Sanity Monger 
Member since Jul 18, 2013


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Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/04/2017 at 7:42 AM

Re: “Seeking to change the climate on carbon

How Low Will We Go?

Thanks to Mr. Moule and City for providing some solid coverage of the important Carbon Fee and Dividend bill (CF&D) championed by the Citizens Climate Lobby. A good follow-up would explore further the ramifications of this bill, and what it says about where our society finds itself.
CF&D gets at the basics for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by setting a more accurate market price for carbon. At the same time, it is utterly silent with regard to the suffering that climate change will (already is) unleashing. Our decades of delay have now loaded the pipeline with an onslaught of extreme weather, and CF&D has no answer as to how to prepare for and respond to these new stresses, which at this late stage we can only hope to reduce, not eliminate, by cutting future carbon emissions. This deficiency results from the dividend component of CF&D, a sop to conservatives, who claim that government is not capable of spending money wisely (a proposition easy to dispute, but that's another topic).
Given today's political climate (free market ideology plus short-termism), there is much to recommend CF&D. It's a big step in the right direction, and holding out for better alternatives can be seen as risking the good for the perfect. It's unlikely in the extreme that conservatives or the public in general will soon warm to the idea that we face a collective disaster and that government is the only entity that can begin to adequately address either mitigation of or adaptation to the coming tragedies. Thus, what CF&D effectively proposes is that we cut carbon emissions, but we're on our own as far as facing the consequences of what we've unleashed.
The key question for climate advocates is: are we better off in the future if we get carbon emissions down sooner but continue to view the world through the lens of free market consumerism, with its consequent suffering for our weakest and most vulnerable? Or is there any reasonable chance that we can achieve better results by holding out for a more holistic approach to the problem? It is certainly mandatory that at some point human society dispenses with free market ideology else we are all doomed, so this is a bridge that must be crossed regardless of our other actions. Isn't passage of a CF&D policy likely to cause too many to step back from advocacy, thinking that the problem has been largely solved, or at least sufficiently for their purposes? Even if it were true that the well-off can avoid the worst consequences while the poor suffer (a dubious proposition), the consequences for social stability and moral development may render the safety of the "screw the poor" strategy illusory for all.
I do not know what the right answer is as far as CF&D. But the very fact that those of us who know its full ramifications must nevertheless consider it shows how far we are on the path to disaster. Holding out for better is NOT a sacrifice of the good for the perfect -- perfect would have been where we would have acknowledged our dilemma and taken sensible moderate actions decades ago, when science was first sounding the alarm. But the point now is that CF&D may or may not be the best we can do now. Whatever else it is, CF&D is a capitulation to the idea that humanity is incapable of removing its blinders, and so we must take what positive steps that we can even knowing that we may be dooming thousands if we do. Given what we know of human potential, this is a sorry sorry state to be in.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/03/2017 at 7:49 AM

Re: “Climate change: How to frame the discussion

Mr. Frank notes that (a) a big part of how we got into this predicament of needing bold, quick action on climate change is in our nature, a result of the natural progression of societies of "intelligent" species, and therefore (b) it's not our fault. Does (b) follow logically from (a)? Accepting this requires a bizarre notion of responsibility (yeah, I murdered that guy but I'm just violent by nature and didn't know that murdering people would have consequences). And as Mr. Regan points out, we have willfully ignored many, many, many opportunities to learn, accept, and change our behavior accordingly. I agree that demonizing corporations or other human constructs that helped take us to the cliff edge is not helpful. But to suggest that it's not our fault is to suggest that our nature is not a key part of the problem, for indeed our willful ignorance of inconvenient truths is very much in our nature. There is almost nothing "natural" about the behavior that is now demanded of us, indeed is it in many ways anti-human behavior that is required. Can we make ourselves do it, deny our natural inclinations, just because our future is at stake? Look reality squarely in the face no matter how unpleasant? Tame our acquisitiveness? Our fondness for the quick easy fix (e.g. we can behave greedily because the market always produces optimal results)? Our relentless plundering of the commons? We knew enough decades ago to have addressed this with far less disruption and pain than is now required, but our nature told us not to act despite the clear writing on the wall. And this is without question our fault, and does not bode well for the likelihood that we will start doing better now. Efforts like Mr. Frank's to make us feel OK about the evil we have already wrought gets us nowhere on the journey we now face.

3 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 11/05/2015 at 3:45 PM

Re: “Town's rained out and tapped out

Great to once again see Mr. Moule connecting the dots between climate change and local issues. However it's notable that Mr. Moule must quote the National Climate Assessment, not Senator Funke or Supervisor Angelo, to make this link. Neither of these officials will dare to demonstrate leadership in helping the public understand what's actually happening to us.

4 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 08/20/2015 at 2:39 PM

Re: “Unsafe at any speed?

"Live the life you preach, actually live it and you will do more to preserve this world than any other action" is of course a ridiculous thing to say with regard to transitioning off of fossil fuels. Can hardly believe we are having the "Al Gore takes planes" discussion in 2015. If you think individual actions can adequately address climate change impacts, you have clearly not given this issue much thought at all. BTW, most people concerned about climate change purchase carbon offsets when they fly, which is helpful but nowhere near enough. Large systemic changes are needed, and they are needed yesterday.
Regarding the Bakken oil, it needs to stay in the ground. We already have more conventional sources of oil than we can safely burn. Rail cars and pipelines both present unacceptable risks given that the actual product, even if it gets delivered safely, is toxic to our life support system.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/18/2015 at 11:59 AM

Re: “Unsafe at any speed?

Yet more subsidies for fossil fuels that we pay invisibly in our taxes and not at the pump: "At the state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered periodic inspections of railways and oil trains, which have caught damaged tracks and malfunctioning rail car brakes. This spring, lawmakers increased the cap on New York's oil spill cleanup fund to $40 million, though environmental groups say the amount should be much higher. And the state is investing in additional firefighting equipment and foam to deploy in the event of a train derailment or fire." And this is only if we're lucky and don't have an actual disaster, in which case the subsidy will be enormous and cannot possibly cover the cost of the damaged lives, livelihoods, etc. What disaster do solar panels and wind turbines threaten? Ours is a completely insane society.

8 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Sanity Monger on 07/15/2015 at 7:47 AM

Re: “New York makes its fracking ban official

"based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations" -- it is not possible to honestly strike such a balance in the presence of an accounting model that sets the value of natural resources and the health of our life support system at zero. That the DEC suggests otherwise indicates a very high degree of ignorance and/or magical thinking.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Sanity Monger on 06/30/2015 at 10:10 AM

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