I think there’s a bomb gonna go off sometime within the next couple of years, at least I hope it does. It’s the debate for action on climate change, what do we do? There are essentially three camps in this debate, the optimists, the pessimists and the realists. I would appreciate it if you could read this post of mine, Seeking An End to Chaos, before you finish this one as it will make this more clear, or at least more meaningful. In this case, I won’t include the pessimist point of view as they generally do not offer any sort of action other than to prepare for death. I am not knocking this, there is some sense in it, but I don’t believe it’s completely all over just yet, it’s gonna be real shitty even if we do all the right things from here forward, but total extinction I still believe may have a chance to be avoided though many, if not most, are going to perish.
So yes I will examine the debate already started between the optimists and the realists. I am doing this as a result of a minor debate I just had with an optimist, me being the realist. I want to use this little debate to show what’s headed down the path and is already happening; it’s just not a bomb yet. I say I had a debate but actually it never got off the ground. I started it out with a more or less smart-ass comment (mistake) and that set this person off to start nothing much more than using false accusations and name calling. Hey, I’ve done worse than this person did, I understand. We’ve all been through the asshole part of this debate, if you haven’t been that way you’ve been lucky or have not gotten very involved, it goes with the territory, though I can not condone it from me or anyone.
Let’s look at some of the conversation we had. The optimist started the thread off with this comment:
Oh the irony that Australia tops decarbonization rates the year before they repeal their carbon tax. Our children are doomed.
The subject matter obviously changes, but what I found interesting in our discourse is that this person makes the statement, “Our children are doomed” and then suddenly turns around and chastises me for not doing anything and that there is hope.
It went from there like this, the optimist was in a conversation about population with another fella, she says, (let’s make the optimist a women, I do not know the sex of this person), so, she says:
I used to have that mentality (about overpopulation, and how anything we do is pointless), but fighting poverty will inevitably lead to better education on family planning in third world countries. Already, most first world countries cannot keep up with their death rate without immigration. To quote a song from the 90’s “only stupid people are breeding”. There is hope!
I realize the projection is 10 million by 2050. Can we feed 10 million sustainably? No, probably not. But hopefully the ensuing panic will force us into a more sustainable economy where; resources are no longer treated as infinite, the atmosphere is not a pollution/carbon dumping ground, and the profits of the few do not trump the needs of the many.
I realize this none of this will happen. We will cook, clear-cut, and mine the planet for every last dollar, and billions of impoverished will suffer. Might as well try though!
So here’s where I jump in, rather rudely, and say:
You gotta a lotta hope there (name). What you are hoping for is a miracle, logistically it is an impossibility. The ONLY hope is massive reductions in the GDP’s of the developed world. Something tells me you don’t think that’s needed. But if you do, then keep talking, but if you don’t, I’d rather not know.
I was wrong here. If you look, she really wasn’t showing much hope at all. And if I would not have started out accusing her of too much hope, then our conversation may have taken a better turn. When she said, “But hopefully the ensuing panic will force us into a more sustainable economy where; resources are no longer treated as infinite, the atmosphere is not a pollution/carbon dumping ground, and the profits of the few do not trump the needs of the many” I assumed that she was talking about a continuing growing economy. Turns out my assumption was right…well, maybe not, I really can’t tell. She really never made it clear what she meant about that and as to what sort of economy would make those things happen. For all I know she may have had the same things in mind that I do. But then her reply confused the hell out of me:
Why the hostility? A more “sustainable economy” would inherently require a massive reduction in planet-wide overconsumption. I know we’re screwed, so let’s just give up and post counterproductive comments when people contemplate trying to fix it?
So I replied:
No (name) it ain’t quite that simple. I’m sorry if i came off hostile. I am not being counterproductive, I am countering a line of thinking that is sure to bring us down. It’s that “holding on” thing. But there is hope in your comment in that you hope for reductions in overconsumption. But here’s the thing, if you are hoping for that and still expect to keep the same system of free enterprise with its two sisters, self-interest and competition, then your hopes will be heavily dashed. Get past that and you’ll understand my original response to you.
And then she replied:
Extreme oversimplification of a complex issue that requires development in every aspect. You just told me that the ONLY hope is basically a change in the innate human nature. Remind me which one of us is hoping for miracles? Waving your finger at society is not going to do anything, so we might as well try to develop a more renewable/sustainable one.
And so I replied:
Oh hey, I couldn’t agree more about the miracle aspect, it’s all gonna be a miracle no matter what your opinion is, that’s the whole point. More to concern ourselves with is how to live thru the next 50 years. But as for finding a happy way through free enterprise, no way. Renewables yes, but will it be happy? Not likely. The more we realize this and plan by it, the less the negative impacts because we’ll be ready for them. But my sense is you think of all this as an opportunity for a better world, is that right?
And oh hey (name), remember you are the one who started this thread off with “Our children are doomed.”
Then I continued with another ranting comment:
Another thing, I am not waving my finger at society, I am warning them, big difference. Because of the level of our standards of living in the developed world we have a very hard time seeing reality. We just can’t believe that all this massive growth and resource use is coming to an end and we are going to have to change dramatically in our everyday living, that is, if we live thru the next 50 years. And yet, here we have the mainstream of the climate movement calling this an opportunity. There is a level of insanity there, but is that something to wave a finger a? No. It is an illness and you don’t judge people who are ill.
(Name), you said “You just told me that the ONLY hope is basically a change in the innate human nature. Remind me which one of us is hoping for miracles?”
That is basically correct, and yes it is short of a miracle, you bet. Right now emissions are still rising, right now we are only at 21% of global energy output from renewables, right now we have little happening politically, it’s peanuts to what we need. You are ‘trying’ to say I’m telling everyone to quit, no fucking way. The fight has barely started, the problem is, we are missing the ball on what the fight actually is “at this point”, it ain’t more malls and trips to Jamaica. It ain’t to build more new cars, having 3000 sq. ft. homes. You wanna get serious about action? Then you’d better wake up to what the real action needs to be.
So she replied:
You ramble much too incoherently when your point is simply “free market capitalism and their ilk will be the death of us”. No one who is trying to fix this problem believes massive growth and resource use will come to an end. We are trying to solve the issue IN SPITE of it.
Here, let me change my original post more to your liking:
“Humanity will never change their ways, we will consume and destroy everything, you’re all stupid for trying to do anything because free enterprise will always win, our children are doomed.” So counterproductive and stupid. Go spend time on some philosophy forum while the rest of us try and save the planet.
Well you can see she is starting to make big assumptions here, worse than mine by far I’d say, you be the judge on that. Nevertheless, I replied:
Nobody says you are not trying to save the planet and that your effort is not noble, no more or less than mine. And you are acting as if I am not giving solutions. Maybe I did not state that clear enough. In short, to have any chance at all to escape the worst of this, we will have to get an entire new economic paradigm, we will all have to sacrifice our high standards of living, we will have to go through of period of hard work with little pay. Now, if that is not giving you solutions then I don’t know what is. But the only thing is they are solutions that are not fun. Our current movement is set on making this something fun, an opportunity, that’s nuts. In stead of addressing me in such hostility, why not answer to that.
Tell me what has changed in your personal life b? Have you dropped your income level, have you moved into a smaller house, do you drive less? In my case I have done all those things and much, much more. Don’t tell me about action, please, you don’t know what you are talking about.
Then she came back with this bomb:
EVERY ONE OF YOUR POSTS MAKES SENSE NOW!!! The unemployed artist in the ivory tower, telling the rest of us to live more meagerly. The pretension is thick. I’m an engineer. I just quit my high paying job to get NABCEP solar training and lead the charge into a renewable future. Your “action” will fall on deaf ears, but I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. Have a nice life.
So I replied:
Well it is sad that you’ve taken this hostile attitude. You accusations are completely uncalled for and unfounded. From what I see, you appear to be running from truth, or a debate, either one. This saddens me because it is very representative of what we are headed for, and it will be a debate much greater then the one we’ve been having with flat deniers; judging by what I have been seeing lately I think this debate has already begun. Don’t be so quick to say my form of action will fall on deaf ears, it is a movement growing rather fast, not by me of course, but gaining ground in the overall public, that’s a good thing. Good luck with your efforts.
Oh forgot, yeah good for you on that training. Now, will you make less or more money? Just curious, and I think it is a fair question.
And one more request. I have a blog and I have been doing a lot of writing there lately and I would like to take this little comment thread between you and I and do an analysis at my blog. Would you object to that? I can be very objective with these kinds of things.
I also said this before her last comment:
If you are going to accuse me of not doing anything, then you owe it to me to read this:
Oh, one more thing. Are you up on the science, have you read AR5 yet, the summaries at least? Our solutions scenarios need to match the science, mine does, but the present mainstream movement is about a hundred miles off. Are you aware of that?
And we finished here with her reply and my response:
Much, much less money, thanks. Again, asking that just confirms the picture of you in my head. You accuse me of running from a debate and you offer up no actual arguments other than “all the other climate activists are wasting their time because they haven’t addressed free enterprise and the greed of human nature”. I’m telling you that’s extremely limited and will get you nowhere. Don’t jump in on other people’s debates with your completely off-topic, utopian vision which will never come to pass. Sure, go ahead and analyze our “debate”, I’m sure all four of the people who read your blog will find it gripping. NO MORE RESPONSES. IM OUT.
So I replied:
My, my you are a nasty one aren’t you? Anyway, thanks for your permission, I’ll leave a link here for you to check it out if you like. There will be many more read this than four, but don’t worry, I will not be running you down, in fact, I won’t even be using your name or this article for reference though I will stick to the facts of our conversation. As for me getting very far, I will get as far as you I can tell you that for sure. I used to get just about as nasty as you have here with me, never worked. But hey, much less money, that’s a good start. Good luck with your endeavors.
So now I want to look at the dynamics of this little so-called debate. First off, the level of animosity in this debate is nothing compared to what I am afraid it is going to become. But I’ll take it no matter as we need to have this debate, however ugly. Obviously my debate with this person was silly, did not accomplish anything, and was showing great misunderstandings from both parties, though I would easily claim having been more on the rational side than her. She accused me of not giving any solutions when the link I gave her was a detailed government plan stating specific measures to deal with climate change, read the link I gave her and you’ll see what I mean.
On the other hand, I believe my handling of this was nearly as bad as hers in that she was right, I jumped in with an agenda and it was rude. Of course that’s about all she was right about, I gave no utopian answers and she completely distorted my responses with false accusations. I hope I can say that as it appears to be abundantly clear, she made huge assumptions about my life, and my stance. At least when I made assumptions I ask he if they were correct, she gave no answer. She could see fairly clear were I was coming from, but reading her comments I can’t say I know a thing about what she is promoting. These are the facts of our conversation. In short, it was a dumb thread and I hope to do much better in the future though it will take someone much less hostile than this person to get a two way street going.
Which brings me back to the analysis I wish to make here. First, let me get something straight here about my being a realist and what that means. My stance comes right out of the conclusions of the IPCC reports. If you read the science there and set editorializing aside, and then look at the mainstream response to them, it should become very clear that we are not addressing climate change in any meaningful way. I’ll give an A for effort to mainstream concerning the vigorous pushing of their solutions scenarios, but an F for having a clear vision of reality. There are a growing number of people coming into line with this opinion. They are seeing that we have most likely taken this too far, and that hopes of solving climate change to a state that allows us the high standards of living the developed world are being dashed with everyday that passes and emissions still rise. To many of us it is so obvious that we are stunned by the lack of reality in the mainstream.
The mainstream on the other hand appears to have an inverse but equally intense view about the hopes of solving this thing and not only solving it, but that jobs will increase, GDP will rise, we’ll have clean air, in short, life will be better than ever. Whether or not the woman I was debating with feels this way I do not know cuz she never really gave an answer to it as she was too busy knocking me and had no intention to give her opinions on solutions with any sort of clarity. Again, that’s the facts of our conversation.
I have this question, is this what we are to expect here forward? Is this how the debate is going to shape itself with false accusations, name calling, vague responses and simple dismissal by undefined associations? This is how the debate has gone with advocates and deniers, I certainly hope it doesn’t become as useless as that between the advocates. At the same time, the debate between the advocates needs desperately to continue and become constructive and actually get somewhere. It is the most important debate existing on the planet today. The debate between advocates and deniers has just been a warm up to the real debate about to explode.
The reason I believe it will explode is because climate change itself will set the stage for it, in fact, that has already begun, notice the change in conversation just since Sandy, the California drought and now the recent rise in methane burst. When I used to say “we need to reduce our GDP’s in the developed world” I would get twice as many down replies as up, now in the last two years it is just the opposite. That means that most likely within the advocate community there has been a statistically significant change in the numbers of people who are diverting from the mainstream line of thought. Hell, I’ve turned a number of them myself. It is so much more common now to hear people I’ve never heard of talking the same way as me and others I know that we can hardly believe it sometimes, it’s been a clear and present change of late. As the planet heats up, more will come awake I’m sure.
If the person I debated with has read this, I do apologize for interrupting and trying to turn the conversation, I was clearly at fault for that. However, from there you’ll have to come to your own honesty. I am happy that this debate has gotten started and I hope it grows intensely, but I hope it goes better than what I witnessed yesterday with me and the optimist (I think). I will do my part to remedy that. but the main point I wish to leave you with, both the optimists and the realists, is that let’s please do have this debate. The mainstream puts out a sense that those in the realist camp don’t matter, that they have it under control and not to listen to the advocates that have these radical solutions scenarios. I do not think that assessment of opinion from the optimists is very far off, this appears to be their message. I say to the realists, don’t put up with that lie, argue your points, just like we have argued with the deniers. In a sense, it’s the same thing all over again only this time it can actually mean something.