Monday, July 30, 2018

Why, in a Few Years, Nobody Will be Talking About Climate Change Anymore.

In the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners" (1996) Daniel Goldhagen argues that the Germans couldn't possibly have missed that their government was exterminating the Jews and other ethnical groups. But it is also possible that most Germans were misled by the technique of "deception by omission" played on them. This is a powerful perception management technology that the Trump government has started using in fields such as climate change. And it seems to be working.

Imagine you are a German citizen living in the early 1940s. Would you know that the German Government was engaged in the extermination of millions of Jews and other ethnical groups? The question is controversial: one interpretation is that Germans couldn't possibly be unaware of what was going on. But, it is also true that the extermination was never mentioned in the German media. Ordinary Germans might have been aware that the Jews were being mistreated, but they had no way to know the extent of what was going on. In the cacophony of news about the ongoing war, the issue of the Jews didn't register as something really important. Something similar happened in Italy with the defeat of the Italian army in Russia in 1943. The disaster was never mentioned in the media and it didn't play a role in the public perception of what was going on.

The propaganda techniques used in Germany and in Italy during WWII were still primitive, but they were nevertheless effective in the field we call today "perception management." The technique of denying information is called "deception by omission." A good description is reported by Carlo Kopp.
A prerequisite for Deception by Omission is that the victim has poor a priori knowledge or no a priori knowledge or understanding of what the attacker is presenting to be a picture of reality. A misperception of reality favourable to the attacker can be implanted if the victim can be induced to form a picture of reality based only upon what the attacker presents. .. Deception by omission is a very popular technique in commercial product marketing and political marketing since it permits attacks without resorting to making provably untruthful statements. .. The deception by omission technique is often successful due to laziness or incompetence on the part of a victim population.
Kopp also notes how Deception by Omission is often coupled with two other techniques known as "Deception by Saturation" (saturating the target with irrelevant information) and "Deception by Spin" (presenting correct information in ways that make it favorable to a specific interpretation).

Now let's see how the technique works in our times. We start with an example: you surely know that the American government is engaged in "Targeted Killing" operations, mainly using killer drones. How many people are being killed? The official data tell of hundreds - at most thousands - of victims. But are these data accurate? They come from sources which already blatantly cheated us and we have no independent sources. I am not saying that the victims could be millions, as they were in Germany during WWII, it is just that we have no idea. We know that people are being killed, but we don't know how many and, in the tsunami of news we receive every day, we tend to think that this is only a marginal problem.

What's interesting, here, is how the public perceives the drone wars. Here are some results from Google Trends.

You see how the interest of the public, measured in terms of Web searches, peaked around 2013 to decline afterward. There is no evidence that the number of drone strikes declined, on the contrary, there are hints that they are increasing under the Trump administration. So, a reasonable interpretation is that the interest is declining because the media are mentioning targeted killings less frequently.

There is no easy way to measure the press coverage of a specific event or series of events, but we can use Google trends for an indirect measurement. Here is the same term, "Drone kills" measured in terms of the click on the "News" section of the Google search engine.

We may reasonably assume that every spike in the graph is caused by news appearing in the media, in turn causing people to search for more. So, it seems that the media has become very quiet, lately, about targeted killings. Note that I am not saying that the US government controls the media in the same way as the Nazi government did during WWII. But the US government does control the source of the news. If the government doesn't provide news about something (or provides only scant news) then the journalists have little to show to the public. If the subject doesn't often appear on the media, the public loses interest in it. And if the public loses interest in something, journalists are even less motivated to write about it. It is a feedback loop: we may reasonably suppose that it is what we are seeing in the case of the targeted killings program.

Let's see now how the same mechanism may be at work in the case of global warming and climate change. First of all, here are some results from Google Trends.

Here, we don't see the same evident decline in interest we saw for the case of "drone kills," but I think it is reasonable to say that there has been a detectable decline during the past year or so (note that the 2017 spike corresponds to Trump's announcement that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty). This interpretation may be confirmed by the most recent Gallup poll. Again, the declining trend is still uncertain, but it seems to be there. In March 2018, Americans were less convinced that climate change is a threat than they were in 2017.

Other data from the same poll indicate that the change is mainly caused by a decline in the number of "concerned" people, while the fraction of skeptics and lukewarmers remains approximately the same.

So, what's happening? The most likely explanation is that it is the result of the Trump administration using deception by omission. There is no doubt that they are muzzling scientists and scientific agencies and Trump himself has been silent on climate change despite his many tweets. Nowhere the strategy administration is clearer than with the story of the "red team/blue team" debate on climate proposed by the former EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. The idea was soon nixed by the administration, correctly if seen in the framework of a deception by omission strategy. If there had been such a debate, no matter which side could have given the impression of being right, the public would have perceived climate change as an important issue.

Now, of course when discussing these matters one always risks to be branded as a conspiracy theorist and ignored. But we don't have to think that some people collected in a secret room to plan dark and dire things against us. It is just that ignoring climate change is in the best interest of several sectors of society. The current elites either don't believe that climate change is a serious problem or, if they do, they have decided that their best chance is to work to save themselves, letting the rest of us starve, sink, or burn (I call it the Kiribati Effect). Then, for many industrial lobbies, acting against climate change means losing money. In all cases, the logical strategy for them is to ignore the problem - at least in public. And the government is simply using techniques it knows how to use and that has used in the past.

It is not even so difficult to deceive the public on climate change. We are all subjected to "doomsday fatigue" and most people just can't seem to be able to keep their attention on something that changes slowly over the years. And we are all sensible to deception by omission. The result of the combined action of the government and of this common attitude is a "palpable ratings killer" for all the news regarding climate change. I hate to cite the abominable blog by Anthony Watts, but he has been correctly noting the same trend. And even Watts' anti-science blog has been hit by deception by omission! It is a steamroller of propaganda that squeezes away from the debate everything that deals with climate change.

So, we may well be seeing an epochal shift in the public perception of climate change. The end of the world will become old news, as noted by David Wallace-West. Any hope to avoid that? Not easy: it is a nearly impossible battle to be fought against the combined forces of the government, the industrial lobbies, and of the public's apathy. At the very least, we should realize that there is the serious risk of losing it. That is, we may be facing a future in which the very concept of "climate science" will become everyone's laughingstock (do you remember what happened to "The Limits to Growth"?). It will be an epochal defeat for science.

Certainly, the denial of climate change is taking place against a background of increasing temperatures and the associated climate disasters -- events that would seem to be difficult to ignore. But, in practice, they are ignored. What would we need to push people out of their apathy? Giant fires? We are having them. Scorching heatwaves? Here you go. Droughts? Sure. None of these events are having an impact on the public's views on climate. Imagine that, in a few years, we will see the Arctic Ocean free of ice in Summer. Can you imagine the reaction? Ho-hum, yes, the Arctic Ocean was free from ice millions of years ago. Climate changes all the time, you know?

We are playing, it seems, with a doomsday version of the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. A climate catastrophe that's too small will not have any effect on people's views, but if it is too big it will be too late to avoid a disastrous Seneca Cliff for the whole human civilization. We would need a catastrophe just big enough -- but it is at least unlikely that the Earth's climate will nicely provide us with it.

At the very least, we should recognize that we have been doing something wrong in terms of managing the public perception of climate change. Then, we need some kind of "plan B". Any suggestions?

Note added after publication: clearly, I am not the only one noticing this downward trend (the only people totally missing it seem to be those pompous climate scientists). Two examples
"Climate Change has Run its Course" by Tyler Durden, citing Steven Hayward (h/t Peter Speight)  

"Climate Change is not People's Most Pressing Concern" - Again the usual abominable blog, but they are no fools


  1. Perhaps people have lost interest in climate change because they realize that Homo sapiens will continue to thrive on this earth long after the climate has come into temperature equilibrium in a few hundred years, however warm that may be. Perhaps they are content with the fact that those people won't be living in a high-energy high-tech civilization any more, but will be scrabbling for existence as subsistence farmers and hunter-gatherers.

    Or perhaps they know that there will be many millions of individuals reacting to the worsening climate with their own Plan B because there will never be a collective Plan A that has sufficient effect (for all the reasons you describe). I hope my descendants will be among them, since my Plan B is to live with them in a location that lets them pick the climate they want, all within walking distance.

    1. Joe, I find this a confusing message.

    2. I assume you are confused mostly by my last sentence.

      There are places on the earth that have multiple climate zones within short distances of each other. My Plan B is living in such a location, one that will allow individual adjustment to climate change by moving to a cooler new location when the old one becomes too affected by warming.

      Migration will become the main method of human adaptation to a warming world. I just want to make sure that my descendants don't have to migrate very far.

    3. Thanks for clarification Joe. I can't think where that would be and I suggest you keep it secret.

    4. .Migration is already happening, from the droughts in Africa and Middle East to Europe.
      Migrations will affect all developed countries, not very late.
      And will desestabilice occidental day of life as we know it.
      BAU, Business as usual wouldn't be possible.

  2. It is time that the scientific, academic, and technology community get together and acknowledge the fact that we have THE most amazing planet ever, one in a trillion. The chances of our species ever moving off planet are next to zero and a miserable existence if ever it happens.

    We have one planet and one planet only and yes we can render it uninhabitable and are doing so right now.

    Anyone who thinks that this is not so is living in a comic book (and not one of the good ones). This is not a belief system. Nobody gets to decide if it is true or not just as nobody gets to decide whether or not gravity exists.

    With this understood we need to then restructure humanity away from capitalism, communism, or any of the other isms and base the system on real earth systems. Our Planet is finite and we need to start living accordingly or run the very real risk of near term extinction.

    1. Jef, it is time and also we are out of time,unfortunately.
      I like you thought forms.

  3. Good post Ugo. Yes, some things were done wrong with this global warming thing. Some bad science, sometimes even outright manipulation here and there that has allowed deniers an easy gain.

    No one wins the popularity contest inside people's minds with stories of impending doom and gloom, combined with the need for sacrifice today. Just look at how religion can't even keep up with credit cards.

    This is something humanity will have to live at a visceral level, one person at a time before any awakening worth speaking of happens. Right now it is still at the abstract and theoretical level for most. Other people have heat waves, other people have droughts. Yeah, whatever. The price of food hasn't gone up in my grocery store...

    1. Yvan,Yvan, there is a subtext running through your posts which I find minimizing. Just my opinion but the gravity of the situation is not acknowledged.

    2. Crybaby, I'm prone to looking at things on a longer time scale. I'm also trying to point out how many people see this issue. Most people are minimizing the scale/risk/magnitude of these things. I'm trying to point that out.

  4. My Plan B is to acknowledge it will happen, get worse before it does, the Seneca Cliff will occur and I've taken Dennis Meadows advice and add as much resilience as I can to my life. All while ensuring I am not one of those making it worse with high emisions and high consumption and I only vote Green (they are a tiny step in the right direction and everyone else is in the wrong direction).

    I moved much further away from the equator and up hill to 240m ASL, off a flood plain and now produce lots of my own food, my own electricity etc etc This is my insurance in case it goes bad more quickly than I anticipate i.e before I am dead, rather than after :)

    Good luck :)

    1. Seneca cliff is occurring. Good luck to you. I concur with your prescription. Unsure whether it can work in practice.

  5. I think one reason for ignoring it is that editors, like the general public, are not exposed to solutions. News of clean energy is nearly non existent. So people think there's nothing we can do, let's put off thinking about it.

  6. There exists a pretty new propaganda technique that is "occupying the solution space". From my peers I have the impression that the silence around climate change is due to the fact that it is being worked on but it will take time. That is why the media industry constantly issues positive texts about a plethora of new tech that will help on this issue.
    COP21 is such a strategy and 40-40-40 by the EU is such a strategy and even the 65% target of the german Energiewende is such a strategy.
    I see a problem in the research community that there exists no consistent solution strategy and many also claim that this solution is not far away, be it PV with Storage. Well: If scientists would be honest and used their calculators PV and storage is not very economical. The solution must be much broader and consistent with mathematical truth. The most efficient solution is an international electrical supergrid.
    Chinas Xi has announced plans for such a structure and if we want the cake and eat it we must take really bold steps in engineering and construction.
    See "One cubic mile of oil" on wikipedia.
    To regain truth in the sollution space I propose to communicate this on all channels:


    We have consumed 50% of the 2° carbon limit already, the solution focusing on electrical energy is only 25 % of all energy for the heat engine that our civilisation is runing (about 20 TW 24/7) and that Wind Water and Solar are not much more than 2 % of the global primary energy usage.
    That makes it clear that "any" solution is far far away and we need a much greater effort.

    1. I followed you Anonymous, then I lost you at 'PV and storage is not very economical'. In most intense demographic jurisdictions RE + storage is the most economical today. Couple this with realistic self elucidated necessity of going to the eminently feasible 250w per capita requirement, hands down this is best and easy to achieve. (Scale up to 1000w for societal overheads) So the realization and elucidation effort is primary and not really a very much greater effort overall is required.(I know we still won't do it)

    2. Crybaby - If we had practical, functional, economical storage right now we could cut FF use in our energy sector by 30 or 40%....without any solar or wind. Why do you think we have not done that?

    3. Jef, at no point in time has the advent of reasonably economical storage overlapped with FF burners having to pay for externalities. For only a very short time we have had reasonably economical storage and numerous studies show the proportion of storage required in the system is very small if renewables are appropriately matched geographically and by type and by intelligent advantage being taken of their characteristics. The complete revolution in productive energy service at reduced cost and dramatically less primary energy requirement is available today and was not clearly available 'yesterday'. I say clearly because externalities have been an obscuring factor throughout and intensely targeted for 'omission' referred to by this article.

    4. CB - now you are just spewing gibberish. Over 40% of current (pun intended) energy production is wasted and could be stored and used during peak. Never has happened but now you are saying it will happen because......"renewables", BS!

    5. Crybaby, I suspect at no point will burning fossil fuels pay for externalities. There are several reasons, one of which is that the cost of FF energy would likely increase so much the economy would contract massively, taking demand down with it.

      The laws of thermodynamics seem to be telling us you can not feed 7 or 8 billion people with high cost or low EROI or diffuse energy sources. That is why no renewable energy, with or without storage, can step in to fill the gap. Part of why is that renewables require a massive industrial footprint to collect all this diffuse RE we need in the quantities we need.

      I know many people think this or that energy storage can solve our dilemma, but every single time we do the number crunching it turns out to be a dead end. It seems we are simply at the opening stages of what I've been calling it an energy famine.

    6. @Jef, what you are saying I am saying is not close to what I am saying, so I am not able to discern what you are objecting to.

    7. Yvan, your first paragraph I largely agree with.
      Bardi, Csala and Sgouridis have produced strong analyses which largely address and do not support your propositions in paragraph 2.
      So in paragraph 3, when they did the 'number crunching' it turned out to not be a dead end. Since Bardi, Csala and Sgouridis' work, the costs of renewables has further dramatically declined and the overall amenity and economy of energy storage in numerous contexts has also improved dramatically.
      My own experience and observational conclusion is that if the personal culture and motivation is aligned with minimizing energy and maximising the energy service provided, then 200 to 300 w average per capita is adequate for a developed world personal lifestyle and is easily harvestable in most jurisdictions with small externalities.

    8. Crybaby, 200 to 300 watts per capita only allows you to cook some of the food you would find in a hunter and gatherer lifestyle. Surely you must mean 2000 w, minimum?

      Here is a quote from Csala and Sgourdis and 2000 w is mentioned as a minimum:

      « For setting the threshold level, the concept of a 2000 W society (per person) has been proposed as a target for industrialized countries [45] implying a reduction from 50% to 90% of per capita energy consumption from current figures. While this number was originally conceived as gross available energy and does not distinguish the energy investment as does the energy economy framework discussed in Section 2, it is reasonable to adopt it as a minimum net available energy threshold. »

      Another one where they mention demand destruction as a risk:

      «  As a result, a delayed accelerated response later into the century is barely able to meet the supply-side of energy provision, i.e., it is physically possible to install sufficient available energy capacity to meet the minimum threshold of a 2000 W society by the end of the century but at a cost of severe social dislocation. Energy costs, as represented by the energy cost ratio (k), would reach to values that substantially exceed any previously experienced during the fossil fuelled growth period and could trigger demand destruction if infrastructure investment to allow for the full utilization of the renewable energy supply base is not in place by the time SET matures. »

      There is a world of difference between 200, 2000, and the current 4000 + watts per capita in developed countries. The core of the problem is how do we get people to accept a 2000 w per capita lifestyle? That is a big part of what Ugo seems to be pointing at in his blog post that triggered all these comments.

      Lets keep in mind that Bardi, Csala and Sgouridis may not be doing the math you think they are doing. I’ll let them speak for themselves, but I seem to be seeing great leaps in the assumptions you are making about what their numbers are showing.

      Here is another quote from Csala and Sgouridis:

      « Now Jacobson has upped the ante by publishing this new analysis of 139 countries across the world. However, it is likely that it will also be criticised along similar lines as it uses simplifying assumptions and still evades a detailed modelling of the three largest problems we face in the transition to sustainable energy: storage (especially large scale and long term), intermittency (both generation and demand) and trade (influenced by national security agendas just as much as by economics). Nevertheless, it can still be regarded as an agenda-setting, hypothetical description of the future, rather than a scientific pathway. »

      We need that pathway. Right now would be nice. If you or anyone else has any solid research and technological demonstrators showing which renewable technology we can use to replace FF while still keeping the massive transportation/manufacturing/agricultural infrastructure alive that feeds us all, please post it here.

    9. Not clear on units here -- 200W per capita? Does that mean an average consumption of 200W continuously (i.e., 4.8 kWh per day)? If so, that sounds possible and spartan at the same time. I've gotten my electric usage down to about that (before air conditioning), but in the winter there's a lot of propane consumption for heat -- do we count the caloric value of that (or firewood) in the 4.8 kWh/ day?

      In any case, won't people always consume as much as they feel is needed, up to what they can find or pay for?

    10. Yes Yvan, I see your issue with my contention. As I stated above, the 200w figure is the personal energy consumption only, which can be readily measured by the individual. The societal overheads vary by jurisdiction and are generally in the range of a factor of 2 to 4, depending on population density strongly at this point of time. eg Hong Kong is very low due to high density.
      Hence the loose equivalent in societal terms to the 200w personal lifestyle is 1000w or so. This is a personal contention of a comfortable possibility and I dont have research to support it. It is self evident that it is not widely accepted. On the other hand, many knowledgeable sources indicate the type of primary energy savings possible in society can indeed bring the 1000w society into being. The important aspect to me is that nothing will be feasible with a 4000w society, RE included, a 2000w society is probably not feasible and still very dangerous, while for a 1000w society the externalities of various types can be absorbed.
      Any individual can measure their lifestyle energy consumption for domestic and personal tranport ongoing use, if within the 300w parameter, pat on back and tick. Then work towards supporting local goverment, agriculture, industry, state bureaucracy, military etc to conform to 1000w as a whole.

    11. @provo, yes provo, it is 4.8kWh per day. My personal definition of ongoing energy consumption is a yearly average with personal transport included. For me it tends to be fairly consistent over the year except for higher midwinter heating, which is electic reverse cycle in my case and I require top up boost to solar hot water supply. Including the off-the-meter solar hot water component adds in another 100W or so, I don't measure it or count it so that is a fudge on my part. The PHEV car is metered and included. Petrol and public transport is very small and not included but I would (and probably should already)if it became significant. I think gas or firewood heating should be included. I don't feel spartan. I made a lot of changes at smallish capital and personal labour cost (years ago now)

  7. Nice summary of our predicament, especially the political economy of the climate propaganda wars. I suspect that history (if there are any historians to write it) will conclude that, while there certainly were elements of conspiracy, the scale of the collapse was primarily due to cock-up (human social systems that were unable to evolve quite rapidly enough to "manage" the very well telegraphed impending collision between "growth" and "limits").

    Plan-B suggestions: Build "islands of resilience" wherever and at whatever social scale is practical? That (roughly) is the prescription of the Simpler Way:

    I have no connection with the people behind that; but Ted Trainer seems to have as clear and cogent an understanding of our predicament as anyone I know...

    1. Aided and abetted cock-up seems like more than 'some elements of conspiracy' to me Barry.

  8. the answer, if there is any answer to this, lies within our own primitive brains


    because we are still a primitive species trying to make sense of the surroundings in which we find ourselves

    Our brains are those of our hunter-gatherer forebears, twenty or fifty thousand years is insufficient time for our brain to have evolved into a modern context of living, so while we have warm clothes, houses and wheels, we still respond to stress and adversity in the way our ancestors did

    they lived through climate change, unaware of such a thing. If things got chillier, or warmer, it primarily affected their energy resources--ie food. The meat sources migrated in response to climate, so our ancestors moved with them, completely unaware of why they were doing it.

    The heat/cold would change over centuries, so perceptions of 'normality' wouldnt change.

    If water levels rose--they moved a little every few years.

    my point being, that there was no sense of imminent catastrophe because life in its basic form didn't change.

    WE still have their legacy-mindset. There is no urgency about climate because very little around us changes--yes we get fires and heatwaves, but they have 'always happened' ---that is the same short term memory that our ancestors had, a generation or two at most

    the important thing for them, was that as long as their energy resources remained available, they had nothing to worry about.

    We think in exactly the same way---our supermarkets and petrol stations remain full. We will not panic until they are empty.

    If you live on the coast, your house might fall into the sea, but there are sufficient resources to allow you to move further inland. Again--our ancestors did exactly the same thing.
    When New York or London get permanently inundated, then reactions will change perhaps, but not if you live 5000 feet up a mountain somewhere.

    This is why the vast majority of us do not concern ourselves with climate change---as far as we are concerned it simply isn't happening We are still living in the distant past where such things were not our concern

    1. Norman, this seems like a trite excuse (for management failure ) and patronizing argument. Ok, Perhaps 'I' should have recognized the totality of the situation at a young age and set out out to become the global strongman to alleviate the impending crash. Simply put, it is BS, the 'primitive brain' in modern man is not the befuddled part, it's the modern brain that has been screwed with and the trickle down to the poor old primitive is persistently deleterious and also eminently correctable in fairly short order. (viz education of the modern in sane logic - it is not that difficult and readily communicable).Just my opinion. The examples you cite are naive in extreme.(house by sea, 500' altitude) We live in the Anthropocene and all boundaries we know of are pressing..

    2. well---do you lie awake worrying that islands in the pacific are beinundate, or a third of Bangladesh is likely to disappear in the next 50 years?
      Or if you live 1000ft up somewhere and 5000 miles away, that London is under threat.

      If not--why not?

      You don't because your brain hasn't ecolved that much over the last 50k years to do so.

      your ancesters just moved elsewhere when conditions became untenable, and they did it without 'awareness' of why they were doing it.

      they certainly had no awareness of conditions that might have affected other tribes, Even if they were aware--there was nothing they could do about it.
      That was my point---you might 'care' in the sense that you do know about the privations of others, but there is very little that can be done about it. Yes there are a few who go out in boats and fish refugees out of the sea, and we might admire that (or not) but most of us just get on with our lives as best we can.

      our brains just switch off. There's no 'excuse ' involved. We are what we are. There is only one brain, not a modern part and a primitive part

    3. Do(did) lie awake (actually better adjusted now and better sleep drug)
      Many many islands inundated, agree. (I have an acknowledged extreme view on SLR)

      Bangladesh, vietnam, Pearl River Delta and on and on, there will be no higher ground to run to, the seas will be unimaginably ferocious and non-receptive to HS. Death toll directly attributable to SLR, hundreds of millions + within 30 years.

      London Miami New York and numerous other developed country metropolises devastated. (And I do live very far from them)
      My brain has evolved arguably over last 20 years. Have you heard of epigenetics and RNA? Let alone brain plasticity. As far as I can tell, my ancestors were aware of why they moved vast distances more than once.
      Human communication systems seem to have been extraordinarily active back beyond recorded history. e.g. Australian aborigines had oral and visual communications describing landscapes water features, flora and fauna and mapping connections forty thousand years ago and incorporated geologically significant observations in their cultural history.
      There was significant potential to ameliorate the coming devastation 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago. Even 5 years ago a decent global consciousness improvement perhaps had a chance to avoid some devastating elements.

      The brain that switches off is not a brain for long. The brain has a highly complicated intricate structure. Different structures within the brain perform highly differentiated functions and I think it fair to describe some parts ie forebrain and neocortex as modern, hindbrain and brain stem as primitive.

      So we agree on very little it seems Norman. I call myself crybaby for a reason. The sense of the impending experience of omnipresent intense suffering leads to desperation and grief.

  9. The way I see it. We need an alternative. Like an International Ecological or something like that. Different from a standard political party but close enough so the people can have confidence. Then all the efforts can join into it. It should be designed to disarm capitalism and it absolutely needs to be global.
    What we are seeing now is on one hand a lot of focused on one point or small scale efforts and on the other hand the hope that the traditional political parties could be convinced and lead the change.

  10. Ugo. I am not sure not talking about is the reason for the lack of concern. I am of the view that there is actually real deep concern but people (I am trying not to generalise too much)are effectively unable to think about it in a meaningful manner. There have been a number of shifts in the cognitive functions of our society that have gone unnoticed. The first I would call the 'ad mind set'. For over half a century people have been conditioned cognitively to getting information in small digestible chunks of about 30 seconds duration. They have also been conditioned cognitively to being given the ad thinking response - Problem, Solution, Happiness. A simple three step process has warped cognitive process such that deeper processes such as logic, reason and assessment no longer function but for a few. I first encountered this with a small time in the retail business sector where I rapidly saw that people had expectations that required you to respond immediately to their 'problem' with a ready manufactured solution so that they could be happy, no matter how complex or ridiculous the problem was or the imagined solution. I observed this so often that I have concluded it is intransigently common. Overlay this with the rise of a narcisstic culture again fed by half a century of messaging about self and self fulfillment and you have the corollary, minds that think only of themselves not significant others. Such a mindset is incapable of responding to or recognising danger or risk at a macro level and acutely incapable of understanding the serious existential threat of both limits and pollution (climate change). However, they are disturbed and they do somehow understand that something serious is happening but are no longer capable of thinking about it or doing anything about it and because at a subconscious level it is very distressing they then ignore and prefer the delusion created by Omission and Deception to facing their reality. After all the problem is now so big and so imminent - what do you do? I know, you know and so do many other intelligent others but you cannot communicate this anymore!

  11. Ugo
    Maybe I will come up with a communications based solution, and maybe not. BUT, when I see pictures of all those suffering people in Britain sunning themselves on the beaches, with young ladies in very scanty bikinis, it does not inspire me to do some about the awful weather.

    Don Stewart

  12. Another excellent post Ugo. How do you do it?! You ask about a plan B. "Ain't got none" as we peasants like to say. Iv'e lost interest blogging about these problems on an international or national scale. The elites and corporate interests own the playing field. Instead I am just plugging along educating my community as best I can on trying to learn useful skills like gardening, farming, livestock management, repair rather than replacement of items and using far far less energy. People my age are a lost cause but I see much more awareness and concern in the younger generation like the millennials who seem to get it. after all they will inherit this mess. They seem to get it when I tell them that diesel drives our industrial civilization and that is a fossil fuel which could be expensive and scarce in the near future. For example I have downsized my haying and planting equipment to gear which can be pulled by horses or mules by virtue of being "ground driven" instead of by a tractor PTO. No diesel needed.

    1. Thanks for the "excellent" - I don't know if it is, really, but for me posting is all part of the fascination of observing how the human animal is desperately trying to tackle a situation they are not equipped to face. We won't make it, but it is still an interesting battle.

    2. 'We won't make it' is the first time I have seen/noted this admission from you Ugo. It seems to me the human animal is not yet appropriately desperate and concomitantly it is too late to be appropriately desperate. It also seems to me 'they' are tackling a situation that 'they' could have been equipped to handle and hence the situation has become un-tackleable.

    3. We won't make it in the present form. Some of us will make it

    4. Some of us will make it. But not necessarily those that are aware now. Remember the post on Turiel's blog "Your neighbour won't just accept your 'I told you so'".
      Deniers and indifferents may become tough competitors once they realize things have changed for real; despite what they thought previously.

    5. "We won't make it, but it is still an interesting battle."

      My opinion too. I am old like you Ugo, and content to let life pass now, as in a dream. My one son is not going to have any children himself, and at 37 he has already lived a wonderful life, seen the world. I encourage all people to cease breeding, if only for peace of mind

  13. I skimmed this article and comments so excuse me if my following curiosity question has already been addressed for this or previous posts.

    If it is true (as many online sources claim) that Google and Facebook have been censoring highly popular leftist/socialist online news sources (such as Common Dreams, WSWS, Truthdig, and maybe even Casandra’s Legacy) what impact, if any, might this have on the validity/reliability of Google Trends results?

    1. Frankie, So far the actual cases of censorship or search result manipulation I have seen are more based on politically correct criteria. In other words, it is the left ( Google, Facebook, Twitter and such ) censoring things not on their end of the spectrum.

      BTW if anyone has a link to a good non-biased overview of this issue I'd appreciate it.

  14. I am wondering if there already was a government or institution who already succeeded in implementing a change in its population, in such a way to respond to an upcoming events, without apparent direct needs. And moreover forcing a change inducing less freedom even if it's good for the population. Because it seems to be what we are looking for. But state are more effective at reacting and give nice promise to its people. If someone has an example, it could be interesting...

  15. If you guys haven't read Jaron Lanier's Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts, I recommend it. Jaron points out that it is common practice in the social media business to tailor the message to the individual. So, if some rich entity is trying to promote concern about global warming, they may hire social media to tell the true story about temperatures in England, and show the picture of the morgue where the dead are processed (mostly elderly people without air conditioning who are afraid to open their windows at night because of crime). But if some other rich entity is trying to divert attention from any unpleasant aspects of global warming, the hired message about the temperature will show young and beautiful and sexy people crowding the beaches.

    In both cases, the temperature numbers can be truthfully displayed, but the ramifications can be manipulated to serve any purpose whatsoever....for the highest bidders.

    Lanier laments the fact that social media is creating silos where people are being constantly reinforced in their own predilections, and not exposed to any conflicting information. Which is one of his Ten Arguments. Overcoming the social media juggernaut will be daunting.

    Don Stewart

  16. Ideologies like nazism, fascism, communism have nothing to say about the problems of the 21st century. They are not a good metaphore of what is going on in XXI century so I think it's better to let them closed into the history books of XX century.

    Mankind never ever face off climate change, demographic bombs and many others issue caused by those two primary causes.

    People of Earth interact each other for many reasons: commerial, economic, financial, political, religion, umanitarian, military stuffs ecc... But at the end of the day, under the pressure of Climate Change and Overpopulation the main reasons of interaction will be economic, political and especially military actions.

    In Mediterranean area will be massive migrations and regional Wars (what I usually call PUNIC WARS II)
    Same story in Asia, but it will be a probable big Simmetric War in Asia (what I label as WWIII)

    My suggestion is simple: if you want to talk about Climate Change, then speak about Climate Change Wars.

    People are interested in war, because in war people die and much stuffs get broken.

    That's why, I speak in my Climate Fiction books only of Climate Change Wars!

  17. Ugo. Excellent post. Exactly what has been happening in Australia for years. As for suggestions:

    Perhaps the biggest mistake climate activists made over the last few decades was to listen to the psychological advice that, on an issue like climate, you "should not scare the horses" by being too negative about the implications. So lots of positive noises, "bright siding", but do not talk about reality.

    That has meant that, in most countries, there has never been an honest discussion about the real implications of climate change, which has been useful cover for the incumbency in multiple ways. It enables national governments and companies to downplay the issue, at the supranational level the same applies in the UNFCCC and IPCC deliberations. In resource-rich countries like Australia and the US, it has also given cover to the denialist lobby which has become extremely strong as a result, with a compliant media falling in behind them.

    To break this we must have brutally frank discussion on the implications, so that discussion around these issues is normalised, it becomes socialised into everyday discourse, and we act on the knowledge provided – fast.

    Not easy, but we have no alternative, as the current extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere might suggest. Ian

  18. I used to be concerned about unintentional anthropomorphic climate change. Now I'm more concerend about intentional climate change, aka the ongoing covert geoengineered weather war. Unless more concerned citizens study the history of weather modification and stop assuming governments put "saving the planet" above short term power and profit articles like this are just playing into a problem-reaction-solution agenda that masks a covert war on humanity and Earth's ecology. Look up at the sky once in a while and you'll see what I'm talking about. Remember: cirrus clouds trap heat and that's what planes and emf are creating regularly all around the globe.

  19. Paul Hawken's approach, particularly Project Drawdown's first-ever research on reversing global warming.

    "To generate effective, universal action that will solve the problem of climate change, the global community needs to abandon the “wussy” language of climate mitigation and rethink the “negative” sports and war metaphors that are pervasive in discussions about the issue." ......
    "“Talk of carbon war rooms, and fighting or combating climate change is so negative,” said Hawken. Worse, it positions the problem “as something out there that we have to fight and win, when in reality, we are the problem and not the climate,” he added.

    The process of othering the natural world from humans is what has caused today’s environmental problems, said Hawken. “We cannot solve the problem the same way; we have to think differently.”

    One way to do this may be to not talk about the climate at all, he told Eco-Business in an interview. Rather than the relatively intangible idea of addressing climate change, people are more concerned with things that affect them on a daily basis, he said. In this vein, the next project he is working on is a book titled ‘Regeneration: How to create 1 billion jobs’. "
    Quotes from:

    Video of Paul Hawken speaking on solving global climate disruption through innovation:

  20. I actually come to this site to cheer myself up. At least there are a few of us here on planet earth that get it. Then I make the mistake of wandering over to the comment section of zerohedge. Things are absolutely hopeless.

    1. Zerohedge. Oh dear. Not the greatest place, is it?

  21. "We can no longer hope to rely on uncertainty, the lack of a complete understanding of phenomena, as too often done in the past: "Uncertainty is not our friend" was the effective synthesis used by Michael Mann".



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017)