It could have endorsed sensible policies...

Oreskes is re-hashing the Exxon stuff again, how very dull-man-at-a-party of her. So, I won't join her in re-hashing the reasons that much of what she is saying is wrong. But my attention was drawn to my titular sentence, where "sensible policies" was linked but - how modestly - she refrained from pointing out that those very sensible policies were ones that she herself0 was proposing: The climate responsibilities of industrial carbon producers, Essay, Climatic Change, September 2015, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 157-171.

I won't bore you with the details but essentially the situation is unchanged: global warming is still all someone else's fault. Not you, not I, who drive the cars that burn the petrol and live in the houses heated with fossil fuels. No! The fault is all down to the Evil Fossil Fuel Companies who force us to use their evil products, much in the way that cigarette companies once forced people to smoke even while the surgeon-general told them to stop. This is the same confusion of responsibility at Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF? - the people responsible for emitting most of the CO2 are consumers like you and I, not the fossil fuel producers.

To state the bleedin' obvious: people know that fossil fuel emissions cause global warming. People know perfectly well that the IPCC, and various scientific organisations, are telling them the truth; and they know that the various denial-o-sphere organisations are lying to them. Just like they knew the surgeon-general was telling them the truth about smoking being bad for them, and they knew then fag1 companies were lying. For various exciting reasons including but not limited to human psychology, that doesn't affect people's behaviour as much as you'd like it to. It is possible that if, as Oreskes suggests, companies unequivocally communicate to the public, shareholders, and policymakers the climate risks resulting from continued use of their products, and therefore the need for restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the 2 °C global temperature target; [and] firmly reject contrary claims by industry trade associations and lobbying groups then it might even make a difference. People do, generally, need an excuse to lie to themselves; its helpful to latch on to someone external lying to you; you can always blame them later when it goes pear-shaped.

Constantly whinging about fossil-fuel producers lobbying against CO2 restraint; or even complaining about them lying, is to my mind all rather beyond the point. You expect them to do it; its hardly a shock. We should be able to cope. If our politics is so rubbish that lies from entirely predictable sources causes it to malfunction, then the real problem is our politics, which again is sourced back to the populace.

Oreskes discussion of responsibility is remarkably unthinking. Starting at section 2, "What is responsibility?", it salivates over lawsuits but takes corporate responsibility itself for granted, and doesn't even consider the consumers at all.

[Update: oh yes. I also forgot to say that I object to her very first sentence: Responsibility for climate change lies at the heart of societal debate over actions to address it. I don't mind people being interested in who was responsible, but I don't think it should be a big focus of the debate, because it gets in the way of solving the problem. If you start with "right, who is responsible then?" everyone starts getting defensive.]

Notes

0. Update: actually, the authors are Peter C. Frumhoff & Richard Heede & Naomi Oreskes.

1. In the Olde Worlde, a "fag" is a cigarette. Not a woofter.

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By Everett F Sargent (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

Aside from the possibility of going full caveman, the typical person, is, in fact, forced to use products made using fossil fuels. Not that this inherit hypocrisy has anything to do with misrepresentation of science.

With respect to what people believe, in the US, a large portion of the population really do believe, down to their moral fibers, that AGW is a hoax. And part of that belief is due to corporations telling those people, through various shills, what they want to hear and funding like minded politicians for decades.

I pretty sure that sans politicians, sans corporations, sans AlGoreIsFat and sans Greenpeace ... that someone would have took up the Cause. Truthers. Birthers. Grassroots.

Meaning, we got here by whatever means, different times and different places.

Meaning, sans the finger pointing, humanity did it.

Face it, we're a territorial species, we find stuff, we use stuff. and we make stuff. When that stuff isn't "good" for you ... well then ... we blame someone else.

So, I blame Religion or some such, which saith that we are "special" in the Universe or some such.

By Everett F Sargent (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

cce brings up a point that bears elaboration. In the USA there are many states where the majority has in effect no vote. Through the use of gerrymander a minority can gain and hold control.

We see this especially in congressional districts and state legislatures.

And do we want to revisit Gore v. Bush ? The idea the populace has any real control in the USA is but a chimera.

[I don't agree with that. Any one person has only one vote and that usually makes no direct difference; but the idea that the entire population has no influence is wrong. The populace generally choose to use their influence in foolish ways, yes, but that's different -W]

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

W -"[I don’t agree with that."

Then you simply haven't studied how voting districts are setup in the USA or looked at aggregate vote totals. It remains a *fact* that in many states - and the country as a whole - Republicans have control of congress and many state legislatures even though they consistently garner a minority of the vote. This isn;'t an opinion.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

Due to Gerrymandering and the distribution of liberal vs conservative voters, it would require Democrats getting 55+ % of the popular vote to retake the House. The Senate, which is already skewed conservative because each state gets two votes regardless of population, has the additional requirement of the 60 vote filibuster super majority. The electoral college that decides the president is is effected by the "2 senators for every state rule," but is so far immune to gerrymandering (although some states are thinking of tying their electoral votes to their Congressional districts).

The end result is that if you are liberal, your vote doesn't count as much. Not helping is the wishy washy nature of the liberal electorate who don't bother to turn out for non presidential years.

"Constantly whinging about fossil-fuel producers lobbying..."

In fact, operating the best interest of shareholder value is the law in my country (Aus) and probably yours. Again no surprises there. There aren't many moral constraints on corporations.

"If our politics is so rubbish that lies from entirely predictable sources causes it to malfunction...."

Would agree with some of the others above that (maybe) your are being a little naive or perhaps just a tad too optimistic.

For example, some proposed laws regarding mining profits in my country would have popular support... instead the industry groups got together and ran advertisements 24/7 for a couple of months (tens of millions of dollars worth). The pollies, all huddled gibbering in a corner, gutted the legislation and the rest, as they say, is history (commodities boom go boom, opportunities lost).

As far as I cant tell, we don't live in a world of "sensible policies" anymore. It's sad, politics doesn't happen that way. Threatening to throw all their arses into the unemployment queues next election, threatening to withdraw campaign funding, etc. Now that works. Short term interest rules, long term interests are too complicated to deal with electorally.
(Yes, I'm a bitter old cynic...)

Personally, my suggestion to like minded people is to (continue to) put their money where their mouth is come next election in your end of the world.

By Happy Heyoka (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

If our politics is so rubbish that lies from entirely predictable sources causes it to malfunction, then the real problem is our politics,

which is clearly the case in Australia where the electorate voted for a government promising to rescind the Carbon tax and replace it with taxpayer-funding of emission reductions. If the taxpayer wants emissions to be reduced then they can damn well pay for it with their taxes! (No they didn't say that but that's what they mean.)

which again is sourced back to the populace.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

Chris,

not sure what your point was... but there was bugger all in it
()

my point (circuitous as it was) is that forcing "them" (being either of the "big two" - as it is in the UK or the USA) into forming a minority government is (maybe) better in that they are forced to negotiate with the others (Greens for example).
Now if only the Greens would stop shooting themselves in the feet, we might get some "sensible policies" enacted.
You'll note that the penny has dropped for some of the white shoe brigade that were against the Carbon Tax - now that great swags of prime farming land are facing some kind of extractive industry.

By Happy Heyoka (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

(linky to Australian Electoral Commission redacted)

By Happy Heyoka (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

"To state the bleedin’ obvious: people know that fossil fuel emissions cause global warming. "

Uh... actually, some people know this and many do not. In my fair land, a large number of the population subscribe to the views of their fossil fuel funded political leaders (why?.. let's talk about that psychology some time...) and believe that carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is not any sort of problem at all. They have a range of justifications for this belief, but in general, they enjoy purchasing the largest fuel guzzling vehicle they can afford and why not? The television-watching culture that is integral to our lives here in USA-land is sponsored to a large extent by the manufacturers of fossil fuel guzzlers. ( oh wait... you have that unsponsored BBC TeeVee thingee, no? Maybe the cause and effect is not as obvious over there in the old world...)

Please remember. Half the world population is on the sad half of the intelligence curve, and these folks may not always guided by rational thought....(ha ha. Steve make joke...)

Anyway, as one who has done his life time civic duty by foregoing the pleasures of owning huge or fast vehicles to instead drive little bitty fuel efficient ones, as someone who barely drives at all any more, as someone who has installed all sorts of solar panels all over his roof, as someone who cuts up doomed trees for firewood and who turns out un-necessary lights, I would like to say that I have personally had to fight an uphill battle against opinionated people who do not appear to believe that there is anything at all wrong with fossil fuels. I enjoy my low fossil fuel life style. But roughly half my neighbors are clueless or even hostile about weaning themselves from fossil fuel. I think many might gladly do the right thing - many are "rugged individualists" who might actually enjoy and even thrive on a low or lower fossil fuel life style, as I do. But they seem to have difficulty doing so because their belief system... a belief system fostered by fossil fuel disinformation seed money, by openly hostile television presenters on FOX, by commercial advertisements extolling the virtues of owning fuel wasting vehicles and other toys, and by openly hostile fossil fuel funded political representatives in state and national government... because their belief system prevents them from doing so. Anyway, that is the way that I see it.

Back when I still commuted to work, I would get into heated, abusive discussions with otherwise reasonably well educated people, who fervently believed that I was an idiot for believing that fossil fuel in any way contributed to climate change. By the way, those folks were universally in the Republican party.

I live in a land where a very influential part of the population claims that they do NOT believe in fossil fuel forced climate change. And for that, I see a number of cultural, economic, hormonal and political factors involved.

Well. Now that I have cleared all that up, I will go read Naomi's paper.

Have a nice day.

WMC -- things are different in the US, where Naomi Oreskes lives and works, where Exxon is headquartered, and where there exists a huge anti-science lobby.

I assumed you realized this, since it is bleedin' obvious, but maybe not?

In the US, there are huge numbers of people who absolutely do not believe that global warming is happening, or if it is, it is natural, or if it is affected by humans, well so what. Just part of god's gift to us all, dominion over everything on earth.

They don't believe this because "scientists are bad communicators." They believe this because companies like Exxon have paid to have people spread lies. But it was in the shareholders' interest, so everything's cool I suppose.

I don't know that this makes Exxon legally culpable for anything, but it certainly is shameful. They should be shamed. Stop excusing them.

[I think the people you're talking about - the ones who don't believe in GW - are happy to be lied to. They know they're listening to liars, they know what they're being told they can't trust; but they don't care, because they don't have to consider being uncomfortable; and I think you should stop excusing them -W]

To W. C. Re: Your reply to Gator.... [I think the people you’re talking about – the ones who don’t believe in GW – are happy to be lied to. They know they’re listening to liars, they know what they’re being told they can’t trust; but they don’t care, because they don’t have to consider being uncomfortable; and I think you should stop excusing them -W] That is an interesting thesis but one which doesn't seem to be logical to me. What sort of person enjoys being lied to? People may enjoy hearing things that support their fucked up value system, they may enjoy believing flattering lies, but I doubt that any significant number of people truly enjoy knowing that they are being lied to. Can you back up that statement, because I would find it to be fascinating if it were true. And the concept of "comfort" is to a significant extent largely manufactured. By that I mean that people experience discomfort when they buck social norms, like not having a sufficiently large vehicle, or not being in tune with the values of their local culture. And what source of discomfort do people experience for not taking care of future generations by cutting down their fossil fuel use? If they are USA FOX TV ( seven percent Saudi Oil sheik owned!!!) watchers, absolutely fucking nothing, because all the preponderance of the evidence they see on that television network tells them that cutting down on fossil fuel use will actually hurt future generations!!!!. In my view, the game has been rigged so that people are kept in ignorance, people are lied to and they are not even aware that they are being lied to. Peer group or cultural pressure is just that powerful. Knowledge of science or math is not greatly valued here.

Many people here in the USA, especially those of the right wing, go to great lengths to make sure that they leave as much wealth as possible to their offspring. Never mind that wealth may or may not bring happiness. They think that they are doing the appropriate thing for future generations. They work hard, suffer various privations, and try to accumulate as much wealth as possible, enduring many discomforts in the process, so that their offspring can benefit. I suspect that if they really believed that driving a smaller car and investing in rooftop solar would help future generations, they might do so. But I really think that these people have been successfully convinced that fossil fuel carbon dioxide is not any sort of problem at all. I really feel that they trust the people who are misinforming them. I really think that they don't even get anywhere close to the point of considering personal discomfort in relation to conserving fossil fuel, because they see no reason to conserve fossil fuel. Do you have evidence to that GW doubters really enjoy being lied to? If can show me that you are right, then I will have learned a great deal. My alternative hypothesis is that these GW doubters are essentially either stupid, or duped, or both.

[My reply to G was also a reply to you. If they are USA FOX TV... - that's my point, really. You don't watch Fox TV to be told the truth. I really feel that they trust the people who are misinforming them... I admit this as a possibility. I think its not correct; but I admit I can't prove my assertion that they're happy to be lied to -W]

SteveP:
"Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that." - George Carlin (I always thought it was Clemens)

WC:
"You don’t watch Fox TV to be told the truth. [...] my assertion [is] that they’re happy to be lied to"

I come here because you're a bright bloke and I think you're well worth taking the time to understand (because I'm a ways further down on that curve unfortunately).

Take a sabbatical from your "real work" and go and work in a factory or an office for a while, hang out in the canteen and make friends. These are the people who failed all those critical thinking exercises in high school. They're operating on a completely different heuristic.
They're not bad people; they're not even "stupid". But they _are_ easily bamboozled and we have multi billion dollar enterprises, like Fox, designed to do just that - a world full of shiny things whizzing by that capture their attention fully to the exclusion of doing the hard yards to understand complicated issues.

I just don't think they understand that there are whole layers of complexity going on; maybe they happy not to (as in "happy to be lied to") but I think its more that we don't have a great system for encouraging people to continue to learn about how the world around them works...

They believe in "good guys" and "bad guys"; not the "morally neutral" concept that just being born into a modern society means you're part of the supply chain that's causing the problem.

Personally I think it'll be easier to get on with stopping the warming than to fix that :-(

By Happy Heyoka (not verified) on 11 Oct 2015 #permalink

Ugh. "Happy to be lied to?" Where are you getting this stuff?

These people absolutely believe that this is a hoax, and they absolutely believe Fox News. They believe it because they are told to believe it 24 hours a day by the only people they trust. The average WUWT reader isn't there to admire the lying abilities of the authors. Read the comments!

There is only a handful of national Republicans left who can even admit that AGW exists, but none of them can actually support legislation without being run out of town on a rail. The US is a different kind of crazy.

It's going to take some kind of crystallizing event before they would change their minds -- maybe open ocean over the North Pole. Short of that, it's sadly going to be a waiting game while they slowly expire due to old age.

hh:

there was bugger all in it

Bugger all in what? The Carbon-tax-rescinding government won in a landslide.

BTW, an Australian Carbon tax has little if anything directly to do with mining Australian coal for other countries to burn it.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 11 Oct 2015 #permalink

William, saying "You don’t watch Fox TV to be told the truth" has it totally backwards. If you meet these folks you'll realize they are absolutely certain that Fox is telling them the truth -- and that any so-called "facts" to the contrary are mistaken, if not outright fraud and lies. There's a whole nother world out there, as cce explains two posts above.

[Well, if you say it... OK, I admit: I haven't met these people -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 11 Oct 2015 #permalink

To return to the OP:

... global warming is still all someone else’s fault. Not you, not I, who drive the cars that burn the petrol and live in the houses heated with fossil fuels. No! The fault is all down to the Evil Fossil Fuel Companies who force us to use their evil products ...

I think it's important to realise that these choices are not made in a vacuum. People drive because we've organised the world in such a way that makes it really quite difficult not to (believe me - I don't drive, and it requires accepting a heck of a lot of compromises and limitations). People heat their houses with fossil fuels because most of our housing stock has really shitty energy performance, and fossil-fueled heating systems already installed. Sure, some of these problems can be addressed, at least in theory, but most people do not have vast pots of spare money just lying around to apply to the problem.

One of the compromises I've had to make in order to manage without a car is living somewhere where I can get to work by public transport, which means living in a tenement block that was built in the 19th century and originally had a coal fire in every room. Even if I had unlimited funds (which I don't) there are hard limits to to extent that such a building can be retrofitted for energy efficiency, and a number of practical difficulties related to the fact that it's a shared building. I can't just throw a load of solar panels on the roof because it's not my roof, I can't fit cavity wall insulation because there aren't any cavities, etc, etc.

[Yes, agreed, you can't make it all work on your own. And those who supply us with what we want have some responsibility for what they supply, and the manner of their supplying it. But the primary responsibility remains with the consumer, and the likes of Oreskes seem to be blind to that -W]

My first reaction upon starting to read the Frumhoff ,Heede, Oreskes paper is to want to scream, because the word "Responsibility" is ambiguous, and is a crappy word to use unmodified. There is what I call physical or causal responsibility ( "Investigators determined that the failure to tighten the lug nuts was responsible for the loss of the vehicle's wheels".) There is legal responsibility or liability ("The garage is responsible for the damages caused by the out of control cement-truck.") There is well defined regulatory responsibility ( "The sergeant is responsible for supplying his men with ammunition".) There is less well defined, often unspoken, "moral" responsibility ( " The parent is responsible for doing their best to see that their child achieves the most favorable outcome in growing up..") I could probably dredge up one or two more uses of the word but enough.

So my first reaction is oh crap, this is a piece of semantic bull shit. My second reaction is oh dear, this paper must not be aimed at me as a target audience. Probably meant for barristers. My third reaction is that this paper wants to pin the blame on the corporate donkey, but to what end, and, why are they using rubber pins?

I have been reduced to despair within moments of settling in to read. This is not good. I am not going to get instant gratification here....oh well. Back to my drudgery. Maybe this book gets better as you go on.

Kevin O'Neil:

And do we want to revisit Gore v. Bush ? The idea the populace has any real control in the USA is but a chimera.

Stoat, responding inline:

[I don’t agree with that. Any one person has only one vote and that usually makes no direct difference; but the idea that the entire population has no influence is wrong. The populace generally choose to use their influence in foolish ways, yes, but that’s different -W]

Ima support WC here. Kevin's example of Bush/Gore can also be seen in the opposite light: if just 538 Floridians had voted for Gore instead of Nader, the world would have been spared eight years of Rove/Cheney.

Of course it's true that AGW denial is encouraged by sophisticated disinformation, paid for by people who's wealth is threatened if effective mitigation policies are adopted. It's also true that fossil-fuel wealth has disproportionate direct influence on elections for public office. Still, the real question is why do voters allow themselves to be fooled by obvious propaganda? Why do we keep returning the same craven servants of the rich to office?

A friend who voted for Nader (in Oregon) told me he'd learned his lesson in that election, and accepted responsibility for the outcome. Better one than none, better late than never. All it would take for things to turn around would be for enough of us, our friends and our neighbors to accept responsibility. Whatever the results, we'll get the government we deserve.

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Mal - I'll side with Kevin on Bush v Gore: a plurality of the public in 2000 voted for a candidate who would've done something on climate change (not enough, but something) as opposed to the candidate who said he'd regulate CO2 and then reneged. You can blame Americans for maintaining an undemocratic system, suppose.

I think it's boring to assign the public with complete ability to see through lies or with no ability. If you go with something in between, yes they get some dings for not pushing hard against the lies. OTOH the people who make a lot of money off the fossil fuel system get much more discredit.

I just have very little sympathy for the FF corps when they're the ones pushing the lies. If they say "no one should've believed us" my reaction is, I don't care.

By Brian Schmidt (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Whatever the results, we’ll get the government we deserve.

Yes the people who voted for Nader certainly got the government they deserved.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Mal - I think you kind of missed my point:

Popular vote2000 Presidential
Bush/Cheney Gore/Lieberman
50,456,00250,999,897
47.9%48.4%

Gore got more than 1/2 million more votes than Bush.

This is not Americans in control.

And if we needed any more emphasis. 158 families supply half the campaign cash.

Republicans
138
Democrats
20

Thus is the average American's control of our collective future a chimera. Unless one posits all that money has zero effect. Good luck with *that* argument :)

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Kevin O'Neil:

Gore got more than 1/2 million more votes than Bush.

The point is that very close to half the voters voted for Bush. To say that they were all innocent dupes is anti-democratic. In a pluralistic system, even when elections are perfectly fair and above board they won't always go the way we want them to.

Look, these are our friends and neighbors. They are us. They (that is, we) bear the responsibility for what has passed, for better or for worse. I wish there was a way to stem the flood of bespoke disinformation drowning out science in public discourse, but I'm certainly not willing to abandon popular sovereignty. Every alternative we know about is worse.

We have no choice but to depend on our fellow citizens, and resign ourselves to a six-degree world if they aren't willing to prevent it.

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

"To win a majority of 218 House seats [in 2016], we [ FairVote’s Monopoly Politics projection model] project that Democratic candidates would need to win ten million more votes than Republicans."

" In 2012, Republicans won a lopsided majority of [House] seats despite securing only 48 percent of the vote"

"The incoming Senate [2015] is comprised mostly of Republicans -- 54 to the Democrats' 44 (plus two independents, who hang out/vote with Democrats). But those Democrats actually received 20 million more cumulative votes than did the Republicans"

Mal - this is *not* a picture of Americans in control. This is not a statistical aberration. It is *designed* to happen. You have completely neglected the effects of gerrymandering and money.

As for, "but I’m certainly not willing to abandon popular sovereignty." Sorry, that's a strawman. 1) I've never made that argument, and 2) As you have already pointed, out we don't have 'popular sovereignty' *now* - we have a pluralistic, representative democracy.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Dan Vergano's conversion story to climate reality is revealing, I think. His conservative, military-defense-oriented tribe was right in his opinion on most other stuff relative to the hippies, so he also believed them regarding climate. It was only because someone within his tribe challenged him to think again, and because he had both the intellect and the education to start seeing through the skeptics, that his view started to shift. Maybe he was lazy, but he really didn't take comfort in lies.

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/06/someone-should-collect-these-climate…

Most normal people who casually accept the denialist position don't have Vergano's advantages. Again we can get mad at them for overconfidence and Dunning Krugerism, but I don't put them on the same plane as Lee Raymond and the like.

By Brian Schmidt (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Brian writes: "Again we can get mad at them for overconfidence and Dunning Krugerism, but I don’t put them on the same plane as Lee Raymond and the like."

I agree, as I wrote many years ago: As I go through life I play a game. The rules are simple: Observe conservative right-wing zealots, and then identify them correctly as ignorant, stupid, insane or evil. Here's the full blurb:

"There is no crime in being ignorant. We are all ignorant on different subjects. I am ignorant on most things Canadian. I don't know how many provinces they have, couldn't name all of them, haven't a clue what the population of each is, etc., etc. You name it -- if it's Canadian -- I probably don't know it. It's nothing to be proud of, but neither is it something of which to be terribly ashamed. But then, I'm American. They taught us mostly US history in school. If I were a Canadian and didn't know those facts about Canada, I'd have to be pretty stupid. And there are stupid Canadians just as there are stupid Americans and stupid people of every nationality, race, creed, or population grouping of your choice.

Ignorance and stupidity are generally identified by a lack of knowledge. Insanity is a little different. The insane know something is "true" despite overwhelming contrary evidence. It's one thing to be wrong, it's another thing to persist in being wrong when every fact is against you. Often these loonies have conversations inside their heads (delusions) that justify their beliefs. Just completely irrational.

Evil. Knowing right and doing wrong -- intentionally, with eyes wide open. Generally as a result of avarice or a lust for power -- or for the sheer joy of corrupting something good. Evil knows.

As I go through life I play a game. The rules are simple: Observe conservative right-wing zealots, and then identify them correctly as ignorant, stupid, insane or evil.

Each of them will fall into one of the four categories, but sometimes it can be difficult to decide which one. Gingrich was obviously evil, but Reagan? Was he stupid or insane? It's even possible he was evil. Jerry Falwell? Ignorant or insane. Pat Robertson? Evil. Dubya? That's a tough one. I'll have to get back to you on that."

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

We have no choice but to depend on our fellow citizens

Basically, democracy gives people the right to be stupid. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

Kevin O'Neil:

Mal – this is *not* a picture of Americans in control. This is not a statistical aberration. It is *designed* to happen. You have completely neglected the effects of gerrymandering and money.

It appears we're talking past each other. I have by no means neglected the effects of gerrymandering and money. The reason those tactics work for the GOP is that there are enough GOP voters to make it work. That's the problem I'm focusing on -- that so many of my fellow citizens actually approve of the dangerously crazy (IMO) policies of the GOP leadership.

I don't harbor the illusion that all our problems would be solved if only more people voted Democratic, either. I don't know what the solution is. Do you?

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 13 Oct 2015 #permalink

The notion that consumers bear responsibility for dependence on fossil fuels is a step forward, insightful and pleasantly radical. Disappointing, but not surprising , that so few of your readers want to consider its import. I don't think many understand that consumers will finance whatever mitigation method that occurs whether they want to or not.

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 16 Oct 2015 #permalink

Reading this particular post produces the same sort of "where do I even start?" headache I typically get when someone claims that humans could not have evolved from monkeys because there are still monkeys.

"To state the bleedin’ obvious: people know that fossil fuel emissions cause global warming. People know perfectly well that the IPCC, and various scientific organisations, are telling them the truth; and they know that the various denial-o-sphere organisations are lying to them."

Really? Because that assertion contradicts not only my personal observations, but also pretty much every piece of research on public attitudes regarding climate change that I have seen over the past 10 years. According to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, for example, 18% of Americans do not think global warming is happening, with half of those claiming to be "very sure" about it, while 32% of Americans believe that even if global warming is happening, it is due mostly to natural changes rather than human activity. If such research is invalid, please present some evidence to that effect. Simply claiming it is "bleedin' obvious" sounds a bit like a jaunt into Dunning-Kruger territory.