Across the Great Divide: Conversations about Climate and Solutions

November 12, 2020

Karen Kirk is my colleague at Yale Climate Connections.
She spent a lot of time running up to the election talking to people who disagreed with her, and has some observations.

Worthwhile and aligns with my experience.

Scientific American:

My usual work revolves around the discourse on climate change and energy. Science communicators have distilled useful guidelines for public engagement with science, but I took a reprieve from the academic and hypothetical to test these strategies in a very real—and sometimes intimidating—setting. How do you break it to a rural voter in a major coal state that coal is never coming back? What tactics can one use to tiptoe through a conversation with a staunchly religious person to make the point that, in fact, humans are responsible for warming the climate?

I made my share of blunders and endured a never-ending case of “I should have said …” playing in my mind. But I also learned reliable strategies for having pleasant, productive and persuasive conversations.

The election is behind us, but Americans remain deeply divided; it’s an appropriate time to renew our commitment to build bridges rather than light them on fire. More than ever, we can endeavor to build a broad coalition, rather than alienating those with differing views and priorities. I humbly offer a few highlights from my experiences.

Listen. And keep listening. The simple act of giving the floor to another person yields immediate benefits. The longer you listen, the more you’ll understand. The more the other person talks, the more they’ll feel heard and comfortable. Earnest, open-ended questions can build trust and open the door for dialog.

Say out loud the things you agree on. Even if you squirm with some of what you hear, latching on to areas of disagreement almost always devolves into an argument—a trap I regrettably fell into a few times. Instead, tune your ear for where you agree. For example, if someone opines that climate scientists are corrupt, you can readily agree that science should be credible and ethical—we all want that. By focusing on where you’re already aligned, you can set the stage to make actual progress.

Share your findings, but only as they relate to those places of agreement. This is the part of the conversation that we tend to focus on, but without careful groundwork, the opportunity won’t even arise. Typically, it took several minutes of warm-up before getting to this point.

Of all the topics I explored with voters, the one that resonated most reliably was the influence of fossil fuel money in our political system. But I didn’t hit people over the head with the fact that one of our senators has taken over $1 million from the fossil fuel industry. Instead, I went there gently, pointing out our shared goal of ethical politicians and the idea that no one wants more pollution. I often relayed this information as a story, describing my deep dive through campaign finance data while writing an article about political allegiances within the energy industry. When I arrived at the final conclusion, it was part of the plotline, rather than a partisan talking point. In one case, when I delivered the tally of our senator’s haul from the oil, gas and coal industries, an undecided voter exclaimed, “Ah HA!” as if she herself had just discovered it.

Rally around solutions. A young woman who was a geology major insisted that climate change was fake, and we went round and round many aspects of the science. Finally, she relented, “So what are we supposed to do about it anyway?” The mood of the conversation shifted from adversarial to collaborative, because there are inherent benefits in cleaning up the energy supply, regardless of one’s opinions on climate change. We agreed on pretty much every point from there on out, and ended our 42-minute conversation on a cooperative, optimistic note.

Change lanes to avoid roadblocks. Climate change is a polarizing topic that can hurt a conversation more than it helps. In one such case I could practically hear a rural voter gritting her teeth through the telephone as she told me how it’s pure hubris to think that humans are causing global warming. I took a few steps back and talked about pollution instead, making an appeal to her pro-life values by underscoring how the earth is essential to all life. By the end of the conversation, she was assuring me that wind and solar energy were gifts from God that should be developed more quickly, and polluting corporations should step out of the way of progress.

Offer a vision of a common goal that’s appealing to both of you. A man who was a constitutional conservative enjoyed regaling me with his political musings. I dodged the usual bullets about how climate change is China’s fault and science has been wrong before, and cheerfully kept returning to the point that clean energy is the only energy that will work for Montana in the long run; after all it’s cheaper and it’s what our West Coast energy customers want to buy. I never took the bait on his talking points, and continued to rally around the optimistic goal that Montana should remain relevant in the energy industry, and to do that, we need to change with the times. I’m certain I didn’t affect his vote, but I was able to introduce the idea that clean energy is a wise choice, while also managing to avoid arguing or pushback.

83 Responses to “Across the Great Divide: Conversations about Climate and Solutions”

  1. “How do you break it to a rural voter in a major coal state that coal is never coming back?”

    Answer: Tell them we’re cooking with gas.

    Here’s a couple of really tough ones:

    How do you tell delusional, innumerate people that you can’t economically power industrial civilization on wind, solar and batteries for inherently physical reasons?

    How do you tell them that nuclear energy has the best safety record and the smallest environmental footprint?

    • For that matter, how do you tell delusional, numerate people like Mark Jacobson?

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        You publish a reply in a peer-reviewed journal, that’s how. Which you are free to do, instead of coming here and pontificating on a topic about which you are misinformed.

        • Christopher Clack, Ken Caldeira and a bunch of other scientists got together and did just that:

          Look what happened:

          • ecoquant Says:

            Actually, the laugh was on Clack, Caldeira, and others … By 2019, some of the published critics of the Jacobson, Delucchi, et al work retracted their criticisms, and published peer reviewed articles saying so. There are several, but I’m not going to do your scholarship for you. I will cite one remarkable one however,

            Nancy M. Haegel, Harry Atwater Jr., Teresa Barnes, Christian Breyer, Anthony Burrell, Yet-Ming Chiang, Stefaan De Wolf, Bernhard Dimmler, David Feldman, Stefan Glunz, Jan Christoph Goldschmidt, David Hochschild, Ruben Inzunza, Izumi Kaizuka, Ben Kroposki, Sarah Kurtz, Sylvere Leu, Robert Margolis, Koji Matsubara, Axel Metz, Wyatt K. Metzger, Mahesh Morjaria, Shigeru Niki, Stefan Nowak, Ian Marius Peters, Simon Philipps, Thomas Reindl, Andre Richter, Doug Rose, Keiichiro Sakurai, Rutger Schlatmann, Masahiro Shikano, Wim Sinke, Ron Sinton, B.J. Stanbery, Marko Topic, William Tumas, Yuzuru Ueda, Jao van de Lagemaat, Pierre Verlinden, Matthias Vetter, Emily Warren, Mary Werner, Masafumi Yamaguchi, Andreas W. Bett, “Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Transform global energy“, Science, 31 May 2019:
            Vol. 364, Issue 6443, pp. 836-838, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1845.

            I quote from the article’s introduction:

            Solar energy has the potential to play a central role in the future global energy system because of the scale of the solar resource, its predictability, and its ubiquitous nature. Global installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity exceeded 500 GW at the end of 2018, and an estimated additional 500 GW of PV capacity is projected to be installed by 2022–2023, bringing us into the era of TW-scale PV. Given the speed of change in the PV industry, both in terms of continued dramatic cost decreases and manufacturing-scale increases, the growth toward TW-scale PV has caught many observers, including many of us (1), by surprise. Two years ago, we focused on the challenges of achieving 3 to 10 TW of PV by 2030. Here, we envision a future with ∼10 TW of PV by 2030 and 30 to 70 TW by 2050, providing a majority of global energy. PV would be not just a key contributor to electricity generation but also a central contributor to all segments of the global energy system. We discuss ramifications and challenges for complementary technologies (e.g., energy storage, power to gas/liquid fuels/chemicals, grid integration, and multiple sector electrification) and summarize what is needed in research in PV performance, reliability, manufacturing, and recycling.

            Emphasis added, and the “(1)” refers to:

            Nancy M. Haegel, Robert Margolis, Tonio Buonassisi, David Feldman, Armin Froitzheim, Raffi Garabedian, Martin Green, Stefan Glunz, Hans-Martin Henning, Burkhard Holder, Izumi Kaizuka, Benjamin Kroposki, Koji Matsubara, Shigeru Niki, Keiichiro Sakurai, Roland A. Schindler, William Tumas, Eicke R. Weber, Gregory Wilson, Michael Woodhouse, Sarah Kurtz, “Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges“, Science, 14 Apr 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 141-143, DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1288.

            No one should publish a link to Clack, et al without having the courtesy of including the response of Jacobson, Delucchi, et al to the same, as it appears in PNAS cited by the Clack, et al article. And no one, now in 2020, ought to cite Clack, et al without citing the retractions and affirmations of earlier critics. Anything else is just bad faith.

            Jacobson, et al give a line by line response to Clack, et al. Vigorous defenses have been mounted elsewhere as well.

            As to the lawsuit, Professor Jacobson explained this himself:

            To try to claim this is an issue of science is just insulting. Anybody who makes that claim is intentionally attempting to falsify what happened. People misrepresented what we did in our paper, we complained about that, then eventually filed a lawsuit about misrepresentation of data. On top of that, people lied about what we were complaining about. It’s really disgraceful for whoever keeps propagating this. The fact people are still spreading this lie that it was about a scientific issue. If anybody does it, they’re doing it intentionally.

            It’s factually false to say this is an issue, that the legal case is anything about science. That’s a false statement propagated by people with different motivations for saying that. Michael Shellenberger, a nuclear [energy] advocate, who has been dogging me for years, put out a press release [saying that]. He has the motivation to lie to the public and to state that this is a scientific issue. [Article co-author] Ken Caldeira fanned the flames by saying” several times that it’s a lawsuit over science. Other articles were written on the same claim. It’s just factually false. It’s not true that it was over the scientific issues.

            I think the lawsuit was justified because critics did not follow scientific protocols either, airing their views in the media rather than limiting it to the discussion of scholarly back and forth. That doesn’t always happen, but in the best scholarly circles, both sides writing a rejoinder paper. There was a Jacobson, Delucchi, et al letter in response to Clack, et al as I mentioned which was just ignored before Shellenberger and Caldeira went public. And it should be noted that the Clack, et al article was in response to an original PNAS paper by Jacobson, et al which was also peer reviewed. UC Berkeley’s Kammen also signed on, and later retracted his position on the dominance of solar, with which he now agrees.

            Clack et al claimed non-specific “modeling error”. Often the critiques of Clack et al are quibbles, such as the one they have with the title of the Jacobson, et al paper.

            I think the ire which Jacobson, Delucchi, et al expressed was entirely justified, because their project of devising a plan for 100% WWSS has been going on and has been multiply published since 2009 without this particular set of authors noticing. And when, in 2015, they published in PNAS, apparently someone felt threatened enough to get these authors, Clack et al, to respond. And in doing so they not only belittled the masterful work in the PNAS paper, and, later, the OneEarth paper. That represents an awesome amount of work. However, anyone familiar with Jacobson’s Fundamentals texts ought not to be surprised. Worse, this work was dismissed with weak citations of IPCC reports, effectively meta-analyses, which did not have the goal of developing such a plan, merely achieving some kind of international consensus, including amendment by policy people.

            I write with intensity because I have followed the arc of the 100% WWSS project since its beginning, including many of the challenges, and have tracked the scholarship seeing them fall. The Clack et al letter was an insult, piling on a bunch of big names whose only justified was they found the 100% WWSS implausible. And its points were later refuted, although refutation is probably a mischaracterization. They are more like made irrelevant because the predictions of Jacobson, et al were superseded by what actual technology did. Clack’s later statements, apparently claiming to champion “the public”‘s view as well as that of Science are particularly arrogant.

            I think Professor Tony Seba of RethinkX is right: That last people in the world you want to listen to are experts extrenched with existing technology, outlooks, and projections, whether that’s McKinsey & Co., with their famous miss regarding cell phone sales for AT&T, or the boffins at the EIA and IEA regarding what solar PV technology would be capable of doing, as seen from 2013.

          • I can’t believe you’re defending Jacobson’s monumentally stupid lawsuit. Here’s the only other person I’ve seen defend it (Brandon Shollenberger):


            And the last laugh was on Jacobson who got stuck with the legal costs:


          • jimbills Says:

            Just a suggestion, Canman – if you want to get anywhere here, don’t use obviously biased sources like Judith Curry and WUWT (or Shellenberger). If your arguments really hold water, you’ll be able to find the info elsewhere.

            On the Jacobson lawsuit, here’s one:

            It should be noted that Jacobson eventually dropped the suit, and he’s been ordered to pay back the legal fees of the defendants:

            Jacobson should be rightfully chastised for this. A lawsuit is no way to settle a matter of science.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            Clack et al agreed with 95% of Jacobson’s paper. Which appears to make YOU the delusional innumerate guy in the equation.

          • jimbills Says:

            “In contrast, ref. 11 asserts that it is cost-effective to fully decarbonize the US energy system primarily using just three inherently variable generating technologies: solar PV, solar CSP, and wind, to supply more than 95% of total energy in the proposal presented in ref. 11. Such an extraordinarily constrained conclusion demands a standard of proof that ref. 11 does not meet. The scenarios of ref. 11 can, at best, be described as a poorly executed exploration of an interesting hypothesis.”

            “ref. 11” is Jacobson’s paper. Jacobson was upset enough about the Clack paper that he sued them, expecting them to just settle, and they didn’t.

            Truthfully, I have strong reservations about many of Jacobson’s conclusions, they seem overly optimistic and a stretch to me, but I haven’t done the legwork to confirm it.

            But the Clack study doesn’t agree 95% with Jacobson – it says Jacobson’s conclusion that 95% of U.S. energy could be supplied with just solar and wind is a “poorly executed exploration”.

            Canman’s a long-time CC lukewarmer (CC exists, it’s not that bad). He’s been using the Mike handle lately to both troll the readers here and to focus on nuclear topics. Be correct in what you assert – otherwise, he’ll just use it for his own confirmation bias. To him, most of us are irrational ourselves. But he mostly links to outright denier sites and can’t seem to see the bias in sources like Michael Shellenberger. He also apparently hasn’t considered that trolling others will usually lead to knee-jerk responses, and therefore his belief that AGW (and AGW is bad) people are irrational is based on really bad data collection – he’s poisoning the well before sampling it.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Have you been through the entirety of the OneEarth paper and supplements? How about the detailed files? These are much more detailed than the PNAS paper.

            If not, highly recommend the book. As mentioned, I’m teaching a course based upon it next Summer.

            Prof Mark has PowerPoint slides from the course he teaches based upon the material.

          • jimbills Says:

            Above is meant for GB – I should’ve written that.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            If you read the Clack paper, and Jacobson’s annotated reply, you will see that there is actually much agreement, and not that much disagreement of Jacobson’s thesis by Clack.

      • ecoquant Says:

        I think, @Mike Dombroski, you have a long way to go to justify that one-off insulting remark:

        M. Z. Jacobon, Fundamentals of Atmospheric Modeling, 2nd edition, 2005, Cambridge University Press.

        M. Z. Jacobson, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything, Cambridge University Press.

        Citations: 31480, since 2015: 15717
        h-index: 80
        i10-index: 175
        [Google Scholar]

        Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security
        MZ Jacobson – Energy & Environmental Science, 2009
        Cited by 1463

        Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: A scientific assessment
        TC Bond, SJ Doherty, DW Fahey, PM Forster… – Journal of geophysical research: Atmospheres, 2013
        Cited by 3558

        Strong radiative heating due to the mixing state of black carbon in atmospheric aerosols
        MZ Jacobson – Nature, 2001
        Cited by 2355

        Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials
        MZ Jacobson, MA Delucchi – Energy policy, 2011
        Cited by 1484

        • No I don’t have very far to go. Mark Jacobson is delusional to the point of self-parody:

          His support comes mostly from Hollywood celebrities (Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DeCaprio), activists (Naomi Klein, Josh Fox) and politicians (Bernie Sanders, Andrew Cuomo). I can’t find any prominent scientists who support his energy work other than activist/hack extraordinaire, Michael Mann.

          • ecoquant Says:

            I think (a) citing WUWT as a source for anything related to climate or energy is delusional in itself, and (b) you obviously read nothing Haegel, Margolis, et al wrote. WUWT would consider them delusional as well.

            We’re done, but thanks for incentivizing me to write up a bunch of stuff regarding the lawsuit! I’m teaching a course next Summer based upon Professor Jacobson’s book, and it’s good to have those notes ready in case students have questions about it.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      How do you tell them that nuclear energy has the best safety record and the smallest environmental footprint?

      How do you tell pro-nuclear advocates that the return on investment of wind, PV solar and grid storage is faster and more reliable than multi-billion, multi-year nuclear power plants?

    • leslie graham Says:

      Idiotic post. Of course we could power the world on solar and wind.
      In Europe alone the potential power from wind is 42 times the total energy use of the entire continent.
      Plenty of countries are already over 100% powered by wind.
      My own country of Scotland being one of them. Scotland now exports excess wind gernerated power to England.
      Australia could power itself via solar over 1000 times what she consumes.
      It’s frankly sickening to read garbage like yours in this day and age.
      Dont even get me started on useless dinosaur tech like nuclear. Just laughable to think that we could build the 14,000 nuclear plants required in the time we have left even if it were techinaclly feasible. Which it isn’t. Not even remotely.

      • You appear to have a poor understanding of energy statistics. In no sense does any country get 100% of its electricity from wind, including Scotland. The renewable energy in Scotland Wikipedia page is not very clear and reads like it was written by a renewable energy public relations flack. It claims that RE generation (not all wind) made up 90% of Scotland’s electricity consumption in 2019. It also claims they exported 25% RE in 2018. Seems like a rather incomplete selection of figures.

        I suspect your 14,000 nuclear plant number comes from Mark Jacobson. That’s for all energy and not just the 25% or so of electricity. If you want 100% RE, the tiny footprint of every one of those nuclear plants will have to be replaced with sprawling wind and solar farms with their extra transmission infrastructure and mining requirements.

        • ecoquant Says:

          …and mining requirements

          For solar? Wind?

          Dones, R., Heck, T., & Hirschberg, S. (2004). Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Energy Systems: Comparison And Overview (CH–0401). Gschwend, B. (Ed.). Switzerland.

          Notably see Figure 6.

          • Thanks for the link, but I don’t see how it relates to mining requirements as it has nothing to say about them other than mining for fuel. It says nothing about materials to make the various apparatii. The assorted graphs are mostly about GHG emissions and nuclear usually comes out as one of the best just behind hydro and marginally better than wind and solar.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Those are LIFE CYCLE EMISSIONS. They *include* emissions to obtain all components for the energy source, including things like steel for CCNG and parts for wind turbines.

            Where is your QUANTITATIVE reference for the harm from your so-called mining? Including harm from things like fracking, I hope.

          • That paper only talks about GHG emissions and does not elaborate on materials used in apparatii. I find it doubtful they did a full analysis of the mining required for all the materials. Here’s a graph from <iSientific American that compares material requirements (the Hunt brothers would’ve loved solar):


          • ecoquant Says:

            That figure and that citation are downright laughable. Presenting them anywhere, on Twitter or by one, shows terrible scholarship. You apparently did not even read R. Kleijn, et al in Energy 36, 2011. And the mashup posted from Scientific American doesn’t say what you think it says. On top of it, the Scientific American article isn’t even cited, only Energy and UNEP articles from which it was supposedly derived. The Scientific American chart caption contradicts Kleijn. So without that reference, for all I know, the caption was manipulated and it isn’t even genuine.

            Your drawing of conclusion directly contradicts Kleijn, et al, so I don’t have to bother with the Scientific American reference.

            First — and this is hilarious — Kleijn, et al, 2011, essentially independently verifies the conclusions and calculation by Dones, et al, done 7 years earlier. It’s a slightly different chart, and while Kleijn, et al cite a paper having Dones as a co-author, they do not attribute their work to them. Here’s the figure:

            Second, here is their actual assessment of metal needs for various power generation technologies:

            I think you need a better source of evidence than a social media platform which is the favorite of the Orange Mango.

            What did the Scientific American article mean? I don’t know, but it may have been showing the requirements for relative amounts of metal of the various types compared to what are being mined globally in 2011. But I’m speculating.

          • Your second graph looks like it squares pretty well with the Scientific American graph. I’m just trying to make the point that wind and solar require a lot more special metals than nuclear and hence more mining. They are measured in mass per energy unit and I suspect they don’t account for the low capacity factors of wind and solar which would make the shown disparities even greater.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Nope. The heights of the Aluminium and Nickel for Solar in Kleijn, et al don’t line up at all. Aluminium is by far the largest. It is also the most plentiful, since it is used for cans, etc. Copper, of course, is there because, duh, wires.

            And you question the capacity factors of solar (and wind), and I say the natural gas is a gross misrepresentation because it excludes the hundreds of miles of pipes that are needed to feed the natural gas plants.

          • Getting my magnifying glass out, I see there is a disparity in Nickel for solar between the two graphs. YOURS shows that solar needs more nickel, but the big nickel user is wind, which both agree with. Remember my point is that nuclear is more frugal with scarce metals.

            Gas pipelines are steel (and maybe plastic) which are more plentiful and economical than aluminum.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Well, the 25% greenhouse gas emissions from natgas production and distribution has to come from somewhere.

            Yes, no doubt, the life cycle metals and GHGs from nuclear are indeed low. And I had hoped that the small modular reactors would break out of the negative learning curve. But, alas, NuScale appears to be following the same patterns:

            Too expensive, too slow, too inflexible. They don’t play well with intermittent energy.

            And the big natgas pipelines I’ve seen close are steel. Depending upon the alloy used, there could be a lot of Nickel in those, too, and Copper:

          • As a kid in the 60’s, I remember crawling through sections of steel natural gas pipe laid out in a field ready to be buried and welded together. In the 70’s or 80’s I remember seeing a TV commercial about how plastic tubing was inserted into old steel natural gas pipelines. Google says gas pipe can be made with polyethylene.

          • If you’re worried about gas leakage, you ought to take a look at a pie chart of California’s electricity generation (about half gas).

            About next generation nuclear — Shellenberger has been having second thoughts about it. He spends a lot of time talking to engineers in the industry. His take is that the best way to cut costs is to build bigger plants and have the same people do it over and over again. This is the pressurized light water reactor type. It has proven to be the most long term cost effective and durable. Molten salt types have been more complicated and more expensive. Maybe someday they won’t be. Canada has had some success with a heavy water design.

            I suspect there might be an analogy with light water reactors and diesel engines. Diesel engines have a high compression ratio, so they have to be built more robust. This likely makes them more durable. I think this would be the same for the high pressure light water reactor vessel. They can last for the better part of a century.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Yeah, except in my book, being an engineer for 43 years, until a field or industry achieves the reliability of a proper learning curve:

            (1) they don’t know what they are doing in terms of reliability, because they can’t repeat it, and

            (2) estimates of budget and schedule are completely untrustworthy.

          • This looks like a pretty smooth learned curve.

          • ecoquant Says:

            That’s electricity production, not cost of projects. I’ve cited the cost of projects above. And your graph is (again) missing a reference and citation.

            In France, the cost of the nuclear projects has been socialized.

          • The graph is from Wikipedia and I don’t think anyone would dispute it. Shellenberger says France’s electricity is half as expensive as Germany’s and makes a tenth as much CO2. If you want to subsidize or socialize something to reduce CO2 — this is it.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Yeah, but like I noted, it’s presenting the wrong cost … it’s presenting cost of electricity, not the nuclear projects. They are not the same. And I indicated why they are not the same: The cost for the projects has been paid by other accounts, public taxes.

          • Whoever paid for it, they have electricity that is 10 times less carbon intensive as Germany’s. That’s an empirical, proven accomplishment. Find a wind and solar country that’s done it.

          • ecoquant Says:

            @Mike Dombroski,

            It’s a small country, but Alphabet’s revenue in 2020 will except the GDP of Qatar. Given that Alphabet is not only operating net zero, and is on track to be Carbon emissions free by 2030, but also has offset all their emissions back to 2007, that’s not too shabby.

          • It shows up in this tweet;

          • In the lower left of that graphic, it says those circles are:
            “Amount of metal needed for a specific technology to produce 1 kilowatt-hour of energy on its own”

            This does not look like it would take into account their capacity factors, which would make renewables even more metal intensive.

    • gseattle Says:

      Whether I’m delusional or not, does anyone have an instance to mention of a time in history when warming was not good and cooling not disastrous for a culture and people?

      • greenman3610 Says:

        google “Permian Extinction”

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse, 305 million ago involved cooling and drying, then warming. Both had a drastic effect on life.

        The Permian-Triassic Extinction Event 250 million years ago, also known as the great dying, in which up to 95% of all species became extinct, was at least partly caused by heating. Life on land took 30 million years to recover.

        Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, 55 million years ago, which may have been caused by the release of methane clathrates (as a feedback as it is now?)… This was associated with rapid ocean acidification [Rapid meaning 10-10,000 times slower than it’s happening now.] …massive carbon release into the atmosphere lasted from 20,000 to 50,000 years. The entire warm period lasted for about 200,000 years. Global temperatures increased by 5–8 °C

        The Anasazi abandonment, 1300 AD.

        The Mayan collapse, 8th and 9th centuries AD

        I’m sure there are others but you only asked for one. Still others were not caused by warming but some of the same conditions threatening civilization now, have been caused or triggered by conditions other than warming in the past. (Easter Island, eg.) Droughts, floods, fires, diseases, ocean acidification, crop failures, ecological, cultural and political disruptions, war and other conflict… And “warming” isn’t so simple. One effect of warming may be to stop the AMOC, causing an ice age or something like it in parts of the northern hemisphere.

        The main differences between those disasters and ours are:
        1. the incredible speed at which ours is happening, making it much harder for species including humans to adapt–move, change habits and food production, alter infrastructure…

        2. the many other forms of destruction we’re wreaking on the Earth and our own physical and psychological health. A vast amount of this is from burning fossil fuels–hundreds of physical conditions like low birth weight, and diseases of heart, lungs, and every other organ and system; dozens of psychological illnesses (aggression, lower IQ, neurological and developmental disorders, depression, dementia, and many other serious effects. These are caused by the many toxic pollutants emitted as well as by CO2 and heat.) We’re simplifying ecosystems by causing extinctions through other exploitation, making them more vulnerable to crashes. We’re adding uncountable other toxic substances, then releasing them, as with coastal waste dumps etc. that will be released by sea level rise and have unfathomable synergistic effects. The conflicts caused by the other effects–floods, droughts, crop failures… may escalate into nuclear war.

        Regardless of what happened in the past, climate change is a catastrophic event for humans and most life on Earth.

  2. doldrom Says:

    There is nothing in religious belief that stands in the way of understanding the effects of increasing concentrations of CO² for climate. No religious text actually addresses climate or CO² in a readily identifiable manner.

    There are two big hooks to engage religious people and marshal considerable energy:
    1. The creation is a gift that we should be thankful for and is a good thing to be cared for instead of to be despoiled.
    2. It is wrong to pass on depleted resources to future generations: they share in the fruits and the promise of creation.

    There are also two big obstacles at odds with climate change narratives:
    1. Climate change and burning fossil fuels are not part of the conceptual framework and not readily interpreted, as is true of cars or computers. They are not sins or vices or virtues or blessings, they do not come from God’s hand or nature, and they interrupt the notion that there is a lasting understanding of the basics of life as the community has understood it across the ages. It is not the kind of thing that fits in with traditional ways of addressing the vicissitudes of human life.
    2. God has a convenant with humankind, maintains his creation, and does not abandon humanity. Climate change is not part of traditional apocalyptical language and introduces a terrible threat beyond the scope of the basic trust and everlasting loyalty that forms the core of religious faith and that cannot be compromised without destroying the mystery of trust.

    One of the key things to understand about religious and conservative people generally is the role of loyalty. It is often not their minds holding them back, but the fear of being disloyal, because that is their highest value.

  3. ecoquant Says:

    Thank you. Great points. I’ll use them.

    I am seeking to work with the American Conservation Coalition. We clearly need a bridge to talk to each other. I’m hoping market-based good energy policy can provide common ground.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      It may provide common ground politically but that means a compromise between ecological reality and what the people who are farthest out on the lunatic fringe want. That by definition is insane.

      Ecology does not compromise. All the questions about climate communication come down to that, because it’s pointless now to try to communicate with the right wing; the only ones we can reach are those on the left who continue to delude themselves that there’s compromise to be had with either the right wing or with ecological reality. Prioritizing order over progress and the incremental change of compromise over a revolutionary determination to avoid cataclysm is irrational and moronic.

      Ecology does not compromise. Any “market-based” solution is no solution and will lead to catastrophe. Our question now is not whether the lunatics will come back to reality; they won’t, no matter what lies they continue to tell to bugger the left. The question is whether enough of the rest of us will admit the right is still lying, and find whatever it is they need to stand up to the lunatics and kick them all out of power so we can get on with the real solutions:

      A massive, radical, comprehensive Green New Deal.
      Nationalizing the fossil fuel, ICEV, agro-chemical, and banking industries to shut them down in coordination with building replacements.
      Replacing flying and LD driving with high speed rail; going with the existing alternatives to high-emission concrete, steel and other industries while improvements are developed with international Manhattan-like projects.
      And sure, pass a carbon price if you think it will help.

      First step toward all that: Learning that
      Ecology does not compromise.

      • ecoquant Says:

        Sorry, we disagree. Given the decisions and actions I have encountered from ecology-minded progressives who not only protest natural gas pipelines, but also wind turbines and utility scale solar farms, and who get the carbon cycle of forests repeatedly wrong, I have given up that approach, and embraced the ecomodernism and ecopragmatism of people like Stewart Brand.

        Also, without arguing the jobs and the market-based approach, no command style climate mitigation will happen in the United States. Trying to convince people with fear does not work.

        And it surely doesn’t convince eco-progressive opponents of solar farms. They, too, deny the facts and reality, saying things like “Oh, put it on the landfills and on roofs”. At least in Massachusetts, there aren’t enough of those or brownfields to supply zero Carbon electricity. So, instead, Massachusetts is expecting Maine and Quebec to give up their forests. Eco-progressives here are hypocrites.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Report from the renewable energy deployment front:
          Fossil fuel organized astro-turf groups have been successful in slowing some deployment of renewables, mostly wind so far, although with more solar in the pipeline they are ramping up that game as well.
          The good news is that we have been turning the corner on that opposition, due to several factors.
          Hard pressed rural communities are finding out that renewables can fill a big funding gap, and are not nearly so impactful as the fossil-funded Facebook warriors have claimed. That word is getting around.
          Developers are doing a better job of communicating and establishing relationships in communities.
          And, people are slowly getting it that this transition is inevitable due to the favorable economics, and yes, the need for a response to climate change, which is pretty obvious to everyone at this point.
          Crafty fossil folks have been occasionally successful roping greenies who should know better into some of their opposition, but that’s not a huge piece. More often it’s decent folks who get mislead by the “bird killer” arguments and the like. With solar, there are some other canards.
          By far, the opposition are a minority, the loudest voices generally being oddballs and loose cannons who enjoy the attention.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Yeah, but in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island they’ve been surprisingly successful. Even the Commonwealth’s statewide Audubon Society is up in opposition to solar farms. I’ve often wondered if they got a big contribution from an anonymous donor whose monies can be tied back to Koch. But no way to prove.

          • J4Zonian Says:


            NIMBYism isn’t about L vs. R politics; it’s about class, power, and privilege. Progressives want to get rid of those differences. The right, including your precious breakthrough boys ecomodernnits, lives for them.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Ecomodernism simply calls for a recognition that:

            (a) It is very late in the game to mitigate climate disruption. Accordingly, every approach needs to be considered, including nuclear power, but emphasizing the primary wind+solar+water+storage because it’s much cheaper to roll out.

            (b) Ideological “red lines” and “no-go zones” have no place, because this is a planetary emergency.

            (c) Political mechanisms have been hob-knobbing and discussing this for more than 25 years and have gotten nowhere. Keeling curve plots show barely no inflection points in CO2 emissions, no matter who has been in political power, whether or not a Paris Agreement was concluded, whether or not a Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, and no matter the rollout of current amounts of wind and solar. Based upon those results, political mechanisms do not work.

            (d) Proponents of such mechanisms have increasingly pursued pipe dream kinds of solutions, such as massively re-planting forests and restoring ecosystems, ones which, according to ecological science literature, have highly questionable returns and might, due to albedo changes and careless use of fertilizer, might actually make things worse. Others are looking to direct drawdown of CO2 from atmosphere skipping over the clear problems that these will be completely ineffective unless emissions are zeroed first. They are also horrifically expensive and need to improve their costs per tonne CO2 a thousandfold before they can be even looked at, let alone considered for global scale-up.

            (e) The only large scale organizational means and repositories of engineering and other expertise for rolling these out rapidly at a global scale are multinational corporations, with their bank backers. Accordingly, demonizing all corporations and sources of capital is hugely counterproductive. We need to use what we have, and not saddle something we need for curtailing a looming source of incredible human suffering by trying to achieve some kind of quite irrelevant social and multigenerational justice goals at the same time. Those are worthwhile but lashing them to this project just means the project is far more likely to fail.

            I call people who believe that social justice and environmental justice necessarily need to be solved at the same time as mitigation of climate disruption “liberal climate deniers” because they claim they get that climate disruption is serious, but do not think it is serious enough to have to prioritize, triage, and make trade-offs. Hence, they are no better than “luckwarmers”, probably worse.

          • jimbills Says:

            ecoquant – “political mechanisms do not work” – point (c)

            Your argument is essentially – politics have gotten us nowhere until now, so they never will. It’s a logical fallacy. I could also say that the corporations and big banks have gotten us nowhere until now, so they never will.

            Governmental policy is the primary means to achieve large scale changes (see Norway and EVs, Germany and solar, Scotland and wind, and on and on). Banks and corporations, by nature, follow trends in the market, and policy affects those trends. They are HIGHLY unlikely to change themselves without it. The energy market is trending towards renewables, but we face decades of continued FF emissions even with that. The market itself won’t be enough.

            On justice issues, unfortunately everything is interrelated. Trump got a lot of support from those skeptical of both the Dems and Repubs supporting big banks and corporations over the common people. Without real changes about income disparity, we face more of that, and probably even worse than we have now over time. That would make good policy towards climate change even more difficult to achieve in the future.

            If all of our eggs are in the ‘market solutions’ basket, though, I personally don’t have a lot of hope.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Did say they never would. I said we are running out of time to complete the experiment, hence, gears need to be shifted.

            And I disagree with

            Banks and corporations, by nature, follow trends in the market, and policy affects those trends. They are HIGHLY unlikely to change themselves without it.






            Carney and Bloomberg have been working on this for several years. The combined capitalization of those signed up for the TCFD is now US$12 trillion.

          • ecoquant Says:

            “Did” –> “didn’t” in the above. Hard to get it all right from a smartphone. No short time editing on WP.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Yes, anti-ecoquant,

            as I said, ecomodernits like Bjorn McBorgerson, Schellenberger, and the US breakthrough boys are lying right wing psychopathic fanatics, and will say anything to further right wing economics, and apparently nuclear power. The all-of-the-above crap has always been an excuse to use energy sources they didn’t want to admit to supporting exclusively—fossil fuels for decades, now nukes. If they could get a sufficient supply of babies, they’d burn them for electricity, but I guess they’ll have to settle for radioactive rock.

            Wisdom merely says that nukes will slow us down. They’re too expensive, too slow, too dangerous, and destroy democracy and equality… Old kinds are too expensive, new kinds are a lot more expensive. As I’ve said, if you want to argue for types of nukes that don’t exist, feel free. As long as they can be designed, tested, built, redesigned, retested, rebuilt and pay off the carbon costs of their construction in the next 10 years or less. (Up front emissions matter far more than emissions 9 years from now so really, if they can’t be built in the next 3 years, they’re less than useless.

            About 100 reactors provide about 20% of US electricity. To electrify everything as we need to and provide all our energy with nukes, we’d need 5 times as many that size plus about 10 times as many more, so 1500. Many more if they’re smaller, fewer because it won’t be 100% nuke. Educated guess: 500-700 big ones or a thousand or more smaller ones.

            Well, since we can’t even build one without taking 20 years and 5 times the original cost, a thousand in 10 years is quite insane. Clearly, everyone who pushes for this either can’t do math, or wants civilization and millions of species (most life on Earth) to end, or both.

            Which is it for you?

            I hope you enjoy having one (or 4) on your street, cause with a thousand new ones they are going to be EVERYWHERE!

            It IS late in the battle. Why? Because the psychopaths, among whom are those who now call themselves ecomodernits, have lied about climate (and still are) and nukes, (and still are) and efficiency, (and still are) and clean safe renewable energy (and still are) and delayed what actual ecologists would have done 50 fucking years ago. Politics have not accomplished nothing, they’ve almost completely accomplished the right wing agenda of taking over the US sand establishing a fascist government, because the lunatic right wing of which you and the ecomodernits are a part, has delayed rational action, fought every good social, economic and environmental action that scientists and progressive activists have tried to enact.

            Safe levels of hundreds of poisons were established, for example, and then ignored in the politics of compromise with lunatics, so people have continued to be exposed to dangerous amounts of hundreds of poisons at the same time, with sometimes horrific effects and sometimes just ever-incrementally worse degradation-of-the-world effects, like the ongoing mass extinction.

            What kind of sick mind does it take exactly, to lie, cheat, manipulate, gaslight, bribe, bully, and kill to prevent needed action for decades, and then suggest that what we need is more of the same? What they wanted all along! I’d call that malignant narcissism, severe attachment problems, with development trauma- and shock-trauma induced addiction. Wetiko disease.

            Political mechanisms are all we have; to say they’re not working–besides all the other things it is–is to advocate (surreptitiously, as always) for a faster advance toward fascism. Politics is how we decide who does what, who gets what, and always, in the horrific system we have now, who gets stuck with the effects of the indulgences of the rich. To say “politics doesn’t work” is perfectly believable to the diseducated masses because the rich and the right are already in charge, making politics work for them. They’ve utterly corrupted the world in their drive to feed their emptiness with the lives of every being on Earth. The only thing to do with all your warped and twisted ecomodernits is to strip them of power, money, and the right to make any decisions, because they can’t be trusted with butter knives, let alone air forces and jackal packs of reactors. Get into psychotherapy.

            Prescribing the problem is exactly what we’d expect from those sick bastards. It’s what they’ve always done. They’ve single-mindedly pursued domination and destruction and NOTHING has changed. Fear and hatred and addiction rule their lives and minds and bodies and if you support them we have to say the same about you. Get into psychotherapy.

            It’s perfectly obvious the solution–the only solution–to the climate and larger eco-psychological crisis is a massive emergency Green New Deal, recognizing the root problem is the warped psychology of the rich and the right, and an immediate build out of efficiency, infrastructure for wiser lives, clean safe renewable energy. small-scale low-meat organic permaculture, reforesting the planet and transforming industry. The insane ones have left us very little time to fix what they’ve broken. Stand the hell aside and let smarter, wiser, more mature, more psychologically healthy people do it.

          • ecoquant Says:

            I have written about the pathetically large cost of nuclear power. However, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to shut existing ones down while zero Carbon energy is building. All that does is invite more natural gas.

            But this is an excellent example of why The Street is a terrible place to decide policy: The knee-jerk reaction against nuclear power is actually causing more harm to climate than it otherwise would. Hence, ecomodernism.

          • I would like to note that Michigan is now experiencing some blackouts around Detroit and the thumb. This is my major concern about wind power.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          You’re confused. Or something. Ecomodernist is a term right wing economic and nook boosters use to do exactly that–lie to people and confuse them about who they are. They are anti-environmentalists. And people opposing solar and wind power are overwhelmingly right wing. (Including the fake protestors, who have sometimes been hired by the right wing and fossil fuel corporations et al.) Of course, with the lunatic right wing spending tens of billions or more buying politicians, governments, media, misleading and confusing the public, lying about clean safe renewable energy, etc. there may be a few people otherwise progressive who have bought into the reich wing nonsense on that, though in decades of activism and 15 years of intense climate activism and study, I’ve never met one. Not a single one.

          If “Massachusetts” is doing something, you can be absolutely certain it’s not being done by progressives, eco-progressives, or anything remotely like that, since there is not a single state in the US run by progressives. I suspect you’re confusing semi-liberals or neoliberals or some other more conservative variety of politician with progressives. Or you’re lying. Can’t tell right now which.

          “no command style climate mitigation will happen in the United States. Trying to convince people with fear does not work.”

          If the first part is true there is no hope for civilization or the biosphere, since a massive immediate comprehensive government-run emergency Green New Deal is the only solution to climate catastrophe. A strong Green New Deal and the revolution it will take to get the power to implement it are also the only ways to wrest control of the US and the world from the fascism-bound oligarchy and large corporations the right wing is abetting. It’s the only way to provide more equality and more and better jobs. No “market-based “solutions”” will ever get fast enough results, if they get any results at all, since capitalism, while not the ultimate cause of the ecological crisis, is the proximal cause, and the main tool the Wetiko disease uses to dominate and destroy. Equating FDR-like solutions with doing something by fear is despicable and disgusting. Especially given the fear-based racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, fear and hatred of liberals, intellectuals, kittens, puppies, flowers, and apples being used by the far right, you should retract it and apologize to the readers for trying to deceive them. Especially for doing it so badly.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          80% of the people in the US want more wind power; 90% want more solar. 80% want more government help to build them. Given the numbers on the far right that oppose them, the only way the math comes out is if the numbers on the left are damned near 100% in favor.

          • jimbills Says:

            “near 100% in favor”

            I was curious about that. It’s 97% for solar, 93% for wind (in 2016, anyway):

            Actually, many Republicans also favor renewables. They just also favor not influencing the market with governmental policy. Add to that the FF and Wall Street money pouring into political campaigns, the rampant pro-FF propaganda, and hardcore areas that will never elect Democrats (like Inhofe in OK), and there’s just enough resistance to policy changes.

            Interestingly, after years of arguing for libertarian market forces and technology to affect positive environmental outcomes, Stewart Brand has changed tact a bit:

            ‘Brand now describes himself as “post-libertarian,”….“We didn’t know what government did. The whole government apparatus is quite wonderful, and quite crucial. [It] makes me frantic, that it’s being taken away.”’

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Well, yes, if the country is 80-97% in favor, a lot of Republicans must also be in favor. That was inevitable as the building of clean safe renewable energy created a constituency almost everywhere and it’s been both far longer happening than any of us wanted, and faster than most people expected. Even the rural South, Midwest and West are changing and will be overwhelmingly pro-RE soon.

            Unfortunately, what the public wants matters not at all, in either party or to either party. The rich and corporations decide what happens in the US, and both corporate duopoly parties are their tools.

            They’ve blocked every avenue of change and it’s come down to a last-chance emergency response and a revolution to get it, or civilization won’t survive.

          • ecoquant Says:

            The public say they want it, as long as it’s not close to them. Oh, and it doesn’t cut down local trees. Oh, any it doesn’t increase their electricity prices. Oh, and as long as they don’t have to give up their natural gas heat. Oh, and as long as they can continue to grill like they did. Oh, and as long as they don’t need to give up their SUVs. Oh, and as long as they can buy gasoline as they did. Oh, and as long as their can continue — after pandemic — to take flights to faraway places on a whim.

            Yeah, the public supports.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          “Neoliberalism has been neatly described by William Davies, a professor at Goldsmiths College, as “the disenchantment of politics by economics”. It sees politics as an ineffective or illegitimate means of social improvement. Decision-making should be transferred to “the market”, a euphemism for the power of money. Through buying and selling, we establish a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Any attempt to interfere in the discovery of this natural order – such as taxing the rich, redistributing wealth and regulating business – will inhibit social progress.
          Neoliberalism disenchants politics by sucking the power out of people’s votes. When governments abandon their ambition to change social outcomes or deliver social justice, politics become irrelevant to people’s lives. It is perceived as the chatter of a remote elite. Disenchantment becomes disempowerment.”


  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    We don’t have any climate deniers in my family. We are all too intelligent. Let’s face it – climate denial is a de facto indicator of sub par IQ. By definition, 1/2 of the population is below average in IQ. Climate denial is a litmus test. You have to be pretty dumb not to understand the basics.

    Yeah – I’m serious about this. I seriously doubt that there are truly intelligent people who are climate deniers. They may have advanced social skills that allow them to argue well or seem intelligent, or they can do certain tasks well, but essentially, they lack basic reasoning skills.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      William Happer
      Richard Lindzen
      John Christie
      Roy Spencer

      not dumb people, but crippled by blind ideology –
      Christie and Spencer are religious nut jobs.

      • ecoquant Says:

        I don’t think Prof Lindzen belongs in that list. I surely don’t agree with a lot he says and writes, and he has thrown some of his colleagues under the bus, but, still, he has contributed a lot, knows a lot, and is shown much deferential respect by people like Kerry Emanuel, John Marshall, Kevin Trenberth.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Lindzen has been associated with the Cato Inst., Heartland, The Heritage Foundation, the “Academic Advisory Council” of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and the CO2 Coalition, a group that tells lies pretending there are net benefits of increased atmospheric CO2, and a number of other climate-denying delayalist organizations. He’s received at least several hundred thousand dollars that we know of, from climate-denying organizations. The fact that he has impressive credentials yet denies climate science for money makes him a psychopath. And disgusting. He should either be in prison or a mental hospital. (I’d settle for confiscation, and participation in a truth and reconciliation process.)

          “Writing at Merion West, Lindzen argued that believing climate change is largely caused by increases in carbon dioxide is “pretty close to believing in magic.””

          “Lindzen has described ExxonMobil as “the only principled oil and gas company I know in the U.S.”” LOL

          He’s implied in print (WSJ) that climate science is like Lysenkoism, when actually, rejecting it is.

          He’s repeatedly used common climate-science denying delayalism lies–denigrating computer models (He has a degree in physics, and a masters and PhD in math so either ), citing the Faux Pause, and Craig Idso (which alone makes him worthy of laughter and scorn) has lied defending fossil fuels and attacking environmental activists.

          His statement on the scientific consensus on the facts of climate catastrophe (at his Desmogblog page) amount to the equivalent of:
          “Gravity’s all propaganda. So a lot of people think there is some. Things mostly fall down. If they’re heavy, maybe faster. But it doesn’t mean you can always count on things going down instead of up.”

          • ecoquant Says:

            As I’ve noted elsewhere in the present discussion, I basically agree. Except that I am willing to nod to the judgments of climate scientists like Emanuel, Marshall, and Pierrehumbert who clearly know a good deal more than me, and yet give Lindzen some kind of deference.

            Nevertheless, except for Ray Pierrehumbert, I have reasons, as I also noted, to question the judgments of Emanuel and Marshall with respect to methods, notably applicability of machine learning an AI to climate science, atmospheric science, meteorology, and oceanography. To some degree, I also question Trenberth on the same points.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        ” crippled by blind ideology” is another way of saying they are irrational, which is another way of saying they are stupid.

        There is no smart way to deny the laws of physics and chemistry => for decades.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Saying they are humans is another way of saying they are irrational.

          In my experience, people who are vain about their rationality are easy pickin’s for con artists—they just use a different version of affinity scam.

    • jimbills Says:

      There are plenty of high IQ people that don’t believe in climate change. They are perhaps easier to find in the South than in Vermont, and maybe you don’t interact with them as often as I do. Although there is probably a high correlation between low levels of education and climate change denial on a national level, IQ itself only measures certain aspects of intelligence, and many deniers use their intelligence to defend and rationalize beliefs they hold more precious (such as religious views, discussed by doldrom above, and economic desires).

      On IQ itself, this goes into it:

      “But the tests fall down when it comes to measuring those abilities crucial to making good judgements in real-life situations. That’s because they are unable to assess things such as a person’s ability to critically weigh up information, or whether an individual can override the intuitive cognitive biases that can lead us astray.”

      Those cognitive biases are the key. They are built by the tribal principles (cultural, political, and religious beliefs that form identities) that certain people, especially those conservative by nature, seek to defend. These people might indeed be highly intelligent, but they use their intelligence to protect those tribal principles.

      Overriding those cognitive biases is exceedingly difficult for anyone, including the highly intelligent, because it both threatens that individual’s place within their own tribal group and their own ego (changing one’s mind requires accepting one had been wrong in the past). Often, they have to be willing to give up their own social standing within their peer group and take a hit in pride in order to ever accept outside and contradictory perspectives, and even then they need high functioning critical thinking skills (which IQ doesn’t measure) to get there.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        But you do not need high-functioning critical thinking skills to understand why AGW must be true. All one needs to know is that the burning of hydrocarbons produces CO2, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas with a very long half-life. QED.

        To determinedly make this escape you for decades is NOT the benchmark of smart. It is the benchmark of stupid, high-functioning or not.

        • jimbills Says:

          People ‘find’ the evidence they want to find, and use that in their reasoning, and then use confirmation bias to reinforce their beliefs over time.

          It happens everywhere, all the time. I see it here often.

          On climate change, we have large subsets of people who don’t want to believe it based on cultural, religious, and economic reasons. Not ALL of them are stupid, although many probably are. They are just blinded by their biases, and that is really, really difficult to overcome for the reasons I stated above.

          The intelligent ones in those subsets that also have a desire for attention, and likely approval from others in their group, will use the intelligence they have to pick and choose what evidence they like (and that’s why we have widespread denial websites and other media). It’s a matter of judgment more than raw intelligence – that’s where critical thinking plays a part.

          We’ll just talk in circles about this tangent. I’m trying to get you not to stereotype so broadly, as it might help you understand why people are they way they are with CC denial, rather than just – they are stupid.

          But I can’t force you to accept that, as you can’t force me to accept your position.

          • ecoquant Says:

            It’s interesting, too, what happens on a larger scale. Take Massachusetts. Its residents supported the passing of its Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) years ago, even after the Cape Wind nearshore wind turbines farm foundered, due to local opposition. A Democratic Governor Deval Patrick considered the GWSA aspirational. The Conservation Law Foundation sued, and years later, during Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s administration, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said the GWSA was binding, not merely aspirational. This legislation requires the Commonwealth to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from essentially all sectors (not notably consumption) to 80% below what they were in 1990. This includes electricity generation, heating, transport. It was seen to be a big lift. And it was pursued on a backdrop of coal, oil, and nuclear being phased out, not because of environmental concerns, but because they could not compete with natural gas. Gas, for example, now provides 64% of the electricity of the Commonwealth.

            Electricity generation has progressed. Heating and transport are next. Of course the plan is to electrify everything. Tenders for far offshore wind were let, solar PV was incentivized, land turbines were incentivized, EV ownership was incentivized, and plans were made to bring much electrical energy down from Quebec Hydro and from New York State. Most recently the Massachusetts DPU has asked natural gas companies serving the state to propose and plan how they might transition away from, well, natural gas in order to comply with GWSA.


            Except that, primarily for aesthetic reasons, land turbines are fought nearly anywhere they are proposed. Some already constructed are being torn down. Offshore wind was approved, with Vineyard residents, fishermen, and environmentalists mollified. Transmission lines from Quebec Hydro have been blocked, re-proposed and relocated from New Hampshire to Maine. There remain objections there. Solar PV has been put on 80,000 homes and provides an important means of managing the grid to ISO-NE by their own assertions, and they have learned how to forecast behind-the-meter generation. However, town after town has passed restrictive by-laws limiting the extent and kind of rooftop solar homes and businesses can have. Utility scale solar PV has burgeoned, but recently has hit roadblocks in Boston suburbs and even in western Massachusetts, where residents of towns object to farmers turning open fields into economically steadying sources of revenue.

            As Dr Nick Bennett, staff scientist at Natural Resource Council of Maine recently observed, “… [T]he problem here is that Massachusetts has been real slackers in terms of building [zero Carbon energy] in their own state. They need to …stop exporting responsibility for generating their own clean energy to other people.” (Paraphrased.)

            And the U.S. BOEM has, for the third time, interrupted the federal licensing of the offshore wind energy farms, obviously not the fault of Massachusetts. Residents of Quebec are objecting to plans by Quebec Hydro to build two big new dams, and residents of Maine have filed a lawsuit to stop transmission lines.

            As the current pace, many fear that should GWSA fall short of targets leading to 2050, it will be repealed.

            The Massachusetts experience thus far is that people collectively say they care about mitigating climate change, but not at the cost of changing anything, even views. And this is despite, for instance, utility solar PV developers choosing sites carefully so they cannot be seen out people’s windows.

            That’s not crippling by blind ideology, and it’s not stupidity. It’s something else. It doesn’t bother me, as eventually the zero Carbon energy sources will win out, albeit destructively, in the Schumpeterian sense. But it’s a concern.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            I will concede that, just as there are many definitions, nuances, and interpretations of IQ, perhaps these are equally many interpretations, definitions, and nuances of stupidity.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        Intelligent people are much better at dealing with the mental contortions required to defend their religious or other wackadoodle* beliefs.
        *Apologies for technical terminology.

        • jimbills Says:

          Or, the less intelligent just don’t need the mental gymnastics – they just accept what they are told. They more intelligent, though, at least sense the discrepancies and then contort like circus performers to make the discrepancies fit.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      If you’re not just trolling with insults, that’s not only dangerous misunderestimating and hi-fi stereotyping it’s disproving your own thesis. What you’re saying is wrong–completely wrong. AND, there’s voluminous evidence to show it’s wrong. Your denial of that evidence is behavior exactly like denial of climate, evolution, COVID-19, and other scientific evidence. It is by your own thesis proof that you’re not intelligent.

      In fact, research has shown that the more intelligent and educated someone is the more inner resources they have to “defeat” arguments for reality, even though they’re defeated only in their own mind.

      Lewandowsky’s “backfire effect” and motivated reasoning both “work better” when people are smart enough to organize their resources to perform mental gymnastics around the obstacles of fact, truth, and reality.

      We’ve also seen higher income means caring less about things ecological. Higher income is generally (but obviously not always) associated with intelligence.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        What is the bottom-line acceptance of AGW among scientists again? Oh, yeah – it’s 100%.

        So much for your proposition that AGW denial is a a proxy for intelligence.


  5. ecoquant Says:


    So, if Jacobson “…should be rightfully chastised for this”, even if it was a poor choice, because “A lawsuit is no way to settle a matter of science”, why is it, that when the stakes are so high, and there is so much unanimity on the matter of climate in the field, does Lindzen get a pass? Especially when he said:

    They should probably cut the funding by 80 to 90 percent until the field cleans up… Climate science has been set back two generations, and they have destroyed its intellectual foundations.

    Because he showed ‘proper form’? And still has the respect of Emanuel and Marshall?

    I’ll tell you something about Emanuel and Marshall. At the Charney and Lorenz Symposium at MIT, which I attended, one of Emanuel or Marshall (and possibly both) got up and pontificated saying that they did not thing machine learning and artificial intelligence would be of the slightest use in geophysics.

    Of course, they have been proved completely wrong. More:


    So much for pontification and, pshaw, so-called form.

    I’ll take results.

  6. ecoquant Says:

    (Outdenting to make things legible.)

    @Mike Dombroski,

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