The idiotic symbolism of climate change

I’m torn on whether or not to believe that the environmentalists actually understand what kind of message they are sending with these “actions”…

What they are basically telling us is that, if we want to “save the planet” and/or “stop climate change” (which is extremely stupid in a “I-don’t-know-whether-to-laugh-or-to-cry” way), is that we’ll have to give up all that technology we’ve acquired over the last few centuries. I don’t think there’s anything that symbolises this as well as “electricity” does – and what better way than “artificial light” to highlight that. Make an entire city go dark.

Read that last sentence again. Make an entire city go dark. To me, that doesn’t sound like something we’d want to achieve – that sounds like a horrible threat, the consequence of something going terribly wrong – not something that we’d want for pretty much any reason.

On the one hand, this is reassuring – as it means there won’t really be any terribly damaging measures in the name of fighting global warming because as soon as you start really inconveniencing people, they’ll start pushing back. Sure, “let’s fight global warming” but don’t you dare take away my American Idol!

On the other hand, it’s terribly frightning. I don’t belive that a majority of people understands the underlying message they are sending – the end of civilisation and progress as we know it. But I’m sure there’s a minority who do. These people aren’t worried about climate change or about the environment in any way, shape or form – they simply see it as the newest fad to use in trying to (re-)introduce their collectivist ideas. For now, they probably have the upper hand – with no way of ever winning a decisive victory, mind you – but I’m sure this’ll change over time. After it becomes more clear what exactly it is they are trying to achieve, “the public” will be less quick to embrace their messages.

I don’t really want to venture an opinion on climate change as I don’t feel sufficiently informed. To put this post into context I will say where my head’s at in terms of anthropogenic global warming nonetheless (and, rest assured, many other people have no such a doubts when spewing their uninformed BS):

I think it is probably real and there will be some consequences from it. I don’t think these consequences are as grave as they are made out to be by some people and by most major mainstream media outlets. I do belive that some scientists and most politicians are following a “hidden” agenda when talking about climate change and see it as more of a tool than a real problem.

With my – albeit fairly limited – economics background and some reading on the possible solutions, I can say that quite a few measures certainly won’t work and even some of the more convincing ones probably won’t be enough or even help significantly. In general though, I consider the costs of doing something drastic about climate change (and anything else wouldn’t be enough, right?) far too high. The costs of dealing with problems as we go along (and especially if I’m right and sea levels don’t rise 20 feet, for example) and bump into them seem far more reasonable. That solution would also make it possible to ensure continued economic growth and technological progress – but then again we’ve now come full circle. That’s probably more important to the people with the agenda: no more growth, no more progress – we already have “enough”, don’t we?

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6 Responses to “The idiotic symbolism of climate change”

  1. danielquenton Says:

    Well, you got carried away a bit there.

    Climate change is a fact, and no right, conservative propaganda can change that.
    Naturally environmentalist and leftist organizations are exploiting and exaggerating that fact (as most other political organizations in their position would) for their own political (and often anti-progress or socialist) reasons.
    Of course also the media does over-exaggerate – it just sells better if they do. 😉
    But it is important to state that, that exploitation by politic groups does in no way negate a fact. (Contrary to what some people believe) 😉

    We’ll have to overcome climatic change through progress, better energy efficiency, for example, is profitable and will be rewarded by the market.

    That being said, I’ll watch the video.
    Light turnoff – Yay.
    Stupid!

  2. midmull Says:

    Now, the real question here is: have you ever read an IPCC report? No? Neither have I.
    The cost-benefit-analysis of reading a 100+ page analysis by some scientists that’s then been screwed up by the UN (not exactly a fan of that group on this end) and mixed with political propaganda just comes up negative.
    The problem is, most journalists haven’t either and neither have very many politicians. Sure, maybe the 20-page management summary. But that’s not really gonna give you any idea about the science behind it.
    Kinda like the textbook version of evolution – Works out to maybe 20 pages and those issues that are hotly disputed with Christian lunatics get two pages with no thought given to their arguments – simply because there isn’t enough space and they can’t really be taken seriously in the first place anyway (“Was the bible right after all?”).
    Unfortunately, the textbook version isn’t much use as a political guide – sure, the textbook version of anthropogenic climate change (and that’s an important distinction because there’s absolutely no way you’re gonna stop natural climate change from occuring) makes sense. Sun shines, humans pollute the sky, rays bounce back, heat up planet. Easy.
    That’s not enough to spend trillions of $ though.

    Now, I could easily go and read the “Layman’s guide” of skepticism and then consequently trash you in any discussion (simply because I can then talk about stuff you’ve never even heard of – fortunately for you, that cost-benefit-analysis so far has always come up negative, too). That’s not science either. I accept my limitations and I’d expect journalists with all their might to do the same. Take a look at Reason’s Ron Bailey (a converted skeptic) or Cato’s Patrick Michaels (a real scientist(!) whose predictions are far less disturbing than what comes out after a couple thousand scientists try to reach a compromise and then let politicians add their own agend).
    Check out the following link, for example:
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/125281.html

    Again, the European media isn’t exactly helping. While some conservative groups quite possibly go too far, there’s absolutely nothing seriously talking about the issue in the European mainstream media.

  3. climate pact Says:

    I admin, I used to think that these types of symbolic activism and events were pretty useless. But I changed my mind, and the reason is, these types of symbolic events actually bring climate change into public awareness. It isn’t about turning off lights to save electricity, it’s about making a visible statement that will make people go, “hmm… maybe I should think about this.”

    We don’t want to give up electricity. But we do need to think about electricity:

    http://climatepact.org/blog/15/three-simple-ways-to-reduce-climate-change

  4. danielquenton Says:

    Now then let me quote you:
    1. Buy Less.
    If the people buy less, what will happen is, that less money is being put to use, and people will loose their jobs and progress will be slowed down.
    – So bad idea.

    2. Expend Less Energy.
    Here I agree with you. Do something to expend less energy.

    3. Travel Less and More Efficiently.
    Travel more thoughtfully I would say. Use public transport more often, since I will actually benefit you. It is cheaper and it gives you more time.

  5. midmull Says:

    Well then, let me comment on your three suggestions:
    1) Bad idea. Horrible idea. In fact, it goes straight to what I said in the original post – less consumption and the symbolism that comes with it. It’s anti-progress, anti-industrial, anti-civilisation. It’s anti-human.

    2) Yeah, great suggestion. This one is happening anyway and will continue to happen regardless of whether or not some idiot turns off his light. The idiot doesn’t matter – companies OTOH might. And they will do this for purely selfish reasons: because it saves them money. That’s also why the US will eventually lead the way on climate change fighting: entrepreneurs will make money by inventing and developping new technologies.
    The real question on this one (and that’s also where we’d certainly disagree) is what constitues “energy efficiency”. There’s something that happens on its own – see European countries that are a lot more energy efficient today and therefore suffer a lot less from high oil prices. And then there’s the additional “saving”, the one that hurts and goes beyond what’s natural. I’m opposed to that.

    Now, finally on travel:
    Making modern transportation available to the masses is probably one of the greatest accomplishments of capitalism as an economic system. Bringing flight prices down to a level where they are easily affordable by a vast amount of people is a great thing and has meant an unbelievable gain in personal freedom.
    There certainly are some areas where public transport makes sense – London, New York, Tokyo and the like. Huge cities, where running a train every 120 seconds makes economic sense and is actually much faster than taking the car. Make no mistake though: the low prices you know and have come to expect are heavily, I repeat HEAVILY subsidised. Even in those aforementioned places (don’t know for sure about Tokyo but the other two certainly are). So someone else is picking up the tab.
    Apart from that, flying just doesn’t matter and still is among the most popular targets. It does, however, make for huge gains in productivity by getting people that need to be some place to that place – businessmen. Cars, probably THE most popular target – well, too bad. It’s being worked on and it’ll work out in the end. More likely though it’ll be BMW rather than that god awful Lexus.

  6. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to recognise that symbolism… « Uncompahgre Gorge Says:

    […] 2008 — midmull Don Boudreaux needs much less space to say basically the same thing I said yesterday. So I commend you on your “Earth Hour” effort.  Persuading people across the globe to […]


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