Climate Deniers Freak on Kerry’s Climate Change Speech

February 19, 2014

Not too long ago, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and John McCain were all on pretty much the same page with climate change – it was real and we should deal with it.
Somewhere in the looking glass world of the right wing media trance, that changed. Now all three have gone off on John Kerry’s recent declaration that climate change was the greatest “weapon of mass destruction”.
OK, Robertson is obviously crazy, and has no power except to bilk his followers out of their social security. But both McCain and Gingrich were once on the record as having serious thoughts about climate.

No longer.


Talking Points Memo:

When John Kerry said earlier this week that climate change is one of the world’s most pressing problems, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was left wondering if he and the secretary of state are on the same planet.

McCain said Tuesday that in light of recent diplomatic efforts by the United States, Kerry shouldn’t be focused on the environment.

“Why should he talk about climate change when we’ve got a 130,000 people in Syria killed, and, as I predicted on this show many times, the whole Geneva thing was a fiasco, when the Iran-U.S. talks are obviously a joke, and the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations haven’t even begun,” McCain told host Mike Broomhead on Phoenix radio station KFYI. (audio at link)

“You know John Kerry and the President, they could be hitting the trifecta here.”

McCain expressed disbelief that Kerry used a recent visit to Indonesia to address climate change.

“Hello? On what planet does he reside?” McCain said.

The only one we have, John. The only one we have.

42 Responses to “Climate Deniers Freak on Kerry’s Climate Change Speech”

  1. danolner55347852 Says:

    Why is Newt unable to spell Kerry? Once might be a typo, but twice?

    • j4zonian Says:

      Just one more in the long line of right wing misspellings and mispronunciations of an opponent’s name and other words in order to prove… um, I guess that the speaker is as dumb as his constituents? No, although that is the actual message, I think the message is intended to be: my opponent is so inconsequential I can’t even remember his name. It reminds me of Bush the Lesser’s consistent pronunciation of Sad-um until the day Hussein was caught (if memory serves) and then suddenly W said it right, the way millions of others had been getting it for years. Such a pathetic passive-aggressive unconscious moron’s strategy. Politics as the appeal to whatever you call the underside of the lowest common denominator.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Speaking of Bush the Lesser and the lowest common denominator, W often referred to the speaker of the House as “Boner”, not in the pejorative sense in which case it would have been appropriate, but because W liked to give “cute” nicknames to people. Remember “Helluva job, BROWNIE” on national TV?

  2. kanspaugh Says:

    Republican politicians have discovered much to their delight that they can p-ss on climate science and thereby ingratiating themselves with anti-intellectual part of their base, which is a significant part of that base. Hardly surprising. Recall the survey of a year or so ago wherein, among those self-identifying as Republican, less than fifty percent accepted anthropogenic global warming as reality, whereas over sixty percent expressed a belief in demonic possession. That Hell exists, that Satan lives there, that He periodically sends evil spirits to earth to displace our souls from our bodies and do naughty things — that’s credible. But that dumping billions of tons of heat-retaining gas into our paper-thin atmosphere might eventually warm the earth? Well, that’s a bit far-fetched, doncha think?

  3. stephengn1 Says:

    It is not action on climate change that will kill a billion people. It’s inaction and the status quo. I’m convinced that elites know this. I’m convinced many have whittled humanity down to simple economic equations – human life is commodity that is currently overvalued and inaction will bring about an overdue “correction” of the human capital bubble.

    I hope I’m wrong

  4. Cy Halothrin Says:

    Although I can agree with John Kerry entirely on the urgency of the AGW problem, his legitimately is forever tarnished (in my opinion) by the fact that he led the charge to kill the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) project in the early 1990s. I know by saying this that I’m about to get pounded by the anti-nuke crowd here at CC – well, fine, bring it on. But I’ll have my say first, if you don’t mind…

    The IFR was a 4th generation nuclear powerplant. It was an attempt to solve all the safety and nuclear waste disposal issues that plague 2nd generation (the majority of today’s aging nuclear powerplants) and the few new 3rd generation plants (which are mostly in Asia, because the West has stopped building nukes). Just when the USA was ready to build it’s first commercial IFR, Kerry managed to get the project killed for political reasons – it did not die because of any technical difficulties:

    The IFR wasn’t perfect, and there are even more advanced reactors on the drawing board, such as the LFTR, but those would require at least a few more years of research and development. The IFR had the big advantage of being “ready to role.” The next big step would have been to build a commercial IFR and connect it to the grid – then we could test how cost-effective it would be in the real world. But that was intolerable to the anti-nuke folks, because if it worked well, they would have lost face and it would be harder to claim that nukes are a “mature technology” which can never be made safe or economical. So killing the IFR was a priority.

    After it was killed, the scientists who worked on it eventually retired, and some have probably died by now – the technology has been scuttled, and resurrecting it would take much time and money. Basically, nuclear power was set back by over two decades. No doubt this will bring joy to those who are enthusiastic about “dancing on the grave of nuclear power.” Unfortunately, killing the IFR has meant burning a lot more coal, and the USA’s CO2 emissions have increased by over 20% since the IFR project was shut down. What a great victory for the environment.

    Yes, I know, we can solve it all with solar panels and wind mills – so says the majority opinion here. For religious reasons, we can’t have both solar panels and nukes. If we had both, that would be a sin. And as a result of this attitude, what are likely to get is more coal burning.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      I’m casually convinced that the Nuclear Cycle we had imposed upon us was the one whose product was the primary reactant for Nuclear Bombs. If true, the MIC hurt both the environmental movement AND the pro-nuclear-power movement, by preempting the engineering.

      But I’m only casually convinced, as I’m not too involved in that controversy. I just hope you understand: the power arrayed against you may have been less the Environmental Movement (which has been playing Defense for 50 years now), and more the Military Industrial Complex, which has less interest in powering your AC, and more in powering their Mutual-Assured Destruction.

      Just to point out: why are so many concerned about Nuclear Power? Not because it was never tried. But because, in Fukushima, the opposite occurred. It WAS tried, and its weaknesses witnessed firsthand. Compare that against all the ‘Death Star’ mockery over a Carbon Tax, which was never tried in the first place.

      Still, I remain positive about Nuclear, both Fission and Fusion. We need to keep up the research dollars, to fully explore these revolutionary (literally) empowering technologies. Personally, I believe they ARE the future. But, then, I’m kind of a Trekkie.

      • Cy Halothrin Says:

        Hi ubrew12. Actually, I think you have hit on a good point about the military-industrial complex having no interest – if not outright opposition – to 4th generation nuclear power because it doesn’t fit in with their nuclear bomb building ambitions. In fact, you can use 4th generation reactors to destroy plutonium-239, which would be a handy way to get rid of the huge bulging inventory of nuclear warheads left over from Cold War days.

        The most promising 4th generation nuclear reactor, the MSR (molten salt reactor), dates from the 1960s. A prototype was built and worked amazingly well. The leader of the project wanted to continue with the research and development, but the program was scuttled and its funds eliminated. There is a very interesting write-up of this on Wikipedia:

        Regarding what you said about nuclear power being tried and failed – well, that’s partially true. The failure at Fukushima that you cited – that is certainly a disaster, I don’t deny it. The tragedy is that it was a disaster so easily avoided, mainly by siting the reactor higher above sea level. The lesson we should be learning from that fiasco is that building a reactor at 10 meters elevation (in a place that’s seen 15-meter tsunamis) was a very bad idea. I’m acutely aware of this issue, as I live in Taiwan and we are currently building a 3rd generation reactor here at 12 meters elevation. Critics of the project have pointed out that tsunamis have hit Taiwan – they aren’t wrong to be concerned.

        There needs to be a worldwide regulation that nuclear reactors must be a minimum 30 meters elevation, but even higher than that would be better.

        I’d like to see nuclear power made safe, not banned. I welcome wind and solar too, if they can prove viable, but I’m not totally convinced they can do the job alone (the “job” in this case means replacing coal). Boasting that a country can supply 25% of its energy needs from renewables – while the other 75% comes from coal – is a fool’s errand. Either we get this right, or the human race perishes.

        • Johan Rebel Says:

          The original reason research (well more than that, working pilots) was done on LFTR (thorium fuel cycle) was that they wanted to use them in airplanes. This immediately points to the advantages of the thorium fuel cycle: it does not have to be done on such a huge scale, which makes it safe, and because it is inherently safer.
          The main problem with the light reactor uranium fuel cycle plants (such as Fukushima) is that containment requires a huge scale (cooling and concrete, safety) and the huge scale leads to storing of huge amounts of fresh and spent rods, which in turn represent huge dangers. One of the main “features” which steered the choice for nuclear technology was the plutonium by-product, which has saddled us with these behemoths that have a generation of radioactive waste on site (which also needs to be cooled for a long time).

          • The Aircraft Reactor Experiment used enriched uranium, not U-233 and had no thorium.  It just showed what was possible, especially the ease of control caused by thermal expansion of molten salt.

      • I’m casually convinced that the Nuclear Cycle we had imposed upon us was the one whose product was the primary reactant for Nuclear Bombs.

        If that’s what they wanted, they did a very poor job of it.  Neither PWRs nor BWRs are economic to operate on the very short irradiation cycles required to make weapons-grade plutonium (you have to stop before you build up too much Pu-240, which causes premature start of the chain reaction and “fizzles”), which is why nobody’s ever built a weapons program on ex-power reactor fuel.  This post at Depleted Cranium is a decent intro, if you can overlook the lack of editorial standards.

        Just to point out: why are so many concerned about Nuclear Power? Not because it was never tried. But because, in Fukushima, the opposite occurred. It WAS tried, and its weaknesses witnessed firsthand.

        Yet despite 4 meltdowns of LWRs in the West (1 at TMI, 3 at Fukushima) there have been ZERO civilian deaths which can be traced to them.  Next Big Future puts nuclear as just 40% as hazardous as the next-safest energy source on earth, hydropower.  Wind counts almost 4x as many fatalities per TWH.

        Yes, it’s not what we’ve been led to believe.  Watch out for The Narrative, it’s not meant to help YOU.

    • The IFR does live on, as the General Electric S-PRISM.  GE has been in talks with Britain for some time, looking to market a couple of S-PRISMs to eliminate both the plutonium from decommissioned weapons (weapons-grade) and the reclaimed plutonium from waste reprocessing stockpiled at Sellafield.

      GE makes far more money from combustion-driven hardware than any near-term prospect for S-PRISM sales, so their devotion to this product can be legitimately questioned.

  5. jimbills Says:

    I’m not sure Gingrich really wrote that. I have a hard time believing an intelligent person (and Gingrich is broadly considered one) would consistently misspell Kerry’s (Kerrey’s) name – a man he’s known for 3 decades – and avoid capitalization. It looks more like a muddle-headed 20-something in charge of social media. But I wouldn’t doubt the sentiments with Gingrich are similar.

    On McCain (and Gingrich), they are slaves to the Congressional Military Industrial Complex. Of course they think we should be dropping bombs on other people before we address climate change:

  6. I suppose Newt and John will join with Pat now in attempting to pray the storms away?

    What do you call it when you can make a political constituency out of maniacally destructive greed (fossil fuel special interest) and stupidity (misinformed conservative climate change deniers)? Three words:

    Decadence, decline, decay.

    So the question is will it be for human civilization as a whole or just the conservative numbskulls who are making the problem far, far worse than it needs to be.

    • Robert,

      I agree – and love your blog, just as this one – am just not so sure if climate change is a problem of “conservative numbskulls” rather than a problem of “humanity”.

      I work many years now at the Global Change Research Centre in the Czech Republic, people here are not climate deniers, they know about the problem, but they live their everyday lives, use a cars to go to work, pay their mortgages, to their cariers, raise up their children.

      I used to “educate” them on the climate change, in order to “spurr action” (like I am trying to do), but basically nothing happened.

      People just wait for “someone else” to solve the problem.



      • Good points.

        I suppose my contention is that the problem is too big for individuals to solve and that the only solution, if there is to be one, would be through strong large scale action. This would require massive efforts by governments and civilizations and would require the reordering and dismantling if large sections of modern economies.

        Certainly conservative numbskulls wouldn’t go along with such an effort…

        • Agreed. I fully support such action. Just to close my position.

          I have no mortgage (which require economic growth to be properly paid back), nor do I plan to have any…

          try to use bike/public transport/trains as much as possible (but yes, I used aircraft several times in the past), use car rarely…

          I dont have much plans to have children, if so, probably only 1 maximum,

          I watch no TV (not much reducing carbon footprint, but keeps the brain healthy).

          A weak point is my diet – eat a meat almost every day – might be a metabolism thing, but will work on that as well.



      • There are a number of problems with regards to individual choice and the effect on climate change. Rightly, as you say, people are used to some routine in life and the idea “that’s just the way things are” as it takes courage to break out of a routine just like any addiction. Another is the feeling that “surely my little input can’t have an effect” – which is basically true – but still the collective choices do add up. Its almost an all or nothing thing really. Here in Norway, a lot of people argue against electrical cars because they are after all cars and we pollute when they are made, as well as charging the batteries might come partially from coal – and added up the transportation sector is just a tiny part of the total emissions. All of this might be true, but really only because we consider our current situation “immovable”. Surely any technology will have advances in the future, better batteries, less pollution – and we know more and more renewable power is being put up. So in the long run the change is a good one, moving away from fossil fuel burning and all the infrastructure that adds.

        So you might ask yourself, why does Norway have the highest rate of electrical car sales in the world? (Actually the Nissan Leaf was the most sold car in Norway January 2014). It’s because of a political choice to give benefits to people who buy electrical cars, no tolls, free parking, driving in taxi/bus lanes, low road tax, practically no tax on buying it. Its politics that seriously works and no matter if people believe in climate change or not, it motivates them simply from the great benefits they get. In time these will be gradually removed, no doubt – but by then people might be “converted” into making the choice they did not “dare” out of resistance of a change of habit.

        I do believe we are all basically cowards, we resist change or moving out of our comfort zone. Rarely do we appreciate how much stronger we are once we dare change our ways and see truth in the eyes. The same thing really goes for the acknowledgement that noone really has more birthright to the planets wealth above anyone else. A lot of poverty and suffering could be reduced seriously with a bit of “daring to step out of the bubble”.

        • This is an excellent context of the broader issues.

          But let’s boil it down to what an individual can do vs what society at large can do. Or to think of it in the broader context of the individual cannot survive without society’s consent or support.

          As individuals we can:

          1. Cut out meat or industrial meat.
          2. Stop using fossil fuel automobiles.
          3. Stop using fossil fuel aircraft.
          4. Stop using electricity from a non-renewable source.
          5. Don’t burn coal or oil for heat or cooking (all renewable electric).
          6. Change our water and food consumption to be more sustainable.
          7. Have less children.
          8. Support the rights of women in our lives to make reproductive choices.
          9. Purchase sustainable products (materials that do not involve carbon or ghg outputs).
          10. Reduce the amount of materials we use and consume.


          11. Work to create a political climate in which all of the above are much more easy to achieve.
          12. Encourage and help your fellow human beings to do the same.

          1-10 are individual actions that all have an impact. But 11-12 are actions that multiply your impact many times over by enabling others to do the same.

          In this exercise we could well consider ourselves the comfortable captives of a dangerous and damaging system that has terrible, terrible outcomes long-term and that we should be doing everything we can now to free ourselves and as many of our fellows as possible.

          The reason I tend to focus on broader action is captured in what you mention above. Norway uses more EVs because its political system incentivizes it. If Norway’s political system incentivized the use of renewable energy to power the EVs, then Norway would have more renewable powered EVs and less coal powered ones. If Norway decided that the steel in the EVs was too carbon intensive and required steel smelters to use non-coal based smelting processes then their carbon intensity would go down again. If Norway banned factory meat farming and produced tax credits for vegans, then the carbon intensity of Norway would go down again.

          These are actions that would bring Norway closer and closer to being carbon neutral or even being carbon negative. And this is the effective power of government — to encourage positive outcomes from those who already wish to act well and to limit the harm and damage done by bad actors.

          • jimbills Says:

            How Norway can afford to incentivize EVs:

            It’s all interconnected.

          • Yes, Norway has been both blessed with lots of hydro power (practically all electricity need is from this) and “capitally blessed” with oil and gas. No doubt this buys us the ability to do much more than the average country, and there is an ongoing debate about Norways future as our oil and gas dwindle. We do after all only produce half the crude we did 10 years ago so its becoming increasingly clear that this wont last forever. We have a “green” party called MDG (which I voted for btw) that is really telling the truth about both our oil future and our responsibility as “pushers” of carbon. A small party today they still manage to make a bit of noise in the media about climate change and our energy future. They also work towards encouraging people to start their own local food production so they seem to be very focused to a move away from traditional globalization.

            Unfortunately the parties that did get into government are both right-wing parties with some serious AGW deniers.

          • Couldn’t agree less. The cost of extracting oil just keeps growing and growing while the cost and energy intensity of renewables just keeps falling and falling. Sure, Norway gained a share of wealth from its oil production. But it would be the worst of all choices for it to continue on that path now. Even without climate change threatening to completely wreck Norway’s future, the rising costs of oil/gas/coal vs renewables would make those sources bad choices for anyone except those wishing to capitalize on consumers made captive to a scarce resource.

            In the end, that’s what it all boils down to. Not the oil. But keeping the consumers captive to oil. That’s what every legislative action by these big corps has been about. And anyone who doesn’t see it is blind as blind can be.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Well said. Unfortunately, the entire system has been “bought” by those who seek to profit from fossil fuels and the conversion of America into a corporate feudal state. We are trapped by something that is very big and very powerful. How do we undo that?

          • Fight it on our terms, not theirs. Dismantle the old, dirty and dangerous infrastructure. Make it impossible for them to build new pipelines, fracking sites or mine new coal supplies. Step up the campaign to take down their plants. Push divestment in fossil fuel industry. Support candidates that stand up to the beast. And wherever you go speak truth to power.

          • jimbills Says:

            Robert – you’re talking about a hypothetical future, and one that I don’t have a problem with. I’m talking about the present. Norway’s economy right now is completely reliant on oil and natural gas exports. They wouldn’t be anywhere close economically to where they are now without them, and if they were taken away they’d see a sudden downshift in wealth (and taxes to support governmental subsidies).

            If the Norwegians are smart, they’ll see that the clock is ticking, though. They only have a few more decades to milk the fossil fuel teat before their exporting capability dries up. If they are smart, they’d do everything they could in the meantime to build up a completely renewable infrastructure. They, unlike most other countries in the world, have a real shot at doing this. But even if it did happen, it’d be built on fossil fuels.

          • If they keep using/exporting fossil fuels, they don’t have a future. If they could rapidly reduce use of fossil fuels and build the renewable infrastructure you speak of, they might have a future.

            The attribution of societal development and economies to fossil fuels is utter nonsense. Especially when use of the resource ultimately destroys the wealth it supposedly creates.

            I’ll admit that Norway has some tough choices ahead. We all do. But I do not at all agree with your framing of the issue. In the future, if there is one that includes Norway as a viable and vital civilization, honest historians will question whether Norway should have pursued fossil fuel resources in the first place and if there was a way out of this energy/climate/economic trap. They will wonder why the government of Norway was so short-sighted when scientific evidence of trouble was first apparent and then obvious.

          • I am sure the government is well advised about the scientific facts with regards to both the fossil fuel future and the effect it as on climate change. What we unfortunately don’t hear often is our politicians talk about this challenge as they are too afraid to “loose votes”. Even some of our left wing parties have been muddled in their talk around this, and in my eyes its really the MDG party that is frank about the facts everywhere they talk. No doubt, a lot of people dont like to hear this and is frequently ridiculed, even though they are gaining voters each election. I sincerely believe an increasing amount of people in Norway are fully aware of the challenges ahead but prefer to ignore them still in the hope that we can live our wealthy lives a bit longer. Neither has people in Norway taken in over themselves the causes for the economic crisis in EU countries – and the clear connection it has to lack of profits from resource extraction in combination with more expensive energy. In other words the majority of people still don’t think of the planets finite resources and how close we are at exhausting them.

            The shortsightedness is clearly visible in how the people elected a climate denier party into government this last election. A party that talks boldly of lower taxes and building of roads – with no regard to the future and maintenance needed for any infrastructure. Neither do they acknowledge that Norway’s fossil resources are dwindling. Its “drill baby drill” all over the place. It’s clear they view Norway’s current wealth as a big party-account even though the fund is actually named “The Government Pension Fund” so if anything we shouldn’t touch it now. An increasing number of Norwegians don’t even live in Norway during winters, as they own summer houses in Greece or Spain (especially pensioners) – no doubt because its cheaper than paying taxes in Norway for buying stuff and services. Good for Spain and Greece, but not very good for Norway in the long run.

            An interesting thing that is never discussed in media though is how much this fund is worth if there is a major collapse in world economics? It’s clear that the fund is basically all sorts of paper in different colours – very little of it is actually real tangible physical assets like gold, silver, oil or steel. I have said on a number of occasions, that its ok for Norway to pump up the oil – but we really shouldn’t be selling it – but rather storing it as the value of it in the future will be so much more than the useless paper we buy after selling it. The moment we need that money, the paper isn’t worth anything anymore – but the oil is. Ofc if Norway did anything like that I am sure we would hasten any collapse in the economies around us as well as making us a prime target for an invasion…

          • jimbills Says:

            I’m not ascribing my own personal morality here. I’m with you that we’re making a monumental mistake on a global level.

            “The attribution of societal development and economies to fossil fuels is utter nonsense.”

            You have an entirely different reading of the Industrial Revolution than I do, then. Name one country that has fully developed (or is currently developing) in the economic sense that hasn’t relied on fossil fuels to do so. It’s not simply conspiracy. Sure, the fossil fuels companies have done everything they can to maintain their monopoly, and they’ve been enormously successful at it. But it happened too because fossil fuels were ridiculously cheap and immensely powerful and transportable when compared to the other energy sources.

            Fossil fuels ARE now rising in price, and they will only continue to do so, but that is a function of the impending peaks in their supply and because of ever-rising demand on a global level. But for the 100+ years prior to the last decade, that wasn’t the case, and we built our society on them.

            We CAN now switch to alternatives, but we have a limited time to do so both for environmental and resource availability issues. IF we want to maintain our current level of economic prosperity (the one that was built on fossil fuels), we’ll have to spend the next decades burning more fossil fuels for that replacement. We can’t just snap our fingers and magically it happens.

            That’s the trade-off, and it’s what many environmentalists fail to see. The problem isn’t so much fossil fuels as it is the level of economic activity. To maintain this level of activity (and to continuously grow it, as is basically required by a debt-based monetary system) will require the energy to do so. We’re not yet at the point where a solar array creates another solar array. Right now, fossil fuels create solar arrays.

            “Especially when use of the resource ultimately destroys the wealth it supposedly creates.”

            I do agree with you there. It’s what’s going to happen, anyway. We’re living in the “free lunch” epoch. We think we can take, take, take, and not have to pay for it. Besides, the bill will be handed to the following generations, so no big deal. The bill will come due, though.

          • The industrial revolution came from horses and wood-burning in the same way that renewables come from fossil fuels. The argument is as old as it is moot. By this thinking we are all still powered by hand.

  7. Oh the stupid!

    Gingrich can’t spell “Kerry”.

    MacCain has no idea how the troble in Syria started: “Why should he talk about climate change when we’ve got a 130,000 people in Syria killed” — Well, dear old bonehead, there was a bad drought in Syria (like what some climate models project exactly there) which ruined and displaced 800,000 poor farmers…

  8. Gingerbaker Says:

    You know, most of America wants the government to solve AGW. Even most Republicans. The only reason Gingrich et al pitch to the Neanderthal base is because Democrats still don’t know how generate or capitalize on campaign issues. They are unbelievably bad at politics.

    AGW could be a wonderful campaign issue for the Democrats. Most of the Republicans are on record about it. None of the next Republican hopefuls dares to stray from the party line. The forces against solving AGW are all big money corrupt plutocratic country club Republican bastards This is great news!

    AGW is a moral issue. It is an ethical issue. It is about corrupt liars stealing our children’s future, it is about billionaires killing ordinary citizens, it is about either loving or hating our planet.

    If Democrats can’t figure out how to frame that aggressively and persuasively, they should get out of politics.

    • Alas that’s only half of the story: The forces against solving AGW are not only “big money corrupt plutocratic country club Republican bastards”. No, it’s also Joe Sixpack and You and Me. The corrupted media and polit clowns also serve a demand of society to be apathetic and non-informed. Many people just need to look away when some aspects of reality don’t feel good. There is a wide societal need for climate apathy. Reality denial is about emotions. And much of this is socially constructed.

      As long as denial is socially accepted and not frowned upon like a fart in the elevator, as long as Very Serious People can tell crazy counterfactual nonsense on TV and in Congress without receiving proper ridicule, so long they will get elected into office (and not laughed out of it), and climate denial and apathy will persist.

      So the task is to have some compassion with “ordinary denial” on the one hand and muster ruthless ridicule towards criminal denial on the other hand.

      • jimbills Says:

        Good comments. I agree with most of this.

        “And much of this is socially constructed.”

        How much could be argued. Denial is a defense mechanism, basically, with a key role in our evolution.

        We practice denial every day in many different ways, and we’d pretty much go crazy if we didn’t. The problem is that this mechanism works its way into subjects that probably don’t have much direct bearing on us personally. We employ denial in such things as politics and economic theory. We work hard to rationalize what are basically gut feelings, isolating ourselves from arguments and data that might contradict these feelings.

        The basic reality on this matter is that people prefer to feel good over feeling bad. There are outliers, of course, and I think most of us reading this blog fit in that category. We’re the ones comfortable with worrying. But we’re really the exception. The vast majority would much rather play Nintendo or drink that six pack instead of learning and concerning themselves about these matters. On evolutionary fitness terms, I’d say the non-worrier has a greater chance of passing along their genes than the worrier.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          No, you guys are wrong. Survey after survey shows that the American people are NOT apathetic about AGW – they want it solved. Surveys show that a majority of American not only want it solved, but are willing to sacrifice and pay extra to see it through.

          But it is government’s responsibility to fix this, individuals can’t do the heavy lifting, just some small potatos stuff. What are people supposed to do? Not commute to work? Not heat and cool their homes?

          Everybody is waiting for renewables to actually be built and deployed. They are waiting for any viable opportunity to switch away from fossil fuels. They have been waiting for thirty years.

          Don’t blame Americans for continuing to live their lives while spineless Democrats allow corrupt Republicans to fiddle while our planet burns. Our Federal government has done virtually nothing substantial to solve AGW and they are the only institution that has the means to tackle the problem.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yep, but the “spineless Democrats” and the “fiddling Republicans” that play while the house burns down have been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel interests, the plutocracy, and the corporatocracy. The snake is swallowing its tail.

        • I am also sure that many of us feel incapable of changing habits due to the current structure of society. I always think about the movie “Office Space” where the guy decides that he wont go to work anymore as he doesn’t like that, and neither pay any bills. Our rational mind might say, I won’t drive my car anymore as it pollutes and its bad for the environment – but who will pick up the kids a the kindergarden then? Hmm, ok I can walk… uh oh its 3 miles off in a different direction than work… ok I will have to reserve 2 hours every day for the trek with the kid… ok I will have to get to bed one hour earlier to get that working, and try to get the kid out of bed one hour earlier… Hmmm… perhaps we can take him out of kindergarden? Is there anyone he can play with in the streets? Hmm no, they are in kindergarden. And who will stay at home, me or the wife? Or both, if we cut our work hours by 50%. But then we cant pay the mortgage, hm ok we gotta move… perhaps we can move to a smaller place closer to a kindergarden and solve both?

          Ok, its a thought experiment, but exemplifies the complexity of society in all directions whispering to you “get a car, get a car” – “life will be so much easier”… and so we are sucked in. I am sure many of us have been there, or still are – even though in our rational mind we might feel “we shouldn’t be driving cars or consuming less”. The denial creeps up with “my impact is nothing compared to it all” – and “why should I change when everyone else dont?” – etc – etc… For some this denial simply translates into “I dont believe in AGW, its a hoax”… for perfect isolation from external problems and future costs to humanity.

          I doubt you can do anything alone though, it might make you feel good about yourself, but it doesn’t really help unless you get a movement going, a change of social values and political will to help the people on its way. In some ways the “political will” can be obscured behind simple things like a tax on fuel – which in the long run perhaps reduces driving, or makes people live closer to their daily needs (shops, school, kindergarden, work) and avoid “suburbia”. Naturally people dependent on a lot of driving oppose tax on fuel, but might not recognize that this might even make their lives less stressful if they arrange their life to a slower lifestyle without so much jetsetting around. More time for family and friends, perhaps even a healthier lifestyle. I think more in the environmental movement need to market this side of the coin as many go around with this idea that the “greenies” want us to live in caves again or take us back to the dark ages. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as we might even stop and enjoy our lives better if we have time to do something meaningful than chasing wealth and “instant gratification” through consumption.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You sound as if you have read Terra Nova

          • The book by Eric Sanderson?


            If so, no I haven’t read it, but if its any good I certainly will. The topic in it seems just like the stuff I am into. 🙂

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, it’s an excellent read, particularly the first part where he traces the history of “oil. cars, and suburbs” and how we got into the present mess. He gets a little “pie in the sky” with his solutions, but makes a lot of sense there too—-there are no easy answers—-his are good ones but perhaps rely too much on “taxing” to be very popular right now. I checked it out of the library but plan to purchase it as a reference—it has many great graphics—charts, maps, graphs, tables.

          • j4zonian Says:

            William Penn had an inherited ceremonial sword he was very proud of but then he became a Quaker, and they don’t go in for either ceremony or war. Penn asked founder George Fox if he had to give up the sword. Fox said “Wear it as long as thee can.” Penn gave up the sword not long after.

            It happens one step at a time. We feel, we think, we learn, we do. I became a vegetarian when I moved out of my parents’ house, but I had been practicing making vegetarian meals for more than a year. My parents went out to eat once a week and I looked up a recipe in either Diet for a Small Planet (good book, terrible recipes) or a couple of other veggie cookbooks I soon acquired, went shopping that day for the needed items on the way home from work, and learned one meal at a time while I learned to cook.

            I’ve always bicycled a lot–250,000 miles so far–but also had a car. Several times I tried to give up the car without giving up the car, but every once in a while I’d be late and say “just this once I’ll drive” then it was once a week, then every day. Finally I knew I wouldn’t do it until I was forced to and stopped renewing my driver’s license. For 6 years now, and for the duration of the climate crisis, I’ve given up flying and driving (still accept rides now and then from others when necessary but that has a limiting factor of friends’ willingness and my reluctance to ask. I love the train, hate flying (was spoiled by work-related charter flights for a few years) so it was easy to stop flying. Some people do better spur-of-the-moment, or cold turkey. I do better with planning, research and gradual experimentation followed by sudden huge commitment. I’ve changed my diet the same way, little by little, learning why and how as I go. I grow about half my food, and some materials and fiber, also a gradual, ongoing increase. Sometimes when denying delayalists are obsessing about Al Gore, they start criticizing all ecologically aware people for being hypocritical, and not being hypocritical helps. Being consistent with life, spiritual/psychological practice and political activism makes each stronger. We can’t do one without the other 2.

    • Which is exactly why Kerry has stirred something with a significantly clear speech about our moral obligation to solve the AGW issue. Its unfortunately as you say far between the Democrats that can be so frank with the realities at hand, in the fear that it will scare away voters. But I think many today feel there is enough evidence showing that our current path is a dangerous one, no matter if you are a Republican or Democrat. Who are you going to sell your iPhones too when their house is burned to the ground by wildfire or taken by a flood? Especially if the insurance company no longer want to insure your house.

      Reality has a way of rearing its ugly face no matter who you vote for as physics doesn’t really care if you believe in Gingrich, Al Gore or Jesus – it’ll keep on doing it’s thing no matter what.

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