Sorry to take some time to reply, but here you are ...
Bundokji wrote: ↑
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:01 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote: ↑
Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:51 am
I don't know much about Jordan Peterson but now I know that, on climate change, he is willing to publicly be a pig-ignorant defeatist.
If he will do that on climate change (which I do know something about), he will probably do it on any other subject so I'm not going to trust anything he says on subjects I know less about.
Almost everything he said - apart from his first word - was wrong in some way. I will just pick three big ones -
I found his input of value not necessarily because of the accuracy of his claims (which i know that many would love to debate), but because of the following two reasons:
1- It is inline with the context of this thread "climate change - politics and activism"
In relation to the first point, the question raised to him, as a psychiatrist, is how climate change can provide a map of meaning, and how he answered quickly and without hesitation: no
Lack of meaning, in my mind, is associated with skepticism. If we all agree on everything the world would make more sense, would it not?
So, global warming can provide a sense of purpose and meaning to people. By definition, the term "global" puts us all in the same boat. When we have a common threat, we are reminded of our common interest facing this threat. Whether this threat is imaginary or real does not change anything from that perspective.
I think he is right in saying the climate threat won't provide us with a common purpose, but I'm not sure I agree with his reasons or yours. For me, the primary obstacle is that the threat is so diffuse in both space and time that it won't bring us together. If you're facing drought and I've just survived floods and our friends in Florida has a crazy hurricane a couple of months ago, those separate events don't bring us together in the same way that (e.g.) a global pandemic would do.
2- Because he puts his finger on the wound, that is, we do not know what to do about it.
In relation to the second point, there is indeed almost a consensus among human beings that global warming is happening, but correct me if i am wrong: there is little agreement on what it means and how to deal with it.
Okay, I will correct you: experts in climate science do know what the problems are and how - physically - to correct them, while experts in social science do know what the social and political obstacles are. And the unsolved problems are basically social and political, not scientific or technical.
Firstly, in the context of global warming, the actions of one country are not necessarily experienced at the local level, but affect other countries. Also the actions of one generations are experienced by other generations. It is worth noting that global warming is the outcome of solutions our ancestors came up with to make their lives (and our lives) better. At that time, they did not know about the side effects of their solutions because the consequences are not immediate.
One of the reasons why many people and nations are not taking global warming very seriously, because they do not know what would be the side effects of their solutions, but somehow, they are sure that their will be some.
Not really true. That argument is mostly an excuse for inaction.
Further to the above, even if we simplify the who thing and claim that we know what to do about it because we know the cause. If global warming is the result of greenhouse emissions, then the solution is simple: we should reduce these emissions, but then you encounter the problem of what constitutes a carbon finger print. As i remember, Brazil once claimed that its carbon fingerprint globally is minus because they have the amazon jungles!
At this stage we just have to reduce emissions as fast as possible. That's a very simple objective, in concept at least.
There is also the issue of responsibility. What we call nowadays "developed countries" seem to be more responsible for global warming, so why the rest should pay the price. There is also the issue of when did this responsibility began? If there are some goods and services produces carbon, who is responsible, the producing country or the consuming country? This is why when Peterson claimed that you cannot separate science from politics, i think he was spot on.
No. The science is clear, the politics is sometimes toxic, and we can (and must) separate them.
To sum up: climate change and global warming are indeed an interesting psychological phenomena. Are we really describing the world, or are we describing our perceptions which will always be different? When we use the term "pollution" for instance, are we describing the world or our egocentricity? Our feces appears dirty to us because if we eat it we will get sick, but it seems delicious and beneficial to other species such as pigs or trees.
Climate change is a real, physical set of changes in the world which we can observe and measure. We can choose to see it or not, we can tell the truth about it or not, but it is as real as the change from day to night.
The label is not the thing itself, and often (as in "pollution" or "terrorist") says as much about our attitudes as about the thing itself.
So, back to the original topic of the thread, and what Peterson mentioned in answer: why should we care about global warming at the expense of more immediate threats? When we want to choose our form of activism, why should global warming be considered important considering that the world is full of problems.
Each of us chooses issues and causes to which we pay attention and perhaps engage ourselves in. That choice is very personal, and I don't think we can say anyone "should" engage in one cause rather than another.
That said, I choose to engage with climate change. Why? A personal set of not-very-personal reasons including -
• I recognise it as an underlying cause of many more immediate present problems - Syria, for instance - and future problems - e.g. climate refugees, so limiting climate change will reduce the suffering of many millions of people for decades to come.
• I am not a scientist but scientifically literate and a professional explainer (a teacher
) so I can contribute more effectively to this cause than to (e.g.) to one requiring carpentry or medical skills.
• I am fortunate enough to live in a first-world country but have visited SE Asia and know that my own community doesn't need my help as much as the poorer communities who, in fact, will suffer disproportionately from climate change.
So, sure, I could put my time into local soup kitchens ... but I think this is a better use of my time.
Who needs to justify his position? those who do not care much about climate change (which seems more natural) or those who are obsessed about it?
As I just said, each of us chooses issues and causes to which we pay attention and perhaps engage ourselves in. That choice is very personal, and I don't think we can say anyone "should" engage in one cause rather than another.
would it be possible that all of these overwhelming scientific data are nothing but tools to rationalize some deeper emotional needs, connected to meaning, or lack of?
As I just said, climate change is a real, physical set of changes in the world which we can observe and measure.
What we choose to do about it is up to us.