Shifting the Overton window

Stoat has a new post about there being two sorts of people in the world in which he says

the GND is not just stupid but would in the unlikely event of it being imposed be actively harmful; and at best a pointless distraction.

I don’t know enough about the Green New Deal (GND) to have a good sense of whether or not it would be harmful, but I’m well aware that we can certainly implement pretty silly policies at times. My understanding, though, is that the GND is mostly aspirational, and I certainly don’t have any major problems with the intentions (healthcare, education, providing energy through zero-emission sources, etc).

However, I mostly think this is beside the point. The success of the GND (and extinction rebellion in UK, and climate strikes elsewhere) is that it’s got people talking and it’s led to climate change being very prominent in the mainstream media. This is despite the GND being defeated in the Senate. I think this is a positive outcome.

It also appears that the Overton window has shifted. It certainly seems as though some who might have disputed the need for climate action are starting to accept that something should be done. In the UK, Extinction Rebellion seems to have had a similar effect.

It might be nice if different sides could come together to decide how best to solve problems, but that isn’t how the world works. If things like the GND and Extinction Rebellion are causing others to talk about this, shifting the Overton window, and leading those who’ve been mostly dismissive to come up with – or, at least, discuss – their own plans, then that seems like a net positive.

I don’t particularly care who gets this started, as long as someone does. My optimistic view is that once we start to make serious inroads into emission reductions, we’ll find that it’s (somewhat) easier than we expected, and more and more people will come on-board. I don’t expect people to stop criticising the GND, and Extinction Rebellion, but as long as it leads to them thinking of their own ways forward, then I’ll take that as a step in the right direction.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Carbon tax, Climate change, Environmental change, Global warming, Policy, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to Shifting the Overton window

  1. Andrew Dessler says:

    The benefit of the GND in getting people to talk about climate change is certainly how I view it. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/green-new-deal-hope-climate-change-13619796.php

  2. Andrew,
    Thanks, I hadn’t seen that article. I hope it wasn’t ghost-written 🙂

  3. Joshua says:

    Ho hum.

    Hippie punchers gotta punch hippies.

  4. Andrew Dessler says:

    Oh man, you caught me. My chron piece linked above was nearly word-for-word the same as this: https://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Green-New-Deal-Climate-solutions-within-reach-13620898.php
    I think there’s a good chance they were written by the same person. I hope Roger doesn’t find out.

  5. John Hartz says:

    Things are getting even more ugly out there…

    Germany’s rightwing populists are embracing climate change denial as the latest topic with which to boost their electoral support, teaming up with scientists who claim hysteria is driving the global warming debate and ridiculing the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as “mentally challenged” and a fraud.

    The Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) is expected to launch its biggest attack yet on mainstream climate science at a symposium in parliament on Tuesday supported by a prominent climate change denial body linked by researchers to prominent conservative groups in the US.

    The AfD’s focus on climate change has increased since it entered the Bundestag in autumn 2017. It has added a sceptical voice to the rising number of parliamentary debates on the topic and concentrated its opposition specifically on the scandal over diesel car emissions and plans to phase out brown coal.

    Germany’s AfD turns on Greta Thunberg as it embraces climate denial by Kate Connolly, Environment, Guardian, May 14, 2019

    The forces of evil seem hell bent on destroying civil norms in the majority of countries throughout the world. There will be blood in the streets before all is said and one,

  6. “My optimistic view is that once we start to make serious inroads into emission reductions, we’ll find that it’s (somewhat) easier than we expected, and more and more people will come on-board.”
    My view too. Once we start making inroads towards a zero carbon society, the benefits will come tumbling in. Not only will it become a cleaner and healthier world, but it’ll be a more satisfying and rewarding life too. Except, maybe, for the todays 1% who get their kicks from living extravagant, high-energy and selfish lifestyles.

  7. McPherson appears to be generally outside the overton window. Yes, he’s likely wrong about several things, but it seems like a fair amount of wrong stuff makes the cut. Weird, huh?

  8. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    Yes the most important result of the GND (and Extinction Rebellion) is the shifting Overton Window. One of Stoat’s arguments against the GND is that “There is no hope of the Repubs going for [it]”. Well, Republicans aren’t going to go for any remotely serious climate policy, so that’s a lame argument. If you want climate policy you’re basically left with 3 options.

    1) Try to find a some small policy Rs can get on board with, like carbon capture because they perceive it will keep the fossil fuel industry alive longer. Dems are doing this, but alone it’s obviously gravely insufficient.

    2) Push compromise legislation Rs *should* support, like a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This is Stoat’s proposed solution, and in theory it’s great. But groups have been taking this approach for over a decade. Currently 1 of 250 Republican members of Congress have signed on. So it’s obviously not working.

    3) Craft legislation that’s actually sufficient to tackle the problem, bipartisanship be damned, and then try to convince people that’s the route we should take. That’s the GND-inspired approach.

    Maybe #3 will yield successful policies, maybe not. But #1 is insufficient and #2 has failed for the past decade. Stoat’s case is that we should keep trying #2 because he doesn’t like #3. But he certainly hasn’t made the case that #3 would be harmful, and in fact its existence has probably made #2 a bit more plausible by shifting the Overton Window, and also by getting people to talk far more about climate policy in general, so I think it’s clearly been a net positive.

    I happen to agree that #2 would be great, though it could also be considered a component of a GND, so they’re not mutually exclusive. But arguing that we should only try #2 when it’s failed for a decade makes no sense. It would work in a world with a reasonable Republican Party, but we no longer live in that world, so we have to try other things.

  9. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    Your list of possible lines of strategy, imo, leaves out something that is important w/r/t the GND. The GND explicitly links boldly-outlined AGW-targeted policies to a a bold economic policy framework. That seems to me to be a choice. It’s at least arguable that there doesn’t have to be such an explicit linkage.

    One the one hand, linking those two categories of policy may offer an appeal to a wider spectrum of people; it can link those who are more climate change motivated and those who are more economics motivated.

    On the other hand, it might make the political obstacles to climate change policies even more solidified, and stronger than they already are; it might alienate those Republicans or independents who aren’t already heavily identified as opponents of AGW-focused policies (i. e., Bob Englis types). Admittedly, that may be a relatively small group, but it could be a pivotal group to have support from if substantive policies are going to be implemented.

    Personally, I’m fairly agnostic about the strategic choice. I see valid arguments either way. But I think it’s important to include that aspect of the strategic choices that are being made.

  10. Willard says:

    The Overton Window moves slowly but surely:

  11. Joshua says:

    I’m misspelled Inglis’ name. Here are some of his thoughts related to the GND:

    https://crosscut.com/sponsored/bob-inglis-sees-value-green-new-deal-and-hes-republican

  12. David B. Benson says:

    Yes, the sky continues to fall.

  13. Steven Mosher says:

    “The GND explicitly links boldly-outlined AGW-targeted policies to a a bold economic policy framework. ”

    which will they sacrifice to make a deal?

    Its one thing to “shift” the window on issues where your goal is to get more than half a loaf.

  14. Steven,

    Its one thing to “shift” the window on issues where your goal is to get more than half a loaf.

    Sure, but by shifting the window there’s a chance that those who once opposed any policy will now promote policies they see as less extreme than the GND. This seems like a positive step to me. One could also ask the same question of others – what will they sacrifice to make a deal?

  15. Steven Mosher says:

    “The way that it could be harmful is if the left decides, “Oh yeah, we’ve got to have the entire party platform enacted in a single bill.” But if it just becomes apparent to enough Democrats that, “Yeah, we got it, appreciate the sentiment; now let’s work on practical solutions, let’s get this done” — as long as those voices prevail in the Democratic Party, then I think that there will be creative pressure on Republicans to say, “OK, yes, what would work?”

  16. Steven,
    Indeed, my hope would be that there will be some give and take. We shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Also, it’s clear that some of this is about implementing other social policies that might be related to climate change, but not directly. I think this is fine (it’s politics) but if we do want to address climate change, some amount of pragmatic thinking is probably going to be required. My problem with simply trying to be pragmatic is that we don’t really know what’s going to work, so my preference is for some ambition, tempered by a willingness to recognise what is realistic and what isn’t.

  17. Steven Mosher says:

    “One could also ask the same question of others – what will they sacrifice to make a deal?”

    Lets see what Joe Biden says and see how his tribe treats him first.

    If they eat Joe alive and signal no honest willingness to be pragmatic, then fights on I suppose.

    Hippies are pretty much cannibles.

  18. Hippies are pretty much cannibles.

    And hippy-punchers? 😉

  19. David B. Benson says:

    Oh, we know what physically will work. Just have to start on all of that to see which is the most efficient ways to accomplish the goals. So far, everybody is just blithering around.

  20. David B. Benson says:

    Brave New Climate Discussion Forum
    needs more commenters.

  21. “Hippies are pretty much cannibles. ”

    spelling mistake or obscure pun? Maybe we will never know… ;o)

    I thought they subsisted entirely on lentils, but all my knowledge on the topic is from the 1980s BBC documentary series “The Young Ones”.

    I know what an “Overton window” is now.

  22. lerpo says:

    I came across an article that starts “In the face of the Green New Deal, proponents of personal and economic freedom have a simple, sensible alternative.”

    That suggests a shifting of the Overton window as a direct result of the GND.

  23. AndyM says:

    I have no optimism about this at all. In my opinion, we have discovered the solution to the Fermi paradox.

  24. A how-to-do-it manual for the Green New Deal: https://thegreennewwave.com/

  25. Mitch says:

    I think Stoat is more worried that “market solutions” are not being touted front and center. When all one has is a hammer, everything else is a nail. Market solutions are useful as part of the toolbox but fail if not intelligently designed.

  26. AndyM,

    I have no optimism about this at all. In my opinion, we have discovered the solution to the Fermi paradox.

    Well, yes, that is – unfortunately – a possibility.

  27. For bigger Climate Rave turnouts, the producers should let Greta’s mother perform her lines:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2019/05/climate-of-pop.html

  28. Joshua says:

    … we have discovered the solution to the Fermi paradox.

    I’m not getting the connection, and certainly not the idea that it’s been solved.

    Can someone explain it to me?

  29. To quote Monty Python:

    And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space,
    ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth!

    ?

  30. (resulting in us auto-Darwinating as a species soon after industrialisation)

  31. entropicman says:

    Joshua
    The Fermi Paradox is summarised as “Where is everybody?”

    Our theories and observations of planets in other solar systems suggest that earthlike planets are relatively common,and earthlike civilizations should also exist. Yet we see no evidence for them.

    One suggestion is that to endure, civilizations have to survive a series of internal and external threats, called Great Hurdles. These include nuclear war and climate change.

    AndyM suggests that we are going to fall at the climate change hurdle, and that many other alien civilizations have already done so.

  32. Joshua says:

    AndyM suggests that we are going to fall at the climate change hurdle, and that many other alien civilizations have already done so.

    Thx.

  33. Eabani says:

    Well, at least we’re talking about how people are talking about making plans to mitigate climate change.

    I agree with ATTP and really hope we can now have a rich policy dialogue inspired by the new attention out there. I saw Katharine Hayhoe speak this lunchtime at the LSE. She said something to the effect that whatever merits or otherwise of the Green New Deal, it was getting people talking in constructive ways.

    There will be a recording on the LSE site, I’m sure. Much of what she said I’d already heard, although it seemed the audience was surprised by most people in US thinking climate change will affect nature, future generations and even other N Americans, but not thinking it will affect them; also supporting renewables and positive options, but hardly ever talking about climate change to anyone. Divisions aren’t about science or religion, but are around politics.

    The new stuff is when Prof Hayhoe was specifically asked about Extinction Rebellion (‘it appeals to those who care about extinction’ which isn’t everyone), school strikes, Green New Deal and so on. Her answer was positive, but saying people had also been swayed by the Special Report on 1.5 C, in the US, the National Climate Assessment, and extreme weather events. Educating children gets parents involved. Only 9% of people are actually dismissive, and most are open to friendly, rational, hopeful information.

    Climate’s still failing to get on 24 hour news because it’s seen as a ‘ratings killer’, so besides establishing common cause with the audience and explaining the problems, we should be positive about solutions (from biochar to a carbon-Neutral Dallas to Canadian provinces with a carbon tax doing economically better than the others). We need more diverse trusted sources and role models of people acting on climate, so people don’t think ‘I have to be a certain type of person to support climate solutions.’

    From my point of view, I see the Overton window moving for some groups at least. In some cases the ‘binary opposition’ or structuralist contrast used to be between on the one hand an unfortunately remote and untrusted technocracy of scientists and policy wonks that came up with temperature targets and in the case of the Committee on Climate Change plans for 2050 that most people hadn’t heard of, and on the other tedious loudmouth contrarians who attack the Establishment while paradoxically mostly being very Establishment themselves. Media coverages seemed frustratingly stuck in that binary framing.

    Now the technocracy is still one of the binary poles, but the pole that is advocating the slower change, even if the public is taking more ownership of it thanks to David Attenborough. But the other pole has shifted. They find themselves in debate with the likes of Extinction Rebellion and the climate strikers calling for net-zero by 2025 or 2030. And that’s a discussion that’s actually worth having. Can we actually reach 2 C or 1.5 C, and how can we visualise what the world would have to be like? It was unthinkable, but now it’s gone from radical to an acceptable point of view, while the contrarians have been occluded behind the window frame. The debate is between the US GND and alternative legislation like the bill by Diane Feinstein: they are no longer incommensurable and people should sit down to talk the plans through.

    However, can different media and different audiences be said to have different Overton windows? There are different appropriate approaches for people according to their position on the ‘spectrum of allies’; these have been also called a ‘social barometer’. For those most opposed to action, talk about motives; for those less opposed, recognise needs and fears; for those disengaged build a relationship and inform; for those passively supporting, encourage participation.

    Hope this makes some kind of sense.

  34. AndyM suggests that we are going to fall at the climate change hurdle, and that many other alien civilizations have already done so.

    Civilizations that fall at the air conditioning hurdle seldom move on to interstellar exploration .

  35. Michael 2 says:

    I have looked everywhere for my Overton Window but either I never got one or I have misplaced it. I’ll eventually replace it but at the same time make sure it is carbon neutral.

  36. Susan Anderson says:

    Russell, thanks for mentioning Greta’s mother. Great singer!

    It’s toxic consumerism has me near despair. I don’t see anyone changing their lifestyle, and we are all too comfortable with the way we waste, myself included. I don’t see us changing the channel, and our idea of how to be human seems to have surrendered to passive infotainment.

    AOC, Thunberg, and others give me hope, but I think our habits are too entrenched. Every institution ignores vast quantities of waste. Our plastics and cleaning products are a scandal. Our farming has been taken over by CAFOs that don’t care about quality, only quantity. Most people feel it is none of our common business to solve these problems and look closely at what we are doing.

    Here’s hoping …

  37. AndyM says:

    “Civilizations that fall at the air conditioning hurdle seldom move on to interstellar exploration .”

    Trivialising threats to humanity is frankly offensive. History is replete with examples of how when a society becomes sophisticated enough to impact its environment it destroys it and itself.

  38. AndyM says:

    “AndyM suggests that we are going to fall at the climate change hurdle”.

    I would call it the environment destruction hurdle. Climate change is just one element in it.

  39. David B. Benson says:

    I fear AndyM may have the right of it as so far we have too little, too late.

  40. David B. Benson says:

    This comment is a reminder that
    Brave New Climate Discussion Forum
    hosted by ProBoards
    is available to discuss various topics under the general headings of Energy and Climate Change, thence divided by more narrow topic.

    Feel welcome to join in.

    It is post-facto moderated.

  41. Joshua says:

    I don’t particularly care who gets this started, as long as someone does.

    It may take a while.

    “No middle ground is right!” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act [earlier] come back today and say we need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/climate-change-emerges-as-a-challenge-for-biden-as-he-courts-liberal-activists/2019/05/14/e6620b82-7636-11e9-bd25-c989555e7766_story.html?utm_term=.b57fde9b7b61

  42. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Trivialising threats to humanity is frankly offensive.

    Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops! Uh, depending on the breaks.


    History is replete with examples of how when a society becomes sophisticated enough to impact its environment it destroys it and itself.

    Don’t panic.

  43. Chubbs says:

    This post made me think about the Overton window here in the US. With our polarized politics and entrenched special interests our window for climate action may be rather small. Certainly all the advantages are with the fossil-fuel status quo. Thinking a little more broadly, the time scale for climate change doesn’t fit well with our economic and political systems which heavily discount the future.

    Could this be turned around? Economics would be easy. Just add a price for carbon (and other GHG) increasing with time. I’m guessing the global economic system would quickly adjust and put us on a better trajectory. Politics is a more difficult nut to crack and unfortunately politics trumps economics and science, at least in the short term.

  44. I’m a big fan of a carbon tax–but it can’t be the only thing we do about climate change. Because it works.

    People make ambitious plans for the money such a tax will raise. Long term plans. And then it works and there are fewer emissions and less money from the tax. And people get annoyed.

  45. Tom,
    A lot of carbon tax plans include returning the review directly to the population, in some kind of dividend. It would be revenue neutral. My understanding is that there would then be a net benefit to personally emitting less (i.e., you pay less carbon tax, but still get the same dividend).

  46. Yes, if carbon taxes work, the emissions and the revenue will fall over time. If the revenue is important, as it most likely is, then you phase in a steeply progressive income tax rate to maintain needed revenue and to address wealth and income inequality which has also been implicated in our emissions problem.

    I would suggest phasing in military program cuts, but you know… which is harder? Taxing the rich or cutting the military budget? Tough call. Could we do both?

  47. Chubbs says:

    The carbon tax revenue stream going to zero would be a good thing. Have a feeling though that offsetting the damages would generate significant income for a long, long time. Particularly as the damages per ton are rising so the tax should be increasing with time.

  48. Ben McMillan says:

    Generally a carbon tax seems like a neat idea, but climate change is one of those problems where a pure market solution probably isn’t enough:

    1) Lots of research is needed, and markets tend to underinvest in research (hard for the ‘first-mover’ to capture all the gains). Also learning-by-doing means that there is an expensive period for early deployers of low-emissions technology. So you have path-dependence and local minima, and get ‘stuck’.

    2) Many of the problems require large-scale infrastructure change. That is, a whole network of, for example, electric car chargers is needed to allow for adoption of these vehicles. Some of these networks are natural monopolies (like electric/gas distribution networks) where standard market-based methods fail.

    3) Failure of information: mandating electrical appliances are labelled with efficiency information and pass a minimum standard saves consumers money, but hasn’t happened by marketplace magic.

    Then there is the political aspect of it: a carbon tax low enough to avoid any political pain isn’t enough to drive the changes needed long term; shifts from e.g. coal to gas which is useful but not enough. A large carbon tax redistributes a large revenue stream and creates a significant number of ‘losers’. In practise, the ‘losers’ end up getting compensated, which makes the whole thing messy in reality, even if simple in theory.

    Have a look at the history of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme if you want to see how things can go wrong…

    Carbon market seems essential in the long term though.

  49. I see lots of people changing their lifestyles. I am on several email lists that often have little spats when members mention they are flying somewhere. I have numerous friends doing serious urban gardening and permaculture work that is a significant change in their lifestyle. I fit in to this group well. My partner and I are doing a lot of permaculture on our small piece of land, we have retrofitted a hundred year old house to consume as little energy as possible, the last time I was on an airplane was 1999 when my father had a medical emergency and I needed to move him 2000 miles for end of life care. People talk about the hopelessness that might arise if you get too pessimistic about our situation and assume that human extinction is just around the corner, but I am more concerned with the hopelessness that arises if you see no one making serious attempts to reduce their environmental footprint. That stuff is happening. Perhaps it is not happening at a scale that changes anything, but that’s a different consideration. The beauty and grace of living as if our lives and lifestyles matter is breath-taking.

    I understand your despair about consumerism. It’s there for all of us to see. I encourage you to observe the instances where something different is happening. There may be less of that, but it is also there for us to see.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  50. Individual actions seem insignificant. But if enough people take on the mantle, well, Paul Kelly says it best. Call it voting with your pocketbook, inspiring leaders and companies by example, whatever. There are a couple of hundred million cars in the U.S. if over 10 years they are replaced by electric cars and a bunch of them are recharged by solar panels, it does mean something.

  51. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    “Market solutions are useful as part of the toolbox but fail if not intelligently designed.”

    The intelligently-designed ones are failing too (in the US) because they’re not getting any Republican support. The only solutions Republican politicians are willing to support are carbon capture, tax incentives, and fewer regulations (the latter two intended to spur ‘innovation’). There was a House climate hearing earlier this week that the Republican chair started by saying they won’t support a carbon tax, full stop. This was a committee (Ways & Means) in which an intelligently-designed revenue-neutral carbon tax has been introduced, and whose Republican leaders Carlos Curbelo (former climate savvy Republican congressman from Florida) identified as relatively reasonable legislators.

    In that sort of environment, you certainly can’t blame people for saying ‘screw doomed efforts at compromise solutions, let’s just push for policies that actually meet the scope of what’s needed to address the climate crisis.’

  52. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    you certainly can’t blame people for saying ‘screw doomed efforts at compromise solutions, let’s just push for policies that actually meet the scope of what’s needed to address the climate crisis.’

    I think that the question of blame isn’t particularly meaningful.

    I think what’s important is to evaluate which strategic or tactical choices might be have the best return.

    Saying “screw this” might be the best option, imo, if it turns out that you can gain enough political power to make such a tactic pay off.

    Or, it might turn out to be a good tactic if it results in shifting the Overton window (with an assumption that eventually, once the window has shifted sufficiently, you will sit down at the table).

    Or, it might wind up that you don’t gain sufficient political capital with such an approach, and you wind up with nothing because the opposition maintains an effective monopoly on power.

    W/r/t that last possibility, the question becomes whether a more moderate approach might have netted more power – meaning there is an opportunity cost.

    And of course, all of this has to be viewed in a context where opposing forces have for a long time monopolized power and undercut meaningful policy thus far.

    What I hope for is an open discussion to evaluate the various strategies, to help prevent a potentially counterproductive overconfidence in any one particular strategic choice.

  53. As Claude Juncker laconically observed (speaking about the financial crisis / economic reforms)

    “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”

  54. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    Well I should clarify that what’s really happening is that liberals, after witnessing several decades of Republicans rejecting all compromise climate policies, have decided that our only hope is for Dems to get control of the House, Senate, and White House. If that happens, then they might as well push for policies of sufficient scope to address the climate crisis. The goal of the GND Resolution was to launch that discussion and decide what Democrats will do climate policywise if they get full control in 2021 or thereafter. So far the GND has already achieved:

  55. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    Dangit, my comment got messed up. Anyway what it’s achieved is:

    1) Orders of magnitude more climate policy discussion than before.
    2) Shifted Overton Window.
    2a) Slightly higher odds that Republicans will get on board with climate policy.
    3) Made climate an even higher priority for Dem voters.
    4) Sparked the development of more climate policies.

    All of which I would argue were the GND Resolution’s main goals, meaning it achieved what it set out to accomplish.

  56. Dana “If that happens, then they might as well push for policies of sufficient scope to address the climate crisis.”

    That did happen in 2008. The result was the Democrats shifted to working on health care while oil and natural gas production in the US doubled over the next 8 years.
    The Democrats top issue this year is also health care. The GND didn’t get a single vote from Democrats- in fact they thought it was sneaky and unfair that the GOP asked them to go on record about it.
    The Overton Window already shifted. The US is switching baseload from coal to natural gas. Germany is certainly indicating it intends to shift coal and nuclear to gas.
    IMO the nexis of the climate action will shift toward electric (and natural gas) cars. The next great renewables debate can be pencilled in for ~2040.
    In the US, the problem with revenue neutral carbon taxes is that Indiana residents who drive and get power from coal will be paying taxes that are refunded to New York and Washington DC residents who ride subsidized public transport powered by nuclear reactors. That’s fine as long Bill McKibben doesn’t block the same nukes DC enjoys or blocks the pipeline needed to switch Indiana to natural gas. But he does.

  57. Andy M should not trivialise demography and democracy.

    By popular demand, America’s Sun Belt is the hottest property in the history of real estate. Demographers reckons it will host most ( >80%) of the nation’s near-future population growth, and it has also proved a magnet for diversity by attracting millions of immigrants from climes that make the American subtropics seem temperate by comparison.

    Wind power development in the sunbelt is already riding the wave of air conditioning powere demand, and solar will follow as fast as storage technology.

    Humans are an incresingly urbanized species, and as their well being and productivity peaks in the low 20’s C, the mitigation and management of urban temperatures will grow in importance accordingly.

  58. Mal Adapted says:

    thomaswfuller2:

    Individual actions seem insignificant. But if enough people take on the mantle…There are a couple of hundred million cars in the U.S. if over 10 years they are replaced by electric cars and a bunch of them are recharged by solar panels, it does mean something.

    I agree that voluntary internalization of private marginal climate-change cost (even if it’s primarily virtue signalling) shouldn’t be discouraged, and may make a detectable impact on GHG emissions. But as we all know, Tragedies of the Commons are driven by individually-sound economic choices in free* markets. Achieving less-tragic endings requires collective intervention in market transactions (e.g. carbon taxes, prohibitions on coal for electricity generation, or public subsidies for rooftop solar) that apply to every buyer and seller on the market. IMHO, atmospheric CO2 should be expected to increase as long as it’s marginally cost-effective for anyone to transfer fossil carbon to the climatically-active pool.

    OTOH: polycentric collective actions at the scale of neighborhoods, cities and states may add up to meaningful decarbonization, buying time for more global efforts.

    * free of collective intervention to internalize externalities, that is.

  59. AndyM says:

    “Andy M should not trivialise demography and democracy…..” ….. Followed by a text worthy of Anthony Watts.

  60. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    Well I should clarify that what’s really happening is that liberals, after witnessing several decades of Republicans rejecting all compromise climate policies, have decided that our only hope is for Dems to get control of the House, Senate, and White House. If that happens, then they might as well push for policies of sufficient scope to address the climate crisis.

    I think that’s a bit of an over-simplification. It seems rather non-contoversial to me that there is, broadly speaking, a split on the left as to what is the best strategic pathway forward for gaining control of the Congress and the White House. Generally speaking, there are two camps: One which feels that aggressive advocacy of highly progressive policies (such as the GND) is most likely to reap better electoral rewards, while another feels that a platform created to have a bi-partisan appeal will have better electoral results.

    I think that regardless of where one falls out on that spectrum, it is important to recognize that both camps exist, and that there is quite a bit of conflicting evidence as to which approach might be more politically advantageous.

  61. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    Sure, I didn’t mean it’s true of all liberals, I meant it’s true of those pushing the GND. But I also think it’s important to bear in mind that the GND is just a framework right now and there’s no reason why bipartisan solutions couldn’t be considered part of a GND.

  62. Joshua says:

    Jeff –

    The GND didn’t get a single vote from Democrats- in fact they thought it was sneaky and unfair that the GOP asked them to go on record about it.

    I’m not sure that “sneaky and unfair” are accurate descriptors, but regardless, I think a series effort to engage in productive discussion about the GND vote would require not isolating that Demz objected to the vote from the reasons whyDemz felt that way.

    If you take such an approach, you will probably get nowhere in gaining insight into how Demz view climate change policy, and risk merely looking like you’re peddling

  63. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    there’s no reason why bipartisan solutions couldn’t be considered part of a GND.

    Maybe. I’m not sure that the quote I gave above from AOC is very compatible with positions crafted for bipartisan appeal.

  64. Dana Nuccitelli says:

    AOC’s office has said a carbon tax could be a (small) part of a GND, as have other GND folks.

  65. ” I think a series effort to engage in productive discussion about the GND vote would require not isolating that Demz objected to the vote from the reasons whyDemz felt that way.”

    How does one engage in a serious, productive discussion about a vague “aspiration” (carbon neutral) that has been the aspiration since at least the 1991 Rio Summit?
    The only thing aspirationally new about the GND was the detailed explanation of it that the author (and the rest of her party) released and immediately disavowed after people read the thing.
    Which means the GND is just the Rio Summit report and still lacks an answer to the question “how.”

  66. Joshua says:

    Jeff –

    How does one engage in a serious, productive discussion about a vague “aspiration” (carbon neutral) that has been the aspiration since at least the 1991 Rio Summit?

    Ii suggest that if you have to ask how to engage in productive conversation about a topic, then you need to be reflective about your approach. Be advised, that the answer seems abundantly obvious to me. I suggest that your difficulty in finding an answer reflects that you should rededicate yourself to a productive discussion. I suspect that no answer I would provide you will suffice for you to address the root cause of the problem.

    Also, as a kind of artifact of what I was pointing to above, is that I my comment was focused on your lack of addressing the reasons why Demz felt the way that they did about the vote, Yet you didn’t address that, and instead when on to elaborate on your views on the GND, something that you have have made your views on quite clear many times previously. That is the sort of thing, I suggest, that might come off as peddling.

    I will offer this by way of a more general prescription: As a general rule of thumb, I find that trying to understand my interlocutor’s position (rather than trying to take advantage of it for rhetorical purposes), is a good place to start on productive discussions with those who disagree with me. In this case, such an approach might start off with something like, “Please explain to me your views on the GND,” ‘as opposed to a rhetorical question mixed with incredulity as to how you might engage in a fruitful discussion of the GND.

  67. Joshua says:

    Jeff –

    Let me ask you. Are you interested in a fruitful discussion about the GND? Are you open to listening to opposing views about it in good faith?

    The reason I ask is that I have the impression that your views on the GND are entirely made up. I have no confidence that in any way you would be open to any views that are anything other than completely dismissive of the GND. Am I wrong about that?

    Now maybe that’s just me, but I’d be willing to bet that no one who has read what you’ve written about the GND (ridiculing it entirely, mocking AOC, etc.) would disagree with me about that even one iota – particularly if that person is in any way receptive to the overall framework of the GND or many of its components, even if not entirely on board.

  68. Bad Climateball move Andy– good luck explaining it to the several thousand readers of his post:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2013/06/keeping-up-with-orwells.html

  69. Joshua says:

    As I recalled, you justified mocking the GND by suggesting that in turn. people supportive of the GND should mock Inhofe as a kind of productive response. Hmmm.

  70. David B. Benson says:

    aTTP, if you are looking for a topic, consider reading
    BNC Discussion Forum
    the section on Climate Change
    the thread on Plastic Pollution
    for inspiration.

  71. Willard says:

    Since nuclear has been mentioned, some solar stretching:

  72. “How does one engage in a serious, productive discussion about a vague “aspiration” (carbon neutral) that has been the aspiration since at least the 1991 Rio Summit?”

    I’ve had an aspiration to have a BMI of 25 for about as long. Does that mean it is pointless me working towards it or should I just give up exercise and eat lots of cake?

    One probably ought not to engage in a serious productive discussion by asking rhetorical* questions, that is for sure.

    * in both senses:

    1. relating to or concerned with the art of rhetoric.

    2.(of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.

  73. jacksmith4tx says:

    We may be fooling ourselves about moving Overton windows, protests and opinion surveys.
    From inside my bubble I was under the impression that Australia was moving to a more left leaning, climate friendly government so the news that the conservatives won by rejecting pro climate policies is disappointing. It follows a long list of governments around the world that are becoming more nationalistic and xenophobic; Brazil, Canada, Israel and Indonesia not to mention the surging right wing populist in Europe, UK and large parts of the Asian subcontinent.
    Looks to me like the obvious choice will be to pin our hopes for addressing climate change with technological fixes like geoengineering and genetic engineering. Put another way, our technology created this problem and it will be our technology that will have to come up with a solution.

    Take this interesting idea of providing a wearable personal thermostat.
    https://techxplore.com/news/2019-05-wearable-cooling-patch-personal-thermostat.html
    “Chen’s team estimates that it would take 144 patches to create a cooling vest. This would use about 26 watts total to keep an individual cool on an average hot day (during extreme heat, estimated power use would climb up to 80 watts, which is about how much a laptop uses). By comparison, a conventional air conditioning system uses tens of kilowatts to cool down an entire office.

    It’s more energy-efficient to cool down an individual person than a large room, researchers noted. “If there are just a handful of occupants in that room, you are essentially consuming thousands of watts per person for cooling. A device like the patch could drastically cut down on cooling bills,” Chen said.”

  74. russellseitz says:

    David B. Benson says:
    May 16, 2019 at 9:58 am
    Brave New Climate Discussion Forum
    needs more commenters.

    To be sure- the last BNC post was in 2016- please give a direct link.

  75. Jeff said:

    That did happen in 2008. The result was the Democrats shifted to working on health care while oil and natural gas production in the US doubled over the next 8 years.

    Mark that date. To paraphrase someone on POB, oil companies used to turn oil into money, while 2008 was the year they started turning money into oil.

  76. David B. Benson says:

    russelseitz — I am referring to the
    BNC Discussion Forum
    hosted by ProBoards
    bravenewclimate.proboards.com

  77. Joshua: “…particularly if that person is in any way receptive to the overall framework of the GND or many of its components, even if not entirely on board.”

    I’ll play along. Define the overall framework of the GND and the “components” of it that you want to fruitfully discuss that are materially different from what’s been said since 1991. Which components and frameworks in the GND do you agree really are ridiculous?
    Meanwhile let’s be frank about the GND- it was written and presented as an extremist approach to climate change and was rejected as such by both the left and the right, climate activists and climate deniers.
    The GND as written has been ridiculed by Nancy Pelosi, James Hansen, Chuck Schumer, the Washington Post editorial board and even NPR and the NYT treated it dismissively. That wasn’t because those people hate Earth, it was because they read the GND, discussed it, and reached reasonable, rational conclusions about it.

  78. dikranmarsupial: “I’ve had an aspiration to have a BMI of 25 for about as long. Does that mean it is pointless me working towards it or should I just give up exercise and eat lots of cake?”

    Exercise and watching what you eat actually reduces BMI.

    If I oppose a global ban on sugar today as the obvious and only solution to the scientifically known threat of obesity, does that make me a BMI denier or merely a thoughtless conservative?

  79. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thoughtless conservative jeff.

    Because just as no doctor concerned about obesity is claiming that a global ban on sugar today is the obvious and only solution to the scientifically known threat of obesity, no-one (no-one sensible) is proposing to ban oil, gas and coal today. Even Extinction Rebellion are saying 2025 or 2030, and when interviewed say they don’t really expect to achieve that, but are bidding high because you never get all you ask for. The rest of us are going for the Paris schedules, which are implemented over decades. Which is precisely analogous to exercising and watching what you eat, and gradually reducing your BMI over a period of months to years.

    What you are though is a purveyor of Straw Men. I’d link to RationalWiki, but I’m sure you already know what it means.

  80. “…no-one (no-one sensible) is proposing to ban oil, gas and coal today. Even Extinction Rebellion are saying 2025 or 2030.”
    The GND says 2029 (within 10 years) and you cite the Extinction Rebellion which wants it done in 6 years, but you note that if someone asks them, they don’t really want it done, they just say they want it done. Bernie Sanders proposed a ban on hydraulic fracturing during the 2016 election and indicated deeper limits on oil and gas production.

    We can agree that no-one sensible is proposing a ban on oil and gas, and that people (who are not made out of straw) are proposing such things. We disagree about whether they are just making it up when they say these things.

  81. Dave_Geologist says:

    Last time I looked Jeff this was 20th May 2019. Not 2029.

    When we discussed the GND I pointed out to you (or someone expressing similar views) that it was caveated with “where possible”, “technology permitting” and similar language in the actual proposals as opposed to the aspirations. Which is of course exactly like putting someone obese on an exercise and diet regime, setting a weight loss target but accepting the subject may not quite manage it, and exactly unlike banning sugar sales worldwide today.

    And Bernie didn’t even make candidate in 2016. Nor did he propose a global ban on oil and gas prudcution today. Just a moratorium on rolling out more of a certain form of extraction (I suspect for the wrong reasons – secret chemicals, burning taps and earthquake* bullshit, not carbon budget). The right analogy would be setting a cap on the sugar content of drinks aimed at kids, banning added sugar from baby food, or banning advertising of food above a certain sugar content before 9pm. Not banning all sugar worldwide today.

    * The earthquakes are due to produced groundwater disposal so it doesn’t matter whether you frac the wells or not (low-permeability gas always produces a lot of associated water due to capillary and relative permeability effects). The problem is too few disposal wells, in the wrong place, badly managed (in one published case, I think the Alabama one, I could see from the rate vs. pressure plots when the well broke out of zone several times, a year or more before the earthquake). I support local gas as a less bad alternative to imported gas which burns tens of percent in getting here, gas over oil and oil over coal. Because lower carbon is not as good as zero carbon but is better than higher carbon. There’s a discussion to be had about identifying and not investing in what will be stranded assets under our Paris commitments. Not wasting money is good for everyone.

    Nope, straw it is I’m afraid.

  82. Joshua says:

    Jeff –

    I’ll play along

    Once again, I failed to get my point across. Having you “play along” is almost precisely what I was not challenging you to do.

    I hereby give up.

  83. Dave- “Last time I looked Jeff this was 20th May 2019. Not 2029.”

    In order to ban all fossil fuels by 2029 or 2025, you would have to pass the ban on them today and give people time to figure out how to get to work in 2025 or 2029.
    The GND actually detailed a way to do that if passed today, but everyone now pretends there weren’t any details. The GND called for a ban on fossil fuels, passed today, to go into effect within 10 years accomplished by dedicating trillions of dollars on windmills and solar panels, guaranteeing a federal job to anyone who wants one and an income to anyone who doesn’t feel like working, rebuilding or retrofiting every building in the United States, plus everything progressives have asked for since 1967. The “if technically feasible” pertained to shutting down all nuclear power plants, banning air travel, and eliminating cows, with the suggestion that those might need a few extra years.

    Joshua- The GNDs broad aspirational goals are no different than the ones stated May 9, 1992 as a result of the Rio Earth Summit: “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
    The game of pretending the GND is both vague and a fresh discussion starter is bizarre and boring, but goes on because a rookie politician put down on paper every bad idea she could find in Grist and the Guardian and the result was mockery from the left, right, center, climate hawk, climate skeptic, climate agnostic, science, media, politics, economics, academia and entertainment. It’s your game, carry on.

  84. The GND is do-able. The environmental portion of it is do-able renewable. The environmental part might possibly be easier than the economic end. Maybe that’s why the Green part gets most of the discussion–and flak.

    We could do renewables–without nukes–by 2050 and make considerable progress by 2030. It will be expensive–but we can afford it. If we want to do it, we can, without destroying our way of life, wrecking our economy or throwing away our future. It just comes with a high price tag.

  85. izen says:

    “If I oppose a global ban on sugar today as the obvious and only solution to the scientifically known threat of obesity, does that make me a BMI denier or merely a thoughtless conservative?”

    It makes you a maker of strawmen, trying to shout ‘squirrel’ to distract from policies that might actually work.

    Personally I am extremely doubtful of carbon tax as a method of reducing FF use to the levels required to avoid the increasing damage to civilisational infrastructure from the accumulating atmospheric Carbon.
    But as an initial method of imposing the inevitable social costs of consumption on those buying a product it does seem to have some success.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/15/health/philadelphia-soda-tax-sales-decrease/index.html
    “In 2017, Philadelphia became the second US city to put a tax on sugary drinks and soda. In the wake of the tax, sales on those beverages dropped by a whopping 51% in the first year, according to a study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA. … Communities in California and Mexico where a soda tax has already been implemented have had similar outcomes. Sugary drink consumption went down more than 50% three years after Berkeley, California, passed a soda tax, according to a study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Public Health.”

  86. dikranmarsupial says:

    Jeff that was precisely my point. Just asking pointless rhetorical meta-questions is an obstructive waste of time, rather than helpful. You need to do something, or failing that, carry on discussing what to do.

  87. dikranmarsupial says:

    And I object to people trying to get me to call them a denier.

  88. Joshua says:

    Jeff –

    It’s your game, carry on.

    Once again, evidence that I didn’t get my point across, as I wasn’t playing a game.

  89. Dikranmarsupial- “Just asking pointless rhetorical meta-questions is an obstructive waste of time, rather than helpful. You need to do something, or failing that, carry on discussing what to do.”

    I did that over at the going nuclear thread where I was asked to put it. [Snip. Then it should stay there. – W]

  90. Michael 2 says:

    jeffnsails850 says: “How does one engage in a serious, productive discussion…”

    …on any topic: Serious discussions happen AFTER the relevant (opposing) parties have agreed to make progress. The usual way is bait-and-switch; dangle a tiny thing that opposing parties can agree on and use that as leverage for possibly other things.

    Or you can go full-AOC and demand everything up front. It’s more honest but you end up with no agreement.

  91. Dave_Geologist says:

    jeff: **sigh**. Today: 21st May 2019. Graduated over years or decades: not today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.