Mind-gargling ignorance just doesn't aid in saving the planet

PXL_20220108_151520207 It's a Timmy-vs-Georgie fight; I know who my money is on. Monbiot's starter is here (or was; the clowns have moved it to here5) and Timmy's reply is here. Let's hope he has cleaned up his HTML by the time you come to look. If, that is, you can bear to pollute your browsing history. Perhaps you prefer a safe archive?

Anyway, exactly what GM's brilliant idea to save the planet is I don't know, because I didn't bother to watch to the end; what I'm interested in is shamelessly repeating Timmy's argument, because GM's idea / analogy is all too common. It is, stripped down: during the 2008 banking crisis we urgently threw money at the problem; if we were to take Global Warming seriously we would urgently throw money at... something. This is an argument designed to appeal to greed and envy, and to trigger our sense of fairness3.

But as Timmy points out, the banking crisis was, errm, a banking crisis. The problem was money, and so the solution was money2. That isn't true of GW. You can, if you like, say that the problem is Capitalism1; but even so, the problem still isn't money. Indeed, as Timmy points out, one way to interpret GM's stuff is that his solution is less economy: we should all consume less. So the solution is... less money; well, no. The solution is directing our economy towards lower CO2 emissions, and doing so in an efficient fashion, because more efficiency means less CO24. Also known as carbon taxes.


* Ain't no use in prayin' That's the way it's stayin', baby / Johnny ain't so crazy He's always got a line for the ladies.

* Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals / Everybody happy as the dead come home.

The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius.

* Two types of environmentalism by Scott Sumner.

Stalin Allowed The Proles To See The Grapes Of Wrath.

Do Climate Models predict Extreme Weather? - Sabine Hossenfelder.

In Praise of Jurisdictional Competition - DB.


Tema Okun's "White Supremacy Culture" work is bad.

* The Best Argument Against School Closures by Bryan Caplan.

* Catering to People's Needs by Pierre Lemieux.


1. FWIW, I don't think that is a good diagnosis, except to the extent that C has enabled us to grow so much richer that we're capable of causing problems like this.

2. Of course, that doesn't imply that what was done was optimal, or even correct; but that's another matter.

3. GM gets rather loathesome about this around 5:26. Why, he wonders, do pols not do what he wants? His speculation as to why is all you'd expect from him and his ilk: that the pols are corrupt and moneyed interests want otherwise. But whilst money is important, so are votes: if voters wanted their money spent by govts fixing GW, it would be done. But they don't. And they are aided and abetted in this by pols and the likes of GM.

4. Alas, the squareheads are having a hard time with this idea.

5. Amusingly the URL has changed from h"how-the-number-25-can-save-the-world" to "the-tipping-point-that-will-destroy-the-world". I should probably also add that GM is rabbiting on about science that he doesn't understand and that is pretty dubious.


Anonymous said...

In the UK one of the most beneficial and low-hanging fruit steps to reduce carbon emissions would be to embark on a large scale, country-wide improvement of the insulation of housing. This would:

1) Immediately reduce carbon emissions
2) Progressively help lower income households with the current energy price rises
3) Reduce total energy demand which renewables need to aim to meet in the future
4) Make more properties suitable for heatpump style heating

If the major blocker to performing the above isn't money, then what is?

William M. Connolley said...

More insulation would be a good idea. But it would not be a new idea. Looking back over previous failures would be a good idea, if you wanted to start a new push. The problem is not modey, it is people caring. Witness, for example, the stupid "energy surveys" you get before buying/selling houses.

Phil said...

> Two types of environmentalism

There are 10 kinds of people in the world.

Those that understand binary.

Those that don't.

Most real people issues are not binary. Take the power line example. A "rational cost/benefit approach" might lead you to oppose a badly designed power line plan, for example. Not because it was emotionally bad, "the visible and the local", but because the costs would be higher than the benefits, even when viewed globally and long term. A route through high landslide risk terrain, for example.

Aesthetics does matter. Avoiding ugly has some value. The problem with competing values is that you can't maximize all of them at the same time.

Your back yard might be far more important to you than all other similar sized patches of ground. This leads to NIMBY. Often confused with environmentalism, and often claiming to be environmentalism.