Why climate change is a wicked moral problem

Dave Roberts at Grist picked over a recent Nature paper examining the fact that climate change doesn’t spark moral outrage, the same way terrorist attacks or even oil spills do. and the ways we might try and work around those cognitive issues if we’re going to get sustained political support for dealing with it seriously (original paper here).

In a related vein William Gibson recently commented:

I assume that we live in the first era in human history against which all posterity will have reason to hold a sad and bitter grudge.

Many people responded with things to the effect of “What about slavery?”, referring to past egregious social and economic injustices we’ve inflicted upon each other.  I thought his response was poetic:

The difference between knowing murders were committed in your ancestral home and knowing fools let it burn to the ground. Hence your tent.

Thankfully that Nature paper also included potential cognitive and messaging work arounds, so we can hopefully get people to react, and then respond appropriately.  Now if only we can bring ourselves to use them.

Clean energy will unfortunately be political

Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama’s clean energy strategy, as revealed by ALEC bills and other PR documents.  This morning at the World Renewable Energy Forum, in response to a (long winded) question about how we might re-frame the energy discussion in light of the unfortunate hay which was made from Solyndra’s failure, US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu re-iterated that clean energy should not be a political issue — that it’s just common sense.  That may be true, but it doesn’t mean it will remain apolitical.  As Pericles once said… “Just because you do not take an interest in politics, does not mean that politics will not take an interest in you.”  Clean energy is political, as is climate change.  Yes, it’s stupid, but that’s the way it is.  We have to deal with it.  Though, I have to admit, if prices keep dropping like they have been, it will be fun to watch the right-wing culture warriors backpedal, as massive renewable deployments become profitable without subsidies of any kind in the next decade.

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