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Rippounet

What should be done... about climate change

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Climate change is a global problem with enforceable decisions only being able to be made at the national level (and even sometimes only at the sub-national level). That's the problem, and the solution. Enforceable global decisions for global problems. Without that there's not much to be done.

Every country should be required to come up with an emissions reduction plan within a specified time-frame, and if they don't then one will be imposed on them, and it will be enforced. The requirement can be as simple as to achieve per-capita emissions of X tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by Y date. How each country gets to X by Y is up to them, but they must have a plan and a monitoring body must be able to track compliance with the plan and implement enforcement actions when needed. And plans can't be based on wishes and promises of future technologies (like fusion).

But with the current global order this is impossible. So the current global order will need to collapse or be fundamentally reformed. My guess is we're heading for collapse, because not enough people are going to be willing to undertake the necessary reform.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Climate change is a global problem with enforceable decisions only being able to be made at the national level (and even sometimes only at the sub-national level). That's the problem, and the solution. Enforceable global decisions for global problems. Without that there's not much to be done.

Every country should be required to come up with an emissions reduction plan within a specified time-frame, and if they don't then one will be imposed on them, and it will be enforced. The requirement can be as simple as to achieve per-capita emissions of X tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by Y date. How each country gets to X by Y is up to them, but they must have a plan and a monitoring body must be able to track compliance with the plan and implement enforcement actions when needed. And plans can't be based on wishes and promises of future technologies (like fusion).

But with the current global order this is impossible. So the current global order will need to collapse or be fundamentally reformed. My guess is we're heading for collapse, because not enough people are going to be willing to undertake the necessary reform.

I don’t agree with the per capita part. The world is not one big democracy. Each nation is at a different level of development, industrialization and technological progress. And, yes, power and influence.

Why not go with emissions per square km of territory owned, instead? If you have more territory, you have more trees, presumably to counter your emissions.

Maybe countries should adjust their population growth to the territory they have to support it.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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I think there are three givens:-

1. The world population will peak at about 11 billion, give or take

2. Everyone wants a post-industrial revolution standard of living, not a pre-industrial one.

3. Countries want to maintain their independence (Western Europe may be an exception).

So, any solutions to climate change have to work within those parameters.

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6 hours ago, Rippounet said:

On some level I wish it were possible to leave the social justice side of things for another day, but I just don't see how to disentangle it from the environmental crisis.

Yes, we don't agree on this. While I respect where you're coming from I think you're making an extremely complex issue to solve even harder by compounding it with another, different, extremely complex issue.

7 hours ago, Rippounet said:

First because the dominant socio-economic structure was what brought us into this mess in the first place so it's only logical to call it into question, if only to ensure we don't keep making the same mistakes.

I think that's excessively simplistic. A factory will contaminate just as much regardless of who owns the means of production. What brought us into this mess is a complex combination of hubris, ignorance, carelessness, selfishness, arrogance, etc. As I pointed out, 'The Handmaid's Tale' paints a society with a good deal of inequality and injustice, but very environmentally conscious and where nature is recovering from the ravages of the past.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Then there's the moral angle: it may even be immoral not to call it into question. This is a problem not just in itself, but also because it becomes harder to convince anyone not benefiting from the current system to make any kind of sacrifice for the environment.

I'm not saying it's easy to convince people to make sacrifices for the environment... but this will be needed. The wealthy and powerful must be made to foot their part of the bill, and it will obviously be a larger part than those less well off, but if you intend to make them the scapegoats of the climate emergency then you will face their full opposition on any policy you attempt to implement, and the wealthy and powerful can currently flex quite a bit of muscle. Finally, though the wealthy and powerful may have benefited disproportionately from the system, Western lifestyle has benefited everyone who enjoys things like the Internet, mobile phones, hospitals, running water, eating out or the Avengers movies. That's a lot of people.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

And finally, is it even possible anyway? As I said I don't trust the market. IIRC "cap'n'trade" policies weren't that much of a success were they? Generally speaking, "eco-taxes" of various sorts have mixed results, right? And aside from electric cars, what kind of "cool" high-tech solution will be sold to the masses to solve the problem exactly?

I'm not a market apologist. Eco-taxes have had varying measures of success for lots of different reasons. Some were poorly designed, some were purposefully designed with loopholes, etc. Give me a reason why they shouldn't work if properly designed and you'll have my ear. As to what "cool" high tech solution we will sell to the masses, I'm not a high tech guy, but when it comes to, say, transportation, anything from shoes to bicycles to public transport to more efficient cars to electric and hybrid ones... If a better technological solution can't be found and an activity will necessarily cause a lot of environmental harm then we will have to consider banning it, taxing it out of the market (yes, some super rich may still be able to afford it, but there aren't many of those, and we can publicly shame them a la fur coats) or imposing so many regulations and red tape on its production that producers quit out of exhaustion.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I think it's useless to sell electric cars if you don't make "clean" electricity in the first place... Useless to recycle your waste if you still buy products that are made in China... etc. The whole consumer-based approach to the problem is, imho, just a clever marketing ploy to prevent everyone from actually solving the problem... Because solving the problem requires taking away the sources of wealth and power of the people currently profiting from the current socio-economic organization.

Why does producing clean electricity, recycling and using sustainable packaging, buying local, etc, somehow require taking away the sources of wealth and power from the people currently profiting from the current socio-economic organization?

I think it doesn't.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

It's why I was talking of universalism... I was thinking of universalist ideals, as in, being aware that this is a problem that requires international cooperation, despite the fact that most problems will have to be dealt with at the national level.

I completely agree with this.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

There's a couple of French sociologists (Pinçon-Charlot) who spent a few decades studying France's super-rich. Their most important conclusion: the super-rich's best advantage is that they have class consciousness. They are constantly doing everything in their power to protect their interests, unlike... everyone else.
Mentioning them is a bit pedantic of me though, because this is bloody obvious. The world is burning and neo-libeal leaders like Trump and Macron are focused on cutting taxes and destroying "big government." And we're being told that this is what matters... ?
Dude, the rich are conniving, manipulative villains. If you have any doubts, now is the time to get rid of them.

I'm not a neo-liberal, I'm pretty left-wing. I'm not a fan of either Trump or Macron and I don't support cutting taxes (specially taxes directed at the wealthy), but I remain unconvinced. The super-rich have many advantages, and it must be relatively easy for them to have a class consciousness as they're a pretty homogeneous group (unlike the working class, which is increasingly heterogeneous). That said, looking to protect your own interests seems pretty normal. I do it all the time, and I find it hard to believe anyone whom fortune had placed in their (privileged) situation would do differently. The working class would do well to take a page from their book. Ascribing moral qualities to having money is as much a logical fallacy as ascribing moral failings.

10 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I'm glad Kalbear is the one who brought up religion, I would have merely talked of ideology, but there is no doubt that we're ending up talking about individual sacrifices in order to prevent the end of the world... And we need to build a fairer system (at least a bit fairer), think about our planet/home/vessel and the eco-system... Nations need to collaborate, set aside their differences... etc.
It's almost as if the parameters of our simulation forced us to grow as a species. And I don't know if we'll make it, but for a while now I've been thinking that if we don't, well... that'll be fair.
And weirdly enough, it seems that's the one thing people generally agree on...

I think more than dogma, what we need is simply awareness, but otherwise I agree with most of this.

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8 hours ago, Altherion said:

Almost every movement makes a long list of demands most of which are of only trifling importance. The interesting part is not what they demand, but what they accomplish before fading

That's funny I very nearly wrote the very opposite: that pretty much all social movements start with something trifling, but what matters is what that little something symbolizes within the historical context, the vision of society that the movement thus defends and how much support that vision gets in the society at large.
If you focus on the obvious accomplishments alone you will end up completely misreading history...
Oh, wait... :P

8 hours ago, Altherion said:

And yes, I know they're still around, but do you really think they'll accomplish anything more than they already have?

They already are accomplishing more than you believe. They forced the government to tread more carefully than it wanted, and they spawned several popular intellectuals (or thinkers) like Branco or Boulo who are theorizing opposition to it.
I'm not sure how important this will prove. In my view this was the first French social movement that was explicitly against neo-liberalism as a whole (you had political movements before of course but nothing as spontaneous as the Yellow Vests).
It could take some time for this to have any consequence, if any. The social movement could simply end up fueling political movements, thus translating in slight variations in electoral results... Or there could be other spontaneous and relatively apolitical social movements in the future (my bet at the moment)... Or a slight re-alignement of political parties could be attributed to them.
It's a bit early - to say the least. But to reduce this movement to its few achievements would not do it justice.

Oh, also, remember: it's not a minimum wage increase. If you want to simplify things it would be more accurate to call it a tax cut, since it's close to the US Earned Income Tax Credit.

8 hours ago, Altherion said:

I think you exaggerate.

Possibly, not certainly. There are at least two scenarios that end humanity:
- Global warming triggers a chain reaction that cannot be stopped.
- Global warming happens so fast that we don't develop large-scale technological solutions to counter it and only small communities survive it. These small communities, in turn, slowly die out with time until nothing is left of of us but ruins for alien xeno-archeologists to explore.
If this sounds familiar, it's the script of an episode of the Twilight Zone by George R.R. Martin. :P

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58 minutes ago, Mentat said:

Why does producing clean electricity, recycling and using sustainable packaging, buying local, etc, somehow require taking away the sources of wealth and power from the people currently profiting from the current socio-economic organization?

I think it doesn't.

It didn't.

Again, this is my main problem with your entire line of argumentation: it assumes we have time, when we really don't. The reality is that we have 8 years to prevent +1,5°C. Since nothing significant is being implemented right now, can we launch initiatives that will start bearing fruit ten years from now to prevent +3°C?

According to this thread, so far we are counting on a visionary entrepreneur working on cars (Musk) and an activist schoolchild (Thunberg). So perhaps we could shift the burden of proof a little? What makes you think that the current socio-economic structure can deal with the problem exactly? What major global initiatives are supposed to give solid results in the next decade? What countries are massively subsidizing efforts to perform the ecological transition?
Because no offense but thoughts and opinions are cheap. My main argument is, after all, that we're pretty much doing nothing at the moment, and that in some respects we're even making things worse. Trump, Macron, Bolsonaro... are real. So I respect optimism as a rule, but within the context of this discussion could you perhaps start justifying this optimism?

58 minutes ago, Mentat said:

I think that's excessively simplistic. A factory will contaminate just as much regardless of who owns the means of production.

Absolutely not. First because a global corporation will outsource that factory to China or any developing country where labor is cheapest, so you're polluting extra to bring the products to the place where they are bought and consumed. That's the huge problem of our current global commercial system. Next, national regulations vary so obviously factories will pollute more in some places than others. And finally, depending on who owns the means of production the quest for profit might affect the production itself: planned obsolescence is a reality and an environmental disaster.
And then, of course, on top of all that, one can question whether the product in question corresponds to a human need or to a mere desire created by marketing in the first place... Or even whether the product was made using natural resources that should be spared, or whether the resources couldn't be put to better used... etc, etc, etc.

58 minutes ago, Mentat said:

I'm not saying it's easy to convince people to make sacrifices for the environment... but this will be needed. The wealthy and powerful must be made to foot their part of the bill, and it will obviously be a larger part than those less well off, but if you intend to make them the scapegoats of the climate emergency then you will face their full opposition on any policy you attempt to implement, and the wealthy and powerful can currently flex quite a bit of muscle. Finally, though the wealthy and powerful may have benefited disproportionately from the system, Western lifestyle has benefited everyone who enjoys things like the Internet, mobile phones, hospitals, running water, eating out or the Avengers movies. That's a lot of people.

I'm saying the wealthy and powerful are already flexing quite a bit of muscle to prevent us from solving this problem. As a matter of fact, I doubt they can do much worse than they already are. Re-read your own argumentation and ask yourself where it's coming from!

And yes, just as there are inequalities within developed countries that lead to moral complications, the inequalities between countries are an even bigger problem, this is part of the point I'm trying to make. The world can't afford the 1,3 billion humans living in India to adopt a Western lifestyle, so if we want to convince India to do as much as possible to fight global warming the West must lead.
From a certain perspective... Bolsonaro in Brazil is a PoS and his decision to wreck the rainforest is more than depicable, but on some level such a decision becomes more understandable if you take into account the fact that developed countries aren't doing anything significant to fight global warming...

58 minutes ago, Mentat said:

Eco-taxes have had varying measures of success for lots of different reasons. Some were poorly designed, some were purposefully designed with loopholes, etc. Give me a reason why they shouldn't work if properly designed and you'll have my ear.

Again, this is an insidious attempt to shift the burden of proof. Eco-taxes have been tried and failed, therefore I don't have to prove that they cannot work, you're the one who has to prove that they can work.

58 minutes ago, Mentat said:

If a better technological solution can't be found and an activity will necessarily cause a lot of environmental harm then we will have to consider banning it, taxing it out of the market (yes, some super rich may still be able to afford it, but there aren't many of those, and we can publicly shame them a la fur coats) or imposing so many regulations and red tape on its production that producers quit out of exhaustion.

My entire point is that we're already at the point where we have to ban things outright. What we need is political parties with a popular mandate to vote laws that will immediately shut down all the activities that cause global warming. If said activities are linked to essential human needs alternatives need to be developed yesterday with massive subsidies. Speed is of the essence.
There's zero reason to keep delaying at this point. The discussion right now should be about how to reconfigure the socio-economic structure within a decade. The fact that so many people talk of "the market," "eco-taxes," or whatever is now part of the problem.

And to be clear... Thunberg was a nice, harmless face for eco-radicalism. I just don't see how the next face can be as harmless. Radicalism is not something I want to advocate at this point because there's still a chance to use the current political institutions to reform the socio-economic structure. But that window is closing fast and the political debate does not make me hopeful. So I think it's safe to predict that the next Thunberg is not going to be a cute schoolgirl with only her voice as a weapon.

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Grazing in the world accounts for 9% of all beef production

am not understanding the carnivorous resistance.  it's something like 35 times the amount of grain to produce the same caloric intake for a person eating cow parts as against eating those same grains--that's horrendous waste of grains, water, territory that warrants abolition in itself.  the carbon footprint is a supplemental argument.  

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7 minutes ago, sologdin said:

Grazing in the world accounts for 9% of all beef production

am not understanding the carnivorous resistance.  it's something like 35 times the amount of grain to produce the same caloric intake for a person eating cow parts as against eating those same grains--that's horrendous waste of grains, water, territory that warrants abolition in itself.  the carbon footprint is a supplemental argument.  

Not only that, but one of the main reasons vast sections of the Amazon rain forest has been burned down (faster than logging it) is for grazing land for cattle.

We eat way too much red meat. We should only be eating 3 or 4 ounces a week, not 3 or 4 ounces a day.

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2 hours ago, Fragile Bird said:

Not only that, but one of the main reasons vast sections of the Amazon rain forest has been burned down (faster than logging it) is for grazing land for cattle.

We eat way too much red meat. We should only be eating 3 or 4 ounces a week, not 3 or 4 ounces a day.

 

Those are rookie numbers

you gotta pump those numbers WAY up

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Honestly best thing that could happen for the planet (by planet I mean all other life forms currently out there) would be humans just totally dying off.  Or maybe reduced to like 20% current population that leaves us committed to an environmentally conscious life-style.  Think I mentioned this in one of the other threads but I was really pulling for those virus-wielding ecoterrorists in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, sologdin said:

Grazing in the world accounts for 9% of all beef production

am not understanding the carnivorous resistance.  it's something like 35 times the amount of grain to produce the same caloric intake for a person eating cow parts as against eating those same grains--that's horrendous waste of grains, water, territory that warrants abolition in itself.  the carbon footprint is a supplemental argument.  

But ignoring animal suffering and mocking people capable of empathy is a core conservative value! That it is bad for the environment is just a bonus! 

Edited by Wolfgang I

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15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

That's funny I very nearly wrote the very opposite: that pretty much all social movements start with something trifling, but what matters is what that little something symbolizes within the historical context, the vision of society that the movement thus defends and how much support that vision gets in the society at large.
If you focus on the obvious accomplishments alone you will end up completely misreading history...

There certainly exist movements of the type that you mention, but there also exist ones which accomplish whatever it is that they accomplish and then fade without ever being relevant again. From what I can tell, the Yellow Vests look a lot more like the latter than the former, but I have not been following French politics as closely since I left so you may be right -- maybe the media is selling them short.

14 hours ago, Rippounet said:

My entire point is that we're already at the point where we have to ban things outright. What we need is political parties with a popular mandate to vote laws that will immediately shut down all the activities that cause global warming. If said activities are linked to essential human needs alternatives need to be developed yesterday with massive subsidies. Speed is of the essence.
There's zero reason to keep delaying at this point. The discussion right now should be about how to reconfigure the socio-economic structure within a decade. The fact that so many people talk of "the market," "eco-taxes," or whatever is now part of the problem.

The reason only a relatively small number of people is talking about how to reconfigure the socio-economic structure is that such reconfiguration (regardless of the goals) has a fairly (though not perfectly) consistent history of ending up with something much worse than than the starting point and with the goals either forgotten or indefinitely delayed. There are a few exceptions, but usually, the people who effect the reconfiguration seize the power any transformation of this nature requires and use it to make themselves even more powerful precipitating conflict.

In other words, you're asking for a revolution, but there aren't any revolutionaries who are trusted by most people and there isn't even a vision of what the post-revolutionary society would look like that most people can agree on.

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2 hours ago, Altherion said:

There certainly exist movements of the type that you mention, but there also exist ones which accomplish whatever it is that they accomplish and then fade without ever being relevant again. From what I can tell, the Yellow Vests look a lot more like the latter than the former, but I have not been following French politics as closely since I left so you may be right -- maybe the media is selling them short.

The reason only a relatively small number of people is talking about how to reconfigure the socio-economic structure is that such reconfiguration (regardless of the goals) has a fairly (though not perfectly) consistent history of ending up with something much worse than than the starting point and with the goals either forgotten or indefinitely delayed. There are a few exceptions, but usually, the people who effect the reconfiguration seize the power any transformation of this nature requires and use it to make themselves even more powerful precipitating conflict.

In other words, you're asking for a revolution, but there aren't any revolutionaries who are trusted by most people and there isn't even a vision of what the post-revolutionary society would look like that most people can agree on.

That's the point.  No political movement is ever going to come to power that favours big reductions in population, living standards, and freedoms, except through the barrel of a gun.

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17 hours ago, Rippounet said:

According to this thread, so far we are counting on a visionary entrepreneur working on cars (Musk) and an activist schoolchild (Thunberg). So perhaps we could shift the burden of proof a little? What makes you think that the current socio-economic structure can deal with the problem exactly? What major global initiatives are supposed to give solid results in the next decade? What countries are massively subsidizing efforts to perform the ecological transition?

The current socio-economic structure may suck balls, that is not contentious and has never been my point, but it has a massive advantage over the future hypothetical socio-economic structure: it exists, it is currently in place and those within it have the power to effect actual changes if they want to (even if their record sucks so far). Future hypothetical socio-economic structure may be a thousand times better than current socio-economic structure at tackling climate change... or maybe it won't. It's currently a nebulous pipe-dream that is no way near to happening. Regardless of its potential, this is enough of a drawback that, given the urgency of the climate emergency, I think we will be better off operating within the current frame of reference.

Proposals that are beyond the political pale may be fun to consider (Lets make Greta Thunberg the dictator of Earth!) but they belong in fantasy. Though as things get worse people will become more aware and more desperate and might be willing to consider more radical solutions, at that point it will probably be too late. As much as it might suck, we need to act within the current socio-political structure because we don't have any other and we wont in the foreseeable future.

Also, Musk and Thunberg were named by me as examples of private actors within the current structure that were trying to tackle the climate emergency (together with national governments and NGOs). I do not believe in messiah.

17 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Because no offense but thoughts and opinions are cheap. My main argument is, after all, that we're pretty much doing nothing at the moment, and that in some respects we're even making things worse. Trump, Macron, Bolsonaro... are real. So I respect optimism as a rule, but within the context of this discussion could you perhaps start justifying this optimism?

None taken. My thoughts and opinions are indeed cheap, but on one hand I'm not charging you a penny and on the other I'm under no delusions that my thoughts or opinions are inherently superior to anyone else's. I'm happy to defer to hard facts and experts, and have more than once changed my mind when faced with arguments that I find more coherent than my own.

Currently there are quite a few leaders of democratic countries that suck badly and that are detrimental to what efforts are being made tackle the climate emergency. Again, no discussion there. Public opinion must be swayed and politicians must be judged on their environmental policies as the priority it really is. This is definitely something that needs to happen, and how it can better be done in the current climate of scepticism towards the media and science is, I think, a very interesting discussion.

Regarding optimism, I've never been specially optimistic. I don't argue the severity of the climate emergency or the very real possibility that we will prove unable to solve it.

17 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Absolutely not. First because a global corporation will outsource that factory to China or any developing country where labor is cheapest, so you're polluting extra to bring the products to the place where they are bought and consumed. That's the huge problem of our current global commercial system. Next, national regulations vary so obviously factories will pollute more in some places than others. And finally, depending on who owns the means of production the quest for profit might affect the production itself: planned obsolescence is a reality and an environmental disaster.

Eh. I'm not going to pretend outsourcing or planned obsolescence aren't a thing, but I don't think you're disproving my point. A cooperative may not want to move to China, but if it can't compete with China it will be put out of business. It will still need to make a profit, so planned obsolescence might come up if its products are too durable (otherwise they will need to expand their market and export their products further away). The fact of the matter is, their factory will have a chimney with smoke coming out of it.

18 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I'm saying the wealthy and powerful are already flexing quite a bit of muscle to prevent us from solving this problem. As a matter of fact, I doubt they can do much worse than they already are. Re-read your own argumentation and ask yourself where it's coming from!

Again, I don't believe in your dichotomy where the powerful and wealthy are evil villains doing everything they can to stop us (us here would be The People, I'm guessing...) in our relentless fight to save the world. The privileged certainly desire to retain their privilege, but no one can want the climate hell that can potentially happen (the rich have children, and often entertain the notion of their legacy). Many people aren't doing enough or don't care enough, but it's not a matter of wealth.

18 hours ago, Rippounet said:

And yes, just as there are inequalities within developed countries that lead to moral complications, the inequalities between countries are an even bigger problem, this is part of the point I'm trying to make. The world can't afford the 1,3 billion humans living in India to adopt a Western lifestyle, so if we want to convince India to do as much as possible to fight global warming the West must lead.
From a certain perspective... Bolsonaro in Brazil is a PoS and his decision to wreck the rainforest is more than depicable, but on some level such a decision becomes more understandable if you take into account the fact that developed countries aren't doing anything significant to fight global warming...

I'd say this is a serious problem, and one I don't have a good answer to. Yes, the West must lead. Those with more resources bear more of a responsibility.

18 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Again, this is an insidious attempt to shift the burden of proof. Eco-taxes have been tried and failed, therefore I don't have to prove that they cannot work, you're the one who has to prove that they can work.

I think this burden of proof thing is a bit cheeky. You make lot of unsupported statements (some of them pretty controversial) and treat them as fact. That said, and for the purpose of constructive discussion: Eco-taxes have been ineffective in the past by design. They targeted goods with an extremely rigid demand curve (mainly fuel and electricity), and though the environment was the excuse, the goal was always to produce a revenue (which then wasn't returned to environmental policies). That said, studies on their results are mixed. While some say that they have been largely ineffective (at reducing emissions, not at their target goal of producing public revenue), there are studies (such as this one) that argue that high fuel taxes have made people more conscious about economizing their use of fuel, and the European Environmental Agency considers Eco-taxes as effective instruments of environmental policy. I'll give two specific examples of policies that have worked: One of them is a minimum fee on plastic bags in stores. Though not an actual tax, this has managed to reduce the usage of disposable plastic bags by forcing people to pay for them. The other is a tax imposed in Catalonia on sugared drinks. Though not specifically an Eco-tax, this works on the same principle (dissuading the use of a particular product because of its negative externalities) and, according to reports from the Catalan fiscal agency, has managed to reduce consumption of sugared drinks by 25%.

Anyway, it is my, cheap, opinion that Eco-taxes can work if done properly. Feel free to disagree.

19 hours ago, Rippounet said:

My entire point is that we're already at the point where we have to ban things outright. What we need is political parties with a popular mandate to vote laws that will immediately shut down all the activities that cause global warming. If said activities are linked to essential human needs alternatives need to be developed yesterday with massive subsidies. Speed is of the essence.

Again, while I don't disagree with any of this, the politicians at the head of these political parties whose heart is in the right place must consider the political viability of the measures they propose. Otherwise they will not get into office. Banning things tends to be unpopular. If we're talking about a ban that people will resent, then I'd expect a canny politician to consider all the possible alternatives. Can we dissuade people from doing this without an outright ban? What alternatives can we offer? How can we educate people about the negative externalities of this product or service? Can it be done progressively? Etc.

19 hours ago, Rippounet said:

And to be clear... Thunberg was a nice, harmless face for eco-radicalism. I just don't see how the next face can be as harmless. Radicalism is not something I want to advocate at this point because there's still a chance to use the current political institutions to reform the socio-economic structure. But that window is closing fast and the political debate does not make me hopeful. So I think it's safe to predict that the next Thunberg is not going to be a cute schoolgirl with only her voice as a weapon.

Harmless is not a dirty word (it is better than its opposite, harmful), I believe Thunberg to be more than a cute schoolgirl and a voice which people will heed can be a very powerful weapon indeed.

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3 hours ago, SeanF said:

That's the point.  No political movement is ever going to come to power that favours big reductions in population, living standards, and freedoms, except through the barrel of a gun.

Come on man!  I said viruses!  VIRUSES!!!!!

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fairly sure that we've seen eliminationists come to power through elections.

 

But ignoring animal suffering and mocking people capable of empathy is a core conservative value! That it is bad for the environment is just a bonus! 

i suppose there is a mean-spirited old right conservatism that accounts as trifling the traumas of the impecunious and others who represent them, and i imagine that a certain strain of proprietor anthropocentism substantially diminishes animal welfare--though the rightwing does not have a monopoly on these sociopathies.  i've long thought that there is a substantial overlap between the sort of conservationism one finds among NRA hunter types and environmentalists, but when i proposed the equivalence to the former, they have normally been horrified that they could have something in common with the latter. it seemed personal, rather than principled, an inability to think through the problem in the absence of assuming a particular identity in opposition to others.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Altherion said:

The reason only a relatively small number of people is talking about how to reconfigure the socio-economic structure is that such reconfiguration (regardless of the goals) has a fairly (though not perfectly) consistent history of ending up with something much worse than than the starting point and with the goals either forgotten or indefinitely delayed. There are a few exceptions, but usually, the people who effect the reconfiguration seize the power any transformation of this nature requires and use it to make themselves even more powerful precipitating conflict.

Yes. But ironically the less we talk about it and the greater the chances that the reconfiguration, when it happens (because it'd be surprising if it didn't happen at this point), will indeed be un-democratic and devolve into some kind of fascism/totalitarianism.

Again, the idea here is that having the discussion now will prevent the power-hungry from using the environmental crisis as an opportunity.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

I think this burden of proof thing is a bit cheeky. You make lot of unsupported statements (some of them pretty controversial) and treat them as fact.

Then call me out on it. I'd rather be proven wrong.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

Proposals that are beyond the political pale may be fun to consider (Lets make Greta Thunberg the dictator of Earth!) but they belong in fantasy. Though as things get worse people will become more aware and more desperate and might be willing to consider more radical solutions, at that point it will probably be too late. As much as it might suck, we need to act within the current socio-political structure because we don't have any other and we wont in the foreseeable future.

This is another point of disagreement. Given the fact that everyone (at least in the West) has access to the relevant information it's quite clear that radical solutions will be considered before it's too late.

It's quite obvious that if I can predict that radical solutions will be considered others are actually considering them already.
In fact I've read some interesting things about some minor eco-radicalist crimes just yesterday... Anecdotal at this point to be sure, but it's certain that these will become common very soon.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

Future hypothetical socio-economic structure may be a thousand times better than current socio-economic structure at tackling climate change... or maybe it won't. It's currently a nebulous pipe-dream that is no way near to happening. Regardless of its potential, this is enough of a drawback that, given the urgency of the climate emergency, I think we will be better off operating within the current frame of reference.

Well, yes, technically I'm not disputing this. However the window is closing remarkably fast, way faster than I was expecting only last year. Which is why I'm interested in having a discussion about what comes next.

All in all this is an interesting exchange and it helps me organize my thoughts but -no offense- I'm personally not that interested in having a discussion about whether the discussion is necessary. I'm starting from the assumption that the discussion is indeed necessary based on the latest GIEC report - and a number of other studies I've heard of. I understand you're not convinced about that and it's cool because I think anyone adopting this stance will automatically change their stance when we get +1,5°C anyway, if not before that. Call it a thought exercize if you wish, or a worst-case scenario analysis...

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

Eh. I'm not going to pretend outsourcing or planned obsolescence aren't a thing, but I don't think you're disproving my point. A cooperative may not want to move to China, but if it can't compete with China it will be put out of business. It will still need to make a profit, so planned obsolescence might come up if its products are too durable (otherwise they will need to expand their market and export their products further away). The fact of the matter is, their factory will have a chimney with smoke coming out of it.

We're talking at cross-purposes here because it seems to me you're the one making my point: you're very much demonstrating that the current global economic system IS the problem here.
For instance if "national" cooperatives can't compete with Chinese products then Chinese products must be banned from the national market. The ecological imperative now trumps (ha ha) the dogma of the international "free market."
Or, if the profit-making is impossible in the face of international competition then massive subsidies to national industries are necessary to ensure people consume locally-made products, even if it kills the idea of a "free market."
The means are not that important (you can combine subsidies, regulations, tariffs, bans... etc), what's important is that "free trade," or anything in that direction thereof, is no longer compatible with the survival of our species.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

Many people aren't doing enough or don't care enough, but it's not a matter of wealth.

Those with the wealth are the ones with the most power. If their actions are not deliberate it's a form of criminal negligence then.
But I think we have many reasons to believe their actions are deliberate. When someone like Trump speaks of global warming as a hoax while at the same time taking precautions against it to protect his property you know that it is not simply negligence or irresponsibility. And Trump isn't the smartest one out there.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

That said, and for the purpose of constructive discussion: Eco-taxes have been ineffective in the past by design. They targeted goods with an extremely rigid demand curve (mainly fuel and electricity), and though the environment was the excuse, the goal was always to produce a revenue (which then wasn't returned to environmental policies). That said, studies on their results are mixed. While some say that they have been largely ineffective (at reducing emissions, not at their target goal of producing public revenue), there are studies (such as this one) that argue that high fuel taxes have made people more conscious about economizing their use of fuel, and the European Environmental Agency considers Eco-taxes as effective instruments of environmental policy. I'll give two specific examples of policies that have worked: One of them is a minimum fee on plastic bags in stores. Though not an actual tax, this has managed to reduce the usage of disposable plastic bags by forcing people to pay for them. The other is a tax imposed in Catalonia on sugared drinks. Though not specifically an Eco-tax, this works on the same principle (dissuading the use of a particular product because of its negative externalities) and, according to reports from the Catalan fiscal agency, has managed to reduce consumption of sugared drinks by 25%.

Very interesting, thank you.
Price elasticity has been much on my mind of course. The problem being here -in economic terms- that -as you say yourself- some products have very low elasticity. And just today I was introduced to the rebound theory that says by forcing people to change their behavior you may inadvertly increase demand in quantitative terms, something which is a problem since we're talking of a global crisis.
I'm very skeptical about the possibility of finding an algorithm for eco-taxes that could not only decrease demand in developed countries but also prevent demand from rising in developing ones...
Which is why I've started thinking in terms of outright bans for some goods and services...  Of course, that's not incompatible with the use of "eco-taxes" and price elasticity for products with high price elasticity... Your example of plastic bags is excellent in that respect.

7 hours ago, Mentat said:

Again, while I don't disagree with any of this, the politicians at the head of these political parties whose heart is in the right place must consider the political viability of the measures they propose. Otherwise they will not get into office.

I'm tempted to say the very opposite. At this point we don't need to worry about the political viability of unpalatable measures, they will become viable eventually.
Best to have such measures be chosen through elections than eventually be imposed on us... The electoral process at least guarantees that individual liberty and democracy survive the ecological transition - at least in part. Conversely if the measures have to be imposed by force there will be no such guarantee.

Edited by Rippounet

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What Indigenous Rights Have to Do With Fighting Climate Change
In Brazil, a struggle over the future of the Amazon is taking place. The struggle will have global impact.

https://newrepublic.com/article/154693/indigenous-rights-fighting-climate-change

Quote

 

Commonly referred to as the lungs of the world, the Amazon produces about 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen. Its destruction, which has proceeded gradually for centuries, is now approaching an irreversible “tipping point,” according to researchers. While the struggle to protect the environment and indigenous lands is not unique to Brazil, the specifics of the Amazon are exceptional. Far from the fringe issue it is often treated as in mainstream political discourse, solidarity with native peoples has become a global ecological imperative. 

Recent months have seen a surge of depredation in the Amazon, with Brazilian papers reporting this week that deforestation in July 2019 was 304 percent higher than in July 2018. The Economist, which put the problem on the cover of its August 1 issue, referred to Bolsonaro as “arguably the most environmentally dangerous head of state in the world”: Rather than protecting what is left of the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the president seems intent on opening up the jungle to commercial activities like mining and livestock grazing, his disregard for the ecological and climate value of the Amazon exceeded only by his contempt for its most vulnerable residents.

 

 

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The political end almost doesn't matter at this point.  Greatly constricted supplies of fossil fuels will force conversions to other energy sources over the next few decades regardless of political decrees.   Or much of civilization collapses.

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14 hours ago, Rippounet said:

This is another point of disagreement. Given the fact that everyone (at least in the West) has access to the relevant information it's quite clear that radical solutions will be considered before it's too late.

It's quite obvious that if I can predict that radical solutions will be considered others are actually considering them already.
In fact I've read some interesting things about some minor eco-radicalist crimes just yesterday... Anecdotal at this point to be sure, but it's certain that these will become common very soon.

No it isn't. There's no argument in your statement that would allow you to make this leap of logic. Since people have access to "the relevant information" (hasn't the scientific information about the climate emergency been around for ages?) they will consider (and more than consider, right? You mean support politically and implement, not simply wonder about them in their head) radical solutions. They might and they might not.

This was an example of what I was saying. You use expressions like "it's quite clear" and "it's quite obvious" as rhetorical devices and then follow them with statements of opinion which you expect people to take for granted despite the fact they're neither clear nor obvious.

As the climate emergency gets worse and is felt more, people are bound to be open to progressively radical solution to address it, but whether they will be radical enough or timely enough is anyone's guess. Political viability will always be a consideration. There will always be politicians who are irrationally optimistic, willing to sell snake-oil solutions based on unreasonable estimates or simply willing to bury their head in the sand, and there will be people who will follow these politicians because all these things are very human.

14 hours ago, Rippounet said:

All in all this is an interesting exchange and it helps me organize my thoughts but -no offense- I'm personally not that interested in having a discussion about whether the discussion is necessary. I'm starting from the assumption that the discussion is indeed necessary based on the latest GIEC report - and a number of other studies I've heard of. I understand you're not convinced about that and it's cool because I think anyone adopting this stance will automatically change their stance when we get +1,5°C anyway, if not before that. Call it a thought exercize if you wish, or a worst-case scenario analysis...

Again, you misread me. I'm not saying the discussion about the climate emergency or the measures which will be needed to address it is not needed. I never have. I am saying that any solution will have to be politically viable, and that, although I agree the growing pressure of the climate emergency will eventually make politically viable what might have otherwise seemed extreme, it is not clear it will do so fast enough for our response to be effective. I'm also saying that many solutions will be proposed from many different viewpoints, and that anyone who thinks that the climate emergency will grant them a mandate for any specific policy, socio-economic structure or world-view is very deluded.

15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

We're talking at cross-purposes here because it seems to me you're the one making my point: you're very much demonstrating that the current global economic system IS the problem here.

No, I'm not demonstrating anything and neither are you.

Consider the following counter-argument (which may or may not be me playing devil's advocate):

"The current global economic system has nothing to do with the climate emergency. The climate emergency has two obvious causes: industrialization and over-population. This is clear and obvious. If I was to magically cull most of humanity to a reasonable number or magically make all post-industrial revolution machinery disappear, then that would solve the climate emergency immediately, would it not? If you, on the other hand, could magically swap our global economic system for a different one, would that solve the climate emergency? It's anyone's guess! Nations with very low industrial development have very low carbon emissions, regardless of who owns what or how they trade. A steam-punk feudal society where knights and lords joust atop humongous machines and millions of serfs slave away in their lord's factories rather than in their fields, would be just as polluting as our modern capitalist society. Moreover, the climate emergency is not only due to industrialization, but to very specific technological developments and alternatives, like the use of fossil fuels to produce energy. If, a 100 years ago, a genius scientist had discovered a clean energy source running on water that could power anything from a small motorcycle to a large factory, I can say with no uncertainty that the climate emergency would not exist. Can you say that the great grandchildren of this scientist wouldn't be mega-rich CEOs of WaterEnergy Inc., earning exponentially more money than their companies employees and selling motors and generators based on their great grand-father's patents all over the world? No, you can't. Q.E.D."

15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

For instance if "national" cooperatives can't compete with Chinese products then Chinese products must be banned from the national market.

From globalism to isolationism in the blink of an eye ;)

15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Those with the wealth are the ones with the most power. If their actions are not deliberate it's a form of criminal negligence then.
But I think we have many reasons to believe their actions are deliberate. When someone like Trump speaks of global warming as a hoax while at the same time taking precautions against it to protect his property you know that it is not simply negligence or irresponsibility. And Trump isn't the smartest one out there.

So Trump is rich, and Trump is bad, hence rich people are bad? Sorry, still not buying it. We can agree that those who possess more means have a greater responsibility to contribute towards a solution.

15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I'm tempted to say the very opposite. At this point we don't need to worry about the political viability of unpalatable measures, they will become viable eventually.

I think I have argued extensively why I think this isn't the case.

15 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Best to have such measures be chosen through elections than eventually be imposed on us... The electoral process at least guarantees that individual liberty and democracy survive the ecological transition - at least in part. Conversely if the measures have to be imposed by force there will be no such guarantee.

All policies are eventually (meaning in cases of reiterative violation) imposed by force, even if the government enforcing them was democratically elected, but people will be more willing to comply with policies coming from governments they view as legitimate. As I said before, I don't believe a military junta will be any more effective at tackling the climate emergency than a democratic government.

 

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