Face to Face with the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter Project

The Nazi concentration camp system still remains a unicum, both in its extent and its quality. At no other place or time has one seen a phenomenon so unexpected and so complex: never have so many human lives been extinguished in so short a time, and with so lucid a combination of technological ingenuity, fanaticism, and cruelty.

~Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved

A girl of perhaps 11 years, with lush, braided hair and a beautiful face, sits alone in a classroom looking up from her book at the photographer. She is self-possessed and gives the most natural smile.

20 December 1929 | Dutch Jewish girl Rudi Tilly Speijer was born in Amsterdam.In January 1944 she was deported to #Auschwitz. She did not survive. pic.twitter.com/dZbZ6p41gq— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 20, 2020

Another photo shows a girl of five or six intently studying something she holds in her hands, possibly a flower or a piece of white cloth. She has a white bow in her hair.

21 June 1933 | Czech Jewish girl Věra Picková was born in Prague.She was deported to #Auschwitz from #Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 May 1944. She did not survive. pic.twitter.com/8F9kvZfv8Z— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 21, 2021

In a third photo, a handsome, well-dressed woman in her late teens is sitting in an armchair by an open window smiling, apparently engaged in conversation.

These are three of a succession of arresting photographs accompanying brief online biographies of people transported to Auschwitz and, with rare exceptions, killed there between 1941 and 1945.

The photographs are posted on the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter site, which is run by the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Poland. I came across the site over a year ago thanks to the recommendations of biologists, physicians, and social scientists whom I follow on Twitter. Since then, I have been trying to account for its power. There is much that is trivial, nasty, and hateful on Twitter. But the medium can also convey difficult and sensitive information to people with open minds. What follows is my attempt to understand my own personal reaction to the daily material posted on this one account, which I believe makes a unique contribution to Holocaust education.

Every day, the site posts a handful of biographies of deportees to Auschwitz whose date of birth coincides with the date of posting. The biographies are spare, typically consisting of 20 to 40 words, sometimes containing a few details about the deportees’ lives, sometimes none.

The wording follows a common format, which consists of two parts. The first provides information about the individual’s name, nationality, religion, date and place of birth, last place of residence, and, in the case of adults, occupation.

The second part, separated from the first by a blank line, tells us what happened to this person—the date of internment in a holding camp, the date of transport to Auschwitz, and the date of death, when available; or, in rare cases, the fact that the individual escaped or was liberated and survived.

In some cases, there is no photograph, although in most cases there is. Some specify another religion, or identify only a national group—Christian, Roma, Sinti, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Russian—but most are Jews.

In many entries, the person’s life, as represented by the photograph, effectively occupies the thematic space between the two text elements—between their early life and their fate at Auschwitz. The picture transforms a minimalist bio into a window through which we can observe a unique, sentient human being. Many of the photographs, especially those of children, have a depth that pulls you in, conveying curiosity, joy, anxiety, dreaminess.

Whether the photos capture a spontaneous moment from early in life, or are prison photos taken by the Nazis, the pictures present these individuals in dialogue with the camera. At the time, these individuals had a future—or at least imagined so. Photos like this not only capture a moment, but also show a person who imagines many more moments. Because we know the actual fate of most Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners, the images make us think about something that most of us take for granted till our deathbed: the idea of a continuous, forward-facing life.

In some cases, we learn that the individual was killed together with family members. Margot Steinberg, a German Jewish girl, was born in Berlin on September 4th, 1933, months after Adolf Hitler came to power. In 1942, we are informed, she was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in a gas chamber. The next post adds that, “Margot Steinberg was the daughter of Isak and Chane. The mother with her four daughters (Margot, Gerda, Sofie & Pepi) were deported to Auschwitz. They did not survive. The father and their four sons (Henry, Zeev, Emil & David) survived the war.”

Margot Steinberg was the daughter of Isak and Chane. The mother with her four daughters (Margot, Gerda, Sofie & Pepi) were deported to #Auschwitz. They did not survive. The father and their four sons (Henry, Zeev, Emil & David) survived the war. pic.twitter.com/KfdH9GTyVl— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 5, 2021

Aside from these bare facts, we usually know nothing of the life of most of these individuals, including the circumstances of their arrest and transport, though, in some cases, readers have crowdsourced more information in the Twitter threads.

Dear Betina! 🥺Betina was married to František, born 15-05-1902. They had a lovely son Thomas. 🥺Thomas was born 24-04-1936The family was deported on 05-07-1943 to Theresienstad and on 06-09-1943 to Auschwitz.Betina, František and Thomas, we Must and Will remember you! 😢💔🕯️ pic.twitter.com/69OPXvd4Ie— K.J. Dijkstra (@shannara77) July 11, 2020

Many of the photos invite us to imagine the experience of those being unloaded at the railhead in Auschwitz along with thousands of other deportees, all being herded like cattle. Upon arrival, deportees typically were sorted based on their apparent fitness for slave labor or medical experiments. Children of both sexes (below age 16, and then, later, below age 14), their mothers, the elderly and the infirm, were sent directly to the gas chambers. In all, roughly 80 percent of new arrivals were dispatched immediately to their death. The remaining deportees were registered as prisoners and tattooed with a prison number.

There is a distinct type of bio featured on the Auschwitz Memorial archive, pertaining to deportees who were registered for slave labor, rather than being sent directly to the gas chamber. Unlike the photographs from before the war, these official pictures depict the registered prisoner in a rigidly prescribed manner—head-on, side profile, and at a diagonal angle, clothed in striped uniform. The contrast with the other photos is striking: On one hand, images of people enjoying normal life in their unique human way; on the other, a dehumanized instrument of menial labour. It’s as if these were two different species. (In most cases, however, the fate of members of these two groups was the same, as the majority of the slave laborers were worked or starved to death, or eventually executed.)

24 September 1907 | A Pole, Stefan Bladowski, was born in Burzenin. A teacher.In #Auschwitz from 30 July 1941.No 18943He perished in the camp on 19 November 1941. pic.twitter.com/3OOUDR3Pcn— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 24, 2021

Each day brings several more Twitter bios. I have taken to saving some to my hard drive—those that strike me as special either because of the image itself or because of some detail about the person’s life. Some of the young subjects, especially, seem to betray a spirit of trust and curiosity. Others convey anxiety or dreaminess. An odd detail—a family name, the town they came from, or a particular date—may strike me by its association with someone I know. Alexander de Vos, a Dutch Jew, was born in Amsterdam on September 1st, 1914, the same date as my father. Alexander perished in Auschwitz on February 13th, 1943.

But there are too many bios for one person to process individually, and the act of choosing which bios to mention here feels like a betrayal of those I leave out.

1 September 1914 | Dutch Jew Alexander de Vos was born in Amsterdam.In #Auschwitz from 2 December 1942.No. 79383He perished in the camp on 13 February 1943. pic.twitter.com/HRPYhKfwpW— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 1, 2020

It’s hard to look at these photographs and not endow their subjects with foreknowledge of their demise. One almost feels that the subjects are interrogating us, calling humanity to account about what happened to them. It’s easy to read three-year-old Leon Guterman’s inquiring look as asking us how such a thing could have happened to his family. The same is true of other photographs, such as those of seven-year-old Aviva Becková, 12-year-old Szymek Zelmanowicz, five-year-old Esther Polack, and 35-year-old Bettina Grossová.

21 August 1935 | A Czech Jewish girl, Aviva Becková, was born.On 23 January 1943 she was deported from #Theresienstadt ghetto to #Auschwitz. She did not survive. pic.twitter.com/He3iw1lZGA— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 21, 2021

Each of these pictures shows a private world that was extinguished, and which no one will ever know. They remind us of the idea expressed in the Talmud, and elsewhere in early Jewish religious literature, that “whoever destroys a single life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed the whole world, and whoever saves a single life is considered by Scripture to have saved the whole world.” Looking at these images day after day can help us appreciate this moral truth. It also can help create a sort of alternative universe—a virtual universe—in which Rudi Tilly Speijer is still a schoolgirl sitting in a classroom in Amsterdam. The Nazis have not yet occupied the Netherlands, rounded up Jews and taken them to Westerbork, en route to Auschwitz. This is the power of the Auschwitz Memorial.

If the Auschwitz Memorial account were to put up five bios each day for the next year, that would yield 1,825 bios—or 0.166 percent of the 1.1 million killed at Auschwitz. At this rate, it would take about 610 years to cover every victim.

Auschwitz was the Nazis’ largest killing site. But others, including Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, and Sobibor—like Auschwitz, all located in Nazi-occupied Poland—were also the site of hundreds of thousands of murders. If one were to review the bios of all the canonical six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, at the rate of five per day, it would take about 3,300 years.

I will add one final bio, which, unlike those included above, does not feature a sharply focused photo. This one, a childhood photo of Dutch Jew Rahel Rita Cohen, is slightly blurred, and includes part of the face of another child. In its imperfection, this fleeting image does more than most to convey the extreme contingency and the improbable existence of these retrieved documents.

16 June 1925 | A Dutch Jewish woman, Rahel Rita Cohen, was born in Deventer.In October 1943 she was deported to #Auschwitz. She did not survive. pic.twitter.com/aiCxc370lq— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 15, 2021

The fact that this Twitter account exists at all reflects the startlingly assiduous efforts that have gone into assembling the basic biographical information of Holocaust victims. Since 1946, archivists at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, have been working to document the identity of victims using records kept by the Nazis (including transport manifests and camp registration lists) and testimony and photographs from survivors or relatives. The museum’s archive of victim names has grown from 2.7 million in 2004, when the database was first published online, to 4.8 million. This expansion was made possible by digital analysis of the museum’s 210 million documents. Among these records are those pertaining to roughly 736,000 of the 1.1 million Jews murdered at Auschwitz. And so each bio we read represents a little triumph—a clawing back of identities destined for oblivion. Even now, archivists are racing to identify the remaining unidentified victims as the surviving relatives dwindle away.

Despite all the work that’s already been done, historical researchers continue to uncover important new facts. This includes a 13-year research project conducted by the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum showing that the network of nodes in the Nazi extermination system was much greater than previously realized, especially in regard to occupied areas in France, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe. When they embarked on the project, researchers expected the tally of nodes to reach 7,000. However, the number ended up being six times larger—42,500.

The newly uncovered information, in turn, sparked a major upward revision of the estimated deaths of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and political “undesirables”—with the best estimate now standing at somewhere between 15 million and 20 million. The widely-voiced claim that ordinary Germans and citizens of the occupied territories had no knowledge of what the SS killers were doing was never credible to begin with. It’s even less credible now.

The Auschwitz Memorial site presents its mission as documenting the roots and means of the Nazi murder of 1.1 million Jews, Sinti, Roma, and Christians at Auschwitz. The goal is to educate new generations about the Holocaust as this period of history fades from living memory. To this end, the site provides detailed lectures and podcasts describing different aspects of the camp’s origins, evolution, and operation. The Twitter feed is an essential part of this mission because it accomplishes something that more formal educational media have trouble achieving: Rather than saturating us with information, it manages to distill the Holocaust down to its effect on a single life, conveying the monstruous disproportion between the individual victim and the Nazi killing machine.

Once an observer is drawn in, there is no way to avoid confronting the question of how this could happen. How could the citizens of a civilized country—the birthplace of Goethe, Schiller, Bach, and Beethoven—become captive to the genocidal lie that Jews existed as a deadly bacillus within their nation? Contemplating that question leads us to the uncomfortable truth that the same human species capable of selfless and ennobling acts is also capable of unspeakable viciousness and cruelty.

It is not pleasant to be reminded of such truths. But it is vital in reminding us of that ancient Talmudic injunction—that every vulnerable life presents each of us a new chance to save the world from destruction.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2021/11/05/face-to-face-with-the-auschwitz-memorial-twitter-project/
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yeah, what’s up with that, you’d wonder

well, if you do, i think i know the answer — no one really cares because no one knows how, anymore

no one knows how to be human — only how to act like it, to fool everyone starting with themselves

i see dead people… they don’t know they are dead — they don’t want to know it

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The key here is in understanding just how dangerous modern mass media is. Sure, there were existing prejudices against Jews- the history of the Jews in Europe is one long history of brutality and inhumanity. But in the decades running up to 1930s there was every expectation that we could overcome this age-old prejudice, especially with many Jews moving to a more cosmopolitan and mainstream outward facing culture, more publicly inline with the mainstream culture.

The advent of cinema and newsreel changed all that- Joseph Goebbels was able to change everything by weaponizing this new technology- what was a simmering prejudice became a frothing hatred. This should make us deeply worried about what types of idea pathogens seep into our mainstream narratives. Most of us can probably think of several pathological ideas, without really putting any efforts into it, but the question we should really be asking is which ones can’t we spot? We could be subject to all manner of idea pathogens, and simply accept them as normal through our continuous exposure to them.

In terms of identifying them, we should remember that the Nazi symbology of Blood and Soil was deeply rooted in the counter-Enlightenment movement of Romanticism- so anything which argues against the use of empirical evidence to generate knowledge should make us deeply concerned.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is the development of confirmation bias. With both Climate Alarmism and the pandemic I think we have witnessed what can only be described as cumulative confirmation biases which only get worse over time. The most worrying thing about this observable phenomenon is that it is the smartest people who seem most prone to it- as witnessed by the fact that the climate scientists who compiled the most recent IPCC report made most references to worst case scenarios which can no longer be deemed plausible, or the fact that many in government or Public Health seem to have developed an unshakable faith in predictive models which have proven grossly overexaggerated at every turn.

This makes one wonder whether there is a certain asymmetry of modalities on any given contentious and debatable subject which means that one argument will necessarily win out over its alternative because it possesses a greater power towards cumulative confirmation bias than the competition. It might explain why it seems impossible, or at least very rare, to arrive at a rational decision-making process for thorny issues- because the weight on one side of the argument is naturally prone to acquiring greater bias in thinking and rhetorical force.

A good example of this relates to the increasing number of stories about climate refugees. I have no doubt that some people have been forced to leave their land because of changing weather patterns and periods of drought- but at the same time we know that for decades there has been a mass migration of young people away from the brutal poverty of traditional (see subsistence) farming in the Developing World, in favour of the at least slightly better economic opportunities found in the cities (the better living standards somewhat unnoticeable to Western eyes because where they see thriving trade and opportunity and the absence of back-breaking labour, we see only squalor). The question is, how long will it be before we forget that young people didn’t want to continue the tradition of subsistence farmers and instead we mischaracterise all of these people as climate refugees?

As usual, my essays are to be found on my Substack, which is free to view and comment:

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With respect Geary, your own view of climate change seems to be as fanciful as it is inappropriate to compare it to German plunge into Nazism.

Hitler was not a particularly well educated man. When he wrote Mein Kampf, he was relying for race ideas on rather obscure ideological cranks like Hans Gunther and Houston Chamberlain.

The IPCC project is an enormous cross scientific project including over 6 thousand scientific citations in its latest iteration. It is an irrational absurdity to accuse such an august body of the same kind of crank science as the progenitors of Nazism!

That does not mean that everything coming out of that quarter is 100% right, but you cannot dismiss such enormous scientific effort on such flimsy grounds as ‘worst case scenarioizing’.

I enclose a BBC report contextualizing your claims: Climate change: Worst emissions scenario 'exceedingly unlikely' - BBC News

Geary, you are just not in a position to make such an absurdly inflated claim of dismissal on such narrow grounds. It is the same old same old sniping that we have come to expect from ideological denialists in the ‘private institute/foundation’ brigade.

If you are going to talk glibly about climate ‘alarmism’, you need to be referencing something a bit better than bullshitters like Michael Shellenberger.

I would begin to take what you are saying more seriously if you can quote me supporting peer reviewed climate related professional journal journal entries by people actually currently doing research in the area.

Any reasonable person would start to entertain doubts about the scientific climate consensus as expressed by the IPCC, if say a team of climate modelers started to produce results that were at substantial variance to the overwhelming evidence that is presently in place. No such group exists, which is why countries that are not encumbered by powerful fossil fuel interests are responding to the challenge that climate science has thrown them, which is to decarbonize their economies; i.e., an entirely possible and plausible outcome using current technology, which is having enormous amounts of capital being thrown at it as we speak.

That is already on the way because very significant sectors of global capital are on board with IPCC scenarios, understand the threat that poses to their business models and are already shifting their investment portfolios.

I think you are the one with the reality problem in this matter, not the scientists

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Vale Aviva

Curly blonde wispy hair
Licks up her little neck
Up wafts across the forehead dome
That frames her eyes
Uprooted from their home
Distant gazed upon a question
To a riddle buried in the coldness
Of a stare
Inside a uniform that notes the moment
With a click
That spells an absence
Something unsaid but still foretold
An unrelenting truth laid bare
Felt but still unseen
Beyond the precision of a lens
Fixed in a moment of such finality
A living singularity
A little life in one last breath
Before the shutter snaps
To darkness and the inevitability
Of death….

Perhaps I was unclear. I wasn’t attempting to impute the reputations of IPCC climate scientists. It is simply that the majority of the references in the most recent IPCC cite the most extreme scenarios. RCP8.5 and SSP5-8.5 are utterly impossible at the this stage, whilst the only slightly less extreme SSP3-7.0 scenarios would require we replace natural gas with coal, replace nuclear with coal, replace solar and wind with coal and even choose to abandon petrol fuelled cars for coal-to-liquid vehicles. Yet over 50% of references in the report cited these implausible and impossible scenarios- why?

First, there is the entirely scientifically valid point that studying the extreme scenarios, no matter how detached they are far reality at the point, are still far more scientifically useful in terms of projecting effects. Second, as your BBC source clearly points out, there was a miscommunication in the likelihood that the worst case scenarios would occur (although the BBC source doesn’t draw a big enough circle around those scenarios which were extreme), and nobody has done the important work of of issuing an internal memorandum to climate scientists telling them which scenarios can now be stuck off the list of potential futures.

Finally, there is the issue of specialism and a lack of knowledge of economics can create the illusion amongst climate scientists that nothing significant is being done to tackle climate change. Although it is clearly not the case that we have mobilised our economies to the sheer extent, in percentage terms, that was seen in the WWII- it is clearly the case that in absolute terms the levels of resources applied to tackle climate change have long since dwarfed those utilised during the entirety of the Second World War.

This is the key distinction. Most of those in power throughout the world have the technocrats available to understand the sensitivity of the instrumentalities we need to tap in order to tackle climate change. It’s what creates the appearance of seeming inertia, when drastic developments for change are underway. They’ve all seen the data which shows that the period of consumer austerity which occurred during COVID-19, especially in the light of the delayed recovery from COVID scenario, actually puts us further behind in terms of fighting climate change than we would otherwise have been- for the simple reason that more resources to devote through capitalism, rather than fewer, actually allows us to solve climate change more quickly. Capitalism may be the engine which got us into this mess, but it the only thing which can get us out of it- and no amount of delusional Malthusian references to limited resources (when our ability to maximise resources more efficiently has already proven decisive) will change this simple empirically proven fact.

Which I never did- the fact I was highlighting a potential psychological tendency doesn’t mean that all the phenomenon with which it might be associated, doesn’t draw any form of ethical, moral or intellectual equivalency. Plus, if I’m being critical who forget to circulate the memo to day that the most extreme scenarios should be discarded? In all likelihood we are looking at 2.6C by the end of the century- 2.2C if we increase the pace of technological change. Remember, its not just about power, but also creating iterative mechanisms for technological dispersal- the requirement for methane capture in intensive animal farming being but one example (although I am a pescatarian myself, for this very reason).

I have. You yourself have referenced the BBC which supports my main points, and I have continuously given you data direct from the IPCC itself, which you continuously persist in ignoring.

I don’t deny this. In fact it is exactly the type of smart climate capitalism which I actually advocate for helps solve the problem, as opposed to the ludicrous austerity approach you adhere to, which would see large portions of the developing world plunged back into living on less than $1.90 a day.

Here’s the thing- no amount of government subsidy can tackle this problem better or faster than technological change (unless of course they finally commit to what they promised at Paris and start funding innovation more substantially). The only exception is nuclear power, as proven by the fact that the empirical evidence shows that Sweden’s and France’s assumption of sovereign risk for nuclear has far outstripped the far more marginal successes of Germany and California, with their use of solar and wind.

We need methane capture technologies from sewage and animal farming for ready conversion to an analogue to LPG, to fuel the world’s tractors, lorries and container fleets. Small modular reactors will prove decisive, carbon neutral desalination technology is being implemented and could well green large parts of the Earth’s surface creating effective carbon sequestering, and China already has a process which involves using plant matter with additives which is reversing huge swathes of desertification.

A German company has a plan to skirt the Sahara desert with solar (the one place where labour costs and geography make it an economically feasible project) with plans afoot to run cables into Europe’s planned supergrid. Steel can now be manufactured without burning coal (although carbon remains a necessary part of the manufacturing process, although it obviously gets sequestered) and there are even processes ongoing for laying concrete which actually acts a carbon soak (although only the low carbon concrete is currently available, the net negative material is still a few steps away). Israel has deployed a tidal hydro system which doubles as a coastal erosion defence.

The list is endless. Projections for hybrid air travel should be ready for production by 2040, with fully electric likely to be ready by 2050- although passenger planes will likely max out at 70 or so passengers and be somewhat slower.

Here is the thing- all of this requires capital- the thing which is desperately needed to transform our world at pace. Your approach of austerity and a retreat from consumerism would see the world doomed, for the simple reason that birth control and economic development are both necessary to make population growth figures net negative in the developing world, and the latter doesn’t happen unless the developing world can parley its labour into goods for foreign consumer markets.

The fossil fuel industry supports solar and wind, because they know full well that intermittency, seasonality, energy density and sheer capital outlay, as well as no economically viable method of storing energy requires us to maintain roughly 50% of our power energy mix from fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. It also keeps the price of energy higher, which prevents faster conversion to EVs.

This is not say that wind and solar shouldn’t play a role, but its utility tops out at about 30% of current energy requirement.

No, I am the one in complete agreement with a capitalism-based solution which uses empirically derived sources to transform our economy- you are the one intent upon making the problem a thousand times worse with austerity and an end to consumerism (rather than a shift to sustainable consumerism). What your prognosis seems to ignore is that the behavioural economics don’t supply a solution unless we solve the problem of global labour. The Developing World will enter a coal-based phase unless we can provide a solution to their economic desperation- and Western governments have proved conclusively that they are incapable of delivering such change, when it was mainly free market capitalism which raised a billion people out of poverty between 2000 and 2012, with charity and foreign aid having consistently failed for over 30 years.

Again, the solution was markets, not government, although to be fair, government can help if it gets a lot smarter in what it is willing to invest in. If I do have a criticism of the IPCC, it is that the behavioural economics of inducing fear to precipitate change simply don’t work- not in the long-run- as the history of the pandemic has amply demonstrated- although to be fair, I hold politicians and the media far more responsible for trying to utilise fear to get people to change.

Most people support action on climate change- but the average American is only willing to spend $21 a year to implement change, and as soon as there lifestyles or pocketbooks are hit we will see exactly just how effective the fear-based approach actually is. This is why technological improvement is so important. As a simple yardstick- here in the UK EVs are currently priced at £25K for new- we will be begin to see a major shift when this figure comes down to £12K.

Although the UK has performed quite admirably in cutting emissions in global terms, by comparison to most other advanced economies, the one area where he have been remiss is in terms of transport. Despite the move to smaller cars, shorter journeys and more efficient cars per road mile- we’ve only managed to cut transport emissions by 3% since the early nineties.

So nobody has been talking about human extinction from man-made climate change or the end of human civilisation? How about deaths from natural disasters? The scientists themselves have been highly critical of the whole 12 years to change course narrative- the 2018 interim report stated the threshold for irrevocable harm would occur at roughly 2053. At the turn of the Twentieth Century deaths from this source were around 500,000 per year (including famines)- recently they’ve averages 18,000 and continue to decline.

3 Likes

Geary, it seems to me that you are trapped inside a fossil fuel narrative that has been fed to you over a protracted period, captured your intellectual sensibility and it has become a solidified part of your persona.

Comparing the mass psychology that gripped Germany in the '30s and the climate science of our time is just defamatory, not because of the comparison with the Nazis, but that you are gratuitously suggesting that a whole scientific establishment has become a victim of its own groupthink/hysteria. It is a defamatory denial of their professionality, scientific commitment and the enormous amount of training and professional seniority necessary to become a researcher in the IPCC project.

It is an enormous project that they have undertaken and involved thousands of scientists covering enormous research territory that cannot possibly be critiqued in the superficial way that you do. You cannot possibly dismiss this enormous corpus on the very slight suggestions that you make.

Everything I see you writing screams fossil fuel lobby. You are just repeating its self serving and dishonest mantras, which I have seen now for more years than I care to count.

I think you should be looking at the source material that you are purporting to critique. And as soon as you do that, it becomes quickly screamingly obvious that the authors are very careful to qualify what they say…‘Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation’ is a substantial IPCC document, but you don’t have to read much past the summary to see what I mean.

chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ipcc.ch%2Fsite%2Fassets%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F03%2FSREX_Full_Report-1.pdf&clen=32571946&chunk=true

What is being done to address climate change sounds good enough, but the atmosphere doesn’t care what the intentions are. It only registers the green house gases that actually get pumped into every year.

Even if it all stopped tomorrow, the atmosphere will go on warming for centuries, just on the basis of what already has happened, including the terrible toll of what has been pumped in since Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher acknowledged the problem back in the '80s, but which was thwarted by fossil fuel interests using the same techniques (and the same people) that the tobacco lobby used to suppress and delay action against the health threat of its product.

‘The fossil fuel industry supports solar and wind, because they know full well that intermittency, seasonality, energy density and sheer capital outlay, as well as no economically viable method of storing energy requires us to maintain roughly 50% of our power energy mix from fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.’ That is a false statement Geary. It is fossil fuel meme. You just are not following the renewables/storage story at all.

There will be a need for natural gas transitional cover while the new storage technologies now in development come on stream, but it is going to be fazed out as grids are reset for diversified and widely geographically dispersed energy sources and demand market signals are put in place and the range of storage technologies start to deliver. The renewables industry is going for 100% of the grid and nothing less. Fossil products for burning are legacy industry.

But this thread is about victims of Nazism. I have written a poem as a penance for getting into this really rather inappropriate use of the thread…

Just to remind you, it is all very nicely documented by Oreskes and Conway’s book, ‘The Merchants of Doubt’. You really need to read it Geary.

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Yet again, you are making connections which simply aren’t there- and I frequently source the IPCC itself, whilst you only seem willing to source sites which take their work out of context or misreport it, in order to support a narrative of unfounded climate alarmism. The only exception is the recent BBC report, which simply regurgitated the very same information I had been quoting to you. with the only difference being that it didn’t exclude enough of the now impossible worst case scenarios. The greatest threat we face, as of now, is probably the ‘rocky road’ scenario (Nature Link) in which international cooperation breaks down.

No. Everything you write screams the preferencing of narratives filtered through the media and activist sites whose business is generating alarmism. As I have repeatedly counselled- go to the IPCC reports themselves! A significant number of the scientists who wrote the 2018 interim report actually took the media to task themselves publicly, because of the legitimate concern that if alarmist disaster scenarios didn’t materialise (which is still, to date, the case) then people would begin to doubt the science.

Good source, It’s a bit out of date- as demonstrated by the fact that it focuses on scenarios between 2C and 5C- rather than the more recently agreed general consensus that 3C is our maximum worst case scenario, barring the rocky road scenario.

From my Nature source:

But the teams that drafted the SSPs imagined a storyline that is very close to the path that the United States and other major powers are taking. The SSP3 scenario, called “regional rivalry — a rocky road”, is defined by a resurgence of nationalism. It sees concerns about economic competitiveness and security lead to trade wars. As the decades progress, national efforts to lock down energy and food supplies short-circuit global development. Investments in education and technology decline. Curbing greenhouse gases would be difficult in such a world, and adapting to climate change wouldn’t be any easier. Under this scenario, the average global temperature is projected to soar to more than 4 °C above pre-industrial levels.

This is the scenario which should most concern you- the one in which our dear leaders devolve to an international tragedy of the commons…

Agreed. But I don’t think you appreciate what a game changer small modular reactors will be. More recent analysis of the technology shows that it will likely cut the upfront costs of nuclear by a factor of ten, and with a far quicker project delivery schedule. Many governments have suspended and delayed nuclear projects in anticipation of the far cheaper energy costs the technology will unlock.

Of course, it will possess an inherently greater risk of dirty bombs if rolled out too broadly to certain economic areas, but for Europe, North America and substantial parts of Asia, this represents the most likely prospect for drastically (more than halving existing national figures) reducing CO2 emissions within a fifteen year framework (ten years for the pipeline, five years to deploy as scale).

The why have Germany and California singularly failed to rid themselves of CO2 emissions, whilst France and Sweden are decades ahead of them?

The air storage article is interesting, but it doesn’t address one fatal flaw in the energy storage argument- in most countries both energy supply from renewables and peak energy demand can vary by a significant degree by season.

https://www.nyiso.com/-/understanding-summer-energy-demand

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-seasonal-and-diurnal-profiles-of-demand-in-Britain-comparing-the-synthesised-demand_fig10_321930262

I would highly recommend reading the full text on the second link- and bear in mind, we in the UK have better energy storage capacity than most countries, and are in the process of developing more (disused quarries are a particular favourite). One thing I would caution- be highly sceptical of biomass disguised as renewables. Wood pellets are often sourced from rainforest deforestation. Palm oil plantations take 690 years to repay the carbon debt from rainforest displacement.

I made a similar comment on another thread.

Consensus is actually what true (human) scientists seek. Without some hierarchy of wise consensus judgement we don’t (as humans) reach useful consensus. Scientific method is founded on utilitarianism in this sense. If the recipe is repeatable, then the experimental results will be repeated, and hence confirmed. Of course we humans only pursue useful avenues of experimentation. Hence the utilitarianism.

The advent of ubiquitous communication is dangerous in this sense of judgement because democratic vote (mass opinion) turns out to be a poor proxy for important hard science results, because those results are entirely counter-intuitive to most humans.

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Geary, we are having a discussion about climate change on a thread about the Holocaust, which is bizarre. And the reason it has happened is that you used the upending of rational discourse in Germany as an excuse to introduce a completely extraneous theme of ‘confirmation bias’…except that is not extraneous, because it is an extension of a narrative that you are pursuing as the nature of irrational behavior. You are trying to suggest that the same winds of irrational disturbance that broke out in interwar Germany are analogous to the ones you claim about climate change and epidemiology.

There are analogous threads to be drawn, because we are going through a period of acute division down ideological and civilizational lines. But it is a very long bow to draw to implicate a whole scientific discipline in ideological ‘groupthink’ and I think the accusatory association that somehow its operations are part of the same kind of ferment as was going on in Germany in 30s, is just shitty politics.

It is clear from the sources you are using, like ‘The Reason TV’ group are your typical free enterprise lobby group, which is part of large private network of ‘foundations’ and ‘institutes’ that have over several decades systematically tried to deny and obfuscate climate warnings.

The following gives a very detailed run down and analysis of these murky groups and how they operate.

If the point about the single IPCC graphic that the Reason TV raise about the exaggeration/alarmism of the data in it, is so important, why isn’t the climatological community breathing a huge sigh of relief and saying, “Oh gee shucks, we got it wrong and we’ll all be saved”. And the answer is Geary that unlike you, the real experts have a much larger perspective.

There were concerns reported about the latest models producing results that were much worse than expected and there were reasons to be cautious about them because there might well be cloud effects at work that climate models find hard to quantify.

All we need to know is that dealing with this situation has been so long delayed by very well funded obfuscation and ideological baloney and now it is really urgent can no longer be delayed. that means the end of business as usual.

There are reasons to be careful. You can have too much new renewables tech, because to accommodate them in a 100% role within the energy system requires extensive intercontinental energy connectors, either by wire, pipeline or tankers transferring energy either in real time or as processed/stored energy (hydrogen/ammonia), a variety of storage devices that can deal with frequency/modulation and long term storage that can be hydrostatic, mechanical or chemical, on a large scale and/or aggregated small scale, demand management through price signals and paying large users not to use at certain times, energy/mechanical/thermal efficiency and lifestyle reductions as in housing size, vehicle size, car sharing and other public transport alternatives…and reducing economic churn of products we could easily do without…

The disturbances in consciousness that are going on a result of the break up of the post world war democratic consensus are decidedly ideological. The science is the science and for all its imperfections, it is the best mechanism we have to deliver realistic reporting in an age of hyperbole and snake oil sales, of which the private think tank lobbies are a particularly good example

Here is a reference to Conway and Oreske’s new post ‘Merchants of Doubt’ book, to give you some idea just how urgent the task of dealing with climate change and ecological collapse really is…

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBAU954AU954&sxsrf=AOaemvLj4MnTp7jxPPAmWpaeypU4QZxFuw:1636543351837&q=When+was+the+collapse+of+Western+civilization+published%3F&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwid0pSJ1430AhUfjdgFHbHiAGYQzmd6BAgXEAU&biw=1093&bih=500&dpr=1.25&shem=ssmd

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Ok then- how do you explain the fact that most articles, activist sites and politician’s speeches stray so far from the science actually provided by the IPCC. I’ve provided you with examples of this phenomenon too numerous to count, actually given you source materials which explicitly detail scientists taking the media to task for distorting and drastically misrepresenting their work.

Such distortions don’t happen in a vacuum. The IPCC has stated that man-made climate change is neither likely to end the human species, nor bring our current global civilisation crashing down- yet these two possibilities are routinely entertained in the media. It’s ridiculous! The only possible explanation is that propaganda does not need to be designed or pointed- it can emerge from media narratives and acquire a life of its own, influencing key players and creating a system of ever exaggerating feedback.

Plus, if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that institutions using fear to try to influence behaviour not only doesn’t work, but is actually counter productive over the long-run. Worse we need rational empirically modelled adaption, which creates and harnesses new technologies- not an over-reliance on solar as a solution which tops out at about 6% to 10% of total energy production in terms of current feasibility (wind is far better, according to sources like Drawdown). Some sources cite California Solar at 15%, but they are being somewhat disingenuous because of imported out-of-state energy, and the requirement to pay other States to buy their excess energy.

Green hydrogen is significantly more expensive to produce than grey hydrogen. It makes sense for buses, because their electrification is probably quite distant- but it doesn’t make much sense for storing surplus energy from a grid because of the added costs.

Geary, we do very likely share a common distaste for Wokes, which is why I despair of ideological fruitcakes like ‘The Greens’ having a near monopoly on environmental politics. They damage the green brand by conflating it with their awful race/civilizational and sex/anti biological family values. And yes, the environment is a good stick to beat capitalism with, which of course also muddies the waters…and ensures that the trogo dickheads on the other side get a free ride at dismissing the whole subject as a hoax/scam…all ensuring policy deadlock over a set of problems that compound every day we don’t deal with them, which is made worse because failure to meet the threat head on is an existential threat to our common future.

We are not just dealing with a climate crisis, but the systematic denuding of the ecological sinews of the planet as a result of excessive production and consumption of goods and services that add very little to our lives, particularly if the struggle to acquire the glittering prizes of the market place assist in also denuding our system of social reproduction that represents perhaps as much as 50% of our net worth. If you screw up too much social/existential software, you are dead motherless poor no matter how rich you are, because your social infrastructure, emotional supports and familial legacy turns to trash.

We have long since moved from a disciplined hierarchy of needs and wants to immersion in fantasies of desire and necessity for immediate satiation at any cost. Realistic notions of what we really need have long disappeared as fantasies become wants become needs become consumer rights that keep feeding a bottomless pit of eventually environment wrecking consumer demand.

As David Attenbro keeps telling us, the living world is shrinking and losing diversity which means it is also becoming less stable. Ecological diversity is what keeps our environment in the Goldilocks zone. We as a species are just steadily pulling out the chocks that hold us up, and if we keep doing it, it will eventually either turn on us and/or collapse under us. The enormous environmental inertia that has so benignly smiled on us is dissipating.

All the indicators are going the wrong way and when/if the crunch comes, the restitution invoice will be many multiples of our economic systems. And anyone in the environmental science will say the same. The water tables that underpin much of the green revolution in agriculture are drying up and/or becoming contaminated by chemical run off/soak down. The New World dryland farming food bowls that have served us well for over two centuries will dry out into varying degrees of desertification.

We need sufficient panic and alarm to make people realize that they have to get their heads out of their arses on this to slow down and stop the train before it hits the end of the line, start to organize adversity defenses in depth, because whatever we do, global environmental deterioration has a lot of momentum behind it, develop a less demand guzzling lifestyle and pay a lot more attention to equally wrecked social and existential infrastructure, which like much of the environment, is also in ruins, and exactly the same reasons.

Indulgence capitalism looked great up front, but most of the real costs have been externalized out of the accounting system, and after 70-80 years of evolving out of war production run by military machines, into production war run by marketing machines, the damage profile of the ‘munitions’ whether it is air freshener or poison gas is almost indistinguishable. Markets get bombed with civil ordinance the same way that world war air raiders bombed cities. And populations of shop troops and contract warriors are put into a maw that destroys them just as surely as bombs and bullets, turning once adult characters into existential ghosts.

I am not a socialist, but as a conservative, Indulgence capitalism is not good news for anything except throughput and laying waste its own hinterlands. And the only winner out of this will be death

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I think you may be suffering from Cotard delusion

Climate change is the consequence of the mother of all market failures. The costs of fossil fuel pollution (which include but are not limited to carbon dioxide) are externalized, making oil, gas, and coal seem artificially cheap. The market cannot adequately address this problem unless costs are internalized, either via a carbon tax or a similar mechanism.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-07510-3

Just so. If we had gotten serious about responding to the problem around 1990 less radical changes would now be necessary.

Maybe – and I agree that we should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy to rapid decarbonization. But the nuclear industry has been promising breakthrough technologies for decades and so far has failed to deliver, so it would be unwise to put all of our thorium eggs in that basket.

Much of the resistance to accepting the reality of climate change derives from solution aversion on the part of free-marketeers, aided and abetted by the misinformation spread by the fossil fuel industry and its enablers.

No, they’re not. I read quite widely in the legacy media and have never encountered an article which makes this kind of extreme claim. You said you’ve provided examples “too numerous to count” – in that case, it should be easy enough to provide links to five. I don’t deny that some (but far from all, or even most) activists exaggerate the likelihood of catastrophic consequences, but it’s equally true that the optimists whom you like to cite over-emphasize the best case scenarios.

Very true. I agree with Geary that fear is not a sufficient motivator, but I don’t think that his facile faith in the market is at all justified.

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But whose choice is to say that women can’t have new dresses which they give to thrift and charity shops after a few wears- whilst simultaneously impoverishing the textile workers now located in Africa, there countries currently in the process of rapidly transforming upwards to the level of India? Plus, do we want to be facing three new people replacing four by 2070, or do we want to be facing 32 new people?

As I have repeatedly argued, one of the easiest ways to reduce consumerism’s throwaway culture would be to exert consumer pressure on Amazon to allow customers to search by manufacturer’s guarantee. With this simple mechanic of a more informed choice for consumers we would rapidly see fridges which lasted twice as long as the current ones.

I agree with this bit- but the deciding factor would seem to be religion. I was watching JBP the other day- he was talking about the way in which utopia had to be located outside of the real world (especially in terms of the future) in order to prevent dangerous ideologues from taking over. But it applies equally to child production- if utopia can exist in the future then the temptation might be to contribute one’s notional intellectual immortality to a collectivist pot aimed at achieving it. The activists always seem to think that history will remember them as important to the revolution.

I have no problems with limiting the influence of adverts. I tend to be quite stingy in some respects, and pour all my money into whisky, pubs and good food- my brother is a chef and I am a dab hand in the kitchen- I found this a few months ago- it’s a really good smoked paprika. I also think we need better education- it pays to buy from the quality end, in terms of durability.

Apart from the fact that Maslow didn’t include labour as a need, which it so obviously is at a societal level- one which is unique because it applies at every level.

6% of species are on the endangered list. Most will probably survive, and many which will not will be resurrected in future generations by genetics (they’ve already managed this using adjacent species). Mass extinction would require 75% of species destroyed. Plus, it’s not new- there used to be a display in the arachnid house at Banham Zoo. It looked like a view into a darkened room. There was a plaque underneath that read this is the most deadly species in history- it’s wiped out over 250,000 species. Of course, it was actually a mirror.

But the figure was inaccurate, if we include the ways in which even primitive hunter/gatherers used fire to replenish hunting grounds, as well as all of our agricultural history, then the figure is far more likely to be in excess of a million, all before industrialisation. Plus, if we are being completely honest the main driver of habitat loss is human activity through economic desperation. In the poor Global South deforestation and habitat loss continues apace- in the wealthier North forests and biodiversity continue to be replenish. I reject the argument of moral culpability for consumption here- because to do so would unleash a greater evil of the deliberate impoverishment of others. If you want to change it find a way for their labour to make them wealthy. Nike seemed to do a good job of it in many parts of SE Asia.

Not true. The fact that we’ve managed to level annual CO2 emission despite massive and continuing economic development would tend to suggest that we are at the beginning of an incredibly powerful s curve. have you looked at the law of natural growth in relation to s curve theory? It is a scientifically proven theory which has been demonstrated time and again, whether we are talking about the fuel efficiency per passenger of passenger planes or the costs and material required to manufacture solar PV (it’s the installation which is the problem in wealthier countries).

The fact that this is an s curve which is iterative, and applies across numerous domains of engineering, science and materials engineering would tend to suggest that it is a far longer and steeper curve than anyone can yet envisage. This is why I keep banging on about technological innovation- it is the only route out of current quandary.

The best thing that government could do is to cover the risk of introducing new technologies. Nobody wants to try our solar manufactured steel because the don’t know the load bearing capacity of the steel- is it brittle or can it manage tension? It’s something which drives me to the point of fury and one of the things which has had a major impact on barring nuclear. The thing that government is best at, and where it can never be matched by the market, IS AS AN UNDERWRITER- it’s the unfair advantage of owning a money press and controlling the currency!

If some enterprising advanced economy actually contained intellectually capable individuals not intellectually besieged by soft ideology- then we could cut global emissions by 7.2% within 15 to 20 years, through shifting iron and steel production to solar technologies.

I agree that consumerism is often needlessly wasteful and needs to shift more sustainable materials, but I think you mistake the agent of our destruction. The sickness lies in our psyches and was introduced with the contagion of mass media. Know anybody who doesn’t own a telly and doesn’t interact with technology on anything less than a minimal basis- they are all eminently healthy and comparatively sane. Years ago Toyota did a study on screen usage. They banned all of their workers from using screen for more than five hours a day. Even this was negligent, because it only looked at their own culpability- if they wanted to eliminate the mental health costs completely they would have included screen usage during leisure time.

I agree with you completely here, and if we really want to make a difference we would stop fossil fuel subsidy through the finance sector for starters! On carbon taxes I agree, but it is bugger to get everyone to agree, although the Chinese seem to be willing to implement the dividend approach (because it obviously incentivises capital expenditure in their economy). My only condition would have to be that congestion taxes would have to be a core constituent of the new tax system, and taxpayers would probably expect relief in other areas of the tax code (eliminating tax between $0 and $15,000 in the US would seem to be good start). I know congestion taxes aren’t popular amongst politicians (because it hits them and their friends), but it does seem to be popular with the masses, and improves air quality, with the attendant health benefits in cities.

That’s largely a problem of government. In some ways successful models show that discarding the free market is important in some respects (through the standardisation of parts)- so in order to work, is does require limited intervention. But the other area where governments are completely insane is they overlook the most important aspect of government in terms of infrastructure- the superpower of government is in owning the risk, becoming the underwriter. It is the one area where the market simply cannot complete.

FIFY. Sweden and France made it cheap, safe and reliable. They are by far the furthest ahead at decarbonising their economies.

It’s not the only type of solution aversion at play. Put simply, Republican won’t like a proposed solution if the government is involved, Democrats won’t like a proposed solution unless government is involved. Other than in a few areas where a little tinkering is called for (such as with nuclear), my preference would be for government to incentivise change, but play absolutely no role in deciding what form that change should take- other than supporting research efforts where the market incentives are too risky, or where the pay-off is too long-term to invest in.

According to one source I read, the Obama Administration achieved climate mitigation at a cost of $2,600 per tonne, the UK government set their threshold at $35 per tonne and achieved more- I doubt the source here, but it’s in the right range in terms of orders of magnitude. A good example of the folly of government can be seen in the area of rail. Short range (90 minute commute), medium speed rail makes a lot of sense for people and climate, high speed is a white elephant which is bad for people and the climate (because the money could be better spent elsewhere). Governments consistently want high speed, and routinely neglect the incredibly beneficial short range stuff.

No they get round it by simply reporting people who make the claims.

Untrue on many scores. Most migration to cities is driven by the desire to flee the economic desperation of subsistence farming. The headline may not be explicit in its claim, but it is highly suggestive of a bleak post-apocalyptic world. The best way to help poor people mitigate climate and mitigate their own impact on climate (which is fairly high at the very bottom of the global socio-economic spectrum (if one includes the impact of poverty on the natural environment, rather than just emissions) is to make them less poor!

Media outlets rely upon their people only reading the headlines when circulated over social media, and rely upon a higher click rate by using catastrophe porn. Anyway the headline is inaccurate- the 12 years to save the planet was completely incorrect- the 2018 interim report explicitly stated that the threshold for irrevocable harm was 2053. A few journalists and activists misread the graph and the rest of the press gleefully reported them, without bothering to correct a misreporting of fact. Many of the scientists who compiled the report actually wrote strongly worded objections to the press- they didn’t like their work being misused, because they knew that when disaster failed to materialise in 2030 it would detract from the desperate need for change.

Anyway, the 1.5C target is a political target- scientists have been keen to point out that there is no magical threshold, beyond which here be climate dragons. Things simply get worse the higher global temperatures change. The whole premise of the article is false, despite the fact that it contains elements of good journalism.

Need I say more?

Again the title and helpful picture, suggests a patient at death’s door on a hospital bed.

This is one of the downstream consequences of climate alarmism. Climate change will have a significant impacts in the future, but its most notable and profound effect so far is with the severe impact it has had on Western mental health.

I agree I overstated the issue and was hyperbolic. I tend to get tetchy when I don’t eat my meals at regular times.

The more optimistic countries have a more accurate worldview, although climate change is a serious long-term problem which will likely have significant impacts in the future, generally the world is still becoming a better place. You need to train your YouTube to look for climate and engineering. The number of technologies being unleashed to solve the problem are amazing. It will make you feel a lot better about climate change in general, and make you better armed to argue back against sceptics about the economic benefits of transforming the economy.

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For those of you who believe in humanity’s capacity for innovation I recommend reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol/Climate Trilogy series, beginning with Forty Signs of Rain. (And consider his classic Mars Trilogy, which follows several centuries of terraforming on Mars, equally transfixing and uplifting with regard to the human spirit and ingenuity).

I completely agree.

True, but none of the articles you cited claims that humanity risks extinction or civilizational collapse – with the exception of the piece in The Independent, which I can’t read due to a paywall. That said, I believe you’ve already acknowledged that fact:

The longer we wait to take action, the more extreme the measures will need to be (barring one or more technological breakthroughs). We’ve long since passed the threshold for irrevocable harm; the only remaining question is how much additional harm we can prevent.

This isn’t quite right. There may be tipping points (such as the collapse of the Amazonian ecosystem or the melting of vast swathes of permafrost) which could massively accelerate warming. This is one of the reasons why climate models are uncertain: they need to account for potential feedback loops that supersede the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0

It’s one factor among many contributing to higher levels of anxiety and depression. Personally, I think a voluntary and gradual reduction in the human population would be of great benefit to the Earth. Individual decisions to have fewer children should be celebrated, in my view, regardless of the motivation behind them.

This is definitely encouraging, but it can be very difficult to implement technologies at scale even if they seem promising in the laboratory. I do think that technological solutions are imperative given the burgeoning energy needs of the developing world and the decades the West has squandered failing to respond to climate change. In an alternative universe, Al Gore became president in 2001 and responded to the 9/11 attacks by launching a Manhattan-style project to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. (Aside from our support of Israel, the only reason the U.S. is embroiled in the internal affairs of the Middle East is its massive reservoirs of oil). If we had spent even a fraction of the $6+ trillion we wasted in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. on investments in nuclear and renewable energies – and shared those advances with the Global South, enabling them to leapfrog carbon-intensive energy production – the world would be far better positioned to prevent extreme warming.

His most recent novel addresses climate change directly:

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I liked the article on ‘solution aversion’ and it fits well into the mutually reinforcing model of intra regime blame shifting and self exculpation at the impending catastrophe of the existential/social and ecological commons, for which both the ‘soft’ Woke dominated regime of private/public social administration and reproduction services, and the ‘hard’ corporate mining/manufacturing regime of raw material/goods production and distribution, are equally implicated.

Both sides of the regime (the ‘churchy’ Wokes are regime hegemons in exactly the same sense as their ‘crown’ opposite numbers) have screwed the commons they are putatively responsible for as a result of a common regime master policy of deregulation and privatization of both existential/moral/social governance and the economic management institutions and funding models for the nation state (divide, conquer, syphon, tax haven).

My view is that the combined and protracted abuse of the commons across all platforms means at some point a recovery and reconstruction exercise that will inevitably involve fairly major re-regulation and deprivatization policy initiatives designed to defend future generations from the consequences of the 1945-212? gang bang that was Indulgence Capitalism.

There is actually good news with regard to the potential for a Black Swan event in relation to permafrost and methane hydrate release. It appears methane release from this source is significantly affected by tidal influence. Even modest increases in sea levels cut methane release from this source. Besides, methane breaks down after about 15 years in the atmosphere.

On this subject I’ve been looking at the use of drones to map methane plumes. They were first introduced for use in the oil and gas sector to cut waste (which they now claim as an ESG). Here in the UK, we’ve used them extensively to map landfills for anaerobic decomposition of food waste and paper. It had led to a 36% reduction in methane from this source in less than a decade.

You guys really needs to get busy on this front. The data on methane is somewhat questionable- I’ve seen some sources claim that methane is 80 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

The bigger threat to the Amazonian rainforest in human activity led by economic desperation. Most ecosystems seem to be more resilient than some ecologists give them credit for. A prime example of this is coral reefs. Carnegie science has done research which shows that coral reefs can handle both temperature change and ocean acidification- they can adapt- but they just can’t handle both at the same time, the two together operate like a great filter (they used an island inland lagoon, and used hydrogen peroxide to address the pH change).

The are two systems currently being trialled to replenish corals, which I know of. One involves fracturing corals in a lab, to help the resistant ones regrow more quickly. The other involves DNA mapping those which appear more resilient, with a view to fostering them in the wild. Other research has detected the beginnings of coral formation in historically colder waters. Pity it will be a couple of hundred year before they achieve the fecundity seem in existing corals.

That happens anyway, when access to birth control and economic opportunity are paired (women need the prospect of personal prosperity through productive labour, to forego the safety net multiple children usually represent). In the West, the real problem is a lack of population replacement.

Maybe in some parts of the world, but not in many parts of Asia or the West. The benefits these cultures bring to the rest of the world will not easily be replaced, and changing demographics automatically bring cultural changes which disrupt the fragile balance of the cornucopian culture. Rome. Egypt. Ancient Greece. The Byzantine Empire. The various Islamic cultures. The Hindu Kush. The only exception in China, which seemed to periodically protect itself by expelling external cultural influences.

Of course, it’s not the only reason, and it’s not the actual influence of the external cultures which were the problem, but rather the reflexive reaction of the culture to default to a more Statist or culturally authoritarian setting to protect itself, but the attraction successful cultures have in drawing in those from other shores intent upon prospering usually ends badly, because successor cultures tend to be shadows of their progenitors and don’t tend to last long.

Perhaps we will be smarter this time. Maybe we will be able to surmount the obstacles which come from groups performing differently, and garner the collective wisdom that the best way to outcompete more successful groups is to emulate them and discard whatever elements of a subculture is holding it back. But I’m not holding my breath. Taking stock and admitting weakness doesn’t come naturally to people. The instinct is to collectivise and ruin the very thing that is the cause of envy- Aesop’s Manger.

We need to remember that virtually every culture we encountered when we set forth in our sailing ships was irredeemably evil by modern standards. The only exceptions were a few which existed in geographic isolation or had to endure environments so harsh their was no energy left to want to murder the nearest tribe.

It wouldn’t have worked- his approach was too prescriptive, and the desire to find new ways to create labour is the opposite of economic progress, which sees countries like Venezuela fail. It may seem like the vile maxim, but the invisible hand only exists because of the ruthless elimination of labour. Of course, culturally the West has lost its balance- equal investments should be made in finding new ways to deploy labour as much as is spent in eliminating it- the key distinction lies in making sure that old uses are always more efficient and labour intensive than their predecessors.

A better example would be Thatcher, but she ruined herself with the other aspects of her ideology- it wasn’t that she was cruel- she really believed in her prescription, but it was simply that too much of the right medicine can kill the patient just as easily as the disease itself.

I completely agree here. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions. The only distinction I would make would be that it wasn’t the wars themselves which were the problem- they could have been completed with a minimum of bloodshed and resource expenditure. In fact they actually were! It is the idiotic American requirement for Jus Post Bellum which inevitably leads to prolonged occupation which is the real flaw. Iraq was the worst. There was a clear exit strategy- simply hand power over to the Iraqi military along with a promise to come back if they didn’t institute democracy with enough regional autonomy to help minority populations.

War is brutal. It is never just. The only distinction that matters at all is that it is often better than the alternative. The American appetite for Jus Post Bellum perennially snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. If they really wanted to salve the American conscience, the Washington Foreign Policy Establishment should have simply handed the defeated a blank cheque for rebuilding.

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