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Earth Science

Talking To the Public: the Biggest Enemy To Reducing Greenhouse Emissions 324

Lasrick writes: "Lucien Crowder is fed up with the notion that solutions for climate change would be easier to enact if only the public (especially the American public) understood the science better. Crowder looks to nuclear disarmament advocates as a model, as the move to reduce nuclear weapons has seen comparatively greater success even without public awareness and understanding: 'Indeed, in the nuclear and climate realms, desirable policy often seems to flow less from public engagement than from public obliviousness. Disarmament advocates, no matter how they try, cannot tempt most ordinary people into caring about nuclear weapons—yet stockpiles of weapons steadily, if still too slowly, decrease. Climate advocacy provokes greater passion, but passion often manifests itself as outraged opposition to climate action, and atmospheric carbon has reached levels unseen since before human beings evolved.'"
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Talking To the Public: the Biggest Enemy To Reducing Greenhouse Emissions

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  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:48PM (#46902271) Journal

    I'm not sure that's a very good comparison. Nuclear disarmament is not perceived as effecting people in their daily lives. That's why most average people can't be arsed to give a care.

    In order to enact meaningful carbon reduction legislation things have to change for everyone. Things will get more expensive or need to be rationed. People will feel put upon by these regulations. They will be effected by whatever steps are taken.

    Note, I don't really want to carry on a debate about it but I do believe in man made climate change and wish my country would do more to be a meaningful part of a solution. My statement above is just my opinion on why there is such a backlash against by the public in the USA.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:52PM (#46902307) Homepage Journal

    Shorter AC: I don't like the science or its implications, so I'll attack the man instead and thus derail the discussion. At least it's not yet another anti-Al Gore screed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:54PM (#46902331)

    1. heating bills to go up.
    2. My cooling bills to go up.
    3. My gasoline cost to go up.
    4. My food cost to go up due to all the above costs for the food producers to go up.
    5. Local brownouts due to power plants being taken off line.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:58PM (#46902383)

    Hippies always start with education. But it never takes long for them to turn to laws and court cases to force their point of view on the rest of us. That's why "Let's work together to conserve water!" turned from voluntary to the point where I can't leagally buy a shower-head that doesn't have the power of warm snot.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:58PM (#46902391) Journal

    What TFA seems to fail at pointing out was that nuclear disarmament isn't happening because of anything the activists or advocates did - it's happening because one of the main cold-war aggressors was forced to give up. When the USSR collapsed, the biggest reason that the US and (let's be honest) China were stockpiling nukes was, well, gone - almost overnight. Without that reason, disarmament could get underway in earnest.

    Same story here: until something happens that makes the public at large want to do something about pollution, you're not going to get them to stop polluting as much. In this case, the ideologues aren't going to accomplish jack - like the activists of the 1970's and 1980's, all they'll manage to do is polarize and piss-off the folks whose minds they want to have changed.

    Instead, if you want a real solution, how about making a cleaner lifestyle a preferred one? Make green tech cheaper over time, and make it easier to use than the old polluting stuff (and no, not by simply levying a "carbon tax" on the existing stuff, either.) Make the preferred stuff more durable.

    For example, look at Germany - they put in some damned nice tax breaks for alternative energies, big enough (and personal enough) for Germans to shingle nearly every damned building and outhouse in the nation with solar panels, and for companies to erect wind farms wherever they could. Make biofuels cheaper than regular gasoline by not charging a federal excise tax on it (and get the states to do the same), and I bet the stuff would suddenly get competitive. Sweeten the deal on alternative fuels a bit by cutting (or eliminating) road use taxes on all vehicles fitted to use only natural gas, electricity, or suchlike.

    The idea is to not prohibit, but to entice. To remove the reasons why someone would want to stick with the old, bad ways. If you can do that, you can get somewhere, but I sincerely doubt that activists are going to blaze that trail...

  • by dlt074 ( 548126 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:04PM (#46902443)

    well, when deniers talk the science, the believers go into "burn the heretics at the stake" mode. it's hard to have an honest debate with people who have drank the kool-aid. so, when dealing with cults/religions i think it's valid to point out the hypocrisy of the cults leaders. it's also important to show why they want you to believe what they're selling. it's probably not for the greater good, it's most likely to gain more control and power.

    it's always about control and power.

    this heretic is ready, mod me down.

  • Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:11PM (#46902503) Journal

    1) We have care overload. I have to care about global warming, and nuclear proliferation, and school shootings, and AIDS, and breast cancer awareness, and domestic spying, and and and... It's hard to get people to care about thing A when they're exhausted from being told to care about things B-Z.

    2) There is very little an individual can do about climate change. I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom once and they had a display about conserving energy and bullshit and I thought I was taking crazy pills. This park wastes more energy in a day than I could in a hundred lifetimes, and they're lecturing me? As if I'm the problem?

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:14PM (#46902527)

    but I sincerely doubt that activists are going to blaze that trail...

    Activists not only want that, it's happening. There are many tax incentives for green tech. But it's hard won as the old entrenched corporate powers that use lobbying to oppose it.

    e.g. the Koch brothers funding the organisation that recently removed the incentive for solar electricity generation in one state.

  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:15PM (#46902537)
    I'm enjoying the fact that I can't tell if you hate the people you refer to as rednecks, or are pointing out the hypocrisy of the left-liberal people who hate people they refer to as rednecks while simultaneously believing they are tolerant and sensitive to the poor and uneducated.
  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:15PM (#46902539)

    They tried the direct approach, lying through people like Al Gore, and then got caught cooking the evidence. Now it's time to end the direct propaganda war

    Ahem. You're the one engaged in a propaganda war.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:19PM (#46902583)

    Ah yes the tyrant comes out al last. We aren't going to use logic and reason to convince you we are right. We are going to use force.

    Submit to the god of the global warming.

    Is that what you have to say?

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:22PM (#46902627)

    That was just one example. here are a couple more.
    1. The ban on most incandescent bulbs.
    2. The attempted ban on extra large soft drinks in NY.
    3. The ban on plastic grocery bags in many jurisdictions.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:23PM (#46902639)

    I, too, am willing to accept that man-made climate change is actually happening. That doesn't mean I won't remain a skeptic when it comes to government or private industries with agendas telling me I need to pay more money for their "solutions" to the problem.

    The Republican 9 step plan to Global Warming Denial.

    1) There's no such thing as global warming.
    2) There's global warming, but the scientists are exaggerating. It's not significant.
    3) There's significant global warming, but man doesn't cause it.
    4) Man does cause it, but it's not a net negative.
    5) It is a net negative, but it's not economically possible to tackle it.
    6) We need to tackle global warming, so make the poor pay for it.
    7) Global warming is bad for business. Why did the Democrats not tackle it earlier?
    8) ????
    9) Profit.

    I welcome the progression of at least accepting anthropogenic global warming is real.

  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:24PM (#46902659)
    Look at Germany?

    3 times the electricity cost of the US, INCREASING CO2 emissions with the nuclear slowdown. Grid stability becoming a big problem. Expected increasing costs due to lack of revenues from nuclear tax. That doesn't even take in to account the costs they will start incurring in the next decade to replace/maintain aging wind and solar assets.

    Spending a huge amount of money on a marginally effective and expensive solution doesn't equate to success, although it may appear that way to those who just see the panels and turbines and think all is wonderful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:29PM (#46902703)

    Pardon me, but the ideology of "Anthropogenic CO2-caused Global Warming" is not based on the "insulation" properties of CO2. Instead it is based on a physics-challenged notion of "trapping radiation", which is not how thermal insulation works.

    Pardon me, but the ideology of deniers is based on trying to debate things they know nothing about.

    Next, let's debate whether gravity exists or it is actually electric! Why isn't this revelation taught from the rooftops? Where is the balance in the discussion? [] [] []

    PS. Yes, I'm sarcastic.

  • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:36PM (#46902783)
    "Skeptics" talking science is like listening to New Agers go on about the quantum theory of consciousness. They both think the science is on their side. Both have a few crank scientists who support their cause. The vast majority of scientists just shake their heads and get back to work.
  • by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:42PM (#46902835)
    The message from Germany is that if you replace nuclear power with coal then more CO2 will be emitted. Well, of course. What climate action advocates favor using more coal? None.

    If greenhouse gases emissions were actually taxed, then they wouldn't do that.

    Of course there are unscientific 'environmentalists' whose emotional reactions to nuclear power (less safe and clean than solar, more safe and clean than coal) and unwillingness to look at quantitative facts lead them to bad outcomes. Just as climate deniers do.
  • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:44PM (#46902849)
    Not with a revenue neutral carbon tax.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:46PM (#46902879)

    The actual physics of Anthropogenic Global Warming (of which anthropogenic CO2 is one but not an exclusive component, and no scare quotes needed as it is fact) is based upon the infrared emissivity of gases and their actual dynamics and concentration in the atmosphere.

    They aren't "scare quotes". They're simply quotes. I use them because I am quoting others, not making the statement myself, as is quite proper. You might be scared of them but I am not.

    As for the physics of the concept, I am intimately familiar with them (see my later explanation), and it does not involve "insulation".

    Analogies made to the lay public are imprecise, but the underlying science never was.

    Tell that to Spencer. You might call "insulation" a lay explanation, but that's disingenuous. A lay explanation is supposed to explain, not to replace actual physics with falsehood, no matter how simple.

  • Re:Bad analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:51PM (#46902949) Homepage Journal

    Can someone mention Al Gore one more time? My denier Bingo card is almost filled out.

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:53PM (#46902963)

    OK, this is going to be full of people saying climate change isn't real. They'll be saying that it's all a hoax by 99% of the world's scientists, or they're in cahoots, or they just want that sweet sweet grant money..... Then there are the folks who will say that those of us that respect scientists and science in general are just drinking the kool-aid.

    To them, I give this link. []

    On top of that, you can see the stupid data yourself with a few seconds work. Here. I'll give you that too. []

    You can quite clearly see a rise in temp that started around the 1900s(almost looks like ... some sort of.... hockey stick....). You can quite clearly see which data is from historical data, which is from readings from instruments, and which is reconstructed from tree rings and the like.

    I wonder what happened right around that time that was so different from all of our history before that? [] There's even a lag time for a hysteresis effect, which one would expect.

    In ending, I will paraphrase Dawkins when speaking of how EASY it would be to disprove evolution. All you have to do is find ONE modern fossil in the wrong era. Just one. One duck fossil next to a T-rex fossil would throw doubt on the whole thing. Just one. And it's never been found. It's EASY to disprove evolution. It's never been done, because it's right. Same thing here. Just show that tree ring growth doesn't correspond to temperature, and the entire thing goes out the window. Just show that C02 isn't a greenhouse gas. Just show that the global mean temperatures are NOT rising. Bring your data. It's so EASY to disprove, and you have nothing but FUD.

    That is all.

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:58PM (#46903011)

    I love how people who are so obviously full of !@#$ always end their posts by claiming that they're going to be persecuted/modded down, as if the INSERT CONSPIRACY extends all the way down to Slashdot posts.

    Maybe people are just sick of listening to the crazy guy in the corner? No. That couldn't be. I'm sure YOU'RE the victim here.

  • by Artraze ( 600366 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:58PM (#46903017)

    Yeah pretty much.

    The trouble, of course, isn't that people are too stupid or too obstinate to understand, it's that the case being made it setting off BS alarms everywhere. Global warming is a hard sell when Al Gore is guzzling gas flying around the world to talk about how bad it is and how people need to cut back. Anyone is going to look at that and see "cutting back" as what the poor need to do to sustain the lifestyles of the rich, and 'carbon credits' as the excuse. People know that nuclear power doesn't emit CO2, but the fact that it isn't being pursued as a solution indicates that global warming isn't as scary as nuclear power. And rather than reuse-reuse-recycle programs, we get consume-more programs like cash for clunkers and cell phone kill switches.

    The problem isn't with communication, it's about leadership. Show people that you're concerned, and maybe they'll start to believe you. Or don't and just fuck them over... it's a nice win-win for those in charge.

  • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @05:23PM (#46903217)

    but I sincerely doubt that activists are going to blaze that trail...

    Activists not only want that, it's happening. There are many tax incentives for green tech.

    How do you figure the government taking my money and giving it to someone else to buy a car I can't afford is trail-blazing by activists?

  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @06:37PM (#46903867) Journal

    The vast majority of scientists just shake their heads and get back to work

    Yes, they get back to work on whatever branch of science they are engaged in, which is seldom climate science. There aren't that many climate scientists, and almost anybody can get a hard science college degree if they put themselves to the task.

    Also, any scientist who doesn't practice skepticism is not really a scientist, just someone who apparently took the right courses to get that degree.

    But it doesn't matter. Your mind was made up a long, long time ago, and now you're just working to make sure other people change their minds. You can call that 'debate' if you like.

  • by hackus ( 159037 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @09:19PM (#46904949) Homepage

    I agree.

    Methane is far far FAR more dangerous than CO2.

    Natural systems on the earth do not use it much, and it can accumulate quickly. Essentially the only way to get rid of it is through ignition, very bad, or photolitic processes that break it down via sunlight.

    CO2 input in our Biosphere is much less of a problem due to the large numbers of ways CO2 can be consumed, and it is often consumed very quickly and by a wide variety of sources, unlike methane.

    One of the reasons why CO2 is not a big deal to me, is because the Earth has experienced huge increases of CO2 in the past, and biological systems quickly deal with it. In the geological record that usually means gigantic and prodigous amounts of plant growth.

    The amount of CO2 pressure with relation to quantity in the atmosphere, allows plants to more efficiently obtain it, along with water based geological systems. Less work is required to obtain CO2 and it can be processed faster in plants, and microorganisms.

    What I do not like about the CO2 debate is the obvious ways in which people are using it to deindustrialize societies and cause chaos to bring about a new ruling class by any means possible.

    If you do just a little bit of home work and look at the companies surrounding the climate change debate and who is funding it, it is obvious that these individuals and companies are using it to solidify military and economic dictatorship on every individual on the planet.

    If we can remove people like Al Gore and his paid chrony academics from the discussion, we can get some real science done and instead of building billion dollar carbon credit exchanges to save the planet, we can look at developing new technology to really deal with the problem.

    IF there truly is one.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev