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Back when the world seemed brimming with limitless potential


Hands up if you remember what the universe felt like back in the heady days of Donald Trump’s (first) inauguration, when ordinary Americans allowed themselves to hope—as they do, for a brief but magical interlude, every four years—that This Time Isn’t Going To Suck As Much?

The air was moving.  Movement was in the air.  Business As Usual had just become a thing of the past in politics (and the way of the future in emissions).

Here are the personal impressions I journaled almost 3 years ago. The lucky thing is this stuff wasn’t remotely good enough to post, so now you get to read it for the first time!

(I sure was a cynical, non-naïve old bastard when I was younger, wasn’t I?)

Of course, what I had no possible way of guessing at the time was how uncannily clairvoyant I was.

Don’t hesitate to tell me in comments below if I got some trivial detail or two wrong. I suppose I have get used to criticism if I’m going to make prophecies—especially about the future—don’t I?

As the saying goes: men with crystal balls shouldn’t have glass jaws.


I’m not normally one to express my opinion about topics, but a couple of fans have been begging relentlessly for my reaction to the seismic event that will go down in history as the 2016 US Presidential election, so OK: if you both insist (hi Mum, hi Dad), here goes.

First, it’s hard to believe the normally-reliable expertocracy got this one so ass-forwards. Perhaps we’ve just gotten so used to our pundits, mavens and boffins having their asses oriented in the correct, backwards direction whenever they opine on national television that the moment they make a slight miscalculation it’s something of a disorienting trauma. I’m literally derealizing in real time.

It’s hard to overstate just how fundamental to human civilization is the institution of predicting election results, but I’ll give it a go. The day we can no longer trust pre-election prognosticators is the day we need to hold elections to figure out who our leaders are going to be.

Like savages.

It just Doesn’t Make Sense™! I mean, we’ve got supercomputers that can accurately anticipate the Earth’s temperature decades in advance, so why can’t we crunch a vastly, exponentially, orders-of-magnitude easier numerical problem like extrapolating the results of Presidential straw polls?

Seriously though, even Ian Woolley managed to pick the winner (and made a tidy profit betting against The People Who Are You Know Actually Like Paid To Know What They’re Talking About). Don’t get me wrong. Ian’s a comic genius and I like him like a friend, but come on: the guy doesn’t even believe in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. We’re not exactly talking about someone who’s known for being plugged in to the future reality on the ground, as agreed by an overwhelming vote of the scientific community, here! You know, the people who are, like, paid to know what they’re talking about.

Speaking about climate, I know you shouldn’t speak about climate unless you want to ruin a perfectly pleasant discussion about religious politics, but Vishnu dammit! I’ve spent my whole life keeping my views to myself and where’s it gotten me? No place at all (leaving aside here, obviously). So sue me.

Anyway, the always-rational Joe Romm has a characteristically nuanced piece out today in which he asks what we’re all thinking: will President Trump pull the plug on a livable climate?

Alas, mesuspects even Joe may have allowed the prevailing air of melodrama to get the better of him somewhat—and when Joe isn’t immune to an air, you know it’s a virulent one.

The starting-point of Dr Romm’s thesis is that

The fate of humanity is in the hands of a denier who pledged to kill domestic and global climate action

And yes—technically, this is a good, objective paraphrase of the President Elect’s climate platform. But let’s be sober about this: every political candidates in history has made grand promises, and Donald Trump (whatever his protestations to the contrary) is just that. A politician.

Trump threatens to disembowel climate science, he threatens to turn off the torrential knowledge-spigot that is the Global Earth Systems Change sciences, but you’ll have to forgive my muted optimism. I’ve heard it all before.

Here in Australia, then-PM Tony Abbott vowed to dissolve the gangrenous monasteries of climatonomy. And to his credit, he did have a handful of the fatter, more corrupt klepto-clerics abducted and desaparecidos, presumably sold off for slaughter in the debating pits. But last time I checked, my local Climate Ethics Centre for Excellence was still standing, not a brick out of place. So much for Team Abbott’s famous slogan (CLIMA DELENDA EST).

Does the Latin [Copula +] Gerundive of Obligation mean nothing any more? What part of CLIMA DELENDA EST do these clowns in Canberra not understand?

Bottom line: Mr Trump can claim he’s going to return the world to a pre-An Inconvenient Truth Dark Age of climate ignorance, incuriosity and insouciance. Call me a Show Me State cynic, but I’ll start celebrating when he does it.

19 thoughts on “Back when the world seemed brimming with limitless potential

  1. Methinks that Brexit was the more hopeful sign, which has however been ground down to nothing at this point. Yet the natives are restless in France, and now Belgium. And elections in places like Brazil may prove infectious. Not sure how this will play out: The Ins are devoted to the status quo, which includes believing in global warming. The Outs see many more important real issues than imaginary climate changes, oft predicted but never realized. Will there be uprisings and restoration of climate sanity, or will the elites prevail with their spending on virtue-signaling?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Ron, your [dis]simile (the British pullout from the EU cf. the US pullout from Baraq) is great—and had I bothered recording my first impressions of the former, it would have been fascinating to read them now, if only as further vindication of my futurological acumen.

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  3. Yes, the pullout from Baraq (good one Brad) has been hampered by extensive buried landmines in the form of regulations that blow up any profitable economic activity. Yet, progress has been made, and people are actually working again, including many of races said to be unfavored by Trump.

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  4. RON CLUTZ (24 Nov 18 at 7:34 pm)

    the natives are restless in France, and now Belgium. And elections in places like Brazil may prove infectious.

    True. But linking the two examples masks an important difference. In Brazil politicians have made climate sceptic statements that are absurd and demonstrably false. Trump’s original tweet about a Chinese conspiracy was nothing but a garbled misunderstanding of an important truth: that COP24 delivered to the Chinese and the other “non annex one” countries an enormous economical advantage. We can surely make that point without supporting a government in Brazil which seems determined to pursue the policy of Duarte in the Philippines. It took us on the left a decade or two to renounce support for Stalin, who, after all, at least saved the world from fascism. We can surely advance our argument without hitching our wagon to a proto-fascist like Bolsonaro.

    In France, there is a true atmosphere of insurrection, which may well be to the profit of the far right “Rassemblement National” of Marine Le Pen. In public she is sticking with the official doctrine of a “transition energetique”, but the reading list for RN militants contains several climate sceptic works. She seems best positioned to profit from the current unrest, since she has wholeheartedly supported the gilets jaunes, which the far left party can’t do, because they’re wedded to the idea of a radical transformation based on the twin pillars of social and ecological change. The gilets jaunes are saying – rather incoherently so far – “ecological change can wait, we want higher wages and less taxes.” Transforming this scepticism into a genuine opposition to the consensus is not going to be easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ‘Bottom line: Mr Trump can claim he’s going to return the world to a pre-An Inconvenient Truth Dark Age of climate ignorance, incuriousity and insouciance. Call me a Show Me State cynic, but I’ll start celebrating when he does it.’

    I’ll start celebrating, likewise when he does. – Oh black swan event devoutly ter be wished, like
    BREXIT, collapse of the U.N, EU and Oz ABC, Etcet,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Geoff, “proto-fascist?” There you go again, liberal name-calling. I said such elections may become “infectious.” not that the winners would make ideal leaders. We may be approaching the moment dramtized in the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more.” Or as William Butler Yeats.put it:
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
    The center in this case refers to the globalist, multi-culturalist, identity politics embraced by elites and resented by the plebs, who are increasingly going off the reservations.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Geoff, please let me know when you’ve sent the thing to HU.

    The most recent emails I sent you in an unbroken binge are intriguing (deep-background) tidbits from RC. Don’t need to read them before sending yours.

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  8. So, if I understand correctly the brexit has been completely turned on its head and the UK is now in a weaker position in regards to the EU than it was before brexit. Is that the case?

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  9. Hunter, pointman has a pretty stark reading on the Brexit deal:

    There’s a proposed deal with the EU to implement the results of the Brexit referendum, and it’s essentially the complete opposite to the will of the voters as expressed in that referendum.

    What’s so bad about the supposed Brexit which was negotiated with the EU by Theresa May?

    > If the so-called deal is ratified, the UK will have no future legal way of disentangling itself from EU laws and regulations unless the EU agrees to it. This non-bilateral clause to the deal is a unique type of agreement within the EU. Essentially, the UK is still in the EU for all intents and purposes, and there’s no way out.

    >It keeps all the EU import tariffs to the UK in place, which nullifies any chance of negotiating any trade deals with countries outside the EU. Why should they grant us tariff-free access to their markets while the UK is still imposing EU tariffs to their exports into the UK?

    >There is a “transition” period until the phony Brexit comes into force, but during it, all EU laws and directives will remain in full force.

    >There is no legally binding end date to the transition period anyway, so the UK could still be inside the EU and bound by its rules indefinitely.

    I>f a deal is ratified then at the end of the transition period to completion, the UK is prohibited from any involvement in the ‘the nomination, appointment or election of members of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, as well as the participation in the decision-making and the attendance in the meetings of the institutions’. Yes, you read that one correctly. Basically, the UK will have absolutely no control over their laws or economy; that’ll all still reside with the unelected faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.

    The judgments and laws of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will continue to overrule the local UK courts and legislation both throughout the transition period and even after it. Since the UK will not be allowed to appoint any people to the ECJ, the UK will become a country legally dominated by a foreign organisation they have no representation in.

    The UK will continue to make contributions to the EU, again, during and after the transition period.
    Call that a Brexit, never mind a fair deal?

    Over seventeen million people voted to leave the EU, and they knew exactly what that meant; no more control over their country by unelected foreign bodies, the removal of restrictions to trade with the rest of the world, to be governed by their own laws rather than the ECJ and to have control over who can settle legally in the country. In contrast, a cursory glance over the bullet points above vividly nails the deception perpetrated by Theresa May in her bad faith negotiations, not with the EU, but on behalf of her own people whom she’d promised a fair Brexit deal.

    What was actually delivered was a travesty of Brexit, and the only rational explanation was that it was done deliberately by May and her Remainer fellow traitors, in the expectation it could be rammed through Parliament while at the same time presented to her electorate as a good deal. That may or may not happen, but one thing’s for sure – she’ll not win the next general election and a lot of Tory MPs who vote for it, will be leaving Westminster for good at the next election.

    The amount of raw naked anger in the country about this “deal” is palpable.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ron I agree almost entirely with what you’ve written except for your last sentence:
    “The amount of raw naked anger in the country about this “deal” is palpable.”
    I live in a deeply Tory part of England that voted solidly Leave. My neighbours and most people I meet or overhear are just feed up with Brexit and want it over. Whatever.

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  11. What’s so bad about the supposed Brexit which was negotiated with the EU by Theresa May?

    > If the so-called deal is ratified, the UK will have no future legal way of disentangling itself from EU laws and regulations unless the EU agrees to it. This non-bilateral clause to the deal is a unique type of agreement within the EU. Essentially, the UK is still in the EU for all intents and purposes, and there’s no way out.

    … Not a deal but a capitulation. The Trilateral Commission Globalist Agenda for a New World Order takes another step forward.

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  12. So in effect the Germans are conquering Britain, with bureaucrats instead of Stukas.
    The “progressive” vision is hardly “progressive”.

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  13. I must be missing something here. Isn’t the EU the UK’s principal trading partner and isn’t it highly likely that all of the EU’s onerous regulations will apply to UK exports into the EU? And isn’t also likely that the UK will have no influences on the creation and application of these regulations? And isn’t it also true that trans-shipping between the UK and the EU will no longer be custom-less?

    This is better?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I know the feeling. It’s our curse to be outrun by our cervid friend, deer Beth, who watches us in her hind view mirror, broken-harted and cursing DOE!

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