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Why is Climate Change so controversial?

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  • Why is Climate Change so controversial?

    At least in the United States. Like how Holocaust Denial is illegal in Germany, Climate Change denial should be illegal everywhere,

  • #2
    Originally posted by Konradleijon View Post
    At least in the United States. Like how Holocaust Denial is illegal in Germany, Climate Change denial should be illegal everywhere,
    Ninety percent of the world's CO2 emissions comes from just one hundred companies. Most of those companies are based out of the US (even if they say otherwise for tax purposes). The companies would have to sacrifice some profits in order to combat climate change. The rich assholes in charge of the companies are not interested in losing so much as a goddamned dime out of their bloated salaries, so any money the company spends combatting climate change would have to come from somewhere else. Cutting a corner somewhere else might make them vulnerable to their competitors. They don't want that, either.

    ​So what do they do? They dump money (a disgusting amount, but nowhere near as much as they'd spend saving the planet) into lobbying to either prevent legislation that would force them to pollute less or create legislation that would permit them to pollute more. So that it doesn't look quite so blatantly like corruption, they also throw money (also a disgusting amount, but still nowhere near as much as it'd cost to not pollute as much) into ethically-sketchy "research" groups that can produce results that look like the overwhelming scientific consensus is wrong to a layperson.

    ​They also own media companies that can keep "just asking questions" forcing actual scientists to have to use their valuable time on the defensive, shifting the burden of proof onto the people providing the answers.

    These are all direct consequences of the United States' capitalist system. ​Tragically, the two largest political parties in the United States are ride-or-die for capitalism. The primary difference being that one party thinks the greatest evils of capitalism can be mitigated with a few regulations every now and then (but not, like, too many - that'd be socialism!), and the other thinks the greatest evils of capitalism will just magically go away once the rich can do whatever they like.
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 06-21-2020, 10:36 AM.

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    • #3
      Because change is scary and people as a whole don't like change


      You've been playing around the magic that is black
      But all the powerful magical mysteries never gave a single thing back

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      • #4
        The post by TheCountAlucard above sums up the big picture excellently, but there are the individual perspectives as well that lead people to accept the capitalist-funded narratives offered by companies over the consensus of the vast majority of the scientific community. I don't live in the United States, but I do still have family members who (unfortunately) do not believe in, or are "skeptical" about, climate change. And the arguments that they offer broadly tend to come from a place of what I see as inconsistent anti-authoritarianism (I call it "inconsistent" because I feel like they wouldn't complain if THEIR beliefs were being enforced by the government, because their beliefs are "right" obviously). It comes from an inherent distrust of government and "big business" that leads them to regard anything that might place restrictions on them or cost them more money as a conspiracy by the people at the top to curtail their freedom.

        That being said, I regard that more as a "rationalization" than the actual reason. I suspect that a lot of it comes from the fact that, if you accept climate change as the existential risk that it is, then we have to accept a lot of harsh changes to the comfortable status quo we have enjoyed for a long time now to address it. That's where the points TheCountAlucard made above come in. As long as there are enough people willing to offer a (seemingly) acceptable position that rejects the need for harsh changes, then people will have a strong incentive (therefore, bias) to believe in that position to preserve their present comfort. Broadly speaking, we are not the "rational maximizers" that some would like to believe us to be, with a common notion of long-term self-interest that can be relied upon to motivate us to collective action.

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        • #5
          Let's also not forget that what drives capitalism is the consumption of goods and services by the public. If the average consumer wasn't obsessed with having the new model smart phone every year, rather than replacing it every 3-5 years a lot of these big corporations wouldn't have the money that they do. While I agree that Corporate greed drives a large part of this debate, the fact that the public in general values "new" and the "latest" rather than long term quality that can be handed down through generations is a huge part of the climate debate.

          Everyone wants to be righteous, but no one wants to give up their bling, swag, or tech to do it, kind of like how everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.

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          • #6
            There's also a hefty bit of tribalism that's seeped into the climate change discussion. Not all that long ago in the big picture of things, environmentalism wasn't a partisan issue, and the debates around how much to do and how fast were more valid because there was a lot more time to get thing done back then.

            NEPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the founding of the EPA were all non-controversial bipartisan things back in the day. Now, and money certainly is a factor, environmentalism has become part of the culture war. It's stopped being about how much people actually want stronger environmental policies (the vast majority of Americans actually want) and became another football to kick around rather than actually work on solving.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Thoth View Post
              Let's also not forget that what drives capitalism is the consumption of goods and services by the public. If the average consumer wasn't obsessed with having the new model smart phone every year, rather than replacing it every 3-5 years a lot of these big corporations wouldn't have the money that they do. While I agree that Corporate greed drives a large part of this debate, the fact that the public in general values "new" and the "latest" rather than long term quality that can be handed down through generations is a huge part of the climate debate.
              Perhaps if companies designed things to last longer in the first place, we wouldn't feel this compulsion? We have light bulbs made more than a century ago that still function today. Planned obsolescence might have boosted the economy to help us climb out of the Great Depression, but companies probably should have moved away from that model as we climbed into an age of unparalleled prosperity.

              ​I mentioned it in another thread, but the other day I was listening to a late-40's Superman radio broadcast on YouTube, and it amazed me that the companies actually asked you not to waste their product during the commercial. These days Kellogg's doesn't care if you only eat two bowls of their cereal before throwing the rest of the box in the trash - in fact, they prefer it, and that's why they print best-by dates on the boxes, to keep you buying more and more.

              ​Don't get me wrong, we do need to shake ourselves from this consumerist nightmare. But we didn't make this prison - we were born in it.
              Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 06-21-2020, 03:47 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                We have light bulbs made more than a century ago that still function today.
                While I agree with what you're saying, there is a point where these sorts of examples don't help. The Centennial Light is horribly inefficient when it comes to converting electricity to light.

                This is the actual sort of debate that we should be having instead of what's going on: where do we put waste in the system. If we switched everyone over to carbon-filament incandescent bulbs just because they last for at least a hundred years of normal use, are we prepared for an x8 increase in electricity demand for lighting to make up for how weak their light is?

                Incandescent bulbs are exceedingly inefficient even if made highly durable which just causes problems in needing to generate more electricity. CFLs are better in almost all ways... but use far more dangerous substances causing problems when they break and burn out regarding safe handling and disposal. LEDs are awesome in highly controlled situations, but require a lot of extra materials to make functional in every day use.

                Ideally we'd pick the right bulb for the job, but it's a pretty hard sell to end users to have to keep a dozen different bulbs in stock for maximal balance of environmental concerns, when you could get 95% of that and only have to buy 2-3 styles of bulbs. Even more so because individual consumers, even in aggregate, are only a small part of the problem.

                We say we need to get people away from the reflexive "new = better" mentality, but we have to acknowledge that, frequently, newer is better. Endurance of a product is not the be all and end all of environmental impact. For any item there's going to be a point where the environmental impact of keeping it running is going to be worse than replacing it. Finding that tipping point is not easy. Individual end users don't have the knowledge of manufacturing and logistics necessary to make that call for themselves, and producers don't have the individualized usage data to do it even if they were honest best intentioned actors in all this.

                Capitalism is making all this worse, but it's not creating a lot of the fundamental issues with balancing a technological society with environmentalism. There's a lot of issues that need to be solved and economist system change isn't going to fix those.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  While I agree with what you're saying, there is a point where these sorts of examples don't help. The Centennial Light is horribly inefficient when it comes to converting electricity to light.
                  I debated with myself about whether to include it or not; in retrospect, my prior draft in which I left out that specific example was better. I probably should have gone with how we're destroying more than a third of our food every year just to keep prices high, after paying farmers to not grow food to keep prices high, both creating climate-change-causing pollution and an artificial scarcity.

                  ​Much better example.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                    ...


                    ...and the other thinks the greatest evils of capitalism will just magically go away once the rich can do whatever they like.
                    Couldn't have said it better myself, except for this last part.

                    It's not just that they think the evils of Capitalism aren't that bad, and the solution is Moar Capitalism.

                    It's that they don't believe any problems Capitalism can't solve - let alone are responsible for - are even real.

                    Or at least that's the party line they insist on touting, though not in so many words. They obviously know they're ruining everything, on some level. But they can't or won't acknowledge the failings of their Capitalist ideology. Instead just ignoring it and pretending it doesn't exist. And then paying ridiculous sums of money to politicians, the media, and conservative think tanks to make everyone else think that too.

                    Hbomberguy illustrated it thusly:

                    Last edited by Bluecho; 06-21-2020, 04:36 PM.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                      I debated with myself about whether to include it or not; in retrospect, my prior draft in which I left out that specific example was better. I probably should have gone with how we're destroying more than a third of our food every year just to keep prices high, after paying farmers to not grow food to keep prices high, both creating climate-change-causing pollution and an artificial scarcity.

                      ​Much better example.
                      I mean, the discussion of the complicated and nuanced issues around technology is important to all this, even if it doesn't help make your point as well.

                      But yes, agricultural systems are definitely a better example; esp. regarding consumer mentality needing a change beyond policy issues. Unlike the issues of updating technology or not, the amount of food waste generated by American consumer mentality around idealized food appearances is flat out wrongheaded. There's no nuance or complicated weighing of costs: people refusing to buy carrots that look too "ugly" result in stores not buying carrots that don't fit visual metrics, leading to huge amounts of wasted carrots and resources to grow those carrots... even though they were just as healthy to eat as any other carrots.

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                      • #12
                        Regarding Consumerism, while legitimate discussion can be made about the role of the public in the environment, we mustn't fall into the trap of fixating on it either.

                        After all, it's not really consumers at large who are causing climate change. As usual, it's the corporations/Capitalism.

                        No amount of maximizing the energy efficiency of light bulbs on an individual level will change the fact that much of the US's electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. Processes which aren't helped by the fact that the byproducts of this energy production are just left to pump into the air, because it's cheaper for companies than changing their systems to be less harmful.

                        Again, I'm not saying consumer habits don't matter.

                        What I'm saying is that putting the onus of responsibility for climate change on the public is not merely a mistake, but a deliberate misdirection perpetuated by corporations. They want people to fixate on what kinds of lightbulbs they buy or whether their cars are hybrids or electric. It keeps people paying into the Capitalist system in the interests to "do their part", and not paying attention to the arch-capitalists who are actually to blame.

                        This is a point that gets lost so often in discussions about broad problems. Much of it is systemic, not just individual, and deliberately engineered to perpetuate itself, and keep people misinformed and angry at the wrong people.


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                        • #13
                          To continue my point, this is relevant to the discussion about food waste.

                          Much of the problem with wasted food is that it's being wasted in one place while people starve - or at least suffer from poor diets - in another. Much food waste is a result of food never reaching customers in the first place, but being thrown away on the store or even farm level.

                          Again, the fault is Capitalism. Plenty of poor people would love to eat all that food that just gets dumped in landfills by the truckload - not individual contributions to food waste, but food waste in industrial loads. It's just that under Capitalism, there's no economic incentive to transport excess food from food rich places to food poor places, or to give food away for free to those trapped in grinding poverty. (Grinding poverty that, need I remind, is a direct result of unchecked and ruthless Capitalism. It's all connected, you see).

                          A more ideal solution to such a problem would be for the government to buy more excess produce from farmers - including all the "ugly" food that farmers just throw out because they know stores will never buy them - and distribute it where it's most needed.

                          But that would require public funds being allocated towards helping people rather than enriching donors or the various "Suffering Industries" (Prisons, Weapons Manufacture, etc), and would undercut major food corporations by making cheap, healthy food more available. So obviously, we can't have that. Capitalism will never allow it.
                          Last edited by Bluecho; 06-21-2020, 05:07 PM.


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                          • #14
                            Putting all the blame on capitalism is just as much of a trap. Capitalism isn't real in a materialistic sense. It's an economic ideology. Capitalism doesn't do anything. People do things guided by capitalist modes of thought. Capitalism doesn't allow, or disallow, anything. It doesn't block things. It doesn't have that power.

                            The US has done all sorts of things during the long reign of capitalism that are not in the direct interests of the bottom lines of corporations.

                            This is where the public does matter more than individual environmental lifestyle choices: voting. And in a supposed democracy, voting is something that's a fair onus to put on the public (even with voter suppression issues). Americans suck at voting. Our voter turnout numbers are pathetic, and the vast majority of those that do vote look at R vs D as their only consideration about candidates. History has shown repeatedly that an engaged electorate is stronger than corporations because politicians can't get kickbacks from corporations if they can't get elected in the first place or stay in office.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                              Perhaps if companies designed things to last longer in the first place, we wouldn't feel this compulsion? We have light bulbs made more than a century ago that still function today. Planned obsolescence might have boosted the economy to help us climb out of the Great Depression, but companies probably should have moved away from that model as we climbed into an age of unparalleled prosperity.

                              ​I mentioned it in another thread, but the other day I was listening to a late-40's Superman radio broadcast on YouTube, and it amazed me that the companies actually asked you not to waste their product during the commercial. These days Kellogg's doesn't care if you only eat two bowls of their cereal before throwing the rest of the box in the trash - in fact, they prefer it, and that's why they print best-by dates on the boxes, to keep you buying more and more.

                              ​Don't get me wrong, we do need to shake ourselves from this consumerist nightmare. But we didn't make this prison - we were born in it.
                              Yes and no.

                              I agree that planned obsolescence is something that should be outright illegal. I have tools from my grandfather that still perform well after almost 80 years of use, while the ones bought at a store break or shred. I mean how corrupt do you have to be to mess up making a hammer or screw driver.

                              As for the radio broadcasts, you have to remember the cultural context at the time. Namely there was national rationing going on due to WWII, people were encouraged to save bacon grease so that it could be refined for its nitrates and nitrite content to make gun powder & other explosives. It was all part of the entire culture doing something for the war effort. To be honest until the pandemic the closest thing we saw to national rationing was a gas crisis during the 1970s.

                              Yes we were born into a consumerist nightmare, but we were the ones who accepted the trappings of it as status symbols in our lives. In tribal communities there is usually a "right of manhood" which is the societal mechanism that differentiates a boy from a man. In modern society that "rite" is getting your own car or in the last 15-20 years getting unrestricted access to the internet by smart phone or computer. We essentially went from some sort of social rite usually involving a skill test or endurance test, to a monetary test to see if your credit check passes muster to get the payment plan or just buy it outright.

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