Trump’s Gift to the Climate Movement

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

The warning chart that NOAA issued shows Hurricane Ophelia ending in a straight line at 60 degrees north latitude, because the computer program never anticipated a hurricane so far north (source).

A little while ago I looked at the coming year (and the next few years), saw a “train wreck” coming, and wondered whether it would be more worth writing about the train wreck or about something more interesting:

When we think of economic crossroads, those who don’t regret the failed Obama opportunity of 2009 … think of Sanders, Clinton and Trump; the Failed Revolt of 2016; and the road not allowed to be taken.

Our betters chose another path for us, and the rest, I’m afraid, will merely be consequences, the train wreck mentioned above, easily foreseen. Perhaps we won’t write about the train wreck after all, but something less widely anticipated.

This is about the train wreck. It’s also about a surprising opportunity from a surprising source, our dimwitted President Trump and his wrecking crew.

In a recent Rolling Stone piece entitled “Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing,” climate writer Bill McKibben said, “If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced.”

As an example, he cites the ice fields of Antarctica. “The latest models show that with very rapid cuts in emissions, Antarctic ice might remain largely intact for centuries; without them, we might see 11 feet of sea-level rise by century’s end, enough to wipe cities like Shanghai and Mumbai ‘off the map.'” In this case, “off the map” means literally off the map — non-existent; no where to be found on the earth.

For reference, note that the USGS lists the amount of ice sequestered in the Antarctic ice as the equivalent of 72 meters of sea level rise. That’s quite a lot. Think of it as 240 feet — or 80% of an American football field — stood vertically. To see what that means on a map, click through to these speculative National Geographic maps from 2013; note though, as you do, that its numbers are out of date and too low. The situation will very likely be worse.

By any reckoning, the speed of change to our climate is catching most people off guard. For example, consider the map at the top. It shows a storm so far north that the computer programmers didn’t consider it necessary to allow it to be fully mapped.

McKibben writes, “Another way of saying this: By 2075 the world will be powered by solar panels and windmills – free energy is a hard business proposition to beat. But on current trajectories, they’ll light up a busted planet. The decisions we make in 2075 won’t matter; indeed, the decisions we make in 2025 will matter much less than the ones we make in the next few years. The leverage is now.”

Which brings us to the Trumpian good news.

Trump Has Taken Business As Usual — “Predatory Delay” — Off the Table

If Trump were not president, we might well be noodling along in that same happy valley where nothing much is being done — but much is made of the fact that much appears to be happening — and that thought comforts us.

The oil industry, of course, wants it this way, wants us in that happy state of seeing incremental change as “good enough.” Considered in that light, the Paris Accord on climate is their best friend. They get to look like they’re on the right side of history, by supporting climate “progress,” while relentlessly digging up all of their buried cash — disguised as unextracted oil and gas — until the last cubic centimeter is sold and burned.

McKibben sees it that way too:

The planetary futurist Alex Steffen calls this tactic “predatory delay, the deliberate slowing of needed change to prolong a profitable but unsustainable status quo that will be paid by other people eventually.” It’s not confined to the moneybags at the oil companies and the utilities – he’s written extensively about the otherwise-liberal urbanites in his home state of California. “A lot of cities are happy to talk about providing their power cleanly, but reducing cars, densifying, spending on bike paths, raising building standards – those things are all so contentious they’re not even discussed.” Ditto the folks who block windmills out of fear of chopping birds, thus helping lock in the next great mass extinction. … In careful language that might have been written by a team at Exxon, the union [that builds pipelines] said it supported new pipelines “as part of a comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, makes the United States more competitive and addresses the threat of climate change.” “Comprehensive,” “balanced,” “measured” are the high cards in this rhetorical deck. “Realistic” is the ace in the hole.

Note that this is an encouraged and well-advertised policy, these reasons for delay. You heard the same arguments when the last administration talked about its “all of the above” energy strategy as a “path to sustainable growth.” Growth in industry profit, of course, but death for millions of its victims.

Now all of that “reasonable” incremetalism is off the table, at the same time that data about the possibility of effective emergency action is coming available. McKibben writes that “if we wanted to power the planet on sun and wind and water, we could. It would be extremely hard, at the outer edge of the possible, but it’s mathematically achievable. Mark Jacobson, who heads Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy program, has worked to show precisely how it could happen in all 50 U.S. states and 139 foreign countries – how much wind, how much sun, how much hydro it would take to produce 80 percent of our power renewably by 2030.”

I said earlier that Trump wasn’t the whole problem – in fact, it’s just possible that in his know-nothing recklessness, he has upset the ever-so-patient apple cart. You could almost see the oil companies wincing when Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement – for them, the agreement was a pathway to slow and managed change. The promises it contained didn’t keep the planet from overheating – indeed, even if everyone had kept them, the Earth would still have gotten 3.5 degrees Celsius hotter, enough to collapse every ecosystem you’d like to name. The accords did ensure that we’d still be burning significant amounts of hydrocarbons by 2050, and that the Exxons of the world would be able to recover most of the reserves they’ve so carefully mapped and explored.

But now some of those bets are off. … [W]ith Washington effectively gridlocked, the fight has moved elsewhere. When Trump pulled out of the climate accords, for instance, he explained that he’d been elected to govern “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” The next day the mayor of Pittsburgh said his town was now planning on 100 percent renewable energy, a pledge that’s been made by places as diverse as Atlanta, San Diego and Salt Lake City. Next year, representatives of thousands of regions, provinces, cities, parishes, arrondissements, districts and counties will descend on San Francisco for a Paris-like gathering of subnational actors[.]

This is the Trump opportunity. By sweeping the incrementalism so beloved of Establishment regulars off the table, and by forcing people at the state and local level to solve the problem themselves, Trump has handed the climate movement a gift he should be thanked for.

We were never going to win the climate war with “reasonable” people in charge, no matter their party. In real terms, if Clinton were president, we’d have been no better off. McKibben’s title is deadly accurate — in this fight, winning slowly is exactly the same as losing. The only road to success involves sustained and forceful bursts of emergency action.

Will Americans take the opportunity they’ve been handed — freed of the handcuffs of the incrementalist Democratic Party — to start to win quickly? It’s entirely possible. After all, no one in the climate movement today thinks our government offers even a shred of hope. They’re moving on without it.

We may still watch much of our virtual village go under the waves, but at least we now may put up a fight to save it.

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50 comments

  1. subgenius

    The Jacobson paper is controversial, and his attempts to use legal actions to defend it leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    This should be referenced if you are going to talk about it.

    The oft-quoted

    https://dothemath.ucsd.edu

    Is a good place to learn of a range of the issues with renewables, and our current profligate use of energy.

    Reply
      1. Dirk77

        I am not surprised. There should be a rule that that 90% of analysis is crap in any research field. My first experience with a climate scientist (from Harvard) was years ago, but she was shockingly dogmatic. That said, science does progress, but I am still not on board totally with “global warming”, partly from that experience. I should look up what Kerry Emanuel now thinks.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          every major science organization agrees that humans are causing global warming, that’s not dogmatism, just basic science.

          Reply
          1. Dirk77

            Yes. But that is now two decades on. It was far less clear back then, it being always a question of how much. My point is that you don’t get credit for being right for the wrong reasons; all you get credit for is being a bad scientist.

            Reply
            1. pretzelattack

              james hansen got it pretty much right back in the 80’s. I’m not sure what you are referring to with “how much”. if you mean how much will it warm, that depends on how successful we are at getting off fossil fuels, not a scientific question.

              Reply
              1. RickM

                Svante Arrhenius, a founder of Physical Chemistry as a distinct discipline (insert unpleasant flashback here), pretty much got it right all the way back in ’96. 1896.

                Reply
                1. Dirk77

                  By “how much” I mean given all the competing factors for the world CO2 production at whatever year they were talking about. But did either Hansen or Arrhenius give their results all that much weight? I mean apart from: “this phenomenon really needs more study”.

                  Reply
                  1. RickM

                    Hansen can speak for himself, and he has.

                    Yes. But I have no idea what “all the competing factors for the world CO2 production” means. The primary factor, by a very large margin is the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels that were sequestered over hundreds of millions of years and are now on schedule to be released in hundreds of years. What could go wrong? Arrhenius calculated that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would result in an average temperature increase of 5-6 degrees Celsius (~10 degrees Fahrenheit for those of use accustomed to that scale; imagine, summers in Palm Springs with a not unusual afternoon temperature of >120F-sizzle!). Similarly, he calculated that a 50% reduction would reduce temperatures by the same amount.

                    His “error” was similar to that of Lord Kelvin in his calculation of the age of the earth using core temperature. William Thomson didn’t know about radioactivity, which had not been discovered. But his reasoning was correct, and he did prove the earth was a bit older than Bishop Ussher’s estimate of a happy birthday on October 24, 4004 BCE. Arrhenius thought it would take thousands of years for CO2 levels to rise that much. He couldn’t see that fossil fuel use would dwarf that seen in the first stages of the Industrial Revolution. He also thought that such global warming could have a salutary effect on human civilization, over thousands of years. We still hear such nonsense from the usual quarters who say that plants need CO2, so all is good! Industrial wheat farms in The Yukon and Siberia! By 2050! That Arrhenius was basically correct in his fundamental calculation is an astonishing fact.

                    Reply
                    1. Dirk77

                      By competing factors, I meant all the mechanisms on Earth, physical, chemical and biological, that compete to produce the climate we have. Interesting about the history you give. But as you know, Arrhenius appears very correct only in hindsight. At the time and after, I’m sure a plethora of theories and models have been proposed with various predictive power, almost all considered seriously at the time, not all of them just striving for more accuracy. I mean doubt is what keeps the scientists employed, or should be.

            2. zapster

              Humans have never been reluctant to jump in and change stuff, whether we had anything to do with it or not to begin with. The reality is, whatever started it, we have to stop it. Debating whether we started it is no longer useful or necessary.

              Reply
              1. RickM

                Dirk77: No, Arrhenius reasoned from principles and data and used several thousand manual calculations to arrive at his correct conclusion. He is not “correct only in hindsight.” His was not only one of several competing theories and models, any of which could have been correct. His was the discovery of a very good scientist that CO2 levels in the atmosphere determine climate. As for your plethora, the only actual biophysical/geochemical/political economic fact that accounts for the comparatively recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels concomitant with the Industrial Revolution and its continuing aftermath. This also accounts for increasing atmospheric temperature and an impending/accelerating climate change. The mechanisms are not in legitimate dispute, and this realization might even go back to Charles Babbage, who speculated on the effects of “increasing quantities of gases noxious to animal life” in 1835. He did grant that mechanisms were then unknown. It is not the wobble in the earth’s tilt, it is not the sun, it is not volcanoes, it is not cows in feedlots who fart (though this could be a problem source of methane, which is a much more effective greenhouse gas).

                Besides, what if this is really a false positive, or essentially a Statistical Error of Type I? We stop burning so much of the stuff and it lasts another 100 to 1000 years. Win-win. On the other hand, a false negative is likely to be a bad thing…and zapster is correct.

                Reply
                1. Dirk77

                  As a physics grad student I overheard once while waiting in line at the registrars said: “It’s easy to argue for something you already know to be true”. Applied here that means that arguments are getting really unnecessary since evidence seems to be accumulating quickly. But that wasn’t the case two decades ago.

                  Reply
                2. Dirk77

                  Thanks for your thoughts btw. Last question: the fact that struck me most in Emanuel’s book was the lifetime of atmospheric CO2 (~ 200 years). Was that known to Arrhenius?

                  Reply
            3. pretzelattack

              what was “far less back then”? what reasons were “wrong”? hell, margaret thatcher was warning about the dangers. edward teller of all people in the 60’s iirc. even before arrhenius, people were speculating about it. which “bad scientists” are you talking about, and what mistakes did they make?

              Reply
              1. Dirk77

                I should not have mentioned an intra-science squabble here. This differs from my view taking off my science hat. And that difference goes way off-topic. Thanks for your other comment though.

                Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          Not on board totally with “global warming”?

          You’ve seen the maps showing without a doubt that ice that used to be there is no longer there. So if it isn’t warming making the ice go away, what is it? Maybe heretofore undiscovered iceberg consuming arctic leviathans undergoing a population explosion and eating it all while managing to escape detection?

          Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Global warming does not care whether you are totally on board with “global warming” or not. The global will keep right on warming regardless.

          If organized mankind wants to de-warm the global, organized mankind will have to run the global warming machine backwards. That would mean reducing greenhouse gas output rather sharply, and also increasing plant growth so as to increase the carbon suckdown by which growing plants strip CO2 from out of the air.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I had forlornly hoped that Napoleon Obamaparte would be FDR, and resurrect the CCC that was much beloved and planted 3 BILLION trees, amongst other good work they did, but all we got was an pit boss that allowed the players on Wall*Street to cash in on their very large wagers that they were on the losing end of.

            Reply
      2. a different chris

        A critique? Which starts out like butt-hurt whining? “Pay attention to me, me me!!”

        Jacobson wants to sketch out a world which is 100% a certain way. Nobody gets 100%, and I suspect Jacobson knows that. Heck, he winds up at 80% it seems (still need to read his paper). In any case, the below is a funny way of “attacking” a paper of his sort. I will go read the rest later, maybe it’s good, but this is barely into the second page and it’s, like I said, chaff, and I will hope it has nothing to do with the rest of the paper.

        PS: Nuclear has had its day. Thank god. And I worked in that industry for years….

        Relying on 100% wind, solar, and hydroelectric power could
        make climate mitigation more difficult and more expensive than
        it needs to be. For example, the analyses by Jacobson et al. (11,
        12) exclude from consideration several commercially available
        technologies, such as nuclear and bioenergy, that could potentially
        contribute to decarbonization of the global energy system,
        while also helping assure high levels of reliability in the power
        grid. Furthermore, Jacobson et al. (11, 12) exclude carbon capture
        and storage technologies for fossil fuel generation

        Reply
      3. political economist

        Both sides of this “debate” agree that the current historical trajectory will lead to disaster but neither side as far as I can tell includes in cost calculations the total costs of externalities of the various techniques for generating energy which are high or very high for fossil fuel usage and arguably for present-day techniques of nuclear energy generation. The IMF has estimated the effective global subsidies for fossil fuel usage at over $5 trillion per year, or over 6% of global GDP, primarily due to the effects of pollution (https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2015/09/28/04/53/sonew070215a). This is certainly a gross underestimate (no surprise after all it is an IMF study) because it underestimate damages to future generations due to global climate change, global ocean acidification, and other drivers of negative externalities due to burning fossil fuels for energy production such as the feedback affects like releasing methane from a thawing tundra.

        Furthermore, most economic studies grossly underestimate the future by assuming a discount rate way over 1%. One percent growth in per capita GDP itself is pretty optimistic if negative externalities are considered (China realistic versus stated growth rates comes to mind, see the IMF sudy). Most fossil fuel advocates without irony decry the presumed reduction in GDP growth to near zero or negative if the tree-huggers have their way, which makes sense only if externalities are ignored. Gee, how sad it would be if people live longer and healthier lives with fewer crappier possessions and their grandchildren won’t get to enjoy rebuilding New York City in western New Jersey.

        If all costs including externalities are factored into the analysis, Jacobson is certainly much, much closer to being right than his critics. The negative externalities of fossil fuel usage and the waste from nuclear fuel usage make the costs of using these fuels much higher than the cost of switching virtually all energy production to renewable sources.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    It’s funny, you know. Trump gets elected over Clinton and everybody is running around shouting that we are all doomed. I am no fan of him at all but this article highlights one solid effect that he has had and that is to take ‘Business As Usual’ completely off the table. The old ways of doing things are no longer working – fortunately. Clinton boasted of her approach of incrementalism but that is the path to disaster as this article highlights.
    It’s like Washington DC is being sidelined and not only other countries but American states, cities and towns are taking it into their own hands to take action – Pittsburgh being one example here. I doubt that the media can now stop this happening as the past year has proven that they are a bad joke and are for hire to the first person that can flash some cash. Who trusts them anymore?
    You see this effect even in foreign affairs where US diplomacy is being sidelined while negotiations are being undertaken by other parties and I believe that we will see the same in trade as well with perhaps the eventual demise of the petro-dollar. Getting back to the topic of this article, through politics as usual we have let climate change get to the point that we can not stop it anymore and that the best that we can do is mitigation of its worst effects – if we can. Personally I think that it is too late.
    Jimmy Carter copped a lot of flak over his Crisis of Confidence Speech (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=32596) back in ’79 and we let big business win that battle and what we got instead was “It’s morning in America again” but you wonder what would have happened if we had listened to him and had taken action instead over the past forty odd years instead.

    Reply
  3. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    The above chimes with Philip Mirowski’s conclusions on how those he refers to as the Neoliberal thought collective are supposedly addressing climate change – here as best as I can recall :

    1. Play for time while ensuring the market functions as normal, while applying the successful method used by the tobacco companies to sow confusion – highly successful as it appears that American concern for climate change has dropped about 40 % over the last few years. It is also his contention that the greenhouse gas / carbon control efforts do not achieve anything & are in fact there to fob off the Left – also apparently successful.

    2. In this interim period fund sci-fi type projects like the fiasco at Bristol university which was designed to experiment with erecting a gigantic hosepipe into the atmosphere, but the effort & presumably the hosepipe, collapsed due to the team disintegrating because two members were discovered to have secretly filed patents.

    3. Carry on with the above two until their apparent God the Market, being the ultimate super information processor delivers a solution which they believe will likely be of a Geoengineering nature.

    In terms of actual sci-fi, that IMHO brilliant film ” Snowpiercer ” appears to be as much reality based as the above.

    Reply
  4. Dirk77

    You look at the predictions of climate scientists and where it is going. Then you look at people in the world and the juggernaut mantra that is “growth”. Then you look around at your friends with families, who should know better, and mostly you see are people who are all for mitigating global warming – as long as it doesn’t discomfort them personally. From all this my conclusion had been that if you indeed believe global warming, then the only way to solve it would be to execute 6 of every 7 people on this planet.

    But I say “had been” as the urgency of this article makes me think there might be another way. So maybe no Kodos the Execitioner after all.

    Reply
  5. Corbin Dallas

    Accelerationism is a dangerous dogma to invoke, as it presumes logic and collected action from saviors, and ignores the material suffering of the poor, those without power, those under the yoke of the militarized police (eg Standing Rock), etc.

    Reply
  6. Steve H.

    Time to add ‘MOVEMENT’ to this list: “SMART INNOVATIVE DISRUPTIVE STUPID NARRATIVE” .

    I just happened to come across an AP article from 2007 entitled “Global warming ‘winners’? Canada, Russia, Greenland.” A ‘movement’ implies an underlying belief system and is in no way within an order of magnitude or five to provide a counterweight to nations acting in their own interests.

    McKibben is a catspaw of Buffet and even more directly, B Gates, used for competitive advantaging ‘bomb trains’ over the XL pipeline. He also reinforces the crippled assumption that we need to run on solar when we have energy for a billion years below the surface of the earth. The problem is dumping the heat inevitably produced in energy transformations, and there are people working on that.

    This is an infantilizing distraction serving one wing of of global elites. At whom are the “sustained and forceful bursts of emergency action” to be directed? And where are the concrete material benefits for the working class in all this?

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      There are not now, and will not be, global warming winners. As countries lose land to rising seas (and pollution, etc.), there may be mass migration to Canada, Russia and Greenland, but there will not be enough fertile land and/or water to support all the migrants. The future will not be nice to any peoples, not even the billionaires.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Probably the best place to be when climate change comes calling, will be a shithole country, not so developed and hardly dependent upon complexity. The kind of place where the vehicles have exactly one horsepower.

        Reply
      2. Steve H.

        Forgive my lack of clarity, JEHR. The wing of elites I was referring to give no indication of plans beyond financializing and politicizing the issue for their shorter term ends.

        Russia in particular is both a relative and possibly absolute winner. Having year-round ports and sea passage opens up the world for them with both trade and military shipping. History suggests they’ll deal with migrants in expedient fashion. If the steppes become a grain source while the American midwest dries out, they’ll be in full position to be everybody’s best friend ever.

        I am surprised at Gaius here, he is generally an honest broker and not one to suggest using force. McKibben’s gettin’ them checks, he’ll say what he’s paid to say. I’m hoping Gaius got temporarily caught in the web, he’s shown the capacity for reflection before.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          i dont think there are any absolute winners, and i don’t think mckibben makes much from this cause he’s been advocating for for some time. who is russia going to be trading with? how is it going to be dealing with the consequences of severe climate change for its own population? how is it going to deal with a destabilized world, in which nuclear war becomes more likely. of course, you’re right about the elites, the democrats just seem interested in making the proper nice noises and the republicans are full on shills for oil, gas and coal.

          Reply
          1. E.S.

            Fact of the matter: Democrats and Republicans are both shills for whoever will stuff their pockets with lobbying money. John Podesta’s brother Tony was a lobbyist on behalf of B.P., for example. Goldman, Sacks is well-represented by the Democratic party, and that party is particularly interested in power and money, as is the other party.

            Reply
  7. Arizona Slim

    I just got back from visiting my mom in eastern PA. While I was there, I got acquainted with people who are fighting the Mariner 2 pipeline. Thanks to them — and many others — construction was halted by the PA DEQ. No word on when it will resume.

    Reply
  8. Bernard

    It is so fascinating to see all the “hazy” thinking used to deny how climate change has already started to accelerate. obviously these people have never had an aquarium. trying to keep the fish alive while adding this or that was so difficult and usually i killed all the fish. lol. Earth is going to “kill” us off with all the “stuff” we are adding to the atmosphere/water of the aquarium.
    maybe one day there will be enough “noise” to cancel out such inanity, but for now the deniers et al are still throwing in dirt to stop any acceptance of how much humans are and have affected the climate. thus succeeding in making things close to impossible to lessen the damage.

    Evil triumphs when good men do nothing, or are prevented from doing something.

    absolutely astounding how they have gotten away with/and added to so much BS for so many years!. and sad too. our children and grandchildren are already paying the price for this denial. Do they get paid for this collusion? another version of the business model of looking at the upcoming quarter model instead of long term. Profit now! who cares about tomorrow.

    just looking at the temperatures of the last few years, each one hotter than the previous one, i wonder how long must such malignancy be tolerated? being ignorant and being malevolent are two different things.

    i guess as long as it’s business as usual, American Exceptionalism, Corporations/Big Business will continue to kill everyone and everything for Profit. This really was a nice planet for humans. like that ad for recycling of many years ago said, “We are Throwing it all away!” For a Buck, Exxon, et al, will lead the way!

    Reply
  9. Synoia

    I will be brutal.

    Intelligence, as we have, is an evolutionary dead end.

    When at any time in History was humanity cooperative?

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      There are pockets of cooperative humanity but these have been so co-opted by globalization of finance and profit-making that it surely undermines any large-scale cooperation. Remember, the emergence of the plutocracy was a planned movement of the ultra-rich.

      Reply
    2. marku52

      Q: Why haven’t we met any aliens?
      A: Because any race smart enough to build a rocket destroyed their planet and burnt all their resources before they went interstellar

      Reply
  10. John k

    The world is dealing with the problem of too many people. Like animals, a little fever helps fight the plague and other diseases. The seventh great extinction should be over in a couple centuries.

    Back in the oil drum days somebody went by the moniker, ‘are humans smarter than yeast?’
    Obviously not.

    Reply
  11. Alex Cox

    But what is the most likely form of climate change?

    There is no point in preparing for a gradual increase in temperature if even a “minor” nuclear war breaks out — an exchange of 20-100 bombs between India and Pakistan, or Pakistan and Israel, would result in massive global cooling which would last for many decades.

    If the Democrats, intelligence agencies and mainstream media start a shooting war with Russia, the cooling (and population/species die-off) from a “major” nuclear conflict will be much greater.

    Which seems more likely? Business as usual for another warming century? Or a political miscalculation which causes an entirely different kind of climate change?

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      Lawrence Wilkerson relates a story from when Powell was Sec State, where they flew to Pakistan, which was preparing to launch 20 nukes at India, expecting 20 in return. But they hadn’t got to ‘and then what,’ so Larry & friends talked them down.

      Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      it’s already happening, but there is no guarantee it will continue to be gradual. nuclear war would make it worse one way or another. there is no point in avoiding the effort to get off fossil fuels on the off chance a nuclear war will happen.

      Reply
  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From above:

    “…he’s written extensively about the otherwise-liberal urbanites in his home state of California. “A lot of cities are happy to talk about providing their power cleanly, but reducing cars, densifying, spending on bike paths, raising building standards – those things are all so contentious they’re not even discussed.”

    ….

    But now some of those bets are off. … [W]ith Washington effectively gridlocked, the fight has moved elsewhere. When Trump pulled out of the climate accords, for instance, he explained that he’d been elected to govern “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” The next day the mayor of Pittsburgh said his town was now planning on 100 percent renewable energy, a pledge that’s been made by places as diverse as Atlanta, San Diego and Salt “Lake City. Next year, representatives of thousands of regions, provinces, cities, parishes, arrondissements, districts and counties will descend on San Francisco for a Paris-like gathering of subnational actors[.]”

    ——–

    Will those regional heads, provincial leaders, mayors finally tackle issues like bike paths, reducing cars, densifying, etc?

    Reply
  13. John

    This is basically the argument I’ve been making since before Trump was elected. The Trump presidency has galvanized the opposition and made the Republicans look worse than they ever have. In the end, we might come out ahead. Biggest problem is Sanders is probably too old to become president and I don’t know if we’ll ever get a politician like him.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      He could still run as a Democrat through the primaries. He could still expose the worthless deceit of whatever Clintonite Obamacrat is permitted to win the primaries.
      He could thereby at least by unwilling-and-unintended-default help Trump get re-elected. And that would keep the intensity and immediacy of the conflict alive. President Trump Term Two might even deepen the hatred and put a sharper enough edge on it to motivate the “Blue Zone Urbo-Suburbanites” to focus,intensify and effectivise their genuine de-carbonization efforts out of rage, hatred and revenge.

      ” Blue zones run better without red zone energy.”

      Reply
  14. Ep3

    The incrementalism reminds me of the cigarette companies. By 1970, everyone knew cigarettes caused all kinds of health problems. But through incremental changes in public policy, tobacco companies were able to diversify their businesses, as well as prepare themselves financially for a decline in consumers. So instead of dying away and paying for the deaths of millions, as well as saving more lives by putting an end to smoking, these companies get to keep making their profits off different products (nabisco! Death by trans fats & high salt content).

    Reply
  15. Richard

    I get the point, but it doesn’t comfort me at all. People moving on without the government, neccessary as it may be, confronted with the greatest danger the human race has ever faced. We should all be screaming about that right now.
    I have started a Climate Club at the school I teach at, to promote education and activism with middle school kids. We’re just starting out, but it’s become clear to me that these kids don’t know nearly enough about the subject as they should. I’d like to get them pissed off, too. But we had to slow it down a bit in the beginning, educate more, and rename ourselves the Environmental Club. Students were also very interested, perhaps more interested, in looking at the plastics crisis (also a super important topic, admittedly) and just planting some trees.
    It felt a bit of a letdown initally, but we must start from where they are at. We’ll keep at it!

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Getting the kids interested in all things Energy and Carbon Cycle and giving them time and resources to really learn and understand these things might make them more focused and effective de-carbonizers in the fullness of time.

      The imposed “slowdown” might be a good thing if taken as such and treated as an opportunity for deeper farther learning in furtherance of better more effective action when action is taken.

      Reply
  16. James Trigg

    Why are we not building nuclear power plants. That is the only mathematical way to mitigate Co2.
    If nukes are too dangerous,then the libs have to stop living large. No one is serious. Al Gore preaching conservation is like Bill Clinton preaching chastity. Wind and solar cannot power are lifestyle. Close down the colleges and tv stations and Rock Concerts. No one really believes global warming or we would have a bonfire of vanities. Who is the first to throw away their cell phone?

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      uh every major science organization believes in it. and the entire society has been organized around fossil fuels, we have to reorganize it around renewable energy; individual action won’t do that.

      Reply

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