Whoops: How I Accidentally Became a Shill for the Plastics Industry

I usually write about art, only occasionally taking a swing at topics in science and skepticism. But a recent essay attempted to address the way that people perceive global warming and the actions that they take in trying to remediate it. This difference between assumption and reality is something that drives my writing about art and probably drives a lot of skeptical inquiry. You can find it everywhere, and I found it very loudly in the response to my essay.

Tote bags. Photo by BRRT via Pixabay.

Tote bags. Photo by BRRT via Pixabay.

I live in New York and over the past few years, walking around, I’ve founds tons of tote bags thrown out in the trash, or simply discarded on the sidewalk. I was really captivated by this recurring image: this object, which was seen as reusable and environmentally beneficent, was being treated as disposable. I reasoned that it’s because those bags are so common that they are treated as valueless, even as they retain an aura of being invaluably eco-friendly. I was galvanized in this suspicion when I heard Craig Good’s guest episode of the Skeptoid Podcast, #460, “Plastic Bags.” Good noted a life cycle impact report done by the United Kingdom Environment Agency, which is where I started reading about the topic in earnest.

Authors like Michael Specter precede me in this, identifying the confusion of moral and scientific responses to climate change. They aren’t the same thing, but they can often feel that way, with vague and ad hoc-ish rules like “don’t eat anything grown more than 50 miles away” or “canvas is better than plastic” floating around somewhere in most everyone’s rear brain. That stuff is largely unexamined, and when you dig into such rules, you typically find that they quickly fall apart and it’s really easy for them to be counterproductive to addressing climate change. (You also find, as noted by Brian Dunning in Skeptoid Podcast episode #15, “SUV Phobia,” that a lot of huge carbon problems get overlooked as we focus on consumer choices versus large structures, in that case the public anxiety about SUV carbon emissions rather than those from container ships.)

So, I wrote an essay, focusing on my main interest: images—specifically, how we prefer the image in our head, rather than reality. I argued that we can’t treat tote bags as disposable and collectible and environmentally friendly, especially if we collect them and dispose of them but never use them. I illustrated it with photos of the tote bags I had seen in the trash, along with some found fashion and stock photographs, and I self-published it as a little book last summer.

This year, a friend recommended that I pitch it to The Atlantic, which has a great series called Object Lessons, with essays and books on the significance of all kinds of products, from USB drives to bread, and even abstractions like waste and silence. The Atlantic accepted and published a revised version of the essay on September 2.

It was exciting to see my writing read widely and responded to. Since The Atlantic‘s readership probably dwarfs every other place I’ve previously written for, my tote bag essay was being (mis)read and (mis)understood by more people/trolls than ever before. I was really interested in all the comments left at the bottom of the essay, which mostly came in three flavors. One was basically benign, with the poster saying “I’ve kept tote bags in my car for decades and I use them every time I go to the store.” That’s great. That’s exactly what the essay advocated for, pretty much, although I fret about the talismanic pride taken in promoting one’s eco-conscientiousness. Another was vociferous trolling by people claiming that my essay champions their belief that global warming is a myth. These people are jerks who ignore that the fundamental premise of the essay is the threat of global warming and wondering how our choices might best combat it. This is another preference for the imaginary, where confirmation bias blinds them to reality.

The third kind of comment were from people who flat out disbelieved all the evidence I presented, misread the essay, and accused me of being a paid shill of the oil and plastics lobby who’s trying to trick people into using more plastic. Again, I didn’t advocate for more plastic usage. I advocated for more rational thinking about bag usage, and environmentalist action in general, which concludes that the way we use bags now is crummy and that there are several solutions that could be better, including, explicitly, using tote bags all the time.

Seattle’s NPR affiliate, KUOW, contacted me about the story and I was interviewed by Bill Radke and Posey Gruener on their show, The Record. Bill jokingly asked if I was an agent of the plastics industry, but his jest was a serious ergo decedo fallacy leveled at me in earnest by a bunch of anonymous commenters. Hopefully I come off as more of a person in an audio conversation than I do when someone is simply misreading my writing.

It got mentioned a few other places online, too. A friend sent me a link that kind of freaked me out. Plastics Today, a industry magazine for people interested in polymers, published a response essay, “Want to save the environment? Use plastic shopping bags!” by Clare Goldsberry. As I chided some of the online commenters for assuming that I had to be bribed to write my article, here came an industry group to champion me, with the misunderstanding or misrepresentation that I was encouraging people to use more plastic bags. They advise readers, “When you go to the grocery store, loudly state that you’ll have your groceries packed in plastic bags! […] Then carry those bags out of the store with pride!” Oof. But I disagree, and I don’t know how anyone who’s read what I’ve written can draw any other conclusion.

I’ve recently started watching Adam Ruins Everything, which consists of its host, comedian Adam Conover, uses data and evidence to unpack some of the ways that we mistake common sense and spectacle for reality. I don’t find it especially funny, but definitely entertaining and informative, and Conover points out over and over how alienating and buzz-killing it can be to be a skeptic. When you tell people that their green totes can actually be more harmful than a plastic bag that ends up in the landfill, they tend to get offended. You’re contradicting what they assume in their heart is true. You’re telling them that they’re doing something wrong. And you can sound crazy, or corporatitist. People really like the pictures in their heads, and hate having you tell them those pictures are untrue.

It’s not my fault that the plastics industry propagandized my writing. They don’t support me and I don’t support them. I don’t eat meat and neither did Adolf Hitler. That doesn’t mean we share views or that he paid me to support that position. And I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s fun when they broil and eat a baby cow. Or when they scoop your old books and magazines and computer cables and tchotchkes into a $1 Whole Foods tote and leave it out by the curb. I’m also not trying to be some kind of martyr or know it all—I’m not. I just don’t think a lot of people (including me) think very hard about the environmental impact of such actions. But in order for people to think about that stuff, people need to find the truth and say it, without expecting even just thanks, and in fact anticipating just vitriol. It’s done every week by volunteer contributors to this blog, and by hundreds of other people and venues dedicated to science and skepticism, who are often insulted or spammed or worse just for trying to separate evidence from nonsense. There just aren’t a lot of incentives for that. I’ll still do it, though. Bring on the trolls!

This entry was posted in Nature, Skeptoid Podcast, TV & Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Whoops: How I Accidentally Became a Shill for the Plastics Industry

  1. mudguts says:

    Try being a retired evil scientist in a white lab coat (dont even ask)..

    I noted In Mr Rothschild’s early Fukushima fear mongering comments that a bod with an overwhelming insecurity about the “alphas” from the Fukushima accident would kill us.. or the more distant USA.. all.

    None to date. Does that make him a shill for coal or fracking? (alphas aside that is).

    Its like waiting for John of Patmos to be fast bowler in the next World cricket series ..

    Don’t worry Noah.. everyone here who is not a barking conspiracist is some sort of shill in the mind of the conspiracist..

    PS.. the supporters of contrails for health is meeting at a secret location. Check your etheric changes and look at your special shill gps for an invite

    Havent got one? well just between you and I.. two sticks will help you find it..

  2. ask412 says:

    ‘Whoops: How I Accidentally Became a Shill for the Plastics Industry’ Noah Dillon’

    I understand the angst, it is refreshing to read an admission that the carbon energy industries media contractors attempted to twist people’s values in your writing. Nonetheless, that is often opaque to the contractors, their targets and those who have undeveloped value systems.

    Let’s face it Noah, in all probability it’s written by a fictional character. Therefore, if you are building your ‘brand’ as an individual with an integral values, anyone drilling down through the article will see the anomaly, and through due diligence treat the opinion for what it is, bovine stercus.

    Nonetheless, anyone who holds strong opinion about preserving our near countless ecosystems, needs to be acutely aware of the hardcore business of the greenwashing of damaging environmental processes and products. Where weasel words are constantly invented, deliberately designed to distort the values behind the original context of the words, and phrases used.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      I’m not sure I completely understand your comment, but if I catch your meaning about Clare Goldsberry, then you’re engaging in something close to the kind of behavior that I complain about here. Why would you make an accusation that she’s a made-up person? What evidence do you have for that at all? What exactly does that even mean? That someone else who proudly believes this stuff wrote it but used a pen name? Why? And what exactly is the argument she made that you think is suspect? She and the rest of the plastics industry seems to have looked at the same information I have and reached a different conclusion. The way we consume bags right now doesn’t work. If we used just plastic bags as intended, then we could minimize our current carbon footprint. If we used tote bags as intended (which people don’t) then we might be able to get it even lower.

      The thing that got people angry at me was my pointing out that what people believe is eco-friendly often actually isn’t. The people attacking me about thinking critically about tote bags are just as manipulative and dishonest about the facts as the plastic industry is in insisting that the best course is to proudly consume more plastic bags. And both miss far more important global warming contributions by large-scale carbon producers, like the meat industry, etc.

      I tried to make an argument about greenwashing and was inaccurately attacked as being a person in the business of greenwashing. It’s absurd. And actual good information is not hard to find, but it seems far easier for people to simply dismiss unwanted information by saying that it’s fake, bribed, etc., which lets them off the hook for doing any actual critical thinking.

      One thing that I think we need to consider is the aim that you mentioned: “preserving our near countless ecosystems.” What does that mean? Trying to freeze the world as it currently is? We’ve been changing ecosystems since we climbed out of the trees. Every organism changes ecosystems. The greatest extinction event in Earth’s history was probably caused by sea-floor bacteria. Ecosystem change is essential and inevitable in evolution. We can try to limit the way that we change the planet, and we should, but we can’t stop it. And I think it’s important that we think really hard about what goals are reasonable, so that we can be more clear-headed about how to achieve them. Reversing global warming is an achievable goal. Preserving our near countless ecosystems as they are today is not. Keeping identified species from extinction is a difficult but noble goal, but their ecosystems will change. So I think we should be thoughtful about what we want to do, what we can do, and what steps and science are necessary to do them.

      Does that make sense?

      • ask412 says:

        ‘…not sure I completely understand your comment, but if I catch your meaning about Clare Goldsberry’ 


        Noah Dillon

        Thanks for the reply Noah, apologies for making you feel under attack, it wasn’t intended.
        Firstly, I agree, you do make sense I understand your position having been there myself.

        As for believing I didn’t do any critical thinking, that’s a subjective reply. However, it is fascinating you projected that onto my comment.

        I’ll take that as criticism of poor writing skills on my part and a lack of understanding of your value system.

        

’Why would you make an accusation that she’s a made-up person?’ Noah Dillon

        

I didn’t accuse ‘Clare Goldsberry’ of being a made up person, the comment keyword was; ‘…in all probability…’’

        

As you are well educated in language, you will be aware the keyword is ’not’ about certainty, unless of course your values are based on dogma the certainty of faith based ideology.
        

Nonetheless, since you raised the question about ‘critical thinking’, part of the process as you are aware from K11-K12 & higher education, we are taught and expected to look for cognitive biases written on both sides of an argument. Weighing up the facts, checking any sources of credibility, the value systems involved and come to an unbiased opinion of any information.

        

So, after reading your article, applying due diligence, I drilled down through the blog, found no credible address or reference to anyone, other than the plastics industry. Still, please add any relevant information I may have missed.

Which means this writer is either a professional pseudonym or someone young enough to be shaped into defending the carbon industry position from an internship, or giving her the benefit of doubt, due to poor pay and long hours. 

Only the naive or hungry could defend the carbon industries behaviour over the last 150 years.

        As the carbon energy corporations that are pragmatic, are making the transition out of the industry, shifting to clean renewable energy production methods. And I don’t mean the green washed nuclear industry either, that is a whole other ‘can of worms’. 
Nonetheless, that is not a certainty, as I said earlier, it’s more about probabilities, so please add any relevant information I may have missed.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply or assert that you don’t do any critical thinking.

          “In all probability” seems like an accusation, especially because I think the likelihood of her being imaginary is very low. What reason do you have for assuming a high probability for that kind of thing? The fact that her professional interests happen to coincide with one rather reasonable response to the facts does not raise the probability that her essay is “written by a fictional character.” I sincerely think that those kinds of assumptions are a red herring that prevents reasonable discussion about stuff like this that’s really important.

          No credible address for anyone? What do you mean? For who? For Clare Goldsberry? She looks pretty real. You can find her LinkedIn profile, and she’s giving a lecture on theosophy on Oct. 13. She looks to be a pretty typical person, studied writing and made a career in public relations:
          https://www.linkedin.com/in/clare-goldsberry-95276a19

          http://bit.ly/2dsm1Eg

          Now she’s writing for an industry newsletter. She works for an industry that produces plastic. That’s a product, like all products, that has benefits and drawbacks. It doesn’t make her fake or a sellout or anything. She’s not paid, as far as I can tell, to defend 150 years of the petrochemical industry. And anyone trying to defend 150 years of steel, carpentry, apparel, food production, politics, philosophy, art, etc. etc. would run into just as many indefensible horror shows.

          From what I see, she’s just a person trying to get along in the world. I don’t know if you’ve read her essay, but none of it is wrong, as far as I can tell. Just not the decision I would encourage people to make, given the data. It’s like the second least thing you can ask people to do. It’s not even like this is aimed at you, trying to convince you that plastic bags are good. The newsletter she works for is for other people in the plastics industry.

          But, again, like I said, this is a lot of talk about why it’s unlikely that I cited something written by someone else using a fake name. None of this has anything to do with an actual pressing issue, i.e. climate change.

      • ask412 says:

        That someone else who proudly believes this stuff wrote it but used a pen name? Why?’ Noah Dillon

        More interesting questions, thank you again.

        Still, the very depth of the ocean where deep sea creatures inhabit at enormous pressure have their guts full of the plastic industries nanoparticles consumed in search of food, and there are studies that have proved that this material is a preferred by aquatic life to actually nutritious food. This information is so new, studies are proposed to see what effect this has on this unique and integral ecosystem .



        And what exactly is the argument she made that you think is suspect? 

Noah Dillon

        Any defence of this industry is indefensible, no matter how naive the worldview, so is suspect and worthy of drilling down for verification. One thing current science has proved conclusively in this era, is that burning and throwing away carbon energy is wasteful, it’s value for the innovation cycle and recycling products is unparalleled in human history. Futurist scientist say it is so invaluable as a resource for our species and life on earth, that it will literally be a crime to waste it in fifty years.

        Future generations will most certainly say this tiny period at the end of the carbon energy era in the Anthropocene epoch was the most culpable regarding waste.

        For the record, I have been using recyclable plastic tote bags, not the cheap bags these last for 5-7years or natural fibre bags, and both for over two decades.

        ‘She and the rest of the plastics industry seems to have looked at the same information I have and reached a different conclusion’ Noah Dillon



        Most certainly, we I couldn’t agree more.

        Nonetheless, I wouldn’t expect anything else from a lobbyist site, would anyone? 



        After all, as I said earlier in this reply, this is a blog. Meaning, an informercial site is a well paid industry advocate, a lobbyist organisation, with a CEO, CFO, other EOs along with a board whose primary premise is profit. Using a strategy not dissimilar to the tobacco industry soft sell of it’s denial of scientific consensus on tobacco and health.

        Correct me if I am wrong, but your central theme is:
        ‘Whoops: How I accidentally became a Shill for the Plastics Industry’

        The irony, you are now defending the plastics sector of the carbon energy industry is fascinating, something else to think about for the reader. 



        ‘The way we consume bags right now doesn’t work. If we used just plastic bags as intended, then we could minimize our current carbon footprint’ 

Noah Dillon

        That is very subjective idea also, but I agree, if the carbon energy industry put corporate social responsibility-CSR before it’s profit premise there might be some chance of that. 



        What are the probabilities these legal entities of incorporation, that have eternal life, trusts for the board, CEO, CFO, other EOs for personal wealth protection; will actually put CSR before profit?

        

If we used tote bags as intended (which people don’t) then we might be able to get it even lower.
        

What are the probabilities the political centre of gravity will carry your values in the next five to ten years? 




        As the ‘tote bag’ was designed as a mechanism for recycling, however we both know these have been commodified. So it is up to the user to discern if the source material of the bag is recycled material, while acting with an integral mindset, and being mindful of their use.

        I refer to that type of commoditisation of natural fibre ‘totes’, as ‘greenwashing’, if you have a better term, please post it, can you?

        • Noah Dillon says:

          Yes, you’re right. Plastic does pollute the ocean. I kind of covered a lot of this in the original essay. Canvas bags take more resources and currently aren’t used very much, and consequently go into the trash or environment, along with the bleach and polymers and packaging and fertilizer and fuel and other materials used to make and move them. So to be more ecofriendly you should basically either use a tote bag over and over, almost exclusively, or you should use plastic bags and dispose of them properly or recycle them. Those are the two best options we have now. I know what I prefer. I don’t think it’s implausible to expect consumers to use a tote bag a bunch. And you could ban plastic bags, as some places have done. But right now we’ve got the worst of both worlds.

          I’ve already covered this issue of the plastics industry being especially evil. It’s a big industry. You can work to make it better or you can call it a uniformly vile bunch. I’d bet that you probably have a bunch of plastic stuff at home. It’s a kind of remarkable substance: different versions have different properties, allowing it to be rigid and strong, or flexible, and it’s recyclable. It’s also made from fossil fuels. Wood products are made by deforestation. Metal products are made from strip-mining and mercury. Paper products are made from deforestation, water, bleach, and polymers; leather comes from dead animals that produce enormous amounts of methane, and canvas comes from monoculture farming with fertilizer and bleach and more enormous water utilities. Why single out plastic? All these things have gigantic negative ecological impacts.

          You said “burning and throwing away carbon energy is wasteful.” Yes! Absolutely. Consequently, paper products can have very high carbon footprints and require more resources than plastics. Cotton products have enormous carbon footprints, and so too wood and metal and everything else. Plastics, because they’re lightweight and reusable, and recyclable, can be much greener than those alternatives. We can measure this stuff scientifically and make decisions based on data, rather than on the blanket vilification of an industry.

          The claim about minimizing our carbon footprint is NOT subjective. It’s been measured. You can check my sources in the original essay. There’s data behind this. And that’s usually a good starting point for fixing this problem. Global warming science is not based on subjective speculation. It’s based on evidence. The evidence we have now is that we need to think and act very carefully based on data, and it’s not going to be enough to minimize our carbon footprint. We need to start being carbon negative yesterday. Even if our carbon output went to zero today, the Earth would continue to warm for another 75-100 years, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. That means we need to start removing carbon from the atmosphere and ocean, not merely slowing the amount we emit.

          This essay was intended to show how irrational we are in our estimation of what’s a serious threat and what’s not, and how counterintuitive solutions can be. As counterintuitive as an action might seem, if it’s useful then we probably ought to pursue it.

          What would it look like, do you think, for the plastics industry to put corporate social responsibility ahead of profit? Draw that picture. I don’t think we should expect companies in a capitalist system to do anything except seek profit. That’s the economic reality in which we live. There is basically no corporation on Earth that does not seek to maximize profit. So you’ve got two options, as far as I can tell: government regulation and intervention, and companies that seek profit by removing carbon. If you want to count consumer choices—another argument in this essay—then I guess you can say three options, but consumer choice doesn’t affect carbon emissions in a really big way.

          I don’t know exactly what you mean by the political center of gravity. I’m pretty pessimistic that politics will solve this problem very soon. My brother, an engineer who works on this stuff, is much more optimistic. He thinks we’ll build our way out of this in the next 15 years or so. And he’s worked with people that are doing just that. And they plan to get rich in the process. That’s fine by me. I think though, as I said earlier, that we should also be thinking about what the longer term goal is. Are we trying to preserve coastal cities? Are we trying to keep bees from totally dying? Are we trying to recreate ecosystems in some mythologically untouched state? Are we trying to have the way of life we have now but with no fear of ecological catastrophe? What’s the intention?

          The tote bag was designed for carrying, nothing else. Companies like them because they’re a cheap product with a big flat surface for printed advertising. And it’s only through talking about their use and misuse that most people, I would guess, are going to find out that collecting them and not using them is worse than using one over and over, or even not using one at all. We know this because instead of making guesses about it, some scientists went and studied it.

          • ask412 says:

            ‘I don’t know exactly what you mean by the political center of gravity’ Noah Dillon

            An example then might work using the politics of this year.

            In the United States of America as of June 2016, a Gallop Poll was taken, and questions 89% of Americans say they believe in God.

            Ergo: ‘the political centre’ of the United States say they believe in ‘Sky Pixies’, of God and all his Heavenly Angels.

            Those on the outer edges of the ‘political centre of gravity’ like yourself are in the minority. So public opinion is weighted toward the Abrahamic system of values^.

            Any Apocalyptic outcome is an An anathema as it can’t be controlled or created by humans, it must originate from a universal sovereign; God, or Gods-trinity.

            Therefore Global Warming is the Demon Satan’s or the Devils Hoax. Alarmists, are the evil ones servants, demons on the side of the unbeliever Satan the Devil.

            There are more issues, e.g. ‘government is bad’, the political centre of gravity actually believe this also, even though it hasn’t been examined critically by this group.

            ____________
            ^ ✝️☪️✡️☦️ Abrahamic values: https://goo.gl/nBjjIL

      • ask412 says:

        ‘One thing that I think we need to consider is the aim that you mentioned:
        “preserving our near countless ecosystems.” What does that mean?’ Noah Dillon

        Trying to freeze the world as it currently is? Noah Dillon

        

No. 



        ‘The greatest extinction event in Earth’s history was probably caused by sea-floor bacteria’ 

Noah Dillon

        Interesting, where is the science of probabilities behind that, have you a citation? It sounds fascinating, why does that view contradict current science?^

        ‘Ecosystem change is essential and inevitable in evolution’ Noah Dillon

        

I couldn’t agree more. Still, from this perspective, I feel you might be missing the gravity of the peak of the carbon era in the Anthropocene epoch we are in, and yes we can adapt, that after all is the message of the international working earth & climate scientists consensus on global warming and subsequent climate change.

        This carbon era demonstrates an exponential growth in human activity, and damage caused by the industrialisation of carbon energy use that has peaked due to exponential growth. Being mindful, the great migration out of tropical and subtropical zones was predicted in the first half of the twentieth century and publicised in futurist programs on black & white TV documentaries in the 1950s in North America, as the 1800s hypothesis indicated, it would probably be due to the buildup of carbon emissions.

        Sadly, we are seeing the lack of at least sixty years of public policy toward these tropical and subtropical zones devel, and the chaos that has ensued over this last decade is very clear evidence of this, despite the smokescreen of Abrahamic values being the primary cause. 



        ‘Reversing global warming is an achievable goal’ Noah Dillon



        True, but, not in your children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, lifetime though. In fact many scientist in the international scientific consensus are saying we are past the tipping point, that was the 400ppm of CO2 and those aren’t the only greenhouse gas emissions adding to the issue, any effort to slow change down is deliberately risking all life on earth itself. Glaciologist such James Balog^^, are expecting it take many thousands of years for glaciers to reform, and then their is the ocean acidification issue no one can ignore, how can that be reversed?

        

’Preserving our near countless ecosystems as they are today is not. Keeping identified species from extinction is a difficult but noble goal, but their ecosystems will change’ Noah Dillon



        Our species arrogantly believe that our cleverly designed systems are highly complex. Nonetheless, this is fallacy compared to the orders of magnitude in near countless ecosystems acting as one integral system, carrying enough equilibrium to sustain life on earth for hundreds of millions of years. People are actually under the delusion there is plenty of time to change, which is ironic since working earth and climate international scientists have been aware of the risk mitigation needed for many decades.

        Any denial we are not damaging our life conditions and those of all life on earth is naive, some due diligence in this examination is needed. That’s not easy, when every single piece of media seen in this era is about our meritocratic values, where consumption and growth is the primary economic model, not modelling our earth systems cycle of life, death, and recycling in equilibrium.

        ‘So I think we should be thoughtful about what we want to do, what we can do, and what steps and science are necessary to do them’ Noah Dillon



        That also is an idea which tells me far more about where your stage of development is and the values you carry, as I once felt as you did, so understand the altitude of your worldview.

        The Sixth Great Extinction is man made and we are right in it. All due to our species causing global warming with subsequent climate change. An international consensus of international working earth & climate scientists has existed about this for over three decades and the prior hypothesis started over 150 years ago. Regardless, of what disinformation is promoted by the vested interest groups with a primary premise of profit before CSR.

        It’s our choice to continue to back these entities that are designed to profit from the planet’s environmental demise though an flawed exponential growth model of economics.

        Thank you for such a well considered reply Noah. It’s appreciated, if you feel I haven’t answered the questions posed, keep the conversation going. There is no true perspective on this*, we each see the world in unique way due to our life conditions, our value systems and stage of personal development.
        

____________

        ^ Permian–Triassic extinction event: https://goo.gl/hOYGh4

        ^^ http://extremeicesurvey.org/team-eis/

        * My regions political centre of gravity carries this perspective on carrying shopping bags: https://goo.gl/9nmXEd

        Our species on a precious interstellar transport, travelling the universe at enormous speed: https://youtu.be/mvgaxQGPg7I?t=14s

        • Noah Dillon says:

          The P-Tr microbe-extinction hypothesis doesn’t contradict current science: David L. Chandler – MIT News Office (31 March 2014). “Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!”. MIT News.

          I don’t think I missed the gravity of anthropogenic global warming. I mentioned how dire it is several times. By the way, “Anthropocene” is a nonsense buzzword.

          We’re actually not experiencing the effects of our peak industrial output. We’re currently experiencing the effects of the beginning of the 20th century’s industrial output. Like I said, if we halt carbon emissions right this instant, the Earth will continue to warm for another 100 years or so. It takes awhile for these systems to catch up and for feedback loops to get really horrific. What we’re doing now will have far more significant effects on our grandchildren than on us.

          “Not in your children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, lifetime.” This isn’t necessarily true and it’s a Malthussian projection that doesn’t price in unknown future actions or developments. A paper published by the LSE a couple years ago estimated that if nations stuck to their current, admittedly wimpy goals for reducing carbon, we will never, ever consume all the oil that has already been pumped out of the ground. That’s a huge claim, but it’s one worth considering. And I take, perhaps a little totemically, as a sign that we can engineer solutions to this problem. Like I think I said, my brother works on this stuff and developed a potential carbon negative process for making energy AND taking carbon out of the oceans, where the effects are more immediate and are getting really hairy really quickly.

          There is no such thing as equilibrium in evolutionary biology. There are potentially evolutionarily stable states, which come close, but they can still be disrupted by various forces. If an ecology ever reached actual equilibrium then evolution would not continue, and it should be obvious that in four billion years that hasn’t been the case.

          You keep erecting straw men. I never said a lot of this stuff, and would never claim it. Where did I say that we’re not damaging habitats? You don’t seem to understand or treat with charity, attention, and reading what I’m actually saying. I guess that should tell me where you are in your stage of development. How enlightened.

          YES! We are causing global warming! Thank you for reiterating that fact, on which we both agree!

          No, you haven’t answered any of the questions I asked. You totally ignored them.

          Hey look, they make the same point that I do: Overall, a reusable bag is a better option for the environment than bags with between one and three typical uses. “Given the popularity of the green bags, we needed to test whether reusable was better for the environment and this was comprehensively proven – but only so long as you use it repeatedly over a long period,” says Allan.

          The problem, as I point out, is that people don’t use them very much. So you can encourage people to use such bags more (a great strategy, probably especially if you have bag bans) or you can try to minimize the harm they do when they refuse to use them, which is the plastic bag option. One strategy is great if people are diligent (or coerced), the other is less than great if people are lazy. Both are better than the way people typically use bags today. Pretty simple and intended to help curb global warming.

          Again, if you really want to stop climate change, bags won’t solve the problem and what you’ll really have to do is get governments and industry to stop using fossil fuels and begin to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Cutting out plastic bags has an effect so close to 0 that it might as well be 0.

          What you can really do is stop eating meat and vote. Those are two strategies way more effective than which bag you choose.

          So basically you’ve accused someone of being made up, misunderstood or ignored my claims, dodged my questions, and the consensus is still that global warming is a dire threat that needs to be solved yesterday. Glad we both ended up at the same stage in our development.

          • ask412 says:

            Thanks for continuing the conversation Noah.

            ‘And I take, perhaps a little totemically, as a sign that we can engineer solutions to this problem…my brother works on this stuff and developed a potential carbon negative process for making energy AND taking carbon out of the oceans, where the effects are more immediate and are getting really hairy really quickly.’ Noah Dillon

            I would have to say; adhering to the general arrogance of the ‘tribe’ of engineers is not clever, as the group leaders often see our AGW as no problem, dismissing the urgency due to vested interest in who funds their ‘life hobby’. And I do envy them that, work for us, is play for them, quite an achievement in our economic system, isn’t it?

            Nonetheless, is there any other group that loves a challenge more than engineers?

            Their strength, is also their weakness, as failure is an essential part of the engineering process. So is it realistic to expect engineers to solve this in collaboration as a group, doing so across the whole planet and soon enough?

            At best we can slow AGW down. Do you remember the relatively simple problem of the ozone hole Noah?

            Even now that 1970s type of collaboration over reducing the ozone hole over Antarctica seems politically and commercially impossible today.

            Only in 2016 have the metrics given the world conclusive evidence of any reduction in the size of that ozone hole over Antarctica, that’s four decades since CFCs were identified as the cause of the destruction of ozone, and that, is no short time period in any human lifetime.

            Nonetheless, no line of logic puts the CFC issue at more than 1% of the global warming dilemma our species has created and emerging generations are faced with going forward.

            Because there is not just one gas, but a whole range of greenhouse gases that have been affecting the whole planet. These greenhouse gas interactions are with the near countless ecosystems, creating chain reactions of a dramatic irreversible nature without many hundreds of years of cooling. Most crucial of all is the warming has tremendous momentum due to the record of human activity, unlike just one short release of a single greenhouse gas, CFC.

            There literally is orders of magnitude of greater complexity in our near countless ecosystems integrating as one creating suitable conditions for life on earth, demonstrating minute by minute far more complexity than anything humans have ever done. Or arguably realistically projected to achieve for thousands of years by genuine futurists who specialise in studying strategic foresight.

            Our meritocratic economic systems pathology, is arrogantly believing our commercial and IMC^ systems are as heterogeneous as earth systems. Most notably reading about the hypothesis of geoengineering to solve this irreversible global warming, a study that is in its very infancy technologically.

            Why am I writing this to you? Simply because, many years ago I could have expressed the same belief as yourself, I was wrong then, and if I still thought that way I would be wrong now.

            A response is needed urgently, despite what the mainstream media affected by ideology portrays, this is an alarmist line of logic.

            However, be very aware that term alarmist has been demonised by those who what to conserve the status quo. Meaning those who leverage power and wealth to have legislation written to legitimise their profit before corporate social responsibility premise to suit their life conditions.

            Something this hard right blog defends behind a distorted view of freedom.

            ___________
            ^ IMC – industrial military complex
            What you can really do is stop eating meat and vote. Those are two strategies way more effective than which bag you choose.

          • Hard Right Blog????? Ask lol your so wrong your not even right. Ask skeptoid bloggers what we feel about creationism, evolution, global warming. You will not find too many of us siding with the so called political right. We are not political we simply support the truth. The left loves organic and hates GMO, pharmacuetical industry, and supports alternative medicine. The right loves global warming denial, religious based education, and undercuts evolution. You will find that most skeptic are scientific rationalists that do not fit well into any political bs.

          • ask412 says:

            ‘Ask lol your so wrong your not even right. Ask skeptoid bloggers…’ Stephen Propatier

            If that was true:
            Why does your political centre of gravity accept the ‘branding’ done by the two dominating right wing political parties as left and right?

            Particularly, when the whole world knows both are far right of the centre.

            How is this site any different from the political centre of gravity of the general population that have education, university degrees and a grounding in ethical behaviour?

            The whole issue of what North Americans call ‘right’, is highly subjective to the national psyche.

            Nonetheless, The United States of America, is acting like a right wing imperial political power, as it hasn’t evolved as fast as European and other cultures toward the centre. It certainly, isn’t as right leaning as a national group as it was at the turn of last century, that’s true. But neither is Germany, In fact they are centrist politically, as are many other national groups in the EU.

            Believe the delusion all you want. It changes nothing, that’s the point.

            For the record, It’s not GMO, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, energy, communications, or financial services or any other dominating technology in this era that are the problem.

            It’s the values applying these incredible innovations in those areas that are poor. These corporations are struggling in the development of their corporate social responsibility – CSR. This is widely recognised at all the great sandstone universities political and economics departments across the planet.

            How else has the world ended up ignoring scientific warnings about greenhouse gases for over a hundred years?

          • ask412 says:

            ‘You will find that most skeptic are scientific rationalists that do not fit well into any political bs’ Stephen Propatier

            Bovine stercus aside, and we all suffer that, and particularly so during the recent second presidential debate.

            Nothing will will change the fact the United States is dominated by those in partnership with government; that is those who control corporations in the, military, pharmaceuticals, whole nuclear industry, digital communications, and financial services cartels.

            These corporations carry a culture similar to the feudal fiefdoms of the 16th, 17th century, these were the very oppressors the American founders pioneers broke free from.

            The majority of North American plutocrats at economic apex are greedy, self serving, and corrupt on a level and scale unprecedented in human history. All due to the population’s size and ratio of governance by the relatively small number of elite, when compared to the original founding governments ratio of representatives who wrote the country’s constitution.

            The peoples representatives have remained static in number for literally decades, it should be called criminal, but party bipartisanship has legitimised the small ratio of representatives in this era, by writing legislation to suit gerrymandering and other unfair voter manipulation practices.

            Anyone who can’t see this for what it is, suffers serious cognitive biases.

            As the dominating economic system of people control, is creating overt examples of discrimination, injustice and gross inequality in people whose ‘life conditions’ have been manufactured to keep them subservient. It is perpetuated through the apathy of those who could do better, and yet they allow it to continue in the vain hope of achieving meritocratic status themselves.

            The change in AI will drive a paradigm shift in global cultures, and any one nation holding the line, will suffer the consequences.
            _______________
            A solution is emerging rapidly, and both major parties are demonizing is this change: https://youtu.be/8oeiOeDq_Nc

  3. Sympathy Noah, but what you have just bumped your nose on is called reality. Sociological reality of course, but reality all the same. Ambrose Bierce said in only a slightly different connection:

    In combat everything that wears a sword has a chance even the right. History does not forbid us to hope. But it forbids us to rely upon numbers; they will be against us.
    If history teaches anything worth learning it teaches that the majority of mankind is neither good nor wise.

    Good luck and go well,

    Jon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *