What we think about when we try not to think about global warming

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2016/08/28/what-we-think-about-when-we-tr.html

I wind up thinking a lot about putting the bulk of posts behind cuts.


I wish I was a denier, then I wouldn’t have to live with this helpless dread.


Yeah, I feel the same. Pretty much every nuance of the political discourse goes through my “how does that help/hinder the climate chage mess” filter, which manifests itself as a constant nagging about a collective need to stop prevaricating and actually do something substantial. A big part of my frustration with things like brexit is that is just such a huge distraction from problems that actually need dealing with (regardless of your views the EU and whether you think we should leave).


I imagine that they think about how comfortable their air-conditioned houses feel.

Seriously though, I’m done arguing about this. At this point I’m very upfront with telling people who are deniers that I don’t care what they think. Their generation is quickly leaving the workforce and are dying. They might still be voters, but their economic relevance is dwindling and their arguments are sounding more and more like what they have always been: shrill cries to not be inconvenienced and grandstanding against a population that no longer holds them in esteem.


Why argue? My approach is to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe climate change is real or anthropogenic or not. It doesn’t really matter. What we all can agree on is that there will be some kind of weather emergency or natural disaster sometime within the next few years - drought, flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard… - and that we should prepare for it. Turns out that many of these preparations are climate change adaptation strategies and the best of them also turn out to be climate change mitigation strategies as well.

If we can agree on that, we can proceed without engaging in the theological arguments that have stymied the USA policies on this issue for decades.

Sometimes direct confrontation is not the best way to proceed.


Yeah. Air conditioning is a great market based ‘solution’ to planetary warming. My stomach churns whenever I see someone alone in an idling car, windows rolled up, and in this heat I know they’ve got the AC blasting in there.

The only advantage I can think of, to the end of civilization as we know it, is no longer being expected to stay polite in the face of such sin.


but cutting down the bulk of the posts is a leading factor in global warming, admit it, you just can’t stop thinking about it.

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I like to think about Trump becoming president, suddenly Global Warming doesn’t look that bad.


The way we’re going now, people will be looking at our generation’s reaction to climate change with horror long after people like Trump, and even Hitler, are no more special or relevant than, say, Ferdinand II or Innocent III.


well if climate change destroys humanity then no they won’t
and if a president Trump destroys the world then no they won’t.

I like those odds!


You’re not the only one. I’m looking at projections of catastrophic temperature rises in 2050 and I’m fucking infuriated that I’m gonna be alive then, and the boomers currently in government aren’t doing jack squat about it.

Trump’s plan to restart coal power and completely ignore COP21 is basically what has me losing sleep over this election. I’m not American, but climate change very much makes US elections my fucking business.


1 - If you think that air conditioning is a “sin”, I see why you may have difficulty talking to people who might not totally agree with you on AGW.

2 - If you have chosen to live without air conditioning, good on you, and I mean that without snark. I would take seriously the arguments of any climate change activists who have given up A/C in their homes and offices. Let’s start with those who live in Washington DC.

That feeling is so painfully familiar to me.

You completely missed my point. Air conditioning in a building is not a sin. Sitting alone in an idling car, just to run the air conditioner, that’s a sin. The emissions from the car serve to increase global warming for everyone, for the sake of some comfort for a single person.

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AC in a building is powered by electricity transmitted through inefficient power lines that lose much of the energy which is mostly produced by burning fossil fuels. It’s at least as bad and probably worse if only because the volume to cool per occupant is much larger.

I just lie back and spread my legs while thinking of the Empire!
Pretty soon afterwards, I am having pleasant dreams about rearranging deck chairs…

Hooray, an expert on what people think about when they try not to think about global warming is here. Exhibit A: specious tu quoque complaints about politicians, to make it seem like this is only an issue of individual actions and not a serious systemic problem.

On that note, I am reminded of this editorial by McKibben comparing climate change to the second world war. In particular it describes much of the response, hoping that some basic political steps will be enough that nothing touches the free market, as very much a “peace in our time” phase. I think that’s spot on.

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I agree that there is much to talk about here, that’s not being talked about. If I was to try to get really specific, I’d draw a distinction between a technology, and an engineering choice. Creating buildings that are uninhabitable without the constant use of air conditioning, is an engineering choice. Simply having the knowledge and ability to create air conditioning is a technology. There are those who would call nuclear technology a sin{ there is no way to use it, or even know about it, without getting the moral icky. I think such people are chuckleheads.

It would be really cool and interesting to further develop the technology of buildings that need no energy inputs to be inhabitable. Better still to have buildings that create a surplus of energy! But the market incentives for such buidings arent’ going to come for a while yet, when the environment is even more fucked up than it is now. Without market incentives, you’'re left with some kind of socialist mechanism to do the heavy lifting, and USians are typically squeemish about things that don’t create shareholder value in the short term.

Honestly, I find it easier to think about terraforming mars, than trying to unravel all the levels of up-fuck that keep us trapped in this climate nightmare. And terraforming mars is a really horrible idea. Maybe if instead, we could think about creating cities in the hottest, least habitable parts of the globe, cities that don’t require Las Vegas levels of energy subsidy.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to measure one’s own electricity use? I own exactly one kill-a-watt, and I use it on my air conditioner to see how much more electricity I should be paying for. But if I want to move it to my refrigerator or my hot water heater (as if!) then I give up monitoring my AC. A truly sane electrical grid would have the smarts in each appliance, to report back to the billing agency (or the user) how much juice it was consuming, and when. If the grid were better than sane, if it were actually clever, there would be the capability of gracefully shedding loads to avoid brownouts.

Unfortunately, none of these choices can really be implemented by the individual consumer, it’s got to happen across the entire user base. And market economics are poorly suited for such choices. So we’ll all bake collectively while a few of us stay overdressed and comfy in over-air conditioned buildings while the other building users freeze.

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