One of the best things about this website is the quality of comments under posts. See for example Jaime’s latest on Scottish summers and RCP8.5 or Paul’s on Boris Johnson’s promises on climate and electric vehicles.
Comments cover everything, from weather to battery technology to the real reason for Boris’s new-found green mania. Sometimes a promising strand in the thread is cut short unnoticed, like a Briffa Siberian larch lurking nervously behind a Mannly Stripbark Pine. For example, this exchange between Alex Cull and Andy West on the thread below Paul’s article, which I reproduce, together with a highly relevant comment from Barry Woods. More comments welcome.
This is something I’ve been wondering about for some time, now. Some possibilities:
1) Politicians are stupid. We’ve all thought this, I’m sure, at some point or another. But is that strictly true? You don’t have to be a genius to see that a near-future mass rollout of EVs, a concurrent ban of petrol vehicles and gas boilers and ever more reliance on intermittent and non-dispatchable electricity generation will be a recipe for disaster and chaos. Not *all* of them surely could have taken a hard look at that prospect and been so dim as to think: nah, it’ll be all right?
2) So are they just deluded? Even ostensibly bright people, with degrees and all that, fall victim to the craziest ideas, as per Orwell’s dictum about intellectuals. However, I’m not totally convinced – these are politicians after all, and if nothing else, might not cold, hard self-interest inoculate them, to some extent? Could running the entire economy full-speed into a brick wall conceivably *not* be the sort of thing they’d want to be remembered for?
3) Could they be playing some sort of devious long game? Lying, in other words. Promote the lunacy in the short term, just to get the green zealots off their backs and steal the opposition parties’ thunder? Then start to reel it all back, once it becomes blindingly obvious even to the dimmest and least engaged members of the public that it’s not going to work? Again, I’m not entirely convinced. If this is some kind of clever 4D chess-type move, it’s also a very dangerous one, as their actions and signals *now* are doing damage, and the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to reverse. Would they really risk that?
4) Or could it just be short-termism? Look good now, hang the consequences later? Don’t think too much about what we could actually be facing in, say, 2030 or 2035. Get all the virtue-signalling and halo-polishing done now, while the country is still relatively prosperous, and leave a poisoned chalice for the opposition once the political tide has turned and everything has started to go belly-up?
Maybe one of the above? Or a combination? Or none of the above? What could it be?
Alex: None of the above. It’s a culture.
1) Not only is intelligence no defence against cultural belief, there’s some evidence that more intelligent people who are believers, are more culturally committed. Cognitive capability and knowledge is in service to cultural belief, so can better further this belief compared to less capable / knowledgeable people.
2) This is the closest, but still not in the sense of an individual delusion, which for example cold, hard self interest would typically counter as you say. Nor a medical delusion, cultural believers are perfectly normal in all respects; this is a feature of humanity not a bug and we’re all capable of cultural belief (and in fact several at once). However, cultures do impose a kind of group delusion, which subverts at the brain architecture level, so cannot be countered within individuals by logic or rational interests or such. As the subversion is subconscious, believers *honestly* and indeed passionately (uses emotive paths) believe, so they are not lying and they are not stupid.
3) This is essentially a conspiracy theory, albeit one that proposes a conspiracy against catastrophic climate change, not for it. Would require massively coordinated conscious lies by lots of orgs and individuals at all levels including the highest. Vanishingly unlikely, especially when there’s a much simpler explanation at hand – i.e. cultural belief. The latter coordinates *subconsciously*, it’s what cultures are for, so no lying required. Many, no doubt, are not full believers yet don’t actively disbelieve either, hence one could say they are to some extent pandering to the culture. But this is not actually a double-bluff or lying in that they still think it must be true, just they are just less than fully (emotively) committed. It is these latter folks that can be swayed, and even in the elite they out-number the emotively committed; Boris is very likely one such. In the general pop (i.e. not elite) of countries such as the UK, there are ways to tell that the vast majority of folks are not committed, probably >90% in the UK.
4) Essentially a variant of 3). Requires that there is a widespread conscious conspiracy with knowledge that it’s all not true, and within the elite too (where there are far more cultural believers). Far more likely that committed cultural belief is driving and convenient belief is pulled along in its wake. After all, this has happened endlessly throughout the entire history of homo-sapiens-sapiens. All religions, for a start. Many secular cultures too. Interestingly, strong cultures interact with each other, hence one can see the ‘shape’ of catastrophic climate change culture, via its profile across a wide range of nations having different religiosity. Hope to have some pieces on that soon.
Alex- another simple answer to: Why Tories? Why Boris & climate change, now?.. Carrie Symonds –
(Boris wants an easy life)