We will not give up without a fight

28 responses to “We will not give up without a fight

  1. Greta is such a great person. Her demands for immediate action are right on the mark.

  2. Someday, after the global warming apocalypse reduces us down to a subsistence hunter-gatherer-scavenger lifestyle, “TheGreta” will be the title bestowed upon our various tribe’s youth leader-shamans.

  3. Say not, “The struggle nought availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
    And as things have been they remain.”

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
    Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field.

    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
    But westward, look, the land is bright!

    Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

    We are involved in a monumental struggle against ignorance and stupidity, and a fair amount of evil.
    Stay strong. Tell the truth. Don’t give up.

    • I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name—

      (William Morris, A Dream of John Ball, 1888)

  4. She is so great!
    Apart from that, we need the f…ing emission price, at least in all industrialized and emerging countries. (Within some kind of feedback to guarantee a responsible emissions reduction path, and with social compensation.)
    It is the key measure.
    I know I am charging an open door here, but…

  5. That frame, late in the video showing her from the side, such a slight, frail, fragile looking young lady, somehow confidently delivering such powerful truth to a room full of overlords. What courage.

  6. I don’t have much hope for meaningful actions being taken but, if there is any hope it is that the protests of young people (who will suffer the most) will eventually get into the mindsets of enough older people that they start to understand that we can’t have our modern industrial consumer society AND a habitable planet, and so start to demand real action from our so-called leaders. But they have to back that with electoral punishment for those who put the short term economy above the long term future of our living planet.

    Sadly, it’s a very slim hope.

    • A slim hope? And yet we see minds changing all around us…

      • Gosh, Doc, I’m not quite sure what you mean. I don’t see any minds changing, though I do sometimes see new faces in the drive for real action but I can’t tell if that means they changed their minds. The last person I know who actually changed their mind about this stuff is myself (about 20 years ago). I haven’t noticed one changed mind since, though there is one friend who seems to have favourably altered his position somewhat.

        In the end, though, it is actions which count and I don’t see much evidence of meaningful action.

      • I agree with MR. I don’t see a lot of evidence of a big global mind change yet. I think the minds that have changed are located between the ears of folks who have experienced direct damage to themselves, family or friends from global warming The intellectually/ideologically rooted minds are set and will not change absent some direct “hot stove” experience. Luckily or unluckily, the number of folks who now have direct experience of global warming increases every day now.

        On that line: I think we will see public opinion shift in Australia as people absorb the impact of the recent fires. This will take a little time, but you already see Morrison accepting global warming because he knows he will lose the next election cycle if he does not give lip service to the problem and move away from complete denial.

        Some Australian folks will double down on fake news of arsonists or forest management, but many/most who thought global warming was a hoax may now have their “come to jesus” moment when they realize that the climate change denial industry has played them for fools.

        As MR noted, there is not much evidence of meaningful action so far.
        Meaningful action for me is something that shows up in the atmospheric CO2 accumulation numbers as measured at MLO. There is plenty of talk about reduced emissions, etc, but the recorded numbers from MLO indicate we have not taken meaningful action to date.

        All of my friends that I lean on about their airline and cruise ship travel footprint have not changed their behavior yet, except that some of them no longer speak with me. The ones who are still speaking with me tell me that the change has happen at the level of the state or continent or globe, change at an individual level is meaningless per their argument. Of course, I think this is just one way that the tragedy of the commons plays out, but maybe I am wrong about that. I have lots of experience being wrong.

        For me, this raises the question: what action can we take to reduce the numbers recorded at MLO? I think that is the most significant question to ask when you plan to act on the matter of global warming. A secondary question might be: Is my action going to make a difference in a time frame that matters? If not, maybe you need to go back to the first question.

        But, what do I know?

        Current CO2 readings at MLO?

        Jan. 22, 2020 : 414.08 ppm
        Jan. 25, 2019 : 410.00 ppm
        1 Year Change : 4.08 ppm (1.00%)

        per co2.earth

        Fight the good fight, don’t give up and fight smart whenever you can.

        Warm regards,


      • Dear Mikes–respect you both, but you really are glass-half-empty types! If you pay attention to what’s happening in the culture there are quite a few straws in the wind. Just a few I’ve observed lately.

        –The Album of the Year at last night’s Grammy awards had climate change as a leading theme:

        “We didn’t write a speech for this because we didn’t make this album to win a Grammy. We didn’t think it would win anything ever. We wrote an album about depression and suicidal thoughts and climate change and being the bad guy — whatever that means — and we stand up here confused and grateful,” Finneas said onstage.

        Billie Eilish has become something of a spokesperson on this. Google her statements.

        –When asked by Steven Colbert what the biggest difference between the 2016 and 2020 election cycles has been, what did Bernie say? “Climate change.” And what else? Well, nothing else, actually. OK, he’s a lefty, but he still listens to voters for (part of) his living.

        And having listened to good chunks of the Democratic primary debates, I’d have to say he’s right.

        –It’s not just Dems, either. It’s been reported that:

        News just broke of a closed-door senior Republican meeting in Washington on January 16, 2020 to come up with actions to address the climate issue and to play catch-up to the Democratic Party. As has become clearer and clearer, millennials consider climate action a must-do, and Republicans are at a crossroads where if they do not accept the science and craft a compelling action plan, then they are at risk of losing entirely.

        What does an actual Republican paper say, though? This:

        While the latest science proves Ocasio-Cortez’s apocalyptic premonitions are false, we are already seeing the dire consequences of a warming planet. Allowing the GOP to continue to be known as the party of climate denial is a political disaster in the making.

        Of course, anything they propose in the short term will be at best greenwashing; Big Fossil’s lien on what’s left of their souls has not yet run its term. But the fact that they have to cede that much speaks volumes.

        Climate activism is like Fudd’s Law:

        If you push anything hard enough, it will fall over.

        We haven’t yet pushed “hard enough.” But we are starting to see some distinct teetering.

        (I haven’t linked any of these because WP’s software rejected my first version of this comment, without giving a reason, and I’m hoping this slimmed-down version will make it through. But the sources for the comments shouldn’t be hard to find, if anyone is worried about that.)

      • I hear you, Doc. I sometimes find Greta to be a bit of a downer also: https://youtu.be/uN5SMLj-2XA
        Our demands have been completely ignored.

        I think you and Mike Roberts are both correct. I will amend my earlier statement and agree with you that minds are likely changing. I think that is accurate and acknowledges where you have this matter right.

        I think so far, the folks who believe we should do something about global warming have not taken meaningful action to date. That is where Mike Roberts has this matter right. Apples and oranges.

        I think this is pretty simple: I believe you are looking at public opinion and seeing movement. I am looking at MLO CO2 number and seeing no change, just increase with rate of increase acceleration. I think we are both right about what we are seeing and we work better together is we don’t resort to labels like glass half empty types or prophets of doom or pollyana or head in the sand types. After all, those kind of terms are ad hominem attacks and not useful. The truth is more complicated, useful and respectful.

        If we really want to show respect to each other, we need to avoid terms like debbie downer, pollyana, prophets of doom, etc. Can we do that? Let me know when I stray from that approach. I believe in that approach, but I fall short sometimes.



      • I’m more a “septic-tank’s half full” kind of guy. Yes, people are starting to pay attention to just how fucked we are, but they still aren’t doing anything about it. I’m not even sure they can do anything about it that will make a difference at this point.

        There is still hope. There will be hope until the biosphere and ocean and permafrost become net sources rather than sinks of carbon. I do not think that will be very long, though, and the fossil fool interests have now bought the Judiciary in the good ol US of A, which should insulate them from any sort of adverse action for 20-30 years.

        People power only works if the people actually have power.

      • sbm, I don’t think the only “meaningful action” is that which, by itself, causes the MLO trend to change sign. So, with that in mind, I’d claim that there has been meaningful action, and quite a bit of it. That’s why Hanson’s “B” scenario is the appropriate one: the growth of emissions didn’t follow the the yet-more-verticle trend of the “A” scenario.

        Yeah, it only means that we’re not quite as badly screwed as we would have been at this point. Hence “We haven’t yet pushed hard enough.”

        As far as “glass-half-empty guy,” I’m sorry if that felt like an attack to you. I didn’t intend it so: some folks are constitutionally more (or less) optimistic than others. It says nothing about their moral worth. Heck, my wife is a “glass-half-empty” kind of gal, and I love her to bits.

        Snark, the septic tank is pretty darn full of the usual. But as you say, there is hope. Keep pushing…

      • Indeed. Hope is what we have left in high concentration as the probability of success vanishes.

      • “Success” is a shifting target. The dead are already dead; we can mourn them but we can’t save them any longer. There will be things–and people!–susceptible of saving for quite a while yet.

  7. Billie Eilish sample lyric (from All The Good Girls Go To Hell):

    My Lucifer is lonely

    [Verse 1]
    Standing there, killing time
    Can’t commit to anything but a crime
    Peter’s on vacation, an open invitation
    Animals, evidence
    Pearly Gates look more like a picket fence
    Once you get inside ’em
    Got friends but can’t invite them

    Hills burn in California
    My turn to ignore ya
    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya
    All the good girls go to Hell
    ‘Cause even God herself has enemies
    And once the water starts to rise
    And Heaven’s out of sight
    She’ll want the Devil on her team
    My Lucifer is lonely

    [Verse 2]
    Look at you needing me
    You know I’m not your friend without some greenery
    Walk in wearin’ fetters
    Peter should know better
    Your cover up is caving in
    Man is such a fool, why are we saving him?
    Poisoning themselves now
    Begging for our help, wow

    My Lucifer is lonely
    There’s nothing left to save now
    My god is gonna owe me
    There’s nothing left to save now

    I trust I don’t have to highlight the climate change references here? But if they are too elliptical for anyone, Billie’s brother and collaborator, Finneas, recounted the story of an interviewer who told him:

    “I read somewhere that some fans think that ‘All the Good Girls Go to Hell’ is about climate change. I love that they think that.”

    I was like, “That’s ‘cause it is.”

    The video is here (and I’m trying to avoid having this embed via the ‘nofollow’ HTML setting!)

  8. Perhaps a straw in the wind?

    As the logos on the video of Greta Thunberg’s Davos speech show, it’s been put on Youtube by The Sun, a tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by Rupert Murdoch since 1969.

  9. Reflecting on the back and forth with Doc and I listened to the video again. Greta’s demands from the speech at 2 minutes:

    * Immediately halt all investment in fossil fuel exploration and extraction
    * Immediately halt all fossil fuel subsidies
    * Immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels

    When does Greta want this done? Now. 2025? 2030? No. Now. Immediately. Is that just grumpy, impatient and completely unreasonable?

    I think Greta neglects any positive discussion about changing minds. at 48 seconds, she has some rather harsh words for those who tell her that sufficient action is being taken. Now, maybe Greta is wrong to neglect the positive discussion or maybe I am wrong and it is in this 5 minute speech somewhere.

    But, I have to say that, listening again to the ~five minute Greta speech, that MR and I are pretty close to Greta on the half empty/half full tone.

    Am I wrong? Is there an upbeat piece in here? Give me the time when Greta shifts to positive. Maybe I missed it?

    Is Greta just a prophet of doom who has no understanding of economics? Should she cheer up and accentuate the positive? I think if she would cheer up a bit, I think I could follow her lead.

    I listen to this speech and think damn, this is bad. We aren’t getting this right. If a big company or a nation or a bank would meet one of her immediate demands this week, I think I would feel a little more positive. Is that happening anywhere? Did I miss that?



    • @smallbluemike,

      * Immediately halt all investment in fossil fuel exploration and extraction
      * Immediately halt all fossil fuel subsidies
      * Immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels

      No, I think Ms Thunberg is entirely correct. That’s what we should do. And if almost any weight is put on views from thoughtful sources, like the late Martin Weitzman or David Wallace-Wells (even though, e.g., Professor Mann has been critical of his book: ah “optimism”), or Sir David King, it is the fiscally responsible thing to do from an investment perspective. (People forget about that, often.)

      But, the public still wants their goodies and stuff, governments are afraid to tax them accordingly, fossil fuels should be taxed and shut down, but representative democracy won’t let it happen, even if the Kochs and Murdoch and others stop muddying the waters.

      Shrug. Wait for the economic crash?

    • I like analogies, so let us look at Greta as the child of an obese parent. Greta is sick and tired of looking at the stupid fat parent who is trying to exercise more by parking at the far end of the car park. She’s sick and tired of the parent who worries whether it is sugar, bread, wine, chocolate, whole milk or butter that is making them fat.
      Greta can see the obvious – they need to eat a lot less, and they need to exercise a lot more.

      The obese parent worries about the dangers of a sudden, drastic reduction in sugar intake. They worry about malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. They worry about the cost of having to buy a whole lot of new clothes. They are scared because they can’t imagine socialising without food. Tackling this properly will destroy life as they know it.
      Greta knows what real action would look like. And she really knows wishful thinking when she sees it.

      We all know what real action on climate change looks like. A price on carbon emissions (and indeed on all negative externalities). No new coal mines (no, don’t bake a cake!). No new exploration for fossil fuels (no, stop checking out the mall for new donut shops!). No more stupid denialists arguing that it is not real, or that it is too hard to do, or that it is too late.

  10. Doc, I’m not a glass half-empty type of guy, I’m a let’s try to see reality type of guy. I remember watching an Al Gore presentation several years ago. He of the Inconvenient Truth movie. In the later presentation, he had convinced himself that we were winning the battle (some of his tone was that the battle had already been won). It’s always going to be possible to reel off a list of things that are being done but, as Gore’s talk unknowingly demonstrated, it is never enough and never soon enough.

    The other Mike talked of Greta’s speech and she is right, those things need to be done immediately. This is what we’ve been told for many years by scientists – “we need to start yesterday” – but the action never quite gets going enough to make a difference.

    When looking at reality, what I often say is that Homo Sapiens is a species, with a characteristic behaviour. I don’t know any example of a species that willingly changed its behaviour and I don’t see why Home Sapiens would be the first. There are outliers in all species and maybe they are becoming slightly more in numbers but still an insignificant fraction.

    I read an article about Trump’s competitiveness against possible Democratic candidates, as shown by opinion polls, and it was depressing reading. How is it possible that he still has a good chance of winning the Electoral College vote this year? It’s because people, generally, care more about other subjects than the long term environment. That will continue until the environmental changes actually force them into different behaviour.

    • Mike, I didn’t mean my descriptor as any sort of attack: I just think some of the difference of opinion we are having is constitutional in origin. Call me a
      “glass-half-full” kind of guy if you want; I’m under no illusion that that’s a “superior” trait. (Though I do sometimes worry about people getting demotivated by excessive pessimism.)

      “I don’t know any example of a species that willingly changed its behaviour and I don’t see why Home Sapiens would be the first.”

      Not sure what that means–is there any other species that has the capacity to make human-magnitude changes in behavior in the first place? And does it matter if we change ‘willingly’ or under the spur of worsening prospects? What matters, surely, is that we change.

      And yes, the notion that Trump could still win, despite his demonstrated malevolence and ineptitude, is pretty damn depressing. It does not speak well of our species.

      • Doc, I meant that our species has a characteristic behaviour within the environment (in the broadest meaning of that world) it finds itself. Every species has a characteristic behaviour which only changes when its environment changes (such as when it finds itself isolated by some geological event). We can see human behaviour in our current environment of technological society and a primarily capitalistic economy, with plenty of relatively cheap energy to extract resources and overcome nature (for now).

        As we are a species, I can’t see our characteristic behaviour changing because we want to. Of course, there will always be some individuals of a species who act a little differently and those traits will propagate if they give those individuals a better chance at surviving and reproduction. A species doesn’t change its characteristic behaviour because some individuals can foresee some longer term advantage to that change.

        Can humans become the first example of a species voluntarily changing its behaviour due to some possible advantage that yet to be born generations may benefit from? Maybe, but I just don’t see any evidence that humans are special in that regard. This is the prime reason I don’t expect meaningful and significant action on climate change or any of the other environmental stressors that we’re responsible for. Until environmental change itself forces that change of behaviour and that probably won’t be until catastrophe is upon us. That may take many decades more, though, or some black swan event may delay it even further but it will come eventually.

      • And it’s not just the possibility of a Trump victory. I recently read that the SUV is the fastest growing sector of the car market. Does that suggest that people are concerned about climate change (regardless of what opinion polls suggest)?

      • That’s the thing about Greta: she rejects compromise and cant. Most of us aren’t doing that; we’re still negotiating our way through a sea of half-measures and missing options. That’s why we need systemic change, not just individual heroics. But Greta’s resistance to easy compromises is precisely what makes her a compelling figure.

  11. Lawrence McLean

    Hatred of Nature is deeply rooted in the philosophies and religions of many civilizations.

    Many humans are lost in their abstractions and use words that they do not really understand. For example, the term “economic growth” ultimately means the increase in the rate of consumption of the Earths resources. An atmosphere conducive to life on Earth is simply one of the resources that is being sacrificed at the alter of “Economic Growth”. “Economic growth” is sacred to many people, on both the Left and Right.

    Sadly, I suspect that we have passed the point of no return. Under natural circumstances, Climate changed very slowly compared to a human life-time, the last ice-age took about 1000 years to shift. The changes we are seeing now are quite staggering. There has never been a dreadful summer in Australia like this one. Nevertheless, this is nothing compared to the likely effects when the Arctic Ocean becomes ice free prior to the Solstice. The harbinger of the catastrophes that will arise could be the sudden release of the Methane clathrates, possibly with an immense bang (small ones have already happened in Russia).

    The last time we had global warming like this was in the Permian, large swathes of Earth became too hot for complex life. For example Sydney sandstone which lies on top of the Coal deposits (essentially a mass of fossils) is fossil free! To make matters worse, the Sun is hotter now (about 3 – 5%) than during the Permian.

    The modern Western nations are now more like mini empires than traditional nations. Social Class and Multiculturalism has rendered them impossible to achieve the required Unity required in order to achieve the enormous transformation required to save the Planet!

    I fear that a nice solution is impossible.