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Rippounet

What should be done... about climate change

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Just now, Rippounet said:

Yeah, on top of a pile of frozen ashes...

I'm ok with giving power to an AI though, humans are fools. There's an Asimov story along those lines. Or was it K.Dick? 

Well nuclear winter is a solution to the rising temperatures I guess.

 

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12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

In a nutshell, climate change is bad enough, but you need to add human geopolitics on top of that. What happens when the entire agricultural sector of a nation that has nuclear weapons fails? Will that nation simply accept its fate and peacefully disappear?

They could attempt buying food off of countries that still have some. How on earth would nuclear war improve their situation? Do you think they'd simply launch a nuclear attack out of spite because some countries have it better?

12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I may be alone on this but I'd even rather live under a totalitarian eco-fascist state of sorts. Take my car and my computer and my steak... I don't mind if it's for the greater good. "Freedom" is just a buzzword anyway.

Totalitarian states for a "good cause" have happened before. It has never worked. I have a very hard time seeing fascism as the solution to the climate emergency.

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Which is why everyone is also missing the point about meat. It's not *that* much of a problem today. It's still impossible for all humans who want some to consume it. We simply can't afford the entire world to adopt a Western lifestyle and it's crazy to assume the rest of the world will tolerate a Western "exception." Long story short the Western lifestyle *is* the problem and we need to let it go for the world to move on.

The Western lifestyle isn't going anywhere. If that's your best shot at solving the problem then you have already failed. Solutions (like electric cars, veganism, cycling to work, etc.) may be incorporated into the Western lifestyle, though. You can't go backwards in history to a simpler, safer time or a simpler, safer lifestyle. You'll as soon get rid of Western lifestyle as conservatives will get rid of feminism or identity politics.

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Tl;dr: this global problem requires a universalist solution.

A universalist solution would require a universal consensus or an empowered global actor, none of which really exist right now. This is as unrealistic as Kalbear's religious solution. If lots of small-ish initiatives from a diverse bunch of actors ranging from national governments to NGOs to Elon Musk to Greta Thunberg can't do the trick... then the trick will not be done.

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38 minutes ago, Mentat said:

If lots of small-ish initiatives from a diverse bunch of actors ranging from national governments to NGOs to Elon Musk to Greta Thunberg can't do the trick... then the trick will not be done.

This is what I was alluding to. You're already behind and you don't even realize it.

A few days ago Greta Thunberg made a speech in front of the French National Assembly explaining that we only had 8 years to act in order to prevent +1,5°C.
That afternoon, that very same afternoon, the Assembly ratified the CETA, a free-trade agreement between Canada and the EU that everyone knows will make things worse.
We're not just not making things better, we're actually making things worse. I think the best case scenario now is somewhere around +3°C and that's extremely optimistic. In actuality I'd say we're going to anywhere between +4°C and +10°C (+10°C of course being a way of saying "killing everything and everyone on the planet").
Now some representatives did wake up and refuse to ratify the treaty, even among the presidential majority. That's something. But it's too little, too late, and the treaty was ratified anyway.
What this means is that our current institutions have already failed us. Look at the US: even if Trumpism magically disappeared and someone as radical as AOC became president in 2020 she'd have her hands tied behind her back by a Republican Senate.
China? They're trying, but it's healf-hearted at the moment. I guess they do seem smarter about it than Trump but that's a low standard.
And then you have Bolsonaro in Brazil.

We're already talking about survival. This is not hyperbolic or hysterical, at this point this is cold hard fact. Thunberg has already failed. Musk won't be fast enough. The question each and every one of us should be asking themselves right now is: do we act or not?
What is needed is a massive political transformation and we have less than a decade to achieve it.

38 minutes ago, Mentat said:

The Western lifestyle isn't going anywhere.

The Western lifestyle is already dead. What "trusting the market" means is making almost everything so expensive that only the wealthiest 10% (maybe 20% if we're extremely optimistic) can afford what you think of as the "Western lifestyle."

Combine this with neo-liberal policies and with social mobility essentially gone you have a highly unequal stratified society in which power is held by the very corporations that are responsible for the mess in the first place and at least 80% of the population have to deal with its consequences on their own. It won't matter much that we still have supermarkets when we start suffocating because our massively polluted megalopolises become unlivable...

Again, you should realize this has become the realistic outcome. We're already seeing it! I experienced it just last month!

38 minutes ago, Mentat said:

Totalitarian states for a "good cause" have happened before. It has never worked.

Well that depends what you mean by "worked." Of course totalitarian states are disasters from a humanist perspective, and there's doubt as to whether they can really endure in the long-run (though NK may be a counter-example... ).
I'd posit that totalitarianism tends to work just fine if i) its ideology has the support of a significant proportion of the population from the start and ii) it delivers on its most important promises.

Thing is, the way things are going, humanism is already dead. So why be so intent on protecting structures that have already failed? It makes no sense. People who'd rather be free than alive probably have no children.
Not that I'm advocating for totalitarianism mind you, what I'm saying is that unless we have a political awakening, that will become the last resort.

38 minutes ago, Mentat said:

They could attempt buying food off of countries that still have some. How on earth would nuclear war improve their situation? Do you think they'd simply launch a nuclear attack out of spite because some countries have it better?

Pretty much, yes. Of course, spite apparently won't be the main reason for it. As you say, nations will attempt to buy food, or water, or oil... The prices will be too high for the buyers, trade negotiations will go south, and wars will begin. At some point, someone on the losing side will choose mutual assured destruction rather than slow painful death and/or foreign occupation.

38 minutes ago, Mentat said:

This is as unrealistic as Kalbear's religious solution.

Today it may be, because we're only starting to feel the first effects of global warming. In a few more heat waves I'm pretty sure everyone will see this as perfectly realistic.
When the heat rises and resources dwindle it will come down to a political fight between universalism and nationalism. And if nationalism prevails we'll all end with a mushroom cloud. That's why I opened this thread: if Kalbear's religion doesn't exist yet it's high time we created it.

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3 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Thunberg has already failed. Musk won't be fast enough. The question each and every one of us should be asking themselves right now is: do we act or not?
What is needed is a massive political transformation and we have less than a decade to achieve it.

You may well be right, but complacency was not the point I was trying to make. The kind of political upheaval you're thinking of simply won't happen. You're thinking of some kind of UN level agency which all nation states cede vast amounts of sovereignty and resources to in order for it to "save the planet" (while at the same time protecting the rights of all human beings affected y climate change)? How likely do you honestly think it is regardless of what the alternative might seem?

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

The Western lifestyle is already dead. What "trusting the market" means is making almost everything so expensive that only the wealthiest 10% (maybe 20% if we're extremely optimistic) can afford what you think of as the "Western lifestyle."

Combine this with neo-liberal policies and with social mobility essentially gone you have a highly unequal stratified society in which power is held by the very corporations that are responsible for the mess in the first place and at least 80% of the population have to deal with its consequences on their own. It won't matter much that we still have supermarkets when we start suffocating because our massively polluted megalopolises become unlivable...

Again, you should realize this has become the realistic outcome. We're already seeing it! I experienced it just last month!

I'm not arguing for inequality, trusting the market or neoliberal policies, but if something is bad for the environment then making it unaffordable to the masses seems environmentally sound to me. The fact that a few very rich people might still be able to afford it (much in the same way they can afford expensive sports cars or luxury holiday resorts right now) seems like the kind of thing that should be solved through redistributive or socialist policies (tax wealth, tax inheritance, etc.), but it doesn't seem directly germane to the climate emergency. Is there something I'm missing?

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Not that I'm advocating for totalitarianism mind you, what I'm saying is that unless we have a political awakening, that will become the last resort.

I understand your point, but I don't agree. I don't think a totalitarian state would be any better at protecting the environment than a democracy. It's kind of like the Roman idea of choosing a strongman to save the Republic from a crisis. I don't believe democracy is in any way weaker or more ineffective than a dictatorship, and thus I don't believe a dictatorship would succeed where a democracy failed.

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Pretty much, yes. Of course, spite apparently won't be the main reason for it. As you say, nations will attempt to buy food, or water, or oil... The prices will be too high for the buyers, trade negotiations will go south, and wars will begin. At some point, someone on the losing side will choose mutual assured destruction rather than slow painful death and/or foreign occupation.

Again, I disagree. If things get very bad (and that's not something I'm arguing against) they will get very bad everywhere. Migrations from parts of the Earth that seem more affected to parts of the Earth that seem like a better place to live in will likely increase dramatically, but two countries waging a modern war for arable land and clean water supplies seems unrealistic and stupid. It certainly wouldn't help and it would only bring the kind of satisfaction a psycopath feels when he guns down a bunch of people before putting a bullet in his head. I don't think the climate emergency will bring about a scarcity of oil.

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Today it may be, because we're only starting to feel the first effects of global warming. In a few more heat waves I'm pretty sure everyone will see this as perfectly realistic.
When the heat rises and resources dwindle it will come down to a political fight between universalism and nationalism. And if nationalism prevails we'll all end with a mushroom cloud. That's why I opened this thread: if Kalbear's religion doesn't exist yet it's high time we created it.

Smart money's on the mushroom cloud, then. I hope a better solution exists and somebody finds it.

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21 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Things like the impossible burger make it significantly easier. Same with the health benefits and whatnot. First you aim for the worst offenders - beef production, which is far worse for people's health and far worse for the environment. Yeah, people do like beef, but it's not hard to make it too expensive or too immoral to eat regularly. Fast food is already doing switching to things like beyond meat. 

But mostly, you don't have a trillion dollar industry fighting you. You have public opinion, which can be swayed far more easily than changing the oil production habits of those big companies. The notion that because you're fighting both means it's harder is obviously bullshit; fighting two infants is a lot easier than fighting one giant dude. We've already seen major success stories in the US with things like tobacco - something that people were fighting both the producers and the consumers. And after the producers were forced to tell everyone how bad their shit is, and we taxed it a lot, tobacco use dropped to a tenth of what it was in the US within 10 years. 

Lots and lots of people like eating meat, but that's because they enjoy the taste. It's not because they are particularly excited about killing a cow. Give them something that tastes as good as meat does and they'll be happy to eat that too.

I think you badly underestimate the cultural significance of meat. This is not tobacco (which was contentious from the time it was introduced), this is something that has been part of every Western culture for millennia and, aside from tasting good, also served as a status symbol for most of that time. Of course, if you can come up with something as good or better, you might be able to convince some fraction of the population to switch over, but I don't see such a product out there today.

20 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Which is why eco-fascism is the only one that will allow humanity to survive.

I wouldn't bet money on it. Take a look at the Yellow Vest protests in France. They were caused by one of the tamest eco-centric policies possible -- high prices on gasoline and diesel caused by taxes. If governments try to squeeze people harder in the name of fighting climate change, the people will take them down.

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54 minutes ago, Altherion said:

I think you badly underestimate the cultural significance of meat. This is not tobacco (which was contentious from the time it was introduced), this is something that has been part of every Western culture for millennia and, aside from tasting good, also served as a status symbol for most of that time. Of course, if you can come up with something as good or better, you might be able to convince some fraction of the population to switch over, but I don't see such a product out there today.

I wouldn't bet money on it. Take a look at the Yellow Vest protests in France. They were caused by one of the tamest eco-centric policies possible -- high prices on gasoline and diesel caused by taxes. If governments try to squeeze people harder in the name of fighting climate change, the people will take them down.

Yes. So the market driven answer is that once electric vehicles become cheaper than gas guzzling alternatives, the switch will happen naturally.

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Similarly, once meat alternatives become cheaper than meat the switch will occur naturally. 

Why is one so unthinkable and the other obvious?

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47 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Similarly, once meat alternatives become cheaper than meat the switch will occur naturally. 

Why is one so unthinkable and the other obvious?

Because the barrier to electric vehicle usage is now largely price. The barrier to giving up meat is that meat is part of my natural diet and I don’t want to give it up, even if I pay 5 times for it what I could pay for some meat alternative.

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Similarly, similarly, were we to subsidize these products, or hell just remove the subsidies we give the other side. this switch could happen much faster.

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The barrier to electric vehicles is not just price. The big one is infrastructure. It's the planning of trips, the coordinating charging stations and not being able to find them, the problems in cold weather or hot weather for range.

Now, it can get there - and in some places it's almost convenient enough - but that's also largely because the infrastructure only supports 2% of all the cars. Scale that up to 20% and you're hosed. 

And that doesnt take into account the subsidies going to gas, going to oil, going to fracking and natural gas production. Hell. Car manufacturers dont want to do it much either, because SUVs and trucks are way more profitable. 

And that's not counting the major overhaul of the electrical grid needed to support clean energy, or clean energy storage. Or converting things that dont currently have any conversion. 

And then you get to talk about taking on big oil. 

So no, it isn't just about price. 

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16 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Because the barrier to electric vehicle usage is now largely price. The barrier to giving up meat is that meat is part of my natural diet and I don’t want to give it up, even if I pay 5 times for it what I could pay for some meat alternative.

Wait - you specifically want to eat actual dead flesh from a killed animal? Like, it matters to you specifically that the protein you eat not only tastes like meat but comes from a dead thing?

You actually want animals to die?

Because I think that is a massively minority position. Most people like meat because it tastes good. If you give them something that tastes like meat they'll eat that too. 

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2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

The barrier to electric vehicles is not just price. The big one is infrastructure. It's the planning of trips, the coordinating charging stations and not being able to find them, the problems in cold weather or hot weather for range.

Now, it can get there - and in some places it's almost convenient enough - but that's also largely because the infrastructure only supports 2% of all the cars. Scale that up to 20% and you're hosed. 

And that doesnt take into account the subsidies going to gas, going to oil, going to fracking and natural gas production. Hell. Car manufacturers dont want to do it much either, because SUVs and trucks are way more profitable. 

And that's not counting the major overhaul of the electrical grid needed to support clean energy, or clean energy storage. Or converting things that dont currently have any conversion. 

And then you get to talk about taking on big oil. 

So no, it isn't just about price. 

A Tesla model 3 now offers better performance than an equivalent gas vehicle, with a supercharger network that covers the vast majority of the US population. Now if you could get it down to $30k, it would sell millions of cars.

So the main resistance is price. But this is off topic for the change to meat, which just won’t make that big a difference, but affect the lifestyles of the vast majority of the population, basically needlessly.

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19 hours ago, Mentat said:

You may well be right, but complacency was not the point I was trying to make. The kind of political upheaval you're thinking of simply won't happen. You're thinking of some kind of UN level agency which all nation states cede vast amounts of sovereignty and resources to in order for it to "save the planet" (while at the same time protecting the rights of all human beings affected y climate change)?

Oh my, wow, no. Just a combination of green parties (or parties with green agendas) winning elections with public awareness of the sacrifices green policies entail would be enough in my eyes.

But even that may be too much to hope for at present.

19 hours ago, Mentat said:

I understand your point, but I don't agree. I don't think a totalitarian state would be any better at protecting the environment than a democracy. It's kind of like the Roman idea of choosing a strongman to save the Republic from a crisis. I don't believe democracy is in any way weaker or more ineffective than a dictatorship, and thus I don't believe a dictatorship would succeed where a democracy failed.

That's actually a complicated point to address.
All in all I would tend to agree: democracies can work.
Problem is we don't live in democracies. We live in semi-democratic regimes where the power is really controled by corporations and the super-rich that own them. Which means it takes -way too much- time for public sentiments to translate into political action.

19 hours ago, Mentat said:

I'm not arguing for inequality, trusting the market or neoliberal policies, but if something is bad for the environment then making it unaffordable to the masses seems environmentally sound to me. The fact that a few very rich people might still be able to afford it (much in the same way they can afford expensive sports cars or luxury holiday resorts right now) seems like the kind of thing that should be solved through redistributive or socialist policies (tax wealth, tax inheritance, etc.), but it doesn't seem directly germane to the climate emergency. Is there something I'm missing?

Many countries are moving away from redistributive/socialistic policies these days, which means it's more difficult to get people to agree to sacrifice elements of their lifestyle.
A different way to put it is that a society built on individualism is unlikely to go along with "eco-taxes."
Conversely, I'm tempted to think that dealing with global warming will entail building fairer societies.

9 hours ago, Altherion said:

I wouldn't bet money on it. Take a look at the Yellow Vest protests in France. They were caused by one of the tamest eco-centric policies possible -- high prices on gasoline and diesel caused by taxes.

Altherion, Altherion... I appreciate our exchanges, but sometimes you make it difficult not to be snarky, y'know?

The above is only partially correct. This was the narrative to be found in the right-wing American media (I also read Breitbart, remember?) which was eager to coopt the Yellow Vest movement. In doing so, they ommitted part of the story - on purpose, obviously. As I wrote here before, what started the movement wasn't just the eco-tax but the combination of the eco-tax (mainly imposed on the poor) and the abolition of the wealth tax (on the super-rich).
When the Yellow Vest movement published its demands those included alternative proposals for the environment:
- Taxes on maritime fuels and kerosene.
- A national plan for house insulation.
- Favoring shipping goods by rail whenever possible.
- Subsidizing hydrogen cars (believed to be more eco-friendly than electric ones).
- Favoring small business in city centers and villages to make it easier to shop by foot.
- Stop outsourcing and develop/subsidize national production instead.
Now of course there's a nationalistic vibe to some of these proposals, which is why Breitbart liked the movement so much (immigration was addressed as well). Breitbart of course didn't dwell on the proposals focusing on socio-economic justice: ending austerity programs (i.e. a love for the welfare state), properly funding public education, ending tax cuts (/subsidies) for the super-rich and corporations, capping salaries at 15,000€/month, progressive taxation for both individuals and corporations... etc.
The gist of it was that the movement was very much eco-friendly, but demanded that environmentalism not be imposed on the poor/masses but on everybody.
Which I think is quite reasonable.
So it's funny that you brought up this movement because, well, if one wants to derive any sweeping generalizations from it, I'd say it is that many people will not accept market-based solutions. The market is what brought us this mess after all...
Of course, on the other side you'll have people like Free Northman Reborn who'll defend individualism against collectivist movements to their dying breath.
Don't wanna sound scary but individualism versus collectivism, nationalism versus universalism... you have the receipe here for a complete reorganization of the political paradigm... while still grounded in the age-old one. And we know how such conflicts have gone in the past: massive social conflicts and upheavals, apocalyptic wars (or threat thereof)... etc.

Strap in folks, we're in for a rough ride.

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11 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

A Tesla model 3 now offers better performance than an equivalent gas vehicle, with a supercharger network that covers the vast majority of the US population. Now if you could get it down to $30k, it would sell millions of cars.

The network does not cover that much. Not nearly. It also isn't an suv. It doesnt perform well in snow. It doesnt haul cargo. It doesnt tow. 

In short, for the vast majority of the us population it isn't a car they want. 

11 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So the main resistance is price.

Do you really believe that the most common vehicle out there is a sedan? 

 

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2 hours ago, Rippounet said:

The above is only partially correct. This was the narrative to be found in the right-wing American media (I also read Breitbart, remember?) which was eager to coopt the Yellow Vest movement. In doing so, they ommitted part of the story - on purpose, obviously. As I wrote here before, what started the movement wasn't just the eco-tax but the combination of the eco-tax (mainly imposed on the poor) and the abolition of the wealth tax (on the super-rich).

The abolition of the wealth tax certainly didn't help matters, but it was not the driving force of the protests and appears to have survived them. And the narrative came from mainstream media, not from Breitbart. For example, here is France 24 in late November 2018:

Quote

“Yellow Vest” protesters have called for renewed demonstrations in Paris on Saturday, as the French government holds firm on plans to increase a direct tax on diesel fuel in the coming year.

The protests – which began in response to the government’s decision in late 2017 to introduce annual increases to diesel and carbon taxes – has since coalesced into a broader movement against French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration and the high cost of living.

They actually got what they wanted relatively quickly: the fuel tax was suspended and there was a minimum wage increase and a few other measures to help the poor in early December 2018. And while yes, they made a whole lot of other demands ranging from the reasonable to the absurd (seriously, hydrogen cars?), none of those were nearly as important -- the protests never reached their initial popularity.

4 hours ago, Rippounet said:

The gist of it was that the movement was very much eco-friendly, but demanded that environmentalism not be imposed on the poor/masses but on everybody.

I don't think that is a fair characterization. The fuel tax and other carbon taxes are about as equitable a distribution of the costs of environmentalism as possible: the more carbon dioxide an individual or group puts into the atmosphere, the higher the tax they pay. Their demand is more accurately summarized as environmentalism being imposed on somebody other than themselves. I am not criticizing them -- even though the fuel tax is not flat (on average, the rich will pay more), it would still hurt poor people a lot more than it would hurt rich ones. However, this same phenomenon is seen nearly everywhere: you can only squeeze so much out of the poor and middle classes and it's not nearly enough to stop climate change.

Basically, the poor and middle class can't pay for the kind of environmental policies that would stop climate change (they're operating on a razor thin margin even as things stand and they'll fight if you try to make it even smaller) and the rich won't pay for these policies (they control the system and with a few exceptions, they either don't care or care... but not enough to spend their own money).

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33 minutes ago, Altherion said:

Their demand is more accurately summarized as environmentalism being imposed on somebody other than themselves.

That's what you'd like to think but the facts simply don't support that assertion. In fact, by your own admission, this view requires dismissing most of the demands that were eventually made by the movement which is... curious. It's like your perspective on this should be taken more seriously than... the protesters themselves?
As regard numbers, they declined sharply before the government made any announcement (early December) and rose sharply again in January after all the announcements were made. The protests pettered out but the movement continues under various forms. You can simply, uh... read what people from the movement have said or written.
Mind you I can't blame you for thinking this since it's true that the mainstream media also tried to characterize the movement this way. And sure, many yellow vests were probably as selfish as you want to say they were. But if it had just been about a fuel tax I doubt you'd even have heard of the protests...

 

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16 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Oh my, wow, no. Just a combination of green parties (or parties with green agendas) winning elections with public awareness of the sacrifices green policies entail would be enough in my eyes.

But even that may be too much to hope for at present.

The climate emergency is definitely finding its way into most political agendas, but this falls far short from globalism or universalism or what have you. Giving a new impulse to things like the Paris Treaty would be a start, but we need both a democrat in the White House and an increased sense of urgency on politicians world-wide for that.

I don't know if you've seen "The Handmaid's Tale" on TV, but it depicts a fascist religious society that also happens to be very environmentally conscious. It's fiction, of course, but I find it plausible. I believe that, though we may currently associate green policies with left wing parties, there's nothing that truly keeps right-wing and nationalist parties from appropriating them. I think right-wing nationalist parties that want a better environment for their nationals while at the same time refusing to assume any kind of responsibility for the climate emergency or its effects on the well-being of people outside of their borders will be a thing in the near future.

16 hours ago, Rippounet said:

That's actually a complicated point to address.
All in all I would tend to agree: democracies can work.
Problem is we don't live in democracies. We live in semi-democratic regimes where the power is really controled by corporations and the super-rich that own them. Which means it takes -way too much- time for public sentiments to translate into political action.

While representative democracy has problems that need addressing, that's a different can of worms. I also think you exaggerate. Corporations are merely legal constructs (most of which are small or medium sized) and the rich are merely human beings that have a lot of money. The narrative that the rich are hard-working, talented and zealous while the poor are lazy, dim-witted scroungers is false, but the narrative that the rich are conniving, manipulative villains while the working class (or "The People") are salt-of-the-earth, hard-working and honest is just as false. We're all just human beings and much of a muchness. Come the time to foot the bill for the climate emergency, those who have more should certainly bear more of a responsibility, but I drive a diesel car, get amazon deliveries, eat burgers at pubs, take flights to visit my English family and girlfriend and look things up on Google on my Huawei mobile phone. I may not have won the lottery, but like most people I bought a ticket. I feel like I'm no less to blame.

16 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Many countries are moving away from redistributive/socialistic policies these days, which means it's more difficult to get people to agree to sacrifice elements of their lifestyle.
A different way to put it is that a society built on individualism is unlikely to go along with "eco-taxes."
Conversely, I'm tempted to think that dealing with global warming will entail building fairer societies.

Well, I can see nothing wrong with building fairer societies, but that might be putting the cart ahead of the horse. We've had a lot of time to build fair societies. That we haven't come further is tragic. That said, the climate emergency is an emergency. If it isn't dealt with urgently we might never get the chance to build fairer societies. I agree eco-taxes should start with those who have more, but they can't end there, and individualism can't be an excuse not to implement them.

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14 hours ago, Mentat said:

Well, I can see nothing wrong with building fairer societies, but that might be putting the cart ahead of the horse.

I think this is what we really disagree on.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.

14 hours ago, Mentat said:

I think right-wing nationalist parties that want a better environment for their nationals while at the same time refusing to assume any kind of responsibility for the climate emergency or its effects on the well-being of people outside of their borders will be a thing in the near future.

Oh, absolutely. And as I wrote on another thread, it's part of the solution. Fighting global warming requires going back to localism, establishing shorter production and distribution circuits... etc. There's no way this isn't happening at the national level, quite simply because it's the one most of us are the most familiar with.

We're ending up with this terrible conundrum that nationalism can definitely be positive if it breaks the back of international trade... But incredibly dangerous at the same time in a world wrecked by climate change.
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 tobe dealt with at the national level.

14 hours ago, Mentat said:

While representative democracy has problems that need addressing, that's a different can of worms. I also think you exaggerate. Corporations are merely legal constructs (most of which aresmall or medium sized) and the rich are merely human beings that have a lot of money. The narrative that the rich are hard-working, talented and zealous while the poor are lazy, dim-witted scroungers is false, but the narrative that the rich are conniving, manipulative villains while the working class (or "The People") are salt-of-the-earth, hard-working and honest is just as false.

Unfortunately I'm not exaggerating. I'm tempted to say I'm well-informed.

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.

And all of this... I'm feeling a bit philosophical tonight (not even high), but isn't it weird that humanity finds itself having to solve pretty much all of its major problems or disappear? 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...

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On 8/4/2019 at 5:04 PM, Rippounet said:

That's what you'd like to think but the facts simply don't support that assertion. In fact, by your own admission, this view requires dismissing most of the demands that were eventually made by the movement which is... curious. It's like your perspective on this should be taken more seriously than... the protesters themselves?
As regard numbers, they declined sharply before the government made any announcement (early December) and rose sharply again in January after all the announcements were made. The protests pettered out but the movement continues under various forms. You can simply, uh... read what people from the movement have said or written.
Mind you I can't blame you for thinking this since it's true that the mainstream media also tried to characterize the movement this way. And sure, many yellow vests were probably as selfish as you want to say they were. But if it had just been about a fuel tax I doubt you'd even have heard of the protests...

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 and here this was the suspension of the fuel tax, the small minimum wage increase and the tax concessions. And yes, I know they're still around, but do you really think they'll accomplish anything more than they already have?

2 hours ago, Rippounet said:

And all of this... I'm feeling a bit philosophical tonight (not even high), but isn't it weird that humanity finds itself having to solve pretty much all of its major problems or disappear?

I think you exaggerate. A few extra degrees Celsius will not make humanity disappear -- the upper end of the predictions would be devastating, but not to the point of extinction (not for humans, anyway... many other species are doomed). Similarly, the odds of humanity solving all of its problems in the next few decades are really, really small -- we've trying to do this for a long, long time and the only meaningful changes have come with technological advances.

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