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

Is There Hope For Mitigating Climate Change?

I’ve always felt that the last thing which came out of Pandora’s box, hope, was the worst thing to come out. People wouldn’t put up with the evils of the world so readily if they didn’t feel hope.

Most recently, in America, Obama ran on “hope” and did, well, very little to help most people who voted for him. (And rather a lot to hurt them.)

So, what hope is there for dealing with climate change?

What, I think, there clearly isn’t, is hope that we avoid serious and catastrophic consequences. The methane in permafrost will be released and we are going to get hit hard.

People will die, it will be bad. For some people very bad.

Combined with ecological collapse there is an outside, but still real, chance that we will destroy our civilization or wipe ourselves out.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the generational cohort is changing. The Boomers are giving way to the Millenials (Xers, of whom I am one, never counted for much politically.)

As Stirling Newberry explained, old people don’t much care about climate change because they’re going to be dead before the worst of it hits.

Young people do.

And the Overton window is shifting: even if Pelosi (old) sneered at the Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got it talked about and taken seriously. Multiple Presidential candidates are for some version of it.

What is possible; what is acceptable, is changing.

The Green New Deal is no different from what many people have suggested in the past: refit the entire economy to be as carbon renewable as possible. Make every building as close to energy neutral as possible, use renewable energy, etc..

We had the technology in the 90s, heck we had much of it before then. AOC’s plan is, in broad strokes, identical to what I used to propose Democrats run on back in the 2000s, when no one took it seriously.

So, yes, there is hope.

The other piece of hope is that things get really bad; catastrophically bad, as soon as possible. We need to lose millions of people to climate change and ecological collapse in an obvious and terrible way, so everyone else wakes up.

That’s not nice, but this is a boiling frog situation: we need something to happen that makes people panic and realize that they can’t take their time fixing this.

As long as it seems like a slow change, we will tend to put off the very radical change that is needed.

Fortunately, I’m almost certain climate change will be discontinuous and that bad things will happen off schedule and before we expect them to. In one sense that’s bad, especially if whatever happens is so bad we can’t recover, but if it doesn’t, it’ll be exactly what we need.

Grim, but that’s where we are.

Hope? Yeah, there is some. But only if we seize the chances we will be given.

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Climate Change and Game Theory


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 24, 2019


  1. Eric Anderson

    “We need to lose millions of people to climate change and ecological collapse in an obvious and terrible way, so everyone else wakes up.”

    Know that religion also has a history of stepping into catastrophic moments to succor those that have succumbed to learned helplessness.

    “It’s the rapture! It’s the rapture!” they will say.

  2. someofparts

    “From the point of view of the left, the 40-60 group is a lost generation. It’s an entire generation of American politicians who were taught all the wrong things.”

  3. different clue


    Even though Naked Capitalism is not as philosophically First-Principles deep as this blog is, and even though they banned me from there; I still read their blog for interesting material and comments.

    Unfortunately, they write so many millions of words so fast that there is no keeping up, and DEFinitely NO being able to refer anyone from elsewhere to any one particular “something interesting I read there”.

    So, before it is too late to find it under the ever-flowing flood of new words over there, let me just say that in the last couple days they have begun writing about how the Clinton Political Mafia and the Wall Street DLC took over the DemParty and spent the last 30 plus years purging every “right-thing-knowing” political wannabe from out of the party and also preventing any emerging ” right-thing-knowing” political wannabes from getting into it. Naked Capitalism is facing up to the fact that a whole generation of DemParty persons are Clintonite cancer cells and the only hope of making the DemParty a legitimate political party again is to find and “exterminate” every single metastatic malignant Clintonoma cell from every last little corner of the Party.

    There are right-thing-knowing people in the 40-60 year group. Millions of them have given up on voting at all. Some few of them are supporting Sanders or maybe Warren or maybe Gabbard.

    If you don’t believe me about the Clinton Plague, go over to a Jonestown Clintie blog called The Confluence written by a True Clintonite High Priestess named Riverdaughter. And make sure to read the comments in order to “wake up and smell the sewage”.

  4. nihil obstet

    Generation X didn’t count for much politically because they extended the worst of the Boomer mentality. Children of the Boomers, they believed along with their parents that success came from personal smarts (which they were sure they had) and hard work (which they thought they did), and so they trudged along the beaten path and got mad at government for taking all their hard-earned money (all their money is hard-earned of course) and giving it to those people, if you know who I mean. If it weren’t for government, they’d all be rich. So they did end up with the big house in the suburbs and all the other accouterments of the classic middle class life, except that in contrast to their parents, they’ve done it all with debt. At least the Boomers were in the forefront of social justice rather than being the backlash to it.

    The Millennials have few hopes from the status quo. There’s no beaten path to trudge along to get to the big house in the suburbs. They’re already in debt. Employment is insecure — the big dream is to write the killer app that will make them rich, but most know they won’t do that, and they’re open for alternative visions of life. When the Green New Deal brings decent jobs and improved infrastructure, they will go for climate change mitigation as the 50s and 60s prosperity supported the Boomers going for social justice. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Hope just refuses to go back in the little box.

  5. bruce wilder

    the thing I can never wrap my head around is how to organize self-constraint amidst the free-rider problem

    the word, “mitigation” is used too broadly I think in climate change discussions — i am going to use it more narrowly to mean response to climate change that meliorates the consequences, but not the constraints on energy use generally or fossil fuel energy use particularly that limit the human contribution to consequence-generating processes.

    “hope” seems attached to rather uncritical expectations that somehow we can switch the economy to “renewable” sources of energy and posterity can continue the scientific and industrial revolutions on the way to a singularity of full automation and universal basic income and electric cars for everyone. Or, somewhat more realistically, that people will come around thru a consciousness raising process to forego air travel and become vegans.

    but, waiting for a consensus to support radical conservation measures does not seem to be working. i read stirling newberry’s but i do not understand. i have watch fracking balloon, despite — almost because, I think — it is a financial disaster. if no one makes any money, why do they keep doing it!??! i am confused. and, the implications of world population growth seem to put everyone into denial

    putting on my little economist’s thinking cap on, i find it fairly easy to imagine how humans might organize (and finance) mitigation measures of a narrow definition: seawalls, say, because the community that organizes the building of a seawall benefits proportionately. i think rich people will rather uncritically want to cope with heat waves with more air conditioning — it is crazy from a global perspective, but rational from individual self-interest and easily organized in a way that radically reducing all electricity use may not be.

    i am not without “hope” — some self-constraining conservation measures — the ones that take aim at the ridiculously wasteful economic activity that just annoys and burdens everyone in the society — seem like they could be organized. It would be in everyone’s interest to dial back on meaningless work that produces nothing of value at the margin. Even things like constraining the use of electric light, so that we get an energy conservation effect from LED tech instead of the death of night, seem doable, though the will and imagination to do them continue to be absent for the moment.

    but, i cannot imagine that the “other” guy, the late adopter, is not going to benefit from “cheating”. and, for all the hang-up on whether climate change is due to human causes — i fear that many people miss the fact that natural processes — like methane release from the permafrost and the deep ocean — can take over on scales humans cannot hope to “mitigate”

  6. Willy

    In case some people survive this should be one hitting bottom the human race cannot forget.

    But then I think of that idealistic movie “Deep Impact”. In that one only the best and brightest were chosen to be saved. In our reality, it seems only the dumb and dumber would be chosen by the powers that be. Our post warming catastrophe survivors won’t just be an Idiocracy, they’ll be inbred mutants as well. A movie about that scenario might be worth making but it’d be really hard to not have it be a comedy.

  7. S Brennan

    It is pretty hopeless if, the “left” draws the dichotomy between generations and not between the truly powerful [0.1%] and the weak [90%]. Yes, I purposely left out the 9.9% of “middle management suck-ups” because, they would do whatever “leadership” told them to do.

    Young folks are not trying to save the world, they are trying to get laid…this is an observation I made back in ’68 when, as a kid on Schwinn bicycle, I asked some hippies why they were all in Chicago to protest and when some of the young women tried to answer, the guys cut them off and told me to beat it or they’d kick my ass. Yeah, peace-love brother, if you are worried that a 10 yo is going to “steal your chic” your sanctimony doesn’t impress. Since then, I’ve watched every young group virtue signal in sacred vows that were broken as soon as they became an impediment to personal advancement.

    The last generation to go through the Depression and preceding depressions,[as adults] was the last generation [as a whole] to actually give a shit about the future. When the people who broke the back of the last gilded age started to die off in the early 70’s, power reasserted itself. And when those youth were warned by those few who still remembered the FDR miracle, those elders were not just ignored, they were taunted by the “youth”. The youth of the world are not going to save anybody’s ass, only a conglomeration of good people across generations will be able to overturn the satanic works of thoday’s neogilded-uberists.

  8. Tc

    If the election of Donald Trump is not the wake up call catastrophe you wish for, I don’t know what else could do the trick. As much as I hate Republicans, I found myself shocked that they would go along with all this level of naked corruption and sheer incompetence and groveling before Russia and Korea. And now we see a big part of the Dem party is quite comfy with the new status quo. The frog is boiled
    But I don’t agree. I think the next financial crisis will be the trigger for any attempt to turn things around. Until the wheels fall off the economy, Americans will always tell themselves the conservative daddies know better. If India dries up to dust and China sinks under the ocean, it won’t matter to Americans. At all. Not until the west turns to dust and the south sinks under the ocean.

  9. peon

    During the last “youth rebellion” the 60’s, besides social justice and anti-imperialism, lots of young folks fled to the countryside and went “back-t0-the-land”. Out of this came our present day challenge to factory food: organics, farmers markets, etc. Also a small home birth and artisan movement that persists and has made some inroads into industrialized hospital birth and McJobs.
    Much of the anti-imperialism was driven by the draft and the youths personal experience with fighting meaningless wars.
    There is no anti-war movement today because only a small group of mostly poorer kids are personally affected by it. So are we going to see other socially rebellious behavior by the millennial? or Gen Z? like the “tune in, drop out” behavior of the 60″s ? Is it already happening and no one is paying attention?

  10. Daniel A Lynch

    Re: the Green New Deal

    The GND is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it is a lie. The lie is that we can fix climate change merely by passing some law, without having to make sacrifices or change our lifestyles.

    The Green New Deal would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions.

    Want solar panels? Well first you have to manufacture them. That requires carbon every step of the way (it also requires extracting and processing chemicals and that creates other kinds of environmental problems).

    If you want to go on a solar energy building spree, first you’re going to have to generate a lot of greenhouse gases to build and install all those solar panels.

    Ditto for wind turbines. Ditto for high speed rail. Ditto for electric vehicles. Ditto for more efficient buildings. Ditto, ditto, ditto. ALL HUMAN ACTIVITY HAS AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

    In general, all infrastructure projects are carbon-intensive. If you are trying to reduce carbon emissions, the last thing you want to do is go on an infrastructure building spree, yet that is exactly what the GND proposes.

    No need to speculate about the theory of the GND because we have empirical proof: China is going crazy building solar panels and wind turbines and nuke plants and high speed rail and electric buses — a GND by any other name — yet China’s emissions are going up.

    Now, a lot of the GND carbon emissions are up front, so after several decades of manufacturing GND infrastructure, then emissions may level off and even go down a little, but they will never go to zero because there are too many processes, like manufacturing concrete and steel, for which there are no known clean substitutes. And a GND will require lots of concrete and steel.

    A GND might have worked if it had been implemented 100 years ago, but it’s too late now. Instead of building infrastructure, our short term focus should be on conservation. Strict rationing of fuel, like we did in WWII. A 15 mph national speed limit (in WWII it was 35mph but climate change is a more serious threat than Hitler ever was). Flat out ban airplanes, and that includes military planes. Flat out ban all those carbon spewing ships — forget free trade, buy local instead. Flat out ban all motorized recreational vehicles. Flat out ban lawns and lawnmowers. Forget about traveling across the country to visit grandma — no long distance travel without a government permit.

    Dogs have the carbon footprint of an SUV, so only one pet per household, and that one pet should be taxed by the pound. The surplus pets will have to be euthanized.

    I mentioned a 15 mph speed limit. Why 15 mph? Because a bicycle can travel 15 mph, so with a 15 mph speed limit bikes would be able to safely share the road with motorized vehicles, no need to spew carbon constructing dedicated bike lanes. And why would anyone spend a fortune buying, maintaining, and insuring a car if they can get to their destination just as fast on a bicycle?

    Rather than high speed rail, which would require gobs of carbon to construct, just ride bikes on existing roads. Yeah, you wouldn’t be able to travel very far on a bike, but for most of human existence humans never traveled very far.

    Of course electricity should be strictly rationed, and that would be easy to do with today’s smart meters. Each person should be allotted so many kilowatt hours in a 24 hour period, and once that limit had been reached the smart meter would automatically shut off the power. Rich and poor alike would receive the same allotment.

    One of the simplest, surest ways to reduce our environmental footprint is to reduce the number of feet. Everyone should be required to have their tubes tied at puberty, with only a few thousand chosen by lottery to continue breeding, just enough to ensure a viable gene pool. Forget about allowing immigrants in.

    We expend a tremendous amount of resources caring for senile old people, so new rule: at age 75 your doctor puts you to sleep. If putting people “to sleep” when they are old and suffering is a bad thing, then why is it a good thing when we do it to Fluffy and Fido?

    I could go on, but you get the point. Forget the carbon-intensive GND, instead we should focus on conservation, which will require radical changes to our lifestyle, our economic system, our government, and just about everything. Of course there is no political support for my proposals so they’re not going to happen, not until things get really ugly and by then it will be too late.

    In conclusion, even if every country immediately implemented a GND, that would probably increase emissions, and certainly would not reduce emissions enough to matter. There is no politcal support for sacrifice and lifestyle changes, so we’re effing doomed … unless we do geoengineering.

  11. Daniel A Lynch

    Re: geoengineering. Everything about it is unproven, and it might have all kinds of unintended side effects. But if the choice is between 1) doing nothing and you know we’re gonna die, 2) doing a GND which might actually increase emissions and then we’re gonna die, and 3) doing geoengineering and there’s a 50% it might work and only a 50% chance were gonna die, I’ll take that 50% chance.

    One of the dangers of the GND is that by selling the lie that climate change is easily fixable just by passing legislation, it lulls us into believing we don’t need to do more radical things like geoengineering.

    So geoengineering proposals will not be taken seriously … until, as Ian predicted recently, millions of people die in India and Pakistan, and people are rioting in the streets, and the rulers start to worry about keeping their heads attached to their torso. At that point, geoengineering will suddenly be a great idea!

    Ah, but you ask, how will you get all that dust or chemical or whatever into the atmosphere? My friend, India and Pakistan have nukes. Nukes by themselves have a cooling effect by stirring dust into the atmosphere, and nuking a pile of sulfur or whatever would give you a double bang for your buck. Even better, how ’bout nuking a pile of sulfur at the Yellowstone Caldera?

    The trick will be lighting just enough nukes to provide a few degrees of cooling, but not enough to cause a nuclear winter, so you’d probably set off a few nukes every year, year after year. After a while you’d get the hang of it.

    Of course the nukes will have side effects, but after a million people starve and a million more are rioting in the street, you won’t lose sleep over side effects.

  12. Tom

    Realistically we hit the point of no return in 2013. Even in 2005 we started seeing the deleterious effects of Global Warming with Katrina. The current wars across the Middle East are driven by climate change and Israel’s seizure of more Palestinian Land is driven by their rapacious Agriculture Practices that are depleting the soil nutrients at an unsustainable pace.

    China and India: Toss up as to whether pollution or Global Warming gets them first. India most likely will fall first as it is more corrupt. China won’t be too far behind, and when it goes, it will go. Part of its genocide against the Uighurs which includes death camps with crematoriums, is driven by the need to steal more farm land as they are raping their current fields past usefulness.

    South America, so far the other states are staying away from intervention in Venezuela, and straight up told Trump, you break it, you buy it. Maduro needs to man up, arrest Guaido and throw him in prison or execute him. Trump is not going to start a war over Guaido, and for all their efforts, Bolton and Abrams can’t get him to commit to an intervention as he want SA countries to do it and they won’t.

    As for Trump himself, his inability to get the Deep State to follow orders and withdraw from Syria is showing just how little real power he has and is causing Turkey to break away from NATO. If Turkey leaves NATO, Europe is indefensible and Putin can divide and conquer as he pleases. Putin would love it if F-35s are held back from delivery to Turkey, since Turkey is the only supplier of the cockpit systems, that would effectively end the F-35 program.

    Turkey giving all this info to the Russians would be the biggest shot in NATO’s foot in its history and all because it refused to sell Turkey Patriot Missiles and let them produce them under license. This in turn caused Turkey to purchase the S-400 on its terms from Russia.

  13. ella

    Thousands of people have died this week in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

    If the number were a million there would be barely any more notice taken in the US or Europe.

    If it takes millions and millions suffering and dying for there to be political will to mitigate climate change, those suffering need to be in the US and/or Europe. And that won\’t happen until much poorer people are totally devastated, and that will be much too late.

  14. Trent

    Why do you bother to ask these questions? You already know the answer, we can’t even stop destroying ourselves/each other and you think we’ll save the planet? I think it would be best if the planet wiped us out. Are we worthy of this planet?

  15. @Daniel A Lynch

    Are you saying the emperor has no clothes? Are you trying to tell these youngsters that we can’t just pass a law to make everything wonderful? Are you saying that we can’t have all of our needs taken care of by government (socialism), pay no taxes (tax the rich) and have high wages all at the same time just because the Democrats are in charge?

    Most of your rules make pretty good sense to me. One I would change a bit is, “at age 75 your doctor puts you to sleep.” A bit more harsh than needed I think. I would go more with, “after age 65 your doctor quits making any real effort to keep you alive.”

  16. scruff

    Gotta say I’m with Dan Lynch; the GND is counter-productive because it doesn’t represent what sacrifices would actually be required to attain a sustainable society. And to be clear, the closest thing to an actually sustainable society we have evidence for is Stone Age tech levels with a global population of maybe 1 billion at most. Probably less considering what has been done to ecosystems over the years.

    But he’s wrong to enumerate the options as only 3; do nothing and die, GND and die, or geo-engineering and maybe die. There’s also destroy civilization and maybe die. And quite frankly the chances of surviving a deliberate collapse are almost certainly better than the chances of surviving an extended program of geo-engineering for one primary reason: every ecological problem we’re facing now stems from unfortunately having been successful at protecting human lives and desires. Until the link between negative environmental outcomes and the technical ability to “improve” human conditions gets broken, anything – ANYTHING – that focuses on doing what’s best for humans is bound to make things worse.

    The young do not deal with this issue in their environmental activism, and to be honest I make no effort to convince them to do so. I myself have little more than abject despair over this situation, and if youth deserves anything it might deserve a little leeway to remain delusional for a while. It’s not the job of children to do the unpleasant necessities of life. Still, their hope bears the potential to destroy us all.

  17. Ven

    Good comments Ella and Trent.

    So the hope you have Ian is that there will be an accelerated calamity that will galvanise people into action. On the face of it, a seemingly neutral position.

    But the reality is that accelerated calamity is going to hit the poorest in the world, who have benefited the least from unbridled greed and consumption. Europeans have for the last 500 years plundered and pillaged the world to feed their industrial revolution, and even today continue to seek to dominate and exploit resources (vide Middle East, Venezuela . . .)

    And your hope is that a calamity will hit these people soon, in order to save the exploiters?

    I find this climate change angst and activism from European-based countries rather amusing – pity there wasn\’t a similar level of angst when their governments were destroying lives through bombing other civilisations into collapse.

    Let\’s face it human beings are corrupt, self-absorbed and greedy. Even your premise of \’hope\’ is self-absorbed. We have destroyed not only ourselves, but also other species and our habitat in pursuit of this greed. We are an experiment of nature which has gone wrong. And the planet is reacting appropriately to remove the virus.

    We have gone off the cliff, and trying to brake is not going to help, given species coextinction, top soil erosion, inability to grow crops with increased / variable climate conditions, and nuclear power stations that somehow need to be kept running in a collapsing civilisation. If any survive in their bunkers in NZ, they will truly inherit a wonderful world to slug it out in.

  18. Tom

    For the nuclear option:

    Way too late, it might buy a decade at most. And no it doesn’t cause a nuclear winter because of the oceans.

    Which is another thing, the Oceans, the majority of Global Warming is being sucked into the Oceans, this is where the issues are cropping up and killing us. Most fisheries are tapped out. Whale Populations are barely holding on and only because a lone conservation society takes direct action to stop whaling.

    When the Oceans die, we’ll be reduced to less than a billion humans when all the fighting is done, especially when the Europeans lose their harvests due to global warming. Hell here in the US, the Mississippi River is flooding and draining a lot more and dust bowl conditions are building up. It is only a matter of time before US Agriculture collapses and when it does, the global food chain will go with it.

  19. The Green New Deal has raised awareness of both the problem and potential solutions among less-engaged citizens. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in Congress (HR763) will actually make a difference and with speed. I encourage you to take a look.

  20. Eric Anderson

    Remember up thread what I said about learned helplessness.
    It takes many forms.
    Just a quick read through the comments on this post serves as Exhibit #1.
    People are damn good at rationalizing away the need to get off their butts — and maintaining the mantle of self righteousness at the same time.

  21. James Wheeler

    Fascinating comments.

    The youth do care about the environment in a way that the middle aged to old don’t but I’m skeptical how deep their commitment is.

    One young girl went on strike to protest against climate change but happily flew to Switzerland a week later on a family skiing trip paid for by daddy.

    There are millions of the same examples going on every day. If the young generation are SERIOUS about climate change in the developed world they will need to EMBRACE POVERTY. I see little to zero evidence of that so far.

    Regarding the Green New Deal, its deeply flawed but it does at least raise a debate which needs starting. I think there should be a consensus to start some of the more sensible stuff within GND, like conservation, retro-filling homes to be more energy efficient, develop rail networks and so on but the central premise of the current GND is still techo-utopian to quote John Greer and doesn’t remotely deal with the reality that America (and the wider world) will be facing shrinking resources, energy and money in the decades to come.

    Still, at least we are talking about it which is something (I think).

    Regarding climate change, Ian is spot in, a certain degree of warming and chaos is already baked in.

    Throw in resource depletion, something Ian oddly doesn’t refer to much, and our industrial civilization is definitely in the early stages of a collapse.

    On my blog I discuss what individuals can realistically do to prepare for what I consider a dying future.

  22. Ian Welsh

    Climate change is going to hit the poor worst no matter what. That’s how these things always work.

    And, in developed world terms, I am the poor.

  23. James Wheeler

    Currently reading John Greer’s latest post and funny enough one of his comments deals with this exact issue.

    The short answer is that Ian you are wrong. The youth won’t save us (or at least there is no sign of it so far)…

    “Kevin, so far what i’ve seen of the school strikers reminds me much more of the Children’s Crusade than it does of anything that’s likely to have a constructive outcome. The thing that Thunberg et al. apparently don’t know, and may not be willing to learn, is that it’s not just a matter of getting rid of fossil fuels and putting something

    else in place to power the kind of lives they assume they’re going to lead. There is nothing else. Renewables can provide maybe 15% of the energy, and less than that of the products of energy, that we currently get from fossil fuels. The other 85% will go away forever, and take everything corresponding to an industrial lifestyle with it. Mind you, that’s going to happen anyway in due time — fossil fuels are nonrenewable, and we’re depleting them at an insane pace — but the notion that all people have to do is throw a tantrum demanding that something nice and green be put in place of fossil fuels to keep their lifestyles going is the supreme delusion of our times.”

  24. Ché Pasa

    Wow. Extra-heavy dose of nihilism and doom-saying with this one Ian, and I’ve got to say, this style of prediction is ever-popular with a certain set; and in the end, the predicted doom will come to pass, at least individually if not universally. We’re all gonna die, after all; no way around it, even while Our Betters are trying to become immortal.

    Much misinformation about the Green New Deal being spread far and wide in the comments here and elsewhere. The idea that it’s a “lie” is absurd. At this point, it consists of a resolution that hasn’t been adopted.

    The resolution states the problem in wide ranging but general terms and suggests a range of solutions. It can serve as a framework for tackling some of the problems of climate change and economic transformation and justice. But it is not that yet, so it is not a lie.

    And it does not suggest that any of this is necessarily easy or can be accomplished without some major social and lifestyle alterations, ie: “sacrifice.” The notion that it does is being spread by those who have a stake in preserving the status quo on the one hand and those with an interest in further cementing and expanding the authoritarianism we’ve been subject to for many a long year.

    I agree that it is past time for many of the programs and solutions that have been suggested to deal with climate change to be implemented. Those who are trying to do something to reduce carbon emissions on a large scale are running into some nearly insurmountable technological problems requiring more emissions in the short term, more environmental degradation, more intensive work-effort, partially because it is so late in the game, time is not on our side, and “doing something” too often is stymied by entrenched and unmovable interests.

    Millions of dead due to climate change won’t change the attitudes of powerful interests in the West. No, most of them would welcome the sloughing off of as many useless eaters as can be disposed of efficiently. Our Rulers have been playing this game for decades, and they’re pretty good at it. They have some profound historical examples to follow. And they are becoming more and more brazen about doing so. Push-back is mild when it exists at all. The examples of New Orleans and Puerto Rico’s destruction have certainly given our rulers type-models for handling the inevitable consequences of climate change without noticeable consequence for themselves. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands may die at one go. But, oh well, “life goes on,” right?

    And it does. For the survivors. This can go on indefinitely. And it will.

    In the meantime, the Green New Deal, among other proposals for dealing with a worsening climate and economic situation for the masses, does some of what’s necessary to reverse the notion that there is no alternative to letting the ruling class have their way.

    I think it’s way too late to reverse the climate warming trend — if that was ever possible — but it is not too late at all to mitigate the consequences and limit the amount of warming without necessarily imposing a draconian totalitarianism or inevitably losing millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of souls at one go. These things may happen, yes, but they don’t have to.

    Despite all, I’m still more optimistic than not.

  25. alyosha

    My guess is that there’s going to be a die-off of humans and other life forms (already in progress), but it’s unlikely to be total, even if nukes are exchanged. Life will very likely continue. But this cancerous civilization has got to go, either peaceably or by force.

  26. Herman

    I have to agree with the critics of the Green New Deal. The big problem is that nobody wants to accept the only real solution to the environmental issue which is a major reduction in consumerism and not only putting a brake on economic growth and technological progress but even rolling back many of the developments of recent generations.

    Millennials and Gen Z want to have their cake and eat it too. They want environmental stability but also the kind of mass consumer society that earlier generations enjoyed only updated for the 21st century which means even more consumerism since now one car is not enough every family must have at least two and they must be gigantic SUVs or trucks. A small 1950s-style house is not enough, people want McMansions. Basic household appliances are not enough now we need Alexa, smartphones and all appliances must be hooked into the Internet. One TV in the family room is not enough we need TVs in every room. One desktop computer is not enough, now everyone in the household needs their own laptop. Taking a vacation to the local fishing hole is not enough, people want to fly to exotic locations.

    What is even more distressing is that people in the developing world now want to live this extremely materialistic, consumeristic lifestyle too. How are we going to tackle environmental devastation when there seems to be no end to human greed? I am afraid that we will have to suffer a massive catastrophe before the necessary changes are made.

  27. Whatever happens, no matter how tragic or disastrous, the individual always insists on being reassured that they’ll come out of it alive, if not entirely unscathed, and that things can “get back to normal” as soon as possible so they can pick up and continue on with their life.

  28. Eric Anderson

    To those claiming that we just have to sit on our hands and wait for the apocalypse b/c it’s already too late, I encourage you to spend some time over at Project Drawdown:

    It’s been clear all along to anyone paying attention that the GND is not a panacea to all out climate woes. But it is a step in the right direction, and running down the idea or those who propose it’s implementation makes you part of the problem.

    The solution is ALL OF THE ABOVE.

    *An aside: I think it should be mandatory everyone reveal their age prior to commenting on climate change threads. I’m 48.

  29. ella

    I’m poor by US standards also, and I lived thru the Harvey flood here in Texas.

    Devastation is already happening in the US and is being successfully ignored. Right here in Houston the plight of hundreds of people trying to live in uninhabitable, moldy houses, right now, is not a topic of conversation, much less concern. Tens of thousands were made homeless by the California fires and most of us don’t know or care how they are getting on now, but I’m pretty sure they’re getting on in more poverty. Puerto Rico, the panhandle of Florida, North Carolina, all in the US and after initial heroic efforts, left to founder.

    So yes, the poor everywhere are going to suffer first and most, self-evidently. The GND at least has gotten more people in this benighted country to entertain the idea of being less destructive to the environment. Apparently China and Vietnam are no longer taking our “recycling” so the mountains of trash we make are going to stay with us until we learn how to consume less, much less. Consumer societies have to bear the costs of their lifestyles, it’s the only way to learn.

  30. Tc

    Ian Welsh PERMALINK*
    March 23, 2019
    “Climate change is going to hit the poor worst no matter what. That’s how these things always work.
    And, in developed world terms, I am the poor.”

    Capitalist ideology in the US reminds me of the Aztecs and their voracious human sacrifice practices. Those who don’t see themselves at imminent risk will tolerate it no matter how horrific it seems, because the risk of confronting it are so great and the probability of success is so small. That’s most of us here.
    We could probably house and provide basic support for the homeless for less than they cost us in terms of crime and disease etc. But capitalist ideology requires risks and rewards. Unlimited reward to the winners and the ultimate risk of death to the losers. Anything less is now radical leftism which is the moral equivalent of death camps (whether there are death camps or not, the right finds both options equally offensive).
    So, basically I’m saying we could see collapse as suddenly as the Aztecs fell to the Spanish.
    I’m 56 and 1 year from retirement eligibility (but a sucky one). Maybe I should become a radical, but why the f*ck would I risk what little I have when I can’t even convince so called liberals that Obama was not a liberal, and not even close to it? To say nothing of the idiocy I hear from conservatives. The stupid is too strong right now. Until a critical number of Americans see themselves in imminent economic danger there is not much that will happen.
    Remember how alarmed the 1%and the media were by the Occupy movement? Actullay, nobody seems to remember that at all anymore. But it will come back the next time there is a disaster in the economy.

  31. Willy

    Without all these frickin conservative evangelicals I think we have a reasonably globally concerned citizenry, enough for change I’d think. At least in the States.

    The powers that be made “global warming” uncool for consumerist boomers and most evangelicals. Maybe we need to make a green Jesus cool, since killing him off is taking way too long.

    A grand second coming Jesus with all the commanding archangels and sky trumpets might be entertaining (especially the part where bodies simultaneously climb up out of graves to worship), but a Green Jesus would obviously be better for us. Instead of Cecil B Demille meets Ridley Scott Jesus we need a humble boring eat your spinach Jesus. Green, ethical, nonmammonistic, just do your frickin homework already Jesus. We have to make that kind of Jesus cool again.

  32. Hugh

    Dealing with climate change is like getting a room full of 450+ pound people who refuse to change their lifestyle in shape to run a marathon. It’s possible. It would be very difficult. You might get a few to make the effort. But if you need to get say 90% of them ready, you are going to fail.

    To deal with climate change, we need a completely different way of thinking about our society, politics, economics and this needs to happen pretty close to planet-wide. To do this would require huge amounts of organization, mobilization, education, consensus building, planning, and implementation, and this even under the best of circumstances. And our circumstances are pretty awful. We exist in advanced stage kleptocracies. Our politics are both non-functional and absurdly irrational. Most of us are at once profoundly cynical and eminently dupable. Our conman is better than your conman. Our conspiracy theories are more realistical than yours. And so on. The result is lots of conflict, even more distraction, and little or no constructive action. Meanwhile the clock on climate change and managing our populations downward has nearly run out. And what we don’t do will be done to us ten times over.

  33. different clue

    I am not a scientist. I am a lay amateur science buff. I do the best I can with what I think I know.

    I do not have my own computer and therefor I do not have 24/7 screentime access. I use the breakroom computer at work while on lunch or break. I use the public library computers sometimes. So I don\’t have endless time to read everything. I have to pick and choose. The GND document is one thing I haven\’t gotten to yet, or anytime soon.

    Can climate decay be slowed down or even stopped or even eventually reversed? Can up-violent weather outbursts and weather peaks and troughs be mitigated? Even now the barriers are not ecological or bio-geo-physical. The barriers are political-economic and cultural and psycho-social.

    The IFTC ( International Free Trade Conspiracy) spent the last few decades carefully dsmantling parts of America\’s good-quality-production industrial base and sending it to China/Vietnam/Mexico/BanglaDesh/ etc.; and repurposing it to produce fallapart throwaway junk. The only way to reverse that within America would be to unilateraly abrogate all the Free Trade Agreements going back to GATT Round One. Then we would have to institute militant belligerent Protectionism for the next few decades needed to restore a smaller leaner slower meaner thing-making base to produce half-as-many-things each one lasting twice as long. For example, I have a black cast iron frying pan that is at least 70 years old now and still works just fine. With decent treatment it should last many decades to come. So which consumes less to produce and use over its lifetime, one frying pan per 120 years or 12 frying pans at 10 years apiece? The First World Poor can\’t do much about that on their own.
    Perhaps a TAR United ( Trash of All Races United) movement could win that war on the field of political combat.

    We know that the climate system is sensitive to heat budget input-output changes. The global was already heating in the 80s and early 90s. When Pinatubo erupted, the high atmosphere sulfur dioxide particle ( sulfuric acid droplet?) shroud blocked enough sunlight from even reaching the surface to degrade into heat to begin with . . . that parts of Earth surface re-cooled measurably for a few years.
    CBC News ran a program about how the Greater Hudson Bay area polar bears had spent the \”last few years\” starving as Hudson Bay failed to ice over the way it had used to. This was depriving the bears of their sea-ice landscape to go hunting seals in. For several years after Pinatubo, Hudson Bay began icing over better again, and a few generations of polar bears became better fed and non-starving again. Canadian wildlife managers began calling these the Pinatubo bears once they understood the process.

    If we could re-lower the CO2 skyload enough to give the same re-cooling effect as the Pinatubo sulfur-shroud gave us, we would get the same level of re-cooling.

    People tell us that once the CO2 is up there, it stays up there. But is that really true? Let\’s think about this. We are told that 2/3rds of the fossil carbon burned since 1800 is up in the air. The other 1/3rd is in the ocean. How did it/ does it get out of the air and into the ocean that fast? I don\’t know, but here is my little hypothesis. Mere passive diffusion across the air/ocean interface would be too slow. Forming and falling skywater is actively dissolving aerial CO2 into itself, and taking its dissolved load of CO2 down with itself as it falls through the sky to the surface of land and sea.

    If if IF there were a way to increase plant growth to bio-fix and bio-store that downwashed skycarbon before it re-gassed skyward again, then more re-down-falling carbon would be KEPT down than is now being KEPT down once it FALLS down. Ideas on how to increase plant growth on land and sea and how to increase plant-mass carbon storage once that growth has been increased would be useful.

    Meanwhile, can global de-warming wannabes do something in their personal lives to reduce their own contribution to carbon skydumping? Can they share different ideas on that with eachother such that millions of people do those things in full view of eachother and thereby find eachother to grow a culture and form a movement for supporting the political combat needed to conquer enough social political power to use that power to up-efficientize and down-waste-ify the physical matter-energy body political-economic we all live in? To facilitate greater carbon re-suckdown and lesser carbon sky gas-loading?

  34. different clue

    I just wrote a long comment. The system challenged me to make sure I am not a spambot. I took the test.

    The comment did not “ghost appear” with the clarification that it is in moderation. It simply appeared to disappear from my end over here. But maybe it is in moderationable form at your end.

  35. Eric Anderson

    “Instead of Cecil B Demille meets Ridley Scott Jesus we need a humble boring eat your spinach Jesus. Green, ethical, nonmammonistic, just do your frickin homework already Jesus. We have to make that kind of Jesus cool again.”

    Cracking me up Willy 😉

  36. alyosha

    @Eric Anderson – thanks for the link to Project Drawdown. It’s clear that our problem is systemic, and so there are many fronts to work on, rather than waiting for the silver bullet. It’s helpful to see them cataloged in one place and ordered by impact. Interesting that cutting back on animal products is near the top, and is something nearly everybody can do. Agree with you about purity trolls – GND may not be perfect but IMO it’s an important start. Just getting the national conversation off square zero, in a propaganda state like this, is huge.

    I don’t know about age, IMO it’s really about mindset, what you think you’re capable of, and how much of this (consequences of climate change) you’ve thought through, and/or feel called to contend with. Most USAians are living the “Happy Motoring” lifestyle (thanks to Kunstler), could care less about climate and are willing to die with the remote in their hand. Many fewer have known since childhood this way of life is doomed, and have been working consciously or unconsciously on a response.

    I realized a few weeks ago that I’ll soon be singing a song from my youth, Paul McCartney’s “When I’m 64”.

  37. This has got to be one of the most depressing posts + comments I’ve read here at

    Rather than spank the participants (including Ian, who IMO has over-estimated millenials, but also made an extemely offensive remark about their progenitors), I’ll make what I consider to be 2 constructive comments.

    First, the notion of sustainability gets conflated with the lefty notion of catastrophic “climate change”. While there is overlap, these are not two identical concepts. While some non-CO2 catastrophists seem to disdain “sustainability”, this is baffling, to me. I disdain CO2 catastrophism, but I certainly don’t disdain sustainability, and don’t get folks who do. It’s hard for me to imagine a more self-evidently civic virtue than “sustainability”. I mean, if you pump your water table dry, and then can’t drink, bathe, or grow local crops, how is this not a bad thing?

    So, there is a means to make common cause with many (most?) people who find CO2 catastrophism unviable, to put it kindly.

    Secondly, Robert David Steele (who I don’t trust, but does collect and express many good ideas) has often advocated “true cost economics”. IIRC, he has said, e.g., that the true cost of a McDonald’s hamburger is $200. Even if he is off by, say, a factor of 4 or more, I can’t for the life of me understand why meat isn’t far more expensive than it is. The reason being, it takes many pounds of feed to raise each pound of an animal. There simply MUST be government mandated resource allocation going on – Ralph Nader would probably call it “corporate welfare”.

    So, if you can first integrate true cost economics into the public discourse and practice, not just in the US, but worldwide; and secondly, create a consensus that all societies should be sustainable, and hence allocate resources reflecting true cost economics, then you would mitigate at least part of the “climate change” catastrophes you anticipate. E.g., much more expensive meat means far less consumption of it, and this mean less destruction of Amazonian rain forests getting cleared to feed cows.

    That is something conceivably attainable, IMNSHO. Telling people that they can’t go over 15 mph, e.g., is not.

  38. Eric

    You’re welcome, alyosha!

    I agree, it is definitely about mindset. Interesting to see the correlations though.

  39. Eric Anderson


    You’ve essentially said in a whole lot of words that capitalism only exists because consumers subsidize negative externalities. We’d have a steady state economy should the negative externalities be factored in. Been harping on this for years.

  40. Ché Pasa

    There appears to be a fairly serious and global movement for “doing something” to mitigate the effects of climate change and — if possible — reduce the rate of change through limiting carbon emissions from the major industrial nations.

    There is powerful resistance from entrenched corporate interests. Governments tend to dither on this topic among many others when the public interest collides with the pecuniary interests of private corporations and governmental survival interests.

    While the Green New Deal has been heavily criticized for not being the One and Only True Answer, it is a part of the “do something” — and quit dithering — movement. The problem is that it hasn’t been adopted, and with so many powerful opponents, it probably won’t be.

    Governmental dithering will continue.

    The alternative that I see proposed all the time — including repeatedly in this comment section — is a fully totalitarian marshaling of populations and resources to address the immediate issues of climate change and fully transform society into something else again. What, exactly, it should be isn’t clear except that it must be global, and the current models of social, political, and economic organization can’t continue. The replacement must occur immediately and be functionally a global dictatorship which everyone on earth must be subject to. Otherwise, we’re all going to die. And tens or hundreds of millions, or even billions, will die anyway.

    Of course, as others have pointed out, and I concur, this is a recipe for apathy and stasis and the undermining of any movement to address the problems before us. If your only alternatives are a rapacious corporate sector compelling government to do nothing substantive, or a global totalitarian system of command and control of everything, neither of which the public agrees to, the default will be the status quo: nothing substantive gets done on behalf of the masses — who are conditioned to believe they can do nothing substantive themselves.

    Of course there are plenty of other alternatives, but they are outside the parameters of discussion.

  41. different clue

    @Ché Pasa,

    ” Of course there are plenty of other alternatives, but they are outside the parameters of discussion.”

    Well . . . are they outside the parameters of discussion here on Ian Welsh’s threads? Maybe not.
    Why not write a comment about plenty of other alternatives and if Ian Welsh does not erase it, then it may be taken as being just-that-much inside the permitted parameters of discussion here.

  42. different clue

    @bruce wilder,

    “the thing I can never wrap my head around is how to organize self-constraint amidst the free-rider problem”

    What is the “free rider” problem in this context? I could guess, but I would rather know for sure, so if you could explain it in this context and describe just who would be free-riding on others’s self-constraint and what form that free-riding would take, then it could be specifically analyzed with possible specific remedies suggested.

  43. Hugh

    The GND is a starting point. It raises the topic and keeps it under discussion. But a lot of meat needs to be put on its bones. Meanwhile it will be opposed and vilified by Republicans. Various Democrats will adopt it as a matter of expediency but will have no intention of fighting for it (the aspirational approach) or will recast it into something ineffectual and status quo (co-optation). As others have mentioned, Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Maria (Puerto Rico), droughts, floods, wildfires have had no real effect on business as usual. So it is likely that much more severe weather events where the death tolls are in the tens of thousands and the costs are in the $50-$100 billion range will be necessary before real action is taken. This amount of resistance and inaction is an important indicator because even with all this the US remains in the best position to survive the ravages of climate change although likely severely altered. The prognosis for most of the rest of the planet is much worse. Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia are effectively already gone. Central Asia and Southeast Asia have a high likelihood of collapse. South and Central America are an open question with Brazil having perhaps the worst prospects. Europe’s chances are reasonable as long as the Gulf Stream continues to function. Northeast Asia odds are diminished by the likelihood of nuclear exchange involving North Korea. One of the things we should be looking at is what is likely to happen. Not what we want to happen but what is most likely to.

  44. Eric Anderson

    There is no “outside the parameters” of discussion.
    Again, there is only learned helplessness:
    And man, I’m sure hearing a lot of it in this thread.
    We must anticipate, and argue in the present, the ideas that will afford future generations’ viability.

    Gen Z isn’t making arguments yet. They may not get a chance. We need to make their arguments.

  45. Ché Pasa

    Models and predictions of the effects of climate change have been broadly correct — glaciers and permafrost are melting, sea levels are rising, storms are increasing in frequency and intensity, consequences are spreading and so on. Yet all of this and more is happening in a global socio-economic and political context that diminishes the importance of the ratcheting up of a stark and difficult reality.

    Mitigation needs to be the key, and I don’t think we’re there yet. We’re still conceptualizing as if we can prevent or reverse the climate warming trend, and I think it’s too late for that. We had the opportunity decades ago, but instead our leaders and influencers went in the opposite direction.

    So. What do we do now? How do we mitigate the looming catastrophes that are closing in? Can we take practical steps to limit the consequences of what is to come?

    Can we do it while preserving at least a modicum of dignity, justice and personal intellectual, social, economic, and political liberty? Maybe not. That’s always the hard part, isn’t it?

    We’ve witnessed and experienced numerous extreme devastation events over the last several decades that have wiped out many communities and caused the deaths of many hundreds of thousands in horrible ways. Some of it has been deliberate — like our governments’ ugly addiction to wars of aggression — but much has been “natural” due to storms, floods, heat and cold waves, earthquakes and so on. I don’t think it’s something we can ever get used to. But it will be more common in the future, and there is not a whole lot we can do about it. When technology was less advanced, living with calamities of all kinds was routine. It’s what you did. Survivors picked up the pieces and went on. So it goes. We deal with it.

    Dealing with it has tended to reinforce authoritarianism, however. It’s always been thus. So I’m not really optimistic that the kinds of social, political and economic transformations necessary to mitigate the consequences of climate change can be accomplished without the heavy and perhaps arbitrary hand of authority. My hope is that it doesn’t slide into totalitarian cultism.

    In the meantime, we need to think more about what’s possible on the community and individual levels to take on the challenges and mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

    Getting out of the way of fires, floods, sea level rise and so on seems axiomatic, but for whatever reason, at least in the US, people tend to flock to the at risk areas. That mindset needs to change.

    Learning to live more naturally with desertification as well as the expansion of rainforests — both happening simultaneously — is long overdue. How to live relatively comfortably in a desert without or with only limited air conditioning, where water is scarce, where weather is unpredictable, and self-sufficiency is difficult or impossible is a lesson that needs to be relearned. Same with expanding wet areas. Take to the high ground, don’t settle in the flood plains, live lightly and in community.

    Question the necessity of vast cities, of towering skyscrapers, or of multiplicities of server farms using tons of water and electricity to… do what? And for what? Remember, large parts of numerous cities and towns in the US and elsewhere have been abandoned and left to ruin, rot and decay in the recent past. The ruins are a stark reminder of impermanence. If so many cities and towns are already partially abandoned, couldn’t many more be? Could many of the technological goodies and gadgets we think are indispensable be dispensed with?

    The Green New Deal provides an outline of steps to take toward a better future for more people under difficult circumstances, and that’s why I applaud it. But it isn’t a panacea. Realistically, there isn’t one. Be as adaptable as you can and do the best you can. Help one another.

    Don’t tell them what to do, show them what can be done.

  46. ricardo2000

    I agree with Mr. Welsh. By the time so-called CONs wake up the process of civilization collapse will be unstoppable. But extinction is what they want: it is why the term \’citizen\’ disappeared from discourse, and was replaced by the term \’consumer\’. The 1% consider everyone below them to be a useless consumer.

    The most probable scenario: environmental collapse, mass migration, starvation, disease, widespread violence, social collapse, resulting in the deaths of 90% of the population. In North America it will start with the collapse of southern agriculture due to drought, followed by the world-wide disappearance of plankton and insects: the ecological base of the environment.

    The 1% will organize a global extinction party like a bunch of April 1945 Nazis celebrating Gotterdammerung with all the booze, drugs, and sex slaves they can steal, with a gold bullet to the head for the hangover.

    Americans can forget about moving to Canada. Head south: let\’s see how far into the hearts of Latin Americans Trump\’s Wall, the Monroe Doctrine, and all those death squads can take them.

  47. different clue


    Under your scenario, why would Americans forget about moving to Canada? Wouldn’t it be more likely that Americans join with Mexicans, Central Americans and Caribbean Islanders in all moving to Canada together?

  48. Temporarily Sane

    @ Eric Anderson

    >Gen Z isn’t making arguments yet. They may not get a chance. We need to make their >arguments.

    Isn’t that what happens on the internet? You and other thinking people of sound mind can up with the most compelling, rational and reasonable arguments about the catastrophe that awaits the Z generation and why we should try to bring carbon emissions down and how to best go about doing it. You might get more likes, thumbs up, follows and reposts than you ever imagined, well known people and politicians might give you props on Twitter and if you’re “entrepreneurially minded” you might even be able convert your 15 minutes into cash.

    And absolutely nothing would change. Not really.

    The problem isn’t lack of ideas to try…it’s not lack of science and reliable information, it’s not about lack of money to pay for a comprehensive Earth rescue project. The problem is that we, or rather our leaders and “representatives” in government are in thrall to an ideology that limits the role of the state to war making and keeping the disenfranchised and dehumanized rabble off the streets. The rest is taken care of by “the market,” i.e. profit generating enterprises. The citizenry are a bunch of rubes, marks and morons to be pacified, bought off, recruited as useful idiots or “neutralized” depending on what the situation requires. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. The oligarchs ability to make money and profit NOW is the only thing that matters.

    Remember 2008? The capitalist overlords almost brought the global economy to its knees and their for contempt for the proles was revealed for all to see. Their scam was exposed. They couldn’t even abide by the few rules and regulations still in place. Yet they were promptly bailed out by governments who demanded NOTHNG from them. They had the arseholes by the cojones and didn’t even squeeze lightly. They just handed over the cash and made sure none of the scumbags went to jail. The thoroughly dumbed down and propagandized citizenry did…nothing. No riots, no general strikes, no nothing.

    Learned helpless indeed. The only way out of this mess is governments taking back the power they gave to the oligarchy. Putting the bankers, CEOs and their technocratic life support system under state control. To paraphrase Stalin “how many divisions does Wall Street have?” In other words, we are fucked. Most of the citizenry is too pacified by fear and propaganda to have a clear idea of where the problems are and the system can’t be changed from within…and that defaults to the “nothing option.” There is Bernie though. The “radical left” (lmao) is sure that this time it will be different. No really, trust me on this one…Bernie knows where it’s at bro. The right and the centre play a ruthless game of hard ball and the left appeases and waffles and deludes itself.

    Sorry, I went into ramble mode there. This essay by Mark Ames from 2009 is a scathing, laugh out loud funny take on Americans’ state of learned helplessness and willingness to bend over the barrel again and again and again.

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