Strong opinions, weakly held

Humans are too stupid to save the planet

I think this is true:

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

At one time, nuclear proliferation was the greatest threat facing mankind. A very short series of bad decisions could have quickly led to the extinction of the human race. I think that the global warming is the single most serious existential threat to humanity right now. It may not wind up bringing down modern human society, but I think of all the threats we face, it’s the likeliest one to do so. And yet, at a political level, few people treat it with that level of seriousness. That’s stupid.


  1. Individual people are too stupid to make such huge decisions, but I’m not convinced our civilization is that stupid. We have a lot to lose by switching to alternative fuels (for instance) too late, but we also have a lot to lose by switching to alternative fuels too early. Perhaps we have not reached that optimal point yet.

    Then again, maybe our civilization is just in denial.

  2. Denial or not, we will be forced to use alternative fuels and materials as the oil becomes scarcer and more costly and the alternatives become more cost efficient (relatively). A similar transition happened when civilizations moved from wood to coal and coal to oil (although the reasons for those switches are not quite the same). We can only hope that the change happens fast enough to dampen global warming and slow enough not to cause serious conflict and disruption.

  3. Sometimes I wonder if the Galactic United Planets Federation Thing have been subtly sabotaging our space program because our species is too stupid to be allowed off the planet

  4. Rafe,

    I don’t know if I’ve had this conversation with you or not….

    Making the argument for change because of global warming as tilting at windmills. Whether it’s stupidity, denial, a belief that man is too small to make that much of a difference or whatever global warming objectionists believe you aren’t going to convince them. I’ll tell you right now I wouldn’t lift a pinky finger to stop global warming. Call me names if you want, but I simply don’t care that much.

    What I DO CARE about are the following: * How our energy policy has led to a radicalized middle east and funds most of the world’s terrorism and the fact we are powerless to stop that flow of money because the world is addicted to cheap oil and no country more than the US. * How we have a limited supply of oil domestically and this oil needs to stay in the ground for future generations to be used in applications for which there is no substitute not burned to fuel our transportation system today. * How the dangers our pollution at the local level are well known, increases in asthma, acid rain, smog, ground level ozone, the sights and smells coming off that sei truck in front of you, etc. These are all real and easily observable to anyone.

    These are the reasons I want to move our transportation system off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. I don’t support cap and trade, but I do support raising taxes on carbon based fuels. Just make it unprofitable to consume carbon based fuel, no need to use cap and trade to make winners and losers in a fake gov’t run market.

    I don’t support drilling in the US because that just kicks the can a few years and oil has too many other uses than as a fuel. That oil needs to stay in the ground, close by and easily defensible for the time down the road this nation needs it (be that 20 years, 50 years or 200 years). I’m a true conservative in that regards.

    Environmentalists could get a LOT further with Independents and Republicans if they talk about the pragmatic advantages to getting off of oil and fossil fuels. Issues that those individuals can identify with as real, present and important.

  5. I agree that those are also all very good reasons to move away from fossil fuels as well.

    I would be interested in knowing why you don’t care about global warming, though.

    Is it that you don’t believe humans are causing global warming, that you don’t believe the effects of global warming are worth worrying about, or that we have other, more important problems that we need to deal with instead?

  6. I agree with Jeff for the most part. Even if global warming is man made, it has become a polarizing issue. The masses will not be convinced to move away from fossil fuels because of something they don’t think is real. The arguments Jeff made will accomplish the same goals without using the term “global warming”. Even conservatives would have a tough time telling everyone that pollution does not exist or that it is somehow good for us.

  7. “Even conservatives would have a tough time telling everyone that pollution does not exist or that it is somehow good for us.”

    They wouldn’t attack it that way. They would say something like how the environazis are trying to kill all of our industries, destroy jobs and make companies move to Mexico. Coal is safe, cheap and will create jobs!!! http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115×18001

  8. Rafe, it’s probably a little bit of all of those plus a health dose of the contrarian/skeptic in me. It seems to me that a lot of global warming fans have become religous zealots, and they could be preaching God’s honest truth, but the way they preach when delivering their message just makes me not want to hear it.

    In the end I find that most global warming alarmists would be better framing and argument that the other side can understand and possibly even accept that will achieve the same goals. Ask yourself, “Is the goal to get everyone to accept the global warm is real and happening, or is the goal to change behavior so global warming is mitigated or stopped?”

    In today’s political climate it seems that the acceptance of the message is more important than the results achieved.

  9. Bryan, The people in coal country are not going to embrace anything that will jeopardize their jobs. They have no options other than coal in many areas. Jobs in these areas would need to be created before coal could start to be phased out. This would not be easy. The number of manufacturing jobs that could be alternatives to coal mining jobs are dwindling. The jobs issue is important. It is safe? I guess if your comparing it to a nuclear power plant. It is not safe for the miners however. It is cheap. As alternative energy production increases, its costs will drop. Is anyone really sure if alternative energy will generate enough power to satisfy our needs?

  10. People on both sides of this argument need to realize that we need to develop “alternatives” of all sorts, no matter what the technology or source.

    Cleaner coal? Sure, let’s work on that. Safer nuclear? That too! Improving solar efficiency? Definitely. Wind, wave, geothermal? Absolutely. Energy conservation, improved efficiency, better power distribution? Yes!

    We need to work on new alternatives in all energy technologies and sources because they all have tradeoffs and no single technology or source alone can power this power hungry world.

    There are tradeoffs in everything. Pretending that only one of these things (or even a small number of these things) is the sole answer is short sighted and unrealistic.

  11. I think people are basically stupid too. The sun provides all the power we could ever need, but we insist on polluting the air we breath for the sake of profit, control, and the inability to change.

    People basically worry only about themselves and their current situation with little regard for the future or what’s right for the good of all. The masses sit back and allow the 5% of people with the power and influence to govern their lives barely without questioning them.

    I built a home that runs 100% solar for my electrical needs and it works great. No utility bills. So when I hear terms like “Drill baby drill” I want to puke. What a bunch of idiots. Clean coal? What a joke. Safe nuclear plants? Give me a break. Can you say big profits and greed at the expense of humanity. Greed is ultimately going to be the demise of the human race.

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