Concerns I have about the response to Climate Change...

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I've been following the debate amongst the Left in regards to climate change with an open mind for many years now. I have no incentive to knee-jerk reject climate alarmism, quite to the contrary. If there is actionable scientific proof that changes in behavior today can greatly reduce human suffering in the future, then I think we ought to take heed of such advice. Yet I have repeatedly noticed some very serious errors regarding the Left's interpretation of the science. And many of the political solutions proposed seem, according to sound analysis, to be both ineffective in combating the perceived problem and, more seriously, threaten serious harm to human welfare.

Considering I have an open mind, I am encouraging the environmentalist Left on these forums to assuage my concerns and try to give satisfactory answers to the questions and comments I will pose.

The climate change/global warming political movement has existed in its current form since the late 1980s or early 1990s, so we have a good twenty five years or so to consider the veracity of the predictions made and judge the merits of the climate models that have been used to inform political action. What we have found is that the climate models have been shockingly inaccurate in their prediction of future climate. There are plenty of statistics I can inundate you with, and a laundry list of past predictions and claims made by prominent environmentalists that have proven completely wrong, but I don't want to limit my argument to a trading of data and studies. First, these don't convince anyone because every person can find a scientist, a particular data point, or an empirical study that backs up their ideology. That doesn't usually foster any discussion about the bigger picture.

Proponents of catestrophic anthopogenic climate change usually limit their presentations to a long list of the supposed effects of climate change. The polar ice caps have melted, storms have been getting more severe, there are more droughts, etc.

The most important statistic we need to concern ourselves with is whether or not human caused climate change is making the climate more or less livable for human beings.

If we care about human life, then we must care about industrial progress which allows humans to avoid climate-related deaths, escape poverty and permits societies to grow prosperous. Of course, this doesn't mean we don't care about the pollution that a given energy source does emit, in so far as it causes demonstrable harm, but we shouldn't impugn the most effective and efficient energy sources for their imperfections given the overwhelming benefit cheap, scalable energy has to human flourishing.

I believe any artificial privileges States grant to oil companies should be removed and companies should bear full liability costs for the negative externalities of their energy production.

If laws are passed that limit worldwide CO2 emmisions by as much as climate change activists say is necessary to avoid "catastrophe", that means that many millions of people around the world, particularly in poor and developing nations that desparately need cheap energy sources to grow into the first world, with a middle class and productive capacity, will be consigned to extreme poverty or death.

This could be avoided if there were an abundent, scalable, efficient alternative energy source that could be used as a viable replacement. It would have to be able to fully replace the fossil fuel energy that will be cut AND be able to greatly grow in the coming decades as developing nations increase their industrial production in a bid to become prosperous like us in the West.

Yet the alternative energy source we are told we must rely on, Wind and Solar, are wholly incapable of providing the reliable, cheap, abundent and scalable energy that is needed. There are many reasons this is so, but one is that these technologies are intermittant. They rely on particular weather patterns to generate their energy production. In almost every case, they need to be backed up by a fossil fuel based source which will kick in when the wind and solar source is not provided the needed energy. These are, now and in the near future, unreliable and unserious sources of energy which cannot replace fossil fuel based energy.

If Wind, Solar or some future energy source is invented which will be able to provide cheap, effective, scalable energy in abundence which improves upon fossil fuel technologies regarding pollution, I would be the first to stand up and cheer the development.

But the very fact that environmental activists require government subsidization of Wind and Solar and legislation which limits fossil fuel energy gives the game away. What we ought to do is cut ALL government subsidies and privileges to any form of energy and allow entrepreneurs to compete in the market. This is how we can determine the best source of energy.

The ONLY form of energy that is non-CO2 emitting which is scalable, reliable and efficient enough to fully compensate for fossil fuel sources is Nuclear energy. Yet there are virtually no climate change activists that I am aware of that are pushing Nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuels. Climate activists also tend to oppose hydro-electric power.

I am concerned that environmental activists are not really aware of the extent of human suffering will result if fossil fuel energy production is limited worldwide to the extent that is proposed.

Why don't members of the Green movement eschew political activism, pool their resources and enter the market as entrepreneurs by developing alternative energy sources and convinces consumers to purchase a superior, cleaner form of energy?

Even if every single prediction of the most alarmist climate activist is true, it does not imply that political action is the best remedy. In fact, States are by their nature slow, lumbering, inefficient behemeths with perverse incentive structures. It is incredibly unlikely that politicians and politically-motivated special interest subsidization will actually solve the problem.

Worse, you're going to have to deal with Republican presidents and Congresses at least 50% of the time over the next several decades. What would make you think that political authorities that don't agree with you won't simply cut funding or sabatoge your carefully constructed political solutions to climate change which will, after all, take decades to reap tangible benefits?

When, ever, have politicians and government employees, insulated from the market feedback mechanism of profit and loss, had low time preferences needed to plan responsibly for decades into the future?

Privately funded efforts, on the other hand, can be managed by experts who truly believe in the effort that is being pursued without the threat of petty politics sabotaging the effort. You don't have to worry about either Green cronies or Oil cronies getting in bed with government to manipulate the economy and the law in their favor.

If alternative energy sources are "ready for primetime", as is being claimed, then go into the market and prove it. It is morally wrong to use force to prevent free people from producing and/or using the best, most reliable source of energy they have access to, as consumers on the market have chosen.

I fucking hate how politics destroys civility. If you have a worthy cause, then invest your own time and money into a project, and use persuasion to convince other people to change their behavior. If an oil company, an individual or group of people are acting in a way which is causing demonstrable harm to the person or property of others, then you should take them to court and force them to stop. But you have to demonstrate clearly the harm an individual actor has caused before force can legitimately be used to provide just compensation to the victim and enforce an injunction to prevent him or her from continuing their rights-violating behavior.

However, "emitting CO2" does not, according to the data, seem to be an actionable offense. The data shows an inverse correlation between CO2 emissions and constantly lower and lower climate-related human deaths, longer lifespans, less disease, and higher standards of living all around.

Here is a handy graph to illustrate this point:

http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/wp-content/uploads/boden.png

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the primary reason we are supposed to be alarmed about future climate change and continuing CO2 emissions because this change in climate will cause injury and suffering? Then why has the preponderance of data over the past century shown precisely the opposite?

What WILL absolutely cause human death and suffering is a lack of access to cheap, abundent energy that is required to produce food, build and maintain hospitals, heat homes and manufacture goods and services which makes human lives sustainable and, hopefully, comfortable.

So artificially limiting access to cheap energy will certainly cause massive human suffering. But speculated human suffering caused by rising CO2 emissions don't seem to be correlated by the data.

I am trying to look at this objectively, from a humanitarian perspective. If we can develop cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy sources that are cheap enough and scalable enough to take over from fossil fuels, I would be ecstatic. I certainly think this is possible, but it won't happen through politics. It will happen in the market, by entrepreneurs risking private capital and risking private losses. That is where your energy should be spent if you are passionate about this issue.

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jrodefeld
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Comments

http://climate.nasa.gov/

Legend
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Nov. 27, 2012 7:46 am
Quote Legend:

http://climate.nasa.gov/

Sorry, but this does not in any way respond to what I wrote in my post. And it seems to me to be particularly lazy to counter a carefully considered, lengthy post with a link to a government website that doesn't even address any of my arguments. I looked through that website anyway, and I saw all of the same talking points I hear everywhere else.

For example, that website lists the following as likely consequences of un-checked climate change:

1. Temperatures will continue to rise

2. Frost-free season (and growing season) will lengthen

3. Changes in precipitation patterns

4. More droughts and heat waves

5. Hurricanes will become stronger and more intense

6. Sea level will rise

Most of these are entirely true statements, and some of them are debatable. But the most important thing to consider, like I said in my OP, is the effect of a changing climate on human survivability and wellbeing. And the evidence shows quite clearly that at the same time that CO2 emissions have been rising due to industrialization of countries around the world, climate-related deaths have been declining rapidly.

Let's suppose that all of the above effects of climate change are true and that climate models are generally accurate in predicting future global temperatures and weather pattern changes. Then the only relevent question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not the guaranteed harm to human welfare and survivability that will result from drastically limiting the use of fossil fuels is outweighed by the future benefit to human flourishing that would result from slightly lower sea levels, fewer natural disasters and things of that nature that environmentalists like to cite.

This is a cost-benefit analysis that is never acknowledged by believers in "catestrophic" climate change. And this is even granting the veracity of climate models and assuming accuracy in future predictions, both of which are very much in question.

If you don't mind, why don't you actually write a paragraph or two actually responding to ANY of the points I am making. I am genuinely interested in hearing answers to these questions because they are almost never addressed.

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am

Can anybody actually respond to my thread? I'm looking to have an honest discussion about this with Progressives and I thought this site would be a good place to do so.

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jrodefeld
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...an honest discussion ... with Progressives
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Good one.

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stwo
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Quote stwo:
...an honest discussion ... with Progressives
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Good one.

Yeah, well I try to keep an open mind and hope for the best.

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jrodefeld
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Quote jrodefeld:

If we care about human life, then we must care about industrial progress which allows humans to avoid climate-related deaths, escape poverty and permits societies to grow prosperous. Of course, this doesn't mean we don't care about the pollution that a given energy source does emit, in so far as it causes demonstrable harm, but we shouldn't impugn the most effective and efficient energy sources for their imperfections given the overwhelming benefit cheap, scalable energy has to human flourishing.

jrodefeld...I believe you need to do a little more research. The "climate change/global warming" movement has never really been about climate or the environment. It is and has always been about destroying capitalism. It has been admitted to many times.

http://www.amazon.com/This-Changes-Everything-Capitalism-Climate/dp/1451697392

http://www.thenation.com/article/capitalism-vs-climate/

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/10/must-we-choose-between-capitalism-and-climate.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/03/tony-abbott-and-naomi-klein-agree-we-cant-beat-climate-change-under-capitalism

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/06/clim-j11.html

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Kilosqrd
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Sep. 5, 2014 3:22 am

Agreed Kilo, AGW is the perfect political tool for one-world-socialists who have tied their entire system of logic to the demonstrably false, bedrock assumption that economic inequality and social injustice are the root causes of every ill known to mankind. It provides a vehicle for their “end justifies the means” drive to substitute international mechanisms of wealth redistribution and social justice enforcement in place of local and national mechanisms and enforcement systems historically in place. That their "solutions" to AGW harm the third world poor most really doesnt register with them-- consistency in logic not being one of their strong suits

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stwo
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Quote Kilosqrd:
Quote jrodefeld:

If we care about human life, then we must care about industrial progress which allows humans to avoid climate-related deaths, escape poverty and permits societies to grow prosperous. Of course, this doesn't mean we don't care about the pollution that a given energy source does emit, in so far as it causes demonstrable harm, but we shouldn't impugn the most effective and efficient energy sources for their imperfections given the overwhelming benefit cheap, scalable energy has to human flourishing.

jrodefeld...I believe you need to do a little more research. The "climate change/global warming" movement has never really been about climate or the environment. It is and has always been about destroying capitalism. It has been admitted to many times.

http://www.amazon.com/This-Changes-Everything-Capitalism-Climate/dp/1451697392

http://www.thenation.com/article/capitalism-vs-climate/

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/10/must-we-choose-between-capitalism-and-climate.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/03/tony-abbott-and-naomi-klein-agree-we-cant-beat-climate-change-under-capitalism

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/06/clim-j11.html

Yes, I'm well aware of this. I still do think that there are some well-meaning Progressive voters who are genuinely concerned about human impact on the environment and that is who I am trying to speak to.

Around the fall of the Soviet Union, the traditional arguments for socialism were exposed. The lesson most people took away from that event was that State ownership of the means of production was doomed to failure and that capitalism and private property ownership was the bedrock of a sustainable, prosperous society.

Marxist intellectuals could no longer use the old arguments against Capitalism or point to any existing Communist nation as an example to emulate. So a great number of them re-invented themselves under the environmentalist label. And, I agree, the goal here was to undermine capitalism by claiming that it destroys the environment.

I don't think most people understand this. So I am trying to get the sincere Progressive to think about these issues in a different way.

At least it would be interesting to me to see what their responses might be to the questions I posed.

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jrodefeld
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Difference is now there is venezela that can be used as an example of the successful implementation of centrally planned socialism.... err, no scratch that-- back to global warming.

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stwo
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Quote jrodefeld:

Yes, I'm well aware of this. I still do think that there are some well-meaning Progressive voters who are genuinely concerned about human impact on the environment and that is who I am trying to speak to.

Climate change advocates must also take into consideration that one solid volcano eruption can wipe out all their best planned efforts to reduce man's carbon emissions in just a few hours.

Human effort may be better spent building giant corks.

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jestsayin
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jrodefeld, as someone with an environmental studies degree, I suggest you study scientific sources, not the kind of material put our by climate deniers representing the fossil fuel billionaires. They can afford to create some complex, lengthy pseudoscientific arguments, but there is very little truth in it.

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SueN
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If you want to know whether there is any truth in articles about climate science, check out this site, where scientists review articles. http://climatefeedback.org/

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SueN
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I endured the nightmare of having to study environmental climatology in graduate school.

There is no discussion to be had beyond best practices of damage mitigation. The historical data is beyond question and there are no competing scientific theories that can replace what is currently held as scientific fact.

The "inaccuracy" of predictive modeling is indeed a real concern, but not how the OP suggests. The fact is that the modeling can not keep up with the actual measured changes. Every month, the data becomes increasingly more shocking and it seems the tipping point is here. Without somehow forcing a stabilization in atmospheric levels of CO2 and other heat trapping gasses, the heating will continue.

We can focus upon doing nothing and disputing what the consequences will be, or we can act to save most of the remaining life on the planet, including human civilization and to do so in the most humane manner possible. Other than that, we can talk about moving to another planet. I think that's the Billionaire plan, James Bond style.

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Chris Gah
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Quote SueN:

jrodefeld, as someone with an environmental studies degree, I suggest you study scientific sources, not the kind of material put our by climate deniers representing the fossil fuel billionaires. They can afford to create some complex, lengthy pseudoscientific arguments, but there is very little truth in it.

I have studied scientific sources and I repeatedly notice a jarring disconnect between the sorts of discussions serious scientists have amongst themselves and the sensationalist headlines that are pushed forward by the media. Good scientists are skeptical, humble, and cautious about making extravagent claims. There are many good scientists who are indeed very concerned about human impact on the environment. I share this concern.

What I am doing though is trying to separate several overlapping elements of the modern environmentalist movement. Science has the ability to inform us about empirical phenomenon, but the notion that the solution need be political in origin is hardly ever called into question. Political ideologues step in, take advantage of the layperson's ignorance of science, and use the issue as the pretext for greater centralization of State power, Corporate welfare benefits for Green lobbyists and ever more regulations of human behavior.

So, even if I grant that the most alarmist of the climate change scientists are correct, this does NOT imply that politics is the solution. Every single proposed policy designed to curb human CO2 emission would have next to no discernable effect on global CO2 levels projecting out decades into the future. What is absolutely true though is that if we were to curb fossil fuel use to the extent proposed and adopt the proposed policies, the economy would suffer substantially, people would be significantly poorer, developing nations would be deprived of the energy sources they need to literally keep their people alive and predictable human suffering would result.

If human CO2 emissions are a major problem and if their unabated increase over the next several decades will cause avoidable future human misery, then what we should do is free up the energy markets and make investments in viable alternative energy sources that are reliable, scalable and cost effective such that people around the world will voluntarily adopt these alternatives instead of continuing to use fossil fuel sources.

And when I say "make investments" I mean individuals risking their own capital and competing fairly in the market. I don't mean the State confiscating property from private citizens and transferring it to cronies who are insulated from the market test of profit and loss.

I pointed this out, but the simple fact that most climate change proponents will not seriously consider Nuclear Power belies an un-seriousness about this problem. Nuclear Power is the ONLY currently available non-CO2 emitting energy source that could actually replace fossil fuels. It is efficient enough, reliable enough and scalable enough to largely replace fossil fuels.

Yet politicians want to subsidize Wind and Solar, which have NEVER proven to be anything other than a niche energy source contributing at most around 5% of energy. The cynics will claim, plausibly in my view, that politicians oppose Nuclear primarily because it would solve the problem. They'd rather have the issue of catestrophic Climate Change to use as a political tool to amass more power election after election.

By the way, just saying you have an environmental studies degree is not a sufficient rebuttal to my questions and concerns. This is a blind appeal to authority. I'm fairly well read on this subject, so I'd like to hear your more detailed responses to my concerns.

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jrodefeld
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Quote Chris Gah:

I endured the nightmare of having to study environmental climatology in graduate school.

There is no discussion to be had beyond best practices of damage mitigation. The historical data is beyond question and there are no competing scientific theories that can replace what is currently held as scientific fact.

The "inaccuracy" of predictive modeling is indeed a real concern, but not how the OP suggests. The fact is that the modeling can not keep up with the actual measured changes. Every month, the data becomes increasingly more shocking and it seems the tipping point is here. Without somehow forcing a stabilization in atmospheric levels of CO2 and other heat trapping gasses, the heating will continue.

We can focus upon doing nothing and disputing what the consequences will be, or we can act to save most of the remaining life on the planet, including human civilization and to do so in the most humane manner possible. Other than that, we can talk about moving to another planet. I think that's the Billionaire plan, James Bond style.

Do you then support the immediate adoption of Nuclear Power en masse in the United States and around the world?

Here's a tip to help your side of the debate. You don't help your cause by refusing to respond to scientific challenges to orthodoxy. Science advances only through the open exchange of ideas and by challenging the conventional and assumed opinion through improved information and/or better arguments.

The truth is that every serious scientist agrees that CO2 emissions have increased over the past century due to human activity. And that this has caused a small rise in global temperatures. The debate is about the projected negative externalities of this activity in the future. There is a massive chasm between projections that suggest a moderate warming that humans could readily adapt to, and the most alarmist of projections that postulate a hypothetical extinction of human beings.

What I am saying is that we have to weigh the potential effects of a moderate warming (sea level rise, increased tropical storm activity, etc) with the benefits to humanity that come from industrial productivity.

I think the statistic I cited earlier, "Climate-caused human deaths" is extremely relevant. Each year we are informed that various weather events, tornados, hurricanes, heat waves and so forth are caused by atropogenic climate change, but each year overall human welfare continues to increase and human deaths caused by climate get lower and lower.

I am assuming you'll concede this point, but argue that a "tipping point" is right around the corner where humans will suddenly start suffering en masse due to the changing climate.

Have you considered the extent of human suffering that would result if fossil fuel use is cut by the 80-90% worldwide that many environmentalists advocate without an immediate viable replacement?

At what point do you anticipate that climate-related human deaths will start to increase as opposed to decrease?

Lastly, I'll just say that were I to concede every single scientific argument to your side, that does NOT mean that State policy is the appropriate remedy. States are, by their very nature, slow lumbering behemeths that continue to fund inefficient, failing and unworkable programs year-after-year. Sure, you can get a dozen Green crony-capitalists on the government teet and, if history is any indication, their funding will increase consistently even if they are failing to provide good, efficient and cheap energy. Success, by any definition that makes any sense, is not rewarded in government as it is in the private economy.

These are the sorts of questions and challenges that your side of the debate NEEDS to address and confront. You can't simply trot out the same mantras and talking points every time.

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote SueN:

jrodefeld, as someone with an environmental studies degree, I suggest you study scientific sources, not the kind of material put our by climate deniers representing the fossil fuel billionaires. They can afford to create some complex, lengthy pseudoscientific arguments, but there is very little truth in it.

Hey, you've got an environmental studies degree right? Surely you'll be able to answer a few of my questions? I'm surprised that on Thom Hartmann's website, I can't seem to find progressives who are willing to discuss this issue with me. Hartmann is one of America's top Progressive radio hosts, so surely he's got some acolytes who can defend the Progessive position on climate change?

I am not a "denier". I'm with the 97% of scientists who recognize that industrial human activity has caused CO2 emissions to rise and a small increase in global temperatures occurred as a result. Beyond that though, scientific views diverge among serious scientists. And policy prescriptions are tainted by short-term thinking political demagogues. I'm just trying to dig deeper.

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am

It's fascinating to me that I created this thread two months ago, wrote a pretty thorough series of questions about climate change and yet I haven't hardly had any responses. Yet people keep posting in the "Environment" forum, creating threads and ignoring an intelligent critique of their policy proposals. I am genuinely interested in this topic and I'd really like some serious responses to some of my questions.

I invite anyone to respond to my thesis on this thread. I must reiterate that if you are sincere about your climate change advocacy, you have wrestle with many of these concerns that I have articulated.

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am

You did, of course, copy and paste this thread form the SA forums after you were banned for doing the exact thing that you had been warned multiple times not to do. I suspect however, that this isn't the reason no one here cares to respond to this post.

A better guess would be that your post includes such incredible nonsense that anyone looking at it who isn't a masochist can, at a glance, tell that it isn't really worth trying to inform someone who is this deluded as to why they are wrong. I mean, it came up the last time you posted it, but your argument against carbon emissions essentially boils down to:

"I've been choking myself with this belt for a few minutes now and it feels great. Nothing bad has happened yet, so nothing ever will."

You are arguing that because carbon emissions aren't yet causing deaths, that they never will, which is a nonsense argument. If you put a frog into water and slowly crank up the heat the frog is going to be more or less content until it dies, which is more or less the situation we are in now, except that unlike the frog we are smart enough to realize what is happening, even if we are, as a society, too ignorant because of people like you to try and do anything about it.

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The Koch Bros just aren't getting their moneys worth.

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Is war on the menu for 2020 elections?

Thom plus logo We complain that democracy is under assault from Donald Trump, but he's just a cog in a much larger worldwide machine that is tearing down democratic self-governance.
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