2011-06-23 12:18:01Throwing down the gauntlet: Ready to publish, Dana
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Guest post by Actually Thoughtfull (at my urging)

Feedback?

 


Throwing Down The Gauntlet

Posted on 22 June 2011 by actually thoughtful

The Thinker

First of all, if you are still skeptical about the science, please read the other 4,372 posts on Skeptical Science. There literally isn't a wrinkle in the subject that isn't addressed at some level elsewhere on this blog.

As Al Gore famously never said "the science is settled."

This post is about what is next. We know the earth is warming, we know man is to blame. You are either a denier; mostly convinced, but not really thinking this affects your life; or you are  convinced and have taken some action, or are considering some action (and there is crossover, I personally know a fervent denier with solar PV on his roof).

Given that the science is settled, what are the implications? Well it means that any rational government would take the risk adverse course (that is what governments are for - see the building code) and enforce reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions to protect its citizens. This is by and large not happening. The “why” it is not happening is interesting. Each political persuasion blames the others (In the United States, Libertarians might say cap and trade is ineffective, and won’t solve the problem, the Tea Party might say there is no problem, the Republicans might say solving the debt is more important, the Democrats might say the Republicans are obstructionist and the Progressives [both of us] might say the problem is vast – let’s just start somewhere!).

Regardless of your own personal politics, the incontrovertible evidence is that the US, China and Russia (the top 3 CO2 emitters)  are not doing enough to avoid warming of at least 2C - the “safe warming” level – their policies are, in fact, much closer to Business As Usual than a serious effort to reduce greenhouse gases. And until the warming is severe enough to quiet some of the voices of denial, this isn’t like to change.Bad Hand

So how can we change the current policy cards we have been dealt?

I suggest the following statement as a powerful tool for understanding the position of any politician, blogger, acquaintance, etc., as well as to evaluate your own response:

“The body of evidence in climate science demands a mitigation response.”

Much has been written about systemic solutions at Skeptical Science. We need those solutions. 

But in light of the anemic response or non-response by most governments, and to have any hope of getting off the BAU trend lines, we also need personal action. And we need to go way beyond changing light bulbs CFL(although that is important too). Changing your transportation habits (ie mass transit, avoiding transportation, electric vehicles with solar PV or wind to power it); installing a solar thermal system for water heating; installing a solar thermal system and/or ground source heat pump(GSHP) for space heating and/or cooling; installing site located solar PV or wind; insulating buildings and upgrading windows; consistent communication with politicians (note talking to politicians is a distinctly weaker choice than the previous elements in the list).

Indeed, the almost automatic response of calling for government actions is as predictable as deniers focusing on a tiny piece of the puzzle to avoid the overwhelming body of evidence, and the similarities don’t end there, just as the denial movement serves the status quo by creating noise instead of understanding (even though, on a micro-level, a particular denier statement might be true), the call for government action (at the expense of personal action) serves the status quo by creating the illusion that action has been taken. 

No government action is required for any of the energy saving actions described above, and indeed incentives available in many jurisdictions make this something that has a high (although long term) economic pay off.

To continue with the idea of "what’s in it for me", consider the following outcomes from personal action:

1. Taking action reduces stress. You can sleep at night that you have done the best you can for yourself and future generations.

2. Many/most governments/utilities (sometimes both) are currently offering incentives. Come the next heat wave and therefore serious push for action, this carrot will become a stick. If you pay for your renewable energy systems with discounted money before the price of fossil fuels necessarily skyrockets rise to reflect the true cost, you win twice (once with a discount on the installation, and again when prices rise).Savings

3. It is FUN to watch the electric meter spin backwards (wind or solar PV). It is FUN to thumb your nose at the propane truck or the gas meter reader as they drive by in frustration.

4. It is economically preferable to pay once, in 2011 prices, for your energy supply for the next 50 years or more (PV, wind, solar thermal (residential heating, DHW)). Inflation and avoided energy costs alone, not even counting on the inevitable carbon tax, will mean you save money over the life of the system.

5. Experts tell us we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 to come close to only 2C. This will take direct actions by individuals, no matter how governments exert pressure on their citizens to change. By taking that action you are part of that 50% reduction. You move from slightly-guilty observer to active participant in the most important issue of the 21st Century. Action begets action, both in your own life, and in the living organism that is your community.
 
6. You will be a leader in your own community (which could lead to new job opportunities, new social opportunities, or just watching your neighbors slowly add renewable systems to keep up with you [you could go to the courthouse and rename yourself "Jones" - but that is probably overkill]).

7. You become a real live human being for politicians to follow in developing a rational response to the threat of climate change. And, by your actions, you will be creating those elusive green jobs.

In other words, voluntary action by those of us enlightened by the science, passionate enough to act, and having the financial were-with-all to act may not only be virtuous, but actually necessary to bring about the required societal change.

Many lament that we need political leadership on this issue. In a democracy, political leaders get fired. Politicians are, by trade, followers. If they follow what enough of their constituents want, they get to keep their job (although it is true they can exert some influence on what issues are discussed [see the recently resigned US Congressman from NY]). So the easiest path to getting the policy we need might be convincing a critical mass of constituents to take meaningful personal action.

So how about it – Do you agree that the balance of evidence in climate science requires a mitigation response? Are you willing to take personal action (and if you have already, are you ready to take more action)?

It can be as easy as just picking one small, achievable thing to change in your life...and changing it.  After all, a journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step.  Take an actual, real world step to mitigate climate change - anything to avoid the leopard outcome:

Indifference

2011-06-23 13:25:20A Proposal
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
143.238.228.225

Dan

I Like It

A Proposal. Each author here at SkS does their own post, their own personal take on what we need to do and why. Perhaps most importantly why. Thier own 'Crie de Coeur'. Even for the skeptics this may lay out the moral dimension if their skepticism is wrong.

 

It could be run as a series. Rather than just the negative debunking the arseholes style series, a positive call to action series.

2011-06-23 15:46:23
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.110.171

Glenn, sounds like a great idea. 

2011-06-23 15:50:38
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.110.171

Yooper, thumbs up!

2011-06-23 15:56:44
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Credit goes to Actually Thoughtfull, not me.  It's his idea, his writing, his post.

I just pestered him into saying yes.

2011-06-23 15:59:04
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Come to think of it, Throwing Down the Gauntlet would make for a better Headline, with

The body of evidence in climate science requires an active mitigation response

serving as a section header.

 

Thoughts?

2011-06-23 17:48:10
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.120.165

Yooper, I know that, thought you'd pass it along.

2011-06-23 19:48:56
actually thoughtful

Tom_Scheel@yahoo...
71.209.244.167

Thanks for the kind words. It needs at least one more round of editing so I don't cringe when I read it. I love Glenn's idea of a series showcasing what real people are doing. This would both teach people what and how it can be done, and inspire all of us to take another step. A thousand miles is a long journey.

I know when I am on long hikes I sometimes just have to tell myself to take another step to achieve the bigger goal of getting to the camping spot, despite the short term difficulty. And this journey is going to require being in that place of grinding it out for a long, long time. 

2011-06-26 15:47:55Bump
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

If people can give this another once-over, I'd appreciate it.  I'm taking the family camping the next few days & probably won't be of much help (sorry).

2011-06-26 15:50:01Glenn, Rob
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

I wouldn't mind this becoming a series, either, with interested forum members writing up their own unique take.

I've some ideas on using some of John's latest style suggestions in writing up my own soapbox...

2011-06-26 16:14:40Style suggestions
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
121.222.9.229

Daniel, look forward to your soapbox - it's my hope that we all (myself included) adopt the 6 sticky techniques. I must confess now that I've read that book (well, haven't even finished it yet), I see "sticky ideas" all over the place now, recognise them and how they work, and I hope will help me to make my own messaging more effective. I'm also reading a lot of research on climate psychology and a lot of it is gelling with the sticky techniques (particularly point #1 on core messaging). So I encourage everyone to take all the sticky techniques to heart - always look to enhance your blog posts with a sticky technique or two (or three). And just as importantly, SkSers as you post feedback on blog posts, don't just critique the science, post suggestions on how they can be made stickier!

2011-06-27 05:32:10
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.108.93

I made a few minor edits.  It's a very good post - I like the message and encouragment for everyone to do what they can.  Nice job!

Regarding the potential series, are we thinking about having people describe what they think needs to be done, what they're doing personally, or both?

2011-06-28 06:00:37
actually thoughtful

Tom_Scheel@yahoo...
71.209.244.167

Dana, I personally would love to see a series of success stories - a PV install, an electric car, a transportation change, heating, business success story, etc., etc. 

I think this would be highly motivating to see what real people are doing (especially if the success story is about an author we have come to respect on this site). Done with the usual skepticalscience treatment of real numbers and real outcomes, I think it would be a great series, and help move the debate past dancing-in-a-pinhead denialism.

 

[I don't think I can edit the copy above right now - I notice there is no space between ...pump(GSHP) - in the paragraph next to the lightbulb. Can one with the power fix that? thanks.]

2011-06-28 14:07:14actually thoughtful
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

There are other high-quality websites, Treehugger, for example that churn out success stories on a daily basis. Skeptical science should maintain its focus on the science of climate change.

2011-06-29 06:57:24
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

We also focus on climate solutions, badger.  Talking about what we've done to reduce our own emissions, as well as what we think should be done on a larger scale, definitely qualifies under the climate solutions category.

2011-06-29 11:24:48@ dana
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

If actually thoughtful's OK with this, so am I.

2011-06-29 12:24:30
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.140.0.15

Ready to publish, actually thoughtful?

2011-06-29 16:46:16
actually thoughtful

Tom_Scheel@yahoo...
71.209.244.167

Dana - yes