In humanity’s efforts to fight climate change, we’re not just playing for all the marbles — we are playing for every marble factory and shop that ever was or will be, every piece of art and writing which has ever concerned or alluded to marbles, every historical record about marbles which has ever been generated or read, and every mind with an understanding of what marbles are and mean.
Political parties with a planet-wrecking policy on the issue (allowing any new fossil fuel development) are unelectable regardless of the rest of their platforms, economic conditions, or the limitations of their opponents. Being OK with destroying the future for today’s young people makes them morally unworthy to govern. It would be the greatest betrayal that has taken place from one group of generations to their successors, to destroy the uncomprehended and irreplaceable richness of the living Earth humanity inherited all because some dirty industries and the governments and banks they control want to hold us back from abolishing and abandoning fossil fuel energy.
Worrying about debt more than climate change is like being upset that someone is cutting your heart out because it is staining your clothes.
Prompt to ChatGPT:
Have people written about how life is like a river delta or the path of a particle through the detector in a particle accelerator lab – it spreads out in a triangle or cone as decisions are made and outcomes are determined
“The metaphor of a river delta or a particle’s path through a detector in a particle accelerator lab as a representation of the spread of possibilities and outcomes is a common concept in several fields, including philosophy, physics, and psychology.
In philosophy, this concept is often explored in discussions of determinism and free will, where the metaphor of a branching tree or river delta is used to describe the way in which the potential outcomes of a decision or event spread out in a tree-like structure, with each branch representing a possible future.
In physics, the concept of a particle’s path through a detector in a particle accelerator lab is often used to describe the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, where particles exist in a superposition of states until they are observed or measured, at which point they “collapse” into a specific state.
In psychology, the concept of a branching path is often used to describe the way in which life choices and experiences lead to different outcomes and potential paths, with each decision or experience leading to a different branching point in the individual’s life trajectory.
While there may not be a specific work that focuses solely on the metaphor of a river delta or particle path as a representation of the spread of possibilities and outcomes, these concepts are frequently explored and discussed in various fields and contexts.”
John Jost: I do think I have to say I’ve come to the view that it’s much easier to govern from the right in a system justifying, conservative manner because you can always frame your opposition as a threat. (31:37)
David Roberts: My larger pessimism has to do with… it just seems like globally we’re heading into a time… just look at climate change, right? Climate change is going to create more disruption, more migrations, more uncertainty, and threat! Which are gonna have the effect of making it more difficult to think clearly about how to solve climate change in a just way. (33:00)
John Jost in interview with David Roberts (12:53)
With the world discussing AI that writes, a recent post from Bret Devereaux at A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry offers a useful corrective, both about how present-day large language models like GPT-3 and ChatGPT are far less intelligent and capable than naive users assume, and how they pose less of a challenge than feared to writing.
I would say the key point to take away is remembering that these systems are just a blender that mixes and matches words based on probability. They cannot understand the simplest thing, and so their output will never be authoritative or credible without manual human checking. As mix-and-matchers they can also never be original — only capable of emulating what is common in what they have already seen.
Step #1: Learn a bit of the context and background to climate change politics
I know throwing a whole PhD thesis at someone gives them a lot to handle, especially if it is written in an unfamiliar academic style. Nonetheless, I took pains all through my PhD process to come up with a product which would be comprehensible and meaningful to the community of climate activists.
Several posts down the line, we will come to the “meta question” which motivates the chapter about the ethics of what ought to be done. As someone new to the document and/or climate change policy, I would start by looking at what I considered important explanatory text but which my committee directed I should remove from an over-long document:
Structural Barriers to Avoiding Catastrophic Climate Change
Basically, why is solving climate change a hard problem? We have governments that do an OK-to-decent job at most things, so why are they uniquely bad at caring for the climate long-term when its integrity is damaged by the use of fossil fuels? This first document explores that question in detail, and elaborates upon why old solutions aren’t working for this problem.
Official versions are forthcoming on the University of Toronto’s TSpace thesis hosting platform and on paper from the Asquith Press at the Toronto Reference Library, but I see no reason not to make my PhD dissertation available as a free PDF to anyone who is interested:
Persuasion Strategies: Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists, 2012–20
I have been fighting for years to get this out into the world, so it makes no sense to wait for an arbitrary convocation date and then through further administrative delays.
If you are studying the fossil fuel divestment movement at universities or climate change activism generally in Canada, the US, and UK you may find the extended bibliography useful.
In terms of differences among people, psychological research reveals that people who exhibit lower levels of complex thinking or higher levels of death anxiety or stronger desires to share reality with like-minded others tend to justify existing institutions and arrangements more than others. In other words, people who—for either chronic or temporary reasons—are especially eager to attain subjective states of certainty, closure, safety, security, conformity, and affiliation are especially likely to accept and rationalize the way things are and to embrace what contemporary scholars would recognize as politically conservative ways of thinking. In contrast, individuals who enjoy thinking in complex terms, or who are less sensitive to external threats than others, or who value uniqueness over conformity, are more likely to criticize the social system and to approve of insurgent movements aimed at changing the status quo. Thus, in addition to a general tendency for people to adapt to unwelcome realities, there are individual differences in personality as well as situational triggers pertaining to epistemic, existential, and relational motives that increase or decrease the likelihood of participating in system-challenging collective action.
Jost, John T. A Theory of System Justification. Harvard University Press, 2020. p. 7-8
After his thought-provoking podcast discussion with David Roberts, I will need to read John Jost’s two books on how our psychological needs for stability and respected position in the social order drive us to defend the status quo political, legal, and economic order as natural and just, regardless of our personal position in that social order’s specific distribution of burdens and benefits: Why social change is so excruciatingly difficult