14 November 2019

Stray thoughts

One of the things that distresses me about Anglosphere politics generally and Canadian politics specifically and Ontario politics even more specifically; there's nothing even starting to resemble reasonable climate policy.

I had a thought about that; any proposal collapses under the weight of complexity, how do you fairly compensate, wait, how do you define fair, wait, don't people have a right to? and nothing sensible gets articulated.

Some of that's the natural human tendency to want to believe in someone else's fault; some of that's certainly propaganda.  But most of it is looking at the whole thing from the wrong perspective; the realm of optional things, of compromise, of competing desires, of choices.  That it's fundamentally a political question.

It isn't; we're in the realm of necessity.  Looked at that way, it's not even "if you're a grown up, and you realize there's a leak in the roof, do you cancel your planned vacation and put the money into roof repairs?"  It's the much simpler "do you want to die of something other than starvation?"

That's it.  That's the whole thing.  At the individual, personal, human scale, that's climate change policy.

Do you want to die of something other than starvation?


Peter T said...

Well, here in Australia we also have the option of burning to death.

One would think the argument compelling, but humans are funny animals. Many of us would rather die together than live differently.

Harold Henderson said...

Elaborating on Peter T's comment:

(1) Few of us living today have had many occasions to live in the realm of necessity.

(2) As a result we do not respond well if a political candidate were to tell the truth and promise us blood, toil, tears, and sweat -- with failure still likely.

Graydon said...

+Harold Henderson

It looks a lot like a big chunk, four-fifths or more, of the millenials and zeds have never lived anywhere else. (Never mind the folks outside the Anglosphere.)

And, yeah, the comfortable don't want to know they're about to be afflicted. This is something of a failure of adult responsibility.

Peter T said...

Well, the Australian comfortable have been well and truly afflicted, what with all the major population centres blanketed by smoke and many severely singed. In a month or so we will know if this has shifted opinion. Barring the politically bizarre, it won't make much practical difference for another two years. The New York Times opines that Australia is committing national suicide. It fails to note that the US is too, only by poison rather than immolation.

Graydon said...

+Peter_T lots of immolation in NorAm; I flew over the Canadian Rockies in 2017, and it did a plausible job of looking like Mordor down there, with the scale of the fires.

It won't shift opinion because there is nowhere for opinion to shift; people will not, generally, choose a loss of relative status, and pretty much everyone in political power would have to admit to being someone who should be on trial for crimes against humanity. The "stop all fossil carbon extraction RFN" viewpoint -- which is technically correct -- has no traction because, well, that would be bad.

It would be bad. Nothing like as bad as breaking agriculture or the results of 4 C of warming, but it would definitely be bad. Pointing out that there is no getting off a local maximum without going downhill for a bit lacks emotional weight.

(The Hansen compare-averages paper only terrifies you if you can really read a graph, which is almost nobody.)