We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


On the upside, warmer global temperatures may accelerate the evolution of a whole range of new plastic-eating microbes, due to the high pollution concentration everywhere?


Not that I’m aware of, but sounds like a good idea.


Over in the weather thread some forum members chafe at climate change posts because they are political. Now, that’s true and understandable to a degree, but it’s really only true for American (so called) conservatives. I started to wonder (admittedly this is somewhat passive aggressive) if we should start putting all science related posts in P&R, as climate change (along with maybe evolution, I guess) is the only scientifically proven phenomena treated this way, and the MSM is as much to blame as The Heartland Institute.

Dave Roberts addresses this quite forcibly - I just wish it was treated this way everywhere. :(

I mean, it’s getting a little ridiculous. When 97 percent of scientific literature in a mature field agrees about something, we just say it’s true. When 97 percent of scientists agree about something, we just say all scientists agree. We don’t parse these tiny percentages; we don’t track down every individual that disagrees and refute them one by one.

Scientists figured this stuff out. Then they reviewed each other’s work, comprehensively, multiple times. They made the case. We live our lives and structure our society based on theories far less scientifically supported than anthropogenic climate change (see: anything in psychology, economics, or nutrition). Ninety-seven percent is extremely confident!

Now climate researchers are out wandering the landscape, seeking out the last remaining climate skeptic arguments, hunting them down one by one. At this rate, pretty soon every jackass in the comment section is going to have his own personal PhD student assigned to persuade him.

At a certain point, one has to question whether more of this is going to work, whether there is a substantial subset of people unconvinced by 97 percent confident findings who might be convinced by 98 percent confidence.

The evidence seems to show, rather, that the increasing strength of the climate case has made no dent whatsoever on the US conservative movement’s denial. Whatever their opinions might be sensitive to, it is not the work of scientists.

Roberts also wrote an accompanying tweetstorm (I know, so I transcribed it with the help of Threadbard):

I made a point at the very end of this post. Since no on reads past the 1st screen, I wanna highlight it. https://t.co/uNc1E1AODG
(Just kidding, I know my readers always read the whole post, because of how smart and good looking they are. But just in case.)
As background: ever since climate became a political issue in the US, one of the most ubiquitous topics of climate discussion has been. … “how can conservatives be persuaded to accept climate science & join in the productive search for solutions?” I have read, no joke … MILLIONS of words on that subject. Been following that conversation long enough to notice it has certain recurring features. The weirdest aspect is that it almost always treats conservatives & their denial as a kind of feature of the landscape, like a mountain.

It’s something that just IS, something other people have to maneuver around, or overcome, or otherwise deal with. It is not treated as a CHOICE, made by grown-ass adults who could choose differently, for which they are responsible.
Another (related) weird aspect is, it’s almost always treated as something that the right’s political opponents caused. Al Gore caused it. Strident rhetoric or “alarmism” caused it. Enviro aversion to nuclear power (or CCS, or geoengineering) caused it. It’s always discussed as a result of something enviros or the left did–and something they could undo, if they just acted/talked right. “If environmentalists stopped doing [thing that personally annoys me], they’d be winning over the right” is a ubiquitous template. But it’s bullshit. The question of what shapes conservative opinion is not some deep mystery about which your gut impulses … carry any insight. It’s an intensely studied question in social science & has been, as least to a decent approximation, answered.

I recommend this @Jerry_Taylor post, summarizing John Zaller’s book The Nature & Origins of Mass Opinion. https://t.co/nSVZEMxJ7z
@Jerry_Taylor To very briefly summarize: people don’t know anything; they don’t have strong opinions on political “issues”; they form opinions by following the cues of leaders in their various social tribes. We are social creatures; tribal ties (not “issues”) are primary. So conservatives believe … what conservatives believe. And they find out what conservatives believe from conservative elites. That means conservative pols, celebs, and local leaders, but especially, in US conservatism circa 2017, media figures.

Conservative media plays an enormous role in shaping con opinion & has dragged it steadily rightward. https://t.co/AG97sOfnND
So we can say with confidence that cons deny climate change because that’s what con pol/media elites do. Elite cues are what matter. It follows that the only reliable way to get cons to stop denying climate change is for con pol/media elites to stop. That’s it. You might think that Al Gore should STFU, enviros should support nuclear, green journalists should avoid “doomism” and all the other things that VSPs are always scolding greens for. Fine. Think what you want. Scold away.

But there is no evidence, and no reason to think, that any of those changes would have any material effect on con climate denialism. Cons will change their tune on climate when the people they see on Fox & Breitbart change their tune. Until then, clever arguments and magic words (“national security!” “conserving God’s gift!”) are futile for everything except meeting think-piece word counts. Con elites & media are to blame for con ignorance & obstruction on climate. Not greens, not Dems, not Al Gore, not That Guy on Twitter. What they are doing is a monstrous crime that will directly result in enormous suffering. And they are grown-ass adults fully capable of understanding the consequences. They are responsible for their own actions & deserve to be called out for them. Basically, con elites are to blame for climate paralysis & only con elites can change it. I don’t like it, but there it is.Step one for everyone ought to be telling the damn truth about it. Quit finding “clever,” “counterintuitive” ways to blame others, FFS.

As Ornstein & Mann said (more broadly, but it applies here as well), “Republicans are the problem.” https://t.co/6v9hPUnqjG


An underlying theme amongst every conservative I know is “who pays for it?!?!”. Fundamentally they don’t trust the system, they think they’re going to foot the bill whilst China pollutes to riches. “Do you think China gives a shit about carbon emissions when there are a billion peasants that don’t have running water??” Is the answer you get when they’re drunk. Denying climate change is the answer you get in polite society.

IE, yes money is still the root of all evil.


Even if China weren’t going to hold up its end of controlling carbon emissions, how does it therefore follow that we shouldn’t? Do they think the CO2 is going to nod sagely in accordance with our legitimate grievances?


It’s something about fairness. To get under a conservative’s skin, to really get them punch-throwing mad when drunk, talk about fairness. It’s how almost all anti-progressive reactions they have are framed. Black Lives Matter isn’t fair because my life matters. Welfare isn’t fair because I don’t get it. Progressive taxes aren’t fair because I already pay plenty of taxes and all you want is for me to shutup and pay more! Ect. I think the fundamental psychology of conservatives is the fraying of the social compact - they really, really do see the world as out to get them. And… to be fair, there is a little bit of truth to that. But of course their intransigence causes as much dislike towards them as any preconceived biases, so it’s a vicious circle jerk of indignation. Conservatives seem to be much more concerned with individual fairness than Progressives, who, I think, actually frame their worldview around preconceptions of unfairnesses of group/identity social inequalities.

Because they tend to see things in terms of opportunities and outcomes - and setting aside whether what they perceive is accurate for a second - what they perceive is that climate change policy is going to a) hurt them/cost them jobs, money, opportunities and b) not actually do anything for climate change because China, India and Africa are going to do whatever they want anyway and c) someone else, in some industry (Al Gore!) is going to be making lots of money off the increased taxes i’m paying to fix a problem that isn’t going to get fixed in “green” energy.

Now, to be fair, there is some truth to all this. They probably are right that without getting everyone on Earth on board, more or less, we’re not going to be able to combat climate change. And they probably are right, more or less, that progressives just aren’t going to hold other countries to as strict standards as they hold their own, even if that means climate change policy may end up being self-defeating, because progressives perceive it’s “not fair” we got to pollute and industrialize before pollution and climate change became such a problem. But from their point of view climate change policy is just going to cost them money and get someone else rich.


Great post. And of course conservatives are mainly considered to be in the evangelical and /or “Christian” party, which just makes me laugh. So much hypocrisy.


Tragedy of the commons.


Armando will quietly and gently note that every minute climate change isn’t tackled with the full brunt of human ingenuity can probably be mathematically calculated to X thousand lives lost in the not terribly distant future and that anyone opposing that progress has that blood on their hands so why in the ever loving fuck do we keep letting these knuckle dragging imbeciles drag us into oblivion with them? I don’t give half a shit about your freedom of political expression when your politics is too render the earth uninhabitable within a couple hundred years.

Oops. I started quiet. Oh well.


Armando, we’ve told you, stop yelling in the street…


Goddamn I wish I was that skinny


Where would we be without Ann Coulter to guide us?


No climate or environmental activist anywhere think that India/China/Asia/SA et al repeating the mistakes of industrialization that the US made (and long before most knew any better) is a “good thing.” Concern trolls use that point to counter efforts to mitigate climate change.

And by the way, the answer to their whiny question is, their children pay for it, including with their lives.


Said it before, will say it again: the extent to which Coulter and Trump part ways is precisely the extent to which I like Trump more.


I’m not saying it’s impossible to fashion a worse person than Ann Coulter, but I am saying that we’ll never know, because said person’s mother would smother then in the cradle within the first week.


Fuck those people. China is actually leading the way, and we - the richest country on earth - are embarrassingly doing nothing. Because some rich assholes might become less rich.



Joe Walsh and Bill Mitchell are VERY strong contenders. They’re just less successful or well known.


The GOP party is pretty much focused entirely around the good Christian value of selfishness above all else.


Absolutely true. After all, the gospels mentioned that Judas invested the 30 silver on the market and made great returns at the time because that was before all the government meddling with capital gains taxation.


Your edition of the Book is outdated: I am pretty sure it is agreed Judas invested 30 dollars.