De-Partisaned: What Would You Sacrifice to Save the World?

I gather from the polls that there's a tight race for which of two violent, torturing, mass-murdering or potentially mass-murdering (Romney has had no opportunity to send out automated killer drones over civilian populations yet, but since he has every intention of doing so, the difference really is no difference) war criminals will lead the US.  If the last sentence sounds cynical, well it is and it isn't.  Since every president in my life time (born during the Nixon administration) has been either a mass murderer or a wanna-be mass murderer (don't talk Jimmy Carter to me - there's a reason we call our military oil policy "The Carter doctrine"), and that includes all the ones who won the Nobel Peace Prize, this seems to be a fact of life.  In reality, actually, it is possible that not a single president in history other than William Henry Harrison (who died on his 32nd day in office) was innocent of the above charges.  George Washington, for example was known by  the Iroquois as "The Destroyer of Towns" after he ordered 40 villages burned to the ground in 1779and their populations mass murdered after they sided with the British.

So if the above sounds cynical, it is only so in the broadest sense - I think anyone who lives longer than few weeks as president is going to be responsible for crimes I would be afraid to have on my soul.   I have yet to see a viable candidate who would not.   That does not change the fact that I think there is a critical difference in quality between two mass-murdering, torturing, violent war criminals, and I also will be voting for one of them - because the lesser of two evils is simply lesser - and less matters. I think it is worth doing the work of voting for the man who will commit fewer and less appalling war crimes. Speaking as a person nominally identified with the US left (although since the US doesn't have a real viable left, I'm not sure how identified I actually am) I bet you can guess which one I would vote for if my vote mattered in the slightest (I live in NY state which is the 50th state in the list the US Republican party actually cares about and not in play, so I feel entirely free to vote for Kinky Friedman or Cookie Monster or the pickled brain of Groucho Marx in a jar, and just might ;-)).

Here is another thing that matters - doing everything we possibly can to address climate change, peak oil, and the consequent end of economic growth.  Because things are going to suck if we don't.  Does that mean we can fix everything?  Absolutely not.  But I do think that there are important differences here that are worth mentioning - the difference between four and six degrees of climate change, between a rapid decline in oil availability and a slower one that leaves some for the future, the difference between many people going hungry and fewer people going hungry, the difference between poverty that kills and that which merely causes suffering.  These are all bad things - but they are not equally bad things.

I was talking about the fact that the US clearly is going to do absolutely nothing about climate change with a friend who is a conservative Christian writer.  You probably know her name, but she's asked that this column keep her anonymous for now.  She and I have been corresponding on and off for a couple of years, because while we are radically opposed on a number of issues politically, we tend to agree on climate change, peak oil and the economy.  We have had some lively debates and occasionally offended each other, but never past saving, and recently, talking about our lack of action on these issues, she asked me a question:

"If I could deliver a lot of conservative votes on say, climate legislation or make peak oil a focal issue among a large group of conservatives, what would you and the people you influence  be willing to compromise on to work across the aisle?  Sharon, are you just writing another column about how people really should should work together, or are you serious?  What political ground would you give to work seriously on these issues?  Because what I see is that the left only wants us to give ground.  I'm sure the right looks the same way to you.  We both agree that we need to move past the barrier issues like gay marriage and abortion but that won't happen unless someone is willing to give ground.  What would you give up on those issues and others?  We could probably get very limited cross-aisle participation on very narrow and specific issues, but if you actually wanted to organize deep change, you'd have to figure out a way people who feel strongly on those issues can feel they've met in the middle somehow and can live with their compromises."

Well, that is where the rubber meets the road, isn't it?  We cannot act on climate change because the right sees it as a leftist issue.  We cannot act on peak oil because no one, left or right with power cares enough.  What if it were possible to shift the ground and (not instantly, but eventually) gain influence on these issues?  Would it be worth the price?  What price would each side be able to pay?

I know that a number of my readers are going to say that any compromise on gay marriage or abortion should never be contemplated.  Others on the right will say the same.  But I think my correspondent is correct that ultimately if there was ever to be any serious cross-aisle work, it would break down over social issues unless everyone could say they had given some ground, found some way to work together.

If there is any such hope, my take on it is that it only comes if you are bluntly honest about the price you are willing to pay and are paying.  There is no point in denying that the presidential candidates all advocate mass murder.  There is no point in denying that if you are pro-choice and you compromise on abortion, some women will suffer and some will die having back alley abortions.  There is no point in denying that if you truly believe life begins at conception, you are numbering your compromise in murdered babies.  The only way to do this is to be honest about the price of our choices - which we generally aren't.  We like to cloak them with nobility, and paint the other side in terms of evil.  But often all we are talking about are the lesser of two serious evils.

And the evil of climate change and energy depletion and grinding poverty due to lack of growth are very real and have costs in lives too.  Failing to address them because we can't talk across political lines is a choice as well - and one that we may equally go to hell for (this is more of a metaphor for me, since Judaism doesn't really have hell) - if I have to choose between hells, I pick the one where I was honest, and chose consciously, balancing costs and benefits, and choosing the lesser of two evils, rather than pretending that there was no difference.  That doesn't make the choices less painful, or more clear, though.

So, she asks, what would you answer?  Would you compromise anything in your political beliefs, particularly on hot-button issues that keep us apart?  If so, where would you place the halfway mark, an it were possible to work together?




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You ask an interesting question, and one that highlights the problems with a party system of governance like we have. By asking the question, your friend has immediately framed the debate as a left/right issue, which it most certainly is not. If an asteroid were on its way, would our members of Congress refuse to act without compromise on something else? (Well, actually... maybe they would.)

If I were a member of Congress (and this is one of the many reasons I would never seek the position) I would not compromise at all, but would use my bully pulpit powers to continue to take the issue to the people. Honestly, until people are truly educated about the issue, (and until they understand how it's going to affect them personally) we are not going to make appropriate choices anyway, and we might not even then. But if we have any hope of an honest response, I think we have to re-frame the debate and work on it from the ground up.

By Trish Gannon (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

I have to agree with Trish about the framing being misleading. At some point GCC will be like an asteroid headed straight for Earth! The time to act was long ago, and the will to act is still in the future. In that light, it is wrong to think that we can bargain with people's rights and lives today as if some compromise we could (probably not) come to would have an impact that outweighs their sacrifice.

On a separate note, since you're in NY and your vote won't really be "in play", might I suggest Jill Stein and the Green Party? If you go to a website called '' and take their quiz, you will probably find that you line up with the Greens pretty well. (Who knows - maybe you're already a Green Party supporter :)) It can't hurt to let the powers that be know how many of us don't agree with either of the mainstream platforms.

Anyway - I'm a big fan of your website and have a couple of your books. Keep up the good work, and thank you!

By Doodlespook (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

Thank you for providing a forum for this discussion because your friend is absolutely right. The more we all dig in our heals, the less good can actually happen.

I think for me, I would be willing to give up Obamacare (although I don't want to), I would be willing to let tax cuts happen (although think they're a terrible idea) and I would be willing to not touch big oil subsidies (although I think theyr'e rediculous). Those issues I would be willing to compromise on to achieve real progress on climate change. "real progress" to me is 1)being honest about the situation we're in on both sides, 2) spending our money on sustainable infrastructue and 3) training people for the real "new" economy. There is obviously much more that could be said and that we should be doing, but this is a start.

By Farmer Amber (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

As a mostly left-of-center person, I've done nothing *but* give in and compromise on things, ever since I started to vote in 1982, and I've voted in every election, local, state and federal since then (except that one time I left the mail-in ballots in the glove box :-).

I think it is a framing problem, like Trish said. What your "friend" was saying was "Where are you weak? What can we get you to give up now?"

The fact that your friend talks about "barrier issues", like gay marriage or abortion or birth control, and imagines that there is some basis for a quid pro quo based on those items in return for climate changes reveals the dishonesty of the frame.

Gay marriage and climate change are separate issues. There is no relationship between them. Birth control and climate change are separate issues. Abortion and climate change are separate issues. There is no need for compromise on one to deliver results for the other, except as a dishonest and disrespectful attempt to gain ground.

Flip the question around, and listen to the response. What would your friend give up? Nothing. That's why she asked you first.

I myself am a gay man, and questions like these are often on my mind as I contemplate what the end of cheap energy could mean for my life. Every time I applaud relocalization or an informal economy more closely centered around human relationships, I have a twinge of apprehension at the thought of whom I might have to deal with in those contexts: conservatives willing to shun me or say to my face that I'm going to hell. How do I deal with people like my Kentucky cousins, who know so many good things about gardening and self-sufficiency, but who cling to their beliefs so strongly that they can't accept me as part of their lives?

To get back to Sharon's question, my own answer is that I can compromise on things like economic issues, and even some things related to foreign policy. I would love to see more progressive tax structures and more direct investments in preparing for climate change, but I'm willing to try out conservative approaches to this and other issues for the sake of moving forward at least a little. What I can't compromise on, however, are the issues central to me living with integrity, and for me that means always advocating for equal recognition of committed relationships and the right to be open about who I am without fear of discrimination. I imagine that many women feel the same way about the right to choose, because it has to do with their own bodily autonomy.

I also have to admit that I'm tempted not to compromise at all. Demographic studies have shown that younger people and faster growing populations are more accepting of things like marriage equality, and even more progressively minded economically. Why not just wait for conservatives to age out of the electorate? The problem is, of course, that by that time it could be too late to act.

I would be willing to give up the state sanctioning of civil unions of any kind, be they same-sex couples, mixed-sex couples, or multiply-sexed couples/triples/morples. I'd be willing to give up state funding of abortions along with state funding of wars or "police actions," and welfare along with bank bailouts.

I would be willing to give up a great deal - perhaps everything - if it meant bringing an end to the destruction we are wreaking. But anyone who offers such a deal isn't going to end things. For years now we either have a non-democratic consensus (on peak oil, for example) which precludes political contest; or we have "social issues" (like gay rights and abortion) which force people to pick a side whatever they may think of the parties' actions on the political economy; or we have real political contest (as on the budget, entitlements reform, regulatory reform and so on) where the people who are most willing to crash the whole thing to the ground have been winning. And those people, when they win, do not then solve the problem, because it is the teetering on the precipice that gives them their power. Your friend's question looks to me like the textbook case of how they operate. "What would you give to prevent me from destroying this thing? - (because the fact that I'll suffer too isn't going to stop me!)"

By Andy Brown (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

I'd be willing to drop the gay marriage/civil union thing, and I say that as a gay man.

I can also say that I've never been really all that motivated by what the government has to say about gay or straight marriage. It's between two people and what the government says or doesn't say about it...well, I don't really care, and I've said as much as this some months ago in comments to your blog right here.

Besides, like Nathan says, people are coming around anyway as society turns over. I'd throw the conservatives a bone on this because ultimately, no matter what they get the government position on marriage to be, they're about to lose anyway.

But if anybody thinks that conservatives will then get behind addressing climate change or energy policy....well, I have this bridge over here.....'Wanna see it?

By Stephen B. (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

In order to make progress on debt reduction and peak oil issues, I would be willing to let government get out of the marriage business. No deductions or benefits for being married to one or more partners of any sex or genetic background. I would also like the government to get out of the baby business. Let your conscience be your guide, not legal rules. These changes would stop the debate and allow government focus on topics where government could make positive strides.

I think the premise of the question doesn't make sense. Gay marriage and abortion rights have nothing to do with climate change.

It sounds to me like she's saying, "I'm completely unwilling to compromise on abortion and gay marriage. If you give in on those issues, then I'd be willing to meet you half way on climate change."

But climate change is an important issue that needs to addressed. And progress will benefit both sides. How about "Let's work together on not screwing up the planet and killing ourselves." I'm willing to compromise on climate change issues if you're willing to compromise on climate change issues. We can meet somewhere in the middle and try to get the process started.

With that success under our belts, we can talk about how we're going to compromises on other issues like gay marriage and abortion.

As George Monbiot has said, the political (and economic) battles of the future won't be between left and right, but those who know that here are limits to resources, and those who believe there are no limits.

As someone on the left who believes in limits, my bottom line for co-operation would firstly be policies that accepted this, eg a properly functioning price on carbon, and secondly, a willingness to redistribute the economic benefits and costs of such policies more evenly.

I would welcome the state getting out of a lot of the activities it is involved in at present if individuals and communities were economically, educationally and socially equipped to fill the gaps themselves. But in my country the redistribution that this would require is anathema to the right, and probably quite a bit of the left as well.

By southernrata (not verified) on 12 Oct 2012 #permalink

You know the only risk of climate change is that the next ice age is about due - and this is not something that the "climate change" campaignersw take into account or they would want more CO2.

The current peak oil claims, like all the previous ones, is fraudulent.

However the end of economic growth, at least among those countries interested in ecofascist scare stories, appears to be happening.

To stop that threat I would do quite a lot - not as much as most of those here who have happily involved themselves in murdering 85 million people, nominally to keep egg shells thicker, but actually for the fun of it.

Certainly the ecofascists impoverishing humanity and killing hundreds of millions of us is something any decent human being should be willing to fo an awful lot to stop.

However my experience is that they won't compromise on anything. What would you propose Sharon? I think gay marriage is sillty but would accept putting up with it if I thought the Greens would, honestly geniunley and permanently, put up with allowing the economy to grow. How about it Sharon?

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 12 Oct 2012 #permalink

I don't see where a bill addressing climate change, peak oil or pollution has to be tied to a bill on social issues. The current practice of bundling disparate items into the same piece of legislation is absurd and counter productive. So bi-partisan action on things we can agree on, and we keep arguing the rest.

I do live well above sea level, and far enough back that the angle of repose won't be a problem for a few hundred years. When mansions in the Hamptons flood, perhaps the Roadblock party will get a clue.

Marrowstone Island
Jefferson County
Washington State

Because there is so much misinformation, disinformation and outright lies disseminated by outrageously enriched 'talking heads' via the mass media, discovering what is real can be a difficult task. Even so, how on Earth can our children begin to prepare for the future their elders are creating for them if the kids are not told what is actually happening now? Never in the course of human events have so few elders in a single generation taken so much for themselves and left so little for so many children.

By Steven Earl Salmony (not verified) on 12 Oct 2012 #permalink

Lumping climate change in with issues like abortion and gay marriage is a straw man both the right and the left use to deflect attention from them and onto their familiar rally points. There is NO connection between the two and no reason congressmen and women on different sides of the latter issues couldn't work together on issues like climate change without compromising their other values, if they so chose. The issue is that they don't WANT to work together, period, and they use these hot-button issues as a smoke screen.

I am an independent with a libertarian streak as wide as my hand. I have friends on either side of the aisle; my conservative friends think I'm too liberal, my liberal friends think I'm too conservative. Rather than arguing over the differences we hold in our core values, we emphasize the similarities. That's when politics even comes up, which they rarely do.

This whole debate on peak oil and climate change is going to boil down not to what we're willing to give up, but what we HAVE to give up: Social Security, Medicare, Empire, and more. The longer we keep arguing over issues that, frankly, won't matter in the big picture 20 years from now, the more we are going to end up having to give up. People on BOTH sides of the aisle need to grow up, put on their big girl/boy pants, and find a way to work with people on the other side.

I don't really believe there is any such thing as compromise on these debates. To get the right to agree on issues about peak oil or climate change would be nearly impossible as many do not even believe those things exist. A lot on the so called political right think that climate change is part of some echo-terrorist conspiracy. As others have mentioned, issues like abortion or same-sex marraige have nothing to do with climate change. I don't really see how so called compromises are going to improve things. If there was an equal playing field, I'd me more open to the idea but, let's face it, the political right has more power and more financing then the political left. As long as money talks, there's going to be no such thing as compromise.

Well, there's no need to compromise on marriage equality for gay people, as the trend is toward increasing support. As older, bigoted conservatives die off, younger people (including conservatives) tend to have much less prejudice on this issue, and increasing numbers of them support gay marriage rights. Eventually, conservatives will accept this as a conservative position, in the sense argued by Andrew Sullivan.
I suspect the same is true with marijuana legalization - although this is developing more slowly. But eventually conservatives will go with the libertarian side of their tradition on this issue, too - especially since the war on drugs is such a great example of wasteful government spending.
As for abortion, Roe v. Wade is already a compromise. Perhaps that compromise will be tweaked or adjusted slightly, but the general outline of it has broad public support. So there's no need for any major backing-down to the right, there, either.
Climate change is not a political issue. The idea that this is a "liberal issue" is a good example of the way some on the right have become divorced from reality. You can't really compromise with people who are living in a fog of fantasy and confusion.
Similarly, peak oil is not a political issue - like climate change, it's just a fact of reality. Now, exactly how to deal with or respond to, or prepare for, climate change and peak oil - those can be political issues, I suppose. But not until some smart people on the left, right, or elsewhere start proposing some ideas and getting the broader public (and pundits, etc) talking about them.
As for the president being a mass murderer, I suspect even a President Astyk might find herself faced with situations where she had to consider the deployment of military force. It's something that comes with being the head of government of almost any state (any large and powerful one with enemies, anyway). Not that I'm happy about, or supporting, the drone strikes- I find the use of drones very disturbing. But - deploying infantry or commandoes to fight terrorists would result in many more deaths. And the Taliban has killed many more people than American drones have. Just saying, in this area Obama is in a situation where there are no easy decisions, and it's easy to criticize from the outside. I'm voting (actually just did) for him, too, even though I do not support everything he does or says. I don't expect to ever encounter an elected official, even a local one, whose every act, utterance or position I support. But, that's okay.
My feeling is, with your mysterious conservative friend/colleague, as with your president who does some things that horrify you and some things that you support -- team up to work with them on the issues you agree on, and put the other issues aside (or work in opposition to them on those issues, if they're important). Choose different allies depending on the issue or the situation. For example, support the Catholic Church when it speaks out for the poor or against war or excessive materialism, and fight the Catholic Church on its primitive attitudes about sex, women, contraception, reproductive rights, etc. Join with your neighbor if they're fighting, say, an unneeded new highway that will destroy farmland - and fight like hell against that same neighbor when they are trying to get "intelligent design" taught in the local schools. And so on.


You know the only risk of climate change is that the next ice age is about due

Heh. At least he didn't say 'we' this time, but surely Sharon can speak for herself about what she knows. It's more evidence that Neil lives in a world where only he exists, and 'I', 'you' and 'we' all mean the same thing to him. He's been talking to himself all along!

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 12 Oct 2012 #permalink

From an outside view (lefty but not US) it looks to me as if the US left (if they deserve such a label - I mean the democrats) is plenty willing to compromise on just about anything. It's just that the Republicans aren't.

I mean, on climate, the way it looks to me is that the Dems say "let's do something about AGW - a carbon tax!" Reps come back with: "carbon tax? typical liberals, taxes are the answer to everything! we'd prefer a market-based solution: cap and trade!" Democrats respond something like "OK, that could work too, let's do cap and trade." at which point the Republicans switch to "Cap and trade!? That's COMMUNISM!!!" and nothing happens.

Or on healthcare - D: "let's reform healthcare - how about single-payer socialised medicine?" R: "no, we want a market-based solution, how about a universal mandate?" D: "OK, universal mandate works, as long as everyone gets healthcare." R: "Universal mandate!? That's COMMUNISM" etc. (although in this case it did actually get passed)

Yes, severely oversimplified etc. (and still a long comment) but you get the idea. Sure, I ask myself if it's just from my strongly left-wing perspective that the republicans look like they've lost all touch with reality, but no, I'm pretty sure they're genuinely unable to compromise or even negotiate like grownups. But of course they keep taking advantage of the left's willingness to compromise at every possible turn.

@ JDA,

Things don't happen in a vacuum. Politicians have a vested interest in keeping their office -- they have families to support, and a community of politicians and bureaucrats (both governmental and in their respective political organizations) to support, to honor pledges made, in order to receive the support they need to continue in their office. In a democracy, they also have to adjust, along with their political organization, to changes in values and goals of their constituents, *and of those that vote for them*.

Large communities change slowly. If they are surviving (and sometimes when they are not surviving) they fear change as being worse than what they have. Change, after all, is measured in pain. Always. Call it learning, training, call it development or revitalizing, people's lives lose at least an understanding of what tomorrow brings, and usually add burdens of learning new processes, new expectations -- a return to a secure expectation for tomorrow will acquired only with the passage of time.

It doesn't help the AGW community, that like the Democrats that measure success and graft of a federal program by whether all the money was spent according to Federal Acquisition Regulation specifications, the focus has been on wealth redistribution. They pursued, back in my day, methane *from cows*, on *leased* *federal lands*, in the *western United States* as causing holes in the ozone layer. My understanding is that less than 3% of released methane comes from animals. No one has shown me that there is more methane released from an acre of pasture with a cow on it, than that same acre left unpastured with the grasses left to grow and decay naturally. And no one has shown me that grazing by cows produces more methane that grazing by wild critters from bacteria up through mooses and elephants, including the full cycle of feeding through decay of droppings.

The AGW community could have made razing of forests their poster child for "we have to change". Brazil's claim to success a few years back "Poachers only destroyed 1,000 square miles of rain forest last year, we are winning!" or something like that, seems more on point. The Kyoto accords and followon plans targeted countries with money, not those with the least efficient and growing uses of fossil fueils. Emerging countries were targeted to receive money from rich nations to *expand* their use of fossil fuels. Either fossil fuel use is harming the environment, or money talks and the rest is just intended to keep the rest of the rabble entertained and distracted.

The Democrats and Republicans, like the financial gurus from Greece to Spain to Germany, have vested interests in their own security and their own ways of life. Criticizing that way of life is as effective as expecting the whales to emerge from the oceans and teach us all to swim.

The tyrant, the brutal, the bully, can certainly step in and actively destroy the security, the infrastructure, of those that they believe should change. We do that regularly. We potty train our infants, we make arrangements for our sick, injured, and elderly "for their own good." And we strike and protest to deny cities and employers the ability to function and produce, we fund this revolutionary and that person that needs assistance, establishing ties and dependency into the future. We can paint our opponents as demons and evildoers, to disable their base of people that believe as they do. These are all effective ways to wield money and power. Most lose their effectiveness over time, to rebellion, loss of the leader -- uncovered mis-truths.

According to Leo Frankowski, in a novel, the strength of democracy is that it resists change. The most efficient form of government is, I was taught in school, the benevolent dictator. The weakness of the benevolent dictator model is that before hand you cannot assure who the dictator will be benevolent too, nor can you assure a peaceful regime change to succeeding benevolent dictator. Democracy, on the other hand, makes it terribly difficult for anyone to do anything either astoundingly good or horribly bad. This is one of the aspects of the current administration that particularly horrifies me, a President that "cannot wait" for Congress is out of control, and a destroyer of democracy.

As an outsider, my take is that the Transition movements have made progress for some people, under governments tolerant of the different, the strange -- those living their own lives as they choose and not as the government dictates.

Greenpeace generates lots of enthusiasm -- and operated solely in the realms of finance. They raised funds, and ultimately only achieved temporary interruptions in flows of wealth. Money games don't seem related to the air we breathe, and whether the garden produces this year.

Carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, these are money games. They were invented not to mitigate AGW -- they were intended primarily to redistribute wealth. They were intended, at Kyoto, to enable developing countries to develop the ability to pollute and consume fossil fuels as their basic right. At least, that is how I understand the agenda and the effect.

I think there are some things we could be doing, like emphasizing re-tooling existing vehicles, instead of sending them as scrap across continents to be remanufactured. We could be emphasizing co-located residence, shopping, and employment, so that walking and bicycles make sense, rather than more efficient cars to commute 10 miles -- or 50 -- each day. It isn't mass transit that is needed, but eliminated centralized business (i.e., wealth concentration) districts, and housing development as a wealth generating device rather than a long term place for generations to live. I haven't seen much emphasis on that kink of thing, outside Transition efforts, My personal climate change bugaboo, massive and progressive deforestation seems to me to be even more threatening that loss of farmland to city sprawl and highways, and loss of farmers, yet it receives only lip service if mentioned.

So keep your eyes on the Republicans and Democrats. They pay good money to keep you distracted that way.

As someone with a disability who has tried for years to support herself and ended up failing and going on government support, I must admit I'd find it very hard to lose all government support. I'd end up burdening my family and it would go hard on them as they've been hit with job loss problems. And we're not nearly as badly off as many out there.

The trouble with asking those on the margins to make sacrifices is that when they make sacrifices they will hurt a lot, and in some cases they kill. And when their sacrifices are met with tax breaks for the rich, the result is festering anger that tends to lead to social unrest. Riots aren't of much benefit to anyone.

Looking at the USA from the outside, it looks to me like those who have least are being asked to make the most sacrifices, and this can't continue forever if you don't want a revolution.

I have to agree with many here. It sounds as though your correspondent is already quite aware that peak oil and climate change are real and will affect everyone. Why else would she be willing to compromise? Climate change and peak oil are facts, not ideological positions. So given that awareness, she's also aware that it's in her best interest, and her progeny's best interest if something is done about them. So she magnanimously offers to "compromise" by admitting that maybe they could agree to do something in everyone's best interest, but it sure wouldn't bother them to drive a hard bargain with those lefties and get something else they want out of the deal. Her part of the compromise is to admit reality and maybe try to do something about it. The "left's" part is to give up on hard won human rights?

I too would like to hear what she thinks the right would be willing to compromise in an issue involving sincere differences of opinion, rather than which slice of reality they're ready to acknowledge. Let her put some cards on the table regarding abortion, the death penalty, gay rights, etc.

By Kate@LivingThe… (not verified) on 13 Oct 2012 #permalink

once upon a time in the forests of north california, clear cutting af vast tracts of timber was the norm. but most people never saw the erosion and stream damage that caused because, generally, there was a "beauty strip" of intact forest along the highways. legislation was repeatedly proposed to reduce the damage in various ways, but never passed. eventually, someone decided that surely, if legislators and other officials could really see what their policies did, they would surely change their minds. thus began a program in which owners of small planes volunteered to take these deal makers up in theeir planes to fly over the destruction. and it worked at least to the degree that some protective legislation passed and some logging practices changed.
now for someone with the mindset of the auto company executive who when questioned why, in the face of global warming, peak oil, etc. his company still made gas-guzzling suvs. his response was to the effect that he knew this and was doing his part to hurry the appearance of the rapture.
whereas sometimes knowledge of what is real can cause a behavior change, it is, alas, not a sure thing. still...what else is there to try but education and modeling the behavior we want to see?

I don't think you can give Harrison a pass. He may not have had time to be a torturing murderer as president - but his adult life up to them was spent fighting Tecumsah and driving the natives from land that the white settlers wanted. He did his part in the genocide.

By wondering (not verified) on 13 Oct 2012 #permalink


I wonder what action on climate change and energy depletion looks like.
I suspect that to Democrats it looks like a federal program, with cash outlays and regulators, and likely grateful voters. To Republicans I imagine it looks like tax breaks for favored actions, or regulations and taxes, and likely grateful lobbyists.
But actual change, as I understand it, will look more like de-centralized businesses and the end of residences as investment and domicile-of-the-moment. Mass transit and electric cars (i.e., coal-fired power plants) enable the status qup of centralized wealth concentrators (bankers, multinational corporations, and other facets of big business).
We confuse a pharmaceutical ba$ed definition of health care with healthy lives. We consider trans-continental helicopter life-flights and ambulances to mega-hospitals a basic right.
Those kinds of compromise, the distance between lifestyle changes and federal budget line items, is the divide between change and politics.

Blessed be.

The comment from your correspondent underscores most clearly why there will never be compromise on anything between thinking people and conservative religious fundamentalists - namely, that they do not understand critical thinking in the slightest, and as a result they make false correspondences on a disturbingly regular basis. If she really thought peak oil and climate change were something she needed to worry about she would not have asked you those questions, nor made that comment at all.
Does she assume she and her family will be raptured at some point before or during the tribulations to come and that it will not (or not very much) affect her family? Does she perhaps feel that the crises coming for most of humanity are somehow punishment for humanity’s sins against the lord? I got that feeling when I read her comment. Peak oil, climate change, and the associated crises are NOT left or right issues; they are issues affecting humanity. Period.
Any REAL Christian would not think to ask those questions, because any REAL Christian is too busy doing the job Jesus gave them – feeding the poor, healing the sick, and letting their light shine – to bother trying to take sides or force false equivalencies in issues that affect them the same as their ‘enemies’ the liberals. Love your enemies, do good to them that curse you. Where’s the heavenly love in the statements from your correspondence? I don’t see any. Therefore I have to assume that, while she may indeed be very religious, a Christian she is not. Because I don’t see Jesus reflected in those comments at all.

Better is better.More moral is just that, in the sense that gay rights should not be different,a few cells are not a person,neither is a corporation.We have no evidence of souls.Every issue has a better,more all encompassing answer,with a path to a superior future to follow.I am more for informing than compromising any issue.If the right holds any issue hostage to another they have no footing on morals.I know this idea will not work because it takes ferver that reasonable people rarely sustain but hope progressive enlightened voters continue to appear in the voting outcomes.

By Chuck Arzig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

Well disappointingly but unsurprisingly it turns out that not a single person, even Sharon who suggested it, is willing to compromise on anything when it comes down to it.

One reason may be that you all know the ecofascists have no coherent programme other than demanding money with menaces so there is no programme to compromise on.

For example if anybody in the carastrophic warming camp believed there was any truth in their claims they would be willing, indeed eager, to compromise with supporters of the only system that can seriously cut CO2 - nuclear power. But then CO2 production would be cut and you wouldn't have the scare story to provide the menaces needed to extract more Danegeld from productive members of society.

If there is another reason why the ecofascist barbarians won't compromise perhaps somebody will say what. is.

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

"What Would You Sacrifice to Save the World?"

Whiner Neil, definitely.

He's got nothing but bile and vitriol, so we're all better off without him.

"I know that a number of my readers are going to say that any compromise on gay marriage or abortion should never be contemplated. "

If I want to kill all Americans, do we compromise on me cutting their left arm off?


Oddly enough, it's the right which denies the need to compromise. Look at Obamacare.

Originally, that was Ronmey's offer which at the time was touted as a useful compromise.

But when Obama picks it up practically in its entirety, it's suddenly overreaching and communist.

For a compromise to be possible, you have to have someone who has a wish to compromise first.

We don't compromise on Pi being 3.1 because it's between the "two extremes" of the mathematicians irrational number and the bibe's 3 integer.

"I am an independent with a libertarian streak as wide as my hand. I have friends on either side of the aisle"

A problem here though rebecca.

You see yourself as "between" two extremes.

This is almost definitely not the case.

Consider instead of a line from right to you to left, an equilateral triangle.

You stand on one corner. Your friend on the right stands on another, your friend on the left stands on the third.

And sometimes there is no compromise.

One poster proclaims that government should get out of deciding law on birth control. Except we have at one black extreme the ending of a birth after the event, and at the other extreme the committing of murder by wanking or menstruation.

The line being here defined with "Who gets the right". IF it's the cells of a zygote only, then you cannot really draw a line under masturbation-as-murder. IF it's the parent, then you cannot draw a line under parental killing of their children.

It isn't a line, though.

The baby as born has rights, the mother has rights. But we already HAVE acknowledged that you can have diminished rights and responsibilities (classifications of murder, accidental death, death by misadventure, et al).

Cells don't have human rights. But someone who is limited mentally doesn't get the full set of rights either (otherwise children would not be banned from having sex, drinking alcohol, joining the armed forces or driving cars).

But any agreement on this HAS to be done via government. Otherwise there is nothing to stop a father killing his and painting this as just a very late abortion.

Neil Craig (and to a lesser extent, some others): It seems to me that name-calling (i.e. "ecofascist barbarians") and maligning individuals' characters (e.g. I get a little nervous when we start trying to say who's a "REAL" Christian, Jew, Buddhist, etc...) doesn't really get us much of anywhere, other than to amp up the vitriol and stonewalling that are already present.

Also Neil, if you read carefully through some of the comments, you will see that while many folks here disagree with the framing of Sharon's friend's query (i.e. GCC and peak oil aren't a left vs. right issue, they're a "future of our planet and human welfare" issue), some commenters HAVE actually said what they'd be willing to "give" on -- specifically, gay marriage, abortion, social welfare programs, "Obamacare," etc... Perhaps you should read a bit more carefully to avoid making easily falsified claims. I also suspect that with regards to your POV on nuclear power, some might be willing to "give" on that issue too (most likely seeing it as the lesser of two evils).

I'm not really sure how to get people to recognize the "common good"-ness of addressing the GCC and peak oil issues as a community. Sorry to be a Debby Downer, but it seems like until a substantial percentage of people start to think long term vs. short term and big picture vs. small picture (i.e. if we don't address this issue, our economy will do more than just suffer as Neil bemoans in his first comment, we won't even have an economy to worry about) and put their role as citizens of this planet (and the interests that derive from that role) above their role as Wall Street exec, politician, media participant, business owner, etc... we're sort of up a creek. I guess, being a person of faith myself, I try to take comfort in the fact that sometimes doing the right thing just because it's the right thing (even if, in the grand scheme of things, it's not making one lick of difference) is a good enough reason to keep on keeping on.

By Kate Rowbot (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

Since Christianity is a matter of self beleif, anyone who SAYS they're a christian IS a christian.

My first thought was that your question as posed is a brilliant as it is rare in these parts. But then, after some further consideration, I wrote this:

I attended a public address recently. The topic was, in sum, “humanity living with the natural (flora and) fauna” and, more particularly, the prospects for human-kind to recognize the most basic of rights—that being the right to life—for wild nature, too, just as we now commonly do for our domestic pets whose lives we protect and preserve as much as and as long as we find we can humanely do so.

The main speaker was a respected theorist, author and educator, and, in short, a staunch defender of the cause of nature’s wildlife—and, I am sure, that includes the world of vegetation—though the rights of plant-life never came up either in her comments or in those of the audience.

I mention this occasion because, listening to the arguments in favor of the recognition of a general nature-wide “right to life” at least in some real, practical sense, I found myself thinking: These ambitions are so far beyond our own pathetic and self-destructive kind of creature. We can’t even ensure decency toward our own, much less extend it toward all living animals---simple non-vertebrates’ were mentioned as a question---do we recognize rights to life for bacteria, viruses, single-celled organisms? That wasn’t given any extended consideration and, clearly the speaker’s aims and intentions center on vertebrate life first and foremost.

This is the back-drop for the following comments in which I am thinking primarily but not exclusively of contemporary Western industrial society and its analogues in the Orient.
The idea of a compromise among ordinary members of the general public strikes me as being hardly less bizarre than the cause of rights to life for all living vertebrates. I’m for the latter, but I see no reasonable prospect for it in this universe. People as a whole are far too stupid, cruel and selfish to ever allow such a wide grant of rights to those living creatures which share the planet with them and who also compete for nature’s resources in order to live—with the exception of pets whose lives depend on human-kind’s voluntary sharing of resources.

Currently, as I see it, it’s like this: posing a question of the sort raised here is absurd. It reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoon “And that’s my final offer!” (see:
Corporate power, a.k.a. “organized money” now holds all the cards. It has reduced democracy to a very bad joke; we now enjoy only the puniest of tattered rights upon sufferance. It has been extremely and painfully clear for so long now that the public pose absolutely no threat to power’s grip, that those who are the wealthiest, the best-organized and who, as a consequence, are in a position to determine every social and political issue according to their whims with only the mildest obligations to take other peer power-group interests into account as the spoils are divied up.

For the rest of us, that is, ordinary people, we have nothing to say, no influences to exercise, and simply, we count for nothing beyond extras in the obscenely expensive charade called electoral politics—thus, as participants in that charade, we lend whatever pathetic credibility there remains to an order that deserves no credibility at all.
To speak of the lesser of two evils between Obama and Romney is like talking about whether, being trapped on the top floors of the World Trade Center, it’s better to jump out a window or stay inside and be crushed, burned to death or overcome by smoke.

The same system that gave produced George W. Bush produced Barrack Obama. There is simply no defensible excuse for the perpetuation of that system.

Those in highest places of power--no matter what they may say or claim about their good intentions--are dangerous, violent and determined to use the ample deadly resources at their command to violently put down any and all resistance which threatens even mild effectiveness. That should now be obvious to us. Our system, and all so-called, self-proclaimed democracies are not only a sham, they are flagrantly based not upon anything remotely resembling consent, but, rather, almost undisguised violent force.

Peaceful protest,if it ever approached effectiveness, will not be allowed.

By proximity1 (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

RE: Neil Craig
3:12 pm

Well disappointingly but unsurprisingly it turns out that not a single person, even Sharon who suggested it, is willing to compromise on anything when it comes down to it.


Neil, Sharon A., and any others inclined to respond:

What inthe world is this hypothetical "compromise" suppposed to gain in return?----for either "Left", "Right" or "Center", by the way. That is asked in the most practical sense possible. I mean, what specifically do any of those who are in theory, here, "to offer to compromise" --what are they supposed to actually gain from it, by it?

As I see it, the only real answer to such a question is, in very practical terms, "nothing", since those in power, the general public's readiness to "compromise" or not, is simply not a factor that power-holders need take into account.

A reader is supposed, I gather, to assume that an openly recognized readiness to compromise on any important public issue would, ipso facto, mean that power-holders would somehow, for some unexplained reason, find themselves with less room to operate unhindered. I see no reason for any such supposition and, without it, no reasonable cause for even raising a question about a hypothetical compromise among ordinary people.

To put things another way, simply imagine the unimaginable---that some significant proportion of the general public found the simple common sense to see how they--left, right and center--are being cruelly and cynically gamed by the power-holders and these ordinary people put aside their fiercely opposed partisan views in order to make common cause against the power structure---imagine that.

Q. : What would then occur?

A.: They'd be shot down in the streets.

By proximity1 (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

i would give up my moral right to murder those who deliberately placed me and mine in harm's way in pursuit of their individual short-term best interests. don't fucking push me.

By misanthropope (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

I want to go back to framing concern. I follow John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report. Last year he had 2 posts on binary thinking that I feel are relevant here. It seems to me what your correspondent friend is doing is a good example of binary thinking: black/white, good/bad, etc Very few things are binary. An option he suggests is to have look for a ternary option, or more than one. I'll have to spend more time thinking about a ternary response, Greer points out it takes practice to do this.

I'm not good at summarizing what he said, so here are links to his posts:

By Eileen Liddy (not verified) on 14 Oct 2012 #permalink

"We cannot act on climate change because the right sees it as a leftist issue. We cannot act on peak oil because no one, left or right with power cares enough."

Actually, that's the problem right there. As long as Climate Change is seen as a political, rather than a scientific issue, we're not going to get anywhere at all. AT ALL.

I think it's critical not to confuse moral concerns with scientific ones. Abortion and Peak Oil have nothing to do with each other, and to suggest that if only we give up our rights to reproductive freedom we'll be able to make changes that matter to the environment presents a very dangerous false dichotomy.

The left doesn't want the right to give ground on Climate Change. The right doesn't want the left to give ground on Climate Change. The intelligent, informed people want the people who have been hoodwinked into thinking that Climate Change is a political issue to concede than in fact it is not a conspiracy, but a predicament we need to respond to with speed.

Abortion and gay marriage are actually red herrings in the debate. You don't need to agree about them to work for change in environmental policy, nor to agree that robbing from future generations is, on the whole, completely immoral.

Oh--and just to clarify, there are *many* people on *both* sides of the right/left divide who are quite clear about the basis of Climate Change, and understand it to be a scientific problem!

Annie, problem is those on the right who understand that climate change is a science problem are shouted down or sidelined.

There's an example. Bet almost nobody here heard of him.

What Would You Sacrifice to Save the World?

Here are some possiblities:

Use your car no more than 1 day a week.
When you drive your car drive no faster than 35 mph.
Turn off all the electricity in your home for 12 hours each day.

By Stephen Bach (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

Will have done just under 4500 miles in two years by car.
Not allowed to go so slow on the motorways.
less than 200kWh a month in electric.

Actually, Annie, the bible is pretty clear that many of those calling themselves Christian are in actuality not. And they will be shocked and surprised when Jesus comes back.

The Christianity that exists today is a political machine, not a religion and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. And to state that anyone who calls themselves a Christian IS one is to legitimatize that religion, much the same as when reporters talk of Pagans as 'self-styled' *insert whatever here* when they do a story on one. As in self-styled druid, wiccan, witch, whatever. So if you want to legitimize Christianity as a valid religion, by all means allow people to be 'self-styled' christians.

And it doesn't change the fact, BTW, that even asking those questions should bring shame to the faces of any person striving to actually live up to Jesus' standards of charity and behavior.

DE-legitimize....for once autocorrect would have been good.

Some good comments! I agree with many - including noting that your friend did not mention what she was willing to give up! I have been in many a consensus circle that was dragged far out of balance by a few who redefined "middle" for their own selfish ends. That said, I believe climate change is a game-ender, in a way that the other mentioned issues are not. I would compromise much, if I believed it would help, but your friend's comments don't reassure me on that. Whoever said gay rights and climate change aren't equivalent is correct - it does not and should not need to be "quid pro quo" on such diverse issues -the "compromise" needs to be within the realm of climate change, and on that issue the left has done nothing BUT compromise! I'm encouraged by polls that show a majority of Americans now believe in climate change, and are connecting it with our recent extreme weather. What is needed is a functional federal government, and we don't have that, so we're still back to the grassroots efforts we are already making. My personal efforts have turned me into an oddity from my friends' & family's point of view. But I have more faith that individuals can bridge conservative-liberal gap than that the government can - it's been bought and served up to the rich, IMO. But thanks for bringing up this topic.

Your conservative columnist friend sounds like an extortionist and a hostage-taker. She suggests that you agree to sacrifice the rights of third party sacrificial victims and in return she will stop lying about obvious reality. She and her ilk invented these cultural blackmail wedge issues to begin with. Now she offers to stop lying about basic physical reality if you will help her and her militant backwardite stupidite base dominate and oppress other people even more effectively than they already do now? Better to terminate contact with her and her base until category 6 and 7 hurricanes and F6 and F7 tornados educate her and her base about what reality is and what survival requires. In the meantime, learn to live in a Global Burning world and try withholding that survival knowledge from those people who do NOT deserve to have that knowledge . . . such as your writer-friend who keeps recruiting her policy-obstructionist base with lies about physical reality.

By different clue (not verified) on 16 Oct 2012 #permalink

"Actually, Annie, the bible is pretty clear that many of those calling themselves Christian are in actuality not"

Actually, since faith is a personal belief, anyone calling themselves christian ARE christian.

Not living to the standards of YOUR reading of christianity? Sure. But they would call you a non-christian. Have a good look at the bible. The New Testament still glorifies death and torture and people are STILL commanded by god in there to kill others and make blood sacrifice.

All you have to do is read and remember different bits of the bible to come to a different meaning of Christianity.

None of you a christians. There will be only 144,000 that will experience rapture when jesus returns, and every single one of them will be Jewish. NO OUTSIDERS AT ALL.

So if the christians are right, and jesus DOES return you ALL will be very suprised when he does.

Heh, if we compromise, how about a compromise on gay marriage that says:

If you are NOT gay or lesbian, you DO NOT have to marry a gay or lesbian person.

and put that into law.

Here's another item to consider on the climate debate:…

There is nothing to compromise here with those farmers who deny the A in AGW. They have been propogandised so that they "know" that regulations will be to "punish" them. This is the result of partisan hacks in the MSM.

The only compromise is "If you agree not to tell any more lies, we agree not to wipe you out".

Sorry to digress, but I think the sub-conversation happening here about Christianity is also valuable/interesting.

I think it's important to consider the parallels between "extremist" Christianity and "extremist" Islam. I think it would be great if those of us who consider ourselves to be fairly progressive could extend the same grace to Christians that we typically do to Muslims -- we are HORRIFIED when people paint all Muslims with a broad brush (e.g. "Muslims are all violent jihadists!") because we realize that the vast majority of Muslims do not condone the senseless violence being perpetrated by a minority of Muslims. Many in the Muslim community consider this minority to be radically misguided in the way that they interpret what it means to be a "good" Muslim. We seem to have trouble extending that kind of grace to Christians -- let's acknowledge that the "extremist minority vs. the majority" phenomenon occurs in Christianity as well. Just because some very LOUD Christians are, in the opinion of many Christians, twisting what it means to be a Christian, let's not lump all Christians together as if they all espouse the ideals trumpeted by the loud minority.

Susan et al... While Jesus does say that many who say to him "Lord, Lord!" won't be entering the kingdom of heaven because he never knew them, he also says that we should worry about taking the log out of our own eye before seeking to remove the speck from our brother's eye. There's the whole "judge not lest ye be judged" bit of Christianity -- while I sometimes find myself frustrated at the assertions of people make in the name of the same religion I consider myself to be a part of, I find it "unChristian" to condemn them as not "real" Christians. People can be completely misguided and acting/speaking in harmful ways and, at the same time, be well-meaning and devout. This is indeed scary, but I think that coming at these folks with proverbial guns blazing (i.e. questioning the legitimacy of their faith and painting them as selfish and uncharitable -- even if, from our perspective this is somewhat or fully true) is going to do more harm than good. A dialog that could yield any meaningful change has to start in "good faith" and with respect. Even though Sharon's friend's framing of the issue is, in my opinion, invalid, I don't think we have grounds to malign her character or the sincerity of her faith simply based on the short comment Sharon quoted (and even if we did, I doubt the wisdom in doing so).

"Wow" -- I like to consider myself fairly well-versed in the New Testament, but I'm unaware of any portion of the NT where people "are commanded by God ... to kill others and make blood sacrifice" so maybe I'm not so well-versed after all. Could you provide a reference for what you're thinking of?

By Kate Rowbot (not verified) on 16 Oct 2012 #permalink

"I think it would be great if those of us who consider ourselves to be fairly progressive could extend the same grace to Christians that we typically do to Muslims"

I do, Kate.

I think they're enabling and cosetting those extremists.

If you can believe one ridiculous claim, you have broken the seal and now the sky (daddy) is the limit.

If "God" has told people things before then some lunatic thinks that their internal voice is God speaking to them.

If they didn't have people INSISTING that god speaks to THEM, they'd be ostracised and considered loony.

" to kill others and make blood sacrifice” so maybe I’m not so well-versed after all."

Pop over to the skeptics annotated bible, but there's a few snippets for you:


God gives someone on a white horse a bow and sends him out to conquer people. 6:2

God gave power to someone on a red horse "to take from the earth ... that they should kill one another." 6:4

Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21) Mark 7:9-10

And Luke:

In the parable of the talents, Jesus says that God takes what is not rightly his, and reaps what he didn't sow. The parable ends with the words: "bring them [those who preferred not to be ruled by him] hither, and slay them before me." 19:22-27

The guilty are "justified" and "saved from wrath" by the blood of an innocent victim. Romans 5:9

Ummm . . . I'd just like to point out that I've said *nothing* about religion, here.

And yes, you're correct that a lot of folks on the right are shot down when they evince the knowledge of science that forces the acknowledgement of Climate Change as a real issue, but that doesn't mean they're not there. And those on the left need to *overlook* (rather than compromise) differences in other areas in order to work on Climate Change, agreeing to disagree on some items that, in terms of CC, are neither here nor there. They're important--don't get me wrong--but they're not key issues where CC is concerned.

Annie -- I'm not sure I understand the first point you make in the second paragraph, but I definitely agree with your second point about needing to agree to disagree on issues not pertinent to GCC and peak oil if we have any hope of working together on those issues instead of framing the issue in terms of "what will I have to get/give in order to be willing to collaborate on solving these problems."

"Wow" -- A couple of things... (1) The Romans passage refers to Jesus (i.e. the Christian doctrine that God in human form died as a blameless sacrifice to "pay for" human sin) and isn't advocating that human beings engage in blood sacrifice. (2) Most Christians (emphasis on the "most") consider the book of Revelation to be metaphorical (e.g. there won't be an actual man on a white horse with a bow riding around conquering people just like there won't be a literal seven-headed dragon appearing at the "end of the world"). (3) With regards to parables, most Christians believe that parables are fictional stories Jesus told to teach his followers a variety of lessons which aren't always readily discernible through a strictly literal reading. (4) In the Mark passage, Jesus is essentially pointing out the Pharisees' hypocrisy and telling them to stop brow-beating the people (e.g. the Pharisees emphasize how important keeping the law is and condemn those who don't do so to the letter, but even they don't keep every aspect of the law since they don't kill children who curse their parents). Essentially Jesus is using hyperbole to tell the Pharisees to knock it off.

I don't really think this is the right forum for debating the "all religious people are not to be trusted cognitively-speaking because they've 'broken the seal' by believing 'one ridiculous claim' and are, therefore, susceptible to believing any number of ridiculous claims" assertion you seem to make -- and I wasn't intending to start that kind of conversation given the topic of Sharon's post and the content of the comments here. I was just trying to introduce the ideas that (A) not all Christians are anti-science or politically conservative and (B) we're not going to engender cooperation by essentially telling these people they're idiots. A respectful dialog is probably the only starting point that will lead to any "conversions" among Christian GCC/peak oil skeptics (if any starting point at all can achieve these "conversions" -- and I certainly hope that one can.)

By Kate Rowbot (not verified) on 16 Oct 2012 #permalink

Kate, that's how YOU want to reinterpret the bible.

Thing is EVERYONE does (or at least in part, depending on whether they reached their faith through indoctrination or personal choice): Rework what the bible "means" to fit THEIR personal morality.

This is precisely what those extremists are doing.

You just don't agree with the result.

But both of you are abdicating rationality in favour of a feel-good story (for personal definitions of both feel and good), and even the "moderate" voices give the idea that rationality can be abdicated and be an ABSOLUTE MORAL CHOICE.

Which therefore makes whatever you say moral, and any disagreement immoral.

Science doesn't do moral/immoral.

If you disagree with a scientist, you're disagreeing with a human creating an idea. If you're disagreeing with someone's FAITH, then you're disagreeing with the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!

In the former case, the creator may thing you a poopy-head.

In the latter, the creator will "tell" their disciple that you must be killed. Which MUST be right, because YOU are moral and that nasty atheist/heathen/foreigner/... is immoral.

As evidenced by not agreeing with the creator of the universe.

Remember that Jesus IS God to a christian. To a muslim, he's merely a prophet with delusions of grandeur.

Those aren't the only ones by the way, just the ones pertaining most clearly to God saying "kill kill kill!".

Well, I suppose since the can of worms has been opened...

"Wow" --

First, I consider it pretty dramatic to say that if you disagree with someone's religious beliefs, they'll be prone to suddenly get a "message" from their God that you must be killed. While this may be true for a handful of religious fundamentalists, I think it's an unfair caricature that doesn't apply to religious people in general (granted, I do try to avoid fundamentalists of all flavors, but since they're a minority where I am, it's not hard to do).

Second, I actually AM a scientist (both by training and profession) and have read extensively on the nature and philosophy of science. Both religious and non-religious scientists and philosophers of science alike recognize that an individual who holds a particular set of religious beliefs isn't, by virtue of holding those beliefs, suddenly incapable of rational engagement with science and scientific phenomena. A lot of the apparent "science vs. religion" conflict so overblown by the general public and the media can be diffused by simply recognizing that religion shouldn't try to answer questions that it, by its very nature, cannot answer (e.g. "how old is the earth?") and neither should science. All good scientists recognize that there are questions that science CAN answer and questions that science CAN'T answer. Science can answer questions like "What factors contribute to high cholesterol?" and "Why is dimethyl-mercury so insanely toxic?" and "Approximately how much has the earth's average annual temperature increased in the past 100 years?" Science can't, by it's very nature, answer questions like "What is justice?" and "Is there a God?" and "What does right action look like given situation X?" The latter set of questions can be answered via philosophy, ethics, religion, literature, art, etc... but not by science. Unfortunately, not all religious people recognize that there are some questions (see above) that religion can't answer (hence the reason we shouldn't treat the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, etc... as science books).

Lastly, and this is mostly just a quibble -- in science, we don't disagree with other scientists per se. We don't even disagree with scientists' conclusions as such. The only acceptable venue for critique is in the methods arena (e.g. "I disagree with Dr. Smith's conclusions by virtue of the fact that his methods are improper" or "unsuitable" or "do not allow for the generation of the results that would support his claims"). The community regards it as illegitimate for me to disagree with someone simply because I don't like her or because I don't like the conclusions that she reaches. I am really only permitted to disagree with the way in which someone executed their research and, by that means and only by the means, call their conclusions into question. How well the community lives up to this standard is, of course, up for debate. :)

By Kate Rowbot (not verified) on 16 Oct 2012 #permalink

Kate Rowbot, I'm NOT a christian. Nor do I remotely pretend to be. I am revolted by most of the people I know who call themselves christian. They are ignorant, bigoted, hateful, selfish, environmentally destructive and small minded. Not to mention they consistently vote against their own self interest. How they act in church, and how they act in the community are two very different things. I've seen both. No thanks. Don't want to be associated with most of them. I spend enough time every year cleaning up after the Royal Rangers campout in the national forest near my house twice every year to have my fill of christianity.

I am of Jewish ancestry, but not religion, and I'm overly familiar with the bible, both from personal study and from scholastic study.

I think your picture made Kate assume you were muslim.

Nope -- I actually didn't assume Susan was a Christian or a Muslim (or of any other religious affiliation). In my second comment, I was just responding to Susan's 10/16 comment about the Bible saying that many people who consider themselves Christian really aren't. I'm sorry if my phrasing there made you feel like I was assuming you were a Christian or lumping you in with Christians in some way, Susan. I can understand why that would be frustrating. I was just trying to explain more about why I have a hard time telling someone they're not a "REAL" Christian, Jew, Hindu, etc... And you be can assured that a lot of Christians are pretty appalled at the behavior of some people who label themselves Christians too.

By Kate Rowbot (not verified) on 17 Oct 2012 #permalink

Well, you'd brought in the muslim angle, Kate.

Thing is the person is doing no different than an atheist when constructing their model. Deciding what to accept as defining their morality by personal moral code.

The only real difference is that an atheist will admit it is personal, whereas a christian will schism or proclaim another "No True Christian".

Looking at the bits of their holy words that they take as source for their morality tells you about their inherent morality, not about the morality of their holy book, since it's pretty much a magic-eye picture as far as inherent morality is concerned: you read ANYTHING in there by just picking and choosing.

And, as such, is worthless as a metric to decide morality.

The morality of the person reading it is the only metric available.

Just as with an atheist.

Still nobody willing to compromise on not pushing the catastrophic warming and peak oil lies despite what Kate claimed. Not even anybody willing to compromise on nuclear electricity even though she acknowledges the case for it.

As to Kate's claim that i have been in some way rude.

Let me point to Wow's assertion here that he wishes to end debate by killing me.

In what way is therm "ecofascist barbarian" not a reasonable assessment of such people? In what way is the term "ecofascist barbarian" not a reasonable assessment of those on the ecofascist side who do not have a single word to say against such fascism? That, by definition, must include you Kate.

The fact is that nobody, at all, on the ecofascist side is willing to make the slightest compromise to those of us who do not want to impoverish humanity. The most prominent reaction to anybody who wantsw to debate is the threaten murder.

Fortunately we live in a world where the reach of the pen, or internet, is now so much longer than that of the sword. This may be civilisation's best hope against the barbarians.

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 17 Oct 2012 #permalink

Whiner, you'd NEVER voluntarily stop spouting the catastrophic warming and peak oil lies that you do, so there's no point to compromising with you, is there.

Well Sharon, after reading through all the comments (and for this purpose, ignoring the ones that sidetracked into religion) I feel a little... uncomfortable that most of us have symbolically held our signs and shouted, "Hell, no, we won't go!" I hate to think you can only go back to your friend and say, "Well, uh, nobody wants to compromise."

So my suggestion is you re-frame the question yourself, and ask "what will we compromise on as solutions to dealing with climate change" and see what you get from that. For that question, I suspect there's a lot I would be willing to compromise on in order to see at least some movement.

That said, I would suggest if this were a real-life situation, that liberals go against their general tendencies and start out BIG BIG BIG. It seems most liberals I know already run a sort of "internal compromise" in their heads that says, "this is what I think should happen, and THIS is what I think is realistic." But when compromising on solutions, we should adopt the mindset of someone selling a house or a car... ask what I want to begin with, and understand that I will negotiate downward.

With that re-framing, I think you might get some more usable responses.

By Trish Gannon (not verified) on 17 Oct 2012 #permalink

" I hate to think you can only go back to your friend and say, “Well, uh, nobody wants to compromise.” "


Nobody wants to do the fake compromise. I see no evidence you have read the thread as you claim, trish.

Several have said that these other things have NOTHING to do with climate change, so why should they be a compromise on it?

And the absolute evidence IS that there has been extensive compromise. An example officially is that the IPCC science said that AGW is "Very likely" (95+%) caused by humans. But this was too strong for some of the politicians so a COMPROMISE was reached where they put "likely" instead (90-95%).

And what compromise is there when one side is talking the truth and the other is saying "It's all a conspiracy for a New World Order under Communism!"? Compromise on agreeing that it's a conspiracy for a New World Order but NOT under communism???

"It seems most liberals I know already run a sort of “internal compromise” in their heads that says, “this is what I think should happen, and THIS is what I think is realistic.”"

From evidence seen, you're dead right here.

And it's why the teabagger extreme right have been getting their own way.

NOTE: there are conservatives who do the same thing, but they too are marginalised by the frothing lunatic right.

I've put the proposition (for the USA's politics) like this:

The Democrats see themselves as "the good guys" and therefore they DO NOT DO the things that bad guys do.

The Republicans see the Democrats as Evil Incarnate, and therefore anything they do to make sure Democrats lose is what must be done.

I'm late to the conversation here, but it looks to me as if you and all of us are being Obama'ed--when President Obama was new to D.C. and thought he could work with Congress in a bipartisan way. As you'll remember, President Obama compromised, but received nothing of equal political value (that we know about) in return. So now we are deadlocked, until the next really awful thing happens that we react to instead of planning for.

By Stacy Canterbury (not verified) on 18 Oct 2012 #permalink

Such a silly question, really. Will the right not be affected by climate change? How has it become a left issue?

Because it has something about the environment and something needs doing that captialism's free market isn't set up to solve.

Ergo, it can't be taken up as widely by the right else they will be howled down by the free market fundies there.

Therefore, seeing a difference in the numbers of people speaking out about it, they see "the left" is talking about it. Ergo it MUST be wrong, because the left are ALWAYS wrong (they're the bad guys, remember!).

I like your theory, Sharon, but I'm a little concerned about practice because it requires 1) truth (and what I mean in this case is taking a good hard look at properly designed scientific studies about what is effective) and 2) a lack of guile on all sides.

I could compromise on federal and state recognition of gay marriage since I think that'll come from the bottom up eventually. I cannot compromise on state and federal constitutional amendments defining marriage.

I could compromise on abortion and outlaw it, say, after the first trimester. I cannot compromise on laws that allow doctors to lie, criminalize women seeking a late-term abortion, allow employers to make contraceptive decisions through the healthcare plans they choose, or require invasive and unnecessary medical tests prior to an abortion.

And I could not work with a political group that agrees to these things only as a temporary compromise while they work behind the scenes to accomplish their end goals.

Trust is the issue.

"when President Obama was new to D.C. and thought he could work with Congress in a bipartisan way. As you’ll remember, President Obama compromised, but received nothing"

Possibly my knowledge of American politics is limited but I was under the impreession that when Obama was elected it was with a Democratic Congress who did indeed vote through Obamacare, his repeated trillion doallar pay outs etc. Clearly I must be wrong because otherwise every honest person here would have pointed out that Stacy' is excatly 180 degrees away from being in any way honest.

We have got from the stage of Sharon proving her moderation by claiming she might under some circumstances be willing to compromise with Republican voters to proving that none of the totalitarians here is willing to compromise in any slightest way, even with the Democrats (or indeed with the truth).

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 20 Oct 2012 #permalink

You mean the Obamacare that, despite being Romneycare exactly, was refused by the Republicans until a few more things were taken off?

From the Republicans who stated that their goal (and this is the only statement they gave as to what their goals were when they lost) was to ensure that Obama was a one-term president, YOU think they were somehow helpful?

Neil, I think your last paragraph there was slightly unfair. Democrats and liberals (they're not always the same) don't all unilaterally refuse to compromise... I think the evidence shows quite differently, in fact. For most problems/issues, compromise is a fact of life. Two parties each believe they have a solution (or maybe just an approach) and generally the differing solutions provide penalties and benefits to different groups of people. With this issue - unchecked climate change - you have a completely different scenario, where one side is suggesting that compromise is needed just to admit there's an issue to be addressed. I think most here would be willing to 'compromise' on HOW the issue is addressed... just not on WHETHER it is. And maybe that's a misunderstanding of the reading. If it is, I would compromise, say, on a moratorium on marriage rights for everyone in return for, say, minimum 80mpg on vehicles and a government sponsored phase out of all lower mileage vehicles in, say, 5 years.

By Trish Gannon (not verified) on 20 Oct 2012 #permalink

Trish, marriage rights and MPG are independent.

You could compromise on the marriage thing (for example, not make churches marry gay or lesbian couples, rather than forcing them, because they gain government largesse, to act as other businesses do, and stop refusing homosexual marriage).

You could compromise on the MPG thing (for example, rather than saying any company not making the grade loses their incorporation status, but instead that cars not managing cannot be produced in numbers).

But what would the compromise be between two disparate things?

Rather than a compromise (where the position taken is born from the synthesis of all views), you get someone getting their entire way on one issue and someone else getting their entire way on another.

Problem is, the nutjobs on one side make no pretense about a reaonable solution and just aim sky high, whilst the other comes up with a solution that ought to be acceptable.

This is why the right in the USA want this form of compromise. They could accept the proposals of the Democrats because those proposals already take account of the methods of the Republicans. But this would make the Dems look good. And doesn't pander to their extreme wing who want no compromise but could be bought off by winning entirely on another subject.

Well Trish the fact is that I have suggested things to compromise on and nobody - nobody has been willing to do so.

If you genuinely believed C02 rise is causing catastrophe you would be willing to accept my suggestion of agreeing to far more nuclear power. If you know CO2 scare is a fake and the intent is only to impoverish people then obviously you would not.

As to being willing to compromise on CAGW - that seems to agree with my point about you not being willing to compromise even with the truth. The original non-compromise warming scare was that we were going to have 1C rise per decade (Hansen), 20 foot sea level rises (Gore), snow never having been seen for the last 10 years (UK govt), Netherlands under water by now (Guardian paper), the Himalayas melted real soon (IPCC). . Events have proven all these to be lies but I do not see a single ecofascist willing to compromise even to the extent of acknowledging those truths.

That smacks not only of fanaticism and a contempt for the truth but of knowing that your dissociation from reality is virtually total and only way you can hang on is by refusing to acknowledge facts in any way. (Which is, of course, why "scienceblogers" overwhelmingly censor anybody who has the remotest respect for reality, let alone science.

How about the global cooling fraud - are any of you willing to admit the "environmentalist" claims that we will be in an ice age by 2000 might perhaps be false? Do you maintain that it & all the other hundreds of ecofascist scare stories which didn't come true came true? Do you maintain that even one of them did?

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

"How about the global cooling fraud – are any of you willing to admit the “environmentalist” claims that we will be in an ice age by 2000 might perhaps be false"

That is because there never was a global cooling claim, as has been pointed out to you numerous times other places. A couple stories in general news articles in the 70s does not translate, or indicate, scientific consensus - not that you care about honesty nc. what a dishonest twit you are.

Dean if you possessed the tiniest trace of personaql honesty you could not, of course, have claimed there never was any cooling scare. I note no alarmist disputes the lie

Can you8 or any or any other alarmist [prove that any part of the ecofascst lies, about warming ior anything else, is more than 10,000 time closwer to honesty than the very higherst standard of honesty to which the movement aspires?

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 16 Nov 2012 #permalink

There was never any cooling scare.

TWO NEWSPAPERS produced a byline based on one paper.

That's not a scare.

Since there are no ecofacist lies, how can we prove that any part of whatever you're raving maniacally about now is more than 10,000 time clswer[sic] (what does that mean? 10,000 times closer) to honesty than what?

Seriously sick individual.

No wonder you're divorced.