The Monday Roundup: Coping with climate, car ads, carfree park debate, and more

Posted by on August 9th, 2021 at 10:09 am

Welcome to the week. It’s going to be a tough one. The climate news is bad. Another heat wave is coming. Let’s keep riding, stick together and fight stronger than ever.

Here are the most noteworthy items our editors and readers came across in the past seven days…

The IPCC report: Major news for people who care about human life came out today in the form of a stark warning from the most authoritative source on climate change research in the world. Here’s a solid analysis that also includes links to the report summary.

Climate grief toolkit: This article from Portland-based reporter Britany Robinson interviews three climate experts (an activist, a journalist, and a scientist) who share how how they find hope amid so much doom-and-gloom.

Car ads are part of the problem: Glad to see the issue of totally irresponsible and dangerous car ads that promote illegal and deadly behaviors getting more negative attention.

Unleash the cargo bikes: New research shows massive potential for cargo bikes (especially electrified ones) to deliver freight in cities because they can do it faster and with much less impact on greenhouse gases than trucks.

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Carfree debate: Open streets advocates celebrate the prohibition of cars and removal of free parking in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, but museum officials say it’s hurting access to their exhibits.

Bike friendly to the max: A luxury condo tower in metro Vancouver, BC is set to have a 50,000 square foot bike parking and services facility, making it the world’s largest.

Getting tough on “street takeovers”: The City of Portland has proposed a new ordinance that would create high fines and possible jail time for taking part in unlawful “sideshow” events where drivers and their fans takeover intersections to do burnouts and other crazy stuff.

Noisy vehicle catcher: Several cities in France have installed radar devices that measure decibel levels of passing vehicles with an aim of cracking down on loud ones (especially trick motorbikes).

Thanks to everyone who submitted links this week!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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cmh89
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cmh89

Re: sideshows

The possible punishments are:

Fines of up to $500
Possible jail time
Towed cars

Wow, what a weak and ineffectual response to this behavior. Our leaders are so pro-car that they can’t imagine more than a $500 fine for intentionally endangering the lives of hundreds of people and causing disruption to our transportation system. Amazing. The city that works folks, the city that works. Gee-whiz, they might even have their car towed!!!!

maxD
Guest
maxD

Totally agree! This is weak sauce.And what about the sidewalk takeovers making it nearly impossible for someone with a mobility/sight issue to get around?

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

Crush the Cars involved, that will do the trick once the word gets out.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Bingo! As per the instructions on that webpage, I emailed my comment to MayorWheeler@PortlandOregon.gov requesting that the ordinance be strengthened by crushing the vehicles involved. I encourage all to send similar emails.

EP
Guest
EP

Ideal scenario: Street racing cars are impounded and brought to a scrapyard where they’re crushed on a live stream video. Weekly. This repeats until it stops. This would also apply to the varied “rolling death traps” around town that haven’t been registered or insured in years, and won’t pass any kind of inspection.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Wouldn’t that regressively and disproportionately impact lower income street racers?

(And also, Oregon vehicles don’t have to undergo safety inspections, so none of them need to pass.)

EP
Guest
EP

Yes, we mustn’t forget the street racing poors who live in a tent and scrape by on ramen all week just to afford a new set of used tires to illegally roast at the big saturday night street race event.

When I said “won’t pass any kind of inspection”, I meant it. There are cars around town I can visually inspect from 20′ away and tell you they shouldn’t be on the road. I WISH WISH WISH we had state mandated safety inspections. I’d take that over emissions testing. Having lived in states with both, it’s really great having to check (and repair) things like brake lights, horn, brake pads, structural integrity (rust) and all that.

What a simple concept:”The New York State vehicle safety inspection program helps make sure every vehicle registered in this state meets the minimum standards for safe operation on public streets and highways. ”
https://dmv.ny.gov/brochure/new-york-state-vehicle-safetyemissions-inspection-program

Laura
Guest
Laura

While Oregon doesn’t have a mandatory inspection like many mid-Atlantic and New England states, we still do have vehicle safety requirements on the books. You can be cited for things like bald tires, broken or non-functioning turn/brake/head/tail lights, broken windows and a whole lot more. A couple of years ago, I was rear-ended by an unhoused person whose vehicle, among other things, had no functioning brakes. They did get cited for invalid registration, no insurance, and a slew of safety violations. (And of course I and my “uninsured motorist” insurance paid for the damage.) Police now don’t enforce the rules because of so-called profiling of unhoused, POC, and others.

EP
Guest
EP

Most states have those vehicle safety laws on the books, but yes, they aren’t used that often as they’ve become excuses to harass people. That’s why having inspections tied to registrations is so great.

Don’t get me started on window tint, which has become super hazardous. So many vehicles with limo tint front windows now. How can I see that the driver sees me, if I can’t see them at all? I’d love to see tinting enforced, as it’s a law that rarely is. Boom, vehicle inspections solves that.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Here in British Columbia, the fine is $1,996. And it comes with an automatic 7-day vehicle impoundment and a driver license suspension between three months and three years.

Driving while suspended is a crime and is punished harshly by the courts in metro areas because the public transit system is capable of getting you anywhere you need to go without a car.

JohnR
Guest
JohnR

I worry that the perpetrators will just race off… would a high speed chase (and associated risk in high density areas) be justified?

X
Guest
X

Kettling

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

The city seemed to figure out how to enforce their previous ban on cruising, this really isn’t that much different, just more dangerous!

X
Guest
X

Enforcing laws already in place would be enough. It’s ridiculous that a motivated police force could not find multiple violations on almost any car driver at a street takeover, especially since the activity is not secret, stealthy, or unforeseen.

I’m guessing that this law will be used sooner or later against political protesters.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

In the face of climate change that is happening before our eyes ( the ramped up forest fires are a sign we are moving towards a different ecosystem) that both the auto companies and the customers can be binging on Monster Trucks, Monster SUV’s, and overpowered Neo-Muscle cars is disturbing at best. It seems to me to be a sign of profound cultural and societal collapse. Like the sodbuster family using the last of the coins to go on a drinking binge instead of buying the kids enough food to last till the end of winter. A few laws regulating car adds are not going to fix this when people running out to buy these things and ravage the planet and the people with them. Wow, the end of the Roman empire had nothing on us.

EP
Guest
EP

It sure doesn’t help when the president is holding a press conference about switching to EVs, but they’re a Hummer, Wrangler, and an F150.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

You’re right dude, nihilistic, self-righteous contempt is a MUCH more effective and sane response to hopelessness than drinking.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

If you see someone go out and buy a neo-muscle car or a mega-pickup at the same time we have broken all time high temperatures and have record fires and you view that action with anything but disgust and contempt then you are clueless or sociopathic. It is time to stop mollycoddling these destructive fools and call them out for what they are.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Well a couple of things. First, some people actually do need a truck to do their work, and you can’t really buy one that isn’t ridiculously gargantuan anymore, so what are they to do?

Secondly, when I see many of these pickup guys I usually think “Bro, You coulda just bought yourself a corolla and a cowboy outfit and saved yourself $75k.” Sometimes I even say that to them. I mention this because I think thats really the crux of your problem here. You don’t like their vulgar and phony choices, but “climate change” allows you to wrap up your aesthetic disdain in world-saving self-righteousness.

Finally, the IPCC used to warn that localized weather events can’t be causally tied to climate change. They don’t bother anymore, even though it’s still true. You can claim all you want that its “obvious” that global warming causes every heat wave, cold snap, hurricane, flood, tornado, and forest fire, but like so many other allegedly “obvious” things it turns out that there is no evidence to support the link. I have no doubt, however, that some grad student somewhere is busy making some up.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The status-symbol pickups that have become so popular present many issues to society. It isn’t just climate change.
1. Weight/shape. The added mass and frontal area are significantly more dangerous for all drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
2. Added fuel consumption increases local pollution (especially with the modified diesel trucks) and makes fuel more expensive for everyone.
3. Larger wheelbase and width consume more street space, making traffic worse, and making it harder to find parking spots.

Pickups are fantastic when you need them. I borrow a 3/4 ton when I do major projects, but I just can’t justify owning one, because I would only really “use it” a few times per year. Then you have people like my neighbor who has owned his F150 for 3 years now and used the bed once or twice. We all lose because of it.

Jim
Guest
Jim

So many tired arguments here Clem. I doubt you seriously stand behind any of them, you’re just sniping.

Yes, some people need large powerful work vehicles. This has nothing to do with most truck sales and ownership . Almost none of the trucks I see, or the people I know who own trucks, ever carry anything in the bed. The vast majority of hauling capacity is unused most of the time. From a practical perspective, our society is extremely over-trucked. The trend in trucks is getting larger because that’s what people want to buy, not because it has anything to do with work. Plus anything “lifted” is terrible for a work truck.

Secondly, how the hell do you know Bikeninja or my feelings on the matter? Don’t ascribe this position to people you have no idea about. It is an incredibly weak argument.

Finally, another disingenuous straw man argument. Of course individual weather events cannot be tied to truck emissions. That will always be impossible. But the overall situation is very clear and very stark.

Overall, 2/10. These points would have been old 20 years ago. Play the ball, not the person. And at least come up with some fresh bad arguments.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Huh… well, ok. I mostly ride my bikes, bit I also own a ’65 F250. I *only* drive it for hauling because its nerve wracking to drive- no power steering, and you never know whats going to break on it next, but here are a couple of observations.

1. It is dwarfed by modern trucks
2. It’s a chick magnet. A girl literally shouted that at me as I drove by her on Mississippi last weekend. Actually I think she said “babe magnet” but same concept.

There was a story here on bikeportland a week or two ago about the way bike ridership is portrayed in hollywood (nerd, virgin, loser) and it seems to me that truck ownership is the same thing but in reverse. I’d posit that trucks are getting bigger as people’s social mobility is getting smaller, or as masculinity comes under more attack… or something like that anyway. It seems compensatory to me. Or maybe its triumphant, like shoulder pads in the 80s. I dunno and I suppose I don’t care either way. Its just kind of better when you can divorce consumer products from their alleged “meaning” one way or another, was what I was trying to say to bikeninja.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Well, that all makes sense to me. No disagreement. I just don’t feel the need to own a motor vehicle for those rare times when I need to haul something. I can borrow or rent.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Thanks for the casual sexism and pseudo-logic, Clem. You’re the problem.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

And you’re hilarious! Though in hindsight the girl shouting at me might have been calling my puppy the “babe magnet” more than the truck. She could have just as easily screamed “loser!” at me for riding a bike. I just related the story because I think it has something to do with why men buy trucks.

soren
Guest
soren

Anyone who finds hope in a ~90% chance of 1.5 C by 2040 and a likelihood of reaching 1.5 C by 2030 is in complete and utter denial of basic climate science facts. The reason to fight for rapid decarbonization and the staggering amounts of carbon removal essential to all AR6 mitigation scenarios is not because we can prevent ecocide from being horrific but because it can and will get much, much worse.

I also find it head spinning that the climate grief piece discusses “systemic change” while continuing to advocate for the same-old failed localist (nationalist) environmental approach. Opposing a particular pipeline or freeway project does %#$% all to address this ongoing systemic crisis. Systemic change means regime (socioeconomic) change, not a climate science illiterate “PNW thin green line”. Systemic change means laws/mandates that: force industry to decarbonize, force people to stop eating so much meat*, force people to stop over-consuming imports, force homeowners to decarbonize their homes, force people to replace their dino-juice burning cages with alternatives. The idea that making it slightly more expensive for sociopathic oil companies to do business is enough in 2020 is absurd. System change under our existing economic system requires social policy in addition to industrial policy (and we no longer have the luxury of waiting until we change our economic system).

IMO, the rhetoric that we should avoid criticizing the actual behaviors that need to systemically change to avoid shaming others only perpetuates and reinforces denial. It’s akin to arguing that we should not discuss the fact that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer because this might shame smokers and cause them abandon all hope or dig in their heals. This kind of rhetoric is infantilizing. If you aren’t thinking about how we can de-normalize these ecocidal behaviors, your climate activism @#$%s.

*methane emissions are growing much faster then CO2e emissions and unambiguously represent our best bet for mitigating ecocide in the next 30 years.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Systemic change needs a plan, as it can only be successful through group action. But there is no such plan.

X
Guest
X

I think Soren just laid it out. Anathemize consumerism, animal agriculture, and cars. Have one kid. Grow food instead of grass. Make your own fun. Stuff like that.

Yeah those are individual, local actions, you have to make them cool…

 
Guest
 

Not having kids is the #1 thing that any person can do to help stop global warming, orders of magnitude more effective than any other individual actions. Having more than two kids is extremely selfish and will lead to the destruction of our species.

soren
Guest
soren

This “not having kids” pseudoscientific narrative is nonsense because it double counts emissions by adding the future emissions of a human being to the running total of another. Believe it or not, but climate scientists are actually smart enough to account for population growth in their models.

soren
Guest
soren

There is no plan in the USA but there are plans elsewhere:

“Today, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.”

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_3541

And an important part of the EU’s plans are border taxes that economically sanction the USA (and other nations):

“The European Commission has presented the world’s first-ever import levy on certain goods produced in third countries with lower environmental standards – part of the effort to reduce emissions under its massive ‘Fit-for-55’ package.

The levy – officially known as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) – aims to accelerate global climate action and, at the same time, prevent businesses from transferring production to non-EU countries with less strict climate rules – dubbed ‘carbon leakage’.”

https://euobserver.com/climate/152460

I suspect that the USA will not seriously address the climate crisis until it is forced to do so by coordinated international trade sanctions and/or boycotts.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

I think this piece says it best:

https://youtu.be/YsA3PK8bQd8

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

We’d all do well to remember how wrong, in many cases orders of magnitude wrong, some of the covid models were just last year.

Climate change is neither “science” nor “fact”, it is a prediction of the future behavior of an even more complex system based on similar models. Maybe those predictions are good, maybe they’re not, but they are not “facts”.

Nonetheless it sounds like you and your ilk intend to “force” a lot of people to do things they don’t want to do based on your jumped up “facts”. How is this supposed to work when all the people you plan on forcing to do things get to vote, or is that going away in your utopia too?

Watts
Guest
Watts

Climate change can be observed today. It is both a directly observable process and, like astrophysics (which I assume you believe is real) a prediction about the future based off of what we know about physics and conditions today. The fact that it’s hard to make precise predictions about complex systems does not mean we know nothing about them and should not work to prevent the worst outcomes even if we can’t quantify them down to the 10th decimal place.

So you’re way off base there. But you do identify a problem in that we’re going to need to make collective change, and people who have been convinced, without evidence, that the science is part of an international conspiracy, may not want to change, and they get a vote too.

What would it take to convince you that climate change is a real, urgent problem?

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Well, we could start with some of the leadership that is hyping climate change. Barack Obama’s multi-million dollar compound is on the shoreline of an island. It seems to me that if he believed the models he insists that we believe, he would have chosen to live elsewhere. Similarly, current “Climate Czar” John Kerry flies private jets everywhere (including to Obama’s maskless party this weekend). You’re supposed to swelter in this week’s heatwave without A/C and feel guilty about having children, but none of us will ever equal in a lifetime, Kerry’s “carbon footprint” in a month? F*ck that. And this is, of course, just a first world example. Should we consign the global poor to a future of hopeless poverty to “save the planet”?

So yeah, we can start with the elite hypocrisy.

Secondly, I’m old enough to remember the 70s, when a “new global ice age!” was the great environmentalist fear. Predictors of impending armageddon, from Malthus to the “doomsday clock” guys have always been wrong, usually spectacularly. But yeah sure, this time the end is nigh! Cuz science!

Finally, what does “believing” in climate change even mean? You say that climate change can be observed today, and I agree. It can be observed every day. Is it anthropogenic? Will warming indeed be disastrous for the human race? Will the interventions championed by our leaders do anything to stop it, or just increase their power at the expense of our misery? Can it be stopped by *anything* we might do? If you answer “no” or even “maybe” to any of these questions you’re a “denier”?

I guess I’d turn your question around on you. You’re the one making the affirmative assertion here. What do you get out of believing that climate change is a “real, urgent problem”? It’s not like you can do anything about it.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

The problem with your opinion is that you are scientifically illiterate, meaning that you are unable to distinguish between tabloid hoaxes such as “a new ice age” and observations of sea level taken to the millimeter from a satellite using LIDAR. You don’t understand the methods, or any of the mathematics, that go into conducting a scientific analysis and publishing a scientific paper. You are simply not capable of understanding — either through a lack of adequate education or inability to learn — the science behind climate change. And you have been subjected to a decades-long misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry and its client politicians. Therefore, it is unsurprising that you don’t understand.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Oh fun, name calling.

Sure dude, I will grant you that I am a stupid little man, I’ve often thought so myself. But your attack is one answer to my question above. What do you get out of believing that climate change is a “real, urgent problem”?

You get to feel superior. You get to feel as though you’re a member in good standing of the smarter, better, more moral class of people who run things in this country! All of this for the low low price of making zero effort.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

I did not intend to engage in name calling. I don’t know how else to say that your posts here make clear that you don’t understand the substance or process of science. I agree this is embarrassing for you, but you can expect to be challenged when you double down on saying things that are wrong.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Sorry Dude, I didn’t realize you were Canadian. I apologize for including you in our body politic. But also, there is no middle class smugness quite like Canadian kind, so everything makes more sense.

I don’t know about up there, but there are signs all over my neighborhood here in Portland which proclaim, amongst other slogans, the owner of the sign’s “belief” in science. I would submit to you, that if you have to “believe” in science, you’re doing it wrong. Science, it seems to me, requires skepticism, whereas that is an act of faith. A kind of “scientism”- A demand that scientific rationalism must illuminate all mysteries, even the mystery of the future. My argument here remains the same, namely that “climate science” is making definitive predictions about the future state of global climate that are not supported by the experimental work. A climate model which shows a certain outcome (for the earth) is no more definitive than a treatment tested on rats (the model) is “guaranteed” to work on humans.

Anyway, I’m tired of this so I’m going to bow out now and go read the dogs n bikes thread.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Oh dang, you’re really for real. I apologize in my earlier comment for suspecting your disingenuity.

Yes, believing in the scientific method is a faith of sorts. There can be no proof to an unbeliever. Same as any other faith. I don’t see any way around this, or why it should be a “gotcha” argument. And also as you write, there is a movement of Scientism, that has little to do with the scientific method. None of this is much of an argument for or against the prediction of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. It’s just noise.

Many thought systems attempt to avert future crises. Scientific forecasts have been wrong before. That does not mean it is wise to rely on their inaccuracy. There can never be concrete proof of the future, that cannot be the standard we look for. We process information, we listen to trusted sources, we form an opinion. Same as it ever was. My opinion (and it is not uncommon) is that regarding climate change, the hazard is simply too high to even risk it. I think there is some mitigation that can be done now without much “misery”, and without it there will be lots more “misery” in the future, so it seems an obvious choice.

The forecasts for Covid were run with different assumptions, as all scientific predictions must be. Maybe if those assumptions (policies, individual choices etc.) came true, the numbers would have been as predicted. Maybe the predictions helped convince people to take measures that then lowered the death toll. Maybe not, maybe the predictions were off. Either way a shed load of people have died and are still dying. I don’t think Covid is a good example of “see, it was really fine!”.

What point does elite hypocrisy prove? I did not and would not vote for those people. What point is proven by incorrect predictions from the 70s? (Although do you remember Limits to Growth, Club of Rome? Those might not be so wrong after all).

History is littered with dead civilizations. I bet that during their pomp, there were predictions of collapse that did not come true. Maybe people voiced at forums that it was all nonsense. And then events unfolded and lots of people died. As much as our modern mythology denies it, we are not categorically different. Not even in our hubris. We have not actually escaped the limitations of our world. We have just set ourselves up for a much bigger potential fall.

I have no interest in you feeling guilty or not. I am affected by your actions however, as we all are by each other. I don’t feel superior in the least. I’m just another person. I still buy my food wrapped in plastic just like everyone else. And I’d love love love to be wrong about all this. But I don’t believe I am. I mostly just feel heartbroken and worried about the future of living things.

I wish there were more productive ways to engage with people holding different beliefs.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Hmm…theres a lot here and I ought to be working. Also, I’m not a professional “climate denier” so I’m mostly just winging it based on my own thoughts and feelings.

Regarding science and scientism. I guess the point to me is understanding the limits of what science can actually do. I feel like the comment on those signs about “believing science is real” is directly aimed at climate change, and that there is something desperately misguided about it. If you need to believe in something, don’t try to make science your god, just go to church! I guess its not “cool”, bu there’s a lot less cognitive dissonance, and a hell of a lot less negativity. Assuming I suppose, you choose the right faith/church/house of worship/etc/etc).

Here’s a little thought experiment I like. What’s one way to ensure that humanity isn’t destroyed by climate change? Have a thermonuclear war!

I guess this is funny to me because thermonuclear war was the armageddon du jour of the previous generation. I’d argue that it’s STILL a bigger and more immediate threat to humanity than climate change, but nobody bothers about it anymore. All of those people it seems, have converted to climate catastrophe. This is just another little hint, to me, that something spiritual or pre-rational is going on here.

Regarding modeling- I read an analysis by a programmer of one of the covid models, and he was appalled by the garbage code. I’m not surprised by that. These models are largely built by subject matter experts, not professional coders, and they hang around and get hacked and modified by a couple of generations of grad students? Who knows whats in there.

But that’s not really my point, it’s just kind of a smell, a whiff of it. What I’m more getting at here is the bane of all modern life- complexity, and how you can obscure anything with it. “Normalize” your data here, set a broken “standard” there, a little group think, add a coding mistake somewhere and black becomes white. This is merely speculation, but I suspect the replication crisis in science is bigger than any of us know. And I strongly suspect climate science is neck deep in it.

Last one- Elite hypocrisy. I actually think the Obama beach house argument is sort of dumb but I threw it in. I think the better argument about elite hypocrisy is not how *our* elites relative to us are hypocrites, but how we are elite hypocrites relative to the global poor. Are we really going to deny them a shot at our standard of living because of climate change? Damn that is, no pun intended, cold.

Anyway, I have work to do. Thanks for your reply, it was fun.

Jim
Guest
Jim

My understanding is that there is lots of cool, hard science that suggests the risks and likelihood of anthropogenic climate catastrophe. But yes, it is still science, and so is error-prone and cannot predict certainties. I think that the “Scientism-ists” then latch on and make plenty of unscientific claims and moral judgements, turning it into a battle of faiths. This is unhelpful, but does not detract from the assessment of risk based upon plain science. Perhaps this is similar to what you are saying.

“Climate Science” is a threat to established money and power. Therefore this becomes a battle involving money & power (on both sides). Who can defund whom, who can broadcast their message in the widest and most viral way. This is the bigger battle, but has little to do with the risks and/or costs of climate mitigation or climate inaction. We are likely to all be winners or all be losers, so the battle looks very silly to me. Similarly, the fight around Covid is far more cultural than biological. But either way we are making choices that we will have to live with in the future. And I do not think we are being straight with ourselves or each other about why we are making our choices. I would prefer we cut through all the yard signs and name-calling to try to reach a group decision. Perhaps that is a deluded impossibility.

Nuclear war is of course still a risk, but I would say it is very different in its nature. The big big big difference is that nuclear war would be created by individuals DOING something big and different (ie “pressing the button”), whereas climate catastrophe involves us all NOT doing something different, just continuing on as normal every day. I think these are very different risk profiles. I would much more trust people like Vasily Arkhipov than I would trust that you or I can find a different way to live. And so I am concerned about one far more than the other.

Yes, there is a potential global hypocrisy in rich people like me proscribing to people in poorer countries. I do not know a good answer to that situation. But I am not making suggestions to other countries. And this does not change what I see as our obligation to change our ways in this country. (And it is theoretically within this country’s technical abilities to stop having rich and poor people here. But that us probably a different topic.)

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

I would agree with you that there is some, or even a “lot” of hard science suggesting the risks of climate change. I do think that scene is a bit of an echo chamber, so I’m not sure how much of it is salient, but yes it exists.

I think also that you capture the mechanism by which science becomes scientism well. A scholar writes a paper giving a range of possibilities, and a journalist publishes a story suggesting that the worst of them is virtually guaranteed! I think this mechanism distorts the risk assessment of the public. It is, to my mind, the same mechanism used to drive the Iraq war back in the 2000s. Drive up the fear and then sell a solution.

The point between catastrophe from inaction vs catastrophe from action is a good one that I’ve never thought about before. I have no opinions yet.

As I’m sure you can tell by now, I don’t really care that much about climate change. I ride my bike, I open the windows instead of turning on the a/c (though not today). I line dry my clothes when possible. I like things that are repairable and not disposable. I don’t do these things because I think I’m going to save the earth, it’s because I find wastefulness distasteful and the disorder and perverse motivations that come from disposable consumer culture unsettling, and I realized that I don’t have to live that way so as much as I can I don’t.

To my mind, “believing in” climate change is something like a rejection of the ponzi scheme of capitalist consumer culture bursting out of the collective unconscious. I’m all for that, I just don’t need the armageddon part to spur me to action.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Time to go back to the basics. My kids seem to enjoy the PBS show “Ready Jet Go”, which often touches on the concept of the scientific method. From there, you could maybe move on to older episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy for more detailed scientific concepts and experiments. After that, perhaps the fantastic “Cosmos” series, which covers many of the topics you referred to but don’t seem to understand at a basic level.

Remember, learning never stops.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Show me the part of the scientific method where you declare your hypothesis “true” before testing it?

The hypotheses of “climate science” are tested on models, which I think inadequately capture the state of the system, and have too many baked in assumptions, rendering the quality of their output ambiguous at best.

Show the part of the scientific method where you get to silence and defund your critics.

Show me the part of the scientific method where you get to own the interpretation of the meaning of your results.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The things you listed are not part of the scientific method. See? The learning has already started.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

No, they aren’t part of the scientific method, they’re part of the politics and religion of “climate science”.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I guess I’d turn your question around on you. You’re the one making the affirmative assertion here. What do you get out of believing that climate change is a “real, urgent problem”? It’s not like you can do anything about it.

That’s easy. I’m easily convinced by evidence. So if the balance of evidence shifted and showed that the CO2 and methane we’re emitting is not warming the planet, not only would I be convinced, I’d be overjoyed.

The problem is that there is such overwhelming evidence that human activity is driving climate change, that it’s hard to imagine that happening. But it’s not impossible.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Just for the sake of argument I’ll grant you the “overwhelming evidence” of anthropogenic climate change. The planet is heating up and humans caused it.

So what? The catastrophic predictions don’t necessarily follow from that. I’d argue that we can’t know what’s going to happen in 100 years until 100 years have passed, and one of the main reasons we can’t know is that the system is not static, we have no way of knowing what new inputs will be injected into it between now and then.

So for example Malthus’s predictions about population growth were true enough, what wasn’t true was his prediction of the impending mass starvation that it would lead to. He was unable to foresee the exponential growth in food production that humans were capable of.

I don’t think we should ignore climate change, but I don’t think we should be talking about throwing out democratic norms and “forcing” people to do things either.

Jim
Guest
Jim

The more of your comments I read, the more refined your argument becomes. It’s much more interesting this way.

Malthus’ predictions may only be wrong in their (small) scale and (short) time frame. We never act like we may just be at an apex on a curve. It is impossible to know what will happen in 100 years. It is so unknowable that we really discount it from our conception of time and the world and everything we do. Our current living conditions are incredibly unusual and recent. And we are so reliant on resources that generate over thousands or millions of years. Continuation seems an obvious impossibility. We are great at inventing our way into things, but we have never invented our way out of things.

I haven’t seen calls on here for “forcing” people to do things. I don’t think that would work. Democracy has its good points but has also gotten us into our current state. This does not equate to advocating authoritarian rule. The eminently quotable and racist Churchill summed it up.

Watts
Guest
Watts

So what? The catastrophic predictions don’t necessarily follow from that. I’d argue that we can’t know what’s going to happen in 100 years until 100 years have passed, and one of the main reasons we can’t know is that the system is not static, we have no way of knowing what new inputs will be injected into it between now and then.

The thing that sets science apart from other forms of human knowledge is that it can make predictions. It is possible that the predictions of what happens as the planet continues to heat up are wrong. Perhaps the ice won’t continue to melt, perhaps the ocean won’t undergo thermal expansion, perhaps they won’t become acidified, perhaps perhaps perhaps. But we can observe that heat melts ice, that water expands as it gets warm, and that it absorbs some amount of CO2 becoming acidified. And we can see what impact acidification and heat has, for example, on coral reefs (ref. Australia). I’ve seen impacted reefs up close myself, and it is hard not to be moved by seeing a rich underwater ecosystem scraped down to bare rock (technically coral skeletons but let’s not pick nits).

But it seems that your last point is your real one: what do we do about it. You know the answer, and you don’t like it, so you question the science and certainty that you see as leading inevitably to the conclusion that we must act.

Much of the change we need to make will be driven by markets. There will never be a new coal burning power plant built in the US — who would finance it? Wind power is growing rapidly without anyone “forcing” it to happen (because people are making lots of money building it).

There will, of course, need to be additional government mandates, but they will not require abandoning democracy any more than, say, eliminating CFCs in refrigerators or requiring improved gas mileage in new cars did.

So rather than fighting with people over the science of climate change, why not look for ways to address the problem that are compatible with your political outlook?

Climate change has the potential to upend almost every aspect of our society. Even if it had only a 50% chance of being real, why would you risk everything in the hope you’d win the coin toss? If you love our country, why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to preserve it? I certainly do.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Most of these arguments don’t do anything for me.

Better philosophers of science than I’ll ever been have fought over whether science should make predictions or not. I don’t care one way or the other. I’m not really against making predictions, but the predictions have to be verifiable. Yeah you can go back and play old data against your model and that gets you part of the way, but you don’t really solve the problem of unknown inputs in the future. I just think the models are full of hubris, and that they aren’t subjected to the kind of scrutiny that would make them more robust.

One of the big selling points that warmers always trot out is that “all scientists agree!” As if truth is decided by consensus, and that scientists are some sort of ascetic priests who are immune to the social forces that influence the rest of us. For me, too much consensus, too quickly, sets off alarm bells. It kind of looks like everybody in the business of “climate science” is a believer, and if you question the “consensus” you get washed out pretty quickly. They were “cancelling” heretics before cancelling was cool.

The left have seized the means of intellectual production and dissemination in the west, and they’ve repurposed those organizations from truth seeking to opinion generation. The more they do this, the more loudly they insist they’re unbiased, but I think this racket is beginning to fall apart. Does anybody actually still believe we live in a real “meritocracy” where honest, hardworking, and talented truth seekers naturally rise to the top of every hierarchy? If not, why would you assume the work product of those institutions isn’t similarly tainted?

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

The last thing here, which I forgot to mention, is the coin toss argument you make at the end. This feels a bit like the kind of, “What have you got to lose!?” type arguments that Trump would make.

The truth is that every decision has an opportunity cost. In the case of climate change, most of those costs are going to be born by the world’s poorest. You might argue that if we do nothing the world’s poorest are going to drown! I’d respond that if we don’t allow them to develop, we’re consigning them to a life of subsistence poverty. There’s a lot to lose.

Watts
Guest
Watts

The coin toss is just an analogy for those who think there is still a chance the science is wrong. I think we have everything to lose, and if we don’t work fast, we’re going to lose it. If you’re less certain, you should still join me in case the science is right.

By the way, I see no incompatibility between uplifting the worlds impoverished and addressing climate change. I don’t see that — at all — as part of the tradeoff. I think your argument there is somewhat cynical.

What I do see is that some parts of the world may skip over the coal powered part of development and go directly go directly to the distributed green energy part. I see this is an unalloyed benefit for everyone involved, just as skipping landlines was for those whose first phone was cellular.

Finally, I’m quite sure I’m not going to convince you. You’ve seen the evidence, you’ve heard from much smarter and more knowledgeable folks than I, you offer no other explanation for the facts, and you still cling to the idea that maybe it’s not actually going to happen. I hope you’re right, but I don’t share your courage to bet everything that you are.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

It would be great if the emerging world could skip the coal powered phase and go straight to green energy. The only problem is that “green” energy isn’t going to meet their needs anytime soon, unless you consider nuclear power green.

I offer no explanation for the “facts” because I don’t believe all of the “facts” are indeed facts, or that they lead inevitably to the conclusions that you do. I’m also suspicious of any political movement that’s always screaming that time is running out! Again, this is the same emotionally manipulative strategy used to sell all kinds of crap, including the Iraq war.

Watts
Guest
Watts

It’s not a political movement, it’s a scientific movement. While the left is a bit more open to taking action to prevent the worst effects of climate change, it is not inherently a political issue, and it should not be treated as such.

I am agnostic on nuclear power; it makes me uneasy, but I recognize it may have to be part of the solution.

Luckily, your opinion is becoming more and more isolated, which is one of the reasons why I have hope we will manage to squeak by on this one.

I am confident that someday you will see the error in your thinking, but I hope that we, as a free and democratic society, will have chosen to take bold action long before then.

soren
Guest
soren

“How is this supposed to work when all the people you plan on forcing to do things get to vote…”

At some point socioeconomic incentives will be so undeniable that democratic majorities (e.g. much of the EU, Chile, South Korea, and Japan) and not so democratic governments (e.g. the USA and China) will force the issue out of self-preservation alone. As has been the case with many other recent examples of social-industrial policy, this will occur via some combination of bans, mandates, and/or regulations. For example, our society forced people to abandon incandescent bulbs via a mix of outright bans, incentives, and regulated obsolescence. Hilariously, many “deniers” are still quite mad about this.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I have to say that LED bulbs are so superior in every way to incandescents that those upset by the change are just silly. And, for any of you retro hipsters out there, incandescent bulbs are still easy to find, though I have no idea who would buy one.

one
Guest

Speaking of “Street Takeover”, who is responsible for keeping Alleyways clear in Portland? The city or the residents?
I like to walk my dog, ride my bike, down alleyways in Portland. Over the years, several in my neighborhood have been taken over by blackberries, or by neighbors who have extended their fences through the alley. What can be done?

Steve C
Guest
Steve C
X
Guest
X

1) Dawn patrol with Felcos®
2) Talk to them?
3) Call the city if #2 doesn’t work for you. It’s complaint driven, the city doesn’t patrol the alleys.

X
Guest
X

The only scenario that would lead to systematic action on a scale that matters would be a gradual acceleration of coastal flooding caused by unstable ice shelves and glaciers (Greenland, Antarctica) that forces retreat from capitals, ports, and financial centers to a degree that it compels us to speak truth and act in a serious manner. This only works if retreat is even feasible. A billion people die, perhaps.

I’ve seen indications that the military might be one US institution with a realistic view of climate change but they are also huge consumers of fossil fuels and have a lot of resources parked at low elevations. Basically they’re just Americans. It’s most likely that we’ll spend years and our available resources of finance, materials, and manufacturing capacity on make-work infrastructure, local defenses, and luxuries.

Most likely the actual tipping point will not be one thing but several at once, a flood, fires, a war, what? It’s going to kill a lot of people and displace or starve many more. Figuring out what ‘a lot’ might be is the trick. Roll one die and multiply by a billion?

Elon Musk and his ilk are deeply annoying but not stupid. I think they can’t see or accept any hope for a collective solution so they’re betting it all on escape. I can’t make a strong case that they are wrong.

damiene
Subscriber
damiene

Elon Musk and his ilk are deeply annoying but not stupid. I think they can’t see or accept any hope for a collective solution so they’re betting it all on escape. I can’t make a strong case that they are wrong.

I don’t think this is what they’re betting on, as to your first point, it would be a stupid bet: It’s saying that this really hospitable environment is getting worse, and may one day be inhospitable (or certainly is moving in that direction), so let’s now jump to an environment that’s completely inhospitable to start with. Or to look at it from the other direction, if we can dream of technology to terraform some place like Mars to support us, it would be drastically easier to just terraform Earth to continue supporting us.

No, I suspect the space adventures of the ridiculously rich are little more than masturbatory exercises. And a weird opportunity for the media to fawn over the private sector finally doing what the governments did half a century ago.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Building an electric car company from the ground up (arguably propelling every other car manufacturer forward in this area) and getting heavily into grid-scale batteries and solar power are strange forms of masturbation. I mean… not that I’m judging.

damiene
Subscriber
damiene

It’s as if I took a jab at apples, and you felt compelled to defend oranges.

But on that point, I do give Musk credit among the ridiculously rich for at least coming up with technology that has real value to society. But let’s not forget the limits of that – just do a Google search about the lithium extraction in South America (which will likely feature Tesla even if you don’t include Musk or Tesla in such a search) required to build those cool batteries and electric cars, and a picture forms of electrification being a familiar next iteration of many of the same problems we have today with fossil fuels (and don’t get me wrong, I’m all for electrification – got a degree in renewable energies, even – but we need to respect its realities).

Now if these space adventures eventually culminate in, say, effective mining of a lithium-rich asteroid, well, that’ll be a game changer.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I agree that lithium extraction is problematic. I also see no viable alternative to electrification of transportation if we want to have any hope of keeping climate change in check. Currently, that means lithium based batteries. Hopefully someone will develop a technology with fewer issues. Lord knows, plenty of people are trying.

Mike
Guest
Mike

What about nuclear power? Solar and wind have a lot of limitations. Nuclear might be a good option.