As World Burns, Richest Nations Can't Decide When to End Fossil Fuel Handouts

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Despite ambitious pledges, global energy ministers could not agree on a target date to phase out billions in subsidies to dirty energy.

The world's richest nations have failed to agree on a deadline to phase out fossil fuels subsidies—a commitment energy ministers made in 2009—stirring new fears over the impact of the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that go toward keeping dirty energy afloat every year.

NetWiz69's picture
Aug. 18, 2014 7:03 am


As scientists work methodically and diligently at trying to understand the dynamics of our global climate, and seek to understand what can happen to its capacity to remain in a state of equilibrium within which all species in their present evolutionary state can survive, and as homo-centric denialists deny, we get important indicators from this specialty branch of our complex society that society as a whole can decide to heed, or not, depending on its institutional degree of selfishness and hubris.

Selfishness and hubris are factors built into the rational and "legal" purpose of many institutions in our national systems, both public and private. They are among the underlying attitude-forcing features often disguised by various forms of nationalistic propaganda, like patriotism and American Exceptionalism, in the institutions themselves. They are also disguised by our system of economic beliefs that guide our systems of production and consumption. We can identify them as individuals while stepping back and examining our systems, we can gnash our teeth about how these population attitude forcers supersede our innate sense of what we might choose to do as individuals to survive, especially about what to do to avert potential disaster, but in reality we are powerless to effect these complex institutions that we in common adapt to, that make the major societal decisions we must go along with, since we have few other choices but to belong. Anyone who attempts to become independently self reliant from the modern global system discovers their limitations in that regard rather quickly.

So, as the title of this thread indicates, as the world burns the richest complex societies "can't decide" what to do about the fossil fuels that continue to drive their way of adapting to this planet through utilizing the cheap and abundant energy of fossil fuels.

While we celebrate the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, let's frighten ourselves a little more.

Past presents warning on greater warming

The above article presents some of the most recent investigations and efforts that argue:

Reconstruction of climate events long before the Ice Ages shows that failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could eventually lead to temperatures rising by up to 10 degrees.

In order to even begin to understand the arguments, the interested reader needs to grasp a concept that's very difficult to put on a banner one might want to wave in favor of reducing fossil fuel consumption. That concept is a dynamic scientists call:

8.6 Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks

8.6.1 Introduction

Climate sensitivity is a metric used to characterise the response of the global climate system to a given forcing. It is broadly defined as the equilibrium global mean surface temperature change following a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration (see Box 10.2). Spread in model climate sensitivity is a major factor contributing to the range in projections of future climate changes (see Chapter 10) along with uncertainties in future emission scenarios and rates of oceanic heat uptake. Consequently, differences in climate sensitivity between models have received close scrutiny in all four IPCC reports. Climate sensitivity is largely determined by internal feedback processes that amplify or dampen the influence of radiative forcing on climate. To assess the reliability of model estimates of climate sensitivity, the ability of climate models to reproduce different climate changes induced by specific forcings may be evaluated. These include the Last Glacial Maximum and the evolution of climate over the last millennium and the 20th century (see Section 9.6). The compilation and comparison of climate sensitivity estimates derived from models and from observations are presented in Box 10.2. An alternative approach, which is followed here, is to assess the reliability of key climate feedback processes known to play a critical role in the models’ estimate of climate sensitivity.

This section explains why the estimates of climate sensitivity and of climate feedbacks differ among current models (Section 8.6.2), summarises understanding of the role of key radiative feedback processes associated with water vapour and lapse rate, clouds, snow and sea ice in climate sensitivity, and assesses the treatment of these processes in the global climate models used to make projections of future climate change (Section 8.6.3). Finally we discuss how we can assess our relative confidence in the different climate sensitivity estimates derived from climate models (Section 8.6.4). Note that climate feedbacks associated with chemical or biochemical processes are not discussed in this section (they are addressed in Chapters 7 and 10), nor are local-scale feedbacks (e.g., between soil moisture and precipitation; see Section

Or, just sit back and wait, or deny, whatever you favor.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Willing subserviance is the term Chomsky uses @9:00+/- to describe the results due to the institutional nature, aka bureaucracy, or societal flaws in failing to question. He's talking of propaganda from 1990 and contras and Israeli peace process.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote douglaslee:

Willing subserviance is the term Chomsky uses @9:00+/- to describe the results due to the institutional nature, aka bureaucracy, or societal flaws in failing to question. He's talking of propaganda from 1990 and contras and Israeli peace process.

He uses "true by definition" to support his argument. And he does so in order to illustrate how people are easily cowed into going along with institutional logic, just as the following illustrates that a definition, or so-called "facts" or "information" is not all that's needed in order to reach a more complex understanding of the world:

"This plucked chicken has two legs and no feathers—therefore, by definition, it is a human!"

When people argue definitions, they usually start with some visible, known, or at least widely believed set of characteristics; then pull out a dictionary, and point out that these characteristics fit the dictionary definition; and so conclude, "Therefore, by definition, atheism is a religion!"

But visible, known, widely believed characteristics are rarely the real point of a dispute. Just the fact that someone thinks Socrates's two legs are evident enough to make a good premise for the argument, "Therefore, by definition, Socrates is human!" indicates that bipedalism probably isn't really what's at stake—or the listener would reply, "Whaddaya mean Socrates is bipedal? That's what we're arguing about in the first place!"

That Chomsky talk was apparently given early 1990. I had recently picked up and read through Edward S. Herman's and his 1988 publication of Manufacturing Consent, so, though I didn't see that particular talk then, I was already very much interested in what Chomsky was saying about our system and how people are hegemonically going along with the "truth by definition" version of the United States as he illustrates.

Questioning ones own contribution to hegemony is dangerous, and troublesome to do. But there is no other way to get out from under the dominance of "truth by definition" mindset that manages the institutional systems that we all take part in, because, after all, they make up the world we live in today.

Clearly Chomsky was still on a roll from writing and producing that "manufacturing consent" theory about how the media helps to reinforce hegemonic agreement within the population rather than inform it through questioning. And you can see, in his talks today, that his "youthful" vigor apparent in that 1990 talk (he was about 61 at the time) is waning and his energy is wearing down. But he has helped a lot of people over the years to see through "truth by definition." And that's really something. Because seeing through truth by definition is how anyone can carry on, unyoking oneself from the tautologically dominant machinery of consent.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Are We At "Peak" Citizen's United?

Thom plus logo Donald Trump has corrupted pretty much every federal agency, but the one that is most concerning is his corruption of the Department of Justice. Bill Barr, in 1992, ran the cover up of the Iran/Contra treason scandal on behalf of George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan. Now he's running, according to Lev Parnas, multiple coverups for Donald Trump.
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