September 14, 2019

"If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping..."

"... that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope," writes the novelist Jonathan Franzen in a The New Yorker article that I've noticed and avoided, perhaps because the title is warding me off — "What If We Stopped Pretending?/The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it."

ADDED: I'm reading comments and seeing that a lot of you are reflexively blowing off Franzen as going along with the left. You need to read, "The controversy over Jonathan Franzen’s climate change opinions, explained/Scientists are pissed at the novelist — and at the New Yorker for publishing him" (Vox):
Immediately after the essay went live Sunday, people began to express their ire online. Climate scientists and activists were especially pissed — at the author, and also at the magazine that published him.... The critics’ anger seemed to coalesce around four main complaints, three of them empirical in nature: Franzen is wrong on the science, on the politics, and on the psychology of human behavior as it pertains to climate change.
THIS WAS IN THE ORIGINAL POST: An excerpt from Franzen:
The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science is well known, but denial is entrenched in progressive politics, too, or at least in its rhetoric. The Green New Deal, the blueprint for some of the most substantial proposals put forth on the issue, is still framed as our last chance to avert catastrophe and save the planet, by way of gargantuan renewable-energy projects. Many of the groups that support those proposals deploy the language of “stopping” climate change, or imply that there’s still time to prevent it. Unlike the political right, the left prides itself on listening to climate scientists, who do indeed allow that catastrophe is theoretically avertable. But not everyone seems to be listening carefully. The stress falls on the word theoretically....

I run various future scenarios through my brain, apply the constraints of human psychology and political reality, take note of the relentless rise in global energy consumption (thus far, the carbon savings provided by renewable energy have been more than offset by consumer demand), and count the scenarios in which collective action averts catastrophe.... [O]verwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting.... Call me a pessimist or call me a humanist, but I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon....

[A] false hope of salvation can be actively harmful. If you persist in believing that catastrophe can be averted, you commit yourself to tackling a problem so immense that it needs to be everyone’s overriding priority forever. One result, weirdly, is a kind of complacency: by voting for green candidates, riding a bicycle to work, avoiding air travel, you might feel that you’ve done everything you can for the only thing worth doing. Whereas, if you accept the reality that the planet will soon overheat to the point of threatening civilization, there’s a whole lot more you should be doing....

All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable. Once you accept that we’ve lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities. In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions. To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as we can make it....

Kindness to neighbors and respect for the land—nurturing healthy soil, wisely managing water, caring for pollinators—will be essential in a crisis and in whatever society survives it....

156 comments:

buwaya said...

Franzen, of course, has to stick with his secular religion, which blocks off a world of options and possibilities beyond those he permits himself to consider. In public anyway.

mezzrow said...

apparently Franzen found Chicken Little while out birding. Nice transcription.

Rick.T. said...

I’d like to understand the editorial process that gives a novelist space to write about climate change.

buwaya said...

One of these, certainly, is that any perceived problems will solve themselves.
And, highly likely, that these problems he sees will be replaced with very different ones, in due course, even within the constraints of his secular religion.

The history of technology, and its effect on what people perceive as problems, is instructive.

buwaya said...

Novelists rarely have the imagination to understand reality.

rhhardin said...

the relentless rise in global energy consumption

All the energy comes from the sun (except nuclear). It leaves through radiation back into space. It's not consumed on earth.

Jeff said...

Or you could just kill yourself and spare us the virtue signaling.

Automatic_Wing said...

It's not a very sciencey article, makes me think of Ghostbusters more than anything else.

Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.

AlbertAnonymous said...

What’s wrong with these people? Do they actually believe the garbage they’re slinging? Or do they know it’s BS but so completely want to control every aspect of everyone’s life? How do people get to that position? Munchausen’s by Proxy on steroids?

Michael K said...

It's not consumed on earth.

Novelists and the New Yorker are a bit weak on Physics.

Limited Perspective said...

Goodness, who really cares?

Life began with an electric spark, a reproducing molecule, a single cell, whatever. If the planet fries, there will still be a spark, leading to a reproducing molecule, leading to whatever type of cell we can imagine is next. Don't sweat the small stuff like the death of the planet. It will start over again. Be of good cheer.

Shane said...

Or, we can just ignore this drivel, as it has popped up every decade or so since The Coming Ice Age scare in the 1970's and before that Rachel Flippin Carson, and do the best we can, and be responsible with the cataclysmic drama.

Paco Wové said...

"if you accept the reality that the planet will soon overheat to the point of threatening civilization"

Curious: is any authoritative body making such a claim? For instance, I did a quick Internet glance at the IPCC assessments, and I don't recall "threatening civilization" to be in them. Leaving aside all issues of the correctness (or not) of any viewpoint in this debate, why are celebrities with no real standing so fond of such hyperbolic statements about things they probably know nothing about?

mockturtle said...

This is the sort of stuff I would expect to see on the cover of National Enquirer while standing in the grocery checkout line. Half the country has taken leave of its senses.

Ralph L said...

Is he expecting a sudden 10 foot rise in sea level? The Bangladeshis are our coal-rich canaries.

A guy this cuckoo should turn off more sane people than he inspires.

Paco Wové said...

the cover of National Enquirer

BAT BOY SAYS SINGLE PAYER NOW!

Bruce Hayden said...

Another reason to buy guns, ammunition, and survival rations. These people are wacko.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

He's right. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. AOC says Miami will be destroyed in a few years. Civilization will end in 11 years.

So why worry. Just bust out and enjoy the last few years left. Travel, buy big powerful cars and SUVs. Eat lots of beef and other meats. Keep the house cold in summer and hot in winter.

WWAGD -- What Would Al Gore Do?

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

He's not saying anything new. The left want to silence the right thru vote fraud and the removal of all non-left-wing voices on the internet.

Francisco D said...

It looks like Franzen is part of the popular Watermelon Club.

I wonder how many of these idiots are aware that they are not trying to save the planet. They re trying to give government even more massive control over our lives.

Paco Wové said...

Personally, I find it comic that Franzen finds the impending apocalypse to be a spur to do... exactly what his inclinations were pushing him towards doing anyway.

Limited Perspective said...

No matter how bad the environment gets, there will be some life, some type of single cell bacteria, that will survive and start the whole evolutionary process over again. This surviving life will adjust to the new climate. Maybe, eventually, the life will evolve to produce conscious animals again who will really know how to screw things up and finally develop the technology to destroy all life once and for all. They will be far beyond our feeble attempts at screwing things up.

Ann Althouse said...

"Franzen, of course, has to stick with his secular religion, which blocks off a world of options and possibilities beyond those he permits himself to consider. In public anyway."

How so? I think the left is enraged at him over this article. He's taken BIG risks and exposed himself to a tremendous amount of hatred from Green New Deal types.

I don't understand your point at all.

Sydney said...

The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science is well known...

Lost me right there. I am not sure I know the Republican Party's position on climate science. Do they have one? What is evil about it?

Jim said...

Trying to dissuade the delusions of people like Franzen is what is hopeless. Propaganda, decades of it, is very effective. The rest of us, who actually spend time working and playing outdoors in the weather, are mystified that dimwits like him are able to walk to the market without help.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

We must rid the internet of "hate"
Hate, defined by the left is - anything that doesn't line up with the left.


BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

The evil of the Republican Party’s --- position on all things... must be stopped!

Fernandistein said...

Two ways: buy Greenland or borrow Greenland.

mockturtle said...

Bruce observes: Another reason to buy guns, ammunition, and survival rations. These people are wacko.

I'm sure the next phase in their agenda, having accepted the inevitability of cataclysm, is to systematically kill off all the deplorables.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

If the left cared about the climate, they would spend their time attempting to educate the actual Chinese leaders at the top of the communist regime. Start there. The Chinese do more to degrade the climate and the environment than any other nation on earth.

When you listen to the left on China, you inevitable get a pile of lame excuse-making. The chi-coms have ultimate control over the Chinese people. The American left look upon that with adoration and jealousy.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

So totalitarian austerity is the answer to this existential threat? Seems like we’ve been here before. 1917, 1933, postwar China, every tinpot dictatorship ever. It isn’t surprising that the Left is openly embracing anti-semitism now. It’s always been part of that particular playbook.

William said...

Last night on BBC news there was a report about some kind of insulating material that is used to prevent electrical fires in short circuits. I forget the name of the material, but the report stated that when it caught fire that introduced some kind of global warming gas that was 23,000 times more noxious than CO2. This insulating material is used extensively on all those windmills and substations. The material is being phased out, but, like asbestos, we're stuck with it for the foreseeable future. Wouldn't it be funny and ironic if, in our efforts to save the planet, we ended up destroying it......When I was younger, I used to worry about a nuclear conflagration that would destroy humanity. I didn't become pale and anorexic, but I definitely thought it was possible. In our efforts to defeat Nazi Germany, we introduced a weapon into the world that had the possibility--and, according to some, the likelihood--of destroying humanity. Just goes to show you.

Jupiter said...

"How so? I think the left is enraged at him over this article. He's taken BIG risks and exposed himself to a tremendous amount of hatred from Green New Deal types."

What? He's just repeating what the Scientists said. Why would the Green New Deal types
hate him for restating settled Scientific facts? And besides, Chiquita Khrushchev and her Green New Deal buddies don't hate anyone. Their sole motivation is a deep and abiding love for all humankind. Their are no risks involved in disagreeing with them. Not if you don't have a real job, that is.

FullMoon said...

"I run various future scenarios through my brain, apply the constraints of human psychology and political reality, take note of the relentless rise in global energy consumption (thus far, the carbon savings provided by renewable energy have been more than offset by consumer demand),"

Seriously, is nuclear not the obvious answer to less carbon based energy? The argument is always storage of waste as if a solution is impossible.

Edison claimed alternating current was most dangerous thing in the world.Good thing he didn't win that argument.

Paco Wové said...

"He's taken BIG risks and exposed himself to a tremendous amount of hatred from Green New Deal types."

Why? It seems to me that what he's advocating – "Securing fair elections ... Combatting extreme wealth inequality... Shutting down the hate machines on social media...Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons" – fits right in with the GND, which, as I recall, was called "Green" solely as window-dressing.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

I say the following as someone who considers herself a conservationist - not at all a "no regulations!" Republican-type: "climate change" has become a full on religious mania, hasn't it?

Progs have been trending in this direction for a long time, trying this and that religion-substitute over the decades - an entire population of anchorless, utterly deracinated eternal teenagers trying on one secular (or, in a lot of cases, completely secularized "Christian") belief system after another. But this time 'round it's really gone off the deep end - the fervor, the total immersion in the cult, the end-of-days fixation.

The whole demon-hallucinating "white supremacy" pathology is similar, but, ugly as it is, it just seems more transparently cynical. Same crowd of acolytes, though.

JPS said...

Sydney, 11:04:

You’re overthinking it. I’m not sure this is true, but I read (pre-internet days) that sometimes when Pravda was about to tell a particularly good whopper, they liked to preface it with,”As is well known,....”

It’s like that. The Republican position is well known to be evil. Not mistaken or misguided or wrongheaded or bad policy, Evil.

If I had to say what it is, I would venture: The Science (TM) is not as settled as you alarmists day, and even if it is, it doesn’t justify your proposed solutions. Or, put another way, we don’t see most of you clamoring to make the kid of lifestyle changes that would make you feel good about the US, and do nothing at all about China, India, or the developing world.

Straight evil. Borderline Nazi stuff. Only Nazis would want freedom of speech for that kind of speech, which should be prosecuted as racketeering.

Unknown said...

If any of these people were serious, our legislators would be passing laws to mandate 45 mph speed limits, tripling gas taxes, somehow banning air conditioning, and so forth. During the 1973-74 oil embargo, people turned their thermostats down to 60. Who's doing that?

All of this--all of it--is mass hysteria.

Democratic politicians know this issue is a way to peel swing voters away from the GOP. And corporations go along because they don't want to offend crazies.

What someone needs to do is catch Al Gore on a hidden camera laughing about all the schmucks he's ripped off.

Mark said...

If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope

Speaking of Michael Crichton, he retorts (in Jurassic Park) --
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity! Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There’s been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away — all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time.

It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. . . .

You think this is the first time that’s happened? Think about oxygen. . . . When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. . . . This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We’ve been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we’re gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

RMc said...

The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science

Stopped reading there. And I'm no Republican!

Jupiter said...

I like the part about "millions of government-hating Americans". Nothing about a billion inscrutable Chinese, or another billion greedy Indians. It's pretty much me and my AR-15 that spell the end of life as we know it. Glad I could help.

Seeing Red said...

What if the CO2 estimates were off? Too high?

These warnings were true, it would have been over in the 70s.

Dave Begley said...

The people who believe in this stuff are one, or a combination, of the following:

1. Very stupid.
2. Insane.
3. Just not well educated.
4. Unable to think critically.
5 In on the scam either as a politician or business person.
6. Not paying attention and have no sense of history.

I've written here (and elsewhere) that CAGW is a scam. It is a prediction about events in the distant future based upon corrupt data and failed models.

It was predicted by the UN that the country of Bangladesh would be under water today. All sorts of predictions like this have been wrong, but few recall and the media never reminds the public about how wrong these people have been and for such a long time.

Academics are in on the scam because of the research money. The politicians created the federal tax credits which gave us Tesla and $1b in free money (and windmills in Iowa) for Warren Buffett's MidAmerica Energy Co. Wall Street, of course, finances the debt and equity.

All this Green stuff has massively failed in Europe. Very high prices and bad for the economy.

John Hinderaker of Power Line suggested that if CAGW is as bad as the Left claims it is, then the US should bomb the coal plants in China and India. I put that very question to Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, and he like my sentiment but not the exact idea.

But the Green Leap Forward was a stupid mistake by AOC. It guarantees a Trump victory.

Ann Althouse said...

My comment assumes you've either read the whole article or have carefully read the part I've excerpted.

If you just read that he believes what we're told the "consensus" of climate scientists believe and plugged in your skepticism position, I'm not talking to you. You don't know what I'm talking about. If you don't understand why Franzen is getting excoriate by the LEFT, you could find out by googling.

daskol said...

This piece reminds me of of this long article by George Packer on NYC schools. Progressives who feel strongly that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the prevailing orthodoxy, but are still constrained by dogma that they can’t, however intelligent they may be, reason themselves out of the dilemma no matter how they twist and squirm.

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

Franzen seems to be falling prey to the Althousian Deception, that confuses personal virtue with political will and fails to understand and accept the truth that infrastructure arrangements never come about by their own or through the market alone and are government choices. It is a policy/government choice to subsidize fossil fuels, just as it was a choice to allow for zoning and build electric grids or paved roads. It is a laziness that accepts the lie that these are personal and social preferences rather than the actions of a purposely corrupt and useless government. Purposely. This government was purposely made made corrupt and useless by a political party (Republican) and philosophy (oligarchic conservatism) that benefited from that corruption and uselessness.

I am sick and tired of the lazy conservatives lapping up corporate propaganda that brainwashes them into thinking that this country ever did anything great without massive government involvement and investment. From the New Deal ending end-of-life poverty and inevitable sickness for the poor and elderly to the Civil War or the Revolution and the Constitution itself. These were progressive, active, massive efforts to upend sclerotic and corrupt arrangements entirely and to great success. They are what defined America and made it great until the foreign, un-American conservative philosophy took over for the last several decades to convince America that a lazy faith in the richest of the rich was the only thing going for us, and that any national shortcoming must therefore just be a personal failure. Fuck that.

Conservatism is a pernicious, alien and destructive philosophy to the American spirit and it needs to be excised immediately. It's holding back not only the country but the fate of the world.

Mark said...

Aside from "saving the planet" actually causing harm to the people they purportedly are doing this for by lowering their quality of life and doing things like putting food products in our gas tanks, there is the fact that we could spend trillions of dollars and decades of making life less convenient in making all the "damage" to the environment only to see it all blow up in our faces in a day with sun spot or other solar activity, or some volcanic eruption, all of which we have absolutely no control over.

What we do or do not do is laughable considering that the universe sees us as an insignificant speck.

YoungHegelian said...

[O]verwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting.... Call me a pessimist or call me a humanist, but I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon....

Add to that list "lives of perpetual poverty" (which may be implied by the far too anodyne phrase "severe curtailment of their familiar life styles"), and, yes, no one is going to willingly accept the changes necessary to prevent the "Climate Apocalypse".

Franzen at least has the honesty to see that there is no way these drastic changes can be made in democratic first world countries. George Monbiot is another author who more or less agrees, & more than hints that authoritarian measures will be necessary.

But, hells bells, will even authoritarian measures work? The communist & fascist dictatorships of the past promised necessary suffering now for a utopian future later. The eco-dictators promise nothing but scarcity forever. I'm not sure that any government can survive long with a populace that's lost hope.

Large swaths of the Left are now in a deep apocalyptic funk, not unlike previous Christian Millenialists.

Michael K said...

Has he considered suicide ?

Yancey Ward said...

I don't think the push back from the Left against Franzen is authentic, Ms. Althouse. Franzen's essay is simply a prop being used to advance the politics. It is all fake outrage.

Beth B said...

Amazing how the solution to this catastrophe just happens to be everything on his political bucket list. What a coincidence!

He's jostled the buckets of his co-religionists, though, by taking away their self-serving fantasy of being the "better people," who get to save the world, one reusable hemp shopping bag at a time. Even though they should be air-humping this idea that they get everything else they want, anyway - including the continuation of their lording over the unwashed masses with their wokeness. Still, it has to gall a little that those silly sacrifices, from giving up plastic straws to not having children, is/was all for nothing. That's gotta be a kick in the crotch to their collective ego. No wonder a hissy fit is being thrown! He's pissing on somebody's messiah complex.

Big Mike said...

Mr. Franzen should ask himself how many of the predictions made in the 1990s have come true? How many made earlier in this century have come true? Essentially zero, right? That’s the real case for doing nothing.o

Ann Althouse said...

I added a link to a Vox article to help you understand why the LEFT is pissed at Franzen for this.

chuckR said...

@Jupiter
Check with Bjorn Lomborg about crossing the left's rigid unthinking. His position from several years ago was that we need to accommodate the change, but without Franzen's lefty slant. He got more than his 2 minutes of hate for that. More recently, he calculated that you'd need to use about 7100 light plastic bags (two uses, carting food home and then lining a wastebasket before incineration) to do the same environmental damage as one cotton bag - 20000 if that bag were made of organic cotton. That is ROM for first world countries, but 90% of ocean plastic waste comes from eight rivers in Africa and Asia, not the first world.

Mark said...

If any of these people were serious, our legislators would be passing laws to mandate 45 mph speed limits, tripling gas taxes, somehow banning air conditioning, and so forth.

Here is Metro D.C., one of the local governments -- proudly progressive -- wants to pass legislation to make air conditioning a human right. Specifically, to require landlords to install AC in all their rental units.

Wince said...

Althouse said...
He's taken BIG risks and exposed himself to a tremendous amount of hatred from Green New Deal types.


Have to agree with Paco Wové. Show me where he's incurred such wrath or merely threatened the rice bowl of one green energy grifter.

Saving the planet is the window dressing for socialism, as admitted by AOC's own (former?) Rasputin, Saikat Chakrabarti.

Franzen's is a different play with the same goal line in mind.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Lost me right there. I am not sure I know the Republican Party's position on climate science. Do they have one? What is evil about it?”

What’s their position about it? Likely crickets. The party’s leaders don’t want to be laughed at by their progressive friends who worship this, nor be turned out because their constituents think that anyone who believes this nonsense is part of the problem, and not part of the solution. Except, of course, for Mitt Romney. I am a bit cynical about Mormons and wealth. They seem worse than the Calvinists about seeing wealth as a reward for a virtuous life, very possibly because of their tithing - the more they make, the more their church makes.

As others have noted here, the problem from a Republican or libertarian point of view is that the left doesn’t care if it is global warming cooling, climate change, or anything else. They very openly use whatever the latest scare is to push for massive socialization of our country in order to fight the calamity du jour. And that is why agreeing with and buying into the left’s scare tactics is considered part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

Ann Althouse said...

Franzen has come into conflict with environmentalists before.

One thing is that he's a bird enthusiast and is very skewed pro-bird.

Mark said...

Yes, that George Packer piece warrants (rather extended, multi-part) discussion.

narciso said...

Franzen will be happy, the houthis took half of the kingdoms oil exports offline, last night.

Big Mike said...

If you just read that he believes what we're told the "consensus" of climate scientists believe and plugged in your skepticism position, I'm not talking to you.

Nor am I talking to you.

narciso said...

So will mullah mckibben.

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

Crichton is delusional. As long as he wants to pick and choose his planetary histories and what's important about them, he might've picked up on the fact that out of all the planets in the known universe, the norm is not life but lifelessness. It was hugely lucky that life evolved here esp. in the diversity and complexity that it did, and every evolutionary turn that made this planet richer is a testament to that luck. With optimism as gauzy as his one might ask how he didn't manage to cure his own mortal bout with cancer. Talk about arrogant.

Anyone working in biology knows that the likelihood of ecological catastrophe or even a deleterious mutation is thousands of times greater than the happier outcomes. Sure, a rock will be around between Venus and Mars but the faith in assuming it will always be as habitable or advantageous to US is ludicrous. We can help make that outcome more likely, or we can keep fucking it up like we're doing now and have done countless times in the past. Apparently the failures haven't gotten as much of his attention as the victories.

Mark said...

out of all the planets in the known universe, the norm is not life but lifelessness. It was hugely lucky that life evolved here esp. in the diversity and complexity that it did

Absolutely, that intelligent life exists here and is thriving is on the order of winning the MegaMillions lotto every day for a hundred years. That's how improbable it is.

Some people might say, then, that it more than "hugely lucky."

Ralph L said...

Once you accept that we’ve lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning.

This is ambiguous. Does he mean these actions are more important than suppressing CO2 emissions or just more than they were before?

mockturtle said...

Once again: George Carlin on Saving the Planet

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

Absolutely, that intelligent life exists here and is thriving is on the order of winning the MegaMillions lotto every day for a hundred years. That's how improbable it is.

And that's why the donor class running the Republican party and our government generally is so evil to push a line of absolute faith in the idea of merrily and blithely terraforming our increasingly carbonated atmosphere as a risk-free endeavor. As long as the fat cats pushing this suicide (the Kochs) made theirs off of it, they seem to conclude that it's therefore a very great and wonderful thing to do.

Dave Begley said...

Franzen is a fucking idiot. Isn't he the thief? The plagiarist?

His theme: One must support every left wing idea and policy and somehow tie it back to CAGW.

He does make one smart point: He doesn't want a deadline for the end of the world because all of the past deadlines have been massively wrong.

Let's review some of his points:

"maintain functioning democracies", Yes. Trump won. And will win again. Thanks Founders for our Republic - not a strict democracy - and our Electoral College.

"functioning legal systems" Yeah, can we reverse that 5-4 vote making carbon dioxide a pollutant.

"Securing fair elections is a climate action." Yeah, repeal Motor Voter and other cheating by the Dems that allows all sorts of illegals to vote and other cheating at the ballot box.

"Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action." Yeah, I want to take 90% of your net worth and 70% of your income. Aren't you rich enough already.

And, of course, the Obamas just dropped $12m for a beach front house on Martha's Vineyard. Barack knows the real score.

narciso said...

Skydragon worshipers, will sacrifice you and your family

buwaya said...

I understand Franzen.
I understand why someone could or would complain from the left.

None of them, Franzen or the left or for that matter many here, understand technology and how it develops.

Tech is revolutionary and overthrows limits constantly. Even in stodgy steam turbine systems. You can plan all you like, and then suddenly fracking kills all your DOE industrial policy white papers from the previous year, which happened.

The role of government in all this is not, I am convinced, to implement the development of technological systems, but in most cases to constrain and limit them. And this is not just through government-owned energy systems (the usual case in most of the world), or through government-licensed monopolies or their regulation-protected equivalents. Government control and political factors suppresses every part of the energy production-transmission-use cycle, everywhere.

Without government imposed constraints energy everywhere would be much cheaper, and we would have a host of things as standard, or temporary tacit standards, that we have not thought of yet, because they were aborted before birth.

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

mock turtle the alleged scientist gets her science from George Carlin?

Can she explain why George Carlin's science couldn't cure his heart failure?

"Again," George Carlin didn't disagree with the idea that a rock would be here, just probably not one on which humans would be able to sustain themselves. If she's ok with that then let her advocate for killing off the human race as he did.

Paco Wové said...

"you could find out by googling"

Well... okay. Left-wing propaganda organ Vox has this piece, which didn't really help much. As best as I can tell, any criticism of the Green New Deal is a bridge too far, even if Franzen essentially just restates its alleged goals in different terms. Apparently Franzen isn't dancing to just the right tune, or he improvised a few steps. And besides, he's a white man, why is he allowed to speak!? (Now the Vox piece really goes to town.)

Jesus Christ, these are awful, scary people.

narciso said...

Its the egotism that we are powerful enough to really reorder the climate for good or ill.

tim maguire said...

OR...

you could recognize that the earth has many self-correcting systems and regenerative capacities

AND

that prosperity has contributed to the recovery of nature, while poverty is destructive of it

AND

that humans are a part of nature with a right to live on earth with neither the need nor the obligation to live carbon-neutral lives

AND

recognize that wholesale reductions in our quality if life are neither necessary nor advisable to save the planet.

buwaya said...

For the record, let it be said yet again, that the donor class worldwide supports the US Democrats overwhelmingly. The idea that US Republucans are disproportionately supported by the donor class is idiotic, or a truly vile lie.

D 2 said...

The whole adaptation vs mitigation debate is pretty much a non starter if you find yourself in a room of raving idealists. Idealists LOVE LOVE LOVE mitigation because it fits the need for a cadre of virtuous leaders. "Mitigation" requires / implies the State nudging the peasants er uh I mean people to behave in certain ways.

Mitigation is done by policy pronouncement in beautiful rooms on a multimillion dollar campus. Adaptation can be, but can be more about what can be done by individuals choice (not edict) or even at community level. Also: Adaptation ain't going to work every time. It's messy and probably there's got to be a willing work squad of sweaty guys and girls to make it happen (ditches don't dig themselves) who probably enjoy a less fancy brand of alcohol at the end of the week.

People who see human life as adaptation don't generally have to think up why they have to justify flying to Rio for a conference, cause they just don't. But they generally don't blink at the idea of the need for trucks in town, and yes a good supply of fuels to move said trucks where it meets their wants.

The parts quoted by Althouse sounds like window dressing for people who want to step back from the more radical idealists who have been openly espousing population control and moratoriums and (ultimately) state control over energy use because they know that shit don't sell, but such writers still seek to stay on the "right side" of the debate.

The use of the word evil is projection. What is evil is hating your fellow humanity that you either (a) wish they die so as to save the world from future catastrophe or b) bound them into slavery by rationing their energy consumption choices, until, ultimately, you are Lord and Master over who gets to eat what, and who has rights of mobility.

It's nice when you are the Lord, and the peasants can't leave the manor because they are your feudal serfs um I mean plantation slaves um I mean they have insufficient carbon credits.

Adaptation is the human spirit in its many forms done through history. Yes it is assured that it isn't going to go right for 100% of the time, but unlike "mitigation" it allows for people to buy in, where they have skin in the game. Mitigation is for status seeking statists.

whitney said...

Jonathan Franzen is not giving up air travel because he is an avid birder so he travels to remote spots in the world to capture a glimpse of rare birds. He just wants you to give up air travel. How's that for elitism

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

Jesus Christ, these are awful, scary people.

Incurious people with a lazy faith in the idea that rich industrialists will just magically do their bidding are a hell of a lot scarier. And much more awful.

Dave Begley said...

Read the Vox piece. Summary: The Left is mad at JH because he is not falling completely in line with the rest of them and is not insane the way they are all insane.

mockturtle said...

Buwaya, right as usual, observes: Tech is revolutionary and overthrows limits constantly. Even in stodgy steam turbine systems. You can plan all you like, and then suddenly fracking kills all your DOE industrial policy white papers from the previous year, which happened.

Which is one reason working in R&D can be a tenuous career. I spent half my adult life working in pulp and paper chemistry and printing technology. Now, the company has, sensibly, jettisoned that part of the industry.

Michael K said...

The Vox piece has a teaser link to tell how the "Trump family is profiting off the presidency."

My understanding is that his net worth is down a billion dollars but nobody expects the left to understand profits.

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

you could recognize that the earth has many self-correcting systems and regenerative capacities

This sounds like a late-night infomercial for selling magical vitamins. I wonder what those "capacities" are.

that humans are a part of nature with a right to live on earth with neither the need nor the obligation to live carbon-neutral lives

I'm fine with people who advocate for creating more carbon than those carbon-neutralizing trees can dispose of, as long as they put plastic bags over their heads to deal with their own carbon in an individualized, virtuous way that properly demonstrates their sense of personal responsibility for addressing this problem.

Jupiter said...

"If you don't understand why Franzen is getting excoriate by the LEFT, you could find out by googling."

I wouldn't exactly call it a hatefest. They do seem to feel that he is not helping the cause any, but they aren't boycotting his books. There's this;

"Some men just want to watch the world bird"

That's gonna leave a mark!

narciso said...


A warning from the past


https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/sarah-palin-advocates-new-energy-policy-to-thwart-iranian-threat?print=true

Yancey Ward said...

Ms. Althouse, the Vox piece is fake outrage. It uses Franzen as a prop to advocate even more action along the lines for which Franzen advocates. In other words, Vox is trying to one up Franzen, not really attack his positions. People who have ever been sales reps will recognize this technique.

Michael K said...

They very openly use whatever the latest scare is to push for massive socialization of our country in order to fight the calamity du jour.

They even admitted it. Or rather AOC's brain, Chakrabarti admitted it.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti admitted recently that the true motivation behind introducing the Green New Deal is to overhaul the “entire economy.”

Chakrabarti said that addressing climate change was not Ocasio-Cortez’s top priority in proposing the Green New Deal during a meeting with Washington governor Jay Inslee.

“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Chakrabarti said to Inslee’s climate director, Sam Ricketts, according to a Washington Post reporter who attended the meeting for a profile published Wednesday.

tim maguire said...

Ok, I read it past obligatory “evil Republicans” virtue signalling. It’s a slog without much payoff. Franzen seems to be saying it’s too late to save the earth and there is no point in trying so let’s start living now the life we’ll need after judgment day comes.

Since his first principles are bunk, there is not much to be gained by continuing on.

narciso said...

That misunderstands the comtext of alfreds line, its about revolutionary committment yoi cant bribe him you cant persuade him, you can only kill him, in the bond films stromberg and drax wanted to cull the world the save the world, so did the villain in kingsman

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Perfect Phone Call said...

The idea that we should tread carefully when deciding whether we dare offend a billionaire oil man regarding his business's derangement of our planet's temperature-regulating systems is the dumbest and most asinine nonsense I've ever heard. Anyone afraid to do so deserves to have generations of grandkids choking on dust and failing to stay afloat above the floods. I think it's a fine example of evolution that people so dismissive of their environment will probably not have progeny who can survive what they're doing to it. It's definitely an example with many precedents.

rcocean said...

"Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions."

Looks like the Left considers ol' Frazen a "hate machine" after this, and want to shut HIM down. Too bad. Really.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Jupiter: Nothing about a billion inscrutable Chinese, or another billion greedy Indians. It's pretty much me and my AR-15 that spell the end of life as we know it. Glad I could help.

Well, that's the bugger, ain't it? If the Chinese and Indians aren't interested (they aren't) in "going green" and reversing whatever recent highly energy-intensive strides they've made in extending "developed nation" living standards to more and more of their populations, then everybody in the developed world could kill themselves, and the demon of climate change would not be appeased in the slightest.

Another point in favor of the view that this is a farcical playing-out of a deep-seated religious neurosis, not legitimate concern about the environment. For some of the players, that is - there are also the totalitarian power-freaks and good old-fashioned con-artists on the make, manipulating the religious nutjobs.

rcocean said...

I'll be more extreme in my posts, this they're now being moderated. Never do something, if someone else will do it for you, That's my motto.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Idiot on a mind-leash said

Conservatism is a pernicious, alien and destructive philosophy to the American spirit and it needs to be excised immediately.

We rest our case.

Conserve liberty? the left want to exterminate you.

narciso said...

Im not the one that dubbed mullah mckibben, if computer projections can cause such panic, what will result as solution, the donner party protocol.

JAORE said...

The green new deal makes perfect sense. First we require the trillions of dollars needed are in singles. Then we do NOTHING with them. It sequesters all the carbon needed to print the money AND limits the monetary effects of mass printing of money on the economy.

mccullough said...

Frannzen’s piece is satire.

A nice send up of Progressives

narciso said...

What i was referring to
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-middle-east-49699429

Bruce Hayden said...

“Seriously, is nuclear not the obvious answer to less carbon based energy? The argument is always storage of waste as if a solution is impossible.”

The answer, as always, is to complete the permitting of the Yucca Mountain facility. It appears to be essentially complete. It has been documented to be safe for humans for the next million years. What is holding things up? Apparently Harry Reid did a deal with Barack Obama in 2007/2008 about the timing of the Nevada primary, and in return, got a pledge from Obama to shut down finalizing the facility for acceptance of nuclear waste. Initially, President Obama tried to do it with his infamous pen. He lost, since federal statutes have provided for the Yucca Mountain facility for storing nuclear waste. But by the time that he could attempt a legislative fix, the Dems had lost control of Congress, and Harry Reid was no longer Senate Majority Leader. Currently it looks like opening Yucca Flats has luke warm Trump Administration support, but enough Congressional opposition that nothing seems to be happening.

This is actually more heartening than I thought that it would be. A decade or so ago, I remember reading that Sen Reid had killed the Yucca Mountain facility, right before it was ready to be opened. He and Obama appeared to have tried hard to have done it. But because the facility is specified in federal statutes, instead of through administrative rule making, they were only able to indefinitely postpone its opening. That means that if and when there is a political will for a nuclear waste depository, we have one pretty much ready to go. Of course, most of the opposition to Yucca Mountain comes from the same watermelon environmentalist trying to eliminate our usage of fossil fuels.

Michael K said...

I would call the greenies and climate alarmists a new religion but I am not sure they even believe their own BS. Of course there are fanatics, a few around here, but they are just crazies like the anti-vaxxer who through menstrual blood around the CA legislature yesterday in protest.

buwaya said...

Historical-technological change and of course the overwhelming powers of nature are things no human entity can control. These will proceed independent of any will we screaming pack of monkeys can settle on, and make us all look like the silly creatures we are, by making all our old arguments moot every few decades.

China, for instance, after pursuing decades of population-growth-suppression (what environmental policy is more to the point than that?) now finds itself with the prospect of a population reproducing decisively below replacement rate, and is starting to get desperate about it. Beware what you wish for.

There is no reliable mapping of outcome vs intent of public policy, for these reasons, as well as our basic incompetence and confusion.

Robert Cook said...

"No matter how bad the environment gets, there will be some life, some type of single cell bacteria, that will survive and start the whole evolutionary process over again. This surviving life will adjust to the new climate."

Well, of course! The only reason many are concerned about global climate change now is that it is predicted to kill off many or most extant life forms...including us.

The planet itself will remain and reshape itself, as it has done numerous times in its history. New life forms will evolve. From the cosmic perspective, nothing significant will have happened.

Michael K said...

Whoops. I see moderation is back and we will do something else while the hostess goes for a long walk.

buwaya said...

Historical-technological change and of course the overwhelming powers of nature are things no human entity can control. These will proceed independent of any will we screaming pack of monkeys can settle on, and make us all look like the silly creatures we are, by making all our old arguments moot every few decades.

China, for instance, after pursuing decades of population-growth-suppression (what environmental policy is more to the point than that?) now finds itself with the prospect of a population reproducing decisively below replacement rate, and is starting to get desperate about it. Beware what you wish for.

There is no reliable mapping of outcome vs intent of public policy, for these reasons, as well as our basic incompetence and confusion.

Ralph L said...

I suppose they're afraid people who believe Franzen will decide to eat, drink, and be merry.

The Chinese have put a lot of money into electric vehicle & battery production. One wonders if it was to reduce smog in their cities or to be in a better position to profit from Western mandates. Since their electricity is largely from coal, I'm inclined to the latter.

Dave Begley said...

Bernie Sanders tweeted in August that he will prosecute oil and gas executives for the damage they caused to the environment. Huh?

What damage? Where's the mens rea?

The Left is insane and that needs to be pointed out repeatedly by the sane.

Rosalyn C. said...

I don't see how a catastrophe is preventable in the next 12 years when the US is only responsible for about 14% of manmade CO2 emissions. That fact never seems to get mentioned much by the GND people.

The Chinese are the biggest polluters and we certainly have no control over the Chinese who seem to be operating on a much longer time frame and apparently a different psychology. See NY Times, "China Unveils an Ambitious Plan to Curb Climate Change Emissions" By Keith Bradsher and Lisa Friedman Dec. 19, 2017
The Chinese are working on a system of carbon tax credits in the power generation sector which so is far not producing great results.

And then there is this: "an MIT News article written on April 22, 2016 discussed recent MIT studies on the true impact that the Paris Agreement had on global temperature increase. Using their Integrated Global System Modeling (IGSM) to predict temperature increase results in 2100, they used a wide range of scenarios that included no effort towards climate change past 2030, and full extension of the Paris Agreement past 2030. They concluded that the Paris Agreement would cause temperature decrease by about 0.6 to 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to a no-effort-scenario, with only a 0.1 °C change in 2050 for all scenarios. They concluded that, although beneficial, there was strong evidence that the goal provided by the Paris Agreement could not be met in the future; under all scenarios, warming would be at least 3.0 °C by 2100.[85]How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make? from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Agreement

------

"Franzen, of course, has to stick with his secular religion, which blocks off a world of options and possibilities beyond those he permits himself to consider. In public anyway." I took that statement to mean humanity uniting and asking for help from a higher power. Imagine the ridicule he'd get if he had suggested prayer.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

The Apocalypse Syndrome is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. There is a fundamental need to be in the know, to place yourself precisely at the locus of stupendous events. From the millennial panic of AD 1000 to the doomsday cults of the 19th century to millennial panic redux 2000, people think they see the end coming and are compelled by their own perspicacity to scream it at the top of their lungs.

In a hundred years, when the world is clicking along fine (at least as fine as it normally does), the climate change prophets will be viewed as benign doofusses that nobody really believed. A certain view will hold that the benign doofusses led us to turn the apocalypse aside. Whatever. The universe is going to do to us what it is going to do to us, and we will hang on regardless.

Earnest Prole said...

But blowing off someone as part of the Left saves you the trouble of actually thinking.

JPS said...

Prof. Althouse, 11:36:

"I added a link to a Vox article to help you understand why the LEFT is pissed at Franzen for this."

Thank you - and sorry for not addressing those reasons in the first place - but I kind of guessed the first one: If he's right that it's too late to avoid an apocalypse, then that takes the steam out of urgent CO2-control. It suggests that instead we adapt the best we can, and refocus on things we can actually change. Which, except for the premise, is roughly the lukewarmers' suggested policy.

The great thing is, they file this under "Franzen is wrong on the science," but they don't make a scientific rejoinder at all; they seem to say they don't like where he's going with this. And they cannot abide the idea that the controversy is over what to do, because they want to say, Science, an impartial and unchallengeable god in a great white lab coat, decrees we must do this.

"Franzen is wrong on the politics.

"Franzen didn’t seem to have a firm grasp of the details of the Green New Deal, and failed to offer a full and fair characterization of the plan."

In fairness to Franzen, neither did AOC and her crew when they first unveiled it.

"Franzen is wrong on the psychology"

No, actually, if he were wrong on the psychology, they wouldn't be worried people are going to listen to him.

"Franzen is, well, Franzen."

Nice they should be so candid.

"If the New Yorker wants to publish Franzen, that’s its prerogative, but, some people asked, why not hear from a climate scientist? If not a climate scientist, why a well-off older white man and not, say, a young woman of color...."

Great! Can I stop listening to Al Gore, ever again, then?

Oh, wait. He's useful to you, whereas Franzen is undermining the narrative.

buwaya said...

The problem with professional writers, or successful literary writers anyway, is that they are trained and selected mainly for style and skill in expression. Fairly often they are also good storytellers.

Ideas, creativity, perspective, those are different fields that only sometimes overlap in the set of talents.

Temujin said...

The critics’ anger seemed to coalesce around four main complaints, three of them empirical in nature: Franzen is wrong on the science, on the politics, and on the psychology of human behavior as it pertains to climate change.

Yes, the people who have yet to explain the emails from East Anglia discussing the need to hide the decline want to tell us how this information can be used politically and psychologically.

There are too many instances of data manipulation over the years. Inaccurate temp readings (apparently there are some moving standards for how to do this). And, most importantly- doubters, once the catalyst of scientific proofs are, in this movement, criminals who should be locked up and not heard from.

Very much like a religion, isn't it? Based on a bit of facts mixed with a lot of faith. Ready to remove or kill the apostates.

Temujin said...

The critics’ anger seemed to coalesce around four main complaints, three of them empirical in nature: Franzen is wrong on the science, on the politics, and on the psychology of human behavior as it pertains to climate change.

Yes, the people who have yet to explain the emails from East Anglia discussing the need to hide the decline want to tell us how this information can be used politically and psychologically.

There are too many instances of data manipulation over the years. Inaccurate temp readings (apparently there are some moving standards for how to do this). And, most importantly- doubters, once the catalyst of scientific proofs are, in this movement, criminals who should be locked up and not heard from.

Very much like a religion, isn't it? Based on a bit of facts mixed with a lot of faith. Ready to remove or kill the apostates.

Clyde said...

I was working on the bundle-sorter at work yesterday and saw that Time magazine has a new doom-and-gloom climate change issue out. The lead article is a fanciful look back from 2050 at how the world has managed to muddle through despite rising temperatures and seas.

stevew said...

He says we are past the point of no return so any action is futile, that's why they are mad at him, even though many of them say the same thing. The big difference is the Left wants to use the crisis to gain power, Franzen seems to argue "don't bother".

I'm with Mike upthread, and Crighton, rejecting the hubris and vanity of the climate alarmists.

Michael said...

Climate change alarmism is simply anti-capitalism in drag. Global market capitalism has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the past 50 years, so if you still want to be anti-capitalist you have to believe it is causing some future catastrophe. Preferably far enough into the future that its failure to arrive is not too inconvenient.

Roy Lofquist said...

I have "Dust in the Wind" on my quickbar. I like to listen to music while I browse.

traditionalguy said...

Franzen is blowing the Reality Trumpet. That interferes with the Revealed UN IPCC religious vision heard simultaneously by 97% of all educated bribe recipients. Any % of truth destroys a carefully constructed 100 billion dollar propaganda program. Franzen must be destroyed.

And Trump laughed.

CWJ said...

tim maguire wrote -

"Ok, I read it past obligatory “evil Republicans” virtue signalling. It’s a slog without much payoff. Franzen seems to be saying it’s too late to save the earth and there is no point in trying so let’s start living now the life we’ll need after judgment day comes."

That was my take as well. I therefore assumed that the left was mad at him for advocating adaptation over mitigation (H/T commentor D 2). It's another way of saying centrally directed government intervention would be ineffective. On that score, his thoughts are as deadly to the left as any "climate denier's."

Also like Tim, I reject Franzen's foundational premise.

Josephbleau said...

Energy is not consumed on earth ( conservation laws) But it’s entropy is reduced on earth, making it less useful to the first law.

AOC and Algor tell me that the climate game will be over in 10 years and then it will be too late, is this not the exact same thing that Franzen is saying? It’s too late, don’t worry be happy, when disaster manifests, clean it up using year 2200 dollars.

daskol said...

To the extent that activist lefties are angry with Franzen it’s purely about short-term political matters. Intelligent progressives all agree completely with what he’s said, and speak freely in these terms amongst themselves. It’s unhelpful to the cause to be this candid in a public forum because it undermines the Dem 2020 electoral strategy: the tubes need to believe in the urgent necessity of massive collective action to forestall catastrophe, and besides it’s also unhelpful to acknowledge in a forum read so widely that the stated objectives of things like the Green New Deal are mere pretext. Basically, he’s like an actor reading from the stage directions. Ironically, I suspect that he only wrote this piece because he is so fully in the cocoon that he failed to realize the danger of conceding the pointlessness of things like renewables and carbon offsets in a world in which many people remain skeptical of an imminent catastrophe.

FullMoon said...

All comments are moderated. The fast flow of instantly appearing comments is over.

I can see crazy genius's are still allowed to comment. Thanks for that, was concerned I would have to find another outlet ..

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

young h said

Franzen at least has the honesty to see that there is no way these drastic changes can be made in democratic first world countries. George Monbiot is another author who more or less agrees, & more than hints that authoritarian measures will be necessary.

But, hells bells, will even authoritarian measures work? The communist & fascist dictatorships of the past promised necessary suffering now for a utopian future later. The eco-dictators promise nothing but scarcity forever. I'm not sure that any government can survive long with a populace that's lost hope.

Large swaths of the Left are now in a deep apocalyptic funk, not unlike previous Christian Millenialists.


What is a Christian Millenialist?

ALP said...

I'm with Limited Perspective. Life is tenacious - any gardener knows this. I think there probably will be some sort of mass 'die off' of our species from which we will bounce back. Gaia will fix this herself. Now if the situation shown in "Snowpiercer" ever comes to be - all bets are off. If we implement some sort of grand 'fix the environment' gesture...oooh boy that may do us all in.

ALP said...

"Kindness to neighbors and respect for the land...."

The three words that start this sentence are very poignant. Kindness to neighbors. Fat chance! Too many people invested in political tribalism. All the best science in the world won't save us if we can't be kind to those near us.

Skeptical Voter said...

Thank you for the link to Vox. I skimmed the Franzen piece. Smiled--well really I smirked--at Franzen's statement that securing fair elections was part of fighting climate change. Yeah baby, that's the ticket! Oh well, may as well get the whole laundry list in.

Then I went to Vox. Whooo boy! Franzen was "wrong on the science, wrong on the politics and wrong on human psychology". Yup--he's wrong un alright!

But the New Yorke came in for a broadside as well. How dare they offer those column inches to a novelist who was not only not a scientist--but was also a white guy! The New Yorker (at least according to Vox) should have offered the column inches to someone more credible--like say a "woman of color". But somehow Stacy Abrams or Maxine Waters didn't offer to write a piece for the New Yorker.

Ah well--always nice to read some laugh out loud stuff on a Saturday morning. For Franzen and Vox--when the world dies due to "climate change" life as we know it may end. But at least the cockroaches will survive.

h said...

I see quite a bit of wisdom in Althouse commenters here, and (if interpreted correctly) in the quotes from the article.

There are those (can I say, "on the right"? but represented in the Althouse commenters) who believe that there is no climate crisis, and if one is found it is likely caused by natural "forcings" like sun activity; for these no policy reaction at all is justified.

At the other end of the spectrum are those described by Franzen. I'm extrapolating from Franzen here, but these "Green new deal" types do believe that every progressive policy they favor is justified by the climate change crisis: taxing the wealthy, open borders, eliminating gasoline-powered transport, opposing voter ID, racial reparations, eliminating the gender gap in wages.
Franzen points out how unrealistic it is to expect that "[O]verwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting."

Franzen seems to imply -- and several commenters have this point more forcefully -- that there is a realistic third ground: adapt to climate change using human ingenuity and new technology. So (as the dutch discovered centuries ago) if sea levels rise, build dikes. (And many other examples.) The two extremes don't like this: from one direction it is unnecessary because climate change is a hoax and will never occur; from the other direction (and here's where I believe Franzen has riled up his friends on the left) if it is possible to adapt to climate change (with new technology) then all of these arguments (we need to oppose voter ID, we need to support open borders, we need racial reparations -- in order to fight climate change catastrophy) go right out the window. We don't need to do any of those things, we just let climate change occur and then we adapt to it so that our lives go on pretty much as they have been.

Tom T. said...

"I don't think the push back from the Left against Franzen is authentic...."

I don't know. This may be like with Beto and AR-15s at the debate -- he said the quiet part out loud.

Sebastian said...

"If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping..."

What does it mean to "care about the planet and about the animals who live on it"?

The planet was there before us, will be there after, and does not care in the least about our care. If I were to "care about the planet," I would presume to know what the planet needs, hence an ideal state that would be right for the planet. But how in the world could I decide what the right state of the planet ought to be?

Similarly, I cannot possibly care about "the animals who live on it," certainly not in general. For example, animals kill and eat other animals; which ones should I favor? Some animals are out-of-control pests, for us and for the ecosystems they inhabit--should I care about them? I believe in evolution, including natural selection; for evolutionists, what is the point of caring about beings that may well be bound for extinction by ordinary evolutionary processes?

Of course, the statement and the questions are beside the point. As Franzen demonstrates, and honest progs have said all along, the point of prog climate mongering is to seize control, to impose their view of how we should live on all of us, by any means necessary, with any grandiose rhetorical justification at their disposal.

The only animals progs do not care for are the deplorables.



Paul Ciotti said...

I knew that when I started to read his article Franzen would never mention over-population as causing any problems on the planet. But if we only had 2 billion people on Earth instead of 8 billion we wouldn't have to worry about CO2 emissions from coal and oil. We would have all the clean water we need, all the fresh air, coral reefs swirling with fish and brand new glaciers up the old wazoo.

Franzen, like everyone else on the left, never mentions over-population because someone might infer that he therefore opposes illegal immigration, which the left never, ever opposes for any reason, any time, cross my heart and hope to die.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Securing and consolidating all power to righteous leftists will assure our glorious pristine future.

Big Mike said...

Intelligent progressives all agree ...

There is such a person??? Could have fooled me!

FullMoon said...

I knew that when I started to read his article Franzen would never mention over-population as causing any problems on the planet. ...
Franzen, like everyone else on the left, never mentions over-population..


May not mention it but they are doing their part to minimize it:

FOX 59 reports:

Thousands of fetal remains found at home of former South Bend abortion doctor

Thousands of fetal remains were found at the home of a former South Bend abortion doctor, WSBT reports.

The remains were discovered while family members were searching through the home of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who passed away on Sept. 3. His home is in Will County, Illinois.

WSBT reports Kloper used to practice at the Women’s Pavilion in South Bend. His medical license was suspended in 2015 after he was accused of failing to report an abortion on a 13-year-old girl.

rehajm said...

Spend five minutes with the science and you learn the apocalyptic scenarios aren't part of the science, only part of the political narrative. Politics needs the apocalyptic narrative to sell the catastrophic policy. It’s the only way.

flophouse philosopher said...

The premise of Franzen's article strikes me as simple common sense. If you're a leftist believer in human-caused climate change, then a moment's reflection about human nature should tell you that there is nothing that we can do prevent continuing climate change, much less reverse the change that has already occurred. "Green New Deal" or not, human beings will continue to dig and pump all of the carbon fuels out of the ground and burn them. Even if climate change fanatics could succeed in passing and enforcing laws to make people in the prosperous West drastically decrease their consumption, the slack would be picked up by the rest of the world. There are four times as many Chinese and Indians as prosperous Westerners, and there are more people in the rest of the world than in China, India and the West put together. All of that mass of humanity are not going to cut their consumption -- they're going to raise it as high as they can. So if you're a rational believer in climate change, you ought stop living in a dreamworld where you are magically going to stop the change with words and wishes, and start making sensible plans about how to address the change as it happens.

If you're a right-wing denier of climate change, you still ought to acknowledge that lots of people disagree with you, not all of them crazy or stupid, and that there are at least a few data points that suggest that they might be right. So you ought to recognize that there is some possibility that you may be wrong, and you ought to start making sensible plans about how to address climate change if it does actually happen.

That has always seemed irrefutable to me, yet Franzen's article is one of the first times that I've seen that position articulated. The hysterical hostility to it from both left and right tells me that there is little hope that sensible planning will ever occur, and that if the climate apocalypse does occur, any response to it will be desperate and ad hoc, and the human misery that it causes will be much greater than ought to have been.

Where there does seem plenty of room to disagree with Franzen is with the measures that he proposes to address the problem. Opening the borders, multiplying genders and redefining gender roles, heightening racial resentments, silencing conservative voices and stifling criticism of the left-wing press, increasing the opportunities for left-wing voter fraud, imposing gun control -- these ideas have nothing whatsoever to do with climate change. They're just the same things that Franzen would want to do even if he was sure that the climate wasn't changing at all.

If the left and right ever start planning for dikes, dams, irrigation systems, birth control programs to prevent calamitous African population growth, developing heat- and drought-resistant crops, opening new farmlands in thawing areas and preventing desertification of overheating areas, then I will have some hope that reasonable voices have entered into the debate.

320Busdriver said...

The 60 plus year old gentleman Jehovah Witness that I talked with on my doorstep today brought up the threats of climate change and overpopulation, which I thought was the weird part of our talk.

Josephbleau said...

What are Christian Millennialists?

There is a psychological disease in humans that makes them believe that the end is near. The millennials of 1000 A D thought, like their modern counterparts of climate, that the world would end on a date certain. They sold out and waited on a hill but the end did not come at dawn. This will go on forever, with the stupid. Witches, rapture, devil daycare, climate disaster, all same same. Life is hard, it’s harder if you are stupid. (Big John Wayne.)

Josephbleau said...

I said earlier, entropy reduced. Should be entropy increased. I am sure everyone is awaiting my correction.

narciso said...


More news:


https://mobile.twitter.com/JordanSchachtel/status/1172969444215316480

Michael K said...

But somehow Stacy Abrams or Maxine Waters didn't offer to write a piece for the New Yorker.

What a shame. It could be very entertaining.

Nichevo said...

In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions.

I can see why the left would hate on this guy. Cuz they don't like all that stuff, right?

Bruce Hayden said...

“If you're a right-wing denier of climate change, you still ought to acknowledge that lots of people disagree with you, not all of them crazy or stupid, and that there are at least a few data points that suggest that they might be right. So you ought to recognize that there is some possibility that you may be wrong, and you ought to start making sensible plans about how to address climate change if it does actually happen.”

Real data points aren’t really showing much of anything. Of course, many of the many dels show Warming. They were programmed to show w warming. And they inevitably run hot, and are not very good at either forecasting nor hindcasting. And NOAA continues to fudge it’s interpolations, an aging to show Warming when the underlying data showed no such thing. And like Mann and the Hadley CRUT crew in ClimateGate, they don’t show their work. When they start engaging in real science, which requires full transparency, including raw and intermediate data, as well as the algorithms (and code, given how poorly the CRUT people coded), then maybe we can start believing them. But as long as everything, including substantial work done at taxpayer expense, remains secret and hidden, I am going to continue my skepticism.

That said, there are things that can be done, JIC. For example, Yucca Mountain can be permitted, as well as new, much safer, reactor designs. I don’t think that you can take anyone seriously about Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Cooling/Heating/Climate Change, etc, if they are unwilling to replace fossil fuel with nuclear energy. Wholesale replacing fossil fuel with wind and solar power is just plain silly. They are much more expensive, require baseload capacity to cover for their intermittency, kill endangered species, and have significant up front and shutdown environmental effects and costs. As things sit right now, CA, deepest into this nonsense, can expect rolling blackouts becoming a common occurrence, as their “renewable” percentage of power generated reaches mandated levels. Already, the energy costs in CA are significantly higher than in next door AZ, which sells coal powered electricity to CA. It’s only going to get worse.

rehajm said...

It’s still goofball second order stuff. Now that the thing is inevitable crap so we don’t question the thing that isn’t inevitable. The left gets mad at lots of things. Not meaningful or a marker for anything.

traditionalguy said...

A Millerite cult is exciting in a funny way. We are the great closing act and no one can ever touch that.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The place to begin is to say exactly what is meant by "the planet.' We appreciate this planet because we are human. Without humans there is no such thing as "beauty" or "truth." These are things that exist solely within the human imagination. No people, no beauty, no truth.
The idea that world we know exists without our creating it -- that if their were no men the skies would be the familiar light blue, that sunsets would be both beautiful and an introduction to the quiet and the terrors of the night, that dawns are full of promise, that rainfall is either needed or unneeded, that a babbling brook in a green wood is peaceful -- is ridiculous. It is not real. If you think "beautiful" is a part of the natural world you are making a mistake.

Mark said...

everyone else on the left, never mentions over-population

?????? Over-population and population control are nearly entirely ideas of the left. And have been for decades. Certainly there are no conservatives who subscribe to such things, although I suppose some libertarians might go there.

Bernie Sanders was pushing population control the other day -- particularly wanting to limit all those brown people in the Third World.

Mark said...

Without humans there is no such thing as "beauty" or "truth."

Um . . . without humans there is no such thing as ugliness or falsehood. Everything else in the natural order is what it is, i.e. is true to its being. It took humanity to introduce lies and evil into the world.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I suppose the problem is that even our atheists were raised and educated in a Judea-Christian culture. In Genesys, God created all of our human-suited world before he created Man, and called it good. It was good without people.
If there is no Judeo-Christian God, the world is not good in and of itself.
The old pagan philosophers did not make this mistake, because their world was created by the proto-gods for their own reasons. It was not created as a home for man.

h said...

Flophouse philosopher at 4:47 makes very clearly what I was trying to say in my comment at 3:39.

I understand why Althouse has moderated comments in the last couple weeks. But it does interfere with polite interchange like this.

John Lynch said...

I find Franzen to be refreshingly honest. If you actually believe the climate change theory, he's right to take it to its natural conclusion. If they are right, we're too far gone to do much of anything to prevent catastrophe.

Finally. I'm so tired of climate change being used as a boogeyman to drive political discourse. OMG if we don't vote a certain way, the world will end.

Really?

To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, I'll believe it's a problem when the people who say it's a problem act like it's a problem.

Well, Franzen is acting like it's a problem.

Good for him.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I think that the best that can be said about Franzen is that he is aware that he was born to a very privileged caste and that sometimes he senses that this erects barriers to his thoughts.
The worst that can be said of Franzen is that he will not go beyond these barriers.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Paul Ciotti is right about overpopulation. Yes, it was and remains a left-wing concern, but now the idea is, well, fraught. The Left is of course happy to see declines in American and European populations, and it's been getting them -- IIRC all of Europe is below replacement rate, and we are just about even; Japan is worst of all, and the Chinese gave up their one-child policy only to find that most Chinese parents are fine with one child anyway.

The difficulty comes when Zero Population Growth and like organizations meekly suggest that what worked here would also work in the so-called Global South (Latin America, Africa, the Middle East). This isn't so cool with most of the Left, whose apparent goal is currently to let the Northern populations continue imploding, and when this results (as it will -- as it has already, actually) in not enough warm bodies to handle all the necessary work, then to point to all those hardworking black and brown folks who are reproducing like gangbusters and would be happy to take the jobs off our hands for the price of a generous social safety net and some little, er, cultural accommodations.

Japan is Enemy No. 1 to these people, because its population is dropping like a stone, but it insists on remaining Japanese, which means no immigration to speak of. But it applies here, too. The El Paso shooter was a "white supremacist" who wanted to keep Mexicans out of the US -- but his "manifesto" relied heavily on ZPG material as well. One sometimes had the vague feeling that what he wanted was simply fewer people, and he picked on Mexicans largely because they were the most obviously increasing segment of the US population. Granted, the guy was a prize nutjob, and his argument has a number of holes in it, but you can see in that example one way in which ZPG and "open borders" are in direct conflict.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

You will Be made to care. Nevermind the faulty predictions, the failed prophecies, and the false promises of the Oh My God Global Warming Left. Do NOT obsess on details like sea level rise and catastrophic storm surges. If they fail to materialize it is because our good intentions have stayed Gaia’s hand but do NOT mistake our lack of warming for success. No, we must enact every Progressive idea from direct democracy to fascist street enforcement of change to forced abortion on others for their own good. That Utopian dreams bring forth dystopian societies should not dissuade us from our appointed path. Give in Prole! Your betters have spoken!

gadfly said...

A look back over human history shows that fossil fuels revolutionized the human experience on earth in every which way you can imagine. Assessing Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it is easily ascertainable that the use of carbon-based fuels is exactly how we have gained warmth, food, shelter and protective coverings while technically advancing civilization. Now environmentalists, the liberal media and liberal politicians would set us back to the Dark Ages when cold, heat, darkness, food shortages and disease were daily challenges to staying alive.

These folks ignore the effect of our sun upon weather and climate changes while pushing the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide as the culprit - but their faulty computer models have not ascertained that CO2 levels have anything to do with our climate. Michael Crichton got it right in his Prelude to Jurassic Park in defining the ill-conceived notions of the left: " You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There’s been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years."

Nichevo said...

Now environmentalists, the liberal media and liberal politicians would set us back to the Dark Ages when cold, heat, darkness, food shortages and disease were daily challenges to staying alive.

And PDT is agin it, and you're agin the President.

gadfly said...

Jonathan Franzen, it seems, is a loner who tends to withdraw into his bird-watching avocation. From "Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage" by Phillip Weinstein, comes this Franzen admission of his warts and a "let-me-be" plea.

To be hungry all the time, to be mad for sex, to not believe in global warming, to be shortsighted, to live without thought of your grandchildren, to spend half your life on personal grooming, to be perpetually on guard, to be compulsive, to be habit-bound, to be avid, to be unimpressed with humanity, to prefer your own kind: these were all ways of being like a bird.

gadfly said...

Nichevo said...
Now environmentalists, the liberal media and liberal politicians would set us back to the Dark Ages when cold, heat, darkness, food shortages and disease were daily challenges to staying alive.

And PDT is agin it, and you're agin the President.


You obviously cannot read or spell. I never said a word about Donald Trump in my post. Why the attack?