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comment by nil

That's one of the biggest problems I've had to solve in my head with regards to solving climate change. The level of social restructuring required to avoid a climate catastrophe at this point would almost certainly lead to rioting in the streets. Millions of people would be out of work if we jacked the price of fossil fuels.

People's livelihoods (and large parts of civilization) depend on fossil fuels directly or indirectly. At best I think we could transition entirely to nuclear energy to meet our current demand (there are negative externalities involving radioactive risks but we can ignore that for now). And then build electric cars? They are expensive, and what are we going to do about air/boat/large road vehicles?

And then there is the problem of geopolitics in general. So much of power on the international scale is the ability to trade and having a thriving economy. Not giving a shit about the environment is the selfish choice if your country (assuming we're viewing nations as individual actors) seeks global dominance. Obama was certainly a realist on the international scale. In the end we're tribal fuckin' animals with enough technology to destroy the world.

So fifty-something politicians are just as clueless to sort this all out as we are. We blame societal institutions but really it's individuals that don't give a shit. They can't just pull the lever and make it happen, as much as I want to pillory boomers. I appreciate Greta Thunberg a lot. It takes an obscene amount of courage to be an actor on that level in society at such a young age. Unlike redditeurs I do not believe that the sentimental value of time in life is worth the environmental cost and we can save that time anyway through clean energy. I was motivated into a politics major for similar reasons as a teenager so hopefully I can use that as a mitigating factor when we're all tried at the Hague 30 years from now.





kleinbl00  ·  59 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One of humanity's dirty little secrets is that we judge our status and prosperity on a relative level rather than an absolute one. This is how entire nations cab ration supplies for years at a time- if everyone is doing it, your status is secure.

The fundamental cause of climate change is energy usage above and beyond the planet's ability to recover. The solution is drastically reduced energy usage. This is tough when the Kardashians live on Learjets for your entertainment but easy when you ride alone you ride with Hitler.

The basic problem is that a middle class American lifestyle is a climate-murdering lifestyle but an aspirational American lifestyle is a climate-exterminating lifestyle. We didn’t start recycling until everyone started recycling and we won't stop driving to work in air-conditioned solitude until everyone stops. There are massive mechanical changes necessary to reverse course but once the mechanics are in place, the social sphere will follow immediately.

WWII was a period where every industry switched from making what they knew to making what would kill Nazis. If Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop were bidding against each other for a $100b worth of carbon sequestration equipment instead of $100b worth of stealth bombers you'd see some real innovation.

nil  ·  59 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One hundo P,

I can't imagine an easy solution for any of this. I've never wanted to live the Kardashian lifestyle, but I have travelled to more impoverished countries and the small children there peruse Taylor Swift lyrics and certainly aspire to a lot of the higher trappings of North American culture.

"Mass mobilization" for war is much different because we like war (sorry, that's an edgy George Carlin routine but you see the point). There's a lot of money to be made and social glory to obtain.

And as much as I try, I can't make people not want those things. I can't make people stop selling them and I can't make people stop wanting them. I suppose I'm praying for a technological miracle.

kleinbl00  ·  58 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's not that we like war, per se, it's that appeal to patriotism is more straightforward when you can point to the Hun and his gun. The nice thing about rallying around ecology is it's a positive sum competition. I mean, banning straws is a lot more aspirational than effective but holy fuck a whole bunch of municipalities jumped right up and banned straws.

I honestly believe incremental change will get us there if support can be maintained.

wasoxygen  ·  60 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is a great analysis. There are costs and benefits to any approach, and no easy answers.

The only alteration I would suggest is to change "not giving a shit" to "prioritizing the interests of oneself and loved ones, friends and associated people over more distant people, and prioritizing clear present desires over uncertain future desires" as pretty much everyone, everywhere has pretty much always done.

nil  ·  59 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It all depends how you frame it really. What people want to call "selfish" is up to them. My point is humanity needs to collectively act so that our present desires don't ruin our future desires. But maybe there's cause for optimism and it'll work itself out.