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Meet the Climate Fockers: Why family fights over climate are a good sign

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"Meet the Climate Fockers: Why family fights over climate are a good sign"

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By Auden Schendler, author of “Getting Green Done.”

A business colleague and friend recently had a nice conversation with his brother, a doctor visiting from the South. His brother doesn’t think climate change is a problem. It went something like this:

Brother: “I’ve been reading some interesting articles about climate change that don’t”¦.”
Colleague: “Shut the $%& up, you’re a %$&ing DUMBASS!!!”

Unfortunately his mom then piled on the denial train. And my colleague, who has been retrofitting boilers and lights as part of his work in finance, and reading dense climate science I hand him (Hansen on paleoclimatology, Stephen Schneider on the credibility of the scientists denying climate change) went ballistic. So much so that his wife left the house to make phone calls from the car.

The argument ruined my friend’s family visit, and likely put strains on his already tenuous familial relationships.

My first response was: “That’s a shame!” And then I thought: Most things that fracture families are meaningless and stupid in the broad scope of things. “We don’t like your wife.” “You aren’t nice to your sister.” “You won’t take care of yourself.” But climate change is an issue worthy of a massive family fight. It’s worthy of complete estrangement, actually.

I got to thinking about other important issues that fracture families. Interracial marriage. Feminism. Gay marriage and sexual oritentation.  Religious independence. Affluence vs. poverty. And I remembered a maxim from an activist on gay rights, which was that “by the time an issue becomes deeply part of the public discourse “” like gay marriage is now or civil rights was 50 years ago””the battle is already substantially over.”

And in that observation, and that family fight, I found a grain of hope.

– Auden Schendler

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39 Responses to Meet the Climate Fockers: Why family fights over climate are a good sign

  1. Edward Duca says:

    I share your colleagues experience, had many fights with my dad and brother on climate science. It never went this far or I might have blogged about it ;).

  2. catman306 says:

    Reminds me of a discussion I had with my step-dad about the Viet Nam War in 1968, with the Chicago Convention police riot on the TV. It didn’t go well.

    Intense propaganda can turn any issue into a religious holy war. “Death to the infidels!”

  3. Paulm says:

    Wonder how many divorces are now happening due to climate change?

  4. Auden, I’m guessing this sort of family fight doesn’t just happen suddenly. You might want to ask the friend if the brother had a history of regurgitating climate ‘skeptic’ garbage at every opportunity, whether called for or not.

    frank

  5. Ben Lieberman says:

    It’s sad, but why in 2011 do many Americans see it as socially acceptable to deny climate change?

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    I have seen a couple of my own relationships damaged by fights over climate change- none within my family, fortunately. What’s odd is that deniers get so stubborn and angry, especially since usually they haven’t even bothered to study the actual data. Maybe this means that some part of them knows that they are very wrong, and so they are fighting themselves from within.

  7. Alteredstory says:

    It’s an interesting observation…

  8. Alteredstory says:

    Mike, I’ve been reading some work on getting the message across, and one of the things that has been pointed out is that the human reflex to avoid discomfort is very, very strong.

    When we are made afraid, we avoid the source of the fear. When we are made angry, we attack the cause of their anger. When we are made to feel guilt, we do what we can to mitigate that, either by changing our behavior, OR by avoiding the source of the guilt. And, of course all of these emotions feed into each other.

    The problem is that if you acknowledge that this issue is real, then there is nowhere to run, and no way to avoid it, and so the easiest way to avoid that pain, the easiest way to mitigate it, is to pretend, on the deepest level, that the problem doesn’t exist at all.

    A lot of people, and I’ve felt this myself, can undergo a sort of mental shutdown when they are feeling put upon by someone who has a lot of good-sounding arguments that, for some reason (denial in this case) just don’t feel right, and so we get stubborn, and defensive, and we defend our “ground”, and think about it later, or not.

    To add to that, the problem has gotten to the point where the right wing would have to fundamentally change the worldview they’ve developed over the past 50 years or so, if they were to accept this problem is real and needs addressing. It will take community action, government action, and international cooperation, and all of that means that we can’t pretend that all we need is a gun and a truck and we can sustain ourselves and ignore the rest of the world (aside from taking oil from them). It means that we’ll have to regulate industry, and kick the government back into high gear on infrastructure.

    It’s a huge, terrifying, and inescapable issue, and that transcends logic for a lot of people.

    Honestly, the best approach I’ve encountered so far is from a pastor, who has started to focus her efforts on convincing people that, as individuals, they MATTER. That their actions change the world. That they are powerful, and important, and capable of changing the world, and in acceptance of their power, they also can accept that their actions have consequences, for good and for ill, and that they have a personal responsibility for what they do.

    It’s a way to tackle the issue through making people feel important, which is always helpful, and through making them feel like the problem is NOT insurmountable.

    It’s a hard thing to believe, especially in the current political climate, and in a culture where cynicism is prized, but I think it’s important.

  9. Jon says:

    Based on the dialogue, your colleague went ballistic before not after his mother got into the act. Are your colleague and his brother’s lines inadvertently mislabeled as to which of them said what?

  10. A family is a trusted group bound together for survival.

    It is quaint to think that a DNA based family unit will somehow survive the future.

    Anyone can look at scenarios, models and basic science – and clearly see a high probability future with food stress, water issues, climate refugees and civil chaos – and that’s just within the next 2 generations in the highly privileged US.

    In a radically shrinking population, strict DNA based families are going to be very hard to maintain. And maybe not a smart survival strategy.

  11. Christina says:

    As a sustainability consultant with an MBA who grew up in conservative Republican Michigan and visits family there often (from the W. coast), I could not agree more on this blog entry. In fact, I have come to believe that if we think we can passively all agree on how to solve the climate crisis (without some real dialogue and at times, struggle and conflict) we are being apathetic. We have to be understanding of where others come from, but still passionate and still unwaivering when it comes to the facts.

    After 4 years of consulting and feeling ostracized by my family on numerous occasions, I have finally reflected on the spiritual awakening component that is mentioned in the above post. It struck me while consulting on the sustainability team of a large technology company, when we were in a meeting talking about sustainability solutions and someone said, “We HAVE to get this (energy analysis) product out, soon. Otherwise we are relying upon morals to get us to the other side of the climate crisis and we know that people will fail us”.

    As a person of faith I went home thinking, why save the planet if all we have left on it are a bunch of crooks?
    On the contrary, I believe that people of all faiths are waking up to the fact that it is our moral obligation to do something about the environmental damage we are causing and that, as the last commenter remarked – that what we do MATTERS. I think this is one of the most critical components to real transformation and in fact I have faith that it is what will bring even my most skeptical family members around to accepting the truth about the climate challenges we face.

  12. dp says:

    my family split is pretty serious: southeast cheneyite (and big GOP donor), western naderish, yankee blue, southern christian military, midwest localist, globehopping socdem (not shown in US political picture).

    everybody was pretty pleased about the midwest localist installing PV solar, and getting to watch the electricity meter run backwards when visiting. i love that.

    of course when asked about the project in the first place i hedged, saying that regional subsidies for home PV had a ‘free lunch’ problem at scale and asking them to clarify what they got (besides free money) in place of checking the ‘green juice only’ box on their grid electricity bill. they talked about resilience and such. i don’t know what else i thought they’d say.…

    the insider cheneyites of course living in the southeast have a major nuclear fixation, impervious to issues of scale. basically because of extra ‘awesome,’ one nuclear facility = 100 windfarms. (fortunately they don’t make those kinds of mistakes when cooking.)

    sadly the nuclear fixation is a local business development plan (in the sense of snaring federal funds) and does not appear a gateway to carbon hawk. in the same minute they’ve told me not to ruffle american lifestyle feathers with rabid greening, but to definitely fear for the life of the dollar from the threat of chinese civilian nuclear. their plan, like midwest cousins’, is to figure the kwh price strictly by the bottom line on their personal invoice.

    hey if it all comes out in the budgetary wash why look the gift horse in the mouth, if the train is headed in the right general direction.

    so we don’t exactly fight. they’re both kinda cynical about public money, and until you challenge them, both try to paint being a subsidized grid supplier as the same as being off the grid. but then, why challenge that? ultimately this is a national security issue and there’s gonna be huge federal financial involvement in implementing any kind of “repowering america.”

    i guess to me at issue here is how much money you blow on little stuff on the way to building hundreds thousands of high-value 5MW turbines and such, a la that delucchi & jacobson proposal.

  13. dp says:

    why do i think one single nuclear reactor counts as “little stuff”? cuz even the biggest are less than 0.1% of our energy use, way smaller a share than the hype leads people to imagine.

  14. Michael Tucker says:

    “It’s worthy of complete estrangement”

    I have been thinking a lot about just that. How much estrangement are we willing to tolerate? How much anger and fear will the real solution to global climate disruption create? What are we talking about when we discuss phasing out all fossil fuel use? Calls to stop the spread of coal power plants into new areas sound ominously familiar. Calls to end a large and economically important industry also sound ominously familiar.

    I want to be wrong. I want to be completely off base but I keep watching our senators to see if anyone is swinging a cane in a threatening manner.

  15. Rob Mac says:

    I’ve got a similar feud going on with my brother, though the discussion/falling out took place pretty much entirely online. We were kind of going back and forth on this and that issue related to AGW (him being a firm believer in the vast conspiracy, though actually open to reason if presented with the right evidence, I think–side note: he was really hung up on the “disappearing weather stations” issue and thought this was the smoking gun but I was actually able to convince him that there was absolutely nothing to this). We were fighting pretty hard but I thought it was all in good fun basically. But it turns out I hurt his feelings and was a “know it all” or something, which is apparently bad when you’re having a long detailed disagreement on a highly technical subject.

    So at this point we are very much on the outs, which is unfortunate. I don’t care, on a personal level, if he wants to hold on to his delusions. It’s too bad we weren’t able to discuss this subject without something like that happening.

    I can verbally tussle with my right wing banker father all day on any subject you can name and be smiling and joking about it the whole time, so I know it’s possible to avoid personal insults and hurt feelings. Who knows. Maybe the online nature of our conversation was the real problem.

  16. paulm says:

    This is a very good talk on the topic (a few chuckles guaranteed)…

    why-dealing-with-climate-change-is-difficult-spinach-tarts-and-ice-cream
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/why-dealing-with-climate-change-is-difficult-spinach-tarts-and-ice-cream/

    Marshall is a good presenter — he illustrates his points well (spinach tarts and ice cream feature prominently) — and provides a very good and concise overview of why many people prefer to ignore the climate problem. Whatever your views on the seriousness of the climate problem or how we should act to deal with it, you’ll find something in his talk to challenge your preconceptions.

  17. Barry says:

    I agree with Auden Schendler that “climate change is an issue worthy of a massive family fight”.

    And my experience also mirrors his notion that talking climate change is similar to talking with family in the past about other contentious social issues like gay rights, racism and feminism.

    I disagree about “estrangement” being a path forward. The people we are most likely to move on climate are the ones we know best. Research has shown this. The relationship is important to keep open by itself, of course, and that is doubly true if you want to help people move towards a safe, sustainable, hopeful future.

    My experience is be clear what your concerns are; model a sustainable lifestyle; keep the relationship open; don’t push them very hard to change. They will need to come to the point of change themselves or it won’t stick.

    Similar to being a parent to a teenager.

  18. L. Carey says:

    +1 for Alteredstory @8

  19. NeilT says:

    It’s funny when I read this I look into my own family and my relationship with my brother.

    The very first part of the post about the blowoff reminds me very much of the american president where the staffer starts ranting at the supporter who just slinked away and junked the bill they were trying to push through.

    My brother is much more subtle about it and uses the “big brother clever, little brother dumb”, putdown to try and make me feel like some idiot who can’t add 2+2. Most times I just ignore him or just don’t speak to him. It’s easier that way so I don’t have to hear some idiocy about “hockey sticks” or whatever….. Sadly he hasn’t tried hockey sticks on me since Mann was so strongly justfied or he’d be wearing one up his Ass (figuratively that is)…..

    What is really odd is the fact that I’m the Ex military, capitalist, right wing, tax me not scum; and he’s the radical left wing tax everyone and the companies to the hilt and “give it to the needy”, it’s all a conspiracy of…. (I’ve never found out yet).

    What a mess. If this is how we all communicate then it’s never going to get better.

    The only way I can see any business doing the right thing is the point where it pays more to clean the environment up than it does to make a mess of it and we’re still a few decades away from that. Decades the future generations can’t afford us to procrastinate.

  20. Auden,
    while I agree wholeheartedly that “climate change is an issue worthy of a massive family fight” I found your colleague’s response to his brother depressing and inappropriate.

    Turn it around. What if your colleague had been the one talking about the research and the brother had called him a dumbass. What would your response be then?

    I understand the frustration with those who insist on clinging to beliefs in direct contradiction to the evidence. But name calling and fighting will never change anyone’s mind, and treating someone like an idiot (even if they ARE an idiot) will only confirm their belief that you are the one who’s an idiot.

    Telling someone they’re wrong is perhaps the quickest way to get them to dig in and insist that they’re right. Brendan Nyhan has done some interesting research on this.

    The facts are never going to convince the brother that he’s wrong on climate. Neither is calling him names.

    So what to do? That’s the big question and I don’t think anyone has a perfect answer. But rejoicing in a family fight isn’t the way.

    I’d rather see those who care about climate change take a cue from the civil rights movement. Do something equivalent to a lunch counter sit in or a bus strike. Make a pledge. Do something personal that requires sacrifice. Do something that shows how serious you are about this problem.

    For me, that pledge was to give up travel for a year. I didn’t solve the climate problem, but I did something with moral weight. I made a public statement that taking back my contribution to climate change was more important than my desire to vacation abroad or travel for work or even visit my family. http://bit.ly/myjetblues

    The unexpected benefit I discovered was that my happiness soared and my quality of life went through the roof. It’s those kinds of benefits that might convince the brother. They certainly convinced me. Two years later, I still haven’t been on a plane and I’ve traveled only regionally, in my little Honda.

    -Christie

  21. OregonStream says:

    I guess sometimes it’s just best to get it out in the open, and sites like this and Skeptical Science are good pre-arming tools. Although by brother is not quite a fully dedicated ‘equilibriumist’, I’m happy to report that after our discussions, he’s no longer a member of the climate focker family.

  22. I would tend to think that to some degree, we wouldn’t want to forcibly ostracize ourselves from our family. Probably in a similar way to other contentious issues, people are more likely to support something if they are close to someone it affects directly. Be it racial civil rights, sexual orientation civil rights, entitlement programs, and maybe even climate change.

    I’ve experienced many instances when people might rant on and on about how the government should ban this activity or that activity, or how the government should cut spending on all of these programs. Then later those same people will complain to no end when the program helping their sick child is cut, or when a certain liberty they enjoyed was restricted. Those experiences push me toward thinking that we have to find a way to make people see the other shoes of this debate, which is easiest when they are close through friendship & family.

  23. paulm says:

    ClimateFlightAction FB page….

    Addressing Global Warming, I vow to eliminate all my non-essential flying.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/ClimateFlightAction/165484890164497

  24. Adam R. says:

    In Alabama, where I live, acknowledging the mere existence of anthropogenic climate change is generally regarded as the mark of a communist dupe. When the subject comes up in business situations, I point out that the U. S. National Academy of Sciences regards it as a serious problem. I get snorts of derision in reply. “Scientists? They’re all on the take!”

    Deniers cannot be argued out of the complete rejection of science, as we have all discovered. If I had one in my family, I doubt I’d bust up a Thanksgiving dinner trying. “You’re full of shit, Joe. Now, pass the gravy.”

    … Whoops. Not you, Joe R.!

  25. Christie:

    While I agree with you that calling someone a dumbass isn’t going to get us anywhere, my point (and the responses to the blog confirms this) is that this kind of fight is going on all over the US. And the fact of the fight is a good sign, because it suggests victory. These fights weren’t happening 20 years ago. My friend DID have the reasoned conversation, before. But he hit threshold. In the end, humans are not all Ghandis or MLKs, and it’s damn hard for the average person not to explode on issues of deep personal and societal relevanace, whether it’s race, or religion, or abortion. I’m not condoning my friend’s action, but I’m celebrating what the situation represents.

  26. Windsong says:

    None of my family members (except one) believed in GW a year ago. Now they all do! I bombarded them with so much info. they are now all believers! I almost held them down when I visited them, showing them stuff I copied off this website. Bit it worked. And it was worth it! So funny to hear my 91-year-old mom trying to explain Gw to her very conservative right wing frinds! Ha! Ha!

  27. Villabolo says:

    In my experience with my Republican, Glenn Beckian parroting family I’ve found that the only meaningful response to their ignorance is to portray as vividly as possible that they are ignorant.

    I don’t emphasize facts, just mention them on the side, for the simple reason that they don’t care about facts.

    I deliberately baited my cousin once by telling his son that he should read both sides of the GW issue. Right away he and his father parroted my line to their son/grandson in the manner typical of all hypocrites who never follow their own advise.

    I smiled, knowing that they had stepped into my trap.

    As soon as my cousin challenged me, making eye contact, with 3 denier cliches my first response was to ask him “what does the other side say about that?” He would then avert eye contact and mumble “I don’t know, I didn’t do further research” to all 3 issues. A subtle reminder that he didn’t practice what he preached.

    He then wagged his finger at me angrily challenged me to reveal my sources. As soon as I told this University educated fool what NASA, NSIDC and NOAA where I returned his challenge and asked him to reveal his sources.

    He didn’t, even though I knew that he knew. I didn’t let it go at that. I asked him, in front of his son, to name at least one source on either side related to any Global Warming issue whether on the Internet or otherwise. He remained silent.

    Next time, I won’t be so polite. I will put the burden of proof on him, constantly reminding him that he does no research whatsoever; doesn’t know the meaning of a primary source; is merely an ideological sounding board.

    Before anyone says that such a response accomplishes nothing let me emphasize an ugly truth that few on this side of the issue want to admit to themselves or to others. There is no meaningful communication possible amongst people in a mass society like this one.

    No matter how much you tweak the logical or the psychological it’s nothing more than a ritualistic verbal display ritual with words and rhetoric substituting for Peacock feathers and dancing.

    For a spectrum of reasons that range from the genetic to the sociological, most people are simply a bunch of mindf***able vagina brains and the corporate cock Koch will forever be impregnating them with whatever those vampires ejaculate into their psyches.

    To be blunt the only hope that I see for humanity is near total extinction with a visionary group, prepared from the beginning, to come rising from the ashes. Their short term goal would be obvious, survival and eventually rational growth.

    I’m mot talking about leadership of what I consider a humanity genetically dwarfed by Dominance/Submission tendencies and congenital psychopathology/narcissism. Initially perhaps, but a priority of a reborn civilization that wishes to maximize human comfort and happiness will have to start with the knowledge and action based on such knowledge that many humans simply don’t have the true desire for that.

    Therefore, I’m a firm believer in Eugenics. Specifically the creation of a Masterless/Slaveless race which has had the previously mentioned traits purged from their Genetic Soul.

    Make no mistake, it’s either that or we will spontaneously evolve; fully as compared with our present day; into a race of psychopaths and sychophants.

    Our short and mid term goals seem complex and unreachable. But our long term goal should be simple and held in, yes, faith. The transformation of our basic nature.

    Otherwise; on the assumption that a morally superior, but still vulnerable, sentient species may exist within easy reach in our galaxy; I would simply wish for our extinction.

  28. LT says:

    Well done windsong @26. I have not had such luck. I am surrounded by hard core deniers at my workplace, in my street, amongst my friends and even, horror, in my family. These people are no dummies – they are mostly well educated and in many instances scientifically literate. Several relationships have been strained despite my sincere attempts to keep discussions civil. With some of these people the topic is now out of bounds, either because they cannot keep their cool and have voluntarily withdrawn from discussions or I have voluntarily withdrawn to save my head being bitten off at the slightest mention of the subject. In fact, in some cases I don’t have to even mention the subject to be attacked– the mere sight of me seems to be enough for some people!

    I have given up trying to convince these people with more facts. I used to get awfully distressed about these deniers and tried very hard to convince them of the seriousness of our plight. But I have come to the conclusion, painfully and slowly, that more facts makes the denial worse. I have found that no matter what solid information I provide them, no matter how polite and well reasoned the accompanying email they DO NOT READ IT. Or, on the rare occasions that they may just GLANCE at it, it does not penetrate their denial because they can always find a short, easy denier line to raise doubt about any point, thereby relieving them of the necessity of facing the awful truth. It is so easy to raise doubt in a sound bite (the professional deniers are masters of this) but it is very difficult to counter doubt effectively in a sound bite.

    I think that it is counter productive to fall out with close friends and acquaintances about this. Stay in the relationship and by your actions and steadfast position you can stay a thorn in their side. If you fall out and end the relationship it feeds their beliefs that those “climate people are crazy” and they can once again breathe that “sigh of relief” they are forever in quest of. I live a simple life materially but it is rich in other ways. I defined what is “enough” long ago and resist the pursuit of more. I have not flown since 2003. I would now fly only for emergencies or real necessity. I holiday locally. This is all very irritating to witness for those ever in pursuit of more. But it is my message.

    Remember Ghandi.
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”.

    Trouble is we do need to win soon.

  29. Tim L. says:

    The problem with many deniers is that the facts & figures don’t matter, as for them it’s NOT about science. It’s about theology and the “sacredness” of free market capitalism. They simply can’t bring themselves to admit that climate change is history’s worst market failure ever, because that would mean turning their theology upside down.

  30. dp says:

    “They simply can’t bring themselves to admit that climate change is history’s worst market failure ever”

    you could try telling them that among the many staggering earthly marvels delivered by the promise of industrial capitalism, global ecological disruption was in the fine print

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I never argue with denialists. Once you realise that you are conversing with one, and that reason and appeals to basic morality are useless, any further argument can only lead to rancour. I don’t like arguing with ignorant idiots. I think that it is beneath me. I certainly enjoy discussions with true sceptics, but I haven’t encountered any intelligent, honest, sceptics around anthropogenic climate change for years. Some disagreement or exchange of opinions about the details, sure, but the essence was settled years ago. In fact I’ve found that there is a direct corollation between an individual’s intelligence and knowledgability (in my opinion, of course) and how long they have accepted the science.

  32. John Mason says:

    Tim #28,

    “The problem with many deniers is that the facts & figures don’t matter, as for them it’s NOT about science. It’s about theology and the “sacredness” of free market capitalism. They simply can’t bring themselves to admit that climate change is history’s worst market failure ever, because that would mean turning their theology upside down.”

    Unfortunately, this is quite accurate in some cases. I well recall being engaged in heated debate on Realclimate on one occasion and our antagonist made further efforts worthless with the following:

    “Please stop resorting to the “evidence”. It’s now completely irrelevant.”

    That went into my collection straight away!!

    Cheers – John

  33. Christopher Yaun says:

    The fundamental liberal agenda is to organize and set in motion a government that gains its power from the consent of the governed. The fundamental conservative agenda is to concentrate power in the hands of a few. Liberal and conservative are opposite and cannot be separated, one gains its reason to exist from the other and will always change into its opposite.

    I also have the same conflict with my brother. He is the most conservative liberal that I have ever met. A staunch Reagan/Limbaugh/Beck/O’Reilly/Bush republican he has educated himself about conservative issues and works tirelessly to support his agenda. A small businessman who creates jobs and wealth, he is furious that government would take his hard earned money and give it to someone else…..yet this man and his wife have spent huge sums of their money and their time on the welfare of family, friends and employees. It is painful to me that they find common cause with the bloviators and have fallen for the tortured, devisive rhetoric. Conversation and friendly debate have become impossible.

    I avoid overwhelming people. I find it best to create an opening and allow others to step into a conversation. Recently, i found myself in a small mechanical room with an electrician and a pipefitter. We chatted across the room as we worked. The conversation drifted from God to global warming….I wish I could recall how…..the electrician asked me if I thought global warming was real, as I replied the pipefitter shouted, “Global Warming is a hoax!” and left the room.

    I asked the electrician if I could tell him a story I knew about the history of climate, telling him that i only needed 2 minutes. I proceeded to deliver a carefully edited 2 min recounting of Ruddiman’s “Plow, Plagues and Petroleum”. The story is clear and simple. Then I shut up.

    If they want to know more they will ask….I do my best to hold my tongue. If I add to the story I will run hard against their prejudice. If I am stingy they are left with the simple facts as told by Ruddiman. And maybe a crack in the divisive rhetoric.

    For a recounting of the conservative agenda read:

    http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/books/phillips-southern.pdf

  34. Barry says:

    I want to thank Christie (#20) for making a very important point that is rarely made: “I made a public statement that taking back my contribution to climate change was more important than my desire to vacation abroad or travel for work or even visit my family. The unexpected benefit I discovered was that my happiness soared and my quality of life went through the roof. “

    Yes. That is what I have found as well.

    Both the left and the right seem to talk about cutting down on fossil fuelled privileges as a step down into “hair shirt” land.

    But my experience matches Christie’s — it gives a tremendous feeling of relief and joy to live within my values. The things I’ve given up, like high-climate damage jet travel have been more than offset by my sense that I’m not destroying the climate for “fun”. Living a lie is always the hardest burden in the long run.

    I recently took a two day Greyhound bus trip to my Uncle’s funeral in Phoenix. Sure there were a few points that were not ideal, but even at the worst moments you couldn’t have paid me to trade it for a climate-thrashing flight.

    I think many ex-smokers understand the same relief when they kick the fuming beast out of their lives.

    I used to try to convince folks to cut back on the hyper-climate-damage from their flying. I found that a person’s sense of privilege more than political philosophy colored their responses.

    Now I just feel sorry for all those people who are going to wake up one day to the realization they didn’t act when they knew they should have, and now they have to carry that burden with them.

  35. Villabolo says:

    Don’t mean to be a whiner but why has my comment been in moderation for 24 hours?

  36. someone posted this saying at my blog:
    “when a fight goes out in the street, it’s almost over”

  37. espiritwater says:

    LT, #26, almost everyone I meet in my hometown feels the same way as most of your family, co-workers, etc. The other day, I was this elderly lady who was talking about all the catastrophic weather we’ve been having. She said, “it will only get worse!” I thought, “aha!” but then she said that it’s all in Revelations (the Bible). She said we are at Endtimes. So, it seems that even though many may accept the fact that the climate is indeed changing, they are still not making the connection to fossil fuels! It’s a huge challenge! However, I’ve been trying to set up appointments for this scientist I know to give talks on climate change at various places around town. (He’s good! I’ve heard him speak before!) Yep, I convinced family. However, convincing my neighbors may be a different story! :(

  38. espiritwater says:

    LT, I give up in certain situations too. But for my family– I refused to give up and won. My son was the hardest to convince. He graduated from MIT with a dual degree and constantly quoted junk from the Heritage Foundation. Anyhow, the thing which finally struck a cord with him was when I directed him to the website on “Methane Catastrophies in Earth’s Past and Near Future”. That’s also what got my older brother’s attention!

  39. Jim Prall says:

    Thanks DP for the pointer to the fresh analysis by Delucchi and Jacobson. I saw their 2009 article in SciAm, and took some hope from that, but I’m glad to see they are going into even more depth. Their message: we DO have a way to get to 100% renewables – it is physically possible and even economically feasible; all we need is the political will. Yes, big oil may fight tooth and nail to stop this, but the point we need to get across to people in angry denial is that solutions exist, so they don’t need to feel cornered.

    For those interested, it is a two parter, in the journal Energy Policy (subscription required for full text? I’m seeing full text, but I’m on a campus network and we subscribe; try the links and see, maybe these are open access? If paywalled, check if your library gets it?)
    Everyone can read at least the abstracts (maybe even full text?) at these link:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045

    citations:
    M. Z. Jacobson and M. A. Delucchi, “Evaluating the Feasibility of Meeting All Global Energy Needs with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part I: Technologies, Energy Resources, Quantities and Areas of Infrastructure, and Materials,” Energy Policy, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040 (2010).

    M. A. Delucchi and M. Z. Jacobson, “Evaluating the Feasibility of Meeting All Global Energy Needs with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part II: Reliability, System and Transmission Costs, and Policies,” Energy Policy, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045 (2010).