The uninhabitable (or at least unwelcoming) earth – deep dive

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

In all honesty, I thought this article would be like every other article addressing climate change that I had read before. I know that the Earth is warming up. I know that the rate at which it warms up is accelerating, and I know that if action isn’t taken now, the future of this planet and its inhabitants won’t look too bright. I thought that this article would just be a redundant embellishment of these three points. What I came to realize after getting only two and a half paragraphs deep into “The Uninhabitable Earth” was how incredibly pretentious my attitude towards the subject had been. There was so much more to learn…

In response to the alarmist attitude that Wallace takes on the subject matter, I believe that this type of approach is completely justified. Climate change is an immediate global threat and should be treated as such. I see the categorization of alarmist activism as a form of procrastination. Many people don’t want to accept our harsh reality as such and push away or even ignore the truths that they don’t want to accept. If anything, Wallace’s alarmist portrayal of the facts at hand give us a more helpful push into the right direction. If our problems are solved now rather than later, less people will have to suffer the direct consequences of our actions.

[this reply received 19 comments, including:]

I completely agree; I also believe that Wallace’s approach in this article is justified and should not be considered an “alarmist.” An alarmist is defined as someone who is exaggerating and causes needless worry or panic among individuals. I strongly argue that David Wallace-Wells, in his article “The Uninhabitable Earth,” is definitely not an alarmist, but rather an individual that is voicing the truth…

Overall, I believe that Wallace’s approach was scary and intimidating, but absolutely necessary.

[and this reply]

I agree with you. Before reading this article I was also slightly desensitized to the issue, expecting to read another “typical addressing climate change” article. I liked how Wallace-Wells challenges his readers to see the future.

[“It is, I promise, worse than you think.”]

“The Uninhabitable Earth” starts off with a sentence that without a doubt grabs the reader’s attention. The bold claim that “it” in fact is worse than anyone thinks has the reader scared before they even know what “it” is. The article goes on to say not too much further on that however alarmed you are, you are not nearly alarmed enough.

“The Uninhabitable Earth” should not be seen as alarmist and fear mongering, but should instead be accepted as the fate of the planet if climate change is not curbed. Wallace Well’s pointing out how our carbon emission rates are 10 times that of an extinction that led of the death of 97% of life on Earth really puts into perspective how large of a problem this is.

[similarly, someone noted that:]

I was taught that there have been several extinctions before the existence of human, but I never know that the main cause of most of these mass extinctions is greenhouse gases. Humans are in a more dangerous situation than we used to believe it is, because the greenhouse gases has reached a level that might have never been met before.

[DWW: “The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions…Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas.”]

Not to be pessimistic or fatalistic, but throughout the article I felt like I was reading a manual on how to create mass extinction.

David Wallace-Wells writes in his article, “Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope.” This is definitely very true, as a student, we are always told that climate change is real and it is bad, but we are never really educated on how bad it actually is. It is alarming that Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere, and when it thaws, the methane released is 34 times as powerful than carbon dioxide. Scientists have yet found a way to deal with the permafrost melt…”

Learning that cities around the world have already experienced deadly heat waves scares me. Knowing that we just might be cooked to death is extremely scary. If the heat doesn’t kill us first, it might just be the lack of food.

I also feel that Wells created more credibility for himself and the information he gave because he released an annotated version of his article. This version shows where he had received the information he spoke about just generally highlights the parts of the article that he believes are the most important parts. I believe that this also establishes credibility for Wells himself because he realized his error for how he gave the information and tried to reconcile for it.

I believe that the article is a good starting article with an important meaning, however I feel that Wells may have went a little overboard on the tone of his article. The information and scenarios he gave seemed to make it appear like there is no solution to the said issues and that nothing can be done to stop said outcomes. This form of writing may have been his intention because I believe he wanted to invoke a sense of urgency. While using fear can be a good catalyst to get people to take action, it can also lead to some unintended consequences. One such consequence being that perhaps someone will read the article and then instead of just trying to spread awareness they will get a sense of hopelessness and become despondent. So then the message that Wells is trying to get across may be missed. While this scenario may not happen it is still a possible consequence of spreading information of this nature in a way that may invoke fear.

I found it to be strikingly interesting about the effects climate change will have on our oceans. I always knew that our oceans were being polluted and that marine life is being threatened. However, learning about the concept of ocean acidification really changed my perspective on the harmful effects of greenhouse gases. This is a great illustration of how humans are destroying every part of the planet, even parts that should be protected such as the oceans and all of its biodiversity.

Lastly, the closing statistics and facts at the end of this video really put the effects of climate change on the weather into perspective. It is a daunting reality that so much has happened over the past decade alone. It makes me wonder if stopping or slowing down climate change is even something that is possible, or if it is just a part of the earth’s evolution.

Wallace presents statistics that put these issues into perspective and on a scale that helped me to understand the severity of what global warming has done to our planet and what will happen in the future if we fail to take action. Reference to the time in which the Earth is likely to become inhabitable gives the reader an understanding of how little time there is left relative to their lifespan.

After reading the article, “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells I would say his article was more thought-provoking and interesting than most of the environmental films and readings that I have read in the past. A lot of environmental articles usually conclude by saying Global warming will result in a tremendous amount of world disasters such as sea level rising, causing cities to flood, more natural disasters, or some type of economic crisis, but with Wallace he goes on to further his articles by adding in how this dramatic environmental change with deeply impact human lives.

After reading David Wallace-Well’s article, I was scared by the future he described. He painted pictures of disasters that caused by climate change. It is an effective way to warn people what will happened, if we still ignore the phenomenon of rising global temperature and don’t take action immediately. Due to some terrible scenarios he depicted in this article, some readers considered him as an alarmist. However, I don’t think so. It is no way to say Wallace-Well’s opinions are exaggerated or aggressive. Based on statistics and researchers, disasters he mentioned will be the consequences of climate change, if we don’t change our ways of living. I believe this article is calling for action, instead of frustration for the future.

The end of the article explains what needs to be done in order to hopefully not permanently destroy the earth. Wallace outlines the solution as follows: cut carbon emission from industry and energy by half each decade, get emissions from land use to be zero, and there must be technology that can extract carbon from the atmosphere at rate two-times as fast as plants can. We need to take these extreme measures right away before it is too late.

Part II, (Heat Death), did a great job of highlighting how the change in climate could result in direct casualties via heat. It brings the question of what would happen in the case of extreme heat rise. The poorest areas do not have air conditioning, nor the ability to migrate to a cooler climate. How would this additional problem be addressed by the nations. Nations such as Iraq and India would struggle with a large lower class and poor infrastructure. I was also very surprised to see how people in El Salvador are already experiencing the effects of climate change.

Upon Wallaces’ article I could not wrap my head around the fact of how alarming climate change is affecting our way of living just this past decade. All because we as humans are either too lazy to do something about it, or they don’t want to come to terms that it’s indeed a huge problem. Polluting the earth’s atmosphere and contributing to it on a day-to-day basis only worsens the situation. At first I felt that whatever we do now to prevent further of a threat won’t change years and years of damage to what has been already done to the earth’s environment. After reading this article, Wallace provides such insight and perspective on the future for the planet. By taking an alarmist tactic on this issue is probably one of the more efficient ways of informing these new readers, however it shouldn’t be to the extent were these alarmist are forcing something onto them.

After reading the article, my idea of the severity of the climate crisis has evolved in a way that rightly makes me immensely uncomfortable. Before joining this class and reading this article, I was aware of and believed in the degradation of the climate due to carbon dioxide emissions and various other greenhouse gases, as I had previously done a presentation on climate change, but I was not fully aware of the dire situation that the planet is already in. I had assumed, naively, that the warnings and alarms raised about our dying climate were warning about an event bound to come a century or two later, and that, at the moment, our climate was unhealthy, but stable and repairable. After learning, however, about the failed Paris agreement and the current incredibly high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at 415 ppm, I realized how wrong that idea of a safe, repairable climate for the remainder of the century is. In reality, our climate could well become uninhabitable within the next century, as shown by David Wallace-Wells’s roadmap for a world without significant, borderline universal human action towards limiting CO2 emissions.

After reading the article, one factor that was deeply in my mind – “the timid language of scientific probabilities”. The article contains a lot of shock factors which alarms us about terrible situation of Earth, and it shows many scientists’ research results, but why the factor of scientists’ timid language will carve in my mind? Think about it, the information we got today, no matter from news or class, they all come from scientists’ research. The language scientists had need to be accurate. They can’t use the “absolute” words. So their reports always contain the “uncertain” words which people always ignore its importance. Scientists trying to use the most accurate words to alarm us, while we always forget the uncertain words are actually equal to the word “absolute”. People like to reduce the risk they saw. For example, the article tells people the results of the temperature rises to two and four degrees, but people can only remember the result of two degrees because they thought the rise of four degrees is far away from them and even it’s impossible. I believe this is actually the main point why people still not act to save the earth, the misunderstanding of the scientists’ reports and the “ability” to reduce the risk.

2°C: Beyond the limit – deep dive

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

While I certainly found it astonishing how clearly we can see the effects of climate change in our own backyard, I wanted to try to tackle why Santa Barbara is struggling to act on the goals that so many people in this area seem to value. …

A few years ago I came to the conclusion that eating meat was inherently immoral based on many of my most deeply held ethical convictions. Yet, I continued to eat meat on a weekly or daily basis…I tried a vegan diet, but quickly gave up because it was just too hard…

My issue is what is colloquially referred to as “moral laziness.” . …In my mind, the main issues that cause this ‘moral laziness’ are as follows. First, the notion that an individual by themselves cannot make a difference (similar to why people don’t vote in elections, as their vote is “meaningless”), second, the fact that you can’t visibly see the harm that you are doing, (you can’t watch the Co2 from your car start fires or fuel hurricanes), and thirdly, that climate change seems so off in the distance that it is not worth giving up things that give us pleasure like eating meat or wearing nice clothes. I am unfortunately guilty of these as much as anyone. I hope that this class will help me overcome this barrier.

[this comment received 34 “likes” and 72 replies, including]

Speaking as someone who has similar convictions, I feel like a bit of a fraud- shaming the executives and fossil-fuel companies for their apparent lack of regard and inaction, yet I take little action to make changes either.

[and this one]

When I was reading the article today, I too was trying to wrap my head around why myself and so many others who believe in the dangers of climate change neglect taking any

Something that shocked me while reading this article was that the climate in Santa Barbara and other parts of California, like the Central Valley, can no longer grow staple crops such as avocados. Instead, they turn to crops more accustomed to the climate such as dragonfruit, coffee, and finger limes. When I envision any of these crops, I immediately picture a hot, moist tropical climate in a country far, far away.

[This quote is from the article itself;]

If there is a God-given civic right in which Santa Barbarans believe, it is bountiful and convenient free public parking.

Studies have found that there is no greater predictor of the number of cars on the road than the availability of free parking. And in Santa Barbara County, the biggest contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is the car.

Environmentalists are lobbying to put an end to it and to even replace parking lots on prime downtown real estate with housing. But that campaign has so far failed to budge the city council on an issue the business community says is key to profitability.

[someone replied that]

I think increasing the efficacy of the SBMTD would also be a good solution to encourage less driving. Adding more stops and more buses might reduce the need for free parking.

I think the article “2ºC: Beyond the limit” was very impressive and shocked me about the detail about climate change and how serious can climate change be. I know that climate change is affecting the whole world. But I don’t know how serious it is…I can’t imagine that Santa Barara is facing the threat of a tornado. Its temperature has risen by over 2.3C in the past few decades.

Never have I experienced something like the fire in the Santa Barbara hills that took place in November. Although it was not close enough to directly effect myself and my friends, seeing the fire with my own eyes and not through a television was genuinely frightening.Driving to my hometown while the fire was happening another fire was happening in LA county that I also saw on the side of the freeway. Two visible fires in just one day that were unconfined for long periods of time.

[T]he recent wildfire that happened in Santa Barbara is definitely a warning from nature. This is the first time when I feel that the climate crisis is more than a topic in the textbook.

The article “2ºC: Beyond the Limit” leaves me feeling uneasy about the future. What specifically caught my attention was about how the coastal parts that go through Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and part of the Mexican border are warming up more quickly than the continental United States.

Reading articles like “2ºC: Beyond the Limit” make me realize why scientists suggested the new moniker climate “crisis”. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that anything could go wrong in the idyllically beautiful landscape of Santa Barbara. That’s probably why I was so stricken by the truth in Scott Wilson’s quote; “Santa Barbara is often accused of caring more about how it looks than how it lives”. I was honestly shocked to learn about our county’s consistent failure with lowering our greenhouse gas emissions. The image portrayed by the city is often one of climate awareness and action, yet in actuality we continue to fall short of those marks on many accounts.

[this comment received 17 replies, including]

Your first paragraph on the idealized haven of Santa Barbara was very thought-provoking for me. Moving here from out of state, I had many environmental assumptions I had never really checked. Coming from the south, I took my bias of all Californians being vegan and hating plastic water bottles to mean that the community I would move into was going to be highly environmentally conscious. Yet, now I learn about the lack of action in many areas and I realize that everywhere has so much work to do, even the places that have a facade of sustainability.

“Something important but remote…” That is how I always saw climate change until I

started taking this course. It is hard to not see the effects of the climbing temperatures when you live and go to school in the area that is being hit the hardest.

Compared to the pre-industrial time, the average temperature in Santa Barbara county has raised 2.3 degree Celsius, which exceeded the 2 degree Celsius which is the threshold temperature set by the Paris Agreement (America has withdrawn this agreement in 2019). In the article, what impressed me was that the government of Santa Barbara has done nothing to change the current condition. The county has pledged to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases by 15 percent compared with 2007, yet it actually rose up by 14 percent. Many of whom are aware about the consequences of climate crisis, but the mainstream seems to intentionally ignore that.

This article made me sad because it didn’t give me any insight into how I could help out this community. I think this article would have been more effective if it showed us ways that could reverse the effects of climate and how we could slow down the heating.

The article talked about the crazy temperature surge on July 6, 2018. Coincidentally, that day was my Freshman orientation. Everyone was sweating, dying of thirst, and it did not even cool down a bit at night. I panicked and thought maybe this kind of heat would continue.

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming – deep dive

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

President Barack Obama and his followers have repeatedly declared that climate change is “the greatest threat facing mankind.” This, while ISIS is beheading innocent people, displacing millions from their homeland, and engaging in global acts of mass murder.

If it weren’t so scary, it would be laughable. These statements should ring alarm bells in the minds of all Americans. They show how out of touch this president and the movement he leads are with reality and the American public.

The global warming movement is the most extensive and most expensive public relations campaign in the history of the world.

Sweeping regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan – which will totally transform the way electricity is generated, distributed, and used, and will dramatically increase costs for industry and individuals – are justified by their supporters because they are purported to mitigate climate change. Yet even their proponents admit such laws will have a minuscule impact on global greenhouse gas emissions and an imperceptible impact on the world’s climate, well below the range of natural variability and the margin of error of our methods of measuring the planet’s temperature.

This begs the question: “Why bother?” Why impose regulations that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year, destroy millions of jobs, and condemn millions of people to lives of grinding poverty, if there is virtually no beneficial impact on Earth’s climate? Many people support the regulations out of pure naivete: They’ve been told over and over again that “97 percent of scientists” believe global warming is a crisis and so sacrifices, even huge sacrifices, are necessary to stop it.

Marita Noon is executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and its companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE)…Noon is also a columnist for and a regular contributor to many online commentary sites including The American Spectator,

The first edition was quite a success. More than 50,000 copies of the Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming book were sold or given away in only five months to elected officials, civic and business leaders, scientists, and other opinion leaders. The response from the science community and experts on climate change has been overwhelmingly positive.

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming, References to the Introduction:

AAAS, n.d. What we know. American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Website. Last viewed on October 30, 2015.

Bast, J.L. 2010. Analysis: New international survey of climate scientists. The Heartland Institute. Website. Last viewed on October 30, 2015.

Bast, J.L. 2012. The myth of the 98%. Heartland Policy Brief. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute (October 1).

Bast, J.L. 2013. AMS survey shows no consensus on global warming. Heartland Policy Brief. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute (November 28). INTRODUCTION 5

Bast, J.L and Spencer, R. 2014. The myth of the climate change ‘97%.’ The Wall Street Journal (May 26).

Idso, C.D, Carter, R.M., and Singer, S.F. (Eds.) 2013. Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute.

IPCC 2014. Pachauri, R. and Meyer, L. (Eds). Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland.

NASA, 2015. Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Website. Last viewed on October 30, 2015.

“The claim that ’97 percent of scientists agree’ appears on the websites of government agencies such as the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, 2015) and even respected scientific organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, n.d.), yet such claims are either false or meaningless.”

In June 2018, the reliable UK newspaper The Guardian published an article entitled “The Wall Street Journal keeps peddling Big Oil propaganda,” noting that

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Opinion page has long had a conservative skew, and unfortunately that has extended to politicizing climate change with biased and factually inaccurate editorials.

Over the past several weeks, the WSJ’s attacks on climate science have gone into overdrive. On May 15th, the Opinion page published a self-contradictory editorial from the lifelong contrarian and fossil fuel-funded Fred Singer that so badly rejected basic physics, it prompted one researcher to remark, ‘If this were an essay in one of my undergraduate classes, he would fail.’”

Regarding the consensus of 97% of scientists, see NASA’a webpage on the subject.

The climate change debate resembles the famous tale of a group of blind men touching various parts of an elephant, each arriving at a very different idea of what it is like: to one it is like a tree, to another, a snake, and to a third, a wall. A wise man tells the group, “You are all right. An elephant has all the features you mentioned.” But how many physicists, geologists, biologists, and economists want to be told they are missing “the big picture” or that their earnest concern and good research aren’t enough to describe a complex phenomenon, and therefore not a reliable guide to making decisions about what mankind should do? Few indeed.

This source of disagreement seems obvious but is seldom discussed. Scientists (both physical scientists and social scientists) make assertions and predictions claiming high degrees of confidence, a term with precise meaning in science but turned into an empty tool of rhetoric by IPCC and its allies, that are wholly unjustified given their training and ignorance of large parts of the vast literature regarding climate.

Also make sure to research seemingly authentic publications that the text references, such as www.Popular

[What follows are the YouTube comments to this reading]

I’m still confused on why Ken would have us read this text for this course, if anybody has any ideas, please let me know.

[The short answer is that it gives us insight into why so many Americans are skeptical of climate change – and whether these Americans are at fault here. Note that climate change denial literature is most common in the English-speaking world.]

Watching Ken’s video left me alarmed about the methods fossil fuel interests used to mitigate awareness of climate change. I find their use of sending propaganda to K-12 teachers to be particularly insidious, as these are the people educating the children of the country. I find it morbidly curious, evidently a lot of thought and effort was put into spreading their message as effectively as possible. Targeting the populace through misinformation campaigns propagated at the governmental level was likely no easy task … imagine if they put the same effort towards combating the crisis…

Reading the book was a different experience than I had imagined going into it. The book is well structured and well written, I find it hard to take issue with the way they presented their argument (not the argument itself mind you). All of their factoids in the introduction are easy to read, as well as clearly cited…

I hope that this week Ken will rebut the points in this book.

[This comment received 29 “likes” and 76 replies, including]

I, too, agree that it is despicable that these fossil fuel companies find it morally okay to spread misinformation about the climate crisis. Especially immoral to use the public school system to attack and “brainwash” the young and uneducated population. The sad fact is that in today’s day in age, we are encouraged to present it as a two-sided issue, or else climate deniers will become angry.

[and this reply]

I strongly agree with the points you made in your comments. First of all, it is kind of tricky and “smart” of those fossil fuel companies to target K-12 teachers and therefore the students. Just as Ken realized that educating our generation to deal with the climate crisis properly, so did these companies (but for different purposes).

[and this reply]

To me I kept coming back to the fact that the large fossil fuel companies and conservative think tanks had to sit down and brainstorm how they could be the most effective at convincing people that climate change was not due to human action.

I don’t quite understand what an individual will gain by pushing for a more clean and green environment.

I went to a high school in a relatively conservative town. My freshman year of high school, I remember the honors biology teacher explaining how climate change was a hoax only perpetuated to continue taxing Americans. I took this to be true. At that point, I was thirteen years old and wasn’t presented with other information that would contradict his argument. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I began to question what the teachers motives were for spreading misinformation to 13 and 14 year olds. I then realized how many of my classmates were not going to have the same realization as I did about climate change. In my high school, only about 20 students a year take the AP Environmental Science class, and only about 15 continue on to university after high school. Many of my classmates, most likely, still believe that climate change is a hoax because of this teacher, and will see it only as a ploy used to tax Americans.

We have to take into consideration who actually published the book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. Who is Heartland Institute and what are they actually known for? The Heartland Institute has been promoting the denial of the climate crisis and has received funds from ExxonMobile for specifically that reason. The document leaks that came from the Heartland Institute in 2012 revealed that they received help from the Koch foundation to cast doubt over the validity of scientific findings that explain the long term effects that fossil fuels have on the planet.

[As the documentary “Climate of Doubt” made clear, because many people are now aware of the Heartland Institute, groups like the Koch Foundation now use organizations like Donors Trust to anonymously fun climate change denial literature. If why Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming had been sent anonymously, it may have well been even more effective, as people would not have been skeptical of the source.]

This reading, as well as the attached Amazon reviews, really pissed me off.

I especially resonate with what you said about growing up in a low income household where topics such as climate change just aren’t discussed at all. Most of what I myself learned about the climate crisis has been through this class and last quarter’s English 22 class. The spread of misinformation cannot be attributed to simple ignorance, such that as Raul wrote, it is well written and well calculated. When it comes to the general public, I believe that most people who undermine scientific findings regarding the climate crisis are simply afraid of the truth and prefer to live in ignorant bliss.

What I found very interesting from this reading is the Global Warming Petition Project. It composes of statements that urges the government to not side with climate change advocates. It also states how limiting the use of greenhouse gas would “hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.” What’s also shocking in this statement is how they stated, “there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.” This is important because it’s important to take into consideration that although plants need CO2, we are producing it at an exceeding rate. There aren’t enough plants to take in the CO2 we emit, especially with all the wildfires going on.

Watching this video connected with me on many different levels. Many of my elementary school teachers would deny climate change, and my science teachers would often say it is still up for debate.

One thing I noticed is that there is a lot of time spent on just attacking the scientist and people who believe in climate change. Actually, the whole first three chapters are mostly made up of this. They use a bunch of evidence to show that 97% of scientists that everyone is talking about is not real. They spend so much time on this but don’t give any actual facts as to why climate change isn’t real…

After finally “convincing” readers these 97% of scientists are fake, they attack the work of many people who wrote about the effect of climate change. They even go as far as calling Oreskes’ essay an “opinion essay.” Using facts is not an “opinion” but deniers will go as far as possible to find any way to ignore climate change. Still, throughout this whole time, they haven’t used any facts to actually argue against the claims Oreskes states. They just say she’s not an actual scientist and so you shouldn’t trust her, instead of giving facts as to why her argument is wrong

When I was first reading this I believed it was another paper backing climate change and how people need to change, but later on I realized this to be a paper in support of the fossil fuel industry as it was denying climate change. It was a very compelling argument with a lot of sources which makes the paper look very legitimate. As a person who didn’t know too much about the climate crisis before coming to UCSB, I honestly may have taken this in willingly. I still would’ve believed in climate change of course, but probably not to the degree I do currently.

I’ve never been more angry reading a document.The authors of “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” are lying through their teeth for money.

I really enjoy reading detailed arguments. I think that arguments can always go both ways (if prior bias does not exist) and I do think that anyone can make the case on any side. I particularly enjoyed the mass amounts of statistics that were thrown at the readers to help convince people that climate change is not as severe as many think it is nor has it reached a consensus that many believe it has reached. The way in which the authors present their argument is very intricate and expansive. However, when I see an argument that is backed by pure statistics, I always take it with a grain of salt. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.”


I agree. I believe the mass amount of statistics were used as a tactic to fool the audience into thinking the text was credible. Unfortunately, I think this is a tactic that would be successful in fooling some people.

[A]s a researcher, myself, I could not agree with the ways the writer used to declare his opinion. He did not credit the data to any scientific research. At least, it is not specific. This makes me skeptical about the research they did. Any data without scientific research is just a number without any meaning.

I really tried to analyze why and how people don’t believe climate change is real. However, I personally found this book confusing and while reading through the text I realized the hypocrisy of the author. In chapter one, there is a quote that reads, “A 97% consensus claim is merely a “social proof” – a powerful psychological motivator intended to make the public comply with the heard” (Pg. 19). This quote is coming from a book that mailed 300,000 copies to K-12 teachers and college professors. Sending unwanted material to people is a psychological game trick to make people behave a certain way.

“Rather than rely exclusively on United Nation’s IPCC for scientific advice, policymakers should seek out advice from independent, nongovernment organizations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.”

It’s the header for the free pdf of “Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming”, and it’s a statement that sounds like it could hold some water. Politics has always been pay to play, and a political conflict of interest is arguably why our sitting president has two articles of impeachment on his desk… I’m not a fan of special interests.

The problem is, The Heartland Institute isn’t staying above board. They aren’t transparent about their funding, and when they were, they got dragged through the dust for it, because they got their money from ExxonMobil and Charles Koch.

When I first started reading this I didn’t actually realize that it was a product of a conservative think tank, which actually made the experience of reading the first part of it kinda interesting to reflect on (though in retrospect I should have noticed sooner) One of the first claims of the book is that the climate change movement has been used by politicians to gain political power, and I thought “Well good causes are hijacked all the time by people with bad intentions” and kept reading. Then it carefully steered into the conversation of how the scientific community actually disagrees on many things and so the 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change is an “oversimplification” which again made sense, though at this point I had missed several more warning bells.

I appreciate the fact that Ken is having us read through a prime example of someone denying climate change. It helps to have someone try to challenge my belief in climate change, as it is often said that you can never truly believe in something unless you have had your belief challenged. Reading through what should be the best example of climate change denial-ism, I found many obvious fallacies within their argument.

One should therefore realize that the students who received their guidance should also not be able to tell the cause. Imagine 30 years or so later, what would majority of people believe the cause of climate crisis?

When I first started reading the book, I hadn’t read the webpage introducing the book, any of the Amazon reviews, or watched Ken’s introduction about it. I found myself confused and almost started believing what I was reading until I took a step back and realized this book was denying climate change. I’m shocked at their convincing skills…


(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

When I saw that Ken assigned us to read Henry David Thoreou’s work, I questioned why in the hell is Ken making us read this work of literature? How can this possibly relate to our class? But I was already making such assumptions without having read the text yet. As I started to read I was pretty intrigued with what Thoreou had to say and the simplistic life he believed in. It amazed me how this work was written so long ago and for Thoreau to have already caught on to such ideas is insane. I could only imagine how cruel his critiques would be in todays time. Walden was written in 1854, the 19th century, an era that doesn’t even compare to what our economy has come to now; capitalistic, materialistic, maximalist, and straight up money hungry in order to live the American dream of a lavish lifestyle.

When I began reading this, I wondered why…[Ken]… had assigned us such a seemingly trivial piece of literature and how that connected to this class. I was about to read an opinion piece on why Thoreau believes a simplistic lifestyle is the most virtuous. It ended up being more of a manual for how to live a simplistic lifestyle mingled together with his argument of what basic human nature really needs. I soon realized that the purpose of reading this was to get the reader to evaluate all of the unnecessary luxuries that we have in our lives and to convince us of why we don’t really need all those extra things.

Thoreau repeatedly argues that man has put himself in his own state of misery. All of the advantages we’ve made and the amenities we’ve created have only left us anxious to have it all. We’ve mistakenly put ourselves in a vicious cycle of never feeling fully fulfilled with what we have. This has left us miserable, and from his economic point of view, poor…

So then how does all this fit into the environmental theme of this class? Consumerism. And not simple consumerism, but consumerism without thinking of the consequences it could be having.

The Waste Makers

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

“Price Competition in 1955” by Victor Lebow in the Journal of Retailing, Spring 1955

Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats, his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies.

These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency…We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption…

As we examine the concept of consumer loyalty, we see that the whole problem of molding the American mind is involved here.

“Style can destroy completely the value of possessions even while their utility remains unimpaired”…I had thought little of the influence that style has on my life as an individual, but after reading “The Waste Makers,” that changed.

The idea of planned obsolescence of desirability, that products will soon become ‘worn out’ in the minds of consumers because of a style or trend mentality, is so applicable to today. The iPhone, for one, is a prime example. Sometimes I wonder when Apple will run out of innovative ideas for the next iPhone; it appears that as new versions come out, the new technology appears to be less revolutionary than the last time. But as Mazur says, the style mentality keeps the demand for new iPhones up; people will quickly devalue their current possessions as new styles emerge. Regardless of how revolutionary the new technology is, consumers’ desire for new things will keep people buying new iPhones.

[Alternative smartphones that could last a decade or more have been proposed, such as Phonebloks. ]
[this comment received 12 replies, including]

Your example about new iPhone each year is on point. I remember iPhone 4 being the one phone that is the most revolutionary for me, and then each year after that they just all seem about the same, nothing essential changed. It’s always the new upgrades on hardware, or newer software and systems that no longer support the older version of iPhone. I simply never understand how companies like Apple keep raising people’ desires to change their stuffs every year until now, Style. As you said products always “worn out” in consumers’ mentality because companies make them so.

[BTW, “raising people’ desires” can be as simple as a color change, which can nonetheless be profoundly effective: Apple’s first “rose gold” iPhone – the 6S, reportedly called “the Kardashian” during development at Apple – was enormously popular. 40% of all pre-orders were for the rose gold model.]
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One of things I found most interesting in “The Waste Makers” was how the government encouraged people to buy a surplus of things following the Great Depression in order to make the economy stronger, and how creating more and more superfluous items for consumers to buy ultimately led to the capitalistic and product-driven economy that we have today.

Many items, like glasses, would come in various styles just so that people can buy more. Companies would have slogans that would push you to keep buying more. It was a norm that items need to match your clothes. This led to an abundance of items, just in various styles.

[this comment received 10 replies, including]

This idea of planned obsolescence is not even only applicable to adult consumers, but even shows in consumerism for young children. Toys are constantly being put on the market, and they become popular through extreme amounts of commercialism to the point that children are constantly begging their parents for new toys or games.

[“Disney’s 2013 hit Frozen grossed $1.3 billion at the box office…The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) reported that the licensing segment of entertainment and characters — movies and stars such as Frozen and Elsa — accumulated $107.2 billion in retail sales.” source]
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It truly is unsettling how marketing and overproduction have become so normalized in the United States that Americans now justify the amount they buy and find it completely necessary to have more than one of the same thing. What I’ve never understood was how willing Americans are to throw something away once an object shows its first signs of wear and tear. Despite it being much easier (and cheaper) for someone to repair an object, they would much rather throw the entire thing away so there is an excuse to purchase another one.

[There has recently been a movement celebrating the the repairing of clothes using, for example, the traditional Japanese techniques of “sashiko” and “boro.” This has been seen as a form of anti-consumer and environmental activism. Activism that you wear. However, these too risk being co-opted by retailers; the  ripped and washed jeans that are fashionable today came out of a 1960s backlash to consumerism. As Packard and similar writers were read widely, there was a relatively short-lived rebellion against consumerism in the 1960s.]

Something Ken said that stuck out to me was: “unchecked corporations have been willing to do extraordinary things in the name of profit, even knowingly kill people”. This revelation is especially heartbreaking to me because I feel like a lot of people have moved on from the health implications the tobacco industry has done to people’s life expectancies.

As a child of two parents addicted to smoking cigarettes, stemming from their high school days, it makes me wonder if their fate could have been different. I understand that as free-living adults, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions and deal with the consequences. However, corporations create tricky and persuasive propaganda to deflect from the fact that their products are bringing more harm than good…The camel brand targeted younger individuals with the memorable logo and carefree language.

After reading this article I was shocked at the range of effects that consumerism has had on the United States after the Great Depression. After the collapse of the economy, industries, politicians and almost the entire American public became obsessed with the idea of promoting economic growth through excessive consumption. And in an attempt to jumpstart the economy, firms began producing more than could ever be actually consumed by buyers, and therefore turned to manipulation, through the creating the narrative of obsolescence of desire. The public has been conditioned to believe that consumerism and capitalism are central to a successful economy, and while that may be true in moderation, the level at which American’s are currently consuming is not only unsustainable for the environment, but personally damaging to the individual.

I find it shocking yet somehow unsurprising that this book was written in the 1960’s. If I was to have read it with no context, I would be easily convinced that it was written in our generation. Why? Because little has changed; if anything, it has gotten far worse.

Reading the list of slogans that were used in the past to promote consumerism made me ill; “buy, buy, buy; it’s your patriotic duty”, “buy your way to prosperity”, “buy now—the job you save may be your own”. No wonder that our society is as materialistic and consumeristic as it is today. When people of authority are urging you to buy things—any things— you’re probably going to do it.

We need to learn to “go back to the basics”. We need to re-learn to be okay with less, and we need to reinforce the idea that less is more. Less spending means more savings. Less spending is less working, meaning more free time. Less spending means less hassle, fewer worries, fewer obligations. What good has ever come from constantly striving for MORE? If we continue to engrain the idea that we have to buy more and live luxuriously in order to be happy, we will never, ever be happy. We have to live in the moment, focus on the present, and take the future as it comes. If we could all just live more simply, and reinforce the benefits of simple living, not only would the world be a happier place, but our climate would be happier too.

I am not one to usually get rid of something that works perfectly fine just because a more fashionable model came out, so I am not affected by obsolescence of desirability, however; it is out of a consumer’s control to be affected by obsolescence of quality. At some point, desirability is surpassed by function and thus it makes sense after an undetermined amount of time to upgrade to the next model to make life easier…

[BTW, “obsolescence of quality” can also mean making a product that breaks easily. For example, a smartphone that is super slippery and has a screen vulnerable to breakage.]

Many parts of the reading – like the chapter describing how “throw away” disposable products were popular, and the chapter detailing how the American public was convinced to consume as much as possible – made me cringe with how environmentally terrible it sounded. It’s so unfortunate how the American people have been purposefully taught by advertising and profit-seeking companies that buying excess material items will lead to happiness, and that there was a time when people bought into this false narrative without any regard to the environmental consequences.

When I heard that cars do the same thing as the fashion industry, it never occurred to me that it was a similar concept. Things like phones, computers, cars, and clothes are always changing and is encouraged for people the get the new best thing.

The post-war era brought an increase in production technology so great that the consumer demands were more than met. In the present day, corporations are having to manufacture markets within markets, such as with the 52 season year in the case of the fast fashion industry.

In Chapter 5 of the “The Waste Makers”, one statement especially stood out to me. “U.S. consumers no longer hold on to suits, coats, and dresses as if they were heirlooms …. Furniture, refrigerators, rugs-all once bought to last for years or life are now replaced with register-tingling regularity.”

The two house family became the new model every family had to follow in order to comply with the new living standards society imposed. The two house family consisted of more stuff in larger homes, meaning that the new (aka modern) standard was to have two washers and two dryers, two to three cars, two or if not a massive refrigerator and in order to fit all these new appliances well families had to move to larger homes. Basically, everything in the U.S becomes about more and more.

In my country, Brazil, literally everything you buy, even a cheap meal, can be paid in installments. This is a good thing because it means that people who make minimum wage are able to buy the things they need, such as refrigerators, cellphones, food, etc. But it’s also a bad thing because it tricks people into thinking that they have money and that they should spend it whenever they want since the payments are spread out. This made people feel comfortable with buying 2 of each, especially people who grew up poor and managed to ascend to the upper-middle-class since they learned to value physical things more.

When I was growing up, we had a refrigerator in the kitchen and one close to our barbecue area since it was more convenient to entertain guests and serve them drinks there, instead of having to climb 10 steps to get to the kitchen. We were spending a lot more energy, putting a lot more pollution in the environment, for the convenience of not having to walk another 10ft. Today, this is a completely absurd concept to me, especially since over 1 million homes don’t have access to electricity and 35 million don’t have access to drinking water in my country; yet the middle class is still concerned about having a fridge 5ft from the dining table they use twice a year.

[Something worth noting is that the American model of consumerism that Packard explores has now spread around the world.]

In chapter 3, the author talked about how we have ritualized the act of purchasing and through it we could find spiritual and ego satisfactions. In my opinion, this factor could be fulfilled with non-material goods or ideologies such the practice of yoga or meditation. Even religious beliefs could help one find the right connection with the inner self…

Thanks to Packard’s reading, I now understand why the people of today are so obsessed with always buying the new trend. It almost seems a if it is a must. This way of thinking has history, we have evolved to think in such a way because of all the consumerism in the past. I feel like this book should be read by more people so that they can see the monster behind consumerism. I did not know how bad consumerism was till I read this book. I never knew there’s was definitions for things like obsolescence of function, obsolescence of quality and obsolescence of desirability. I can certainly relate to all because my entire life I have seen how all three have played out in my life. In just never came to think that they were negative aspects of life. I think that in the end, the main message I was getting from Packard was just very simple, that as humans we are so obsessed with having so much that it blinds us from seeing how much harm we can do to out planet especially when that overconsumption leads to so much waste.

 “Summary of Solutions” from Project Drawdown

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

I was surprised when I learned that the most effective way to cut down CO2 emissions is refrigerant management…I found the “Summary of Solutions” as an engaging and insightful reading. Every single solution offered in the first top twenty-five solutions were unique and thought-provoking. The impacts listed on side of each solution provided eye-opening statistics on how much CO2 could be reduced and how much profits could be acquired if companies and people shifted towards these solutions. As Ken pointed out, 11/25 solutions are related to land use and food. This just shows how important it is for us to monitor and regulate what we are consuming and how our food is getting on to our plates. Restorative, regenerative, and conservation agriculture are the three most important ways farmers should shift to reduce CO2 emissions.…Most of the solutions, however, are not things that I can do personally right now. I cannot switch to wind power, solar power, or nuclear power when I am currently living on campus. I also cannot implement agricultural practices or improve my rice cultivation methods. It is a little frustrating knowing that it is up to the people in power and control of our energy and agricultural industries. Another point that I agree with Ken is the need to prioritize education and the education of women.

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I found it really awesome to read the information provided by project drawdown, especially because they provided such a wide plethora of options that would reduce toxic gas emissions. I too was floored to see just how staggering the numbers were

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Like you, I was absolutely shocked at all these solutions we have for the climate crisis…I had no idea that tropical rainforests were being damaged so badly. I would see coverage on huge forest fires now and then on the news, but they would stop after a week. Its crazy that tropical forests used to make up 12% of land mass and it has plummeted to only 5%. Think about how many resources, environments, and cultures have been lost along with the 7% that was destroyed…The most interesting solutions I read about were “Educating Girls” & “Family Planning.” According to Project Drawdown, 225 million women in lower income countries say they want the ability to choose whether or when to become pregnant but they lack access to necessary contraceptives. Also, there are 62 million girls around the world that are not able to access an education because of economic, cultural, and safety related barriers. As a female and a Latina living in the U.S., I sometimes forget how hard people before me fought for someone like me to get an education. Still, there are girls all around the world that are not given the opportunity to get an education.

The way I had learned about CFC’s and HFC’s was that CFC’s were the bad guy causing a hole in our ozone layer, but that HFC’s were the good guy that replaced them and let us continue on living. It was taught like this in my ES 1 class that I took last year. We discussed the ozone layer hole as a climate issue, how it was caused (CFC’s) and how it was solved with an easily available and viable replacement (HFC’s). I was under no impression that there was a problem with this replacement until this reading. Why hasn’t there been any news regarding this issue? Or even announcements of the results of the Kigali Accord – which by the way, I didn’t even know existed!

[BTW, the Trump administration has not signed the Kigali Accord. As Inside Climate News notes: “The conservative Heritage Foundation argued that it’s about climate change and would ‘restrict consumer choice.’ The Competitive Enterprise Institute opposed the amendment on grounds that it would raise consumer costs in a letter sent to Trump in July…If the United States and the rest of the world ratify the treaty, the planet could avoid up to half a degree Celsius of additional warming by 2100, according to estimates.”

Project Drawdown is one of the most comprehensive, detailed, and easy to follow plans for actions governments, businesses, and individuals can take to mitigate the climate crisis that I’ve seen to date….The way the Summary of Solutions was organized introduced me to issues I hadn’t even considered being leading contributors of methane or carbon dioxide emissions previously such as refrigerant management, #1 or clean cookstoves, #21…

One of the greatest arguments of deniers of the climate crisis is that change is unaffordable. Seeing the billions of dollars that could be potentially saved from investing in projects such as solar farms, wind turbines, or farmland restoration provides hope that large corporations, governments, or wealthy investors may turn to these options in years to come.

[BTW, Project Drawdown notes that “Around the world, 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary stoves. The cooking fuels used by 40 percent of humanity are wood, charcoal, animal dung, crop residues, and coal. As these burn, often inside homes or in areas with limited ventilation, they release plumes of smoke and soot liable for 4.3 million premature deaths each year. Traditional cooking practices also produce 2 to 5 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.]

Also, I’ve learned many interesting new plans to fix climate change that I have never heard of before. The one I am most interested in is Nuclear power…nuclear power is much more efficient and not as dangerous as people make it to be. As I am not an expert, I will stick to Project Drawdown’s plan of leaving Nuclear power as a last resort for energy production.

Personally, I am not a numbers person, but reading the statistics of how each plan would decrease our carbon emission and slow down the rising global temperature really intrigues me. It is astonishing how there are so many ways to save our planet, but it is also saddening that this type of website does not get as much attention from the public.

I really liked how this week’s reading had so many different solutions, it was nice to read about the first 25. One that particularly stood out to me was the geothermal solution. Interesting how 39 countries are necessary to provide 100 percent of the world’s electricity needs yet we only have tapped into geothermal use at about 6-7 percent.

[“The United States leads the world in the amount of electricity generated with geothermal energy.” 72% of the geothermal energy in the U.S is produced in California. California produces more geothermal energy than any country on earth. 22% of CA renewable energy comes from geothermal energy. Almost every one of CA’s counties has geothermal resources.]

Before the reading, I did not know the difference between PV and CSP. From my understanding of the reading the difference there’s something about steam turbines and this idea of using solar radiation rather than coal or natural gas as CSP’s primary fuel. If someone could explain the difference better, that would be very much appreciated.

Also of immediate surprise to me was the absence of electric vehicles, planes, and high-speed rail from the top 25 on the list; with so much emphasis on these topics this far on the course, I’d expected to have seen them at least to 20.

The reading for this week really helped somewhat soothe my worries about the whole ordeal of climate change if only by a little bit, knowing that there still exist a variety of solutions to preventing the worst of it to come. It was surprising to see that off all of the solutions, refrigerant management was at the very top which I never would have considered to be the main solution that would combat climate change. Rather, I would have thought that the livestock industry and factory emissions were more responsible in terms of impact.

This is a great list that needs to be shared everywhere because Project Drawdown does an amazing job breaking down all of the top topics that can reduce climate change…The way it is organized is also very user-friendly, so it would not be that difficult to navigate. There are two other things I like about this website. Firstly, the summaries are concise and clear making it straight to the point that way a person reading it can understand the information they are absorbing easily. Secondly, I admire how they included their sources right below their summaries that way an individual reading a statistic for example could see where the source is coming from. It shows the credibility of the website because Project Drawdown is collecting outside, reliable sources instead of just making up sources themselves.

One of the most interesting information that I learned from this reading is that unplanned pregnancies have a huge impact on the environment. It reminds the audience about how significantly impactful unplanned pregnancies could be to our planet. However, one part I do not like to agree on is that the reading emphasizes that WOMEN specifically has to be careful and take responsibilities for have those pregnancies. Although I do agree that is plausible, I wish the reading focused on how men should take responsibility even more because it is also the men’s actions that contribute to unplanned pregnancies. Therefore, it is great to know that we are finding out solutions that can effectively guide the readers and other people to help save our planet. However, I hope we can realize that it is EVERYONE’S responsibility.

[Plus, keep in mind that the countries that restrict a woman’s access to birth control are, for the most part, controlled by men.]

In reading this list, most of what I had hypothesized about the movement to stop climate change has been validated. The capitalistic consumer market in the United States (as well as its strong influence on the behaviors and practices of those around the world) has bred an unsustainable market though which we have no choice but to exist. Most of what we do as a country, from our land management policies, food consumption and waste, and energy use, etc, are done so in the cheapest fashion that provides the producing companies with the largest return on investment…

One of the major things …that I think we will see being adopted on a widespread level in the near future is renewable energy sources; specifically wind and solar. Several studies conducted outside the parameters of Project Drawdown, including some studies well known and cited by the environmental activism group Sunrise Movement have shown that concentrated use of wind and solar in small areas of the United States have the potential to completely power the entire continental U.S. As stated in several of the summaries on Project Drawdown, the affordability and increased technology in these areas lend themselves to adoption into our mitigation efforts before many of their energy saving counterparts.

One of the proposals that I think is vitally important is the restoration of farmlands. Consumption is ravaging through our earth to the point where we have occupied so much land for farming to keep up with demand, that once the farmland has been used for what it’s given, farmers walk away in the end.

I found the solution of Women and Girls Family Planning very interesting. I think that this is currently a huge issue and the fact that it contributes so much to the future of CO2 contributions just makes it more problematic. It is scary to think that just by 2050 our population is projected to grow to 9.7 billion and if we don’t take proper precautions it could become closer to 10.7 billion. The difference in the 1 billion people would be the difference in about 102.96 gigatons of carbon dioxide. This number also includes the numbers from educating women. I believe this is a good thing to do no matter what and the fact that it would help in climate change would be another substantial benefit.

When I first checked out the site, I was a little confused but then became very amazed. It really is a roadmap, and it makes it so easy to tell how much each of these factors is contributing to our global emissions, how much investing in it costs and then how much it can save us. It was crazy to read about these first 25 ways when it’s hard for me to honestly even think of a number of ways close to that many. I read up on the common practices like eating a plant-rich diet, reducing food waste, and things like rooftop solar panels to generate energy.

[Rooftop solar can actually save homeowners thousands dollars.]

I was largely interested in reading more about nuclear energy even before delving into Project Drawdown’s summary of it because it seems like the best last resort option if renewable energy does not spread as much as it wants to. That’s why I largely agree with the conclusion made by Drawdown, of it being a “regrets solution.”

Observing the sector column, I find “food” is the most common one: 11 out of 25 are related to food. Reading all of them carefully, I classify them into three types: food waste, plant-rich diet, and agriculture. Reducing food waste is the most important one and ranks top 3 in the list…

For plant-rich diet, this is a culture issue. To solve it, we may spend a whole century. We should find other alternatives to substitute the meat of livestock as the main provider of protein. When I was in high school, I read an article about eating insects. The meat of insects contains the same amount of protein, but raising them produces far less carbon dioxide…

For the third part agriculture, I am most interested in topic 14, which is to convert land from annual to perennial. If this idea is implementable, the use of the potential of our land will be maximized.

Social justice, environmental justice, climate justice,

and the injustice of it all

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

I really appreciated that you brought up the concept of “Degrowth.” A huge sect of the environmental and climate justice movement dances around this idea because of the ideological weight behind it. Just like the Green New Deal encapsulates, many environmentalists seem to think that we can address these crises without challenging the foundational principles of our economic model. They are convinced that we can solve the climate crisis and eliminate social injustice while continuing to grow economically…which is just a profoundly stupid notion. Many of these proponents even recognize that the profit-driven, capitalist system is the cause of so many of our ailments, yet think that we can work from within that system to fix everything. It’s like we’re trying to heal a wounded soldier by suturing his bullet wounds without first removing the bullets. Sure, we can cover up the holes, but all we’re doing is shielding our vision from the things that are killing us. To really solve these crises, we have to address the root causes of social and environmental degradation, which are petrocapitalism, hyperconsumerism, anthropocentrism, structural racism, the remnant legacies of colonialism, materialism, etc. All of these “isms” are rooted in the much larger “ism” that is running our society and the planet into oblivion – capitalism. Infinite growth is not possible. We’ve far surpassed the sustainable limits of growth. It is time for degrowth. This concept seems scary to the average American because it has a negative connotation of regression. However, I think this is a total misunderstanding of what degrowth can look like. I believe by deprioritizing economic growth and progress, we can focus on human growth and progress; we can shift from increasing profits to increasing happiness, from expanding wealth to expanding relationships, from working long hours to spending long hours with our loved ones, and from saving life for after retirement to living right now, in the present.

The degrowth initiative will be the only sensible solution for advanced, wealthy nations like the United States. However, it does not necessarily apply on a global scale. Developing nations, mainly in the Global South, have not yet been able to achieve even a fraction of the level of development that advanced nations have. This is not due to their lack of progress, laziness, inferiority, or any problematic associations with race. This is because of a long history of imperialism and exploitation that has left these peoples in disadvantaged positions ever since. These populations must be allowed to achieve some development before we can expect them to worry about the climate crisis, at least to the same extent as developed nations. In order to buffer the climate impacts these countries will produce from development and growth, us advanced nations must drastically reduce our climate impact and growth. That is why it is imperative for the United States and other advanced nations to implore degrowth.

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I completely agree with you degrowth is absolutely necessary for sustainable living. Capitalism has run the world for so long, and it has brought us to this issue, so clearly a new system must be implemented. I believe the Green New Deal is a great step in the right direction, but I fear people won’t easily give up the mindset of continuous and increasing growth. Green New Deal emphasizes reductions in many aspects of our life, which is something Americans don’t typically like to do. The “American Dream” is being able to afford anything and everything you want, something completely contradictory to the Green New Deal.

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I completely agree with what you have said here. I think it is important that we remind ourselves that the United States, in addition to many other wealthy imperialist countries, have put many of these poorer countries in the current position they are in. I really appreciate how you acknowledge the history of American imperialism in said countries. Like you said, they didn’t just choose to be in this position, America created a system where poorer countries would stay poor and ultimately dependent on America and other wealthy countries. This hegemonic relationship isn’t just a coincidence, we created it. Since we, and by we I mean America, have created this position the world is in, I believe we have a great duty to help the mess we created. I truly am not sure how this should be done, and I believe this is an important question to ask these questions to the countries we have exploited and put in this position. Ask them what is the best way to support them. We often look at these problems from the outside in and it is vital that we give those experiencing the effects of the mess we created a voice of how they want things done.

This can only be done if those in power have completely PURE intentions of our upcoming interactions with the countries who need the most help. Considering the history of American intervention in foreign countries, I truly don’t know if this is possible. The Green New Deal seems to be a step in the right way. However, more needs to be done and fast.

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I agree with everything you said. Your comment is very put together and WOKE and I couldn’t have said it better. These structures are put in place to keep the rich, old, white men on top and the rest on the bottom. So, yes de-growth and deconstruction is something that we, as a society, need to take up. These systems may have worked and benefited for the 1% but the 1% cannot keep living the way they do and expect that to be the norm for them and for everyone else. We cannot keep the same systems and expect social, environment, or climate injustice to wither away. As long as infinite growth is in place, no one can really grow at all. My comment on the films were much more optimistic but understanding that we have to get the rest of America to see that we cannot support the way we live any longer, is making me turn back to my pessimistic self. I fear that no one will truly get it until they see the effects of it, but what’s funny is that WE ALREADY ARE. Not only does this system not work for people in Bangladesh, it doesn’t work for people in our country as well, as much as we would like to believe it does.

[and this comment]

The concept of degrowth seems like a sensible option, but it misses very important aspects of the production function. If the production function only relied on natural capital and physical capital inputs, it would be impossible to sustain growth while protecting the environment. However, we must take into account improvements in technology and human capital. As technological knowledge grows at an exponential rate, it’s true that over time tech will improve and replace our current technology that is detrimental to our environment. As we become more aware of climate change and how to combat it, our human capital devoted to solving this issue will both lead to GDP growth and increasing the speed at which this issue is solved. With improvements to technology and human capital, it is very much so possible to sustain growth in cycles, and protect the environment.

On another note, it seems strange to me that so many students want degrowth. Degrowth would lead to a smaller economy and a smaller demand for labor. College students would be the group most detrimentally affected by degrowth and the rise of socialism. We would have paid the extraordinarily high price to improve our human capital by attending university, yet we would have very few jobs in a socialist or declining economy. While it may seem to be a noble cause to fight for the end of capitalism, it really will harm most of us if it is put in place. Ironically, if we look at who it will most help, the retired elderly, they are the people who have caused the climate crisis.

[Its is worth reconsidering Juliet Schor’s “Visualizing a Plenitude Economy” in this context

BTW, some people are calling the era that we are presently in not the Anthropocene, but the “Capitalocene”:

“Anthropogenic implicates an actor that doesn’t exist. There is no Anthropos, no humanity as a unified actor. So, if not anthropogenic, what? In a word: capitalogenic.”

“As one recent study has shown, 71 percent of global emissions can be traced back to the activities of just 100 mega-corporations. If anything, this indicates that we are confronted not by a Malthusian crisis of over-population, as many liberal environmentalists in the Global North continue to argue, but by a clear-cut Marxian crisis of unbridled over-accumulation, which has brought about an ‘irreparable rift’ in the metabolic interaction between humanity and the rest of nature. What we are living through, in short, is the Capitalocene — a distinct geological epoch in which the capitalist formula of ‘accumulation for accumulation’s sake’ has penetrated into every nook and cranny of the planet’s biophysical environment, to the point where the survival of the capitalist system has come to constitute an existential threat to the survival of humanity as a whole.”]

This video made me think about things I have NEVER thought about before. It’s the first video that has actually made me think about how ignorant I really am…

When Ken mentioned that it cost hundreds of million dollars to treat the Thomas fire, I realized something. I’ve NEVER thought about the costs of treating a fire. In fact, I didn’t think that it cost anything. I thought it only cost money to treat the damage after the fire is over. However, now I know that all of those firefighters, all of the equipment, all of the emergency services, all of the firetrucks, all of the water, and all of the helicopters — they didn’t help us for free. They helped us because we can afford it. In places like Bangladesh, they can’t afford those services and therefore they have none at all. If a fire is encroaching on their neighborhood, they can’t sit and wait to be evacuated and they can’t rely on other people to save their houses like my neighborhood did. They have to fight for themselves, and pray that they can survive. It just blows my mind how I never thought about any of this before.

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I also feel very ignorant because I never thought about how much it cost to treat a big fire like the Thomas Fire. Like you said, we tend to look at the damage that fire has caused rather than the effort, cost of treating the fire. I also really like the Ken makes the environmental injustice concept more clear. It makes me feel sad that Bangladesh couldn’t afford to fix the damage during the flood, leaving 30 million people homeless. It’s important to emphasize the irony that the U.S put the most CO2 emission in the developed countries, and poor countries like Bangladesh feel the most devastating environmental hazards.

This lecture also really affected me – the topics Ken brought up here reminded me of The True Cost, and together these two assignments made me feel more deeply sad than anything else we have watched in this class. I can’t imagine the fear people in places like Bangladesh feel about natural disasters — and there is no comfort for them, no back-up plans, no safety protocols. Just blind hope that they will be okay. To answer Ken’s question at the end, I absolutely think it is OUR responsibility to help these countries RIGHT AWAY in ensuring they don’t have to face impeding environmental disaster. It is our responsibility for two reasons: 1, because we have the resources and they do not, and 2, because we caused so much of this mess for them with our capitalist-growth obsession.

Once again, we learn about how drastically our actions, namely the whole country of the United States, have had on the environment. I am always surprised by the large numbers, though I shouldn’t be at this point, as it has been repeated over and over again how much more we contribute to global greenhouse emissions than most other poorer countries with smaller populations. This upsets me, because as a large country, we have so much more potential to do good, and while we are enjoying luxuries and contributing the most to the climate crisis, other poorer countries are suffering because of it. We need to start taking a greater initiative in creating a greener environment. With great power comes great responsibility, and I would say that certainly applies in this situation.

I believe the Green New Deal could be our first big step towards change. However, if we don’t take action on it or if we can’t ever pass it, nothing will change. This is why it is so important that young people like us take political action. If none of us vote or voice our opinions politically, no action will ever be taken by the government to stop the climate crisis. I know many people are not big fans of politics, I am one of those people. I dislike the senseless arguments and conflicts that come with it. However, it is completely necessary that we become involved politically before it’s too late. As the younger generation, we must take control and let people know what we believe in to make a change.

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I totally agree with what you’re saying, and I feel the same way. When I hear these numbers that Ken states in all of these videos, I’m shocked at first. Per capita, automobile ownership in the US is 21,000 percent greater than in Bangladesh? That’s insane! But, then I stop and think — why am I even surprised? These numbers are the harsh reality that make up our world today. The US is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and we are capable of influencing so many other countries. However, we are not using our power to help our environment; we’re using our power to hurt the environment as well as developing countries all over the world.

The Green New Deal is a very important step in the right direction…

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Something in your comment that really jumped out to me was when you stated that “we (the U.S.) have so much more potential to do good”. I agree that this is what makes our position, or rather lack thereof, in the climate crisis so frustrating. We have the money, we have the brainpower, we have the supplies, now all we need is a plan to save the world and a government willing to go through with it.

Reading “The Green New Deal” I felt like I was reading the future in a sense. I was honestly really surprised and disappointed with myself simultaneously about the fact that I had never heard about this deal before. Possibly this is because I did not live in the US but I feel like a deal this important and this revolutionary should have made every headline, should have been broadcasted by every single news outlet around the world. This is because finally someone or some organization was standing up and instead of just simply educating people about the prospect of climate change they have actually constructed a provisional plan to achieve this. Yes, some may see it as drastic and irrational, but the way I see it is as the revolutionary change that it doable, achievable, realistic and SMART and something that can really truly affect our planet for the better…

It was crazy to read all the crises that the US has currently experienced, for example, the fact that in the country, the life expectancy is declining, basic needs (clean air, water, food, health care, housing, transportation, education) are inaccessible to a large population of the US. I was also not aware that there we’re in a 4 decade trend of wage stagnation, deindustrialization, anti-labor policies, which have resulted in hourly wages stagnating since the 1970s, despite an increase in productivity, the 3rd worst level of socioeconomic mobility in the developed world before the Great Depression, an erosion of earning and bargaining power of workers and inadequate resources for public sector workers. The US is also currently enduring the Greatest income inequality since the 1920s with the top 1% earners earning 91% of gains after the Great Recession, a large racial wealth divide with 20 times more wealth being between the average white family and black family and there being a gender earnings gap with women earning only 80% as much as men. Therefore, that is one misconception about the “Green New Deal” that I think needs clarification. The deal is not only about achieving climate net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also about rectifying out the social situation, in making America a more desirable place to live for people of all races, genders, ages and socioeconomic standings.

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I really like the way that you put it! I definitely agree with you when you said how you were both surprised and disappointed that you haven’t heard of this deal before. It is not just because you did not live in the US, it is just not something that many Americans have been exposed to. This is especially bad because if Americans don’t know that it even exists, how is it ever going to be implemented? People need to hear about this deal so that they can urge their representatives to support it.

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I agree with your comment; this reading was really helpful at understanding what the Green New Deal really is. I had previously heard of it in the past, but never really knew of the content it contained. I was surprised by how it acknowledged that our country is a great cause of the climate crisis, which I think is really effective.

I really enjoyed this weeks reading, mostly because I appreciated seeing some political action on the climate crisis. This sort of political activism could be revolutionary in the way the US progresses in concern to the environmental practices economically which in turn would have a great impact on social factors throughout the country. The first thing I noticed about the reading was Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez’s name on the document which immediately caught my interest because I admire her intelligence and political perspective which in turn made me more interested in this proposition to help the climate crisis.

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I also really enjoyed this weeks reading. I had never read the Green New Deal before, yet I had heard so much about it and knew I wanted to support it. I felt odd not having read the actual document meanwhile I’ve told my parents that we need a Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez’s name also caught my eye, because I had no idea she was behind the Green New Deal until I watched this weeks videos. I too admire her intelligence and I also admire her strength in the face of adversity.

Communicating Climate Change Science

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects about this class, besides Ken’s obvious enthusiasm and passion for the environment, is the exposure that it provides me to a wide range of literary and cinematic pieces regarding climate change. I can certainly say that I would have never read something like Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions if it weren’t forced upon me as an assignment. But I’m so glad that this class introduced me to this reading because I think it’s an extremely useful tool for those that want to spread urgency regarding the climate disaster. The extended metaphor regarding convincing our own “Uncle Pete” of anthropogenic climate change made absorbing what was being said just that much easier. Uncle Pete symbolizes every stubborn, conservative and science-doubting person in our lives that refuses to believe what you have to say about climate change no matter how strong the evidence you have is…

One facet in the reading that I found resonated with me the most was concerning language use. I think the words that we use have an underestimated importance regarding their influence on the strength of our argument. As Ken focused on in his video, the use of one wrong word could completely disinterest your audience. His personal anecdote of labeling himself as a vegan and people automatically dismissing him as an environmental extremist shows just how critical language is…

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I also have some uncle Pete’s with my family and friends. But what I also realized is I am not taking any action to change my diet or the way I live. How can I communicate with my family and friends of how bad climate change is if I do not do it myself. That is the main problem of my communication and will need to be able to put my own effort before telling anyone else what my ideas are.

I also Believed that the Language was super important in explaining about climate crisis. Ken did indeed explain this briefly on this video. I think that Climaterian is a great way to communicate new people to learn how to help climate change. I like how you have a many more choices then being a climaterian. Instead of eating a burger, you can eat turkey. You do not necessarily have to quit eating meat like vegans do, you can just cut back and meat that cause higher concentrations of green gas emissions which is mainly beef. Also being a freegan also has many choices as well. Instead of throwing away left over food, JUST EAT IT.

[and this reply]

I wanted to respond to your comment because I also feel the same way about this class. In the beginning I was worried that some of the content of this class was going to be difficult and hard to read. However, as the class is progressing I have come to enjoy doing the reading and watching the videos…I also have someone in my life that reminds me of uncle Pete and I’ve always just avoided having any conversations about it because I know we are going to disagree. However, I feel like this was because my lack of real knowledge on the subject. I have always been a believer in protecting the planet and the importance around it but I never knew the science to back it up. As the reading pointed out the first step in communicating about the climate crisis is to know all the facts. Now that I have more knowledge about the subject, as well as accesses to resource to help validate my points I feel more confident to take on “uncle Pete”.

From my personal experience, I have met a hardcore climate change denier on the train from Santa Barbara to LA. It was during my first year and I barely know anything about the actual damages climate changes has done, nor did I know all the facts and numbers about things such as the beef industry and airplane’s contribution to this crisis. This “Uncle Pete” which I encountered was sitting next to me writing up a document regarding a report for his job, and then he started a conversation with me about how I view climate change and whether or not I believed in it. Of course, as most sane people, I said climate change is happening and I do believe it has detrimental effects, but then this Uncle Pete begun “correcting” the information that I learned before. As he said, he works as the lead engineer for a project from a petroleum company, he knows a lot of data that can prove that climate change is not happening, and I was just sitting there listening to him showing me all these graphs and research. At the time, I really had no idea how to debate with him, and he was so convincing that I almost wanted to believe him. After we parted ways, I felt like I lost a debate that I no knowledge about, and I was almost convinced by him. It is certainly important that individuals know more about the truth of climate change, or else they could be easily convinced such as myself.

[Note that texts denying the climate crisis also provide readers with communication tactics, such as offering multiple ways to refute the argument that anthropogenic climate change is real, as well as offering specific language. For example, arguing that the numbers are “overhyped”]

I really appreciate Professor Hiltner’s attitude of tolerance and humbleness regarding his own beliefs. It must be difficult to simultaneously be passionate about such an important issue and be tolerant towards others’ personal choices. I used to think of Vegans as “holier than thou” folks but I do not anymore.

As for the reading, I find Somerville’s defense of science to be very compelling. Furthermore, he is exactly right in stating that the Climate Crisis is much more than a scientific topic. It is a “human” topic, whatever that means. In an age of science skepticism, it is important to be able to explain the Climate Crisis in a way which motivates the largest amount of people.

Regarding the author’s mentioning of Christianity, I find it interesting that Christians in this country are not more vocal about the climate crisis. I think Jesus of Nazareth would’ve been a climate activist in the sense that the Biblical message includes prosperity for all humankind. If this religion does indeed consider the earth, men, and nature as sacred, then there is absolutely no reason for Christians to not be concerned about the Climate Crisis.

[BTW, Pope Francis is a “climate activist in the sense that the Biblical message includes prosperity for all humankind.” See his encyclical letter “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home.”]
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I agree with you about Ken’s tolerance towards other people’s personal choice. In addition, I found the communication skills really matter. I have experienced the similar situation that when I, at some point, was obsessed with something and keeps talking about it with my family and my friends, they often appear to be indifferent about it while I was supposing that they should be somewhat passionate about what I was talking about. The idea of leaving them alone for a while until they are ready to listen to you is really effective. Being too enthusiastic talking about one thing could actually scare them off and make them think “oh, gash, what is he talking about” and thus make them less patient rather than intriguing them to your topic.

[and this reply]

For me, communication is a sophisticated art that requires lots of experience and technique…

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Although I am no longer very religious, I used to be Christian when I was in high school. I definitely used to see the world as something that humans should protect, and saw my environmentalist views connected with what I would learn in church about love and respect for all living things. Although I think it is a pretty big overgeneralization that Christians have little concern about the environment, I do think that Christians can do more to advocate. My own personal connections that I made to the environment were not mentioned much at all in my church.

amazing content

[from “MisterTracks,” obviously a bot]
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The videos are posted on YouTube, a public website that the majority of people have access to (he also put these videos up on his website for people who don’t have access to YouTube). However, he doesn’t send out these videos, put ads out for these videos, and he doesn’t have bots promoting his contenet (or at least that I know of).

When one is ready to educate themselves on this topic, they have these videos within reach. Each video is short (compared to a 2-hour long nature documentary). I would argue that Ken’s short videos are entertaining (although this claim may be considered biased). They are split up by different topics, and give an effective rundown on the climate crisis.

Despite taking his class for two-quarters, this is the first time I’ve heard of Ken’s dietary restrictions for the environment. In fact, I’ve noticed that he seldom speaks of his personal experience regarding climate change, which is refreshing to not hear someone brag about their personal experiences. It’s is nice to hear that Ken practices what he preaches, it’s encouraging to see that he’s in this fight with us.

As a communications major, I feel this challenge to effectively communicate the reality and solutions to the climate crisis is something my field can come together to successfully do to take action. Allotting money and energy into mass communication on this topic are very worthwhile.

Vegans can be awkward to eat with, especially being someone who loves meat-lover pizzas and all you can eat Brazilian barbeques. In all honesty, the past couple years, my meat intake has to be in the top 1% of Americans, the country with the highest meat consumption. While politely, actively, and attentively listening to Ken’s argument on climatarians, but I’d rather stop flying all together. Freeganism seems feasible. However, because I eat 4 meals a day at a buffet style cafeteria, this wont help me be the change I want to see in the world either. Unfortunately, my society has made me addicted to growing muscle mass and eating much more protein than carbs. While my ketosis diet is healthy for me, I now realize its very unhealthy for the environment and selfish. I need to rethink whether looking good is more important to me than holding myself accountable to hurting the environment.

[Do check out the documentary The Game Changers in which “A UFC fighter’s world is turned upside down when he discovers an elite group of world-renowned athletes and scientists who prove that everything he had been taught about protein was a lie.”]

This week’s reading was probably my favorite we have had thus far. I recently went home for the long weekend and was at a family dinner with my extended family when they asked about my classes this quarter. I exclaimed that I loved my climate change class and began to talk about the experience I have had as a student in this class. I emphasized lots of the new information I have learned and the lifestyle changes my close family and I have had to decrease our own carbon footprint. My cousin who is twenty three years old began to argue with me regarding the realness of climate change and if climate change was truly caused by human actions. His stance on climate change shocked me. Throughout the course almost every comment of mine relates to the lack of education our society has and how I believe that this lack of education greatly contributes to the problem. Therefore, I used this as an opportunity to educate him as well as everyone at the table about climate change using statistics and doing my best to combat his points that he was making. I really wish that I had done this week’s reading prior to our conversation…

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I think it’s awesome that you got use the material you learned in this course to educate those around you. I was also very enthusiastic about the reading this week. Because the climate crisis is such a dire issue, it’s important to communicate messages in the most effective way possible. Especially as a communication studies major, I felt really connected with the points made in the article. For starters, I loved the ideas of using stories and metaphors. By using methods like this, the crisis is easier explained. I feel like many people think about the climate crisis in complex terms, and do not even attempt to understand what’s going on. The reality is that it in fact is not that complex, the facts are made upfront and clear. The planet is warming at accelerated speeds and this is because of humans. Using metaphors allows people to put things into perspective, and gives them more chances to understand the crisis.

[and this comment]

I also found myself in a similar situation the past week. I discussed with my friends how I no longer wanted to eat beef and in general eat less meat. They asked me why and I said because beef is very bad for the environment, although they seemed to understand the effects of beef they asked me why should I change if everyone else is still going to eat beef and if the food is already made it is better to just eat it than to let it go to waste, I found myself to be unable to argue back with them. I almost felt a bit ridiculous because I just had to sit there and be like “well idk”. I was totally unprepared for comebacks, I wish I had read this article to be more prepared instead of just shutting down.

To start off, I’d like to mention how appreciative I am that Ken explained the two alternatives to help aid conversations that go sour after lifestyles/diet labels are brought up. Not only do they help conversations that have turned sour, but they also help prevent any awkwardness that can potentially arise from the topic. I personally have never been much of a meat eater, but I consume lots of other foods that vegetarians and vegans would typically refrain from. When someone fills me in on the information that they are a vegetarian or vegan, I feel hesitant to say I don’t share those same habits. I feel as though I would be looked down upon by those who choose to be vegetarian or vegan for the sake of the planet. Not only does this experience simply make me uneasy, it gives me the impression that I have an insane amount of change to endure and undergo in order to begin the battle against climate change within my own life. I actually have not met anyone that has used the term “freegan” or “climatarian”, but I appreciate those terms. They feel more welcoming and achievable or realistic. It is simply doing what you can while it being better for the environment as well as for yourself as an individual.

I intuitively knew that climate change communication was just as important as individual or collective action, but I didn’t ever think that it may be best to not initiate talking about climate change or your personal actions to those who aren’t skeptics. However, after Ken explained it, it made perfect sense. You don’t want to make people feel guilty or uncomfortable for not taking action, because they will be much less likely to listen. If you wait until they are ready to act, and then educate them, the outcome will likely be more effective than otherwise. I really enjoyed Ken’s stories of explaining his diet choices while having dinner with friends. As a lifelong vegetarian myself, I completely understand what he was trying to explain about people being defensive or uninterested when it is brought up. People usually jump straight to explaining why they would not be able to give up meat, which I completely understand – that’s why I love the idea of climatarian. It’s a lot more approachable of an idea because it doesn’t require commitment or radical lifestyle changes. It merely means making conscious decisions about what is better for the environment, even if it is just some of the time. The effectiveness of a more realistic/approachable diet change is clear in Ken’s example, where his friends made a decision to have a more climate friendly meal right then and there, and were interested in learning more, rather than being put off by the idea of giving up meat altogether. As Ken mentioned it would be more effective for the majority of Americans to cut their footprint in half, than 5-10% switching to a plant based diet.

I have to admit that I really did view the freegan diet as sort of “dumpster diving”. But after Ken explained that making freegan decisions really consists of eating what’s on your plate or finishing your leftovers it seems 100% realistic. Even buying “expired” food from grocery stores doesn’t even sound so terrible because most of it is still edible anyways. Of all of Ken’s videos, this is one of the ones that resonated with me most – I learned so much from it despite that it didn’t include climate change statistics or even list out actions that should be taken to combat it.

Being the Change

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

When I was reading “Be The Change” I couldn’t help but think of my parents. They were recently deported to Mexico. I went to visit them in the Spring and was shocked at how drastically their lifestyles changed. Both of my parents used to drive their own cars, and now they share one for when they visit my dad’s land about 45 minutes from their house. My dad went from commuting 2 hours a day, to now mostly walking to the farmer’s market and butcher shop.

The reason I thought of them however, was because of Peter’s choice not to use a dryer. When I visited their house they didn’t have a dryer, my parents dried all the clothes outside. They don’t even have a washer, and instead hand wash everything. I thought about how drastically my parent’s carbon emissions changed because of where they live, and I thought about how the life that they currently live still fulfills the same necessities as the ones they were living in the U.S. My parents didn’t have the choice to switch over to a more sustainable lifestyle like Peter and his wife did; they were forced to by an unjust system. We do have the choice to. As Ken has stated before, these are first world solutions to first world problems.

My biggest takeaway from this class thus far is to recognize our privilege as students at UCSB. Even if we don’t feel like the 1%, we are. Globally, we wreak environmental havoc and let the Global South suffer because of our greed. Learning in this class about sustainable living is a privilege. We must take it into practice so that we use our privilege for good. We cannot be complicit in the most catastrophic environmental crisis of all time.

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Thanks for sharing your story. I can’t even imagine what this has been like for you and I hope that you’re doing ok. That’s very interesting to think about; how their carbon emissions have drastically declined but not by choice. Unlike them however, we do have that choice and need to act now.

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Thank you for sharing your personal story and bringing a different view on this topic. I completely agree with you when you say that we are the 1%. We are single-handedly abusing every resource, commodity, luxury, etc. without batting a single eye at the damage it’s doing. I also think you are right in that we are using our privilege for the wrong things. We have the option to change our lifestyle into something much more sustainable and eco-friendly, but most of us choose to acquire more stuff to add on to the hundreds of things that we already own. We are using our privilege to feed our greed for material things and not putting nearly as much effort in finding ways to change our lifestyles.

Kalmus’ book this week gave me some hope because he really made it sound almost easy to switch over into a much more environmentally friendly lifestyle. What was even more convincing was the fact that he also became happier in the process….

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I would first like to say that I am sorry your parents were deported, I have felt the pain of family members being deported and it must be very difficult without them. In regards to your comment, Mexican communities and lifestyles are so drastically different in so many scenarios, my grandparents wash by hand and dry by hanging clothes outside. Cars are used but minimally and the lifestyle that they live is so much lower in carbon emissions. The conscious choice to switch for carbon infused lifestyle to a smaller one is not is admirable but for most people in the world there is no choice to make.

I made a comment awhile about minimalism and how it is great to be able to make that choice but most people do not have the choice to make it one, especially in poorer countries where there is not a lot of things available to others. The choices that we make even including with our lavish lifestyle are not always our own but sometimes choices forced by the hands of others and I feel like this choice to be more environmentally conscious needs to be encouraged by our government.

We have such immense privilege that countries view us as the dream place to live, people die trying to get here and even when people get here they are met with racist and unjust treatment that they face everyday. This country is idolized and put on a pedestal for greatness but really this country has immense greed. I completely agree that we must take sustainable living as a privilege and start making real change to help our environment.

“Being the Change” by Peter Kalmus definitely did shift my ideas on how personal action can help the climate crisis. I found the readings to be much more easy to digest than the films, as the kitchy meditation scene and his cringeworthy tattoo detracted from his credibility as a fellow citizen attempting to help mitigate the climate crisis. The readings were much easier to understand and accept. One thing that he mentioned that really resonated with me was how personal action can begin to shift culture by other people witnessing change, and I do think this is important, because I for one know that I often feel disheartened by our current situation. If I were able to see more positive change, I know that myself and others would feel more inclined to make change in our lives, which would then create more change and actually create a positive feedback loop of change. While some ideas such as human composting, I don’t see the average person adopting, but maybe other ideas that are convenient or cost effective could begin to be adopted. Kalmus also discussed how a large amount of emissions are caused via waste, such as leaving lights on, natural gas leaking, and food and material waste…

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Environmentalism is a state of mind. I agree with you that the problems we face today can be disheartening as there is inevitable environmental changes happening all around us. It’s also hard to be the one who changes as social perception puts pressure on the need to succeed in order for others to follow. Peter Kalmus discusses with us the things we can do to reduce carbon emissions through his personal, relative results of his own actions of change.This week’s readings especially Chapter 14 focuses on specific solutions that should be implemented into society such as the Carbon fee & dividend which entails setting fees on emissions so that less people will be motivated to overproduce carbon. There was a quote that really stood out to me in this reading, “Daily life is a series of choices”. Overall, it comes down to when someone even oneself decides to finally take the first step in trying to change as without a beginning there cannot be a solution.

[and this reply]

Environmentalism is a state of mind. I agree with you that the problems we face today can be disheartening as there is inevitable environmental changes happening all around us. It’s also hard to be the one who changes as social perception puts pressure on the need to succeed in order for others to follow. Peter Kalmus discusses with us the things we can do to reduce carbon emissions through his personal, relative results of his own actions of change.This week’s readings especially Chapter 14 focuses on specific solutions that should be implemented into society such as the Carbon fee & dividend which entails setting fees on emissions so that less people will be motivated to overproduce carbon. There was a quote that really stood out to me in this reading, “Daily life is a series of choices”. Overall, it comes down to when someone even oneself decides to finally take the first step in trying to change as without a beginning there cannot be a solution.

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I agree with your focus on how seeing a change occur is more likely to have others to adopt this change as a part of their lifestyle as well. In class, we mentioned that places such as Burger King witness that change and shift among people and adapt. Our personal level actions can affect the bigger companies because they will do almost anything to get our money even if it means selling plant-based items or switching over to renewable energy sales rather than fossil fuel. I believe that our choices in life will affect the people around us and soon cause bigger companies to be unable to avoid changing for the better. However, this process alone would be way too slow for how bad of a situation our planet is in at the moment so we need to vote for better policies as well as people to enact those policies. You mention that you don’t see human composting as something that will be adopted but I feel as though anything that was mentioned in “Being the Change” could be enacted if we got people to feel less stigmas about them. For example, freeganism may look disgusting to some people because why would anyone want “old” or “bad” food. We have this stigma that anything that is thrown out of the store must be bad and thus trash but often times items are tossed for being not as pretty or have a beat-up box. At most Albertson’s, they have a corner of the store where they put all the dinged up items or close to expiring on sale for 50% – 75% off. I often look at this corner specifically because they have baked good over there. When the baked goods hit their sell-by date they are thrown to the corner and sold for $2 or $3 but are just as good as the others with maybe some stale or dry pieces. I think if all stores were to have corners like this and then donate the leftovers that are not taken to homeless shelters, we would be doing a great deed to feed all of our people while lowering our waste levels. But stores won’t know if we want things like this unless we tell them and make efforts to use them when they are available.

I really like how in the chapter “leaving fossil fuel” Peter Kalmus addresses everything he was doing wrong. Most people won’t admit all the things that they are doing badly. He gave us ways to fix what he was doing because let’s be honest most of us are doing the same. I thought that was pretty cool. The numbers he gave too were so astonishing I had no idea how much America’s were emitting. In the other chapter “collective action” I like how he started out with a quote from Nicholas Stern “climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen.” He gives so many great ideas on how to change our ways in this chapter as well and how it would benefit us. For example, he gave one example of British Columbia’s economy and how it grew. He backed up his facts which makes it more credible as well.

Peter Kalmus in Being the Change, attempts to uncover the importance of individual action. Peter Kalmus decided to change his lifestyle for the sake of his children, he wanted a better world for them. Climate change is affecting all life on the planet, Kalmus wants his children to experience life on Earth without the worry of an end. Kalmus has a philosophy he follows which involves the head, hands, and heart. The head is for realizing from an intellectual, scientific point of view that there is a problem. Once the problem is recognized we can take action with our hands. The hands are used for gardening, fixing old objects, riding a bike, and much more. The heart ties the head and hands together. The heart is where meaning is found in making life more satisfying. In conclusion, taking part in environmentally friendly things equals a happier, more meaningful life.

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I completely agree with you. It is true that it is humans who destroy the earth, and it should be humans to save the world. There is an old saying in China:In order to untie the bell, the person who tied it is required. To overcome desire and greed, and for a sustainable tomorrow, humanity must work together now.

Kalmus’ book: “Being the Change”, was for me, way more informative than his documentary of the same name. I think that was done on purpose because documentaries appeal to a wider range of audience, while books are only good for the ones who truly care about the situation and want to make a change. His book, as ken pointed out, is almost like the other half of Project Draw Down, telling the individuals what they can do to change the climate their way. It is not some big shot actions like converting to nuclear, but to waste less energy, bike, have more climate-friendly diets…etc. His calculations for how much our actions could help is also a huge inspiration for those who do want to approach the method, and each step they do they will know exactly how much they are helping the planet. What is even better about his methods is that they don’t need expensive equipment like solar panels, but just clothespins to hang wet clothes. Contrasting to this, he also acknowledges that more actions are needed to be taken, and thus collective action is needed. Although personal actions are good, a fracking company can just wipe out all of our hard work. Thus, we need to stop relying on fossil fuel and realize that it is like smoking or many other types of market failure that is in need of a tax due to its negative effect on society.

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I also enjoyed the readings much more than the film! I watched the film before the reading and I hate to admit I was pretty bored and often found myself not paying attention. However, during the readings, I didn’t want to stop! I plan on reading the rest of the material and I also want to watch the film again as I realized I didn’t really pay attention haha. I really liked how he said we can cast a vote simply by changing the way we live and think! I found this thought so powerful. We often times see our vote as an every four-year type of thing which can bring a lot of discouragement, but seeing our every day lives as a vote makes me realize we are much more responsible and have much more say so in how the world is run and sustained!

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I agree. It is like smoking. I think that a carbon tax would be most beneficial because people are scared of money. People will finally have to start paying the price of their actions instead of the planet. The people that cause the biggest problems are responsible for fixing them.

Peter says that his 5 most effective methods of depleting his carbon footprint were quitting planes, vegetarianism, bicyclism, freedom, and composting. While Peter does acknowledge the many issues we’ve discussed in the class such as transportation, he gives us ways to make changes that will produce results. One way that really resonated for me, simply because of its simplicity was the idea of using a clothes line. What surprised me was how effective the simple idea was. And, for the first time, I felt like I wasn’t being asked to do something completely horrible.

The way Peter presents his argument is most appealing to me. He presents it in a manageable way that will ultimately lead to not only a better planet but potentially a happier person. He doesn’t say we need to cut things out but the happy medium which is just less. Less air travel, less red meat, less shopping, less driving. It seems better that we just have to cut it out a little but not altogether.

Here’s a valuable skill Peter has taught me that everyone needs to adopt: we need to keep score. Every single human needs to be accountable. Of course, with this comes mindful action and holistic change that will result in true sustainable lifestyles, but bare minimum, people should be aware of the damage they are inflicting. The first step to making conscious decisions is to know where one might be going wrong. Physically seeing the change that is being made can be the best motivation, and a great way to generate collective action.

Here are some things that these readings have made me want to start doing as acts of personal awareness: Starting by noticing how much less you might be able to spend on new stuff per year; Small efforts to reuse items and buying overall less. Then perhaps bigger travel efforts… Why are there not adult carpools to get to work in the morning? That could absolutely work as it does in younger life with school. I am interested in moving somewhere with better transportation for the public, I hate spending money on gas and am constantly frustrated by the barrier that car travel has on reducing my carbon footprint. And the discussion of clotheslines… I never want to dry my clothes anyways as it reduces their lifespan!! These are simple changes I see within my reach, other than the more commonly discussed, often-broad topics. I am going to reread these chapters again, and perhaps the entire book. This is content I want to show my family and spread awareness about.

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I totally agree with you in terms of “keeping score” and thinking deeply about how our actions impact the world. I am lucky because growing up my parents really talked to me about the environment and the beauty of our Earth and universe in general. They bred in me this sense of thankfulness and wonder, I always felt that we were so lucky to be living where we are, amongst all these wonderful beauty and diversity, from our fellow human to every other animal, life and nature itself.