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Nature’s Dangerous Decline

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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13 May 2019 18:55
 

You are arguing against yourself here, ASD. 

Your first mistake is: “you appear to be combining two separate arguments.” Then you double down with: “your appeal to self-interest can be broken into two subcategories.”  The rest follows.

My post, both parts taken together, asserts that there are reciprocal benefits and obligations across generations, not simple self-interest arguments unique to either one that need to be overcome.  The mention of benefits only goes to the point that the benefits of dealing with climate change are real, not hypothetical.  Precisely when they occur is immaterial to the point made, as it—to some extent—their uncertainty. 

To challenge the point I made—and it is eminently subject to challenge—why not focus on the question on which it depends, namely: whether a preceding generation has an obligation to the following one because without the benefits accrued from its existence, the preceding one would be worse off, to the point of existential threat.  If one benefits in this way, why does one not have an obligation to reciprocate by doing what one can to prevent a future existential threat to the next generation, one imposed by one’s own actions?  So, the argument depends on a reciprocity of self-interest, a reciprocity which may or may not exist….  In any case, the argument doesn’t “boil down to sacrificing the well-being of one set of people (those alive today) in order to increase the well-being of another set of people (future generations).”

And if you do present a counter-point (and I hope you do because I’m uncertain about my own) please don’t do this:

Suppose the only way we can “take action” is to abandon democracy and institute a dictatorship with the power to impose by force the measures needed to offset global warming.  Everyone would be required to live at the poverty line so that most of our resources could be directed toward “taking action.  Would you be in favor of that?

Why suppose anything so stupid (I wish you found these hyperbolic hypotheticals as tedious and uninformative as I do).  Of course taking action requires a cost-benefit analysis.  What possible indication is there that I would think otherwise?

(I apologize in advance if this reply is inappropriately curt, but it is frustrating to be so misrepresented, all things considered.)

[ Edited: 14 May 2019 06:49 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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14 May 2019 12:23
 
Jan_CAN - 08 May 2019 01:05 AM
Jefe - 07 May 2019 08:44 PM
Jan_CAN - 07 May 2019 05:21 PM

It appears that the key message is that “it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global”.  Are humans capable of such a concerted effort on the scale that’s required, and before reaching the point of no return?

We’re too stupid, as a species, to overcome our artificial tribalistic tendencies.  Also, we’re too vulnerable to marketing tactics that allow us to be sold on or swayed away from decisions that affect our best interests. Lastly the real industry decisions are in the hands of an exploitive few who are light on sympathy and compassion.

Yes, we’re too stupid, a certain type of stupid.  And greedy or easily manipulated by the ultra-greedy.

I think we have the scientific knowledge, imagination, innovative abilities, and technical skills to make the necessary changes.  We just don’t have the common will to do all that needs to be done.  This common will may come over time when things get bad enough, but it’ll probably be too late.

Although it seems likely that the negative aspects of human nature will prevent us saving other species and ourselves, a fatalistic attitude is also part of all that.  Our fate might lie with the young and hopeful.

New Yorker columnist writes yesterday:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/a-new-generation-of-activists-confronts-the-extinction-crisis?

Last 3 paragraphs in this article:

In a tweet responding to criticisms of political inaction on the extinction problem, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, was a shade more pessimistic. “I don’t think the analysis here is an indictment of the political class,” he wrote. “We could all be doing more, but there’s maybe no greater separation between Democrats and Republicans today than on climate and pollution.”

I asked Murphy about that separation. “I’ve written a pretty major climate bill with a Republican senator who’s one of the few who will sign on to any climate legislation—Susan Collins,” he said. “At some point, you can’t blame us for taking no for an answer. Do we spend our time continuing to try to convince Republicans, or do we spend our time going and winning elections? I wish we could rely on the former, but I suspect the latter is increasingly our only option.”

The longer our cascading environmental crises remain untouched by politics, of course, the more damaging and daunting they will become. Unlike climate change, the extinction crisis offers no clear targets to race toward or timelines to stick to. But addressing both will require, instead, a million revolutions, large and small, in the way we interact with and think about the natural world.

 

 

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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14 May 2019 12:56
 
unsmoked - 14 May 2019 12:23 PM

New Yorker columnist writes yesterday:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/a-new-generation-of-activists-confronts-the-extinction-crisis?

Last 3 paragraphs in this article:

In a tweet responding to criticisms of political inaction on the extinction problem, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, was a shade more pessimistic. “I don’t think the analysis here is an indictment of the political class,” he wrote. “We could all be doing more, but there’s maybe no greater separation between Democrats and Republicans today than on climate and pollution.”

I asked Murphy about that separation. “I’ve written a pretty major climate bill with a Republican senator who’s one of the few who will sign on to any climate legislation—Susan Collins,” he said. “At some point, you can’t blame us for taking no for an answer. Do we spend our time continuing to try to convince Republicans, or do we spend our time going and winning elections? I wish we could rely on the former, but I suspect the latter is increasingly our only option.”

The longer our cascading environmental crises remain untouched by politics, of course, the more damaging and daunting they will become. Unlike climate change, the extinction crisis offers no clear targets to race toward or timelines to stick to. But addressing both will require, instead, a million revolutions, large and small, in the way we interact with and think about the natural world.

Thanks for the link.  There are an increasing number of outspoken advocates and environmental groups are gaining numbers and influence.  If the momentum continues, who knows – real progress could be made and governments forced to take a stand.  So, for the U.S., step #1:  get rid of Trump and his cronies.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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14 May 2019 14:42
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 May 2019 06:55 PM

You are arguing against yourself here, ASD. 

Your first mistake is: “you appear to be combining two separate arguments.” Then you double down with: “your appeal to self-interest can be broken into two subcategories.”  The rest follows.

My post, both parts taken together, asserts that there are reciprocal benefits and obligations across generations, not simple self-interest arguments unique to either one that need to be overcome.  The mention of benefits only goes to the point that the benefits of dealing with climate change are real, not hypothetical.  Precisely when they occur is immaterial to the point made, as it—to some extent—their uncertainty. 

To challenge the point I made—and it is eminently subject to challenge—why not focus on the question on which it depends, namely: whether a preceding generation has an obligation to the following one because without the benefits accrued from its existence, the preceding one would be worse off, to the point of existential threat.  If one benefits in this way, why does one not have an obligation to reciprocate by doing what one can to prevent a future existential threat to the next generation, one imposed by one’s own actions?  So, the argument depends on a reciprocity of self-interest, a reciprocity which may or may not exist….  In any case, the argument doesn’t “boil down to sacrificing the well-being of one set of people (those alive today) in order to increase the well-being of another set of people (future generations).”

Are you sure “reciprocal” is the word you want to use? Because what you’re describing doesn’t seem “reciprocal” to me, it seems more like “paying it forward,” described as, “the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.” In the case of “paying it forward,” there is no tangible cost to the beneficiary of a good deed for not repaying it to others. From the standpoint of tangible self-interest, I’m better off not repaying it to others. The only benefit of repaying it to others is intangible: the warm fuzzy feeling. “Paying it forward” is an appeal to morality, not self-interest.

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

Also, you imply that we—the present generation—are the beneficiaries of some sacrifice made by past generations. Can you give an example? Remember, for the example to be valid, it must be a sacrifice that had no tangible benefits to the generation making the sacrifice, and was made purely on our behalf. Otherwise, it’s merely an example of past generations acting in their own self-interest; any benefit to us was incidental.

(Banning CFCs, for example, benefits future generations, but it also benefits the generation that banned them. The benefits were more immediate (“proximate”) than the benefits of cutting back anthropogenic carbon emissions.)

So your question about whether we have “an obligation to reciprocate by doing what one can to prevent a future existential threat to the next generation” is misleading for two reasons. First, because scaling back anthropogenic carbon emissions isn’t a case of reciprocity, but rather “paying it forward.” And also because there is no “existential threat to the next generation.” The existential threat, if one exists, is for generations further in the future; i.e., generations less “proximate” than the “next generation.” I’ll take the liberty of rephrasing your question to more accurately reflect the issue at hand: “Do we have an obligation to sacrifice our present well-being in order to benefit future generations?”

The answer, in my opinion, depends on how great a sacrifice for how much benefit: the cost-benefit analysis you claim to be taking into account, but of which I see no evidence.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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14 May 2019 18:14
 

You are arguing with yourself again, ASD.  Your [sic] arguments and their demands rely on the premises, definitions and distinctions you impose in order to get the conclusion you want, regardless whether they capture the fundamental difference between us.  They don’t.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you’re doing this, considering you think you can deductively prove the non-existence of objective moral judgement from a definition of reality. 

It may well be that mutual dependency doesn’t rationally entail reciprocal obligations consistent with self-interest—my basic point is it does—but nothing you’ve said here demonstrates that.  You haven’t even stated the basic point correctly.  Instead, you’ve just stipulated the possibility out of existence by presumption and imposed interpretations.

“I’ll take the liberty of rephrasing your question to more accurately reflect the issue at hand. “Do we have an obligation to sacrifice our present well-being in order to benefit future generations.””  How about just taking the liberty of not begging the question by rephrasing to your original one?

I’m throwing in the towel.  See you at the colony.

[ Edited: 14 May 2019 20:57 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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14 May 2019 20:47
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 14 May 2019 06:14 PM

You are arguing with yourself again, ASD.  Your [sic] arguments and their demands rely on the premises, definitions and distinctions you impose in order to get the conclusion you want, regardless whether they capture the fundamental difference between us.  They don’t.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you’re doing this, considering you think you can deductively prove the non-existence of objective moral judgement from a definition of reality. 

It may well be that mutual dependency doesn’t rationally entail reciprocal obligations consistent with self-interest—my basic point is it does—but nothing you’ve said here demonstrates that.  You haven’t even stated the basic point correctly.  Instead, you’ve just stipulated the possibility out of existence by presumption and imposed interpretations.

“I’ll take the liberty of rephrasing your question to more accurately reflect the issue at hand. “Do we have an obligation to sacrifice our present well-being in order to benefit future generations.””  How about just taking the liberty of not begging the question by rephrasing to your original one?

I’m throwing in the towel.  See you at the colony.

Throwing in the towel, or throwing the chess pieces across the room and storming out in a snit? Take a deep breath, exhale slowly and explain how this generation is “mutually dependent” on some future generation that won’t exist until after this one is long gone. Or, if that’s not what you’re getting at with your reference to “mutual dependency,” then clarify. Concisely, if you can, and without resorting to another one of your bad analogies to muddy the waters.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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15 May 2019 07:25
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

And it should not be seen as a ‘sacrifice’ to protect our planet – it was what we should have been doing all along.  It is an evolution in the right direction to use forethought and intention in our use of Mother Earth’s resources.

 

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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15 May 2019 07:49
 
Jan_CAN - 15 May 2019 07:25 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

And it should not be seen as a ‘sacrifice’ to protect our planet – it was what we should have been doing all along.  It is an evolution in the right direction to use forethought and intention in our use of Mother Earth’s resources.

To your point.  Not only are our genes not selfish; they are the most exquisite cooperators in nature.  They coordinate their own “interest” with the “interests” of all the others on the genome that acts as a template for the organism, the vehicle of their replication.  Without this coordination of interests, the organism as the vehicle of their replication couldn’t even exist.  One could argue, then, plausibly, that the reciprocal coordination of interests in cooperation constitutes the very fabric of who we are. 

Any selfish gene in the strict sense would be eliminated by natural selection.

[ Edited: 15 May 2019 08:01 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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15 May 2019 08:08
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 15 May 2019 07:49 AM
Jan_CAN - 15 May 2019 07:25 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

And it should not be seen as a ‘sacrifice’ to protect our planet – it was what we should have been doing all along.  It is an evolution in the right direction to use forethought and intention in our use of Mother Earth’s resources.

To your point.  Not only are our genes not selfish; they are the most exquisite cooperators in nature.  They coordinate their own “interest” with the “interests” of all the others on the genome that acts as a template for the organism, the vehicle of their replication.  Without this coordination of interests, the organism as the vehicle of their replication couldn’t even exist.  One could argue, then, plausibly, that the reciprocal coordination of interests in cooperation constitutes the very fabric of who we are. 

Any selfish gene in the strict sense would be eliminated by natural selection.

I like that – “the very fabric of who we are”.

Although we have often needed to use our intellect to overcome less useful instincts, now is perhaps the time to use some of our genetic instincts to motivate our actions.

 

 
 
unsmoked
 
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15 May 2019 11:45
 

Nature’s Dangerous Decline

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/climate/trump-sage-grouse.html

First 3 paragraphs of this article:

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday finalized its plan to loosen Obama-era protections on the habitat of the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-nesting bird that roams across 10 oil-rich Western states.

The plan, which would strip away protections for the bird on nearly nine million acres of land in the West — making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on that land — was first detailed in a draft proposal published in December.

The sage grouse plan is the latest step in a series of moves by the Trump administration to promote oil and gas drilling on public land, in support of what President Trump has called a policy of American “energy dominance.” The architect of the plan, David Bernhardt, is a former oil lobbyist who now serves as acting head of the Interior Department.

Trump and his supporters favor oil and gas drilling at the expense of endangered species.  Their attitude is always, “Who cares about a sage grouse, or a damn spotted owl, or some tree hugger’s lament for a stupid Florida beach mouse!  What’s important are prosperous families, jobs, progress, profits, exports, making America great again!”

The Trumpians are like children who think they can remove a piece from the bottom of their building-block tower and not have the entire structure collapse.  Can we even imagine what would happen to life on Earth if something seriously diminished the bottom of the food chain - the oceans’ phytoplankton?

https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/Science-Notebook/2015/0722/Plankton-threatened-by-ocean-acidification-Why-that-matters

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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15 May 2019 12:32
 
unsmoked - 15 May 2019 11:45 AM

Trump and his supporters favor oil and gas drilling at the expense of endangered species.  Their attitude is always, “Who cares about a sage grouse, or a damn spotted owl, or some tree hugger’s lament for a stupid Florida beach mouse!  What’s important are prosperous families, jobs, progress, profits, exports, making America great again!”

The Trumpians are like children who think they can remove a piece from the bottom of their building-block tower and not have the entire structure collapse.  Can we even imagine what would happen to life on Earth if something seriously diminished the bottom of the food chain - the oceans’ phytoplankton?

https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/Science-Notebook/2015/0722/Plankton-threatened-by-ocean-acidification-Why-that-matters

Similarly serious as what would happen if bees went extinct, I imagine.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140502-what-if-bees-went-extinct

Trump’s preference for junk food probably contributes to his inability to see nature in the food chain.  And I’m guessing he never went on any camping trips in his youth.  The best solution appears to be to remove him from his position at the top of the corporate ‘food chain’ as soon as possible.

 

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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16 May 2019 09:29
 
Jan_CAN - 15 May 2019 07:25 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

Well, if you’re right then future generations have nothing to worry about. When asked to sacrifice on behalf of future generations and the planet, we’ll be compelled by our genes to acquiesce. Like, for example, in France, where they raised the fuel tax to encourage people to switch to electric cars. Does the response of French drivers attest to the human instinct to strive in the direction you claim?

Future generations—by which I mean people who won’t exist until after we’re dead—don’t hold the same sway on our conscience that our offspring do. That’s another apples to oranges comparison. If I’m right, then relying on genes and instinct to save the planet is a lost cause. So what’s the alternative? How do we get people to take action if genes and instinct don’t do the trick?

 
 
unsmoked
 
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16 May 2019 11:05
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 May 2019 09:29 AM
Jan_CAN - 15 May 2019 07:25 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

Well, if you’re right then future generations have nothing to worry about. When asked to sacrifice on behalf of future generations and the planet, we’ll be compelled by our genes to acquiesce. Like, for example, in France, where they raised the fuel tax to encourage people to switch to electric cars. Does the response of French drivers attest to the human instinct to strive in the direction you claim?

Future generations—by which I mean people who won’t exist until after we’re dead—don’t hold the same sway on our conscience that our offspring do. That’s another apples to oranges comparison. If I’m right, then relying on genes and instinct to save the planet is a lost cause. So what’s the alternative? How do we get people to take action if genes and instinct don’t do the trick?

You are right about the response of French drivers to their government’s increasing fuel taxes.  Washington state had a similar response in a recent ballot measure.  In that case the oil and gas lobby spent $31.5 million to sway voters with a barrage of pro fossil-fuel TV ads.  Also, notice the typical TV ads for Ford, Chevy etc. showing their big new gas-guzzling pickups being treated like kids’ toys - bumping over rocky trails, being bashed with loads of concrete, towing a huge RV, spinning into a parking space - to show how tough they are.  Fun!  Let’s go places as Toyota says.  Buy an expensive new gas guzzler and immediately beat the shit out of it like in our joy-ride ads. 

However, I have a feeling that the young kids of these parents who are buying the gas guzzlers, are going to learn things in school about climate change, and see the daily news in a different light than their parents - the hurricanes, the floods, the fires - the waves of refugees leaving their drought-stricken farms - the tropical diseases moving north - the coral reefs dying - the millions of species going extinct, (including species like bees that we depend on) . . . maybe those kids will elect candidates like AOC and work to change this short-sighted stupidity, greed, and consumerism that is destroying the planet.

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/7/18069940/election-results-2018-energy-carbon-fracking-ballot-initiatives

Quote from this article:

“It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the public is not quite ready for state carbon taxes, especially when up against aggressive efforts to stop them by the oil and gas industry. The No on 1631 campaign ultimately raised $31.5 million, and almost all of that money came from oil companies outside the state, including BP and Koch Industries.”

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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16 May 2019 12:52
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 May 2019 09:29 AM
Jan_CAN - 15 May 2019 07:25 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 May 2019 02:42 PM

So, can we put the appeal to (tangible) self-interest to bed once and for all? It’s not in our tangible self-interest to sacrifice for future generations. Nor—unless we’ve been indoctrinated to feel so—is it in our intangible self-interest.

The selfish individual may see no tangible benefits to sacrifice for future generations, but life itself, our genes seem to ‘strive’ in that direction.  The evolution of life that favours the survival of those who raise and protect offspring long enough so that they are able to produce offspring, and so on and so on.  The human instinct to protect the young often at some cost to parents attests to this.

Well, if you’re right then future generations have nothing to worry about. When asked to sacrifice on behalf of future generations and the planet, we’ll be compelled by our genes to acquiesce. Like, for example, in France, where they raised the fuel tax to encourage people to switch to electric cars. Does the response of French drivers attest to the human instinct to strive in the direction you claim?

Future generations—by which I mean people who won’t exist until after we’re dead—don’t hold the same sway on our conscience that our offspring do. That’s another apples to oranges comparison. If I’m right, then relying on genes and instinct to save the planet is a lost cause. So what’s the alternative? How do we get people to take action if genes and instinct don’t do the trick?

The French carbon tax issue is a little more complicated than you imply.  Gas prices were raised quickly and substantially, with most of the revenues to be used to lessen France’s national deficit and only a small percentage slated towards environmental measures.  However, it is true that people resist specific measures if they are not convinced of the urgency of the need or if they question the means.  No, we’re not compelled by our genes to acquiesce, but most of us do have the instinct of love for our offspring and a desire for life on earth to go on after we’re gone.

The effects of environmental change have already started and are not some distant threat.  It may not be that long before we see major displacements of people and the political turmoil that will cause, food shortages, species extinctions essential to our survival, etc.  People need to be convinced through education and ‘propaganda’, and be included in the solutions and efforts.  I’m not at all sure that we are capable of meeting this challenge of cooperation, but I hope that we are.

 

 
 
unsmoked
 
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17 May 2019 12:30
 

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/10/22/18007922/climate-change-republicans-denial-marco-rubio-trump

quote from this article:

In recent years, leaders of the Republican Party have become aware that denying the existence of global warming makes them look like idiots. Changes in climate have become obvious, not just to scientists, but to ordinary people — they can be directly measured, with such exotic instruments as a “thermometer.” Majorities of every group except the most conservative Republicans (who will trust their media over their lying eyes) believe it is happening.

Denying visible, tangible reality is a dicey business, even for the modern US right. It makes the party look like a death cult. So Republican climate-communication strategy has undergone something of an adjustment.

Not a large adjustment, mind you. The GOP remains dead set against doing anything about climate change, against any policy that would threaten the profits of fossil fuel companies. That is the non-negotiable baseline, despite a few fringe figures who signal otherwise (until the time comes for votes).

But front-line, hardcore denialism of the “it’s a hoax” variety has largely receded to the base. Republican leaders and spokespeople have moved back to the next line of defense: Yes, the climate is changing, but we don’t know to what extent humans are responsible.

 

 

 
 
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