The Carbon Thread

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well, let me answer that by asking you—why do you assume that this represents the victory of the fossil fuel lobby? Are you basically saying that if there was no fossil fuel lobby, that the US would have already cut its emissions? Don’t you think that there may be a few more relevant factors explaining fossil fuel use than a lobby?
I'm concentrating more on the green lobby than the fossil fuels lobby, because it's the former that wants to bring about major changes to the way energy resources are used, while the latter is interested (I assume) mainly in maintaining the status quo, which is to say, the use of fossil fuels to provide the vast majority of global energy needs.

To invert the question: if, as you claim, the green lobby is so powerful, how come the CO2 emissions from the world's biggest economy and second-biggest carbon polluter are going up instead of down? I just think you're making environmental scientists and campaigners into a straw man by making out that they represent a much bigger threat to the security of the mainstream energy industry than they evidently do. I mean, as padraig mentions, in recent times it's taken something as obvious and visible as the Deepwater Horizon disaster to actually shake things up at all, which I think says a lot.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
Come on dude, deep breaths…
don't even play that bro you know I'm always cool as a cucumber on ice. or a melting Arctic ice sheet, yunno...

The relentless march of the oil lobby, crushing all in its path and reducing the theory of man made global warming to a laughing stock, comparable to holocaust denial among the fashionable, clever and well off people who run the civil service, the newspapers, the universities, etc, etc?
not to belabor, but what matters is what policies are implemented, on a large scale, not what's in the newspapers etc. granted former (possibly) influences latter, albeit nebulously, but push comes to shove policy still overwhelmingly - overwhelmingly - in favor of energy concerns.

also please don't me tell me you're busting out a liberal elites line (the fashionable elite etc), not even bro, you're better than that.

I'm perfectly happy to lump all energy concern lobbyists into one group, btw. I'm also willing to concede that some, if not all, environmental advocates are not too dissimilar, generally the closer they get to being k street lobbyist types themselves. speaking of which:

Don’t you think that Shell is capable of giving money to some of the CRU crowd? I thought you were more Machiavellian than this.
of course they are. BP gave half a billion dollars to UC Berkeley for alternative fuels research 3 years ago. actually there's a more involved answer here but I have to go to class, if I get a chance I'll try to throw it down later.
 

vimothy

yurp
To invert the question: if, as you claim, the green lobby is so powerful, how come the CO2 emissions from the world's biggest economy and second-biggest carbon polluter are going up instead of down?
Growth.

I just think you're making environmental scientists and campaigners into a straw man by making out that they represent a much bigger threat to the security of the mainstream energy industry than they evidently do.
The enviromental campaigners are winning the "war of ideas", which is victory in the long run. Do you know any idealistic young people who want to be oil company lobbyists when they grow up?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Yes, economic growth powered by industrial growth powered, very largely, by fossil fuel consumption. Which is what fossil fuel suppliers want (obviously...) and what environmental campaigners don't want.

Your answer is so automatic it makes me wonder if 'growth' and 'fossil fuel consumption' aren't basically synonymous in your mind. Don't forget that France generates most of its energy from uranium; Iceland relies on geothermal; Norway and Canada get most of their juice from hydro; in Brazil it's biofuels...

The enviromental campaigners are winning the "war of ideas", which is victory in the long run.
Well I don't know about that. I think you're remarkably "optimistic" (from an environmentalist POV!) about how effective public opinion and media pressure are in shaping energy policy. And in any case, much of the press in this country is remarkably hostile to environmentalism and even openly supportive of AGW scepticism.
 

vimothy

yurp
On the contrary, I think that public opinion is shaped--it does not shape in turn. Most people simply believe what they think other people believe.

As for the alternatives to fossil fuels you list, most are not feasible, and there seems to be some small issue with nuclear power--perhaps it is that nefarious fossil fuel lobby again....
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well obviously I'm not saying it would be as easy as Obama clicking his fingers and the entire USA transferring to a low-carbon economy overnight - uranium doesn't grow on trees (and yes, nuclear power has a, shall we say, colourful history), you need lots of mountains and lakes for hydro to be feasible, and so on.

OTOH, even if you're convinced that AGW is a total con, you only have to look at the recent BP fiasco, to say nothing of the petropolitics of the Middle East, Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere to see that an economy wholly predicated on the eternal availability of cheap fossil fuels is a bit, well, precarious.
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
OTOH, even if you're convinced that AGW is a total con, you only have to look at the recent BP fiasco, to say nothing of the petropolitics of the Middle East, Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere to see that an economy wholly predicated on the eternal availability of cheap fossil fuels is a bit, well, precarious.
Yep def agree with that. There are good reasons why investment in renewable energy is desirable. But the AGW impending catastrophe discourse is not one of them -- that is until it is supported by objective (i.e. disinterested/non-politicised) science that stands up to scrutiny.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I'm starting to wonder if it's even possible to conduct "non-politicised" research into a subject as (ahem) heated as climate change. Whatever you say, there will be people who'll jump on your findings and hold them up as indisputable proof that their argument is the correct one and other people who'll call you corrupt, incompetent, in the pocket of [whatever] and so on. To say nothing of the question of where you get the money from to do the research in the first place.
 

vimothy

yurp
don't even play that bro you know I'm always cool as a cucumber on ice. or a melting Arctic ice sheet, yunno...
Cucumbers should only be served on bread old chap.

not to belabor, but what matters is what policies are implemented, on a large scale, not what's in the newspapers etc. granted former (possibly) influences latter, albeit nebulously, but push comes to shove policy still overwhelmingly - overwhelmingly - in favor of energy concerns.
What you are saying is that absent the fossil fuel lobby, the natural path of policy is green. This may be true--but is it? How do you know?

also please don't me tell me you're busting out a liberal elites line (the fashionable elite etc), not even bro, you're better than that.
Naturally, I'd hate to agree with Glenn Beck on anything--I'm perfectly conventional in that respect--but don't you think that it's more fashionable to be liberal than conservative? I mean, John Stewart or Michelle Malkin? It's a no-brainer dude. Conservatives are complete dorks. (Probably not unsurprisingly given conservatism's lack of cache, I've only ever really known one member of the Tory Party my own age. He was a friendless dork as well). Even the fashionable conservatives are liberal (Frum vs. Coulter, e.g.--of course you know Dave goes to better parties).

The "liberal elites" trope is not without truth either. US conservatives drone on about this, and, since conservatives are dorks, this tends to discredit it in the eyes of right thinking people, i.e. those of us who are not tribally affiliated with the conservative movement, i.e. those of us who are not dorks. And yet, in the last fifty years, can you think of one substantial issue on which society has become more right wing? Why is this? It's not because of anything Sarah Palin ever did.

I'm perfectly happy to lump all energy concern lobbyists into one group, btw. I'm also willing to concede that some, if not all, environmental advocates are not too dissimilar, generally the closer they get to being k street lobbyist types themselves.
No doubt. There are a lot of entrenched interests because there is a lot of money and power at stake, and everyone likes money and power--especially environmentalists. ;)

of course they are. BP gave half a billion dollars to UC Berkeley for alternative fuels research 3 years ago. actually there's a more involved answer here but I have to go to class, if I get a chance I'll try to throw it down later.
Cool. Bring it, yo!
 
D

droid

Guest
And yet, in the last fifty years, can you think of one substantial issue on which society has become more right wing? Why is this? It's not because of anything Sarah Palin ever did.
Er...

Foreign Policy,
Economic policy,
Taxation,
Healthcare,
Welfare,
Labour/Unions
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Er...

Foreign Policy,
Economic policy,
Taxation,
Healthcare,
Welfare,
Labour/Unions
I was gonna say something like this, probably wouldn't have been as comprehensive yet succint as droid's list though...even just thinking about the welfare state in the UK, it's gone (in the public eye, I mean) from being this great wonderful thing that cares for us from-cradle-to-grave to a taxpayer-funded money-drain for supporting scroungers and layabouts.

In general people are less homophobic and racist than they used to be, but that doesn't really equate to an overall leftward shift in public political opinion.
 

vimothy

yurp
So what you’re saying is that if Dave got in a time machine and went back 50 years, he would be to the right of the mainstream of the Tory party? Are you sure you’re not confusing him with Frederick the Great?

There are cyclical variations (and the odd spasm – Thatcher, e.g.) but the broad sweep of history is unmistakable, a monotonic secular trend to the left. It’s the reason why we have a welfare state in the first place, along with other equally peculiar institutions like, yunno, democracy and shit. Political progress is that gradual movement of our institutions from the right hand side of the chamber to the left.
 

vimothy

yurp
I don't know what to make of your list droid, BTW. I guess you will have to put some meat on those bones. Certainly foreign policy circa now is to the left of Imperial Britain. (You agree with that, surely). The post WWII Keynesian demand management regime complicates matters slightly, but it's abandonment reflects its failure, and it has certainly hasn't marked a change in the trend.
 
D

droid

Guest
I don't know what to make of your list droid, BTW. I guess you will have to put some meat on those bones. Certainly foreign policy circa now is to the left of Imperial Britain. (You agree with that, surely). The post WWII Keynesian demand management regime complicates matters slightly, but it's abandonment reflects its failure, and it has certainly hasn't marked a change in the trend.
'Imperial Britain' - in 1960? :rolleyes:

Since the 60's we've seen an accelerated rollback of the welfare state in both the US and the UK, we've seen the introduction of widespread privatisation of state owned assets, including energy, transport and healthcare, we've seen a shift to low regulation, low taxation economies, union membership at its lowest ebb since unions became a political force and an increase in Western military intervention under the guise of the 'new humanitarianism' and the 'wars on...' (although in the case of the US this is debatable). We've also seen the gradual weakening of the far/radical left in terms of influence in Europe to the point where it is practically non-existent as a political entity.

Regardless, your point is so vague as to defy any kind of sensible answer. Who has gotten more 'right wing' exactly - populations or governments? Where do you think this has this taken place? what criteria are you using to define the terms?
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Obviously it's impossible to assign all possible stances on all possible issues to a single axis running from "left" to "right". How you can meaningfully categorise political stances these days is a fascinating subject, for sure, but I think it's a debate for another thread.

Anyway, my main thrust over the last couple of pages is basically: what opinion the public has of climate science, whether they think AGW is the-biggest-threat-humanity-has-ever-faced or a con perpetrated by scientific charlatans for whatever nefarious purpose, is of no real consequence if no party that could feasibly hold power (no pun intended) has an energy policy that differs substantially from the status quo. Also, I think you severely overestimate how sympathetic to 'green' issues most people are in this country. Most people aren't academics and don't read the Guardian or the Indy. On Monday there was a piece on the beeb news website about how the ozone hole is the biggest it's ever been; the Mail's headline the same day was "Hooray, the ozone layer is safe!" (with the predictable strapline about cancer rates).

Edit: yeah sure, Britain is clearly to the "left" of where it was a couple of hundred years ago, when slavery was legal and you had to be a hereditary nobleman in order to vote, but as droid and scott point out, it's a different story if you consider recent history - say the last half-century or so.
 
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scottdisco

rip this joint please
Most people aren't academics and don't read the Guardian or the Indy. On Monday there was a piece on the beeb news website about how the ozone hole is the biggest it's ever been; the Mail's headline the same day was "Hooray, the ozone layer is safe!" (with the predictable strapline about cancer rates).
very true, bit O T of me, selected newspapers by circulation in the UK (2009 latest full year figures)

Sun 3.1 million
Mail 2.2 m

Telegraph (home of notoriously vocal AGW sceptics Booker and North) 691k
Express ('climate change is DEFINITELY a COMMUNIST PLOT') 674k

Guardian 302k

Indy 185k

of course i take Vim's point on-board about the broad sweep of history (and are very thankful for same, natch!), but Droid's riposte about the inarguable, depressing trends in many areas in the last few decades seems water-tight. i think it was me the other day somewhere on the board who noted the only region of the world to become more equal in the last decade was latin America and although the likes of Colombia's conservative govt are included in that sweep, there's been a lot of govts of a decidedly pinkish hue in that part of the world in recent years.

countries w govts pushing smaller state agendas are becoming less equal, or at any rate are not closing any gaps.

sorry very little to do w AGW debates!
 

vimothy

yurp
Not forgotten this thread--just v. busy!

Scott, I don't doubt that the Mail an the Sun have larger circulation than the Guardian. What I'm interested in is if the Mail has gotten more or less right wing over time (e.g. since it was a pro-Hitler paper). What do you think? By implication, droid thinks that it has gotten more right wing, whereas I think that this is ridiculous.
 

vimothy

yurp
Mr Tea, fortunately or unfortunately, most people's opinions are not that important. What are the opinions of the people who actually govern the country (not necessarily politicians, of course!)--that's the relevant question.
 
D

droid

Guest
Not forgotten this thread--just v. busy!

Scott, I don't doubt that the Mail an the Sun have larger circulation than the Guardian. What I'm interested in is if the Mail has gotten more or less right wing over time (e.g. since it was a pro-Hitler paper). What do you think? By implication, droid thinks that it has gotten more right wing, whereas I think that this is ridiculous.
Whats ridiculous is first claiming that 'we' have gotten 'more' left wing in the past 60 years, and then changing this to 'we' are less right wing than 'imperial Britain' and then changing again to 'the daily mail has gotten less right wing than when they supported the Nazis'...

Its shoddy stuff Vim, well below your usual standard. Define your terms instead of changing the goalposts.
 
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