Climate Change Is Here. So Why Don't More People Give a Shit?

Comments

1

Why don't people give a shit? Basically because, "fake nuus from the leftest soshalist comies! MAGA!"

2

Is it really that hard to pick a new Getty stock photo when you write a new blog-post?

3

Maybe because the only solution you people ever offer is to increase taxes and expand government into our lives and Americans, for the most part, don’t want that.

Carbon panic is the politics of the upper middle-class, college-educated, mainly white America. The New Left. It’s the politics of people with little to worry about in life and when combined with your sanctimony, is totally insufferable to the average American. It’s Al Gore and Leonardo Decaprio living in mansions, flying all over the place but buying a Prius and lecturing the rest of us.

4

Claire Lehmann gets it after the conservatives won the Australian elections again:

“Picture a dinner party where half the guests are university graduates with prestigious white-collar jobs, with the other half consisting of people who are trade workers, barmaids, cleaners and labourers. While one side of the table trades racy jokes and uninhibited banter, the other half tut-tuts this “problematic” discourse.

Progressive politicians like to assume that, on election day at least, blue-collar workers and urban progressives will bridge their differences, and make common cause to support leftist economic policies. This assumption might once have been warranted. But it certainly isn’t now—in large part because the intellectuals, activists and media pundits who present the most visible face of modern leftism are the same people openly attacking the values and cultural tastes of working and middle-class voters. And thanks to social media (and the caustic news-media culture that social media has encouraged and normalized), these attacks are no longer confined to dinner-party titterings and university lecture halls."

And that culture in the US includesthe freedom cars have given ordinary Americans in the past century.

5

@3 Yes. You described that more accurately than you think. The barrier is uneducated vindictive suicidal morons like yourself who've been lead by the nose with Fox New propaganda to "own the libtards" rather than avoid drowning.

6

@5 Never watched Fox in my life (never had cable for that matter) and voted Democrat in every election since 1992.

But keep up the sanctimony if you want Trump to win again.

7

" intellectuals, activists and media pundits who present the most visible face of modern leftism are the same people openly attacking the values and cultural tastes of working and middle-class voters."

quality derp.

8

I think the reason that most people don't seem to care is because they're resolved to the idea that we are not going to overcome the aspects of human nature that make it difficult for individuals to change their behavior. The people who I know who spout the most about climate change and are need to address it eat meat, have children, and fly and airplanes whenever they feel like it for whatever reason. I'm talking about people with masters degrees in environmental policy, for whom turning climate change around is the center of their careers. I think that most people see this, and and realize, regardless of intentions or awareness, we aren't going to change. The masses in Brazil, China, and India, for their parts, are not going to suddenly decide that they don't aspire to a cell phone, and a car, and a refrigerator.

A certain set of people leverage climate change and personal behavior as an opportunity to collect their tongues and point, a psychodynamic that one might argue replaces religious puritanism in the social role of creating small community cohesion through common disdain and symbolic acts. People want to be identified as being one of the good ones because they hate SUVs, drive an electric car, tweet Seth Meyers clips, and so forth. That position disappears with the acknowledgement that we're f* as far as climate change goes, that it's going to continue, and that what we really need to focus on is how to deal with it, how to plan for it looking forward to a world where it is going to be the reality that the seas are several feet higher and that peaches will be a viable crop for British Columbia.

But identity, I think, is a pernicious motivation. I think most people see through The fact that the dominant particular style of climate awareness and concern is a marker of identity that trades in the condemnation of nonmembers. This turn off for people. I'd wager that if the political identity left took the finger out of their faces and started talking about for better or worse we're all human and we're not going to change, so let's stop assigning blame over tiny slivers when really everyone has a fat piece of the pie on their own plate, and figure out what we can do about this inevitability, people would be more receptive.

And then of course there's resistance to reform at corporate and governmental levels, where reform could truly make a difference in slowing things down if not turning them around. If I society we weren't so fractured we might have a chance of forcing something rational like cop and trade and carbon taxes.

9

Sigh.

It's basically because "News" programs have only one mode: FEAR.

When you push the FEAR button, people's brains shut down and they go into either:
a. Denial;
b. Depression; or
c. Doubt.

Stop pushing the FEAR button. Stop pushing the WE ARE YOUR TEACHER button. Stop pushing the YOU'RE ALL GONNA DIE button. Stop pushing all the buttons, and stop overloading them with the complexity that PhDs will tend to give as their answers.

Is it complex? Sure. Do you have to make it complex? No.

People's brains can easily handle the real response you should use, which boiled down is this:

It is complex, but for most people in most circumstances, you can choose three renewable energy sources that work where you are and are cheaper, and you can choose houses and appliances that work with those well. They mostly don't cost much more, and are sometimes cheaper, but there are fairly simple things you can do bit by bit to adapt.

Stop trying to explain the whole thing. Present three positive options that will work. For example, for your average person, the choices might be:

Food: choose one - A. go vegetarian (best option, most expensive); B. do like your parents did and eat red meat once a week and replace some of your meat with vegetables, nuts, and other meats like shellfish (which is carbon negative if mussels, clams, oysters), fish (except predator fish that eats big fish), and chicken. Or C. Just reduce the portion size of some of the red meat you do use in your meals, replacing with pastas, nuts, vegetables, or tofu.

In the above example: A gets you 100 percent there, B reduces impact to 10-30 percent of what it was, C reduces impact to 10-30 percent of what it was. All are way better choices and CHEAPER.

Same goes for TRAVEL (options can include high speed trains, turboprop planes, electric planes, biofuel jets) - all are better. For moderate travel, an efficient modern car or SUV you rent is just as good. They make those in electric models too and quick charge along almost every interstate.

Same goes for HOME ENERGY (replace lights with LEDs on sale as you can, replace furnace with better heat/cool choice like heat pump plus electric or heat pump plus gas (if using coal or oil now) and better fans (go from 1-stage to 2-3 stage fans which use less)). Insulation always makes this better (for both heat and cool).

Same goes for COMMUTE (replace one vehicle at home with a commuter electric car/truck/SUV, costs 1/2 to maintain, costs 1/10th to 1/20th to fuel) OR bike/walk some days OR walk/transit some days (mix and match for everyone). It's ok to rent a vehicle for long trips, just get a high MPG or electric one.

There are simple choices that we know work. Do those. Stop overthinking stuff. Start doing stuff.

10

The question in the headline is rhetorical, obviously. Its a classic collective action problem - the people with the power and resources to address the problem can protect themselves at a fraction of the cost and let the rest of us burn.

11

Boy, that troll is super believable. He's really convinced me he's really on my team!

I mean, if making a thousands sock puppets says anything it's: "I AM SUER CREDIBLE AND GENUINE PLEASE BELIEVE MY SUPER CREDIBLE STATEMENTS AND PERSONAL HISTORIES!"

12

"attacking the values and cultural tastes of working and middle-class voters."

Ah. Yes. Remember everyone that —to Katie — when liberals adhere to facts and morals and voice the slightest resistance racism, homophobia and misogyny, it's "attacking values" everyone.

13

@10
A blueprint for disaster in any society is when the elite are capable of insulating themselves.

15

The volume of media coverage, articles, and hype is not necessarily a valid barometer of public sentiment or involvement on a major issue.

16

Deutsches wurst, still wondering how on earth labor lost in Australia, even worse than last time?

Must have been all those bigots in suburban Brisbane who don't believe women can have penises?

17

As of October 2018, media coverage of climate change was wholly inadequate so it isn't entirely surprising that many haven't identified the threat represented by global warming. Corporate media talked a lot about extreme weather but without making a connection to climate change. All of this is documented by media surveys done by the group FAIR (https://fair.org/). I haven't seen any new survey of media coverage since the 1.5degC warning IPCC report of last October so it's hard to know whether media coverage of climate change has increased significantly and sufficiently. I don't think it's too hard to imagine why commercial media isn't too keen on discussing an existential threat that questions the status quo.

19

Bigotry?

Oh, you mean science.

20

@19 hey, weren't you just saying that middle and working class people don't like science?

make up your mind.

22

"Writers offer the bad news, but no way to change it"

It's because there is no political will for climate change remediation. Progressive Democrats have been pushing for systemic solutions but establishment Democrats are in too deep with big oil to offer anything but some version of the status quo. It seem that a writer could document the evolution of that political will and how our politicians are truly positioning themselves to address or not the issue. It would certainly would help the public to better understand the challenges ahead.

23

Most of them don't care for the simple reason that they know they'll be fairly well mulched into worm food by the time things get so bad that human civilization, if not human existence itself, is truly threatened. And I suspect most of those hate (or at least greatly resent) their offspring enough to not care what happens to them, either.

24

People don't give a shit because adults haver learned to save their shit and only give it for things that matter.

Climate changes.
It always has and always will.
No matter what humanity does,
climate is going to change,
in ways that are not predictable.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
The Wisdom of The Masses know that all the 'scientists' with their Consensuses and Certainty are bullshit liars shilling for Leftist media attention and Leftist research dollars and don't know what the fuck they are talking about.

And when Miami and NewOrleans and Manhattan and Seattle flood, well, we'll just have to try to find some way to carry on.....

25

There are corporations with trillions of dollars at stake and all of the stakeholders know they will be dead before any of this matters so they keep kicking the can down the road. At the same time there is an endless supply of idiots willing to believe that science is a giant global conspiracy carried out by thousands of people fabricating data, while the corporations whose interests happen to be at risk are the real truth-tellers.

How many people took the tobacco industry at it's word for decades as doctors and scientists with nothing to gain from lying were chipping away at their market? Lots of them. People are dumb.

27

@26: As long as it doesn't spill and make a mess.

28

@25 People can be manipulated (manufacturing consent is very actual) but I doubt being dumb is the reason we where we are now

@26 So, how many handles do you sport in this thread, fucking troll.

29

@24,

"Leftist research dollars"

That's how I know you're not a scientist or researcher and have never applied for a research grant.

30

Not only do I give a shit, I am doing what I can to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible, and have my car leave equally small tire tracks (I'm fairly confident that it can, being a Volkswagen SuperBeetle).
@24: Your MAGA cap is on a wee bit too tight. Please take it off before you lose any more vital brain tissue.

31

The Danish people reduced their personal domestic carbon footprints by 50% in the past ten years. Probably the most aware, greenest people on the planet. The World Wildlife Fund though still ranks the Danes at number 5 among per Capita pollutors in total right behind Bahrain and 3 other small oil states. Without oil and pork export industries the Danish economy would collapse. They consume a lot of products that cause carbon pollution in China and elsewhere. They are roundly middle-class so basically everyone gets on an airplane 4 times a year. They eat a lot of meat. They have children.

So in the end the carbon and pollution scrupulous Danes, for all of their considerable efforts sacrifice, are doing fuck-all to ACTUALLY slow down global warming and global pollution. If they can't and don't make a difference, we certainly can't. We need to stop hiding behind the symbolic virtue of "if y'all just did these things like me we'd be able to reverse it." We need to recognize that the vitally important way to direct energy and resources is not toward stopping global climate change but rather dealing with it.

The car is racing toward a brick wall,. The brake pedal's broken and the steering wheel's fallen off. It's time to stop flapping your arms against the rushing air and put on a fucking seatbelt.

32

@31 ClaraT: I wasn't being sanctimonious (in comment @30). I'm far from perfect, but do try to do what I can to conserve energy. And if nothing else, I have never had children.

33

@30: Sorry, you can't reduce your carbon footprint by not having kids. You can only reduce your own. This is because the number of theoretical footprints that don't exist can't be quantified in any meaningful way to produce a workable data set.

34

It's quite possible that we're just fooling ourselves by saying there's hope. In 2003, Ken Caldeira, now of the Carnegie institution for Science, found that the world would need to add clean power sources equivalent to the full capacity of a nuclear plant every single day between 2000 and 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. In 2018, MIT Technology Review surveyed our progress; with three decades left to go, the world was on track to complete the necessary energy revolution in four hundred years.

Would it really be so terrible to admit the obvious, that we either don't care about surviving this or that Freud might have been correct about the death drive? And even if it would be that terrible, who is going to be left here to cast aspersions on us, and judge us for our inaction? Perhaps human consciousness was a mistake, and perhaps we are now correcting it.

35

We Americans are so dedicated to an antisocial conception of freedom that it’s been all too easy for sociopathic petrochemical interests and cultural malcontents to distract and divide us. Combine that with evolutionary prohibitions on forethought, garden-variety stupidity, and our tendency to shield ourselves from unpleasant truths and you get what we’ve got: silence and inaction. Also, greed has created artificial economic scarcity and real insecurity for a majority of Americans. Add it all up and we’re all more preoccupied with where the next paycheck is coming from or the value of our stock portfolio and whether some scary government is going to force us to pack all the accessories our crumb-crunchers “need” into 10 fewer cubic feet than we have in our SUV that gets 10mpg (which we can afford because cheap gas is the bedrock of american social policy) than we are with the real problem: how do 8 billion people avoid destroying our only habitable planet?

36

To answer your question, it is the nature of the problem. In general, Americans are more enthralled with the idea of a better future, however vaguely defined. "Hope and Change", "Shining City on the Hill", or some such pablum. It doesn't really matter that much what the particulars are, as long as there is promise of a "new tomorrow" (which I suppose is better than an old tomorrow).

But Americans also respond to threats. The problem is, we are terrible at dealing with long term threats. FDR knew the threat that fascism in Europe posed, yet the average American wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn't until the Japanese (and then the Germans) threw us into the war that we got involved. Islamic terrorism was a problem for a very long time before 9/11, but suddenly people noticed, and of course, overreacted. Of course it is always easier if you have an enemy. Even the drug wars had an enemy (the "pusher"). There is no enemy with global warming. To quote Pogo (about this very subject I may add) -- We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Global warming is a very slow moving environmental disaster that left unchecked will cause mass extinction, widespread instability and economic devastation for most of the world. It is a problem with many sources, and for every actor, you have a tragedy of the commons. By the time it really is a major problem, it will be too late. That is why it is such a difficult problem. There is no urgency because there is no immediate threat. There is no value in doing the right thing because it costs you money while others benefit. It is a "perfect storm", or more like the "perfect pandemic". Imagine if AIDS was as easy to catch as measles. Now imagine if it had the same latency period (no symptoms for a while) along with the same (initial) lack of cure. Most of the world would be dead (not just wide swaths of Africa). Global warming is the same type of problem.

I applaud people like Inslee for spinning it in a positive light. Not only does he emphasize the cost of doing nothing, but he talks about the advantages of change. Those advantages are largely exaggerated, in my opinion, but probably necessary to convince the unthinking public into doing something. Beating climate change is like winning World War II -- absolutely necessary, but not the best way to spend money. But then again America did just fine after the war -- despite spending enormous sums on weaponry -- so I suppose it is possible that a "green new deal" could lead to a good standard of living for Americans (and much of the world). I have no doubt it would beat the alternative, which would make the 1930s (with the Great Depression, the spread of fascism and the dust bowl era) seem like a picnic.