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Please, don’t be stupid

June 21, 2019

What follows is based on a conversation I had with someone, yesterday. It’s not very tightly reasoned and it paints with an enormously broad brush, so you have been warned.

People, I have decided, can be amazingly stupid. If you are inclined to think I am referring only to those people who disagree with some position I hold dear, allow me to suggest that’s not what I am doing. No, it’s people in general, which at times undoubtedly includes me. While this tendency toward stupidity can be seen all around us and in almost every arena of life, I’m going to use an aspect of concern about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) as an example.

Before going further, let’s note that I’m not talking about whether AGW is occurring or not, though I will, for the sake of this posting, assume AGW as a real thing. More than that, I will assume it poses, to use a currently popular term, an existential threat to continued human existence.  I’m making this assumption because I want to talk about AGW as regards social and political capital.*

Some years back, there was a man elected President of the United States. Early during his time in office, he was asked if he would be pursuing a particular policy which seemed consistent with his political position. As I recall, he indicated he would probably not be doing so because, he noted, everyone who is elected enters office with a finite amount of political capital which he must spend in order to accomplish his goals. The obvious, and I submit accurate, implication was that when that capital was spent, there would be no more. As a general rule, once it’s gone, it’s gone. How does that relate to AGW?

Here are some things we can observe about those who seem to be leaders in the movement to address AGW. Be advised, once again, that I am painting with a broad brush, here.

  1. They seem to fervently believe what they preach. In other words, they expend a great deal of time, energy and effort attempting to persuade other people of (at least) four things:
    1. AGW is real
    2. AGW poses an existential threat to human existence
    3. AGW can and must be addressed
    4. Those who disagree are anti-scientific neanderthals who must be silenced
  2. Many of those who seem to be the loudest proponents of addressing AGW are wealthy and live lifestyles/do things that contradict their calls for things like smaller carbon footprints.
  3. Some leaders of this movement travel to AGW conferences, held in what some people might consider “exotic” locations, in private or chartered jets.
  4. Some attend lavish parties or social events while at the conferences.
  5. There is significant opposition to using nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Instead, there is a push for “green energy.”

All five of those waste political and social capital.

  1. Screaming “the science is settled” to end or forestall debate persuades only the already convinced. To all others, it makes you look like you’re afraid of debate.
  2. It is inconsistent to own and drive multiple fossil fuel driven cars and to own one or more large homes, while telling others to reduce their carbon footprint. It makes one look rather hypocritical. People don’t like hypocrites.
  3. Private and chartered jets are inefficient uses of energy, at least within an AGW context. Why not simply telecommute or have a video conference, instead?
  4. Parties sort of give the impression that the purpose of the conference was something other than an attempt to address a real problem.
  5. Safe nuclear energy is a reality. Pretending otherwise is dishonest.

My observation is that the behavior of some leaders and/or mouthpieces of the movement has been such that an increasing number of people simply don’t believe them. At the very least, it predisposed people to not believe them. This is a problem because it seems quite likely to lead people to reject attempts to address AGW, which leads to an even bigger problem. To wit, AGW will go unaddressed (at least unaddressed in a timely manner) and it will bring about the very thing we are trying to avoid, because those most visible leaders will destroy both their own credibility and that of the movement in general.

Which brings us to the next problem: what can be done about this?

The simple answer is “stop doing those things which burn up social and political capital for no real gains. Stop looking hypocritical. Start doing what you want others to do.” Let’s be honest with ourselves. This means media personalities, business and industry leaders and political figures must do what they ask of everyone else. Bill needs a smaller house and Al needs to fly business class.

Who believes either of these are likely to become reality? No hands? Me either. Which leaves us facing a threat a large number of people, perhaps even a majority of people, do not recognize and answers to which they will not accept. Given the nature of the threat (i.e., the end of the human race), it must still be addressed.

Which is where the real problem comes in.

See, if people won’t accept the answer to something that threatens to wipe us all from existence, there remains only one response. Government force. And if they still won’t cave in to the pressure? If they still decline? Yep. That’s right.

You have to kill them. Remember, this is about survival as a species.

Presumably, we’d start with a certain number in mind. In other words, we’d have an idea of how many people needed to die to reduce the impact we’re all having on the climate. Ideally, the initial targets would be the loudest “deniers,” but others would likely have to follow.

Of course, people might object. They might actually decline to be killed, even if boxcars weren’t involved. They might even fight back. I would. I will, if you come for me, my family, my friends or my neighbor.

Which is why, if you are convinced we’re facing a likely TEOTWAWKI threat from AGW, you don’t burn up your social and political capital for no good end. Because you will hasten the very thing you seek to avoid. This stuff really isn’t all that complicated and there’s no reason to be stupid, even though people are pretty good at that.

*If you are inclined to think you know, based upon this brief posting, what I believe about AGW, allow me to suggest I haven’t provided nearly enough information for you to make such a determination with any degree of accuracy. On the other hand, you can get a pretty good idea of what I think of authoritarians.

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