generation at the very least. I wonder how many other Senators are pre-boomer?

  56. Hugh

    different clue, it is the CO2 in the atmosphere, from wiki, CO2

    “currently constitutes about 0.041% by volume of the atmosphere, (equal to 410 ppm) which corresponds to approximately 3200 gigatons of CO2, containing approximately 870 gigatons of carbon. Each part per million by volume of CO2 in the atmosphere thus represents approximately 2.13 gigatonnes of carbon. The global mean CO2 concentration is currently rising at a rate of approximately 2 ppm/year and accelerating.” Current CO2 levels are the highest they have been in the last 800,000 years and perhaps 20 million years.

    Pre-industrial levels of CO2 were around 280 ppm. So we have added about 30% since then or about 1 trillion excess tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Additionally, “About 30–40% of the CO2 released by humans into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes, which has produced ocean acidification.” So that’s another 300 to 400 excess gigatons we need to deal with.

  57. Hugh

    I do not have a generational view. Young people can have old ideas and vice versa. What is important is the ideas.

    But for others to decide, here are some of the ages of current leaders and people seen in the Kavanaugh hearings:

    Dianne Feinstein b. 1933 (85 yrs old)
    Nancy Pelosi b. 1940 (78)
    Chuck Schumer b. 1950 (67) Soon to be 68
    Joe Biden b. 1942 (75) Soon to be 76
    Elizabeth Warren b. 1949 (69)
    Patrick Leahy b. 1940 (78)
    Bernie Sanders b. 1941 (77)

    Donald Trump b. 1946 (72)
    Mitch McConnell b. 1942 (76)
    Chuck Grassley b. 1933 (85)
    Lindsey Graham b. 1955 (63)

  58. Webstir

    Stating that broad brush generalizations have no place in reasoned debate is to use the same broad brush. It’s like saying quantitative science is superior to qualitative science. Bullshit. They’re just different ways of informing ones worldview.

    As we both have experienced in the past, different clue, the naked capitalism crew can be a mob when challenged. Same thing over at Eschaton, etc. That’s one of the reasons I like Ian’s blog so much. While it still occasionally occurs on certain topics, by and large there is no mob rule here. Everyone seems to state and defend their ideas on their own merits.

  59. nihil obstet

    On the development of the kleptocracy, I guess it’s time to recommend once again my favorite documentary on the subject — Adam Curtis’ Century of the Self.

  60. different clue


    Thanks for the readout on the officeholders seen in the Kavanaugh hearings with their birth-years.

    Someone had said those officeholders sure look old.

    Someone else said those old boomers are in the way.

    Webster’s Online Dictionary says “baby boomers” is the name arbitrarily assigned to everyone born between 1946 and 1964.

    Out of the 13 officeholders cited, 7 were born before 1946 and are therefor pre-boomer. So any concern about boomers is irrelevant to the majority of the officeholders cited. ( Another 3 were born on or before 1950 . . . one of them in 1946 itself)

    So the complaint about boomers was entirely irrelevant to the observed reality of the oh-so-old officeholders, given that the oh-so-old majority of the officeholders cited are pre-boomer. The statement about boomers was simply a pre-existing grudge awaiting a trigger for its release.

  61. highrpm

    geez. nitpicking. ever heard of reasonance? dissonance? flow? pre-existing grudge? dc, what does your sensitivity say about embedded transferences? my bias to old age was obvious w/o pychoanalysis: if boomers should make room for youngsters, then of course, pre-boomers should look for the exits, too. (as as far as old age bias, look no further than silicon valley and the typing speed of younger programmers versus older boomer coders.)

  62. different clue


    I am just a nitty picky poo person. Is that a bug? Is that a feature? Is that a bugfeature?

    I don’t know. But it is a fact.

  63. different clue


    Your reply lends validation to my all-along thought that it is the excess CO2 in the atmosphere which is depressing the IR re-radiation of heat from earth into space to below pre-industrial levels.
    So . . . the further warming predicted to continue is considered baked in because the ongoing presence of excess CO2 in the atmosphere is considered baked in.

    But is the current CO2 skyload currently baked in? If aerial CO2 were sucked down out of the air back to only the pre-industrial amount remaining up there, then the IR re-radiating back out into space would be less re-reflected back to earth surface and hence more able to escape, just like before the Industrial Revoluion. And that would let the earth-surface system re-cool fairly quickly back down to pre-Industrial levels.

    So . . . is there a reason why the CO2 currently in the air is considered non-removable over any
    near-future historical timespan?

  64. different clue

    ( And if anyone else here can pick nits as well as I can . . . . let me pre-empt them by noting that of course I am aware of various nitrogen oxides, methane, various halogenated organic solvents used to clean chips, the illegal bootleg Freon showing up in mass quantities from China, etc. . . . also help to warm the global.)

  65. Hugh

    different clue, human contributions have thrown the natural carbon cycle out of balance. From the wiki article I cited above:

    “the natural decay of organic material in forests and grasslands and the action of forest fires results in the release of about 439 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year, while new growth entirely counteracts this effect, absorbing 450 gigatonnes per year.”

    That’s about 10 gigatons CO2 clearing capacity each year in the natural carbon cycle. So if we have something like a trillion excess tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, at this rate it would take about 100 years to clear. Now we would not need to clear all this before we began to reduce some of the effects of climate change, but we aren’t doing this. We keep adding to the excess. And of course, this would not mean glaciers and ice sheets that took tens and hundreds of thousands of year to form would suddenly reappear.

    I wanted to add again in response to Sterling, that the 5th IPCC Assessment report identifies population and economic activity as the two largest drivers of human contributions to climate change. It does consider that economic activity is increasing faster.

  66. Peter

    @DC & H

    There have been 60 papers published in the last few years on CO2 climate sensitivity that show the IPCC estimate to be two to three times greater than the actual observed sensitivity. This is why the IPCC predictions of warming, in the last 20 years, have been so inaccirate. The average increase in warming for a doubling of CO2 in these studies is about 1 degree C but the trend is towards 0. There is no doubt that human activity affects the climate but ongoing studies show the actual effects are small compared to other drivers of GW.

  67. different clue


    This may be a valuable comment that you have offered. Are there links to any of these studies clickable on-line? Are there names and places for these studies so they may be looked up and read off-line in the analog-meatspace real-world realisphere?

  68. Hugh

    Peter is a denier of human-driven climate change. The IPCC reports tend to understate the degree of climate change. In part, this is because of the 5-7 years in between reports. A lot of insights and data come on line before the next report comes out. In part, there is political pressure to be conservative.

  69. Peter


    There are dozens of reports about the topic, CO2 climate sensitivity, to be viewed at a google search. You would probably have to pay to view the studies online but the results and methods are discussed in many of the reports. The climate alarmist as well as the climate skeptic sites are all reporting lower sensitivity numbers but still disagree about the numbers and what they mean.

  70. I checked out of this thread due to real life but I do have a response in my head to basic idea that, essentially, the only thing that could save us is a conscious mass sea change in opinion resulting in a low consumption lifestyle. In a nutshell, I think that that has been the convenient handmaiden of political inaction. Worse still is the elevation of this idea by grassroots environmentalists to a kind of moral filter: if humans cannot be saved by actively choosing to restrict individual consumption, then humans deserve what it is they get. That topic deserves a new thread but I don’t know when I will find the time to write it.

    On another note, I have always approved Dyēus Phtēr’s comments, not least because I know that when eventually the time came that he must show his cards, he would lazily wave his hands and say “there are dozens of reports about the topic to be viewed at a Google search”, but they are conveniently behind paywalls (not really a problem…), haw haw.

  71. Here I take a handful of minutes out of my busy day and do Dyēus Phtēr’s work for him:

    FWIW YMMV etc.

  72. Peter


    Being a Sky God it’s not my job to provide links for lesser mortals but I thank you for handling that mundane task. I doubt that DC or many other people could understand what is in these studies of CO2 forcing sensitivity but the reports available for free do a good job explaining them for the uninitiated. Doomsmen such as yourself can stop projecting their failures onto the only country reducing CO2 emissions now that CAGWA warnings have been shown to be exaggerated.

  73. Hugh

    There is a whole cottage industry of whack human driven climate change deniers. Nicola Scafetta belongs to this group. He thinks that what heating has occurred is due to the movement of planets, cosmic rays, and solar activity (although there is no evidence for any of this).

  74. Mojave Wolf

    Wow, I went away for a while (not on purpose) at the wrong time.

    Alas, no time to say much, but, this must be said . . .

    As far as can be told on quick reading, I agree w/pretty much all Mandos said in this post. I may never say this again, so must be said now.

    And . . . I agree w/most of what he has said in the comments, too, especially the bit about emphasis on personal habits versus structural changes is a dead end idea.

    Without structural changes, individuals can’t change enough to fix the problem. With the right structural changes, all the go-with-flow people (vast majority here) can keep going with the flow and we at least have a chance (I’m one of those people Scruff called “pathological optimists” in another thread, at least when it comes to practical discussions) of getting a grasp on the problem before it’s too late for the entire ecosystem.

    Re: population — I’m w/Hugh on this one, but I certainly take Mandos’ point that it’s good to at least occasionally separate the discussions because if you don’t other people try to hijack it for various other agendas (mostly of the “I must take any chance to call someone else a racist” type, occasionally by the actual racist types)

    Tho re: prophecies of overpopulation doom not coming true — the agricultural advances that kept humans from starving simply displaced the carnage onto the rest of the environment, which has been suffering horrible as a direct result of our continuing “be fruitful and multiply” bullshit.

    Also, I do think in terms of general environmental devastation, humans at even low industrial, no carbon polluting levels have proven capable of destroying entire ecoystems, albeit on a smaller than planet-wide scale, many many times in the past, so as far as the non-human world is concerned, it really IS about more than just carbon footprints, tho I’ll grant you that was a separate issue than what was discussed here.

    Anyway, good job!

  75. Mojave Wolf

    Was going to make another comment but shall go to open thread instead

  76. different clue

    This thread deserves more comments, so long as they are productive and constructive. This computer is about to time itself out from under me, so I will have to try offering one later. For now I will just say this. . . .

    I gather Peter wanted me to feel hurt, wounded and insulted when he wrote ” I doubt that DC or many others could understand what is in these studies . . . ” And of course I did feel hurt, wounded and insulted.

    But then I thought . . .what if Peter is right? What if I could never understand these studies? In that case, to even try reading them would be a pointless waste of my beautiful time. So I won’t even bother.

    But knowing Peter as I do from his numerous and abundant comments which are all variations on a theme . . . I feel confident that his studies are merely a cleverly worded pile of diversionary distraction, having no reality-value at all. So I suspect I am actually missing nothing at all by not bothering to read them.

  77. different clue

    ( My lonely comment sits and weeps in moderation).

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