How can climate change denialism be explained?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by James R, Dec 12, 2011.

1. James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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I'm not quite sure where to put this thread. Anyway...

Here are a few extracts of an article by Robert Manne, which can be found in full here:

Emphasis in bold is mine. Emphasis in italics is in the original.

How can climate change denialism be explained?
8 December 2011

I now find it difficult to understand how a person of reasonable intelligence is unable to accept the reality and the urgency of the looming climate crisis.

....

If only fifty per cent of climate scientists accepted the greenhouse gas theory of global warming, it would still be prudent to curb greenhouse gas emissions radically. There is, quite simply, so much at stake – nothing less than the future wellbeing of the Earth. Yet in fact virtually all the people with true understanding – the climate scientists – accept that, primarily through the continued burning of fossil fuels, human beings are placing the Earth at risk. Among these scientists moreover there exists no plausible alternative theory to explain global warming. Two studies have been conducted to assess the size of the scientific majority who accept and understand the reality of disastrous, humanly-caused global warming via the greenhouse gas hypothesis. Both studies arrived at the same figure. Ninety-seven per cent (2009, 2010).

....

Every time an article concerning the climate crisis appears somewhere in the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, an army of climate change denialists emerges. For those who believe there is indeed a crisis – that is to say for those who accept the conclusions of the scientists and the implications of what they are telling us for the future of the Earth – they express nothing but suspicion, anger and contempt.

The overwhelming majority of these people have not published in the field of climate science. Most but not all have no scientific education. And yet, somehow, they have come to believe that they understand better than the overwhelming majority of climate scientists – in the immortal words of one of the most consequential climate change denialists – that the greenhouse gas theory of global warming is “crap”. Climate change denialists do not merely doubt the conclusions of the people who have studied and published in the field. They know that the climate scientists are wrong.

It would be comforting to believe that the denialist army is composed of fools. This is simply not the case. Many of the denialists are accomplished and educated people. It would also be comforting to think that they represent a small island of unreason in an ocean of rationality, like people opposed to immunization. This also however is not true. In the United States, for example, a clear majority do not believe in human-induced global warming. Indeed only one per cent of Americans now consider it their country’s most urgent problem.

How, then, is the existence of climate change denialism and indeed its increase in recent years to be explained? There seem to me five plausible hypotheses.

1. The first concerns the influence of vested economic interest. Throughout the Western world there are many massive corporations whose fortunes are based on the sale of fossil fuels – coal, oil etc. If effective action is taken across the globe to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, on the grounds that they are imperilling the planet, these corporations have a lot to lose. Contrarily if they can find means to create doubt in the public mind about climate change science and therefore of its implications for the economic future of their companies, they have a great deal to gain.

....

It does not even need to follow that the executives in the corporations who in the past funded this propaganda or who at present are still funding it – like Exxon-Mobil or the fossil fuel industry-based Koch brothers in the United States – are self-conscious cynics. Outright cynicism is probably less common than self-deceptive and self-serving rationalisation in matters of this kind. Nor is it the case that the loudest voices in the media preaching global warming denialism, like Rush Limbaugh in the United States and Andrew Bolt in Australia – who are influenced by the propaganda of the fossil fuel corporations and who then disseminate it – need to be paid for the services they provide. In general, these kind of ideological “true believers” simply play the role of the “useful idiots” of the fossil fuel corporations.

....

2. The second hypothesis helping to explain the contemporary profile of climate change denialism relates to the role played by the mass media.

....

In the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, in recent times, the media has played a major role in legitimising climate change denialism. In these three countries the media has amplified or facilitated the work of the many climate denialist “think tanks”, fossil fuel industry lobbyists and denialist bloggers. And in all these three countries, the influence of the Murdoch media is profound – in Australia with 70% of the major newspaper circulation; in the United Kingdom, with The Times and The Sun; and in the United States with the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and, above all else, the immensely influential Fox News. Not only do the Murdoch media preach climate change denialism directly throughout the English-speaking world. News Corp also provides this kind of anti-science irrationalism with a kind of faux-respectability that allows its influence to permeate gradually other non-Murdoch-owned organs of the right-leaning and even the centrist media. ....

3. To be effective, the roles played in the rise of climate change denialism by fossil fuel corporation propaganda and the right wing mass media probably required some overarching ideological rationalisations. One rationalisation was discovered in the idea central to Anglosphere neoconservatism – the corrosive influence supposedly played by the anti-Western, anti-American mindset of the cosmopolitan elites, known since the early 1990s as “political correctness”. Another was discovered in neoliberal suspicions about the collectivist, social engineering and anti-capitalist instincts of the left-leaning intelligentsia.

....

Following the coming of the climate crisis everything changed. The neoconservatives and the neoliberals in the media, politics, the think tanks and the academy applied their ideas about the corrosive influence of political correctness and collectivism to a group they had hitherto staunchly defended against the attacks of relativistic “deconstructionists” and “postmodernists” – the scientists. Or at least, to put it more precisely, they extended their analysis to one branch of scientists – those who specialised in analysis of the climate. When the climate scientists began pointing out the urgent need to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, the neoconservatives and neoliberals decided that these scientists were little better than the “tenured radicals” in the humanities faculties of the universities who deployed their so-called scholarship to undermine the free market or traditional Western values. Their science was dubious. They perverted the peer review process. They suppressed dissenting voices. They engaged in research they knew to be fraudulent – “climategate” – for the sole purpose of winning lucrative research grants from the “nanny state”.

In this campaign, the Right dispensed with even minimal commitment to logic. The government that awarded the most money for climate research – the United States – was also the government most resistant to taking action on climate change. The enemies of the scientists also engaged in ideological labelling. The scientists who expressed alarm at the inescapable conclusions of their research became “alarmists”. Those citizens who accepted the key conclusion of the climate scientists – that primarily because of the burning of fossil fuels the Earth is heating up – became “warmists”. Required to choose between the interests of the fossil fuel corporations or the conclusions of the climate scientists, with barely a moment’s thought, the ideologues of the Right backed the interests of the corporations.

4. Ideologues only feel comfortable when they hunt in packs. Within a remarkably short time, almost all anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues became climate change denialists. Nonetheless, it would be quite misleading to argue that all leading climate change denialists are neoconservatives and neoliberals. As Clive Hamilton has pointed out, there is a certain kind of individual who is offended by the conclusions of the climate scientists. For such people – frequently ageing white males of science, engineering and technology backgrounds – the conclusions of the climate scientists are experienced as a shock, as a challenge, but most deeply of all as an affront to their deepest and most cherished basic faith: the capacity and indeed the right of “mankind” to subdue the Earth and all its fruits and to establish a “mastery” over Nature. I use these words advisedly. The conclusions of the climate scientists suggested a problem with this generally free-thinking, secular, pro-capitalist faith.

The people I have in mind were the kind who had mercilessly mocked the once-fashionable idea that there might ultimately be “limits to growth”. They are the kind of people who had vigorously and sometimes successfully disputed claims about the eventual depletion of natural resources or theories like “peak oil”. Now they were faced with scientists who had arrived at the conclusion that there was something even more fundamentally amiss in the process of the industrial revolution itself – namely, that the decision to provide the energy for industrialisation by burning fossil fuels was possibly the most consequential, although perfectly innocent, misstep human beings had ever taken. Within the mindset of the engineers and geologists, such a thought is not merely mistaken. It is intolerable and deeply offensive. Those preaching this doctrine have to be resisted and indeed denounced.

....

5. The leaders of the denialist campaign are however not whistling in the dark. The message they are selling is popular. The reason is reasonably straightforward. The majority of people in Western countries live now in a state of material comfort beyond the imaginings of all previous generations. Who amongst us would not prefer to believe that there are indeed no limits to the material comforts we may enjoy? Who would not prefer to believe that this level of material comfort will go on expanding forever? To take the conclusions of the climate scientists seriously is to embrace the need for massive economic change and even for possible economic sacrifice. If the influence of the climate change denialists is growing the most important reason is that they are telling people what they most wish to hear. In his book Requiem for a Species, Clive Hamilton makes an entirely unnerving suggestion. Perhaps it is the character type that flourishes under the conditions of consumer capitalism that presents the primary obstacle to taking action on climate change. Faced by an apparent choice between the continuation of our lifestyle and the wellbeing of our planet, perhaps it is the continuation of our lifestyle that in the end we will decide to choose.

In helping us to make this choice, the denialists have played an important role. For they have been able to convince many people that to choose this way is not irresponsible or immoral or insane – a choice for which future generations will curse us – but represents, rather, sweet reason and merest common sense. Recently I read an interesting World Bank survey of international public opinion on the question of climate change. What it revealed, broadly speaking, was that the poorer the country, the more likely are its people to believe in the reality of dangerous human-caused climate change. While 31% of Americans and 38% of Japanese thought climate change was a very serious problem, 75% of Kenyans and 85% of Bangladeshis did. Those who do have reason to fear climate change but have little to lose in the curbing of emissions are the people who believe in what the climate scientists are telling them. Those who do not at present fear climate change but recognise they have a lot to lose by tackling it have simply and conveniently ceased to believe what they hear.

The meaning of all this seems clear. Citizens of the consumer society are unwilling to risk the loss of any of their comforts. However they wish to feel good about themselves. The climate change denialists – the lobbyists and propagandists of the fossil fuel corporations; the right-wing commentariat in the blogosphere and the media; the anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues in the think tanks and the academy; the angry older generation of engineers and geologists – offer them the alibi for doing nothing they so desperately need. ​

3. CptBorkRobbing the Shalebridge CradleValued Senior Member

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In the wake of the Climategate scandal, the Koch brothers recently helped fund an independent study by multiple scientists who were concerned about the lack of openness within the climate science community. To their surprise, they found that the existing data is in fact excellent and of far higher quality than they originally suspected. A lot of conservative climate skeptics will be eating crow over this.

As to why so many idiots can continue to outright deny these phenomena without so much as a quick glance into the various lines of research, it's the same reason so many people think blacks and gays should burn for eternity in Hell, and so many still expect to find the remnants of Noah's Ark, even though it would have been bigger than the mountain it supposedly crashed into. People are really reluctant to change their views when it would throw out something they've dedicated so much of their lives to, like hating people who think differently or dumping as many toxins into the atmosphere as possible for a few years of comfortable living.

5. GeoffPCaput gerat lupinumValued Senior Member

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Simple.

People believe what they choose to believe. I ran into this at a conference, where a fairly high-powered individual attempted to tell me that, whatever the stats, he didn't believe in the results and had to go away to think a bit more about why they were wrong. Environment, same. The hockey stick will go away, if only they can think it away hard enough.

7. GeoffPCaput gerat lupinumValued Senior Member

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Precisely. Fuck, even I would like to see Noah's Ark found on the slopes of bloody Ararat, if only for the sake of sheer interest. Wouldn't it be interesting? I ask myself, and it probably would. And I consider myself pretty rational. UFOs and monsters and the rest the same... although naturally I'd differentiate that rationale from the one motivating the idea that African Americans and gays should burn in Hell.

So there are possibly more than a couple instinctual motivations behind it.

8. kwhilbornBannedBanned

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@ James R.,
I see that a lot as well..

Any global warming argument can only be met with several arguments.

A) What do you want us to do about it?
Asking people in a republic type political system to lower their emissions just cannot happen. As soon as any politician makes a move that will raise gas prices or taxes in regard to any crisis, will only be met with scorn and whoever promises to undo the taxes and lower gas prices will be elected. People are far too selfish as a whole to allow this change within our political structures.

B) Prove it is happening.
We don't believe it is happening, or probably don't care. An asteroid could be plummeting towards earth and there will be thousands who would doubt it no matter how much data there was. We live in an age where tragedies, and miracles go unnoticed.
I don't care if you show me an asteroid heading for earth as long as you don't raise my gas prices.

Global warming debates are nothing more than Whining.

Okay so you have a bunch of slides and this is the projected crop expectancy in 2030. Okay I see it. So what do you want me to do about it?

Without a proposed solution, the argument is pointless/whining.

Kyoto? Yeah that works real well. Flaws in our political structure.

Why not propose something doable. For every factory making negative footprints have them pay to have their footprints reduced with planting trees/algae farms/ or investment in green technologies within the same price range.

Any tree planted will be comprised of carbon, and will temporarily remove carbon from the air. A tree is a solution. One tree alone will not solve climate change, but it is proactive and not whining.

I have often proposed we fill our oceans with rainforest sized algae/seaweed farms. Plastic floats would carry the seaweed on wires, and nutrients could be pumped with wave power from the shore or stirred up from the oceans depths by a drag-able anchor.
This may not be the best solution. Yet it is proactive and is an option. I think companies would be glad to sponsor a few square miles of seaweed if they can announce a greener footprint. Again all seaweed is made of carbon and can temporarily remove it from our atmosphere.

If a country is starving tow them a few thousand acres of seaweed farm to feed the masses some yummy algae burgers. Maybe some fuel companies will purchase algae for oil and we can use the profits to build even more algae fields. Why not tow an algae field over the grand banks to feed the fish. Ponds with algae can support up to three times the amount of catfish (unsure about cod).

I guess I am pressing the algae fields thing here.. PROACTIVE,PROACTIVE,PROACTIVE.

I just don't see how society will care enough to keep the right politicians in office, and that is very sad.

Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
9. Aqueous Idflat Earth skepticValued Senior Member

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Well done. Manne differentiates five principal fallacies that we have all seen over and over from denialists. He is insightful and he resonates with my own observations about denialists.

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11. Stoniphiobscurely fossiliferousValued Senior Member

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Well, in the US of A, 26% of adults believe that Jesus will come back every New Years Day, 25% believe that Barack Obama was not born in the US but instead was born in Kenya and is not even a US citizen - despite proof to the contrary. This would suggest that a significant minority of US citizens cannot be taken out to dinner because they are already 'out to lunch'. :bugeye:

The mistrust of science and scientists has been around as long as I can remember. Why? Because they are a minority and mass society does not tolerate those who are different from the crowd in any way. Where once they were excommunicated, imprisoned or killed outright, now they are ridiculed and belittled instead.

My son points out to me that all of the major religions are shrinking and losing power now. As they lose their grip they become increasingly desperate to regain their power, thus the extreme rhetoric and posturing.

The disconnect between religious belief and historic fact is well - illustrated by the 'Noah's Ark' myth. That myth was retold for inclusion in the Torah from the Sumerian tale of Utnapishdum while the Semites resided in Babylon. The difference is that the original story from the Epic of Gilgamesh did not say exactly where Utnapishdum's square raft landed after the flood. Somebody made that up and included it later on. Religion has a long and venerable history of editing and re - editing history to fit various sooth-sayings, prophecies and personal agendas of powerful religious leaders.

I must suggest that the majority of climate change denialists are conservative religious people. Perhaps they will see the light, but it will be when there can be no doubt at all that we have broke the planet. Then it will be too late, unfortunately.

I suspect that alternate arguments to 'climate change' or 'global warming' may have more success in changing our direction. Like increasing efficiency of motor vehicles to lower costs and maximize profits, going electric to clean up the air and 'save the babies' while lowering health care costs. (I recall how much I enjoyed the improvements when lead was taken out of gasoline and asbestos out of brakes - despite industry's resistance) Lets really try to make coal "clean" and if it don't work, try something else.

12. GeoffPCaput gerat lupinumValued Senior Member

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Seconded. Interesting proposition on clean coal, although I don't know much about it. Will trust in world religion decline faster than trust in science?

13. elteValued Senior Member

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A lot of it is that a tendency toward religion is bred into our genes.

14. OphioliteValued Senior Member

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At the risk of stereotyping, it has to be said that with a bunch of Black Americans and gays, it would be one hell of a party! Great music and outrageous interior design. Count me in.

@JamesR. Outstanding article. It should be transcribed into DNA and spliced into the genome of all denialists, so that they hear it whispered in their ears, late at night.

15. YazataValued Senior Member

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The best fit would probably have been in 'politics'. I don't think that it has anything to do with science, except perhaps as raw material for the social "sciences" to work over. It could even go in 'religion' I guess, since there's a great deal of analogy to religious disputes in this.

It's an 'ism'? It's a widespread point of view, so maybe it is.

I'm certainly a climate change skeptic, and that would probably get me labeled a "denialist"-lite. I briefly outlined my reasons for my skepticism in post number 5 in the recent do you believe in climate change thread.

It's more of an opinion-piece than an article. I certainly wasn't impressed. I didn't sense any serious attempt on Manne's part to understand the heretics that he's denouncing. He was just waving his own political flag and rallying his own allies, flashing intellectual gang-signs.

Probably for much the same reason that atheists stubbornly refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They don't believe it, in many cases they don't like it, and they aren't willing to be moved like sheep by all the assertions of authority.

Maybe so. But 100% of the theologians have been telling us to be Christians for 2000 years, and they have just as many doctorates as the scientists. It doesn't stop being an appeal to authority.

That's the thing. The vast majority of the population aren't scientists. They are in no position to gather and assess all the data on their own. They are in no position to form their own conclusions. So all they can do is accept the authority of what from their point of view are effectively the priests-in-white-coats. Or perhaps political-propagandists-in-white-coats. Probably both.

It's basically a confidence-game. And if the public ever loses confidence, they'll stop obeying their would-be shepherds.

Skepticism is expressed.

I'm an American. I don't flat-out deny that human-induced global warming is happening, but I'm not 100% certain that it is either. Nor am I sure about the size or ultimate causes of whatever-it-is that really is happening. I definitely don't consider global warming the country's most urgent problem.

Could be. But I don't think that most of the climate-change skeptics are really being driven by an evil opposing sheepherder. That's a conspiracy theory. There doesn't seem to be any obvious counter-authority with a huge popular following.

Skepticism is more the result of grass-roots popular suspicion of grand narratives that are seemingly designed to motivate the masses towards embracing somebody's social-change agenda. The public suspects that they are being manipulated and they don't exactly like that feeling.

That's just the 'opposing sheepherder' model repackaged. It was the oil companies that were supposedly conspiring to mislead the masses in number 1, now it's the media in number 2. Despite the fact that most of the media tilts left and is generally favorable towards the global warming crisis narrative.

The thing is that a significant part of the population already suspects precisely that, that the global warming gospel is itself an "overarching ideological rationalization", designed to motivate the public to support somebody's social-change agenda.

When it's the skeptics, it's "hunting in packs", when it's the evangelicals, it's authoritative unanimity.

I haven't noticed that China and India are in any hurry to stop industrializing.

Last edited: Dec 12, 2011

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...

Starts out with a very prejudicial statement.
Intelligent people might not totally agree with him, but that doesn't mean they deny that the climate is changing or even that most of it is of human origin.

Well it might be because if he truly believes it, then why is he flying across a continent to participate in a "Book Signing", where bunches of people will DRIVE to the book store to buy a book made out of paper, just because he signs it?

Can anything be a MORE WASTEFUL use of Fossil Fuel?

Which of course is part of the problem.

A great number of people who lecture the world on reducing CO2 production are some of the largest producers of CO2 (see Al Gore's massive electric bill as an example)

Recently many thousands of Climate Scientist have flown half-way around the world and stayed at fairly lavish resorts, in Durban SA to work on Climate Change.
This is the 17th such meeting in lavish style at such places as Copenhagen, Cancun, Bali, Nairobi, Montreal, Bonn, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Milan, Marrekesh, Kyoto etc etc for weeks at a time (these are HUGE events, COP 17 in Durban had over 24,000 people registered to attend, and then there were thousands of reporters covering the event).

So it always appears to be one more iteration of "Do as I say, not as I do"

The world would take these people a LOT more seriously if they did this in a way that minimized CO2 production, such as holding the conference electronically over the internet.

http://unfccc.int/meetings/items/6240.php

Well because that's a logical fallacy. Accepting the greenhouse gas theory is not the same as accepting that it is "prudent to curb greenhouse gas emissions radically".

One can certainly believe the former and not necessarily think that RADICAL cuts are prudent, or that everyone's idea of what is radical is even the same.

I doubt there is ANY study that says that.

The KEY word being that it is not likely that any poll shows 97% believe that statement when you include DISASTROUS as part of the qualification.

Which brings us to a recent Gallup poll of US attitudes:

In response to one key question, 48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997.

So Manne (and many others) are actually part of the problem.

By constantly EXAGGERATING what has already happened, they make people much less fearful of what will happen.

Arthur

17. GeoffPCaput gerat lupinumValued Senior Member

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Actually, some reasonable proportion of scientists accepting the greenhouse gas theory itself would imply that greenhouse gases would need to be significantly curbed, since the theory postulates that human greenhouse gases are causing the problem.

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How much would be significant?

19. GeoffPCaput gerat lupinumValued Senior Member

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Depends on the rate involved. No climate mathematician me, how much CO2 = delta temperature? And how much temperature = how much damage? And to what?

That last implies some serious possibilities: short of barring out the sun, can you imagine the range and extent of negative outcomes possible from screwing with our own global temperature? I don't think it's Ludditism to be worried about it.

20. Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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I'm surprised that our own little pack of trolls haven't jumped in here and given us a live demonstration of how the minds of the denialists operate.

In the U.S., I'd say there are three major bullet points in the explanation:
• Climategate, as Bork already noted. No one really understood any of that, but they took it as evidence that the community of scientists is not trustworthy. Therefore it's not only fashionable but now reasonable to doubt anything they say.
• As I noted in my previous bullet, the current fashionability of doubting science. This is the famous pendulum swing phenomenon in American culture. My people take fads to much greater extremes, and stay there much longer, than Europeans. And when that pendulum finally starts to fall back the other way, you had better just duck. Tobacco, religion, racism, sex, musical styles... pick a topic and you'll find that a complete swing from -1 to +1 and back to -1 again can be as long as four generations. Science was at its zenith in the 1960s; here we are precisely two generations later and this is just about its nadir.
• Finally, scientists can blame themselves for much of this problem. As I have often pointed out, most of them are absolutely horrible communicators. Not only do they tend to drone and put their audience to sleep, not only do they regard science as a medieval guild craft which outsiders are not supposed to understand until they've been through an initiation ritual and sworn to secrecy, but worst of all they don't really understand laymen and have no clue as to what they consider important, so they can't connect with them well enough to even initiate a dialog.
Just as many of us regard religion as antiscience, many laymen have come to regard science as antireligion. They worry that if the assertions of scientists were actually true, it would take all meaning and purpose from their lives. This understandably makes them not very receptive to those assertions and quick to support anyone who appears to have a genuine argument that falsifies science. And since they're not scientists, they're free to fall for every bonehead trick, from the Fallacy of Recursion to Argument from Authority.

If global warming is true, then the world they're leaving their children is full of uncertainty and probably full of hardship. Who wouldn't hope that wasn't true? If human activities are accelerating global warming, then it isn't just their children who will suffer, but they themselves would have a duty to reduce energy usage, stop buying products made from rainforest hardwoods, cut back on the consumption of beef (probably the single most environmentally-destructive food), and perhaps worst of all for people with a short-term focus that rivals that of a Yorkshire Terrier, start sorting their icky disgusting trash every Monday night and separating it into the recycling bins at the curb.

So again I ask, who wouldn't wish that wasn't true?

The "Knight Life" comic strip made a great statement last Sunday. A lady looked at the TV guide and started screaming, "Omigod, they're showing a program on animal husbandry! I told you that once this country legalized gay marriage it would all be downhill from there!" Her husband directs her to his Wikipedia screen and says, "No dear, animal husbandry is simply the breeding and tending of animals for food, draft and other domestic usage."

She doesn't look any happier. She says, "It may be true that knowledge is power, but ignorance is a lot more fun!"

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It's not.

But still it helps to use real numbers/percents and not bandy about words like "significant" or "drastic" etc when they really don't equate to any given change.

You might be thinking 10% when you say "significant" and I'm thinking that means 50%.

So to put a number on what is significant:

Do you think

Should we make draconian cuts by 75% of existing fossil fuel usage?

How about in half, 50%? Pretty damn big change.

Or is 25% sufficient. Still huge, but life could be reasonably similar to now.

Unless of course we say the whole world gets to be the same per capita, and then the Developed world will have to get by on a whole lot less than it does today.

22. spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

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But he (Arthur) has. He points to climate change experts creating CO[sup]2[/sup] in the course of their efforts. The unspoken assumption is that if climate change beyond natural fluctuations were true, it would justify prohibiting air travel, automobiles, and large aspects of our industrial infrastructure. The psychology of previous investment leads people to simply reject this premise as unacceptable, especially since many of it's advocates constitute their political rivals.

When Al Gore's electric bill averaged out to be $29,268 in gas and electric bills for 2006 and$31,512 in 2005, was it any wonder that people might have thought that he wasn't taking his own message very seriously?