Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Large movements are rarely monolithic

This is Joseph.

Nadia Asparouhova has a post trying to lay out the different tribes of the climate movement. In some cases, I think that she has broken them up too narrowly. And she misses the group that seems to be involved mostly to get political clout and be able to scold. If you are flying around the world  to complain about climate change then you are not looking at a world in which change begins with you. 

The most interesting tribes are the Doomerism and Neopastoralism tribes, because, unlike the others, they aren't arguing about the best policy to fight climate change. They are either giving up or suggesting a solution that is either fantastical or brutal.

Doomerism is easy. The idea that we are all set for disaster could be correct. But there is literally no benefit to thinking about things this way. If the outcome is inevitable then a focus on constructive solutions is a psychologically healthy coping mechanism. But if there is even a chance to evade disaster then a focus on problem solving is a good thing. After all, if the incentives are lined up (e.g., a big fossil fuel shock) then remarkable things can happen

But the one that I find the hardest to really understand is probably Neopastoralism. First of all, the record of attempts to move people back from cities to the countryside (notably still including farming) has been poor, to say the least. Without technology, the carrying capacity of the planet is very much lower. For example, in 1000 BC the population of the planet was 50 million. Contrast this with the nearly 8 billion people we have now. If we need to "return to nature" then we are all in deep, deep trouble. 

Instead, I think we should loot the best policy ideas of the other tribes and she what works out best. Geo-engineering seems unlikely to me, but the more I read about carbon capture, the more I wonder if I am underestimating the potential benefits. But at least this group has a plan and may well prove me wrong as to the merits of the plan and there is at least some possibility of avoiding a major impact on human life. 

I think it is a good thing to start the New Year with optimism. 

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