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The Hazards of Public Awareness
« on: March 31, 2014, 06:56:35 AM »
It seems to me that - largely as a result of the IPCC stuff coming out recently - the media is starting to run stories to the effect that:
  • climate change has already started to undermine crop yields
  • it presents a clear and present danger on a global scale
  • the timescale is being reined ever nearer for serious effects
  • ongoing effects are acknowledged even in the current day (climate change has arrived)

To some of us, this isn't really new stuff - as we've been arguing (albeit without as much solid scientific backing as ideal) for much of this for several years now. However there used to be a lot of voices arguing against these views, and they seem to have gradually faded somewhat. Admittedly that's on this forum - where information and intelligence both run pretty high, particularly by online discussion forum standards and where evidence can win the day (it can't always), and where the discussion curve is head of the general public.

Having never been afraid to court controversy, this puts me in a slightly novel position as the old controversial views become increasingly mainstream - forcing one to look further ahead for the next new thing. After all, one doesn't really do anything much merely following the herd - one must get out a step ahead.

Hence I'm looking at the gradual seep of this rather dark information into the public consciousness and thinking - what happens next?

Now - some portion of us (maybe even a big or majority portion), repeatedly espouse the hope that there will be some magical public awakening (and even more improbable pulling together to solve the problem and continue with the modern world approximately as we know it) as a result of either this or increasingly catastrophic consequences.

However, I would argue that history does not support this assertion (and in any event the science also shows it to be an increasingly hopeless notion). There has been no concrete response to date to either the increasing spread of knowledge or the increase in frequency of catastrophic events.

Instead I think I can come up with another analogy - a fire suddenly breaks out in the middle of a crowded theatre. What happens next?

I would venture to suggest that human nature predicts that in the vast majority of instances pandemonium ensues, as people lawlessly fight to try to get to the fire exits to escape (with the net result that far fewer people make it out of the theatre alive than if they had organised in a selfless and disciplined manner to evacuate as efficiently as possible).

Accordingly, I see several negative aspects to increasing public awareness of the severity and imminence of these threats. I see a real risk that soon the policies of individuals and nations will be heavily influenced by this understanding in a generally unhelpful and negative way. While lip service may be paid to the notion of cooperation, I think actions will speak louder and we will see the same sort of selfish lawless jostle for position and fighting at the expense of others as we would typically see in the burning theatre.

The primary reason this will be unhelpful is that virtually all of these entities will be taking very short term perspectives that offer no meaningful future hope or improvement. Nations will vie for resources, and to secure their borders and populations. The wealthy will stockpile and try to find places they think they can be secure from the storm. Nobody will consider those who must come later.

This will also accelerate the onset of collapse as global markets and resource supply chains start to break down and competition replaces cooperation. I already have that assumption in my projections - and think it one reason I expect collapse far sooner than various others (like JimD).

While I'm interested in the controversy (and other views), I think it also worth noting that time to meaningfully act ahead of the curve - and in a considered and long term thinking manner - is running out. Give it a few years, and I daresay I shall need to try to find a new controversy - assuming we are still talking about this then.

Daniel

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 04:01:48 PM »
Yeah, a very interesting topic!

 I too believe that many people, when faced with this information, will act (even more) recklessly and also look to secure their wealth and position instead of sharing in a crumbling society which will have negative consequences for others.
 But at the same time, if we are to change the "psyche" of the collective, people need to hear this over and over, otherwise the immensity of the problems will certainly cause great anger, fear and panic as people are faced with huge personal consequences apparently "without warning".
 On being one step ahead: My personal view is that all actions taken and precautions made on an individual level to minimize the reliance on the failing system are extremely important (for the individual as well as society as a whole). However, I do not Think that the larger (climate related)changes can be stopped or reversed no matter what humans decide to to. We simply have to accept that Earth possibly is going through a state change (human induced or not) and we do not know what this new state is going to be like.
 What being ahead means for me is accepting that civilization as we know it will probably soon be over (in one or two generations) and in light of that slowly start to shift the perception of what it means to be a human being and start to reflect upon our Place on this Earth and the universe.

 Say that our high Tech civilization wont make it (of course we dont know that).
Should we: Invest all our thought, time and efforts into maintaining status quo leaving us with no vision of possible alternatives as the system with which we identify crumbles?
or
Let the system go; prepare by changing the way we Think about our species and our Culture while there is still time? The odds are that we end up in a better Place and with a better mindset if we do the latter.
I am a "slave" to the system myself, with some debt and so on. I'm not saying that it's easy or even possible to step away from the system as it falls down. But nothing is stopping us (exept TBTB ;)) from building something that could possibly remain standing as the rest falls around it so to speak..

 Can awareness in itself really be something bad?
I Think part of the problem is that people will start getting aware of the fact that all the things they've been promised and have been taking for granted is going away. And they will be disappointed and angry. So it's the false story or image of human beings and our rights that's being pushed on us thats really to blame. If we can change that story somewhat Before the fall, I Believe there is much to be won.

BTW, I like what these people are doing :
http://dark-mountain.net/

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 06:00:45 PM »
Daniel, Welcome aboard !  I wanted to mention some synchrony going on here. I asked fellow bloggerJimD if he was a Robinson Jeffers fan recently. The archdruid Greer did the first article in the "Dark Mountain" series you mentioned.

 http://dark-mountain.net/stories/books/book-1/the-falling-years-an-inhumanist-vision/

Maybe art is telling us something. When we humans have a hard time facing things art can provide a medium that allows us to separate ourselves enough to let us look in , walk away, think , look again and ease ourselves in. Less trauma and some healthily distance till we harden up a bit. A good artist or good art operates at a subconscious level , it can get through when bluntness fails. This may not always describe good art and " Jeffers" comes to mind but most of us would choose to avoid looking to deeply into the eventual fate of humanity.
 I was wondering about the terms self delusion and illusion. Delusional thought is a phycological barrier that is constructed to protect ones preferred view of things, and is often blind to other peoples views or reality itself. Illusion on the other hand is a construct designed to delude others. It is a conscious choice often maintained by individuals to evade public scorn. It can also be used for unscrupulous intent of course but it is often the glue that binds societal norms . If society finds some change necessary then people can change the illusions they project but getting people to change delusional thoughts is nye on impossible. The illusion is we are actually civilized in the first place. The delusion is we are all civilized or can be made so.   Don't deny a man his illusions. 

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 06:35:45 PM »
I believe your pessimism is unwarranted. Heightened public awareness will drive productive action. I would simply point out the concerted action taken to deal with HFCs and the destruction of the ozone layer.

It is true that "public action" can be very messy and the degree of messiness is entirely dependent on the seriousness of the situation. You could make a very compelling case for AGW being as dire of a situation as humanity as ever faced. We should expect "public action" to be very messy indeed. What should informed people do? We should do everything in our power to present well documented science in order to raise a level of concern, even fear, that matches our very real predicament. AGW is an existential threat and we need the entire world to get this. We need to have every human being feel the same deal of fear that many of us express here on a daily basis.

Why?

Change does not come easy for any group or organization of human beings. We are invested in these organizations, are comfortable with the benefits that participation brings and prefer the status quo to some uncertain future. Large businesses fail because they are unable to change. The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to cause change. Human civilization is the largest organization on the planet and , thus, is the most difficult to change. Extensive studies have been undertaken of businesses that have successfully dealt with threats and implemented major changes within their organizations. There is a single defining characteristic of every example of successful organizational change. This is a "catalytic event or mechanism". These catalytic events are always threats, often frightening and frequently existential in nature. It is only the acknowledgement of this threat that allows an organization to overcome the inertia that makes change so difficult. The business will not survive unless it changes and, when this is realized, change can occur rapidly.

No informed individual should let up in the slightest. We, instead, need to strike fear in the hearts of humanity. We need to double down on our efforts to make people understand that our very existence is at stake.




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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 07:07:37 PM »
And how do we do this? We need to begin to make the connections between AGW and  all of the shit that's happening (droughts, storms, floods, heat waves).

Everyone needs to become personally aware of the existential threat. They need to understand that, as a result of climate change, many will drown due to torrential rains and devastating tropical storms as entire communities get washed away. They need to understand that others will die from diseases that have never before existed where they live, others in horrific fires sweeping across the landscape, that many will die of heatstroke (mostly the young and very old) as unprecedented heat waves settle over urban areas for weeks and that untold millions will starve as drought devastates regions of the planet.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2014, 03:08:45 AM »

Instead I think I can come up with another analogy - a fire suddenly breaks out in the middle of a crowded theatre. What happens next?

I would venture to suggest that human nature predicts that in the vast majority of instances pandemonium ensues, as people lawlessly fight to try to get to the fire exits to escape (with the net result that far fewer people make it out of the theatre alive than if they had organised in a selfless and disciplined manner to evacuate as efficiently as possible).

As a member of the fire service and a fire trainer I have to say that this is mostly a media myth. People are killed at these types of incidents because the exits are inadequate (or locked), the fire spreads so fast that there is no escape or because authorities delay notification to prevent panic . There are other reasons but those are the majority. What most people (and almost all of the media) think is panic is people reacting to the information they have, but if that information is wrong their reactions will be also.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2014, 06:15:34 AM »
I believe your pessimism is unwarranted. Heightened public awareness will drive productive action. I would simply point out the concerted action taken to deal with HFCs and the destruction of the ozone layer.

I don't think the comparatively trivial problem of HFCs scales very well to the climate change problem. There were simple courses of action to take to rectify the problem - which were taken by those with the power to take them, and that problem wasn't precisely solved - but constrained at least.

It is true that "public action" can be very messy and the degree of messiness is entirely dependent on the seriousness of the situation. You could make a very compelling case for AGW being as dire of a situation as humanity as ever faced. We should expect "public action" to be very messy indeed. What should informed people do? We should do everything in our power to present well documented science in order to raise a level of concern, even fear, that matches our very real predicament. AGW is an existential threat and we need the entire world to get this. We need to have every human being feel the same deal of fear that many of us express here on a daily basis.

No, I don't think we do want people to feel fear too much. Fear encourages irrational and selfish behaviour as often as not. I mean - certainly, they should be afraid - but that is not enough, and that is the problem with feeding only negative information as seems to largely be the case.

The problem is one of information management. I certainly think people should be well informed, but if you want to avoid compromising social cohesion through undesirable modes of behaviour - you need to enforce a plan. If one considers the theatre analogy - the ideal way to handle the evacuation would be to have plenty of staff on hand to efficiently marshal and direct people out through the emergency exit, who would take control fast enough to prevent panic from setting in (at which point the situation is no longer retrievable).

An announcement over the public address system might get people to stay put for a short while, but would rapidly be ignored.

Right now our governments are paying lip service to the problem, announcing it over the PA system and telling us to stay in our seats and that the threat will (someday) be addressed.

That is a very poor way of managing the information. People need to not only understand the existential threat but also understand valid and productive responses to it. The productive response is most definitely not a given and many people make a big mistake in my opinion to assume the response must necessarily be productive once the threat is understood.

Unfortunately, in the interests of not misinforming people - I think we need to be quite clear what the science says and what the prospects are for civilisation as we know it to continue (unless a credible plan can be drawn up that really addresses the questions). Therefore, we shouldn't be peddling false hope to people - telling them they can make little changes, use energy efficient light bulbs, consume less, etc - if it will not actually solve the problem. That is in itself misinformation, unless attached with the strong caveat that we do not think it will be a solution.

That is why I argue for planning around collapse and looking at what we can do following it, how we can handle that situation - as it seems this is achievable to me.

No informed individual should let up in the slightest. We, instead, need to strike fear in the hearts of humanity. We need to double down on our efforts to make people understand that our very existence is at stake.

Considering how fast people move to the conclusion that we are doomed and that there is nothing we can do - and how apathetic and defeatist the bulk of the population can potentially be (and just look at how little confidence there is in our leaders - corporations and their governments...), we need to do considerably better than that. We need to not only communicate the risks and consequences but we also need to present a clear and achievable plan of action.

Failing to do so serves no productive purpose. Sometimes it isn't the right thing to do to shout fire and risk a stampede if there is no credible plan for dealing with it - and that's what my point comes down to.

Promoting solutions that fall short of what would be needed is a form of denial and misinformation that merely prolongs at best the disillusion and anger of the masses.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 06:21:49 AM »
because authorities delay notification to prevent panic . There are other reasons but those are the majority. What most people (and almost all of the media) think is panic is people reacting to the information they have, but if that information is wrong their reactions will be also.

That's actually a very good note, about the delaying of notification to prevent panic - which I suppose in a way is exactly what has happened with respect to climate change in the modern context.

Apart from the fact my analogy seems a little potentially weak from what you're saying, I'm a little curious - if you have delayed notification to prevent panic - and the information (the fire) is discovered without clear guidance as to how to respond, does the analogy still work, or do I need to try to find a better one?

I mean - in the context of climate change - it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2014, 09:22:11 AM »
it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

I think the easiest analogy to use is the British response to WW2.  They were outgunned, unprepared, the place was full of Nazi sympathisers of varying kinds including lots who were preparing for a successful invasion - but they gritted their teeth, complied with the blackouts, trudged into the bomb shelters, instituted rationing, went to their conscripted jobs in munitions factories and on farms, took in refugees from the London bombing and got on with it. 

They were already being killed.  Dunkirk might have been a triumph of community cooperation but it was only required because of military disaster - and lots of people got killed there as well.   And nobody's perfect.  The black markets thrived and people regularly found ways to get around petrol rationing.   The USSR had a different approach and even more people - not just numbers but proportionally as well - died and suffered there.   But the Brits - one way or another - managed to avoid invasion. 

In the end, the US also got actively into the act and the job got done.   

I see no reason why we can't approach this in much the same way.  Some countries or regions or groups of countries might be first cabs off the rank to actively fight the problem.  In this case those taking the strongest action initially will probably not be those suffering the most obvious impacts just now, but once they get started and show the way others will align with them or just copy them.  Eventually the biggest players, USA, China, India, the EU will be acting in concert.  (It might be more like cacophony but they'll at least be using the same book if not the same page.) 

It's going to be ugly.  Lots of people will starve, lots of people will die, I don't see how we can pretend otherwise.   

Even when we succeed we'll have laid waste to forests and species and many low lying islands and coastal regions and river deltas along with coral reefs and fisheries, but it will be like winning a war.  We will see the devastation and the ruined cities and rivers and farmlands, but we will also see that if we do better from now on and actively work to restore what remains, life will go on and we can do even more to make even more reparations and improvements.   

And just as war fires up the economies of the combatants, more and more activity to build out renewable power and to retrofit, repair, replace, relocate all the wrecked bridges, houses and infrastructure will kick a lot of money into a lot of wage packets. 

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2014, 09:50:47 AM »
While optimistically I'd hope for better than adeladys description, realistically I expect a very similar situation.

I do wonder if CO2 emission will in the future be grounds for sanctions and trade embargoes in countries that are noncompliant. I suspect that if China, US and the EU as a combination get serious things will happen faster than we expect.
Open other end.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2014, 06:20:45 PM »

The problem is one of information management. I certainly think people should be well informed....


No one can possibly be informed and not have fear and be called to action.

Do you think residents of Florida would not be insisting on action if they all realized that Miami will need to be abandoned by the end of the century and that their property will be worthless by mid-century?

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-the-city-of-miami-is-doomed-to-drown-20130620

Do you think knowing this will not cause fear? If we decide now is not the right time to tell them, when should we let them know?

I like the shouting fire in the theatre analogy. If a fire has started that threatens to kill everyone in the audience who are watching "An Inconvenient Truth" should we not tell anyone because they might become frightened?

We should, in fact, tell them in order to frighten them into action.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2014, 06:26:49 PM »

I mean - in the context of climate change - it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

I am so tired of the hand wringing and worrying that nothing can be done which simply justifies our living our lives as if it is not a problem. (You do this a lot.)

We have all of the technology and means at our disposal to avoid the worst effects of AGW. We simply lack the will to do it. If 7 billion people woke up tomorrow morning with a clear understanding of what was coming, we would find the will.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2014, 06:34:56 PM »
Apologies if this has already been posted: "Is It Possible To De-Couple Economic Wealth From Carbon Dioxide Emission Rates?"
http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/

This guy would not seem to share your optimism, SH. I personally don't see any way we can realistically turn the boat around before we go over the falls (we are already tipping). But I'm still willing to try any way.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2014, 06:52:00 PM »
Apologies if this has already been posted: "Is It Possible To De-Couple Economic Wealth From Carbon Dioxide Emission Rates?"
http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/

This guy would not seem to share your optimism, SH. I personally don't see any way we can realistically turn the boat around before we go over the falls (we are already tipping). But I'm still willing to try any way.

I have never said we can do such a thing. The growth system is what is driving us headlong into extinction. We need to shut the damn thing down and find another way to organize human civilization. Alternatively, we can continue our active participation in the system, live our retirement years off of our healthy investments and condemn our grandchildren to a hell on earth.

The industrial growth system which really got traction in the middle of the 1800's gave us this.....

Go look for additional graphs that have the logarithmic trend that is characteristic of any growth system. They are endless, coal and oil consumption, extinctions, etc. If we want to solve the crisis we absolutely need to short circuit the growth system. We cannot grow ourselves out of a problem whose root cause is growth!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 07:07:09 PM by Shared Humanity »

wili

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2014, 08:25:44 PM »
I agree, but I sometimes wonder whether the ideology of the growth imperative came first and we found ff's as a way to implement it, or if the discovery of ff drove growth which we then came up with an ideology to rationalize and celebrate it.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2014, 09:17:26 PM »
I agree, but I sometimes wonder whether the ideology of the growth imperative came first and we found ff's as a way to implement it, or if the discovery of ff drove growth which we then came up with an ideology to rationalize and celebrate it.

I think we have always sought the "good life". It's in our nature. The industrial revolution just juiced the system and allowed our pursuit of it to go on steroids.

The problem is we have defined the good life as material goodies. This does not have to be the case. This definition is most true in the U.S. which accounts for our excessive consumption. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker "He who dies with the most toys wins"?

I get frustrated when we have discussions here about how we can continue our material  consumption, still have all of our goodies, but avoid our inevitable fate. The short answer is "we can't". The longer answer is "we can not".

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2014, 10:18:08 PM »
I agree, but I sometimes wonder whether the ideology of the growth imperative came first and we found ff's as a way to implement it, or if the discovery of ff drove growth which we then came up with an ideology to rationalize and celebrate it.

Here's a very interesting series that helped shape my thinking about this a lot: The Problem of Growth
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2014, 02:58:23 PM »
It's going to be ugly.  Lots of people will starve, lots of people will die, I don't see how we can pretend otherwise.   

At which point, I'm not sure our viewpoints are so very different - mostly just a question of degree perhaps (and perhaps I expect far more technological regression than you do).


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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2014, 03:46:55 PM »
Do you think residents of Florida would not be insisting on action if they all realized that Miami will need to be abandoned by the end of the century and that their property will be worthless by mid-century?

It is not enough for them to insist on action. That's when you get stupid ideas like dumping massive amounts of material onto the barrier islands near New York city to protect it from storm surges. A century later - all you did was waste a colossal amount of effort buying a little more time when you need to abandon the city anyway (and, I might add, probably most major cities on the planet).

Do you suppose they will insist on action that protects their selfish interests - or action that serves the greater good of the species? That is the critical point here.

I mean - in the context of climate change - it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

I am so tired of the hand wringing and worrying that nothing can be done which simply justifies our living our lives as if it is not a problem. (You do this a lot.)

I feel a need to challenge that assertion (that you have raised for the second time here).

Where have I ever said it can be justified that we carry on living our lives as though there is no problem? Do you think I am sitting in a comfortably modern context, idly just tapping away at a keyboard?

Where I am now, temperatures in the summer can reach 40C (104F). It isn't dry heat, humidity is also high. In the winter it will dip down to slightly below freezing. I don't have air conditioning or heating. I also don't have running water, or a flushing toilet. I have virtually no support network here (I'm a very long way from the nearest thing to "home" I have) and the only thing that stops me being plunged straight into an ugly situation just for bottom line survival is that I can work over the internet (in a marketplace competing with people from India and China - ie one has to be pretty damn competitive to make that work for you). There are other things I won't get into right now which would make all those things the least of your worries if you were to trade places with me.

This lifestyle isn't exactly unfamiliar to me, because I grew up living in fairly poor conditions. But I actually effectively chose it at this point in my life, if you can believe that - because I'm doing something I believe in and am literally willing to risk my life over.

If you think I'm all about hand wringing and claiming nothing can be done, I can only assume you haven't read most of my previous words that closely (or that you think I'm doing nothing).

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2014, 05:47:16 PM »

I mean - in the context of climate change - it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

I am so tired of the hand wringing and worrying that nothing can be done which simply justifies our living our lives as if it is not a problem. (You do this a lot.)

I feel a need to challenge that assertion (that you have raised for the second time here).

Where have I ever said it can be justified that we carry on living our lives as though there is no problem? Do you think I am sitting in a comfortably modern context, idly just tapping away at a keyboard?


Please explain to me how the above quote that I responded to is a call to action?


Quote: "....it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive...) Unquote.

Let's wring our hands and gnash our teeth.

And how this is an effort to marshal our resources?


Quote: "....and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day...." Unquote

And how is this not resigning ourselves to our inevitable fate?


Quote: "Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour." Unquote


Oh....but of course, someone as enlightened as yourself is doing everything humanly possible to forestall events but how can we possibly expect the wretched masses to see beyond their own self interest and begin to consider the interest of their children or grandchildren? It is best we leave them to their simple lives and spare them the pain of knowing their fate.

Rubbish...it's all rubbish.



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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2014, 06:03:16 PM »
So, with regards to this topic of "Hazards of Public Awareness" and disregarding the viewpoints expressed here that we need to be careful so as not to disturb the delicate sensibilities of humans less capable than ourselves.......

Every single informed member of the world community (politicians, scientists, sociologists, ordinary people such as ourselves) need to ratchet it up. We need to speak loudly and persistently about the horrors that are rapidly approaching. We need to instill a healthy fear in every human being about the fate of their children and grandchildren. We need to be so explicit about the approaching horrors that we instill a sense of concern (call it fear) that drives action but falls below hysteria.

Let me be clear. The only relevant "hazard of public awareness" is if this awareness does not exist. This is the reason Neven has created this forum and this is the reason all of us come here.

Anyone who comments here that we need to be careful about informing the public about the truth of AGW has an agenda that I simply do not trust. They are performing a role that is only slightly less damaging than denialists, regardless of their expressed motivation.

prometheus

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2014, 08:30:04 PM »

No one can possibly be informed and not have fear and be called to action.

Do you think residents of Florida would not be insisting on action if they all realized that Miami will need to be abandoned by the end of the century and that their property will be worthless by mid-century?

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-the-city-of-miami-is-doomed-to-drown-20130620

Do you think knowing this will not cause fear? If we decide now is not the right time to tell them, when should we let them know?

I like the shouting fire in the theatre analogy. If a fire has started that threatens to kill everyone in the audience who are watching "An Inconvenient Truth" should we not tell anyone because they might become frightened?

We should, in fact, tell them in order to frighten them into action.
Did you read through any of the comments people posted to that article? It's not frightening anyone that isn't already concerned. There's a lot of "this is bullsh**, global warming's a scam," (more or less, but there are a lot of reasonable commenters as well) and unfortunately that's been largely the reaction I get when I tell people about AGW. Maybe that's just a sample bias and many of the people around me just happen to be deniers, but I still suspect it may be indicative of the feelings of much of the population at large, at least in the US. Data points about ASI decline, slowed jetstreams, and energy imbalances don't sway people who are already wedded to the belief that their lifestyles can't and don't have any impact on the larger world. And, the more uncomfortable the message (i.e. potential existential crisis), the more it seems to evoke that response, even in those who otherwise might be receptive.

I still go on learning as much as I can about AGW and it's effects and evidence so I can tell others, because as you said, we have to do so. I'm skeptical that my efforts will amount to much in the end, like ccg talks about and for some of the reasons I outlined above, but I know not speaking up will be of no help. I have no agenda in being guarded about how I speak about the crises facing us, only that being too forthright just seems to shut many people off and ends up resulting in dismissal. Perhaps this would not be so much the case with a credentialed climate researcher, (though the evidence suggests otherwise on that count as well) but as an amateur it's a fine line that is definitely there and I try not to cross it. Maybe the best we can hope for is only modest action based on our warnings, and let the climate do the rest of the convincing? It seems marginally better than the consequences of little to no action based on the outright rejection of claims of existential crises. That's not an agenda, it just seems to be the situtuation we're in, like a kind of Nash equilibrium.

Do you have much luck in getting people to listen to you when you speak "loudly and persistently about the horrors that are rapidly approaching"? I sincerely hope you do, but that tactic never worked well for me.

TerryM

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2014, 08:32:07 PM »
SH


I for one probably fall into the category you characterize as "resigned to our inevitable fate". I've seldom felt as disenfranchised as I do at present even though I had spent most of my life living in a country where I could not vote.


I do like to keep myself abreast of the situation & do what I can to inform those I have contact with. It's only when they ask for solutions that I run out of answers. At a dinner last night Global Warming was broached by someone else for a change. After kicking it around for a while & after I'd opined on everything from the likely results of an el nino to temperatures north of 80 and the Pine Island Glacier's mass losses someone asked the inevitable question and all I could respond with was "We're cooked", followed by the rapid agreement of everyone present.


Whatever weight my voice is given in these discussions was earned by my history of answering questions about our warming globe or our shrinking Arctic ice as honestly as I can, even when the answer might weaken the position I've taken. If I could convince myself that this is somehow going to work itself out I'd leap at the chance to drag the others along in my cause, but if I lied about anything as basic as a solution they'd soon find another source of information and whatever influence I've enjoyed would be lost.


I don't think hiding the truth is the right thing to do whether this truth is that things are very close to being out of control right now, or that I don't see any way out of the hole we've collectively dug for our mass internment.


Some years ago I had a cancer problem & a doctor that was loath to discuss the downside. I finally took him aside and explained that my life choices would be very different if I were looking ahead to a life that would likely end in months, years or decades. I wanted to know the odds so that I could plan accordingly.


I'm not sure that this situation is so different.


 Terry



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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2014, 09:20:28 PM »
I don't think hiding the truth is the right thing to do whether this truth is that things are very close to being out of control right now, or that I don't see any way out of the hole we've collectively dug for our mass internment.

Hopefully I've been clear I'm not precisely advocating hiding the truth per se (though part of the truth is the uncomfortable fact that we may or may not actually have solutions - a discussion I'm leading into with the poll for ultimate emission target).

However, there is a world of difference in how you communicate and what you are trying to achieve in doing so.

Suppose an aeroplane full of passengers is experiencing major failure, and the captain needs to communicate to the passengers. Is it better if he comes on the interim sounding mortally afraid and says "We're going to crash and we're all going to die!" or in a calm professional manner "We have problems, please adopt the crash position and brace for impact."?

And so I argue that there are hazards involved in public awareness... and that as events become more immediate and obvious (and fear accumulates), this might actually be an important thing to consider - particularly if there is actually any hope of solutions on virtually any scale.

Bruce Steele

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2014, 12:17:45 AM »
I have been trying to communicate a rather bleak near future outcome of ocean acidification for ten years.
Of course each talk can seem to bridge knowledge and acceptance differences with varying results, meaning some days it goes better than others. Yet on the whole it seems like more and more people understand our predicament. I haven't had to deal with huge push back but on the other hand I am not so sure this whole thing will play out worst case. Worst case is BAU till 2100. In order to really pull off BAU till 2100 is to emit  five times our total emissions generated so far .   So not the 300-500 gt
total carbon emissions to date but something like 2500 gt carbon BAU totals worst case. Call me an optimist but I don't see us doing that. So I don't think we will hit emissions totals that really causes as bad an acidification outcome as what BAU would give us.
 I also try to explain some of my personal goals and projects. Like how have I changed what I am doing in life while I carry my rather bleak message forward. It would be silly for me to tell people I know how to fix such enormous issues but I can show that I am doing a little better every year in a
personal goal to make some personal lifestyle changes that reduce my fossil fuel consumption .
To be honest I'm not sure how many people think farming is a solution but it does offer some example of commitment. And not flying on planes. Well never say never but way less airplanes. The train is kinda slow but it gets you there.
 I just wanted to say people are collectively becoming more aware. It's not so hard to get people to think acidification is a threat as it was ten years ago. Also I have changed my life in those ten years.
Motto of story : people may not think you're nut's forever if it turns out you're not nut's     
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 12:30:15 AM by Bruce Steele »

TerryM

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2014, 12:30:19 AM »
ccg


I didn't mean to imply that you were an advocate for those keeping the truth from the populace. The FF industry does quite well at that and needs little encouragement from our side.


While the Canadian government has justifiably won accolades for muzzling scientists, shuttering ongoing research facilities and closing scientific libraries it could be argued that they too are now not much more than an arm of the oil extraction industry and are only seeking to keep the oil (and the dollars) flowing.


More disturbing was the silence that followed S&S's return from the ESAS. After much fanfare on their return and tantalizing hints of mysteries to be revealed they dropped off the radar for close to a year. The only reason I could think of was that the Americans and the Russians decided that the message they were about to deliver was so dire that panic was sure to ensue.


I hate to admit it but from time to time it seems to me as though an unlikely conspiracy best explains what transpired. I'm aware that these thoughts are more likely to dwell in the fevered, fetid minds of those in denial, but the nagging feeling persist.


Terry

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2014, 01:20:27 AM »
...
More disturbing was the silence that followed S&S's return from the ESAS. After much fanfare on their return and tantalizing hints of mysteries to be revealed they dropped off the radar for close to a year. The only reason I could think of was that the Americans and the Russians decided that the message they were about to deliver was so dire that panic was sure to ensue.
...
Terry

What are you referring to here? I don't get the abbreviations.
Open other end.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2014, 10:25:30 PM »
because authorities delay notification to prevent panic . There are other reasons but those are the majority. What most people (and almost all of the media) think is panic is people reacting to the information they have, but if that information is wrong their reactions will be also.

That's actually a very good note, about the delaying of notification to prevent panic - which I suppose in a way is exactly what has happened with respect to climate change in the modern context.

Apart from the fact my analogy seems a little potentially weak from what you're saying, I'm a little curious - if you have delayed notification to prevent panic - and the information (the fire) is discovered without clear guidance as to how to respond, does the analogy still work, or do I need to try to find a better one?

I mean - in the context of climate change - it would seem to me that the fire is too advanced for everyone to survive, and spreading too fast to have a good chance to organise so late in the day. Although theoretically productive responses are still possible they require collective sacrifice and behaviour that doesn't seem to me to fall within the usual domain of human behaviour.

Based on the evidence, unfortunately too often bodies, no there is still not mass panic. People try to help each other, they try to take reasonable actions to escape. Sometimes the information is still bad, poorly marked exits or the people at the back of a pack not realizing there are problems at the front leading to crushing. Now some individuals will panic before others but generally it happens at the last "oh shit I am going to burn to death" minute. And to be honest most people are overcome by smoke inhalation long before they reach that point.

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Re: The Hazards of Public Awareness
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2014, 10:09:34 PM »
...
More disturbing was the silence that followed S&S's return from the ESAS. After much fanfare on their return and tantalizing hints of mysteries to be revealed they dropped off the radar for close to a year. The only reason I could think of was that the Americans and the Russians decided that the message they were about to deliver was so dire that panic was sure to ensue.
...
Terry

What are you referring to here? I don't get the abbreviations.

He is talking about the issue of large amounts of methane being emitted from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf research by Shakarov.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein