Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Universal Law of the Climate Debate: Nobody Ever Change their Minds.

A Quick Note on the Degeneration of the climate debate

Above: warmunist flags held by climatastrosophists.

What you can expect if you get a Ph.D. in geology, nowadays? See below: you will be said to be 1) a rabid climate change alarmist, 2) a warmunist, 3) a climatastrosophist (?), 4) someone who turned to the dark side 5) paid for doing it. 

And all that in a single paragraph! 

Name-calling has always been effective as a rhetorical trick, but perhaps Mr. Rud Istvan, the author of this post on WUWT, could consider being a little more restrained with these rants.

"For those unfamiliar with Oreskes, she received a degree in geology and subsequently became a practicing geologist. Later, she returned to Cal Berkley for a PhD in history of science. After this she then became a rabid climate change alarmist, as evidenced by her books noted above. She became famous for her Warmunism. I noted this in footnote 24 to essay Climatastrosophistry in my ebook Blowing Smoke, which I based on former Czech president Vaclav Klaus’ 2007 book “Blue Planet in Green Chains”. Oreskes’s work led to a tenured Harvard professorship. Her intellectual abandonment of her previous work and conclusions about earth science models, as encapsulated in her earlier paper in Science, is indicative of her career/financial turn to the dark side."

You can read the whole post on WUWT. But don't expect it to be anything more than the paragraph above, repeated and illustrated with the usual fake graphs. Naomi Oreskes must have been doing something good, lately, because she has become a favorite target, there, even more than Michael Mann!

So, what's left of what once was called a "debate"? Basically nothing, except that it is becoming clear that there exists a universal law perhaps more unbreakable than thermodynamics. It is "nobody ever changes their minds."


  1. The debate is as hot within the collapsology community, as well. Are you a moderate decline or full extinctionist? Are you able to consider full collapse, or do you hope for a technological miracle?

    I never even hear that conversation.

    1. I am a senecatastrosophist with a vein of collapsomunism, tinged with a bit of gaianoteosophicalism

  2. I agree, people rarely change their minds. Real change often comes only after a person or cohort of people that hold a particular view physically die off.
    For example, do you think white US slaveholders automatically changed their minds and thought slavery was wrong after the slaves were emancipated? No, you had to wait until these people were dead (50-70 years) before the idea that slavery is a natural way of life also died out. There is still racism, of course, but few today would support slavery.

  3. This points to our existential carbon trap reinforced with path dependencies then cured like steel with emotional personal agenda. These examples of protests on both sides are the reason I personally feel humans will be pushed for the most part into blind change and that change will be significantly irrational and destructive. Climate change is just one of the major threats facing humans. Personally, I don’t care if it is natural or man-made. Habitable climate is necessary for industrial food monocultures to be shipped globally. Climate instability along with localized environmental failures with general decline is obviously real if you are honest about science. Yet, let’s say you are honest about science like many extremist greens what about being honest about the carbon trap and path dependencies? This means the economics of the techno green changes so many greens hype does not add up systematically. It is not means tested. The fact we are in a competitive cooperative world where different agendas will by definition coexist because without it there will be a civil war means a draconian change will not succeed. A green new deal is economically draconian. A civil war means collapse.

    There is the issue of net energy decline yea; peak oil is alive and well just not the alarmism the peakers promoted years ago. It is a slow decline that is subtle and destructive. Renewables are more techno optimistic lies. Sure, they are vital but all the evidence I see says they do not have what it takes to drive a “transition” like oil was to coal. Renewables can extend the status quo and lightly transform the energy system. There is then the whole issue of economics that have systematic implications. Excessive debt and decline will impact the power of globalism and its supply chains that are powering all these fantastic techs the optimists sing about. The reality is these techs are not holding up in real world applications. The reality is the global system is in decline meaning affordability will decline.

    Unfunded liabilities, demographic shifts, and decaying institutions are going to lead to abandonment, dysfunction, and irrational behavior. The big question is when will the undulating plateau of growth and decline shift to solid decline. Currently much of the growth in the world is not growth returning value. It is rather staged growth to maintain previous growth that is not producing. This is a typical Ponzi setup. There are multiple other sub decline forces like geopolitical war games. The biggest issue is growth and energy at the level humans are accustomed to are carbon intensive. All of them are. Low carbon capture does not make economic sense for an on-demand energy intensive world. Intermittency, seasonality, and localism is the only answer but not for modernism. It is theoretically possible a hybrid mix of the two might be arranged to mitigate and adapt to decline but that would necessarily involve the acceptance of defeat of techno optimism PLUS the understanding of what degrowth means to global value chains. It means a retirement party but that is better than a suicide party with spiked Kool Aid and false promises.

  4. Knowledge is a resource too, usually is more simple to follow the leader.
    Discussion and fact cheeking is time consuming and people usually don't have mental endurance for it so choose a leader similar to them to follow. Usually i agree with some position about climate change but not to all and my opinions are more based on solutions viable, as Plan Collapse i see things more linked to resources and energy and i suppose there are a lot of ones viable. Old problems have new efficient solutions today, quite cheap too, based on human ingenuity: . Usually when human debate i listen to solutions proposed, this make me patient because after some hours of talk I cant' find one proposal.

  5. I'm was following the behavior of the graphs from LTG Reports since 1973, after read the article about that en a Playboy issue, and I see that the predictions adjust very well to the actual planet state. I agree also, people rarely change their minds because the change is a very long process of many many years. I like the terms senecatastrosophist, collapsomunism, and gaianoteosophicalism..Very expressive.

  6. We are in a new time when less is more which is different than more with less. This pits the abstract against the tangible. Today one must distill knowledge instead of produce knowledge. Where distillation has to start is a wisdom of less from the embrace of a decline process. Decline these days is defined as problems to be solved instead of a planetary trend. Growth is deceptive because a significant amount of growth does not bring a real return and instead hidden by debt and unfunded liabilities. Much of the growth today is from techno optimistic kinds represented by high tech real and theoretical. Today’s gatekeepers are promoting high growth with high performance. Even greens today must hype green as a revolution to a transition. Modern green is high tech based and says efficiency and clean growth will continue to be affluent. Even Degrowthers point to success of a green process which ensures stability of circular economy avoiding the idea of collapse.

    If one starts with a distillation with a decline-based view then what is less potent but more sustainable and resilient in relation to destructive change is embraced. Many old ways can be enhanced with modern tech and knowledge but first simplicity and decline must be embraced. Embracing decline means realizing tech will be an extender for a journey not the destination. In fact, embracing this way ensures a journey to a kind of collapse. It will be like the ability to fight in retreat like the Germans did so well in WWII on the eastern front. They battled in a fighting withdrawal effectively but the outcome was never in doubt. So, less knowledge is needed with less noise and to get at this very vital and valuable knowledge one must discriminate anything high tech and claiming growth with affluence.

    We are going to be poorer because this is the nature of succession. The planet is in succession and the human project is also in succession because the planet gives acquiescence to the human project. Knowledge and lifestyle that are simple are to be embraced in this process. This means triage and it means cleaning up the deadwood. It means picking what low hanging fruit is there still to enhance and fortify the difficult process of a forced degrowth ahead. This is realism based upon honest science. It comes with acceptance of failure and the rejection of techno optimism primary message that failure is not an option. A stable complex planetary ecosystem is lost as well as higher civilization. Modern humans cannot arrest planetary decline. All species can only follow the planetary gradient.

    This does not have to mean total collapse but it does mean a succession to less complexity and more destructive change with its accompanying abandonment, dysfunction, and irrational. These forces can be mitigated and adapted to with the constructive forces of modern knowledge that is sound and effective. The temptation to more tech and efficiency is the issue. The human dopamine is high for more and nonexistent for less but it is less that is the key. So, the cure is a hybrid force of being able to take the best of what humans have achieve and apply it to real human scales that were present before the modern time. This is low carbon capture and small-scale footprints dominated by intermittency and seasonality. These are the antithesis of modern on demand and global.

  7. By example, this is false. I used to think that there was no way to wade through the politics, and that the truth was inaccessible, and that whether or not there was climate change was not knowable. I was wrong - it is.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)