"A kind of dark realism"
December 6, 2018 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Why the climate change problem is starting to look too big to solve (SL WaPo)

In the daunting math of climate action, individual choices and government policies aren’t adding up.

Solar panels are being nailed to rooftops, colossal wind turbines bestride the plains and oceans, and a million electric vehicles are on U.S. roads — and it isn’t enough. Even if the world did an unlikely series of about-faces — halting deforestation, going vegetarian, paying $50 a ton carbon taxes, boosting energy efficiency, doubling car mileage, and more — it would not be enough.
...

“If you’re driving on a highway and the car in front of you stops short, and you slam on brakes and realize that you’re going to hit the guy no matter what, that’s not the time to take your foot off the brake,” said John Sterman, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s business school. “And you certainly don’t step on the gas.”

Sterman said that the world has missed the chance to contain warming without huge disruptions. “Now, it’s technically possible to do that, but we don’t have the policies in place,” he said. “That’s discouraging. But that just means we have to redouble our efforts.”


Meanwhile, the NYTimes reports this morning that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018
posted by whistle pig (130 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is where I am at intellectually, and have been for years. I just don't think we can make collective long-term choices in anything resembling a humanistic framework.
I'm sad about it, but a little fascinated by the prospect of a philosophical and spiritual zeitgeist that is not based on a set of steady-state assumptions.
It is like we now have just one chessgame, instead of the billions possible, and pieces are being removed as the play progresses. And no, it is not a game.
posted by Glomar response at 7:33 AM on December 6 [25 favorites]


I'm sorry, but this black pill shit is just another excuse to put your feet up and do nothing. We need optimism and ethics to move ahead toward rational management of the biosphere. This is a wake-up call, not the last post.
posted by No Robots at 7:41 AM on December 6 [83 favorites]


The Economist has a similar take this week: The Great Inaction. Everyone's responding to the same climate change meeting and consensus report. It looks bad.

But it's not necessarily an excuse to do nothing. It may be a call for one country or small group to take individual action. Per The Economist:
Ultimately, though, countries suffering from climate change may resort to unilateral measures to improve their own situation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that reflecting sunlight back into space before it warms the Earth’s surface, perhaps using particles—a form of “solar geoengineering”—is “highly likely” to limit temperature rises. Geoengineering is within the scope of a country like Belgium or Brazil. But its effects are not fully predictable, nor will they be evenly spread; some schemes could harm some places. It is no substitute for mitigation and its planned use by one country could terrify others, spreading instability. Geoengineering is worth studying, but it could leave the world an even more dangerous place.
I'm increasingly convinced someone's just gonna start spraying sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere and risks be damned. (My money is on China, not Brazil). Now I'm wondering why there's not more research on what happens if someone tries, ways to mitigate the inevitable risks.
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


The world will need to sustain consumers’ habits and living standards while replacing the energy industry’s massive infrastructure.

Let me know how that works out for everyone in about 500 years.
posted by Automocar at 7:53 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I...think that this is not the type of article the WaPo should be running. The WaPo isn't a blog, it isn't Grist, etc etc. It's one of the mouthpieces of power - sure, socially liberal, financially conservative power rather than fascist/Trumpian/Thielian power, but this actually is one of those situations where I feel like they're setting up the billions of common people to accept our own deaths. "Whoops, sorry, nothing we can do, even though the owners of this paper and our cronies are fantastically wealthy, fantastically powerful people who could, if we endangered our stock portfolios, fix a huge percentage of this mess".

There may not be anything you and I can do - other than some kind of civil war leading to a climate coup - but there are lots of things the wealthy and powerful can do. They just don't.
posted by Frowner at 7:58 AM on December 6 [74 favorites]


Also, what this article says about Macron is enormously misleading. The so-called "climate tax" was being put in place after huge tax cuts for the wealthy, and a large part of the money it would generate was to be used to plug the subsequent hole in the budget. It wasn't even about climate; it was about looting poor people to pay for a tax cut. If it had been paired with, eg, more taxes on the wealthy to expand public transit in the periphery, I would buy that it was a climate tax.

Something I never even thought of: In the long run, states will probably attempt the same kind of thing, charging ordinary working people regressive fees and taxes under the guise of "climate" while slashing taxes for corporations and the wealthy. It's going to be just another grift.
posted by Frowner at 8:02 AM on December 6 [53 favorites]


Via a pal who retired early to work full time on climate change issues, I just learned about Citizens Climate Lobby. They have a simple goal: enact a "Carbon Fee and Dividend" plan. Of all the approaches I have read about, this seems to have the greatest potential to win political support from both sides: tax carbon (which the Left supports), but instead of using the revenue to fund specific programs, give the revenue to individual citizens to do what they like with it (which some on the Right can support). This is NOT an easy plan to get passed, but CCL seems to be running a smart, sophisticated grassroots operation, and a simple plan like CF&D feels like the only approach with even a trace of a hope of a dream of passing.

My friend and I are still deep pessimists - "governments won't be able to handle mass retreat from the coastlines, food shortages from weather changes, and other migrations and crises," as he put it - but we have to do something to try to limit the disaster, and the CCL plan seems the most likely to us to have an impact, if we can push push push to make it happen...
posted by PhineasGage at 8:03 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


I wanted to mention that since reading the WaPo article last night and seeing the NYTimes article this morning, I've had difficulty functioning. My reason for posting this gloom-and-doom here was to see some intelligent discussion that was not the newspapers' comment sections.
posted by whistle pig at 8:08 AM on December 6 [14 favorites]




The sunrise movement
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]




"governments won't be able to handle mass retreat from the coastlines, food shortages from weather changes, and other migrations and crises," as he put it

Something that I think of as a comfort is that there likely won't be one global catastrophic event that brings all of these concerns to a head at once. The catastrophes are regional and ongoing, and human adaptation (moving away from coastlines, other migration, a changing food supply) is a gradual process. Thinking of it this way takes the sting out of my anxiety. Because my anxiety looks like a movie trailer for one of those volcano movies that came out in the late 1990s. And it's just not going to be that shocking or thrilling.
posted by witchen at 8:18 AM on December 6 [8 favorites]


Anyone who wants a little bit of hope should check out the Srsly Wrong podcast. They just did a three-part series on the ecopocalypse and how to build an ecotopia, instead. Part 1 is about the bad stuff, part 2 is looking at existing tech and possible solutions, and part 3 is the pie-in-the-sky dreaming about what an ecological utopian society could look like.
posted by asnider at 8:27 AM on December 6 [8 favorites]


I think humanity is simply not capable, as a collective of organisms, of solving this. In much the same way as ancient bacterial life that transformed the planet's atmosphere to oxygenated and went into mass extinctions because of it weren't capable of not doing so. (Yes, this analogy is strained and has plenty of wellactually room in it. Am aware!)

To mix metaphors: humanity is terminal.

But. With any terminal diagnosis, there's a massive amount of value in the adage "accept the diagnosis, defy the prognosis." Because sometimes the prognosis proves wrong, and even when it does not, there is value in the fight to make it so. If nothing else, it beats the alternatives.

Rider effects on this way of looking at it: I've found it's helping me be kinder to people in general. Because no one handles terminal diagnoses "well" and we're all in this ward. Everyone's going to have tremendously bad days, and spikes of suffering, and everyone's going to need more compassion going around, regardless of whether prognosis-defiance ends in remission or not.
posted by Drastic at 8:35 AM on December 6 [10 favorites]


Can the nothing to be done people please announce their age and if they have children.
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on December 6 [41 favorites]


I don't know how much we can do but we need to try, if even to mitigate the disaster. This is a climate emergency.

I don't have kids but I do have nephews and young cousins and friends kids whom I adore. And it saddens me to think they may look back on this time as a utopia before the wars and mass migrations started. That they are headed toward a bleak world.

Again, Extinction Rebellion. I'm not convinced that there is anything left but civil disobedience.
posted by vacapinta at 8:42 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


I don't think that there is "nothing to be done." I think serious work will be done, but I don't think [make it possible for 10 to 20 billion people to enjoy "middle-class" prosperity] is a serious goal.

I think being kind and just within the reach of social systems that overlap with the communities I inhabit is serious work. I believe compassion is [possibly the most] serious work. Neither will transcend physics, but they are serious work.

I'm 50. I have kids. I weep for them and what we have done to them.
posted by Glomar response at 8:43 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


I feel like the existential question of hope, despair, and whether an action will be effective 20, 50, or 100 years from now is a luxury that many people just don't have today. Put on the big-adult pants and do the necessary because people suffer tomorrow when you don't, people die tomorrow when you don't.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:44 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


We should never think about "solving the climate problem" as if it were a binary, solved or not. This a vast constellation of problems, some of which can be solved, some of which could be managed, and some of which we'll just have to live with. The distribution of severity of suck is directly related to the (lack of) effort we put into solving it. A catastrophizing outlook is one of the worst ways to approach the situation.

Fatalism is a sin.
posted by Jpfed at 8:45 AM on December 6 [35 favorites]


And it saddens me to think they may look back on this time as a utopia before the wars and mass migrations started. That they are headed toward a bleak world.

But wars and mass migrations have already started. We're already living in that world. There's not going to be a start date for the shit hitting the fan.
posted by witchen at 8:45 AM on December 6 [38 favorites]


came here to post that contrapoints link, saw that the whelk had beaten me to it.

tbh it's not one of contra's most entertaining entries, but the underlying message is solid: basically, that this blackpill we're-all-doomed stuff is just another form of denialism. it's just slightly hard to recognize as denialism, because as a culture we often mistake despair for sophistication.

if you've sat down and mathed it out for yourself and honestly can't see a way toward avoiding "the apocalypse" under our extant regimes of power, if you genuinely believe that, the appropriate thing isn't to throw up your hands and say "lol apocalypse" and then go back to doing your desk job. the appropriate thing is to join an armed underground revolutionary organization and/or become an ecoterrorist.

and if you're like "god that's ridiculous I'm not going to become an ecoterrorist" — which I expect is your reaction — then you don't really believe that climate change is bringing the apocalypse. instead, you're just getting off on epistemological despair: the neurotic belief that whatever hurts most is most true.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:47 AM on December 6 [46 favorites]


I don’t think nothing can be done but the powerful aren’t going to do them, they’re going to work against to the bitter end and then fuck off to Muskograd, Mars or whatever. It’s going to take a revolution.
posted by rodlymight at 8:49 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


The marketing of the issue has been a spectacular failure. "Global Warming"? Everyone loves warmth. Warmth isn't a bad thing. I like warmer weather. "Climate Change"? So what? Things change. Things have always changed. What's wrong with change?

This should have been framed as a looming disaster from the start. Stop talking about temperatures and start focusing on sinking islands and species extinctions and hurricanes and out of control forest fires.

In a democracy you need the people to buy in, and the people want cheaper gas and air conditioning.
posted by rocket88 at 8:51 AM on December 6 [12 favorites]


500 years from now, some "we" will have survived. We might gain some inspiration by recognising that the "we" we have so far articulated, in many ways, is just not the "we" that perseveres. It is not white people, it is not the rationalists, it is not "humanity". The "we" that perseveres can only be found by recognising us as within nature, and not against it. The boundaries of that "we"is not "humanity", but some broader notion that has humans within ecosystems, continuous with them, so that "we" extends to animals, crops, processes. We have a lot of learning to do, but in as much as "we" are within the real world, we are not doomed, but we do have some waking up to do, and a reassessment of the bounds of the "we" will be necessary.
posted by stonepharisee at 8:53 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Humanity is going to suffer because of climate change. It's unavoidable, it's already happening. It'll get worse before it has even the slightest chance of getting better.

Almost nothing we do will be enough to solve the problem for us, the people who are alive right now. Is humanity ready to think long term and do what's needed to be done without being able to reap immediate benefits? Considering how capitalism works, I'd say no. Not voluntarily.

I'm not in the "nothing to be done" crew but it's really hard to be optimistic about the subject.
posted by Memo at 8:53 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


I’m loving that random-sounding idea in the first article about “reforesting an area the size of the lower 48 states”. I would love to live in a forest; I would also love to not move from my city home. Maybe I could depave a few streets, and suggest people park their cars a few blocks away. How about a carbon credit for being a tree caretaker, of my new urban forest?
posted by Secretariat at 8:54 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


dang that’s a pretty vision for the future. every street a forest.

next time someone tells me that they oppose (for example) the universal basic income because “oh noes what would people do with their time if they didn’t have to work for capitalists” my answer is gonna be “grow trees.”
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:00 AM on December 6 [24 favorites]


Jeff Bezos is counting on unbridled capital expenditure. He owns the outlet advertizing the buy, buy world article. The way we do Earth has to change fundamentally. My ex and I have one grandchild. I have never owned a new.car, I might make enough garbage to fill a city can, every two and a half months. I own and use a fifty year old "Save a Tree" bag. Raise your voices and lower your expenditures. Grow food, drive less.

Again we are being victimized by apocalyptic politicians, and those that manipulate them by prophet, for profit.
posted by Oyéah at 9:01 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I feel like hanging willingness to do work in this area on getting one's emotional hope muscle massaged is not that dissimilar to the way that some people of privilege won't do their own work on racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia unless they get a pat on the back for it.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:01 AM on December 6 [16 favorites]


I'm slowly coming around to the idea that active mitigation is our only realistic hope. Not because it's the best solution, or the least dangerous solution, but because there's a realistic chance we could actually pull it off. In the last 20 years, watching 350 ppm Co2 go from an absurd compromise worth protesting, to a reasonable idea mainstream politicians talked about, to a value that existed in the past sure hasn't inspired hope.

A friend of mine once said, "what do you think the chances are the world won't burn all the fossil fuels that can possibly be accessed for fewer dollars/Joule than solar power in the next 200 years? I'm betting on zero. Maybe trying to do so over 200 years rather than 30 years is worth fighting for. But, it's going to be a hard fight.
posted by eotvos at 9:04 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Something we might usefully ask ourselves: How might the ground be prepared for an actual revolution? There are a lot of ways to have a revolution - I mean, at some point you need mass movements and a certain amount of fighty stuff, but we could consider, eg, the election of Allende and the German Revolution of 1918 as revolutions that were on balance pretty good and minimally bloody. And if Americans, uh, had one of those here in the heart of the beast, we wouldn't have America breathing down our necks and funding Pinochet and so on.

The more I read up on actual, radical social change, the more I think that something that could be described as a "revolution" needs to happen to address climate change.

I think that it's possible to prepare for revolutionary change in a bunch of ways, as long as you keep your eye on the ball. Some people join radical organizations that go underground or block roads or tree sit or fight at Standing Rock. Some people do other things that build organization, networks and capacity - not in a "let's all go down to the shooting range" way so much as a "how can we make groups that make gains now that will make us stronger so we can make more gains, how can we organize people to fight for their needs now so that they can get stronger and fight for bigger gains in the future".

We could think of it like this:

Maybe we're all going to live in a diminished world. Our children will live in harsher, more dangerous and more unstable climates, with fewer options and less security.

Do we want them to live as the slaves of a Peter Thiel or a Bolsonaro, doing without comfort and safety so that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk can live in paradise? Or do we want them to have their fair share of whatever world comes to be?

Climate disaster may be baked in, but climate dystopia is a political choice.
posted by Frowner at 9:05 AM on December 6 [66 favorites]


I am conflicted on the framing of climate change as a binary "fixed or not fixed" being a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, climate change is very much not binary: +2.0C is better than +2.1C which is better than +2.2C. On the other hand, having a binary goal is more useful in getting collective action to happen.

I'm a techno-optimist because geoengineering hasn't even been seriously investigated on a large scale or tried yet, and I believe that's where we'll inevitably end up. Climate change denialists assume humanity couldn't possibly be powerful enough to destroy the world; climate change fatalists assume humanity couldn't possibly be powerful enough to brute force our way out of the problem.

Building a giant sunshade in space at the earth-sun L1 point is physically plausible, can solve the problem, and will be the greatest engineering achievement of our species.
posted by allegedly at 9:12 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Aren't they just normal sized wind turbines? And, tell me if I'm wrong, but they don't span entire plains or oceans, in fact they're quite insignificant compared to the plain or ocean they're on.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:21 AM on December 6


The idea of "revolution" seems orthogonal to "fight climate change." There are many powerful people and organizations that need confronting and defeating (the Kochs, Exxon, etc.), but I'm not sure that charging to the barricades would accomplish any of that necessary work.

Sure the Yellow Jackets in France defeated a gas price hike that was linked (as noted upthread) to a giveaway to the rich. But at the same time a majority of the Brazilian electorate just chose a President who is overtly calling for ripping up more of the Amazon.

When it comes to a game theory problem like climate change, I have nearly as many doubts and concerns about "popular democracy" as I do about the "oligarchy"...
posted by PhineasGage at 9:25 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


How might the ground be prepared for an actual revolution?

I'm pretty sure a lot of other interests and powers are thinking of using this crisis as a way to bring about some form of change or shift of power in their favor as well. In the end, everyone could end up wasting more time and energy on a revolution that could very well last a century, if we're lucky. And there's no telling what's to come out on the other side of that. But I also recognize my perspective is largely informed from China's struggle in the 19th and 20th centuries.
posted by FJT at 9:26 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


I've always felt that people from the developed world (especially Americans) saying "we need a violent revolution!" are a bit out of touch with what that really implies.
posted by Memo at 9:30 AM on December 6 [38 favorites]


we could consider, eg, the election of Allende and the German Revolution of 1918 as revolutions that were on balance pretty good and minimally bloody

...as long as we stop history at, what, something like 1972 and 1932, respectively?

I don't pretend to have the faintest clue about how to think about revolution, but I'm finding it pretty hard to model positive change in isolation from the reaction these days. We couldn't even elect an Obama without getting a Trump into the bargain. How we enact a response proportionate to the actual dangers of climate change without falling off a political cliff in the opposite direction seems like a huge part of the current problem.
posted by brennen at 9:32 AM on December 6 [10 favorites]


A few million refugees was enough to trigger a resurgence of fascism.

I'm pretty sure any revolution will result in the new government adopting the forward-looking mitigation policy of "climate change is a big problem, we're going to need a lot of land mines to be ready for it".
posted by allegedly at 9:36 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


What I don't get (and haven't really heard much about before) is that the article says there's a solution for taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it underground, but... it's expensive.

Why is the title of this article Government Finds Global Warming Too Big a Problem to Solve, when the article mentions it can, actually, be solved? Why isn't the title Government Refuses to Pay Short Term Costs to Prevent Long Term Global Warming Disaster?
posted by xammerboy at 9:36 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]



How might the ground be prepared for an actual revolution?

STOP INTELLECTUALIZING!
posted by philip-random at 9:38 AM on December 6


Also, I recently read an article explaining the reasons for the French riots. I would riot too. It's simply another case of taxing everyone but the super rich. I'm all for stopping global warming, but if the solution is that only the 99% pay for it, I'll hit the streets too.
posted by xammerboy at 9:44 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


... and if this was Middle Earth and I was Sauron, this sort of black pill reasoning is precisely the kind of mass mediated message I'd get behind. Maximum depression and despair for minimal real effort. For YAY! though I may be immensely powerful, I am nevertheless bound by the fundamental law of all reality, all being, all everything -- that the ultimate END is not known, it actually matters what humans (and hobbits and wizards and elves and dwarfs etc) do in times of crisis, the choices and commitments they make. Just don't tell them.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 AM on December 6


Maybe I'm a terrible person, but my personal Take on climate change is that it's not my problem to solve. It was created by people older, far wealthier, and far more powerful than I am. My only responsibility as I see it is to survive the climate crisis, and to help others do so. If this twinges your guilt-o-meter on a personal level, you might want to think about why.
posted by coffeeand at 10:22 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]




I'm pretty sure you aren't going to change what people want: private cars (one per adult), standalone homes on private plots of land, and big horrible heaps of meat. Those are the big problems. Everyone who has them refuses to give them up, and everyone who doesn't have them gets them as soon as they can afford them. Only a dictator could make them stop.

So you have to make having that stuff cause minimal harm. Make wind and solar power so cheap that no one wants to use anything else for fuel anymore. Make giant desalination plants running on that power. Make giant meat factories that significantly undercut anything you might get off the hoof. Make cars very small and electric and autonomous, so one or two people per vehicle works.

Ideally, we would also stop all greenfield development and deforestation -- all agricultural land remains agricultural, all forest remains forest, and all residential land remains residential -- and we would stop diverting water to stupid things like growing alfalfa and almonds in California. But ideally doesn't get us much. In reality, the fuckers won't stop unless you make them.
posted by pracowity at 10:24 AM on December 6 [8 favorites]


This sort of hopeless attitude is infuriating.

A few things to try: ban thermal power, build nuclear. Invest in mass transit. Re-engineer the global air transport network (accept that slower air freight -- by blimps or something -- is the cost of saving our civilization). Improve efficiency of sea transport (small sails) to cut emissions in that sector by 5%-10%. Stop eating meat.

The "hopeless" part of things is that there are a lot of organizations and structures (energy companies, ag companies, car companies) invested in the way things are today and are resistant to change.

And change is hard.
posted by JamesBay at 11:11 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


There may not be anything you and I can do - other than some kind of civil war leading to a climate coup

That's not quite true. You can bury charcoal in the dirt. You could also stop consuming as much as you might be. You could also look at the path of your labor and if it is thought to be making climate change outcomes worse you could chose to take a different path.

The world will need to sustain consumers’ habits and living standards

Say, how's that working out in France with the govenment effort to alter consumption with a tax? How'd that work out with oil hitting $100+ a barrel in 2008?

Say humans get a handle on climate change. There seems to be little being done to address peak Phopserous as the USGS claims about 100 years of economically mineable P left. In this brave new world - Is there going to be a line item in the energy budget to get the Pee from the cities to the ag land to cycle the P?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:11 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Hello MetaFilter!

I've lived my entire life since I was a child trying to consume less, need less, and leave as small a footprint as I can on this planet. I've never had a car, ever. Right now I have to hike about two miles to get to the bus to get to town. I grew up with visions of carbon-negative high tech arcologies thanks to Stewart Brand, Paolo Soleri and Buckminster Fuller.

If I was in charge of things - and I'm glad I'm not, ugh - our communities would look and function much differently. You'd likely be living in a much smaller space attached to a communal complex centered around a highly productive garden and farm complex. You would be co-housing with a community. Your home would be heated and cooled with passive low-tech solar architecture. Your electricity would be locally generated from the best available local resources, be it solar, wind, biomass, microhydro and more - and you'd be asked to use very, very little of it. Almost all of your food would be local and not flown in from all over the world. You would have a bicycle and not a car. You wouldn't eat much meat, or any meat at all.

It would be a mix of hardcore local agrarianism and progressive, carefully applied modern technology. A world where home gardens and simple, clean and green living happily co-exist with science and technology.

It would also be a world where fragile masculinity and the patriarchy had been smashed long ago and it would be considered not just harmful but an actual diagnosed mental illness and insanity to want to control other people or to seek power or to accumulate wealth beyond your needs, because these are all symptoms of insecurity and mental instability.

I believe that there are still things that can be done - but I'm running out of hope.

Most of the things I believed that could be done should have been started and followed through on in the 70s and 80s. And the things we could be doing now aren't being done. Most people don't want to do them and think that my lifestyle of trying to consume less is too extreme or too hard.

Even my progressive-minded peers and supposedly "woke AF" friends still happily live a high-consumption, high-energy lifestyle. They (a theoretical, general they, and it definitely theoretically includes much of MetaFilter) might shop at a co-op for organic produce, but it's from Chile. They might agree with anti-car and oil sentiments, but they just bought a Prius. Some of these people are still starting families and raising children despite all of the evidence about how impact that immediately has. Many of these same people fly all over the globe both for work and pleasure even though it's one of the most carbon generating events one could partake in.

In short, life goes on like everything is normal and we're not facing a looming crisis that we've been aware of for 20-30 years, and while almost everyone talks about the problem they almost never make any significant life changes to reduce their impact, their consumption practices nor do they make any really significant changes in their personal philosophy or outlook on life.

And simply sorting your recycling and buying slightly less consumer goods isn't actually a solution.

"Well, that sounds too extreme and radical." people most often say when they're asked to, say, reduce consumption, or stop having so many kids, or to maybe reduce their lifestyle that it doesn't take a full time corporate job with work related travel to support it, or maybe they don't really need that organic avocado flown in from Chile in the winter.

God forbid you suggest that maybe they should prepare for and support the idea of a general strike, or to down tools and stop participating in late stage capitalism.

This is not hopeful.

People in general aren't willing to voluntarily sacrifice any of their station in life, their income levels, their creature comforts or their diet despite all evidence that our collective choices are adding up to be a catastrophe. People don't want to hear that their single family home or car or participation in late stage capitalism is essentially a slow-burn crime against humanity and our grandchildren. People aren't willing or able to boycott or fight for legislation deal with the major bad actors in the international corporate sector, either.

On the other side of the fence in the non-progressive, non-woke demographic. They actively don't care, think climate change is a hoax, that science isn't real and they're happily buying oversized trucks and "rolling coal" for funsies because it pisses off bleeding-heart liberals and gives them little chubbies.

Are we, as humanity, doomed to exterminate ourselves? Unfortunately no, but turning the whole planet into a strip mall is well under way, and most humans I meet seem to be deeply uncomfortable outside of that familiar environment.

If you want an example of the current projected future of humanity, look to the mass migrations going on around the world on basically every continent except Antarctica. This kind of slow, spreading collapse is definitely one of the results of our extractive, consumerist-focused industries.

These people are immigrating because corporations and governments have ruined their lands with pollution, war, famine and violence - all done very specifically to support first world comforts and lifestyles, which supports the oligarchs and fraudsters and ruiners who seek to control the power, framing and narrative of our lives.

I don't have a lot of hope that these things are going to dramatically change for the better in the next 40-50 years. I've and many others been talking about what to do for much of my life, and people just think we're all crackpots and ignore us.

And this is all why I have strong urges to just run away into whatever trees there are left. The birds and squirrels and trees make way more sense to me than most humans.

If you're looking or waiting for some bright line in the sand to take action, it probably happened back in the 80s or 90s. We're currently sliding and falling off the edge and approaching the actual vertical face of the cliff. We may already be in free fall or approaching terminal velocity.

NEED LESS. EAT MOSTLY PLANTS.
posted by loquacious at 11:23 AM on December 6 [23 favorites]


There may not be anything you and I can do - other than some kind of civil war leading to a climate coup

You know what's easier than a coup? Engaging in politics. BTW: engaging in politics is fucking hard. It takes a lot of time and energy to attend city council meetings, to try and try and try some more to engage with elected politicians or bureaucrats.

That's why so few citizens do it.

But we don't need to talk about coups, first we need to just participate in democracy. Which so few people have the time to do. But it's vital.
posted by JamesBay at 11:26 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


A few things to try: ban thermal power, build nuclear.

Without even approaching the very contentious and valid debate about what to do with spent nuclear fuel, the toxicity of mixed-oxide fuels and materials or the current 50,000 year catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima...

...when has giving humanity even more cheap electricity solved any of these environmental or social problems?

This argument is like giving a raging alcoholic even more alcohol because maybe they'll hit rock bottom and get sober.

Also, solar is already cheaper per megawatt than building new nuclear plants, and it doesn't produce waste that stays toxic and harmful for longer than the recorded history of humanity. Fission as an energy source should be declared harmful and dead as an idea.
posted by loquacious at 11:30 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Consider these and ask yourself exactly how you think end-game social change is going to happen without enough of a mass movement to be dangerous. Power concedes nothing without a demand, etc etc.

People need to consider very seriously the mechanisms they think will be effective in inducing the wealthy to wind down, eg, oil and coal companies. As long as oil and coal stocks are a thing, people with lots of stocks aren't going to want to crash oil and coal production. The coal and oil that are currently in the ground are part of the valuation of those companies. Saying "we're not mining it, its dollar value is now zero" is a market crash waiting to happen. Repeat this for every single polluting industry for which there isn't an obvious, cheap transition to clean energy - fast fashion, for instance. Plastic packaging companies. Palm oil production. Sugar. Every industry that serves the supply chains for those. Every wealthy person whose wealth is tied up in those industries will fight tooth and nail to keep them from being wound down.

It's like the struggle for Medicare for All, except the struggle against basically all of the "capitalism means you have a lot of capital" part of society.

Unless there is some widely applicable and very quick scientific breakthrough (cold fusion that runs in a teacup?) that will replace dirty energy sources immediately via the market, it's going to be extremely difficult to wind down polluting industries without an almost total change in the composition of our government. It is not in the interests of the wealthy people who govern us to give up their wealth.

To do that without mass movements, strikes and riots at the very least is unlikely. I'm not saying "hooray, strikes and riots", I'm saying "it seems both optimistic and argued from few historical examples to argue that we'll have a really dramatic change of government without social conflict".

If - if - there is some global disaster at the scale of a world war which destroys a lot of wealth and infrastructure, we might get to a post-WWII scenario where the wealthy are weakened and chastened enough to get on board with social reforms. So "waiting on a pandemic" is one option, not wildly implausible.

~~~

It's also interesting that when you say explicitly "we need revolutionary social change, let's organize and build capacity so that people can fight first for small gains and then, strengthened, for greater gains", the response in this thread is to some kind of straw "what we need is Zombie Stalin to implement the NEP" argument.
posted by Frowner at 11:31 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


Climate change too hard to solve, says newspaper owned by the owner of Amazon, a gigantic corporation that is certainly one of the largest polluters and won't self-report their carbon emissions.
posted by JDHarper at 11:39 AM on December 6 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you aren't going to change what people want: private cars (one per adult), standalone homes on private plots of land, and big horrible heaps of meat

haven't caught up with the thread yet, but my first reaction to this is that no one I know wants this?

I mean, yes, I'm in my blue millenial bubble in brooklyn, so possibly not representative. But culturally it kind of feels like lots of us are adrift. The idea of an isolated suburban (or even urban) nuclear family is...actually kind of horrifying? Like, to many people? Including the ones living it? They're all so lonely and afraid and angry. And tired, from having to do all their child rearing and house maintenance and and and and without help beyond the two adults -- if you're lucky -- living in that isolated house.

It just seems unsustainable on a social level as well as environmental level. Which is a good thing! I mean, long term. Assuming it helps us transition to something more sustainable.

Anyway. Unfortunately the only way to live in a big house with lots of chosen adult family and maybe a few of their kids (HA not mine, unless someone wants to go ahead and gestate that for me) that we can all kinda help with, since there are so many of us, is still, at this moment in time, to make an absolutely obscene pile of money in order to buy said house in a place with enough infrastructure, population, and culture to support rich lives for many diverse people.

Other than that, though. I don't think everyone still wants the American Dream, now that we've seen it's actually kind of a nightmare.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:41 AM on December 6 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you aren't going to change what people want: private cars (one per adult), standalone homes on private plots of land, and big horrible heaps of meat

haven't caught up with the thread yet, but my first reaction to this is that no one I know wants this?


It’s easy stop making things.
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Without even approaching the very contentious and valid debate about what to do with spent nuclear fuel,

Most of the pro-tech people like the idea of nuclear because of a lack of understanding of failure modes and the ego thinking they can avoid fail modes.

The failure modes of the commercially used designs are an issue. Perhaps fusions failure modes will be better but fusion is still not an option to worry about the failure modes at this time. It would be best if the failure modes are the equivelant of a damp squib as energetic failure modes would be weponized.

(cold fusion that runs in a teacup?)

Things that were supposed to be the cold-fusion saviour (e-cat) have not worked out. So its being re-branded as LENR (low energy nuclear reaction) and CMNS (condensed matter nuclear science).

Lets say fusion of some form works. That might then stop or even allow reversal of atmospheric Carbon. Does that address the other issues idenitified as co-morbid symptoms or would "unlimited" energy make the other issues worse?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:05 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


but my first reaction to this is that no one I know wants this?

Well, you (and I, and probably a lot of people on a site like this) aren't very representative of the world's population. For instance, Rising global meat consumption 'will devastate environment' and The number of cars worldwide is set to double by 2040. And... I have to put the kid to bed. But I'll check back later.
posted by pracowity at 12:11 PM on December 6


What the acceptable reign of the human species? How long on earth can our species be around? We must go extinct eventually. But it's a shame greed hastens it.
posted by agregoli at 12:20 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I want to follow up on my main comment, because it's my usual brand of harsh accusations and invective, I've been kind of cranky lately and I've been trying to dial that back because it isn't helpful and can even be harmful:

I deeply wish I could be less fatalistic about this, but this issue and it's cohorts of human nature, vastly accelerating hyperconsumption and energy use isn't likely to change it's course without major catastrophy or wildly dangerous political upheaval.

Our collective future track looks like a horrifying blend of dystopian science fiction. A little Geidi Prime and a hot, industrialized planet. Some Fifth Element, but without the cool flying cars and space ships, just the megacities and trash. A whole lot of Snow Crash and its burbclaves and libertarian anarchist-capitalist nightmares and weaponry. A lot of Brave New World with it's bumblepuppy and distractions, and lot of 1984's boots. Some Soylent Green or Stand On Zanzibar with the street camps and ghettos. The technocratic nightmare of Netrunner. A whole lot of Idiocracy and Wall-E's disposable everything and dumbness.

I definitely don't have the answers. I live my life the way I do out of personal guilt and not superiority. It's a function of my shrinking and recoiling in horror, not meeting the world as it is bravely.

And not everyone could live the way I do, and there are definitely problems with my life, too. I'm lucky to both be able to live as I do and not be currently freezing my fool ass off. I'm thankful I have electricity and a small space heater, otherwise I'd be burning a lot of wood or industrial isobutane or alcohol. I'm very lucky to live somewhere that's naturally food-dense. I'm very lucky to have had the support of a lot of people and to not be utterly destitute. I'm thankful for my hand-me-down computers, my synthesizer, the wealth of creative tools available to me and the luxury of time and energy to explore them. I'm thankful for my plastic water jugs, and the electrical powered and plastic-filtered machine at the co-op.

And even the new place I'm living in, the one with all the beloved trees, with the cedar groves and the little pond so cute it just takes your breath away and all the birds and hawks and life - it's also heavily supported by fossil fuel and oil, whether it's my bus rides into town for food (and currently, water) and my landmates who have vehicles, who now drive much more to live since we're 20 miles out of any major town... even this has problems and isn't sustainable or sufficient.

I'm very aware that it is an unspeakable luxury that has also increased my personal carbon footprint. Since my footprint was already pretty small, I may have doubled it or even tripled it.

It is solipsistic but when I go sit in the trees and listen to the birds I can't help to yearn to be them, to return to nature and be not it, but of it and nature itself. To be adapted perfectly to my environment, to survive and thrive in balance without the need for tools, clothes, shelter and an excess of anything. I sometimes yearn for this so much that it pulls apart my soul to know I can really only visit. That I am effectively unable to return to this philosophical, ancestral home of the spirit.

But somewhere in this feeling and sentiment I feel there's an answer and a balance.

There is a very narrow, possible path that leads to something like Marge Piercy's glowing, loving future depicted in Woman on the Edge of Time, where people live in nature in balance with technology, where things are kind and ample and everyone has enough, and we aren't enslaved or tortured by some horrible totalitarian, utilitarian or objectivist regime.
posted by loquacious at 12:42 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


Active mitigation is just how someone else hopes to make mass quantities of money. The big they don't get how native systems work and the delicate interconnections that sustain, in fact author life. I have no reason to trust the judgement of folks who want to alter macro systems to fix their ongoing fuck ups. We need international law, and the ability to say no, you are not putting up a sun shade, and coal is over, and oil is over by such and such a date. Then put in place a plan to mine the plastic out of the oceans.
posted by Oyéah at 12:45 PM on December 6


I’m burned out on outrage. I can’t really get mad at people for wanting houses. Focusing on ordinary folks is a great way to avoid looking at the primary actors in this. 100 companies are responsible for 70+% of all carbon emissions! We can reduce and recycle, and meanwhile one company will discard miles and miles of plastic pallet wrap every day.

This is a corporate problem and it’ll take major political pressure to make any real change. We can all make sacrifices and live perfectly, but as long as these companies continue to do what they do, very little will change. It’s asking people to completely change their lifestyles for a minimal effect. Should you consume less anyway? Of course! But these conversations inevitably turn to what our neighbors are doing wrong, and I don’t think that’s where our anger should be.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:54 PM on December 6 [35 favorites]


We need international law, and the ability to say no, you are not putting up a sun shade, and coal is over, and oil is over by such and such a date. Then put in place a plan to mine the plastic out of the oceans.

Which means we either need to change the hearts & minds & priorities of the majority of the world's citizens, or we need governments that aren't representative democracies.
posted by rocket88 at 12:56 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Have you read Drawdown, which lists climate change solutions that make a difference? Seeing options makes me, a childless 50+ year old, feel hopeful and proactive.
posted by olopua at 12:56 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


> Which means we either need to change the hearts & minds & priorities of the majority of the world's citizens, or we need governments that aren't representative democracies.

what if we drop the assumption that bourgeois electoral systems yield democracy.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:11 PM on December 6 [9 favorites]


and like that might seem like a load of marxist cant, but I think it's worth considering. what if we're committing species-level suicide not because we're dumb and greedy, but because our extant political systems place most important decisionmaking processes in the hands of a small group of sociopaths who are rewarded for being sociopaths? what if people go along with the sociopaths' bad decisions not because they like those decisions, but because they have to go along with them to get food and shelter?

basically, there's good reason to think that economic democracy would yield better decisions than rule-by-capitalists does.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:16 PM on December 6 [16 favorites]


We have a handful of years left to avert total disaster. How long will it take to redesign and overhaul the entire capitalist structure and democratic (real or not) system of electing governments? Because that's the only way most of the proposed solutions I've seen in this thread could possibly work.
Or we can keep the existing system, flawed as it may be, and just do a better job of convincing a majority of our fellow citizens to elect leaders who take it seriously.
posted by rocket88 at 1:37 PM on December 6


convincing a majority of our fellow citizens to elect leaders who take it seriously

redesign and overhaul the entire capitalist structure

Wait, which one are you proposing is easier to do in a handful of years?
posted by CrystalDave at 1:46 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Which means we either need to change the hearts & minds & priorities of the majority of the world's citizens, or we need governments that aren't representative democracies.

I mean, the Allies that won World War II (US, China, British Empire, and Soviet Union) were not all democracies, but they still managed to put aside their numerous and deep disagreements to fight on the same side. And let's also not forget that even the US had to suspend it's already limited democracy for certain people during war time. Just off the top of my head there was Japanese-American internment and the ongoing racial segregation of Jim Crow.

I think the realistic best hope is to get as many people in the world to agree that climate change is an important and urgent issue. Countries that aren't democratic (like China) will probably brute force their way to reducing emissions. More democratic countries will probably have to use a combination of voluntary change, regulations, and temporary emergency powers (hopefully in that order) to get the same results.
posted by FJT at 1:47 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


The screaming into the void part of all this for me is that on many levels it doesn't matter whether climate change is anthropogenic or reversible, there's still a lot that could be done socially and politically to try to anticipate and ameliorate the effects of this thing that is clearly fucking happening, and instead we get these cynical monsters just covering their ears with one hand and robbing the till with the other.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:01 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Oh, and before someone points it out, I'm not at all advocating we go return to racial segregation or anything like that.
posted by FJT at 2:01 PM on December 6


because our extant political systems place most important decisionmaking processes in the hands of a small group of sociopaths who are rewarded for being sociopaths?

Can you name a political system that doesn’t do this? One that doesn’t ultimately concentrate power in the hands of the few who have managed to fight their way there, because humans will do that?

I’m not super optimistic about solutions that presuppose that humans will be different this time.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:14 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


There may not be anything you and I can do - other than some kind of civil war leading to a climate coup - but there are lots of things the wealthy and powerful can do. They just don't.

I don't know by what mechanism we convince people who already have no one's interest at heart besides themselves to lift a finger.

I basically assume the world humanity will inherit 20, 50, 100 years from now will be the world of William Gibson's The Peripheral. Spoiler: it's pretty bleak, but not necessarily in the way you're thinking.
posted by chrominance at 2:26 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I think I'm on the pro-revolution side. I don't think there's much chance of our short-termist democratic mechanisms dealing well with climate change, or taking on entrenched power.

But revolutions only occur when ordinary people feel desperate, because it is after all a desperate solution. Our lives are far too comfortable to make that a likely prospect.

This combination of factors- where desperate action is required immediately, but the problem is creeping up so stealthily that most cannot see the clear and present danger- seems pretty historically unique. I'd like to hear how that can be dealt with.
posted by leibniz at 2:43 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


A sincere question to all of you who are advocating here for 'revolution' - what does that mean? The French tossed Louis and Marie out of Versailles; the Russians evicted the Czar and his family. And then others stepped forward and seized power. What are you imagining a revolution would look like that successfully addressed climate change and humanity's future?
posted by PhineasGage at 3:05 PM on December 6 [16 favorites]


Glomar response: I just don't think we can make collective long-term choices in anything resembling a humanistic framework
I don't think we can make collective long-term choices, period. Not under our present national and international socioeconomic system. It is meant to privatize and compartmentalize medium-term decision making, and it is set up to disallow even thinking about collective long-term planning. Important decisions are supposed to emerge spontaneously through the wisdom of the markets.
posted by talos at 3:09 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


If nothing else, a violent revolution would lower our carbon footprint.
posted by Automocar at 3:10 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


dang that’s a pretty vision for the future. every street a forest.

Sous les pavés, le terreau!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:10 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


BTW we know empirically that a sure way to reduce greenhouse gases is an economic depression. So the way I see it, really in order for a fast and ambitious climate change mitigation plan to fly for the popular majorities you either will have to impose massive austerity on a global scale, through police/ military force (at the expense of democracy), or combine GDP slowdown with massive downward redistribution and socialized provision (at the expense of capitalism)
posted by talos at 3:30 PM on December 6 [8 favorites]


Can we please start talking about building survival bunkers now? Like, long-term biosphere habitats which we can be sure will have adequate food, water, air and resources for enough people to keep the human race going?

We may not have the technology to build these bunkers yet, but it seems a lot more likely that we'll develop it than that we'll figure out how to re-terraform our entire planet. Besides which, wouldn't building small viable habitats be essential to figuring out how to fix an enormous one?

Now that our extinction is on the table, we really should think about having a fallback plan.
posted by MrVisible at 4:59 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I've always felt that people from the developed world (especially Americans) saying "we need a violent revolution!" are a bit out of touch with what that really implies.

They seem to think they'd get 21st Century George Washington but without the slavery and genocide instead of a more effective version of Trump without the few remaining institutions capable of slowing him down, for some reason that I can't quite work out.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:59 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


I'm increasingly convinced someone's just gonna start spraying sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere and risks be damned. (My money is on China, not Brazil). Now I'm wondering why there's not more research on what happens if someone tries, ways to mitigate the inevitable risks.

[...]

I'm a techno-optimist because geoengineering hasn't even been seriously investigated on a large scale or tried yet, and I believe that's where we'll inevitably end up.


People have been doing research on this. It turns out geoengineering isn't a solution: the benefit of decreasing the temperature of the earth is very nearly balanced out by the fact that you're dimming the sun, which is pretty bad for agriculture.


next time someone tells me that they oppose (for example) the universal basic income because “oh noes what would people do with their time if they didn’t have to work for capitalists” my answer is gonna be “grow trees.”

This is how I spend my free time and money. You should too, it's easy and native trees are pretty. Also, pioneer species (which you should plant) grow quickly and often have weird and interesting fruits to try and make (usually shitty, but fun) wine out of.


[This is where I plug that you should join us in #climate-change on the PoliticsFilter slack, where I post way too many depressing articles.]


[Aaaaand this is where I squee about how the probability that a thread about anything turns into a thread about revolutionary socialism approaches one as The Whelk, Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon, and Frowner post in it. ❤️🌹✊]
posted by ragtag at 5:07 PM on December 6 [15 favorites]


(We call that the red shift)
posted by The Whelk at 5:17 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


What are you imagining a revolution would look like that successfully addressed climate change and humanity's future?

Khmer Rouge. Mixed with the Taliban.

Mix economic dogma with religious fanaticism. It'll start with attacking the people seen as responsible the pain, but quickly evolve to attacking the usual subjects- Jewish people, GLBT people, local immigrants, the neighbor whose luck and work enabled them to buy a car and business. Endgame will be anyone with a masters degree, any women who wears revealing clothes, anyone possessing the wrong books.

I mean it won't ultimately stave off the collapse--the death of insects has already assured that. But the economic disaster and population decline will slow down the process.

Ultimately though, I think we're looking at something that will make the Bronze Age Collapse look like a wedding party. Our far descendants, thousands of years from now, won't remember us, even understand any of the concepts we hold valuable, as they begin recolonizing the latitudes below 60% degrees. Because all that will be left of our civilization will be weathered stone remains in the global desert.

Bear in mind, my hobby is archaeology. The study of civilizations that failed. I think it's quite likely that in Troy or Harapa there were people saying "Don't be pessimist! Don't give up hope! We can do something that will save us!"
posted by happyroach at 5:19 PM on December 6 [12 favorites]


Excerpt from The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles:

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
posted by otherchaz at 5:30 PM on December 6 [7 favorites]


What the fuck has an authoritarian structure aimed at fighting climate change got to do with persecuting minorities or any (existing) religion?
posted by leibniz at 5:31 PM on December 6


Perhaps you're imagining a clean global revolution where only your goals are achieved and no one is harmed.
posted by Nelson at 5:34 PM on December 6 [13 favorites]


You know, I'm a government scientist. What I do is good, helps people, etc., but if I were ordered to stop everything and work on climate change, I would do it in a second. However, I work for Trump, and he is never going to do that. And President O'Rourke or whoever isn't, either.
posted by acrasis at 5:38 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


The bullshit lefties are willing to believe about “revolution” is really appalling. This situation is way, way too serious to allow this childish belief that A) anyone but a tiny minority of people want eco-authoritarianism forced on them, and B) a violent revolution can be kept pure and morally just in its outcomes because, you know, this is us doing the fantasizing.

Grow the hell up. We have real work to do.
posted by argybarg at 5:45 PM on December 6 [14 favorites]


Please outline your idea for radically dealing with climate change within existing democratic processes.

Obviously a revolution would be awful (and besides improbable to achieve). I'm interested in what are the less awful alternatives.
posted by leibniz at 5:59 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


It turns out geoengineering isn't a solution: the benefit of decreasing the temperature of the earth is very nearly balanced out by the fact that you're dimming the sun, which is pretty bad for agriculture.

The overall number from that Nature paper was about an equal decrease either way, which makes geoengineering a no-brainer slam-dunk fist-pump win because it still prevents so many other consequences of climate change other than crop decrease.

I also don't think this conclusion is quite as clear-cut as that paper presents it. Dimming is a pretty predictable decrease, while climate change can be anywhere from "decrease" to "total collapse" depending on the region and degree of warming. Not having to shift global agriculture progressively farther pole-ward is a big deal.
posted by allegedly at 6:04 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


This article is bullshit. Asserting that X, Y and Z physically possible solutions are impossible because they are politically infeasible is not a scientific claim, it's just political punditry. Psychohistory is not a thing: the future regularly entails all sorts of things unforeseen and/or deemed impossible by the past. And most of this stuff doesn't even require radical revolution, just garden-variety radical leftism. Yeah, almost by definition, if we continue the way we currently are, things will continue to get worse. But it's not really that physically difficult to change things and it wouldn't require a complete abandonment of modern civilization. We need eight wedges to stabilize things, but that document lists 15 possible strategies to choose from. Almost none of them are impossible, and indeed many of them could be pursued with a garden-variety Green-party-style administration. We spend trillions of dollars on wars and tax cuts all the time -- there's no reason we can't spend a few trillion on the climate, except a belief that humanity will never choose a leftward course. And that's not science, that's just conservatism. In my experience, confident pessimism about the future and the nature of humanity is almost always correlated with conservatism. The alternative is just believing that all we need to do to solve these problems is vote for left-leaning policies that are merely as radical as the sorts of radical right-wing policies (such as spending half the annual discretionary budget on the military!) that we blithely pursue every day right now.
posted by chortly at 6:21 PM on December 6 [8 favorites]


Leibniz:

I don’t think there is one — not a thunder crack, now-we-see-it-happen change. I also don’t think the terrible bougeoouis pigs are doing this, either. I think climate change and self-destruction in general is an emergent property of human civilization — a nasty confluence of material conditions, akin to cancer.

I don’t know that there is a solution. I think deciding there is a solution because it’s morally or aesthetically right to decide so is nonsense, not particularly different than creationism or climate change denial (“it’s hubris,” etc.) Truth is truth and what is, is. And sometimes the patient dies.

We should do the best we can and bear down on research and regulatory agencies. Keep up the good boring fight because nothing else has a chance.
posted by argybarg at 6:22 PM on December 6


Our far descendants, thousands of years from now, won't remember us, even understand any of the concepts we hold valuable, as they begin recolonizing the latitudes below 60% degrees. Because all that will be left of our civilization will be weathered stone remains in the global desert.

I don't know, they might not completely forget us. There's a good chance they'll have flood myths, and we'll be the sinners whose evil forced god to destroy the world.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:34 PM on December 6


There I was, having an uncharacteristically optimistic day. Then MeFi gets all hot 'n jiggy with this hardcore reality shit.

Increasingly looks like self-destruction is the greatest of the Great Filters.
posted by Pouteria at 6:48 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


The bullshit lefties are willing to believe about “revolution” is really appalling.

Is it though? Is it really that unrealistic to think that we'll eventually overthrow this thing? Or does history rather suggest that no world order/economic system will last forever?
posted by coffeeand at 7:34 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Is it really that unrealistic to think that we'll eventually overthrow this thing?

Wow, that's confidence! You're not only certain things will be overthrown, but that you will be alive and part of the group that achieves it!

What is your army/movement called and may I join it?
posted by FJT at 7:52 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


argybargy I think deciding there is a solution because it’s morally or aesthetically right to decide so is nonsense, not particularly different than creationism or climate change denial (“it’s hubris,” etc.) Truth is truth and what is, is. And sometimes the patient dies.

It's neither irrational, nor denialist to face this situation with grim determination, or even optimism that something significant can be done to mitigate impending disaster. I don't think you disagree with that. But I also think that this attitude fits with going well beyond business as usual.
posted by leibniz at 7:53 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


You're not only certain things will be overthrown, but that you will be alive and part of the group that achieves it!

Never said that anywhere. Nor did I say I supported it.
posted by coffeeand at 7:56 PM on December 6


It needs a "sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to earth" level of vision, committment, funding, and public buy-in. It needs a New Deal level of political reform and planning to create and build the clean tech and infrastructure. These things have been done before within the existing democratic system. It just takes the will of the people to get it done.
And that part will be the hardest...because it probably means letting go of your hatred of the other side, because you're going to need some of them. And it probably means sacrificing some other progressive priorities, for a while at least, because you need to focus almost entirely on this until it's solved. I honestly don't know if today's left can do that because partisan pride and ideological purity is just too important to them. That needs to change first. A divided country won't get anywhere.
posted by rocket88 at 8:04 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I don't know, they might not completely forget us. There's a good chance they'll have flood myths, and we'll be the sinners whose evil forced god to destroy the world.

That would depend on if it's a time scale of thousands or tens of thousands of years. For instance, we really don't know what the stories about the Venus figurines were.

Since I tend to think in higher figures, I think those descendants may be rather different than us. Not sapiens.sapiens, but sapiens.anthropocene perhaps.
posted by happyroach at 8:15 PM on December 6


I mean if we look at who is capable, armed, organized, and violent enough for The Glorious Revolution, a lot of internet lefties are going to be crushed by the right-wingers that are already willing to crack skulls and already own guns and know how to shoot (and look forward to shooting them if given the opportunity).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:18 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I don't think we'd need a revolution per se (and a storming-the-Bastille-style global uprising is certainly not a real possibility) but I also don't think that this is something that can be even begin to be addressed by any system remotely similar to "democratic capitalism" in its current form, which anyway is increasingly becoming an oxymoron.
posted by talos at 11:44 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I’m not exactly filled with hope at seeing a thread about global climate catastrophe turn into yet another argument about politics.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:23 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


But the discussions on the way to ameliorate the coming climate catastrophe are necessarily deeply political, they are politics. What else can they be?
posted by talos at 3:26 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


And that part will be the hardest...because it probably means letting go of your hatred of the other side, because you're going to need some of them. And it probably means sacrificing some other progressive priorities, for a while at least, because you need to focus almost entirely on this until it's solved. posted by ragtag at 4:54 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]




I've recently started reading a lot of Murray Bookchin's work, and I think he is the leftist theorist with the most practical and nonviolent solution for the oncoming climate catastrophe. His philosophy and political prescription is called Communalism, and this article is his best introduction to the concept. It describes a utopian system of extreme direct democracy, in which "virtually autonomous local communities are loosely bound in a federation."

Communalism resolutely seeks to eliminate statist municipal structures and replace them with the institutions of a libertarian polity. It seeks to radically restructure cities’ governing institutions into popular democratic assemblies based on neighborhoods, towns, and villages. In these popular assemblies, citizens—including the middle classes as well as the working classes—deal with community affairs on a face-to-face basis, making policy decisions in a direct democracy, and giving reality to the ideal of a humanistic, rational society.

Bookchin's belief (which I share) is that, if we largely eliminate hierarchical domination from political and economic institutions, then a true local democracy will favor rational, ecological policy and take steps toward fixing climate change that are unthinkable in today's society.

And the best part? Bookchin offers a concrete plan for getting there. I'm only just beginning to absorb his works so please forgive me if I misrepresent his ideas, but this is the impression I get of what that plan entails:

- Create a study group to take in the theory and get people interested in communalism
- Get communalists elected into local government
- Have those elected communalists use their power to form neighborhood councils
- Steadily grow those councils until there's a "dual power" situation where the councils begin to rival the state's power
- Federate all communalists councils across the country
- Gradually dissolve the state until the country is governed only by federated neighborhood councils.

If this all sounds impossible to attain or doomed to fail, check out this article by Bookchin's daughter, describing how the new state of Rojava in Syria has made incredible strides in implementing his program:

The Democratic Federation (or DFNS) is founded on a document called the “Charter of the Social Contract,” whose Preamble declares the aspiration to build “a society free from authoritarianism, militarism, centralism and the intervention of religious authority in public affairs.” It also “recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity and aspires to maintain domestic and international peace”—a formal renunciation by Syrian Kurds of the idea of a separate state for their people. Instead, they envisage a federated system of self-determining municipalities.

In the ninety-six articles that follow, the Contract guarantees all ethnic communities the right to teach and be taught in their own languages, abolishes the death penalty and ratifies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar conventions. It requires public institutions to work toward the complete elimination of gender discrimination, and requires by law that women make up at least 40 percent of every electoral body and that they, and ethnic minorities, serve as co-chairs at all levels of government administration. The Social Contract also promotes a philosophy of ecological stewardship that guides all decisions about town-planning, economics, and agriculture, and runs all industries, where possible, according to collective principles. The document even guarantees political rights to teenagers.

(...)

An elaborate system of council democracy starts at the “commune” level (settlements of between thirty and four hundred families). The commune sends delegates to the neighborhood or village council, which in turn sends delegates to the district (or city) level and ultimately to the region-wide assemblies. Citizens serve on committees for health, the environment, defense, women, the economy, politics, justice, and ideology. Everyone is entitled to a say. And in keeping with Öcalan’s ideas on matters relating to women, the women’s councils have the power to override decisions made by other councils when the matter specifically concerns a women’s interests.


Reading such utopian theory and seeing it put into practice in the real world is one thing that gives me hope about our future.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:56 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


But the discussions on the way to ameliorate the coming climate catastrophe are necessarily deeply political, they are politics.

Sure, but I can see how it makes one weary when everyone else is kind of looking at this crisis as an opportunity. From the capitalist hoping to cash in directly to the revolutionary that thinks this is a great way to start anew. Climate change then seems like it isn't a problem to work on, but just a stepping stone to an end goal.
posted by FJT at 10:25 AM on December 7


Climate change then seems like it isn't a problem to work on, but just a stepping stone to an end goal.

I think you've got this backwards. I first got into socialism mainly because I see it as the only viable solution to climate change, a problem caused by global capitalism's inherent growth drive (which by necessity causes constant and dramatic ecological damage).
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:35 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


> I'm pretty sure you aren't going to change what people want: private cars (one per adult), standalone homes on private plots of land, and big horrible heaps of meat

haven't caught up with the thread yet, but my first reaction to this is that no one I know wants this? [...] I don't think everyone still wants the American Dream, now that we've seen it's actually kind of a nightmare.

That list of things is hardly the American Dream, or hardly exclusive to it. Even in the Soviet Union everyone wanted a dacha in the countryside and many had one, and secretly wished they could be the degenerate kulak with the extravagant second horse and a cart, and ate meat when it was available rather than beet-stuffed beets in cream of beet sauce.

(Okay I made that last thing up for snark's sake but when I try to imagine it I'm actually envisioning something tasty, in spite of the fact that I hate beets... the photographs illustrating the Wikipedia “Soviet cuisine” article look quite appealing.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Sure, but I can see how it makes one weary when everyone else is kind of looking at this crisis as an opportunity. From the capitalist hoping to cash in directly to the revolutionary that thinks this is a great way to start anew. Climate change then seems like it isn't a problem to work on, but just a stepping stone to an end goal.

See, that isn't even remotely where I'm coming from. I am an ameliorationist. I am a boring person. I hate change. I like my life as it is now, despite its drawbacks.

I just don't think that any but the most trivial climate fixes are going to be put in place unless someone comes up with some new technology that makes them zero-cost. We have all these ideas about fixing things and yet no one really has any plausible way of getting the government of these united states to act. Do you really think that any of the big name Democrats are free enough from corporate influence to work seriously against climate change? Do you really think that they won't face opposition from their own party? Obama didn't have the political capital to close Guantanamo - he couldn't even get us to shut down a torture prison. What makes any of us think that typical big name Democrats who are best friends with the bankers, CEOs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world will have either the political capital or the will to make change?

It's obvious that climate change is going to be very bad and there will be relatively little amelioration for ordinary people - "climate tax" grifts to pay for tax cuts for the 1% will be about the size of it, Macron-style. At some point this will lead to substantial political unrest because there will be a pandemic, a food crisis or mass internal displacement due to some vast set of disasters. Given mass movements capable of strikes and city shut-downs, there might be a way to get some cooperation out of the government, particularly if it's seeded with left politicians. But if not, there will just be the same old repression.

It's important to have the ideas, sure. But this is the American government we're talking about - the one that backed the coup in Honduras, the one that sure isn't helping in North Africa and the Middle East, the one that knew about climate change thirty years ago and sat on its hands.

Conditions are progressing toward greater instability. I'm not saying "there will be fast, dramatic social change that will be functionally independent from a 'revolution' as the climate gets worse" because I am like "hooray, disaster socialism!" I'm saying it because every piece of human history screams that it is coming, for good or for bad. And I'd rather for good.
posted by Frowner at 12:14 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


So, if I'm interpreting it correctly, you're saying revolution is inevitable at this point?
posted by FJT at 1:47 PM on December 7


So, if I'm interpreting it correctly, you're saying revolution is inevitable at this point?

I won't speak for Frowner, but that's kind of what I suspect. In Mark Fisher's excellent book Capitalist Realism, he put it pretty well:

At one level, to be sure, it might look as if Green issues are very far from being ‘unrepresentable voids’ for capitalist culture. Climate change and the threat of resource-depletion are not being repressed so much as incorporated into advertising and marketing. What this treatment of environmental catastrophe illustrates is the fantasy structure on which capitalist realism depends: a presupposition that resources are infinite, that the earth itself is merely a husk which capital can at a certain point slough off like a used skin, and that any problem can be solved by the market. […] Yet environmental catastrophe features in late capitalist culture only as a kind of simulacra, its real implications for capitalism too traumatic to be assimilated into the system. The significance of Green critiques is that they suggest that, far from being they only viable political-economic system, capitalism is in fact primed to destroy the entire human environment. The relationship between capitalism and eco-disaster is neither coincidental nor accidental: capital’s ‘need of a constantly expanding market,’ its ‘growth fetish’, means that capitalism is by its very nature opposed to any notion of sustainability.

He goes on to identify climate change as one of the key contradictions that pierce through "capitalist realism", the ideological blinders we live under that assert that capitalism is the only way. If climate change is caused by capitalism and it's on track to destroy us all, then as time goes on, more and more people will be able to see through capitalist realism and envision alternatives.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:04 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


To continue, there's also a belief that revolution can be prepared and planned for, and that it can be guided towards certain outcomes, that's why Frowner ended on "I'd rather for good".
posted by FJT at 2:17 PM on December 7


I think that some very substantial social change due to climate change is inevitable, because either nothing will really be done and we'll end up with a lot of death plus small semi-capitalist enclaves of the very rich, their servants and their slaves or else our government will have to be able to take actions that go very deeply against the interests of the rich. I do not currently believe that our government has the will or the capacity to take these actions, because the people who govern us are the very rich.

I think that even if we elected an entirely new government composed of nothing but AOC clones, it would be very difficult to make change without a strong popular movement capable of climate strikes. We'd just have capital flight where possible and refusal to comply where not.

If the problem was just inequality ("just" inequality) we could kick the can down the road forever, going from crisis to small gains to crisis. But there are going to be worsening crises which will disrupt social norms and the economy. Sure, maybe you can keep out climate migrants from other countries, but what happens when we have a super-dustbowl, or we get a banner year where, like, the entire Eastern seaboard is rendered uninhabitable by super-storms and storm surges? There's going to be internal migration on a pretty big scale, probably coupled with food-supply and economic disruptions. And then the next year after that, and the year after that.

I feel like what you want me to say is, "the glorious revolution is coming, led by people just like me who will all pick up the gun and become action heroes; inevitably utopia will be established, probably by murdering a lot of people and consigning the rest to the gulag" so that the usual arguments against Leninism can be trotted out.

Life is going to get a lot worse and a lot harder for most people in the medium future. When people's lives get worse and harder, they react. Sometimes they react in ways that create social change; sometimes they try and their efforts are repressed; sometimes everything just gets chaotic and horrible. What I'm saying is that this present state of affairs, with its credit cards and household debt and medical precarity and everyone skating along one crisis away from collapse - this state of affairs is not going to survive the addition of active, ongoing climate crisis.
posted by Frowner at 2:28 PM on December 7 [13 favorites]


I feel like what you want me to say is, "the glorious revolution is coming, led by people just like me who will all pick up the gun and become action heroes; inevitably utopia will be established, probably by murdering a lot of people and consigning the rest to the gulag" so that the usual arguments against Leninism can be trotted out.

No, I didn't expect you to say that at all. I just wanted to know what you think. I know we're not really going to change each other's minds and I'm not here to "win" an argument (I mean, just look at who has more fave's right now).
I thought we disagreed on two major points and I just wanted to make sure of that.

First, I don't think revolution is inevitable, at least not in this situation. But this doesn't mean I think it definitely won't happen or that I think nothing will change either.

And second, I don't really think you can prepare or plan for revolution, especially on this scale. I'm skeptical of anyone even saying that you can guide it towards a "good" or "bad" outcome.
posted by FJT at 4:00 PM on December 7


I'm skeptical of anyone even saying that you can guide it towards a "good" or "bad" outcome.

As you should be: individuals do not have power, and so no individual can make a difference as an individual.

Meet your neighbors. Listen as you are able, help as you are able. It's infectious, and we merely need a critical mass.
posted by ragtag at 8:46 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


To expand on my previous thoughts, I think the flip side of pessimistic catastrophizing is assuming it will take a complete revolution and/or utopia to fix this. This is mistaken first because a number of natural processes seem to already be helping significantly, including a plateauing of energy consumption in most developed democracies over the last decade plus the surge in solar and wind due to sheer economic incentives. And second, because as the document I cited earlier suggests, much of what needs to be done to ameliorate the problem is not a once-in-a-millenium scale revolution, and barely even a once-in-a-century scale set of events. We've been living in a period of unusual stasis since the late seventies, but when we're talking about actions that need to take place on the scale of decades, that tendency to look so briefly backwards leads to a lot of recency bias. In the 20th century in the US alone we had a half-dozen "revolution"-scale political upheavals, though none since the 70s: women's suffrage, WWI, the new deal, WWII, civil rights, and the great society. And of course in addition, at least two techno-governmental developments of the scale we would need now -- the moon and the cold war arms build-up -- plus a couple major wars after the 70s. All of these were events of comparable scale to what we currently need. The fact that the government has done virtually nothing of great scale (besides war) since the 70s and centrist capitalism has been incredibly resistant to even moderate change during that period doesn't change the basic lesson of history: big changes happen a lot, even in one of the most stable countries of the last two centuries. It may take some giant external shocks (such as some dramatic environmental catastrophes), or it may just take a decade or two of rapidly escalating liberalism. But whatever the path, the idea that it can't be fixed not because it is physically impossible, but because there will never be the political will and the same centrist capitalism of the last 50 years will reign forever is terribly short-sighted -- as short-sighted in this pessimistic vein as it was in Fukuyama or Huntington's optimistic veins. Even Trump is just a blip compared to the sorts of changes that happened with great regularity up until the 70s, and are likely to happen again in our lifetimes.
posted by chortly at 10:38 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


anyone but a tiny minority of people want eco-authoritarianism forced on them

I mean that's what the authoritarianism is for, no?

the Russians evicted the Czar and his family. And then others stepped forward and seized power. What are you imagining a revolution would look like that successfully addressed climate change and humanity's future?

Well, the government that took power in the Russian Revolution lasted 70 years or so in some form. A lot of those years weren't great, so I think one could view many of the ways this might turn out as consequences of climate change - but I don't know why some people are acting like it's not a way this might turn out.
posted by atoxyl at 10:43 PM on December 7


0) Community - join or form a local community whose goal is sustsinablity. Individuals perish, groups survive.
1) Have no additional children. (if you have no children, consider adopting or having 1or none.)
2) Convert your diet and your pets to local in season plants farmed organically and dried or preserved versions of them in off season.
3) Keep 2 years of dried or preserved food on hand for each member of family/community.
4) purchase or generate only carbon free energy
5) Convert your transportation and tools to electric or muscle power and minimize unnecessary transportation. (sorry no flying)
6) heat and cool your body not your home.
7) don't buy anything except sustainable food, energy and products, use down the backlog of old clothes and consumer goods we have made.
8) use any land you have access to to,foster a diverse edible habitate for people and small animals
9) non-violently participate in social and political systems to influence officials and recruit more people for steps 0-9)
10) earn as much money as possible and give it to people who are trying to do steps 0-9

Even if everyone on the planet did this, it is not enough, but its a better way to go then "thoughts and prayers". I'd rather have less aweful more slowly than roll coal into the apocalypse.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 10:57 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


We need to produce enough clean energy to supply the clean energy industry with raw materials and power. Then we need to build enough clean energy so that everyone on the planet can have just enough energy to maintain a healthy productive and safe life. Then we need to build enough clean energy to start scrubbing the atmosphere of ghgs to bring down ghg levels by 1/4, but the scrubbing has to be FASTER THAN ghgs ARE RELEASED FROM MELTING PERMAFROST, DRYING WARMING SOILS, BURNING FORESTS, SHALLOW METHANE RELEASES and to offset the warming caused by iceloss albedo changes. Even then the planet will still be warming up as it equilibrates to the old forcings and as the already extra heat circulated in the oceans.

Right now those positive feedbacks are producing 10% to 50% as much ghg as humans, and they are ramping up to be a multiple of our yearly emissions. So we need to get our emissions to zero and then go deeply negative. We need to build more clean energy than all gross cumulative human infrastructure and energy use in human history to try to put this genie back in the bottle. And as we build and deploy this massive global deGHG mission, we roll the dice on crop yields and famine each year.

We have never had a year where ghg levels in the atmosphere declined.

We have never had a year where ghg levels stayed the same.

We have never had a year where ghg levels increased by less than the average of previous years.

We have only rarely had a year where the increase in ghg levels wasn't the new recording breaking year.

Our ghg emissions aren't headed to 0, we're headed to 0.

We have invested in weapons of destruction, tools of extraction and economics of exploitation. We have used them to destroy the life-support system of the planet we inherited.

Act radically with all your time, talent and resources to slow the catastrophe and save what fragments of human and animal life and culture you can.

No billion dollar biosphere in a dome or bunker can save you.

No space colony in a tin can or crater cave can save you.

There is no where to hide from hungry angry frightened desparate people with cars and guns and smartphones, or armies with tanks, drones and nukes. Nothing will be left uneaten if we can not feed all our billions. Nothing will be left to regrow. And in the breakdown of order, we will break our nuclear promise, lapse somewhere in our maintenance of our nuclear reactors, wastes and weapons stockpiles and poison the air water and land with millenia of deadly radiation.

So change your light bulbs and put on a sweater... its gonna be a long Mets games.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:33 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


including a plateauing of energy consumption in most developed democracies over the last decade

CO2 Emissions Reached an All-Time High in 2018: The uptick follows several years of relatively flat emissions, underscoring the urgency of climate action.
posted by ragtag at 3:50 AM on December 8


'We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,' 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. 'We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming'
"We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules," says Greta Thunberg, "because the rules have to be changed."

Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world's youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.
posted by homunculus at 6:49 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


I don't care if you hold optimism or pessimism in your heart or in your speech, we all think we are realists. I care about what we do about it. Uncertainty is unavoidable, the future is unknown, we don't understand or control the world, we decide how we will act and react. Are your actions and reactions a net improvement or are you waiting for technology, politicans, and revolutions to do the heavy lifting and hand you marching orders.
Smile or Frown, worry or hold hope. But take action now. We can not go back to the past when this would be easier. We can not have the future of our fantasies. Act now, don't stare at the imobile crowd and wait for them. Act now.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 10:24 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]




Wow are people misrepresenting Frowner's comments.
posted by eviemath at 11:52 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]




I’m going to do the unthinkable and suggest a podcast, a 56 minute discussion of “Toward A Left Populism” That really lay’s out the last 40 years as being an ahistorical era of No Politics where the big governments decided to be more or less reactive to markets and passive and so there’s an entire generation of politicians in the western democracies that have seemingly forgotten how to do politics while also offering some possible paths out of this.
posted by The Whelk at 3:07 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


Radio New Zealand—Louise O. Fresco: future-proofing food production The professor [and President of Wageningen University & Research, in The Netherlands] believes an intergovernmental panel, similar to the IPCC, should be set up to advise politicians, private sector and farming interests on the best practice in each country.
posted by XMLicious at 2:48 AM on December 10


We are rapidly seeing a glimpse of what Climate Change has to offer. Barely summer in Australia, and massive fires. Hurricanes and Typhoons. It *is* a dark reality and the only question is How dark? In the US, the answer is My house isn't on fire. My well isn't dry. My crops haven't failed. Not My Problem. until the hurricane takes your cousin's house, your sister-in-law can't breathe in LA because of fires, etc. I have grandchildren, I want them to have a livable planet. I adjust my carbon output accordingly. I see very few Americans willing to do this. Our leaders have sold out to corporate profits. Frowner's on it. We need leaders who will act to save us, and rid ourselves of the ones we've got.
posted by theora55 at 12:48 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


wow, self-congratulatory much? Sorry, because I could do more, and I do understand that it's extremely difficult to change behavior.

I have no expectation that the changes required will be calm and orderly, though that would be, you know, swell. I would like us to have an economy based less on consumer crap, giant houses, giant cars, excessive consumption in general, and more on education, art, community. We could all work 30 hours a week and still have a productive economy. Instead of another sweater, you could get Dad that tool for that class where he's learning to make beautiful things and making friends. You could get Mom some sheet music for her string septet. You could spend time with your kid, friend, dog, make music, make good food, instead of having to work 3 jobs and run around trying to save time.
posted by theora55 at 1:17 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


« Older Smitten By Mittens   |   Here Comes A New Challenger! Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.