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The Big Problem with Climate 'Realism'


The Big Problem with Climate 'Realism'

Ryan Cooper

limate change has vaulted to the top of the political discourse, with the rollout of the Green New Deal policy framework and the subsequent discussion of what policies it should contain. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), for instance, recently announced he is running for president with a platform laser-focused on climate change.



“[O]ne can easily accept climate science while refusing to accept the obvious policy implications — that we need radical policy to wrench down emissions as fast as possible. It is its own version of climate denial, in a sense.”

Bah! You blinked, Mr. Cooper! Grasping the reality of climate change but calling only for ‘reasonable steps’ is not "climate denial, in a sense" - it is the fallback position of climate change denial, a type of climate change denial.

In this type of denial, the sheer, horrifying intellectual-visceral experience of impending, urgent, emergent crisis is managed by ‘reasonable’ concessions to a presumed political reality, leading to ‘reasonable’ steps.

No. This is not a ‘problem like any other,’ to be managed by ‘reasonable’ steps. Time to be hysterical. Time to panic. Time to make that the starting point for ‘reasonable discussions.’

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Look, it is simple. We are faced with a massive environmental crisis, of which carbon emissions are only one (important) part. The crisis is caused by markets, lots of information is missing in markets. It is caused by capitalism reaching the limits to growth in throughput and pollution generations. The actual solutions call for structural changes. We can like or dislike that, it doesn’t really matter though. But, as Pelosi will tell you, fending off the collapse of human civilization could cause an uptick in inflation, and interests that fund her campaign are opposed to those structural changes (i.e., they are opposed to objective reality), and so they would rather go with capitalism and watch the world burn to the ground. They and their “pragmatism” says that we have X amount of time to make these changes, the studies showing anything different are wrong because, well they are just wrong. Facts are opinions or dreams when they logically lead to radical changes. Anything more than what Pelosi says is practical (she, of course is a world famous ecologist, atmospheric scientists and biologist, as we all know) would be too radical and too much, and the expectations seems to be that the Earth will just accommodate that pragmatism. Like, the IPCC releases a report on the actual data, the projections and what not, and after the IPCC gets what people like Pelosi are willing to do, the data and the projections magically change. Cause Mother Nature is on board with the pragmatists. She’ll be patient, and will wait for them to get around to solving this stuff. The kids with their fending off ecological collapse. Grow up children, the adults got this, and isn’t the country and the world in great shape under their watch? Why worry?



Ignorance is the main cause of climate change. If we knew what to do we would do it. Everybody talking has self interest, albeit profit or survival. But where are the questions? How do we heat whole cities in the dead of winter? How do we cool whole cities during heat waves? How do we process food and manufacture shelters? Solutions do exist beyond the propaganda and ignorance. Media – Please ask the difficult questions.



Maintream media are influenced by ad sponsors and donors. Car related ads are the top dollar purchase of media air time. Car company greenwash touts EVs but devotes battery and charging resources to semi-truck packs, each the capacity of 4 Tesla coupes or 50 plug-in hybrid suitcase-size packs that double as a household back up power. Heirs of Alfred Sloan are devoted to the 1 electric freight truck rather than the safety of 50 households, some of whom drive a truck for a living and now face losing that job to a robot, even though driverless is not actually feasible. Jeff Bezos knows driverless is a fraud because Amazon doesn’t need it to continue bankrupting the competition stuck in the traffic of delivery drivers.



Lets not confuse “climate realism” with the corporate backed / Citizen United fueled “real politik” the latter utilizing the word ‘real’ in its etymological root meaning ‘royal’. Both Pelosi and Feinstein are in over their eyeballs for the duration. Oust and out - convert the conversation.

I would think that the much anticipated “correction” in the realm of P&F corporate donors that is required to pretend a sunrise for the vampire finance squid giant has got both of them by the short and curlies with no intention of relinquishing its channeling through their flapping jaws.

I found a new surge of desire to aid the feeding of madam’s words back to her own pie hole with the video of the youngsters. A weekly visit of the full scope of the population concerned about her nesting practices might not be a bad idea. Pressure is the only thing these powers acknowledge.

I’m writing about ten letters a month - on a variety of issues - through organizations mounting on-line activism. Why? because they keep records and the communications do not get disappeared at the office end of the delivery. That activism can and is parlayed into coalitions of allied organizations and - so -new bases for pressure are evolving that can grow with the times. Its one mode.

Public Banking

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Even more broadly, since markets are missing lots of information and since it should be clear that we cannot distribute and produce goods and resources while relying on market information alone, how do we construct an economic system that relies on markets far less than we do? Cause if we can’t figure that out, it is over. How do we operate within sustainable limits of pollution generation and consumption now that we have reaches the limits to growth? How does any economy operate within sustainable limits without some form of national economic planning, especially under these circumstances? Thinking that we could have a decentralized economy, as chaotic as it is, operate within sustainable limits with no planning is naïve in the extreme.

People may not like that the situation is what it is, but nuts to them. The “adults in the room” long ago abdicated their moral responsibility to the country, the world and future generations. They have no solutions, no alternatives, no imaginations. They’re worthless and cannot be reasoned with, they can only be defeated, and I could give a damn if they have an R or a D in regards to party affiliation. Pelosi and Schumer are horrible, and the idea that Republicans are worse doesn’t say much.

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I believe that markets are ignoring information via externalization rather than missing it, but I may just be a cynical SOB.



Externalization is a reflection of power dynamics, it is an activity the powerful do to externalize their costs. Karl William Kapp called those things “social costs” and he said that the powerful have the capacity to cost shift onto others, future generations and the environment, so it was really a “cost shifting” that reflected power dynamics. But information is missing in markets. In fact, what is missing in markets is now far more impactful than the things we place market values on, which is why, when people discuss the Green New Deal and just talk about the cost, that they are entirely missing the damn point and the problem we are faced with. Beyond global warming, or the indirect ecological impacts that we could never measure, even things down to the species extinction rate. We don’t place monetary values on species (and even if we did, what exactly would it mean that we humans say one species is worth twice as much as another? What does us placing monetary values on these things have to do with ecology and the environment?), or biodiversity, or the carbon sequestration done by trees or soils. The socialist calculation debate, at least a part of it, was about that. It was one of the things that Hayek and von Mises said that is actually true. Markets are a means of transferring information around the economy, and markets are missing information. According to the Austrians, to the extent that markets are missing information, the economy will be “irrational”. Their solutions is to privatize everything and to protect the environment by battling it out in court. Sounds like a logical, workable solution, right?



I actually think Pelosi is right insomuch as she represents the typical way things play out.

The status quo – externalized costs – rules the day until the voices in the wilderness are proven correct and systemic collapse dictates otherwise.

I wish it didn’t have to come to that. But by now we should realize that it clearly does. The Green New deal doesn’t stand a chance in hell, until hell breaks loose. Three decades from now or thereabouts.



I don’t think, in that scenario, we should assume a revolution of some sort wouldn’t be in order. There is no reason to assume a system should stay in place if it no longer even attempts to solve our societal problems. The history books, should there be books 100 years from now that people can read, will not be kind to people like Pelosi and Schumer. Their legacies are not going to be what they probably think they are going to be. It is hard to put into words how much they have abdicated any moral leadership, across the board.

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The trouble with realism in general is that it is not realistic.

The term is just a rhetorical claim that a position is founded on accurate observation. Here the observation is missing, and the position is also missing.

Democrats and Republicans who support extended wars for oil support a program in direct and non-resolvable contradiction to positive ecological action. You cannot spend vast amounts of money and energy to destabilize the oil fields, push half the world into war and desperate poverty, skirt nuclear conflagration, and still reduce energy use and work on regenerative farming and gardening in practice.

This is a key way of knowing that most elected officials who claim to be progressive are not, in practice.



Pelosi and Schumer operate within guardrails dictated by the donor class in the here and now.

Thoughts about their legacies take a back seat to counting money. Their heirs will be safe in air-conditioned bunkers, i’m sure that’s a comfort to them.