Telling the Climate Truth

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

We need new Cassandras to warn us of new disasters, even though they’ll never be believed.
—Richard Clarke (paraphrased)

We aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency.
—Margaret Klein Salamon

The recent, major New York Magazine article on the coming “uninhabitable earth” stirred quite a response, both positive and negative. The positive response was, in general, “Finally, someone telling the truth.” The negative response was, in general, “But it contains these errors,” and “Does it really help to scare people this much?”

The errors are secondary to the article’s main point, but the question about climate communication strategy is both long-standing in the climate activism community and important.

If we tell this much truth, are we scaring people into inaction? Or does telling this much truth motivate people more effectively than the message that “we’ve got until 2050 to get fully in gear” currently does? (Is it even moral not to tell this much truth?)

My own thoughts below (click to go directly to them). First, here’s one person’s unique perspective on this question. The following is from Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist and also the founder of the climate action group The Climate Mobilization (TCM), which advocates for starting a “World War II-scale” emergency mobilization to convert from fossil fuels, and starting it now.

The following is Ms. Klein Salamon’s recent letter to her mailing list, also published here. Please read it through as she considers this critical issue — Does telling the climate truth hurt or help? I’ve highlighted a few key ideas and reformatted the piece just slightly.

As you read, please keep the terms affect tolerance and affect phobia in mind. She’ll clarify the definitions. I’ll offer closing comments at the end.


Last week, David Wallace-Wells published a cover story in New York Magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, a devastated economy, plagues, resource wars, and more. It has been read more than two million times.

The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece — though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening:

“Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it.” –Michael Mann, writing with Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles.

Eric Holthaus tweeted about the consequences of the piece:

A widely-read piece like this that is not suitably grounded in fact may provoke unnecessary panic and anxiety among readers.

And that has real-world consequences. My twitter feed has been filled w people who, after reading DWW’s piece, have felt deep anxiety.

There are people who say they are now considering not having kids, partly bc of this. People are losing sleep, reevaluating their lives.

While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article, I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions — namely, fear — in climate communications and politics. I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist, and as the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization.

Affect tolerance — the ability to tolerate a wide range of feelings in oneself and others — is a critical psychological skill. On the other hand, affect phobia — the fear of certain feelings in oneself or others — is a major psychological problem, as it causes people to rely heavily on psychological defenses.

Much of the climate movement seems to suffer from affect phobia, which is probably not surprising given that scientific culture aspires to be purely rational, free of emotional influence. Further, the feelings involved in processing the climate crisis—fear, grief, anger, guilt, and helplessness — can be overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean we should try to avoid “making” people feel such things! Experiencing them is a normal, healthy, necessary part of coming to terms with the climate crisis.

I agree with David Roberts that it is OK, indeed imperative, to tell the whole, frightening story. As I argue in The Transformative Power of Climate Truth, it’s the job of those of us trying to protect humanity and restore a safe climate to tell the truth about the climate crisis and help people process and channel their own feelings — not to preemptively try to manage and constrain those feelings.

Holthaus writes of people feeling deep anxiety, losing sleep, re-considering their lives due to the article… but this is actually a good thing. Those people are coming out of the trance of denial and starting to confront the reality of our existential emergency. I hope that every single American, every single human experiences such a crisis of conscience. It is the first step to taking substantial action. Our job is not to protect people from the truth or the feelings that accompany it — it’s to protect them from the climate crisis!

I know many of you have been losing sleep and reconsidering your lives in light of the climate crisis for years. We at The Climate Mobilization sure have. TCM exists to make it possible for people to turn that fear into intense dedication and focused action towards a restoring a safe climate.

In my paper, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode—a New Strategy for the Climate Movement, I argue that intense, but not paralyzing, fear combined with maximum hope can actually lead people and groups into a state of peak performance. We can rise to the challenge of our time and dedicate ourselves to become heroic messengers and change-makers.

I do agree with the critique, made by Alex Steffen among others, that dire discussions of the climate crisis should be accompanied with a discussion of solutions. But these solutions have to be up to the task of saving civilization and the natural world. As we know, the only solution that offers effective protection is a maximal intensity effort, grounded in justice, that brings the United States to carbon negative in 10 years or less and begins to remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere. That’s the magic combination for motivating people: telling the truth about the scale of the crisis and the solution.

In Los Angeles, our ally City Councilmember Paul Koretz is advocating a WWII-scale mobilization of Los Angeles to make it carbon neutral by 2025. He understands and talks about the horrific dangers of the climate crisis and is calling for heroic action to counter them. Local activists and community groups are inspired by his challenge.

Columnist Joe Romm noted that we aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency, which would of course entail initiating a WWII-scale response to the climate emergency. Our Victory Plan lays out what policies would look like that, if implemented, would actually protect billions of people and millions of species from decimation. They include:

1) An immediate ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure and a scheduled shut down of all fossil fuels in 10 years;

2) Massive government investment in renewables;

3) Overhauling our agricultural system to make it a huge carbon sink;

4) Fair-shares rationing to reduce demand;

5) A federally-financed job guarantee to eliminate unemployment;

6) A 100% marginal tax on income above $500,000.

Gradualist half measures, such as a gradually phased-in carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, that seem “politically realistic” but have no hope of actually restoring a safe climate, are not adequate to channel people’s fear into productive action.

We know what is physically and morally necessary. It’s our job — as members of the climate emergency movement — to make that politically possible. This will not be easy, emotionally or otherwise. It will take heroic levels of dedication from ordinary people. We hope you join us.

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD
Founder and Director, The Climate Mobilization

Gaius again. I largely concur with Ms. Klein Salamon, that “gradualist half measures” which have no hope of achieving the real and only goal — “restoring a safe climate” — won’t channel voter and citizen fear into productive action. They will instead, in my view, encourage those voters, those citizens, to continue to pass the climate buck to the next half-generation, unaware that this generation — today’s voters and citizens, their own selves — will go over the first part of the climate cliff first.

About her action plan, note points five and six — a jobs guarantee program (MMT theorists have been calling for this for a while) and a 100% tax on all income over $500,000. Like it or not, none of the climate and environment goals can be met without great economic change as well. That may sound like too much of an ask, but remember the World War II analogy. FDR turned the U.S. into a rationed, command economy, a step absolutely necessary to deal with war demands.

Note also that the FDR tax rates to deal with the Depression were massively high by modern (post-Reagan) standards, were increased again during World War II, and stayed high through the Eisenhower administration and into the Kennedy administration.

Source; click to enlarge.)

If something is necessary for success, it must be made part of the plan. In this case, the alternative — and people need to be told this — is accelerating devolution of our species to hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Take your pick — but recall that World War II America chose the effective solution.

The View from the Oh It’s You Senator Lounge

Why must we do this now? Because the climate crisis is starting now. Mass migration, in part due to climate change, is starting now. Deaths by weather extremes are increasing as we watch them. The three hottest years on record are the three immediately behind us. We’re so close to +2 degrees warming already, we can almost taste it.

So what’s in the way? The answer is simple — we have ceded control of climate policy to the greedy and pathological, to climate sexagenarians and octogenarians like Charles and David Koch, who, through the politicians they control (looking at you, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump), are marching to their own graves in triumph, leaving a wrack behind.

Does David Koch care about the world he will see from the grave? Or does he merely wish to enter it having won every battle he fought?

This is clearly pathological behavior on his part. It’s therefore up to us to stand up for ourselves — or so it seems to this humble Cassandra — because few of our so-called “leaders,” servants to pathological masters, cares about us, “the littles,” from their comfortable chairs in the Oh It’s You Senator lounge.

An Easter Island Solution

Klein Salamon is right; an emergency mobilization is needed. But to get there, we have to gain control of the Titanic, to put our own hands on the wheel. Or, to put it differently, we must depose the village chief and enact our own “Easter Island solution.” As I described it earlier:

You’re a villager on Easter Island. People are cutting down trees right and left, and many are getting worried. At some point, the number of worried villagers reaches critical mass, and they go as a group to the island chief and say, “Look, we have to stop cutting trees, like now.”

The chief, who’s also CEO of a wood products company, checks his bottom line and orders the cutting to continue.

Do the villagers walk away? Or do they depose the chief?

There’s always a choice …

You can’t change what you don’t control — that way madness lies. And this madness, or its best friend, fatal resignation, has a world historical conclusion. Do we seize control of the ship and turn to safer waters? Or let the disaster happen to us all because the hands of the soon-to-die greedy were allowed at the wheel instead?

Do we depose the chief and save the island, or fail to act while action is still possible? Me, I say best depose the chief. After all, these won’t be the first chiefs deposed in the arc of history — just the most dangerous.

Mes petits sous,


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  1. Optimader

    Declare a War on *****
    I cant think of many War on’s that worked out as propagandized, and I wouldnt be holding my breath on a “climate change” change program advanced by a psychologist even if she has a PhD ( in her unrelated field ).

    After all the spilled rhetorical ink, what is the proposed alternative energy source 10 years hence, I apparently missed that?

    Btw i predict the worst case climate change event will be either that asteroid strike that strips away the atmosphere or the far off supernova thatstetilizes the earth

    But lets start here for a fact based stepping off point for the 10year program even if we are all doomed

      1. Optimader

        Table of Contents
        Appeal to Authority
        argumentum ad verecundiam

        (also known as: argument from authority, appeal to false authority, appeal to unqualified authority, argument from false authority, ipse dixit)

        Description: Using an authority as evidence in your argument when the authority is not really an authority on the facts relevant to the argument. As the audience, allowing an irrelevant authority to add credibility to the claim being made

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      World energy consumption parallels population growth fairly well, no? The world population roughly doubled between 1973 and 2014 which is a very close match to the column “Final Energy Consumption” (table “Energy supply, consumption and electricity”) found on the wiki page referenced.

      Surely, this indicates that reductions are best achieved through population reductions. Eerily similar to Malthus’ observation in 1798…

      Of course, I tried to explain the parallels to a rabid denier a few weeks ago, and was immediately told in no uncertain terms that there is no crisis. Followed shortly by “this is a Christian nation” and “Liberals and gays are destroying the country”. Sigh.

      1. Optimader

        Vatch (I gather) and I agree
        Root cause thingy
        Concentual Population control is probably more achievable than a replacement energy source magic bullet

      2. Ed

        My comment on the “Victory Plan” would have been to note that there was nothing there about population control.

        Population control used to be a major item on environmentalists’ agendas.

      3. Carl

        Elephant in the room. Impossible to even discuss in politics. Ergo, not going to happen voluntarily. Fortunately, Nature has a solution.

      4. Rosario

        The problem is, it is not the people breeding that are consuming most of the resources it is the developed world with stagnant or declining population. The Malthusian answer is too lazy. What of a world with 1 million wealthy and 100 million poor. I’m sure the wealthy of the population would find a way to continue consuming similar to today (in terms of both energy and raw resources) so long as the rest allowed them to do so.

        The Malthusian argument fails to acknowledge that it is the technology coupled with a source of energy that permits accelerated consumption and not necessarily more mouths to feed. It takes surprisingly little to keep us alive but the 1st world has moved well beyond basic necessities into the realm of opulence and excess.

    2. Knot Galt

      The science is complicated. So any true sense of the issue is hard for many people to fathom. Climate change is treated more like a religion than science. What the discussion boils down to is one of faith. You either believe it or you do not believe it. With all the permeations that exist between the skeptics and the high priests.

      Climate change is, IMO, a religious war that corporate interests and capitalism certainly do not want to wage. Because it is exactly these interests that have not learned how to adjust to this new reality having been the prime cause of it. So naturally, they have used their influence to create a self preserving structure that will continue to serve them to our last breaths. Literally! The only way to undo, untangle, break free, and evolve out from is going to be COLLAPSE. That is how those shaping the dialogue and setting policy want to have happen. (Case in point, some are leasing/owning bunkers underground in the false hope that they and their money will ride out the crisis.)

      The only answer and solution, at this point, is WAR. It is coming whether we like it or not. The question remains what kind of WAR is it going to be? Is there a precedent for this type of WAR? What we can control is the degree that we take it on. However, how will this war be fought and what to do about it? idk. One approach may be “divestiture”. Instead of personally relying on things massive in scale; we reorient our energies into re-establishing and embracing local strengths and persons? Like Kunstler; but with an upbeat ideal that people can have faith in? As in embracing the Genus Loci and unplugging.

      1. a different chris

        >what kind of WAR is it going to be

        It will be a low scale but continuous burn, “reducing the surplus population” as Scrooge would have it. Keep the proles shooting at each other, but don’t let things rise to the nuclear level.

        I mean it’s already happening, no? What was the last war that actually “ended”??? They won’t anymore, not until the Rich think the population has been both reduced and impoverished enough to keep (at least enough parts) of the planet habitable for their offspring.

        Of course, they forget the lessons of the Black Plague — peasants become valuable once you reduce their numbers too much. Or maybe they think AI (hahahaha) is going to fill in…

    3. Thor's Hammer

      The “Debate” over Global Warming

      – Most citizens operate within a faith-based world view.
      – This enables them to ignore or reject the idea that science is a process that leads to truth.
      – The necessary role of legitimate critics functions poorly because challenges get lost in the PR wars.
      – Mass media seeks sensationalism and has no ability or interest in separating fact from illusion.
      – Mass media is owned by special interests that only care about furthering their ideology.

      There are basically two kinds of theories about how the world works: Fact based theories and faith based theories.

      All humans (including scientists) rely upon faith based theories for much of their world view. Its just to damn difficult to rationally examine everything and make a decision based upon sufficient facts. So all of us go through life with our heads stuffed with what mother told us at the breakfast table, the kids on the playground told us about girls, the priest/preacher told us about the universe, advertising poured through the TV brainwashing machine, and the continual efforts of society(s) to socialize us into conformity with views that do not threaten those more powerful than us.

      Take the case of religious beliefs. None of their theories can be tested relative to any set of facts. Almost all have an exploitative hierarchy structure. Yet for centuries they have been the most powerful unifying and motivating force for human societies, with countless wars and atrocities committed in their name.

      However, there is a real world out there. All the faith in the world won’t change the fact that if you stand in a raging fire and pray for long enough you will eventually burn up. If you want to go from viewing a waterfall to building a water wheel to grind grain, you have to understand core ideas like weight and force, the difference between a liquid and a solid, the geometry of a circle, and the properties of wood and metals. You may still believe that there is an old man up in the sky who watches your every move and will punish you if you don’t tithe enough, but if you don’t know the difference between wood and water you won’t grind much grain.

      As thought emerged from the shackles of 17th century religious world views and encountered the necessity of explaining the physical world a new pattern of thought emerged to eventually become something called the Scientific Method. Compared to debates about how many angels could dance upon the head of a pin, it is very simple.

      1- Pose a question about objects or behaviors that can potentially be answered. This is called a Theory.
      2- Demonstrate how the Theory can be supported by gathering and analyzing verified Facts incorporated into previous theories and Data compiled from the real world.
      3- Test the Theory against the data.
      4- Publish the Theory along with the Data and methods of testing it so that anyone with interest of knowledge about the subject can confirm or disprove it.

      This simple method is the best process ever developed for learning how the world actually works. After all its successes it is rarely understood or accepted by even educated citizens of a powerful country like the USA. In a world where information moves instantaneously to a tiny screen held in one’s hand, over half manage the mental gymnastics to still believe in some form of God— and most of the rest just don’t bother to think at all.

      Part of the problem is that the Scientific Method is a process carried out by Scientists, who do so in a social environment. The way it usually works is that a particular theory becomes accepted because it provides the best currently available explanation for the observed data. Scientists who developed and verified the theory get appointed to research fellowships and senior professorships and mentor graduate students. When a new theory comes along that challenges the existing order, those with a vested interest in their beliefs fight tooth and toenail to defend it. The Challengers and Skeptics try equally hard to tear down the old theories and thus build the foundation of their careers— and this is what moves knowledge forward. The key element to this contest is agreement that the battle takes place within a commonly accepted standard of testing and verification of facts and data.

      Unless there is a common acceptance of what constitutes factual information and how we arrive at it, no real debate can take place. Hence the Global Warming Wars

  2. DJPS

    The folks that run America would never go that route. I’m sure they have other plans involving their O.P. Military and “Others” if the worst case scenarios come to pass.

  3. craazyman

    Oh man. You really shouldn’t deride people because of their age. Nobody can stop time. And if you could stop time, you would stop consciousness itself. So you’d never even notice!

    People will be very surprised at the coming global cooling. Every time I channel Global Warming I get the same God-Damn signal: It’s a phantom produced by an overflow of Id energy from globalization — which actually is not as ludicrous as it may sound. The glacier melting phenomenon was widely observed early in the 20th century too! Based on newspaper reports. This is gonna go down in history in the “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” category. Sorry. And I also think we should have a clean/green energy Marshall Plan — so the policy result would actually be the same as the Climate Hysterics want — but only cause you need to get things right eventually so why not start now? It’s good jobs too and clean clear air and less digging up stuff all over. Much better than burning things that will run out.

    The glaciers were supposed to have melted by now and the north pole was supposed to be ice free. Oh man. Really. And now there’s pyschologists giving advice on how to keep people from scaring themselves to death!??? This is like the people who went up on the hill in England waiting for God to end the world. Some of them scared themselves to death. This is “end-times prophecy” mind-stuff and nobody sees it for what it is! It’s incredible! Really. This is scraping the very bottom of the mind-soul-archetype-unconscious-universal-mind. If Carl Jung were alive he’d have a few thoughtful things to say about this phenomenon. Very few people otherwise do. Quite tedious really.. But frightening if you don’t particularly care for outbursts of unconscious psychopathology.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The problem with forecasting time series — whether temperature, flood levels or securities prices — is that they are subject to sharp trend reversals, along with large doses of pure randomness.

      Climate change is the scientific analog of Dow 36,000 — it looked plausible in 1999, if you were caught up in the collective euphoria.

      The sun is acting weird, with chronically low sunspots. But the linear extrapolators have no comment.

      Flakery such as shutting down fossil fuels in ten years and taxing 100% of all incomes over $500,000 shows the real agenda here — transitioning from today’s neofeudalism to full-on Middle Ages feudalism, with a 90% reduced population living in unheated, unlighted hovels … within view of their rulers in the castle on the hill.

      1. craazyman

        It’s incredible Jim. The flaky lunacy that parades under the costume of erudition. Even otherwise smart people get caught up in the flood (no pun intended).

        Sadly, I wonder how many people would be killed off by lack of energy. It may be a lot more than would be killed off by droughts or floods.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Lack of energy caused by excessively high prices is already killing people:

          When high energy prices get too high, people cut down and burn trees to keep warm during the winter. It’s hard to see how the resulting air pollution and deforestation is good for people or the environment.

          And while people keep claiming that renewables are cheaper, actual electricity prices strongly suggest otherwise:

          1. craazyman

            Don’t lose sight of this: one man’s cost is another man’s revenue. It’s quite true that natural gas and even coal are “cheaper” for a lot of places that lack renewable sources like wind and steady sun. You can’t even do renewables hardly in some place. It’s not possible to turn fossil fuels off like a light — that really is wacko policy to consider that.

            It’s also true that the fossil-fuel energy complex is far more familiar and “shovel ready” as it were. So if an India or China needs power, it’s easiest at this point to build fossil power, that’s quite true.

            Those are serious realities. I wouldn’t argue with them. It does require enlightened and thoughtful public policy to navigate a clean energy rollout. But looking at “cost” alone doesn”t frame the entire economic space — potential new revenue, new companies, new energy system designs, new investments and new kinds of jobs are part of it too.

            1. Grumpy Engineer

              One man’s cost is another man’s revenue“?

              We regularly condemn our nation’s rapidly rising health insurance premiums and medical spending as harmful to people’s economic well-being, even though there are undoubtedly some new jobs that accompany all that “new revenue”. And it’s a legitimate criticism. Forcing people to pay more for the necessities in life doesn’t help them. It hurts them. The logic is no different for electricity prices.

              Producing electricity expensively instead of cheaply is a net loss for the economy. Just like overly costly medical care is. Yes, there may be a few “winners” along the way (just ask your local hospital CEO), but the majority of people come out behind.

              1. craazyman

                That’s a valid observation and an important one. An economy is quite an abstract idea with an invisible but quite potent set of ethical notions that form its foundation — without which it could not function, since the ethical ideas give it order and structure.

                Certainly the potential would be there for the clean energy sector to degenerate into a rapacious monopoly — like healthcare. That’s one reason why electricity is regulated at the state (and federal ) level.

                Electricity industry regulation works reasonably well, in my view. Energy is too important and too capital intensive to let over totally to market demons. In a sane society, healthcare would be seen as too important to deliver to market demons.

                A culture’s Id energy needs other forms of psyche to modulate and shape it’s form. It’s an almost aesthetic concept.

        2. Damson

          ‘Sadly, I wonder how many people would be killed off by lack of energy. It may be a lot more than would be killed off by droughts or floods’

          The Malthusians here would regard that as part of the solution.

          Presumably excluding themselves.

          1. Disturbed Voter

            Bourgeoise politics always assumes that their class doesn’t have to make sacrifices. Including the ultimate sacrifice, to join the lower classes under the jack-boot of the 1%.

            The socialists/communists/fascists grasp at each and every crisis, proclaiming how they are the solution to the problem. Maybe humanity is the problem.

      2. Expat

        Out of curiosity, do you reject the science because you are a qualified climate scientist and therefore qualified to reject it. Or because God told you to reject it? Or because it goes against your political-economic beliefs? Or because it is put forward by effete coastal liberals bent on destroying America!

        While my questions seem sarcastic, I honestly would like to hear your answer. I am fed up with people ranting about climate change being a commie conspiracy because they heard it on Fox, from Exxon, or from their preacher.
        So? Which is it?

        1. Jeff

          Jim’s statement comparing Dow 36000 (with no underlying physics) with climate change (based on science) shows his ignorance. Ignorance is not a problem – one can always learn. But often there is an unwillingness to learn, and face some unpleasant truths.
          He has a point though, as the six points listed above make the individual car disappear in a very short time window, but there is no measure to show alternatives, or the ‘road’ to an alternative (and no,there will never be buses or trains in suburbia).

          I am still missing an optimistic voice. When I read the science, I know we are on the Titanic, and already hit the iceberg. So, do I jump in water to freeze to death, do I kill my friends and family to guarantee a place in the to few canoes, or do I have champaign while listening to beautiful music for a few more minutes?

        2. Norm

          One could ask you a variation of the same question, i.e., “Do you believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) because you’re a qualified global climate scientist or because it’s cool/comfortable in many circles to go along with the crowd, or (you fill in the blanks).”

          I am not a qualified scientist, but I do read a lot of stuff that has taken me down a path from passionate AGW believer to skeptic. You may respond that 97% of the qualified scientists agree with your point of view, but even that assertion is full of holes. At any rate I could never accept that science is settled by consensus, whether that consensus comes from scientists or lay people.

          I am not about to lay out the case for skepticism here but just to indirectly answer your question on behalf of me and many other skeptics who are often called something like “deplorables”, I do believe that the skeptical climate scientists most deserving of respect are better scientists than those embraced by alarmists. If you’re really interested in getting to heart of the matter, I suggest you start looking at the vast troves of literature with an open mind.

          1. Damson

            That’s exactly what I did.

            I too came to the same conclusions as you.

            There are changes taking place, but they are not mostly due to human activity.

          2. Kilgore Trout

            Re: “I do believe that the skeptical climate scientists most deserving of respect are better scientists than those embraced by alarmists.” Who might those be? Judith Curry? The pair at UAH, Spencer and Christie, who routinely mess up their satellite data ? Richard Lindzen? Fred Singer? Happer, who isn’t even a climate scientist? I believe of all of these are tainted by their association with fossil fuels interests. One can claim that scientists like Hansen are “tainted” by the need to obtain grant money, but that’s true of the entire scientific process. And that 97% figure keeps coming up in more than half a dozen studies of the literature over nearly two decades.

            1. Knot Galt

              In other words, these 3% scientists are paid hacks who have had their scruples and ethics compromised. Of course, in the world of self interest where your self worth is tied to how much money you can get by playing for the system; you’ve turned yourself into a fascist.

              Growing up, I never could understand how a culture like Germany in the 1920’s could devolve into the Nazi Germany of the 1930’s. I think we are all getting a refresher course. What is that saying? “Those that do not learn history are . . . “

              1. kilgore Trout

                Despite the sarcasm, 3% sounds about right in climate science, or most any scientific endeavor, for that matter. See also Sallie Baliaunas and Willie Soon, for inclusion on my list above. They’re not really climate scientists, but they’ve been employed to impersonate same by the deniers’ lobby. And I think you’ve got the wrong causal agent when it comes to Fascism in our future. It won’t be the findings of climate science, but the efforts of the Kochtopus funding the denial of the science that will likely make draconian measures necessary. By design? Our “road not taken” was laid out back in the 70’s by Amory Lovins.

            2. Grumpy Engineer

              The 97% figure based on literature surveys is bogus. I’ve read a couple of them. The result isn’t 97% say “yes” and 3% say “no”. The results are more typically something like this: 6% say “yes”, 0.2% say “no”, and 93.8% don’t say. And that last category gets excluded.

              If you want to know the actual level of consensus, you have to ask actual scientists. Not do a literature survey where there “reading between the lines” is all too common. The best actual survey I’ve seen is this: The level of consensus was well below 97% on all questions. And notably, the survey asked about the fraction of global warming that is due to man-made causes. The answers about that fraction varied a lot.

              And it’s not surprising that the scientists’ responses varied. After all, the climate simulations used to make predictions about global warming yield results that are all over the map:

              When somebody tells me that the “climate models show such as such”, the first question out of my mouth is “which model?” Some show little warming. So little that we don’t need to worry about it. Others show tremendous warming. So much that we’re already doomed. Only if the middle set of models is correct will the carbon mitigation efforts be worth it. Whose model do you believe?

              1. kilgore Trout

                The money quote from the abstract to your first link: “Consistent with other research, we found that, as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of
                agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents
                with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming.”

              2. Kilgore Trout

                “When deniers claim that models are useless and wrong, they’re not telling the truth. But there’s not much they can talk about these days. Surface temperature is through the roof, satellite temperatures are through the roof, ocean heat is through the roof, wildfires are burning down the roof, sea level is lapping at your ankles and still rising, Arctic sea ice is crashing through the floor, glaciers are vanishing before our very eyes, Greenland is melting at an alarming rate … When it comes to what’s happening with Earth’s climate, deniers have nothing to talk about that won’t embarrass their “don’t worry” narrative. Things have gotten so bad even Ted Cruz has shut up.”

        3. Jim

          What do you have against liberals? By your language, it would seem, as if you are railing against all educated people. That’s what a liberal is, one who is educated on a subject. But now, East coast elietist,, come now, is that supposed to mean a difference?both get degrees, is there something different about the process? Sit in chairs? Sit on beach? What larger classes, no bra? What? Where? East/West they teach the same conservative garbage, it’s even worse in the Midwest, they teach follow the leader they know best,
          Now on topic… Global warming human caused? Right. Humans made up false, incomplete numbers, and are involved in the big lie. But, I have never seen anything on those who make over a million a year pay, it’s always exempted the millionaire. Who pays? Those who make a less then livable wage, they die young, they have to overpay for the necessities of life, and they have the same dreams as the 1%ers. But, what makes them more condemnable? Oh, they could not afford the party college of the elite…

      3. Jon S

        I live in Florida. Global Warming is easily explained. In the summer, we have something called “humidity”. Humidity makes everything hotter. Humidity is gaseous water molecules, good old H2O. All the molecules in the air absorb heat (infra-red radiation) from the sun, but H2O holds more than most of the natural stuff in the air like Oxygen (O2), Nitrogen and Argon. So the world in summer, in Florida, is a lot hotter than it normally would be. H2O is a big time green-house gas.

        The good thing about H2O, is it has a “dew point” where it converts from a gas to a liquid and leaves the air! That’s why winter is so nice in Florida. We get a lot of air coming from up North that has cooled below the dew point of water and removed all the humidity from the air.

        Carbon Di-Oxide (CO2), just like H2O, is a green-house gas. It absorbs a lot more heat than regular stuff in the air does. But the problem is, CO2 doesn’t have a naturally occurring dew point on the earth like water does! So it doesn’t just go away in winter!

        And we, as humans, are pumping billions upon billions of tons of the stuff in the air every year. So it is getting hotter. And will keep getting hotter until we stop. But even after we stop. It will stay much hotter for a long, long time. There is stuff that gets rid of CO2 from the air: trees and the ocean are good examples. But there just isn’t enough of that to make it go away.

        And all of this has been scientifically proven.

        1. Jeff

          The ocean is a bad example. While it is true that it does absorb CO2, that also make the water more acidic, and dissolves shells and other stuff. So say bye-bye to the marine food chain.

      4. Optimader

        Castle on the hill = neoliberal not for profit thinktanks and their legislated special interest vendors!
        What allows the shutdown of all those nasty coal fired fossil fuel plants are natural gas fired powerplants!
        Yayyy ooh wait..

    2. steelhead23

      Altering the globe’s climate is but one of the catastrophic effects of the global economy’s dependence on fossil fuels. First, there is direct air pollution which contributes to disease and death, then there is the effect of absorption of CO2 by Earth’s oceans, where most of it ends up, leading to acidification and a cascade of ecological effects. I think the continuing focus on atmospheric effects of burning fossil fuels weakens the argument against continued reliance on them. When the oceans rise, we could adapt by moving, if the oceans go sour we would all likely die. In short: We can move – we cannot leave.

    3. Knot Galt

      Craazyman, did you mention channeling? I comment because I have a few friends that are psychic and they believe climate change is a ginormous black flag operation by the global elite. I have to definitely claim ignorance because I am incapable of wrapping my brain around this concept. But the more I hang around them the more sense they make than anyone from Congress.

      I know this website is an economic centered endeavor. I’m interested in how the esoteric gets wrapped into the overall fundamentals of economic thought, if at all? And you hit it on the nose with this quote . .

      “I also think we should have a clean/green energy Marshall Plan — so the policy result would actually be the same as the Climate Hysterics want — but only cause you need to get things right eventually so why not start now? It’s good jobs too and clean clear air and less digging up stuff all over. Much better than burning things that will run out.”

      You are not as craazy as you say. It’s the insanity of the masses, which you so clearly articulate, that drives you mad? And the unwillingness of our captured political system to do anything but support self interest?

      1. craazyman

        Holy smokes (no pun intended) a black flag operation by the global elite? That seems a little bit implausible to me, since the global elite can’t even control themselves — wanton libidinous vainglorious inter-necine explosions and implosions of self destruction. LOL.

        I don’t think it’s a Chinese hoax but I do think it’s a Self Hoax. I started “channelling” it several years ago, and by channeling I mean just kind of a joking way of saying — I sit on the bus or have some xanax and some wine and let my mind drift and wonder about things quietly and try to grab their essence at the most fundamental foundational points of their intrinsic energetic structure through visualization, ideation, dream-like contemplation, effortless observation, mind-wandering liminal thought formation, observing psyche as if it were a cloud, not trying too hard, letting it fall into my mind as soft as a butterfly, as soft and light as a shadow on a wall. Then I aske myself “What did I see?” I really do this! Every time I channel Global Warming it comes back to me as a phantom, a self-hoax. Carl Jung provides the conceptual vocabulary to define the nature of this self hoax. I frankly have never channeled the Pleidians or other aliens or other intelligences — although I know some channelers do that. I would not trust anything I’d get that way. There are tricksters all over the place. I think one has to locate a pure gnostic signal and then it kind of pops in your mind the way good art pops or maybe a song pops as fantastic and true at every level, for example like Rosalita by Bruce Springsteen, or Backstreets by Springsteen. Those are far truer than any sort of science.

        1. subgenius

          Your mistake is the ‘vizualisation’ part of the above. Visualisation type processes have a self-directed nature, and the visual system is at root a fabricated sense anyway (despite how it is generally experienced), leading to self-hoax. You have to go a layer deeper and let the sensation (classically, and most easily accessible, this is the sensation of breathing) be your guide.

          This is a classic ‘trap’ in development in mystic type traditions, for what it’s worth.

          You need to surf the vibes, maan, and should you do so you will see where your self-hoaxes lie…

          1. craazyman

            You do make a good point. I won’t deny it. “Integrity in all things” is the motto.

            One has to observe but not be quick to conclude — and not be taken in by the seeming deterministic inevitability of cinematic “visions” — then wrap it all up with a form of structured intuition.

            It takes an expert to do it rite! Hahahah

  4. John k

    The very best thing you can do, if you are of parenting age or younger, is to not have kids. Or at least have fewer than you thought you wanted.
    A WWII effort to enf fossil fuels will not be sufficient if the world marches on to 8-9 billion…
    is gates better than Koch? Rather than curing diseases we need an all out effort on birth control… the migration out of Africa is on account of too many people for the continent to feed.
    So anxiety that persuades people to not reproduce is a good thing on its own.

    1. Vatch

      Yes!! Thank you!

      Reducing the birth rate won’t solve much by itself, but it will contribute significantly to the solution of nearly every major world problem. Some problems can’t possibly be solved unless the world’s population is lowered. Needless to say, the population reduction must be achieved through fewer births, and not by an increase in the rate of deaths.

        1. Vatch

          We know that deaths are going to occur from war, starvation, disease, etc. I just want people to understand that advocacy of population stabilization and reduction is not a demand that anyone die. Indeed, if the world’s population were significantly smaller, people would live longer on average.

    2. Marbles

      Better to reduce the population in resource hog countries that are to blame for the crisis. Average Americans carbon footprint is 20 tons, versus the average Nigerian of 5.6.

      Europe and Asia (Japan especially) seem to be doing their part to slowly cull their own, time for America to step up.

      1. Vatch

        Agreed (mostly). There are too many Americans, and too many of us waste energy excessively. But there are too many people in many other countries, too, and if you add them up, their total carbon footprint is not trivial.

        1. subgenius

          But the resource use of one USian Trump’s the usage of entire families in many other parts of the globe. Biggest user needs to be biggest loser.

          (Auto capitalization on trump, but sadly appropriate and hence left the googledit)

  5. Eclair

    I was just one year old when the US entered World War 2, so my first years were lived under severe food, clothing, gas, rubber and metal rationing.
    For a small child, no sugar was the big deal; my grandma would put a spoonful of molasses in a glass of milk as a big treat. I didn’t even notice the ‘meatless Mondays.’ We walked everywhere, or took the bus, because no one in my family had a car. My uncle, a physician, would have been given a gas ration, but he was serving in France.

    We put food wastes in a ‘swill’ container built into the ground, which the pig farmer picked up weekly. In hot weather it smelled and was covered with squiggly white worms.

    After dinner, after my grandma had washed out the food cans and removed the tops and bottoms, I was allowed to jump on them to flatten them out. They went into the local metal collections.

    My parents, along with their neighbors, planted ‘Victory Gardens” and my mom canned veggies as well as working as a nurse.

    I was not concerned with the clothes rationing; as far as I knew, it was normal to have only two pairs of shoes; one for church and ‘best,’ the other for playing. But my young aunt mourned the shortage of silk/nylon stocking and I would watch her spread a brownish liquid on her bare legs, then with a pencil, draw a line up the back of each leg to simulate the seam on that era’s stockings.

    In what is considered a ‘national emergency,’ the government can mobilize amazingly quickly and the populace will go along if they are convinced there is a real need. But, war was in our leaders’ interests.

    1. Gaius Publius

      Eclair, I’m really impressed by this comment. Almost poetic in its imagery, with a terrific (surprise) ending as well. Nicely done!


        1. craazyman

          Wow. I was planning to leave work early today and go out and buy some very expensive English hand-crafted monk strap men’s leather shoes — and then I read your comment and I felt stunned. I am well aware of those historical circumstances and I do think about them reasonably often.

          Of course you’re right. I felt trivial and stupid, shallow and superficial, a clown rather than a man, a bufoon and an idiot. I don’t need any more shoes. What a joke and I’m the butt of the joke. I have, I mean, at least 9 pairs of shoes.

          It took me about 2 hours, or 3 actually, before I was able to reboot my initial inspiration. I finally did go out and buy the shoes. Frankly, they look pretty amazing! I don’t quite know how I regrouped in the face of the completely obvious shallow triviality of my shoe fetish impluse — but I did. At any rate, it was certainly food for thought for a while. Now I can think about it with some incredibly awesome shoes on. I think I’ll be even more perceptive! That must be why I bought them.

  6. spigzone

    Abrupt climate change is in progress and unstoppable as are several dozen reactors and spent fuel pools going up in flames as civilization breaks down. IT IS WHAT IT IS.

    Enjoy life while you can.

    1. MoiAussie

      Kindly help us out with links on the “several dozen reactors and spent fuel pools going up in flames”.

      1. blennylips

        link followed by counter link … changed your mind yet?

        As Fukushima showed, a reactor needs externally supplied electricity to avoid melt down. Pulling the rods to stop the reaction still leaves lots of heat and hydrogen to dissipate. In a crash of industrial civilization scenario, all of the worlds 400+ reactors are in danger – some would say certainty – of melting down.

        I’ll bet that’s what spigzone was alluding to.

        Another aspect is the MBA-ization of nukes. Take a gander at this:

        It’s no secret that federal bureaucracy can be inefficient, wasteful and dysfunctional, but when the cumulative effect of mistakes at a major nuclear weapons laboratory starts resembling a Three Stooges shtick, it’s anything but funny. It’s dangerous.

        Dr. Strangelove and the Los Alamos Nuclear Fiasco

        Feeling safer?

      2. Dwight

        I think he meant that nuclear meltdowns are inevitable, not that they have already happened or will happen in the near future. I think he might be right that climate change is unstoppable, and there is at least a serious risk it will soon become so due to feedbacks. At some point, civilization could be unable to secure nuclear waste even in the high risk, short term manner we do it now. Therefore, we should take action to secure nuclear waste if that is possible, so that our legacy is not a hot, irradiated planet.

        1. spigzone

          Blenny lips and Dwight have it right, it takes 30 to 40 years to decommission a nuclear plant under ideal conditions and money no object. In ten years, with the methane clathrate guns in full salvo the world will be sinking into ever deeper chaos as wars and famines proliferate across the globe. It’s inevitable ALL the nuclear reactors and spent fuel pools, one by one and then in groups, eventually go Chernobyl, but a sizeable number will be burning within the decade. In thirty years this planet will, very literally, be will be well along the path to being a scorching hot radioactive hellscape and there is absolutely nothing that can stop it.

          IT IS WHAT IT IS.

          So enjoy life while you can.

          Personally, I’m fascinated to see how people and societies react as the realization of what’s really in their future sinks in.

            1. Aumua

              Oh, the prophets of doom, they know. They know the future, and they need you to know that they know things the rest of us don’t. They are so secure in their special knowledge that they can put a time frame on doomsday. It’s always 10 years away, but whatever. Tell us again oh great knower of insider facts, how it’s gonna be. How are things going to unfold, oh wise ones?

              1. blennylips

                I hear you Aumua. You certainly have history on your side.

                Nonetheless, things that have never happened before in the history of the universe, do happen regularly.

                Let me ask you: Where do you get your special knowledge? What is your special knowledge anyway? All you seem to do is jeer at the doomsteaders.

  7. FluffytheObeseCat

    Government-enforced, “virtuous” poverty, draconian income taxes, and generally vegan-esque self-flagellation don’t have jack to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Not at any scale.

    Right winger will dismiss this screed as leftist agitprop, hidden behind the righteous veil of environmentalism. And they’ll be dead right for once. Resource depletion is a distinct issue, separate from global warming. And (with the exception of fresh water resources) much less dangerous than global warming.

    1. Vatch

      If a resource is consumed and releases greenhouse gases as a consequence, then the depletion of that resource is most definitely closely related to climate change. Some resource depletion is unrelated to climate change, and some resource depletion is completely entangled with it.

      1. Optimader

        If we accept that Climate change is manifestation of a perpetual flux, ( think short term mass conversion into energy and byproducts, and long term geologic transformation being but two inputs),
        I am curious what what resource depletion is not a factor in the process of climate change?

        1. Vatch

          If we deplete fossil fuels by burning them, we release greenhouse gases. If we deplete the oceans of fish, I don’t see how that is going to cause global warming. It would be bad, but it wouldn’t be climate change.

          1. Optimader

            Disrupting the equilibrium of something as complex the worlds oceans food web is, I have no doubt, reflected in ocean chemistry and therefore affects its interaction with the atmosphere.

            You can think of the globsl ocean-atmosphere interface as a massive liquid-gas reaction. One is not manipulated exclusivly. Point being, any resource manipulation is a input in this inorganic/organic stew we call Earth.
            Agree eith you, human population is a systrmic game changer

  8. Epistrophy

    When Michael Mann SLAPP sues his critics, why will he not release his data when ordered by the court? Science is about repeatability isn’t it? The Scientific Method? Has he won any of these cases yet?

    His reckless course of action is going to get Penn State in very hot water under the False Claims Act. According to a recent case at Duke University:

    … “should scare all [academic] institutions around the country,” says attorney Joel Androphy of Berg & Androphy in Houston, Texas, who specializes in false claims litigation. It appears to be one of the largest FCA suits ever to focus on research misconduct in academia, he says, and, if successful, could “open the floodgates” to other whistleblowing cases …

    1. Jeff

      Who needs data when you can look at your window and see that spring is earlier?
      Who needs Michael Mann and his work when there are umpteen thousand of other indicators, all pointing the same way?

  9. MoiAussie

    Truly sad to see the thinking of some of the specimens that crawl out of the woodwork when a climate change article appears.

    1. Jeff

      In a twitter thread on the war in Syria, somebody stated that in the ‘think tanks’ there was lots of tanking to be seen, and very little thinking. Coal and Republicans seem to have the same result for climate change discussions.
      It is peculiar that this is very specific to the English-speaking part of the world (UK, US, Oz, Canada), as for the ~8 billion other humans, climate change is a fact, but the policy to adopt is open for discussion.

    2. Aumua

      Their purpose is to distract and diffuse people’s energy and passion with clever but superficial and fallacious reasoning, tying us up in endless details. This congressional hearing is a perfect example. No matter how many points are debunked, they have another one ready to toss up. No matter how many times the very same argument is laid to rest by the facts, it will come back again when you look away.

      Then on the other hand you have the doomers..

    3. PlutoniumKun

      As you can see here sadly, the constant disinformation has meant even otherwise sensible commentators start talking tin hat nonsense. There is (does this really need to be stated?) no reasonable scientific doubt about the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and no reasonable doubt that it is an enormous threat to society, not in a few hundred years, but within most of our lifetimes. We are frogs in pans, and that water is getting hotter, and people are still arguing about whether the pan is made of steel or aluminium.

      1. aumua

        “I used to be a believer, but now after seeing this (overwhelming YouTube video evidence or whatever), I’ve changed my mind.”

        I’ve noticed this one a few times in this thread. Not sure how much of it is genuine, and how much is just the phrase of the week in denier circles. The public opinion manipulation is on high for sure.

  10. Synoia

    Civilization itself is the heat engine of this planet.

    And yes we are all going to die. Sometime.

    Calling for a off switch in this runaway system we call civilization is similar to the UK pulling off BREXIT in 5% of the time it took to entangle themselves in the EU.

    Seems to me that our planet is Reaciting to our activities.

  11. shinola

    It’s basically a problem of overpopulation, so let’s put on our neoliberal thinking caps & see if we can come up with a solution…

    Well, there’s lots of useless eaters out there consuming & polluting. We could try making things like decent food, clean water & medical care so expensive that the general population can’t afford or access them. If we could just get a good die-off going…

    But there could be problems with that approach: may be too slow and could generate uprisings & revolution (pitchforks & all that…)

    So, maybe the “Jay Gould” approach might be better – hire one half of the useless eaters to kill off the other half. By becoming cannon fodder, they become useful citizens.

    You see, there are solutions available – if we’re bold enough to grasp them.

    1. Vatch

      Or maybe we could try really hard to encourage people to have fewer children. No more Duggars; no more Bevins (the governor of Kentucky, who fathered 10 children). And no more making excuses for people in the Third World who have too many children.

      1. Jeff

        If you kill 7.5 billion people and only keep the Americans, you’re still stuck in the same climate change problems, but nobody left to do the hard work.
        The world today produces more than enough food and amenities to feed 9 billion people, and more. If we pack the US as India (not the biggest density on Earth), we can all fit in the US, and keep Europe, Asia, Africa… for parks and gardening.
        It is not the quantity of people that is a problem, but their “quality”.

        1. Vatch

          The Duggars and the Bevins are Americans. They aren’t the only people in the U.S. with their quiverfull ideology, either.

          If you’re saying that some people consume and pollute too much, then of course I agree with you. As I said in a different comment today:

          Reducing the birth rate won’t solve much by itself, but it will contribute significantly to the solution of nearly every major world problem. Some problems can’t possibly be solved unless the world’s population is lowered.

          The world is complex, and population reduction is not sufficient to solve the world’s problems, but it is necessary.

          As for the world being able to sustain 9 billion people for an extended period of time, no, it can’t. And why would anyone want to live in a place as densely packed as India or Bangladesh? Do you really think that the quality of life in the world’s mega-cities is good? I’ve never lived in Shanghai, Karachi, Ciudad de Mexico, Delhi, or Lagos. Have you? Much of what I’ve read and seen about those places is quite frightening.

          1. Synoia

            Lagos – yes. When it was much smaller, and there was much green between Yaba and Ikeja airport. (The Murderous Murtala Muhammed International Airport).

            1. Negrodamus

              Hmm do you have pictures of Lagos then?

              I live there now and god, its so overpopulated that people live in in shacks at the beach.

              I tried going for a walk on the beach at night and it was like night of the living dead…

  12. FCO

    It is easier to scare people away from pollution and plastic. Pictures of melting glaciers are not as horrendous as pictures of plumes of dark smoke hanging over a city, or islands made of discarded plastic bottles.
    The controversy and science behind global warming is difficult for the average person. The idea of having to wear gas masks on a daily basis is easier to grasp.
    Reframing the message of global warming into a pollution one may be more effective.

    1. Damson


      Ever wonder why industrial and pharmaceutical pollution has been disappeared from the ‘climate change debate?’

      Or why the Anglo – American press says almost nothing about the changes taking place in our solar system, especially the sun?

      Google ‘planetophysical’ and ‘sun’.

      1. Vatch

        @Craazyman, are you paying attention?

        I googled those words, and I found references to Nibiru (among other things).

  13. FCO

    It is easier to scare people away from pollution and plastic. Pictures of melting glaciers are not as horrendous as pictures of plumes of dark smoke hanging over a city, or of islands made of discarded plastic bottles.
    The controversy and science behind global warming is difficult for the average person. The idea of having to wear gas masks on a daily basis is easier to grasp.
    Reframing the message of global warming into a pollution one may be more effective.

  14. Odysseus

    3) Overhauling our agricultural system to make it a huge carbon sink;

    Is there any actual consensus on how to do this?

    No till, capturing methane from manure lagoons, and simply reducing food miles traveled can’t be the whole list.

    Is there any effort to get there?

    What investment fund is buying land and requiring it to be farmed sustainably?

    1. johnnygl

      Using animals in rotational grazing schemes and getting them out of feed lots woild turn a problem into a solution. Integrating animals into silvopasture and agroforwstry schemes would add even more value, boost productivity and create jobs managing it.

      The feds could help by starting up and funding these schemes instead of leasing land out to big landowners for next to nothing and subsidizing corn, wheat and soy with billions.

      1. TheCatSaid

        Absolutely! Implementing ideas such as those of Allan Savory and others would make the planet a more balanced environment as well as providing increased food supply.

        The purveyors of agricultural chemicals and pesticides might not be happy. Maybe we can find more planet-productive ways they can apply themselves.

    2. subgenius

      You need to investigate the reality of industrial agriculture – focussing on the energy & material processing necessary to the ‘non-negotiable’ way of life.

      Simply doing what you listed, combined with no cafo-type operations, antibiotic dosing, organic natural cycle operations actually makes massive difference. Add in Terra preta and take out the mechanized nature of the industrial model and replace with many humans exercising in a forest/meadow landscape (multiple layers, natural resilience, impressively increased yields per unit area due to multiple plant layers plus all the low intensity animals etc etc) and yeah, an ENTIRELY different picture emerges.

      Doesn’t support rich assholes in teslas, tho.

      1. joe

        Beat me to it on Terra Preta.
        I’ve been experimenting with it, here on the farm/doomstead.
        The way we do ag is just plain silly.
        Thousands of cows come through the three auctions in my tiny little Texas backwater every week(by products=flies and cowshit and about 100 jobs). But when the beef I buy even has a source label, it is never from anywhere near here.
        Same with sheep and goat and everything else.
        The lamb I occasionally indulge in comes from Oz, after I drive past ten thousand sheep on the way to the store.
        Perhaps Aussies eat Texas lamb chops, and the ships pass each other in the night.
        I’ve found that folks who aren’t directly involved in ag have a hard time understanding the regs and “industry standards” and all manner of barriers to entry that impart such inertia to this wasteful, cruel and counterproductive system.
        Add in the Very Big Money (Milk Cartels!,lol) that likes it just the way it is, and I am rather pessimistic.
        I can’t legally sell and egg, or a dressed goose(lawnmowers) or a head of lettuce unless it’s “on farm”.
        Local grocer’s corps policy says I have to take a box of tomatoes to Houston(350 miles, one way) to the warehouse, and then follow the truck back.
        Otherwise, they’ll just stick with the imported flavorless variety, thank you very much.
        All the stuff you laid out, re: changes to the way we do food production, are great. I’m definitely on board.
        But how to make it big enough to matter…Idk
        on terra preta:

    3. Rosario

      This is the one that is the scariest to me, and the one that may kill far more people than the immediate effects of climate change. Renewables are on deck and ready to go within the paradigm of the market economy, they are cost effective and even profitable, but I just don’t see a slick transition to sustainable agriculture.

      I have heard the range of “no brainer” solutions from the permaculture movement but I’m just not convinced. We have developed sustainable agriculture over thousands of years from a multitude of environments. The ideas in permaculture are not new. We still need to come to terms with the fact that the Green Revolution worked. It really did increase yield which freed up ag laborers and allowed for an increase in global population. True it did so in the sloppiest way (dumping huge amounts of fossil energy in to get “more” food out), but the results are clear to see.

      In terms of human/animal labor and time I don’t see how 7 billion people will be sustained, in the most ideal and moral political system, without nearly every person practicing the near perfect brand of permaculture for their region. This does not even address the issues of climate variability, pests, plant blights, chattel disease, etc. These things were famine inducing before industrial ag and that was with more-or-less sustainable ag practices. I currently can’t see a future without industrial ag practices that doesn’t involve condemning potentially billions of people to starvation and disease.

  15. Jon S

    Thinking you are going to fix this in 10 years is sadly mistaken. But you can get about 75% of the way there. Guaranteed jobs program is a good idea. Fund it with a carbon tax. Have the new workers go house to house and building to building and implement every energy saving concept possible. Shut down coal and oil fired plants and replace them with solar and wind where possible. Use nat gas where it isn’t and where you need a good base load. Force automakers to make all vehicles PHEV within 10 years.

    That’ll get you 75% of the way there and actually increase the standard of living. That last 25% though, is very, very tough.

    1. Jeff

      .. plant lots of new forests, and use wood to do the insulation and other energy saving stuff. Get rid of automakers, but only keep auto repair shops. Have a carbon tax that starts at 30$ a ton now, and increases 2cts every month for the next 100 years.

    2. subgenius

      You need to redefine the metric of ‘standard of living’

      Keeping the one currently in fashion is a guaranteed route to failure in the task at hand

  16. Damson

    More climate alarmism – fast outdoing the millenarists/’the end is nigh’ in jeremiads.

    Here’s the antidote – a congressional hearing which provides a thorough examination of the evidence (ie actual data, actual physics, chemistry, actual monitoring and comparisons across epochs) and proof the much vaunted ‘scientific consensus’ is neither scientific nor a consensus :

    Note : very few politicians attended it, and those that did looked pretty chastened.

    I speak as a one time believer.

    Not any more.

    1. Jeff

      Liars invited by the people that lie all the time.

      If you started by looking at evidence (CO2 is raising, its isotope signature proves it is fossil fuel burning, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and almost everything is heating: air, oceans, ice, .. but the stratosphere is cooling).
      So what Arhenius predicted in 1896 still stands today.
      You may want to check Open Mind, started by a guy who wouldn’t believe none of it.

  17. David, by the lake

    Life will survive the coming time of troubles. Humanity will also. Modern industrial civilization will not. For those who completely identify humanity with an “upward” march of perpetual progress, it will seem to be the end of all things, but it will not be.

    1. TheCatSaid

      That’s a great observation. I suspect some kind of economic collapse will be what brings about significant widespread changes. That, and/or tipping microbial balance in ways that challenges human health.

  18. Thomas Williams

    Excellent article, however I take issue with what is not included: human population.

    Failure to hold our population to the earth’s sustainable limits moots any efforts on any front. Pick your number – for me, the limit is somewhere around 12 billion – then let’s enforce a global 1 baby rule. Either that or embrace the coming the apocalypse.

  19. UnhingedBecauseLucid

    [“…and a scheduled shut down of all fossil fuels in 10 years; “]


    He will be given [a much needed] dose of humility in years to come…

  20. johnnygl

    Those who are advocating population control aren’t offering a solution, or at least one that isn’t going to save us in time. A world where population growth falls to zero and we still burn the tar sands is a nightmare scenario, indeed.

    We need energy conservation, big time agricultural reform, renewables, denser cites and more public transport. Massive REFORESTATION, especially in the tropics would be a big help, too!!!

  21. David

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

    When someone says, “Science teaches such and such,” he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, “Science has shown such and such,” you might ask, “How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?”

    It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.

    In a field which is so complicated [as education] that true science is not yet able to get anywhere, we have to rely on a kind of old-fashioned wisdom, a kind of definite straightforwardness. I am trying to inspire the teacher at the bottom to have some hope and some self-confidence in common sense and natural intelligence. The experts who are leading you may be wrong.

    …I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television–words, books, and so on–are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science.

    …Each generation that discovers something from its experience must pass that on, but it must pass that on with a delicate balance of respect and disrespect, so that the [human] race–now that it is aware of the disease to which it is liable–does not inflict its errors too rigidly on its youth, but it does pass on the accumulated wisdom, plus the wisdom that it may not be wisdom.”

    Richard Feynman, 1969

    1. TheCatSaid

      Thanks for your various contributions to this thread. I, too, know well about the shortfalls in our so-called “scientific method” and trusting “experts”. I say this as someone who has seen this up close and personal and across many scientific fields. I’m reminded of even “simple” historical events like Galileo’s discoveries, or how long it took for people to accept that microbes exist, or for doctors to accept that it was a good idea to wash their hands before delivering babies. Significant new information of any kind usually takes a long time to permeate whatever is the starting consensus viewpoint.

  22. Sam

    There is a simple relatively inexpensive solution proposed in the book “Superfreakonomics.” Just pump a few hundred tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere thereby reducing the amount of sunlight that hits the earth. That is just what the eruption of Mount Pinatubo did in 1991 and the global average temp went down until the sulfur dioxide levels in the stratosphere went down or wait for another Mount Pinatubo.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Almost every respectable climate scientist has dismissed that ‘solution’ as absolute nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. The Freakanomics people aren’t even good economists, let alone scientists. They have zero useful things to contribute to the debate. If you want a sensible discussion of options, go to someone like Paul Hawken, and his book ‘Drawdown‘, or the late David McKays ‘Without Hot Air‘ (although note that the latter is quite out of date in some respects).

  23. skippy

    Why is it that – seemingly – [cough] the opposition to AGW correlates to those in the liberties and freedoms sphere of identity.

    As well, as, rhetoric resembling a evangelistic tenor where everything is couched in the I once had a “belief”, but, having seen or heard something my “belief” has changed. Best bit is how this drags the discussion into a vacuum where mental marbles collide and the results of that is confused with logical validity…. cough I had a “feeling” deep down inside.

    Disheveled… Unwanted flash backs of Midwest evangelical members drive….. barf~~~~~

  24. Katherine Calkin

    We Need to Stop Kicking Ourselves Over Climate Change

    I watch and read with astonishment the growing quantity of articles and books written about climate change. One question haunts me: Why does this topic produce apathy in most people, even those who are willing and able to discuss it?

    Climate change, like the climate itself, is a non-linear dynamical complex system with a seemingly infinite quantity of moving parts and many potential black swans. For example, one black swan is our lack of real knowledge about when we are going to run out of oil. We really don’t know. Countries are no more honest about this than they are about their true economic status. Or, perhaps they really cannot estimate accurately. Some countries, like Brazil, are still finding significant new underground oil pockets in their territories.

    As far as I know, nobody actually has sat down and sketched out a plan for addressing all of these climate change dynamics, and I believe that there is a good reason for this: The enormity of the problem and the sheer quantity of important issues defy simple analysis.

    Just imagine trying to list the issues and then put them in the order in which they must be addressed. Think about all of the dependencies. Issue A must be remediated before Issue B and so on. There will be many lists of major issues with many of the same subordinate issues appearing in several of the lists. It’s a nodal diagram with connecting lines running everywhere.
    An overall plan would take decades to develop if it’s even possible to do so (Want to shut down the oil wells? Oil is the basis of many chemotherapy drugs).

    The scope of this set of problems overwhelms even the bravest of souls. It is certainly not amenable to Cartesian deduction. Francis Bacon’s inductive approach to science and nature is what we are doing now – taking action on everyday, particularized issues we have some control over (recycling, producing electric and hydrogen cars, etc.). These experiments will validate or invalidate the proposed solutions, and we can learn from these outcomes.

    So I suggest we stop bashing those who are cowed into silence by the mention of climate change. They probably feel stymied and perhaps scared like the rest of us.

  25. christine

    Perfectly incredible: not one word in this entire trail about the verifiable fact that we are in the Sixth Great Extinction or the chemical poisoning of the earth. Read Weisman’s The World Without Us to get a good grip on issues. And he does say the fastest way to stop warming is to limit every woman to one child. Read Hulme, Why We Disagree about Climate Change.The Chinese one child policy saved the world 300,000,000 extra people in recent years. And for that they were scorned. The population issues used to be of grave concern, but the right wants it’s industrial farming of humans for profit to go on and the left (is there any left left?) prefers soft human rights to issues of survival…as if not eating and dying as a refugee is better than population control. Telling the Climate Truth is not part of this article.

  26. Jer Bear

    Two points that every climate post needs to inform the readers of at the very beginning:

    1) The climate is a 30-year mean. Global, local, micro-scale, meso-scale … makes no difference. A 2 degree increase in mean temperature means 2 degrees higher than the average temperature of the last 30 years. Period. This does not detract from record events, such as the warmest year on record (in most cases going back about 125 years or so).

    2) The current state of the art for weather forecasting is five days. Beyond that, there is a need to revert to climatic means, and that reversion increases as the forecast period increases. Five days.

    2a) There is no state of the art for climatic forecasting. There is consensus on trends, but that is as far as it gets. They are best guesses based on modeled data .

    And before you ask, I have been working in this field for 38 years and I know that the Earth is currently warming, especially towards the Poles, and that mankind has certainly influenced that warming in various ways. Those assumptions are built into the atmospheric models.

    1. skippy

      Because humans have have effected local atmospheric and ecological environments since Ag, its just scalability and ratios.

      disheveled… Heck the nation state could be reasonably argued to be a direct result of…..

  27. TheCatSaid

    Some thought-provoking scientific discussions about how “climate change” perspectives are presented and discussed can be found on There is a topic that relates to science.

    I became aware of this website and these articles here on NC, for which I am grateful.

    I’ve gained a lot by seeking out information that differs from my starting perspective. Climate science is just one example of an area in which I have changed my perspective as I have learned more.

    1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

      The Cat Said,

      Thank you for the kind words. The climate change perspective we show at the FM website is that of the IPCC. It’s a rarely seen one, as the IPCC is now attacked by both Left and Right.

      Abandoning the IPCC’s work has brought both sides to madness, as seen in this thread. Lots of misinformation, often quite delusional. Over 15 thousand words in this article and its comments — but not a single appearance of “IPCC” or “AR5” (their most recent report).

      The IPCC’s work is factual, lavishly researched, and boring. Many (most?) of the people here are having fun bickering! We’re entertaining ourselves to death.

  28. EverythingsJake

    The environmental problem is the social justice problem is the economic equality problem is the every problem one can think of. They are one and the same, and they have the exact same solution in common. I think the majority of our “elite” are even sensitive to the catastrophic consequences that likely await us. But, they seek to preserve their status and wealth above all else, and what they desperately hope is that a solution will present itself, likely some technological innovation – and why not, technological advance is their religion – that will solve the environmental problem with no change to their standing. It’s insanity to even go another day like this, but human intelligence is remarkably short-sighted. Paraphrasing Ernst Mayr, intelligence is an aberration that ends in extinction, which is why it’s very unlikely we’ll discover an intelligent alien species. Also, I ain’t buying property near the coast.

  29. EverythingsJake

    The environmental problem is the social justice problem is the economic equality problem is the every problem one can think of. They are one and the same, and they have the exact same solution in common. I think the majority of our “elite” are even sensitive to the catastrophic consequences that likely await us. But, they seek to preserve their status and wealth above all else, and what they desperately hope is that a solution will present itself, likely some technological innovation – and why not, technological advance is their religion – that will solve the environmental problem with no change to their standing. It’s insanity to even go another day like this, but human intelligence is remarkably short-sighted. Paraphrasing Ernst Mayr, intelligence is an aberration that ends in extinction, which is why it’s very unlikely we’ll discover an intelligent alien species. Also, I ain’t buying property near the coast.

  30. Selwyn

    Ecosystems have limits. These are called carrying capacities. Ecosystems clean the air we breath and the water we drink; many large metropolitan areas rely on deep wells. Some areas are already being severely affected by lack of water and the weather fluctuations. Look up the Tampa Bay areas attempts at desalinization and other notably poorly thought out schemes to provide drinking water for their ever-expanding population. Florida’s ability to provide water for its growing population is causing its Swiss cheese-like limestone understructure to collapse and it will only get worse as the fresh water draw down continues. That fresh water floats on top of a salt water which is already starting to show up in some of the fabled springs in the interior of Florida. Many home loans in the central interior of FL require sink hole insurance – which is very expensive.
    The point of biological carrying capacity is this: populations will crash as the systems fail.
    There is no amount of technological expertise that will compensate for the cascade effect of crashing natural systems.
    Who among you actually believe the earth’s natural systems can support eight billion humans? That sixth extinction event occurring now? It includes us.
    Stewart Brand came out for nuclear power to provide lots of energy to provide the needed energy for a transition to a more balanced way of life. Hmmm. Power for underground food production?
    I note many of the ‘mankind’s energy waste products have nothing to do with “global warming” commenters always focus on global warming. And that’s a dead giveaway of a bias.
    There is something negative for humanity happening with weather trends and arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is ridiculous.
    The real thing is climate change and instability. If you deny the last 20 years has produced some odd and dangerous weather, you are lying to yourself.
    If you don’t think eight billion people’s output have nothing to do with much of the climate change, you are simply blind.
    LA used to have smog alerts, there was a hole in the ozone and there were – and oddly enough, still are, deniers about those successful interventions.
    One last thing: if climate change isn’t the threat some make it out to be, tell us why the Pentagon has been studying and preparing for its effects since 1998? And why all those special operations commands like southern command (SOCOM for the Middle East and South Asia, for example), have been joined by North America Command, which has at least three brigades stationed right here in the US?
    Good luck to humanity.

  31. tongorad

    Hard to be optimistic about a problem that requires global action and cooperation to remedy. Hell, it’s hard to find cooperation and coordinated action in my own family.
    What was it that the Frankenstein monster said at the end of Bride of Frankenstein?
    And what was he a metaphor of?

  32. Dwight

    The research cited by Mann, et al says that worry is the best motivator for climate action:

    “[W]orry is a less intense emotion better suited [than fear] to the issue of climate change. Worry tends to motivate, not short-circuit, more intense cognitive and analytical processing of risk information. People often worry about their careers, health, retirement, the state of the economy, or their children’s future, leading them to seek out additional information about the risks as well as potential actions to reduce risk.”

    The line between “worry,” “deep anxiety,” and “fear” is not clear, and I do not see how frank assessment of the long-term risks of inaction crosses the line to causing debilitating fear.

    Mann et al’s article quibbles on a few factual errors without addressing the broader argument that feedbacks could be very strong and are not fully incorporated in the IPPC models. We are poking a bear and our failure to act now will have serious impacts over the coming decades, and we need to WORRY about that. Of course, we knew this in 1992 when our country signed and ratified the climate treaty, and articles could and should have been in our mass media then and since. The risks have been downplayed long enough, and the point of no return fast approaches if not already here.

    Deep anxiety is and has been fully warranted, and all the more now given how little progress has been made. Much of the criticism has been that business as usual won’t happen so there is no need to assume that scenario. All I’ve seen for the 30 years I’ve followed this issue has been business as usual, and if we cross tipping points it will no longer be our business that drives runaway warming. Whether that time is now or in 20 or 40 years, we should be deeply worried now. When climate tips, it will be from emissions decades earlier, and the climate system’s reaction to those long ago emissions.

  33. baldski

    To all climate change deniers:
    I am not a scientist but I approach the climate change science from a different view. I ask the question “how did all that carbon get buried in the ground in the form of crude oil ?”

    If modern petroleum theory is right, they say crude oil formed from algae blooms in shallow lakes and seas. The algae died fell to the bottom of the seas and was compacted slowly and buried by sedimentation and tectonic plate subduction. This happened during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods 180 to 65 million years ago. Algae require water, nutrients, sunlight, and Carbon Dioxide to grow. What were the climate conditions then ? Hot and humid? Dry and cool? These algae blooms required a lot of CO2 to form.

  34. Joel Albertsson

    The cautionary principle applies. Even if you are not convinced by the arguments for ACC being a fact you need to take into account uncertainty, the fact that you dont have full knowledge on the issue and might be wrong. Then you have to weigh the risks, even if you believe there is ony 1% chance you are wrong, the outcome of that event, globa famine, thirst, annihilation, ought to make you prepare for that


    I would like to know, where and when climate was safe ( ” returning climate to a safe state”)
    Even at the danger of being called a climate change denier ( which is a real insult, because nobody denies that climate is changing…always has and will ) I do not understand why everybody is so eager turning science into religion . “the absolute truth”; ” the debate is over” etc.
    Because there seem to be quite a lot of questions open about how to best to deal with climate changes, and how to use most efficiantly the resources we have and should we prepare as well just in case for global cooling…
    I have a hard time agreeing that I have to take a side for or against something – this constant polarization seems to be not a great way to cooperate

  36. JTFaraday

    “the only solution that offers effective protection is a maximal intensity effort, grounded in justice, that brings the United States to carbon negative in 10 years or less and begins to remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere.”

    Not to be too negative, but it was about 10 years ago that Obama was spooked into firing his green jobs czar because fragile conservative snowflakes were sceered of the communist. Ooga booga.

    What I thought was interesting in that NY Mag article, was the last section around the question “Why can’t we see it?” I think the reason we can’t see it is the same reason Toms River, NJ “couldn’t see” the cancer cluster: The property values and the dirty jobs. And any job requiring a commute is a dirty job, so.

    Apparently THAT is the fear. The End Times, not so much.

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