As the insanity of the pandemic era recedes, I find myself writing more and more about climate politics. Many of my posts on this matter – especially the last one – elicit disagreement from readers who believe that my arguments validate the premises of climate propagandists, who want me to know that methane does not actually cause warming, who think fracking is wonderful, who observe that CO2 is essential to life, and who point out that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures have fluctuated wildly over the earth’s long history. I think these objections arise from a misunderstanding of my position. Probably the fault is mine, as I’ve not made my general views on climate change totally clear. In this post, I will endeavour to fix that.
> Finally, I have thought for a long time about a phenomenon I propose to christen the Incitement to Compatible Opposition. Specific regime doctrines have a way of calling forth opposition that is strangely compatible with orthodox premises.
I've been talking about this dynamic for years, however in a much less significant context. There's two main instances that I've noticed this in.
The first instance I noticed it in was back in 2016. The internet was a simpler time; we just complained about feminism going too far. I started to notice a common thread in a lot of the feminist op-eds that were written primarily by women as well as for women.
The dynamic was subtle and hard to identify, but it kind of went like this. A feminist would write some kind of op-ed superficially calling out some behaviour that she saw herself and other women doing. The surface-level reading of the article would be a straightforward "don't do this". So, for example, imagine a hypothetical op-ed entitled "Why do I keep hooking up with toxic men?". The article would take the surface-level position of "hooking up with toxic men is bad and we should all stop doing it".
However, the subtext of the article would always be something like "Well, we all know that we all do it, and we all know that we're all going to keep doing it, so don't worry too much about it". So even as the article would appear to be taking a position _against_ the activity, the article would simultaneously _normalize_ the activity. In this way, it would actually reinforce a superficial opposition that was, in fact, the point.
The second context in which I noticed this was discussions in the Rationalist communities that fell out of Scott Alexander's Conflict vs Mistake theory (https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/01/24/conflict-vs-mistake/). The theory is simple and superficially compelling: different people are primed to interpret antagonism differently, with some people interpreting it as a conflict to be resolved, while others interpret it as a mistake or an information problem that, if only we all had the same information, we would find we don't actually disagree.
In practice, 'mistake theory' turned out to be a really insidious way of weaponizing framing games. You see, if we are in some kind of conflict or competition with each other, and we both see it as a conflict, then there's a certain honesty to that. We each have conflicting goals. One of us will win, one of us will lose. Nothing personal, kid.
But in practice, the mistake theory side always always always presumed that they were correct. After all, if you are mistaken and you believe you are mistaken, you would have already changed your opinion. In arguments, the mistake theory people would always take the woke progressive tone of the schoolteacher. "I am obviously correct, but you're not a bad guy. You're just _mistaken_. If only you saw things from my point of view, you'd see that I am obviously correct, and you'd change your mind". It functioned as a way of claiming victory by fiat, declaring your opponent not just the loser of a conflict, but fundamentally invalid.
Both of these dynamics share a very important trait with your Compatible Opposition thesis. In all three scenarios, the behaviour functions as a way to smuggle in hidden premises and trick your opponent into accepting them, as a way of declaring them not just wrong, but invalid. Of pulling rank and saying "your position is not allowed". It's a really insidious tactic, because the manipulation is very subtle and most people are still primed to interpret it as object-level conflict. In covid, the hidden premise was "it is reasonable to shut down society when The Science™ says so, we're just arguing over what The Science™ says". In the feminist example, the hidden premise was "Obviously we're all going to keep being hoes, we're just arguing about optics". In the rationalist example, the hidden premise is more abstract as well as more direct: "Obviously I'm correct, we're just nitpicking details".
In the face of this tactic, the only acceptable response is (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻. Rejecting the entire system of argument, rejecting the framing, and refusing to engage. To credibly pre-commit to irrationality in order to compel your opponent to stop being manipulative. This is why I take the 'extreme' position that global warming is fundamentally not real, and every environmental policy needs to be opposed. Obviously, industrialization has left a mark on the planet, and denying that eg atmospheric CO2 levels have changed substantially seems absurd. Nevertheless, my position is "it is more important to punish manipulators for manipulating discourse in this way than it is to achieve _any_ object-level position, and so as long as you all keep playing these frame games, I will live my life as if climate change is completely fake. If you want me to engage rationally, then engage me with respect instead of condescension"
I knew from the very first paragraph that this would be epic, vintage eugyppius. A tour de force of insight, sarcasm, and humor. I wasn't disappointed.
Gretas Green Guards are the new Maos Red Guards. The Great Reset is the new Great Leap Forward. Climatism is an ideological cult on implementing Marxism, not science: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/sunrise-movement-maos-red-greta-green-guards
Check out this opinion piece in JAMA. The author even said he had to go "tepid" in order to get it published:
And herein lies the real threat: How we came to two generations that take climate change as unquestionable gospel.
I wonder who would be a bigger zealot in an imaginary crisis:
Someone who thinks you killed grandma or someone who thinks you're killing mother earth?
The level of cruelty that can be justified when people believe in a "moral" crusade is boundless because the beast inside is no longer burdened with the boundaries of empathy.
There is nothing so dangerous as a person or group who believe the ultimate testament of their fidelity to a righteous cause requires acts of cruelty to demonstrate their purity.
The best work on this subject that I have read is by Alex Epstein as he carefully goes through the benefits of fossil fuels and how necessary they are if there is to be a transition to something else.
the point you make regarding the need to have energy to enjoy the current lifestyle is something that is completely missed by the climate hysterics as well. I suggest we simply take away all the things they use that are reliant on fossil fuels, notably their iPhones and iPads as well as computers, clothing and transportation, whether EV or not, and let them live their dream, naked in a cave.
My own position is this: I don't have a strong opinion about man-made climate change because, in order to have a VALID opinion, I would have to devote myself night-and-day to trawling through the data. What I DO know though is that - of the (now probably) hundreds of millions of people who do have a strong opinion - the vast majority haven't trawled through the evidence either; they've just 'heard about it in the media'. I also know that most people (good decent people in other ways no doubt) are intellectual sheep. Group-think is a huge factor in human affairs.
I would be happy to consider myself a conservationist of the old guard, with a focus on preserving species, preserving habitat, and eliminating litter. I think that zero-waste is a laudable goal that an advanced industrial society should set for itself. No, it cannot be done at a profit, but I think it would be worth spending the comparatively small amount of tax revenue it would require to reprocess our waste into substances that the biosphere could readily absorb. Anything that is not recycled should be reverted to the four elements by composting, incineration, or pulverization, which are all fairly easy to do at scale.
In keeping with this philosophy, I do not consider carbon dioxide emissions to be a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is the foundational nutrient of all life on Earth, and increasing its base level in the atmosphere by a few hundredths of a percent generally does far more good than harm. Carbon-based fuels have been a blessing all the way around: we have a rich, energy-dense fuel, we get to enjoy the benefits of burning it, and when we're done with that, the waste product is plant food. What's not to like about this arrangement?
It follows that the ludicrous idea of carbon sequestration is one of the most descriptively stupid things an "environmentalist" could ever support. Starving the environment of its key nutrient does not seem like an environmentally friendly activity to me. Thankfully, these carbon sequestration schemes will never be more than an infinitesimal drop in the ocean of the global carbon cycle, but the very idea of the thing is pernicious.
I would be anxious to join (or perhaps start) an environmentalist movement for sane people who actually share my basic beliefs, since sane environmentalism has long since been left by the wayside in the name of climatism.
Bingo. Climatism & Pandemism are offshoots of the same ideology: we are facing an existential threat and only coordinated top-down control can save us.
Bullseye. Covid was climate hysteria on steroids.
Please keep writing on this subject. My view, and you put your finger directly on it last column, is that we are ruining our economies for de minimis improvement in CO2 levels and no lowering, none, of global surface temperatures. Meanwhile, China goes merrily on its way building city-sized, coal-burning power plants that pollute the hell out of the planet whether or not they even bother to engage scrubbers. Forget the open-air foundries and who-knows-what toxins running into rivers and streams. But the Chinese make a good show of promoting solar power and EVs. And why wouldn’t they? They own more than 80% of the solar panel production market and they hope to get their EVs there as well. Sorry for the economic and financial take. But they undergird the politics, at least, as they relate to China.
imho one of the most pernicious threats of climatism at this juncture is that a 'climate emergency' can be called a threat to public health, under the direction of a single individual, with no further proof needed, and unleash all the anticipated new powers of the WHO to dictate global equity and taking of resources from 'rich' nations to confer on poorer ones. The creation of 'One Health' initiatives means literally nothing is off the table.
It’s really simple. No CO2, no plants.
No plants, no O2 production.
No O2, we die.
"atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures have fluctuated wildly over the earth’s long history."
Yes, they have. There's a wonderful book, The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, which describes how "our world has ended five times: it has been broiled, frozen, poison-gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids." What struck me about this book was the concept that with each mass extinction, life survived, but in such a totally different form that Earth became essentially an entirely different planet. It's been a while, but I recall the author seem to be on the anthropogenic climate change team. Despite that, it's a great read.
Anyway, what we are experiencing now is probably just one of the slight fluctuations, although we won't know until it's over, will we? Humans have search a short time-span-awareness, they expect things to remain static in perpetuity. That's unrealistic.
Finally, someone points out the advantages of the hydrocarbon economy. Nitrogen-fixing fertilizers are a wonderfully useful by-product of oil refining, and their widespread use has multiplied agricultural productivity, fed the world, and led to an actual decline in cultivated acreage - to the benefit of the environment. As American pundit Patrick Buchanan once pointed out to the climateers who wanted to ban fossil fuels: "Who wants to be the one to tell 800 million Africans that they're going to starve?"
Climate change is both a fraud and a scam
" . . . that wealthy American protectorate known as Europe." LOL! I'll never think of modern Europe in the same way again.