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Several generations of lost economic growth is what differentiates the United States and Canada from Argentina and Uruguay. A 1-2 percentage point gap in growth over the last two centuries is what differentiates us from Mexico.

The environmentalist movement in current form does not understand the implications of what they’re asking people to sacrifice.

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Also economic growth is what's going to get us the necessary technologies to solve climate change.

Breakthroughs in clean energy storage and carbon capture tend to come from high income/high emitting countries for a reason.

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Yep, if the globe had the per capita economic output and carbon intensity of the oft-cited Kerala we’d be completely fucking *doomed* in the long run.

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Kerala still has really good food.

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I’m aware of the shortcomings and foreign dependencies of the “Kerala Model,” I’m just saying that even if it scaled it still wouldn’t work.

We’d just end up baking the planet completely by 2200 with no possibility of fixing it instead of by 2100 with a good chance of both heading it off at the pass and being rich enough to manage the damage.

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The funny thing is high income countries are greatly reducing their emissions per GDP. There are some middle income countries that are vastly increasing their emissions per GDP.

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intriguing. link?

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Have fun. China is a real outlier (they are the only country really expanding coal consumption via state subsidies.)

https://ourworldindata.org/energy-gdp-decoupling

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There’s a *ton* to unpack in that particular case, and since I’m in-country and have an early train, remind me to unpack it later.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Maybe I'm reading the charts wrong, but I don't see anything showing higher energy use per unit of GDP. It looks like GDP is increasing at roughly two or three times the rate of energy consumption.

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Ya, I got a bit mixed up in my comment. I corrected it somewhere else in the thread. CO2 for trade adjusted GDP per capita is on Our World in Data.

IEA has CO2 per gdp.

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Once again, it seems that (to some extent) we could have our cake and eat it too by establishing a carbon tax and using it to offset other taxes. Shame this isn't politically viable.

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What the talking heads of the environmental movement also don’t understand is that climate is not the only important issue right now. The economic decline of non-coastal parts of the US is of much more importance to voters in those areas than the fate of low lying developing nations.

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And for nothing! Least cost solutions for reversing CO2 and methane accumulation need not reduce growth in GDP at all, although it will require some reduction in consumption.

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Consumption is the only part of GDP which matters, the rest is just the cost of maintaining consumption.

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See the comment immediately below yours. He enjoys a post-scarcity standard of living so it’s entirely unimportant whether anyone else is permitted to do so in the future.

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"I want everyone to enjoy a post-scarcity standard of living."

Do you not understand that if everyone has a 'post-scarcity standard of living', then that will require a GDP per capita vastly greater than today? Do you not grasp that personal consumption is a large percentage of GDP, and so greater consumption means more GDP by definition?

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I'm trying to imagine a Democratic party trying to sell a "let's stop growing until the rest of the world catches up" program to the electorate and ever winning any elections.

The climate movement has to begin with the first and unmovable principle that fighting climate change *and* continued economic growth for everyone have to be fundamental parts of the eventual solution. Arguing otherwise is to condemn yourself to the political wilderness until all Americans become angels.

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deletedAug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023
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People don't seem to apply this thinking to themselves. Do you want to see a 20% drop in your income?

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I think the median person would not like that but the thought should be “do we want to see the least among us 20% poorer?

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There is a very good reason I chose the examples I did in the initial comment. Anyone who claims to be in favor of helping the poor both at home and globally needs to be in favor of growth. It’s just delusional not to be.

The other issue is that, as another poster pointed out, all of the technologies which have the ability to fix this problem are coming from the rich world. The only way out is through.

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Growth is a moral imperative to alleviate human suffering and ensure human flourishing.

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The counter to this would be "$18,000 a year is enough for anyone, all we have to do is redistribute".

(and, no, it really isn't!)

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This sounds good, but I'm not sure it's right. Environmental regulations often mean the factory or other development won't be built or may have to close, and the poor person's family or community will be poorer. I'm thinking for example of the Gulf coast, where I read all the time in media about environmental damage impacting low-income residents--but the people there elect politicians (even Democrats) who are largely pro-drilling and pro-industry because they want the jobs. Shutting down those industrial plants and drilling sites would actually hurt these communities.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

You assume that when environmental regulations raise costs, businesses will just "eat the costs" and reduce profits until they go out of business. Often, they don't: instead, they raise prices. Increases in prices affect the poor, who spend most of their income, much more than the rich/affluent, who save most of it.

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Oh they wouldn’t? Wait til you find out what restrictive environmental regulation does to the price of basic goods.

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founding

Kudos for making a choice that makes you happy.

Boos for wanting to impose that choice on others.

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"Wanting to impose that choice on others" is just, like, having an opinion about government policy. Odd libertarian streak in these comments

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founding
Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Sure I do.

But in the tradeoff between human flourishing and a more aggressive plan to mitigate climate change, I pick human flourishing.

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Ah I see we’re trying to leverage ignorance of the “up or out” policy in elite consulting firms to justify a pat on the back that, incidentally, has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

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Didn't Kahneman recently find that money continues to add to happiness at all income levels, except for a small minority?

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Can I pay for the positional good of an effective block button for Substack?

I am very much sick of reading your ill-informed, poorly reasoned, narrowly-blinkered, horseshit.

Please go inflict it on someone else.

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be nice! you are smart and have good arguments. don’t tarnish them with needless churlishness

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This is me being nice. I’m still playing the ball rather than the tempting target presented by the man.

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Wow.

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I feel like homelessness is a problem in most American large ish cities, not just a few?

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“Climate change is always quite well covered by the media”

I think Matt meant that climate change is not ignored. That does not make it “well” covered. The coverage is still centered around the meta question, “Is the climate changing in harmful ways?” “Are the changes really bad?” But the real meta question is “What to do?” And although we are “doing” a lot, have been for years, there is very little coverage of “Are we doing it right?” Instead, we get coverage of how to “feel” about climate change. It reminds me of the coverage of COVID, lots of coverage of how bad it is, how worried we should be and very little of the policy question, is our policy response the right ones?

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Yeah, it's actually sort of annoying when you read about some extreme weather event and the news just editorializes "BTW, climate change!" Doomposting about it doesn't really accomplish anything; neither does downplaying actual efforts to address the problem.

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Well said. I often think that all these climate horror stories will lead to apathy and resignation rather than aggressive action. Especially because it's not as if actions we take right now will have an immediate beneficial impact. Too much baked into this particular cake already, unfortunately.

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I remember a few years ago when there was a lot of snow in texas, all the liberal journalists I follow were screaming about climate change, but the few climate people I follow were skeptical and unsure it was related.

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There have always been extreme weather events and trying to chalk all of them up to climate change makes it sound more like you have an agenda than anything else.

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A preposterous recent example: the New York Times story tying climate change to increased frequency of severe storms in Louisiana, thereby increasing the risk of Chimpanzee escapes (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/08/science/extreme-weather-chimpanzees.html). Confirmation bias is a hell of a drug.

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Also, a lot of opinion and belletristic writing about climate change is premised on factual errors.

The balance of evidence that we have now suggests that we’re on track for negative but not literally apocalyptic/Mad Max-type consequences if the current pace of warming continues, but you probably wouldn’t know that if you only read second-order takes.

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“Things will get better more slowly than without climate change but still more quickly than these countries not industrializing!

DOOM!!!”

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founding
Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Republicans organized, funded think tanks and, in some ways, created an entire theory of jurisprudence focused on their goal of overturning Roe v. Wade and implementing restrictions on abortion. It was a goal with VERY motivated activists inside their coalition, though without enough support in Congress to pass a bill on the topic. Finally, after almost 50 years, their work paid off and Roe was overturned.

But it turns out that the larger populace that maybe doesn't like abortion -- even adopting the "safe, legal and rare" slogan -- has now realized just how extreme the abortion activists are. But Republicans have kowtowed to that part of their coalition for 50 years and Republicans are going to be paying a price for their "win" for years to come.

Climate activists run the risk of doing the same to the Democratic Party, though potentially on a larger scale. The reaction to the gas stove ban proposal will look mild to the reaction to an EPA-driven (not passed by Congress) mandate to force people to buy EVs.

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I think the key difference is that the technology stack that feeds into EVs in basically in the position that mobile computing was in 1999; by the time such a mandate really starts to hammer home they’re just going to outperform ICEVs for all but a handful of marginal use cases.

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If that's true (and I hope it is), then the mandate is unnecessary anyway, and they can avoid the bad optics in the meantime.

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There is an argument that the investment necessary to make EVs successful is dependent on a certainty of sales that only the mandate can deliver.

That is: if you can promise that 80% of sales will be EVs, then automakers will make EVs good enough to win 80% of the market without the promise, but if you don't make that promise, they won't invest enough in EVs and you won't get 80% EVs.

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I think that's what California is hoping for - that making the rule will get automakers to take EVs more seriously and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if it doesn't work, well, they can always just pass a law to push the date back as it gets closer, and no harm done (although, they can't openly say this today, as that would undermine the effectiveness of it).

Another reason could be to eventually motivate landlords to install home charging for their residents. Today, there's a chicken and egg problem where landlords don't want to spend the money because not enough renters have EVs (the vast majority of EV drivers today are homeowners), but renters don't want to buy EVs because there is nowhere at home to charge them. In theory, the mandate breaks this cycle and guarantees that landlords who do install chargers will actually get revenue out of them, but not until the rule is either imminent or already in effect.

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I feel that existing EVs are good enough to hit 80% of sales. The most efficient way for government to encourage EV transition at this point is probably to improving charging infrastructure.

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For compact cars, I agree. But, Americans' obsessions with driving bigger and bigger vehicles is making the energy transition more difficult than it needs to be.

The problem is that big vehicles require more energy, which requires bigger batteries to achieve a given range using only electricity. The cost of an EV increases linearly with the battery size, whereas the cost of an ICE vehicle is essentially constant with respect to fuel tank size. The net effect is that, the bigger the vehicle, the more technological advancements in batteries are required to make an EV that is cost-competitive with an equivalent ICE vehicle. That is why the cost gap between the gas and electric Silverado is so high, while a Chevy Bolt actually has a *lower* MSRP than a Toyota Prius.

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This is actually a good point, and might be a reason to keep the EV mandate: it's a backdoor way to force people out of tall vehicles that are dangerous to others.

I really have hoped for a while that the move to EVs would cause pickups and SUVs to become more like utes and station wagons.

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I would think of it slightly differently: let’s assume cars converge to EVs eventually because they’re just superior. Well, they could converge to EVs in 2050 without incentives, or 2030 with incentives. Quite a bit of climate benefit to be captured by eliminating 20 years of car emissions.

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Perhaps the best option would be a government prebuy, Operation Warp Speed style. Then if the cars turn out not so great you can sell them to consumers at a discount.

A worry of course is that this somewhat diminishes the companies incentive to make the cars good.

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It also stops them competing with each other.

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Sounds like an argument based on regulatory capture.

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Do you have an example of this process working previously?

My thought is the the most likely reason that companies make EVs good enough to win 80% of the market is that they are competing against each other for buyers. The only thing a government mandate would seem to do is push car companies to not make ICE vehicles as good because they won't be able to sell them.

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It's difficult to compare to a counterfactual, of course. But it's worth pointing out how much CAFE standards drove the design of more fuel-efficient engines - which led to people buying them because they saved money on fuel.

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founding

CAFE standards mostly resulted in almost 80% of new vehicle sales being "light trucks" -- i.e, SUVs.

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This was the thought hovering around the back of my head, that I couldn’t quite put into words.

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Agreed mostly but we’ll see if it actually is an albatross in any real way.

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This comparison is silly. Climate activists have not done nearly a fraction of organizing, planning, and long-term work anti-abortion activists done.

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This is why I like things like the California EV mandate. This (almost certainly) won't get California voters to turn against the Democratic party there, but since California is such a huge part of the US economy, the mandate can help as a springboard for making EVs a more desirable choice for consumers in the entire US.

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“The best is the enemy of the good”.

For a faster, more cost effective reduction in emissions, replace the EV mandates and subsidies with a tax incentive based on a vehicle’s EPA rating. A 55 mpg Prius would get a nice rebate while a 160 mpg”e” Tesla would get a nicer rebate and consumers can judge the trade offs for themselves.

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Maybe this would be better.

But it sounds like it works best in economists' models whereas in the real world the best strategy is always KISS: no more ICEVs after 2035.

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Nah. First, it's phased. By 2026 35% of all new vehicles sold have to be EVs, 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. Are people going to revolt about the 35% mandate in three years? Highly doubtful.

Second, the California Republican party will continue to be the Democrats' ace in the hole. Maybe they'll come to their senses some day. Not looking good.

It's still possible that they'll miss the 2035 deadline, but if that means that only 80% of new cars are EVs instead of 100%, that doesn't strike me as catastrophic.

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It won't be illegal to own a new ICEV, just not to buy one in California. And that's fine; we don't want the government to be too heavy-handed; just heavy-handed enough. We set the conditions and then let the market help us get the rest of the way. E.g., the number and convenience of gas stations, and the prevalence of fast charging stations, will change the desirability of having an ICEV.

Mind you, we can still screw this up. I'm disturbed by the number of big apartment buildings going up in California that have scant numbers of charging stations in their parking garages. This is really dumb, and requires the government to get involved and set some rules.

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Yeah, even before the EV mandate I was seriously considering buying a few acres of land in Verdi, NV once I have the money and setting up a superstore selling all the stuff California is in the process of banning: dirt bikes, gas-powered generators, etc. The EV mandate, if it holds, would just make that even more lucrative.

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I don't think it's really the same thing. Dates for banning ICE vehicles are really just target dates, and no state - even California - will actually pay the political price of allowing such a rule to go into effect if the actual consequences of it looks like it's going to be imposing hardships on people. Rather, they'll push it back and push it back as long as it takes until the cars and the charging networks are ready. This is very different from abortion bans, which are effective immediately.

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Eh, that hasn't stopped California's ruling class before, especially when the harms are concentrated on people outside of their favored areas. For instance, the upcoming ban on gas-powered generators. I used to live up in the Sierras. That will be a total disaster there and no one in state govt seems to care. So will the EV mandate, if it ends up actually happening.

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The number of people that actually need gas generators is a tiny enough slice of the overall population that banning them wouldn't have *that* much pushback.

Cars, on the other hand, are used by almost everybody, urban and rural. If it were did get to the point where the EV mandate effectively meant you couldn't buy a car anymore without going out of state, the pushback would be much stronger, and the effective date would absolutely get pushed back.

That said, I do think the odds are fairly high that we don't actually get to find out who's right because it will be struck down in court first. But we'll see.

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Yes, people have always loved the Cassandras in their midst. Nothing is more satisfying to the person in the street than being told, with total justice, "I told you so."

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In the U.K., the government recently allowed extra oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. This has resulted in howling from environmentalists because we should be cutting hydrocarbon production. The problem is that we went through a winter of high gas and electricity prices due to curtailed supply. I do not recall anyone saying this was a good thing because it will force people to curtail use of gas and electricity. Rather, they said the government were to blame for not ensuring a greater supply… which is what the government is trying to do now, albeit it will only bear fruit in a few years.

When Saudi Arabia cuts oil production, it’s because they are trying to increase the price of oil. When we tell our governments to cut oil production, it’s to reduce emissions. But it’s the same thing!

It’s this confusion and cognitive dissonance that frustrates me. This attitude of not being willing to face trade offs.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

I think this is a pretty misleading account of the critique of UK energy policy.

- They didn't just restrict fossil fuel supply, they restricted renewables too: it's very difficult to build onshore wind and solar. They also slashed funding to efficiency programs. As far as I know they maintained all those policies through the crisis. So there was a seemingly strong case that they'd aggravated the crisis.

- The industry association claims (I don't know if it's true) that the policy uncertainty created by 8 years of Brexit, 5 PMs, and constant factional infighting within the government has been unhelpful to developing asset whose lives are measured in decades and which is heavily impacted by policy.

- In response to higher energy prices, the argument was that the government needs to raise taxes in a progressive manner and use the funds to mitigate the increase in energy costs. They resisted this but ultimately did it.

I'm not denying the UK has its share of anti-growth environmentalists engaging in student politics, but that doesn't (or at least shouldn't) excuse policies that have been both environmentally and economically harmful.

Here is the Shadow Energy Secretary speech from around the nadir of the energy crisis. There is plenty of delusion there about the UK becoming an industrial champion but basics like renewable generation and home insulation are there:

https://labour.org.uk/press/ed-miliband-conference-speech/

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Oh certainly, my comment should never be read as a defence of the current government. Although I do think that exploring for more oil and gas is a no-brainer.

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The median voter wants a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, only to be told farming chickens is cruel and car ownership is destructive. This is because environmentalists are the progressive equivalent to conservative sexual puritans: joyless scolds who live in perpetual fear that someone, somewhere, is happy and having fun.

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This is why the challenge is to make electric vehicles and plant-based diets fun...which they certainly can be! Americans do seem to uniquely bristle at the thought that something they enjoy doing has a lot of unintended negative consequences (see also: widespread gun ownership)

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The challenge is to stop allowing activists of any stripe the thrill of getting to force people to obey. That is the basis of all the problems with getting ordinary people on board with anything, on both sides of the aisle. Even when they agree, they dont want to indulge the little Robespierre wannabes.

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The way I would put this during the aughts (responding to this class of objection) was "No, you don't get it. I *like* my lifestyle of hedonistic overconsumption, I think it's great. I just *also* recognize that as present and under present conditions it's neither sustainable nor universalizable. I would be much, much happier if this weren't the case, but it is."

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One query this poses is why the environmentalists rather than UAW should be the ones to compromise here. I don't meant this in the sense of "because I'm normatively right and they're normatively wrong" sense, but rather as a pure numbers game: if 12% of people put climate as their top priority, that's roughly 40 million people (4 x 10^7), whereas the UAW appears to have a total of only 400,000 people (4x10^5). Even if you cut the size of environmental coalition down 90% to account for partisan spread and not everyone in the US being of voting age, it's *still* ten times larger than the UAW, whose entire membership is a whopping 0.12 % of the U.S. population.

How are the unions not the narrow interest group whose ox should get gored here?

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Matt should answer this, but maybe one possible answer is "because 'environmentalists' doesn't really mean 40 million voters, it means several hundred people who work and speak for donor-funded environmental NGOs".

This has come to seem to me like a very weird phenomenon more broadly. On both the left and the right, most activist groups don't have a real membership base. (There are exceptions, like the NRA and the Sierra Club, but I think not that many.) Yet they're treated as if they speak authentically for large coalitions.

So when Ohio had its recent referendum on making it harder to amend the state constitution, which was really a referendum about abortion rights, you had journalists calling up Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America for comment from the anti-abortion side. But as far as I can tell from its Wikipedia page, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America is just a handful of staffers making candidate endorsements and allocating campaign donations, all on behalf of unnamed mega-donors. (It's a 501(c)(4), which means for all we know it might be the pet project of a single billionaire.)

That's an example from the right, but it seems even more strange to have this phenomenon on the left: organizations claiming to speak for the masses when in fact they're just paid employees of some anonymous rich progressive. The point is not that the paid employees aren't sincere in their opinions; the point is that a rich guy with *any* set of political opinions can always hire a dozen people who sincerely believe the things he believes.

So why does the media give so much weight to the views of "the groups", as I think they're called? I think Matt's argument is that unlike the UAW, which really does have hundreds of thousands of grassroots members, these organizations could be brushed aside if we agreed to take them less seriously.

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founding

Another analogy is the NRA (pre LaPierre looting) versus gun control advocates. The NRA produced something more valuable than position papers, polling results or news articles: they produced voters.

The UAW also produces voters, the most valuable commodity to any politician.

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Was going to say, it may be that unions are very important at the grassroots campaigning level. Especially in Get Out The Vote efforts. Or that’s my impression anyway.

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It's definitely that. Union members are some of the most reliable people about getting out the Democratic vote.

Climate activists are some of the most reliable people about shouting down a Democratic politician at a fundraiser.

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Hahaha! But which is more effective, Thomas? Bet you didn’t think about that!

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"...the point is that a rich guy with *any* set of political opinions can always hire a dozen people who sincerely believe the things he believes."

And yet I remain unemployed! Despite my sincere belief in whatever rich guys will pay me to believe! It's so unfair!

If that's not an issue for climate justice, then I don't know what that phrase means.

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You're my brother from another mother. Everyone on Twitter claims I work for the Taliban, but so far I haven't cashed a single check

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"Everyone on Twitter claims I work for the Taliban, but so far I haven't cashed a single check."

The Taliban offered to pay you via check?

All I hear from those guys is, "the goat is in the mail."

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I'm totally willing to accept payment in carpets

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That's great, but I'm not sure it'll be useful to you to offer that alternate form of payment for much longer.

I hear all the carpet shops are going out of business.

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That’s the problem of elite college admissions - the make-work jobs at NGOs all go to the graduates of Harvard, who are disproportionately the children of the rich.

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You're describing it as if it were a bug and not a feature....

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Would you rather they infest other organizations like the one you work for?

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Top quality content here. Q: Have advocacy groups become more disconnected from actual grassroots interests in the last decade or so, or am I just noticing it more now...

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Yes, a veritable ton of "grassroots" groups these days are really just astroturf. I even suspect this of a lot of the DSA-adjacent left (which is reeeeeeeeeally obsessed with Israel/Palestine issues lately in a way that makes me think that was the point all along, since that's the one place where I can identify a real fundamental dispute with mainstream Democratic Party opinion.)

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"Hi, I'm _____ from the Equity Justice Coalition for a Rooty-Tooty Socialist Hootenanny! I speak for you."

Um, no?

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I love a good hootenanny. Also secretly the best Replacements album. (Now that’s some niche content for you all,)

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Though on the actual NYC election content I think that article focused too much on the scoreboard, not enough on the clock.

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I should have realized there was an SB post!

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These organizations do have discursive agenda-setting power because they all defer to each other in their respective cause areas and have connections with the media. The Biden team is just in a really rough spot -- the people who should be their allies in most of these fights hate them so much that they will immediately adopt whatever excuse is served up by Americans For Climate Justice And Reparations And Also Police Abolition Plus Some Other Stuff I Guess to continue hating him and his team.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

I think it's almost certainly true that the UAW directly represents a far higher proportion of motivated relatively single-issue voters *among its membership* than most environmental groups chosen at random (the Sierra Club being the only possible exception that comes to mind [ED: or the League of Conservation Voters]), while at the same time being a fairly narrow interest group whose specific interest in increasing the equilibrium labor costs of building cars drops off a cliff outside of its membership, whereas motivated environmental voters are far larger *as a class* than the drop in the proverbial bucket that is the 400k UAW.

More succinctly: the UAW "penumbra" seems like its likely to be virtually nonexistent (even within the same industry, non-union actors are famously antagonistic and adverse to union ones), whereas the climate penumbra seems likely to be larger by one to two orders of magnitude. I'm basically a single-issue climate voter while maintaining no specific organizational affiliation, but can you really be a single-issue UAW voter without belonging to the UAW?

This potentially goes away even in an era of secularly declining union membership if you think that "union labor" represents a larger voting bloc that it's valuable to signal support for (it appears around 11% of Americans are in a union?), but on the other hand it seems like a lot of union interests are fundamentally orthogonal to each other - while the AFL-CIO may be a nominal mouthpiece for "union" interests broadly designed, in practice a member of the teacher's or police union really has virtually no overlap in their specific interests with a member of the UAW. Making automobiles more expensive makes them more expensive for cops and teachers (and Starbucks baristas) too, after all.

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I don’t want the Sierra Club to speak for me politically, I just want to go backpacking.

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Maybe this is why they have been taking terrible positions on climate change recently? (Like blocking that power lines for decarbonization project in Maine and praising Pritzker for blocking carbon-free electricity in Illinois.)

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They've always done this.

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The Sierra Club isn't a climate change organization, though; they're a wilderness recreation organization. They just happen to not like climate change because they don't want, say, warmer winter temperatures that let emerald ash borers deforest Yosemite.

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I think their stance in that Maine referendum shows that they do like climate change and would like more of it.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

It's numbers x motivation level x how narrowly focused they are.

The UAW can deliver a chunk of pretty dedicated voters who basically only really care about their one relatively limited issue, and who are happy to vote for other coalition priorities in exchange for stuff.

Environmentalists have higher numbers, but less dedication (lots of signalling nonsense), and the things they care about sprawls so much that it's difficult to do the coalition tit-for-tat without pissing them off about something.

It makes them potentially useful but awkward allies.

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I think Matt's point is that the environmentalists are likely to vote for you regardless--because for most of them climate is a top priority and the alternative is completely unacceptable. For the UAW, it's not the same--if the Republicans propose curtailing EV production and supporting ICE, it might actually help your members (at least in the shorter, next-decade, term)? And many of those union members might also have cultural attitudes that may be somewhat sympathetic to Republicans anyway. These are real swing voters--disproportionately located in midwestern swing states.

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This is a good point, but at the same time it's interesting that it suggests what amounts to a "side channel" attack on the basic issue (viz., curtailing EVs and supporting ICE, plus cultural attitudes) -- one has to imagine that as between "pro-organized labor" in general versus "crush the unions," there's not really any doubt about how the Democratic / Republican split goes.

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That's 12% of voters under 30. It's lower for older voters.

But beyond that, I would count myself as someone who considers Climate Change important, so I am baffled when i see the Illinois Sierra Club advocate for the Governor to veto an end to the Nuclear power moratorium. It makes me wonder if they are in the least bit serious about climate change outside of some pastoral no growth fantasies.

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I think a lot of them conceptualise "pastoral no growth fantasies" as the only way of being serious about climate change.

There is a widespread position that the only choices are the destruction of the entire industrial economy (and the inevitable mass poverty and mass starvation) or climate change and a mass extinction that would include Homo sapiens among the species made extinct.

This is just factually wrong. We can solve climate change by reducing CO2 emissions without abandoning the activities that currently lead to CO2 emissions (e.g. we don't have to stop heating our homes, we have to switch to heat pumps and use solar/wind to generate electricity to do that). But, if you accept it as a premise (and a lot of "the Groups" do), then one of the objectives is to abolish the entire construction sector because all building is wrong.

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Just adding a thought:

For a lot of the people I'm talking about, industry is wrong and carbon emissions / climate change are the proof of that. The problem isn't (as I would conceptualise it) that these beneficial things cause a negative consequence in carbon emissions and we should seek to reduce that negative consequence and mitigate the effects of climate change, but that carbon emissions are a proof of their ultimate value that industrial society is intrinsically bad and should be abandoned.

I think there's a widely-shared aesthetic sense that is anti-industrial and anti-urban (and which I disagree with entirely; I live in a city for a reason) and this sort of pastoralist fantasy comes from that sort of aesthetic.

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Also, austerity can be aesthetically pleasing, especially to rich people. Spare, highly functional designs can be elegant. There is a definite attraction to a life spent foraging for necessities, our ancestors spent 200,000 years doing that before GDP was ever measured.

I’ve felt this pull enough that I spent a lot of time gardening. The only thing that stopped me was completely sucking at it.

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Absolutely, and it has a long history; you can see it in JRR Tolkien (the mill in the Scouring of the Shire at the end of Lord of the Rings) for instance.

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Being the first country to go through industrialization means that you’re probably among the least well-equipped to manage its negative externalities— until about 1840, real wages for British workers were stagnant-ish and the miserable environmental and working conditions of early industry made day-to-day life for early industrial workers more unpleasant and unhealthy than their peasant forebears’. Unfortunately, the Romantics managed to immortalize the historical memory of this period so that anti-industrial messaging flourished even during the Victorian period, when conditions for ordinary workers were getting better.

In the US, land abundance and (after Lincoln’s victory) the Homestead Act bolstered white workers’ bargaining position during early industrialization and helped to spread its benefits widely— a situation which gave US culture a more pro-growth outlook.

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12% of *young* voters. So quite a bit less than 40m. And making the UAW happy doesn’t just make them happy but makes organized labor as a whole happy, so quite a bit more than 400k.

But the real answer to your question is that unlike the UAW situation, the other 88% feel that climate change is *not* quite that important. So (as confirmed by basically all polling on the subject) if you ask that 88% to eat higher costs on things like cars that they regard as essential to their lives for better or worse, they’re not going to be indifferent! Whereas if you find a way to make the UAW happy without raising costs, everyone that isn’t a part of organized labor is going to be indifferent.

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“Whereas if you find a way to make the UAW happy without raising costs”

I promise I don’t mean this with the snarky tone that its content implies, but I literally do not believe this is a thing that exists.

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I think Matt pointed in that direction: you can make them happy by saddling everything with Buy American, creating union jobs, or you can deregulate various new forms of energy generation, creating jobs. Maybe the UAW isn’t quite as happy with that one, but recall the reason we’re talking about the UAW is less their specific 400k members, more as a standin for organized labor as a whole.

Still you are correct that you’re never going to make the UAW happy about cars specifically without raising costs.

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I'm not sure how much we acutely disagree (it at all) but the point is that Buy American and or "creating union jobs" only does anything if it raises labor prices above the equilibrium level they would otherwise have, which in turn is guaranteed to raise costs to employers and extremely likely to raise costs for consumers.

I *think* we broadly agree on that point, so the issue then becomes whether creating more jobs through a deregulated sector actually satisfies organized labor per se, and my understanding of union dynamics is that it doesn't (even if it's "pro labor" in the abstract) -- the union and its membership are narrowly concerned with obtaining concentrated benefits for the union, not a more robust labor market at large, this being the key distinction between organized and unorganized labor.

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We do agree but let’s take geothermal: right now there are no union jobs not because the jobs are taken up by cheaper non-union workers, but because there are no jobs at all because the sector doesn’t exist. So there’s a win-win to be had where you allow the sector to exist in exchange for insisting that whoever does get employed in it be union.

Bottom line there’s an opportunity to make organized labor happy without raising costs for consumers AND making progress on climate. Maybe this gets ruined if you focus specifically on the UAW because the UAW might not care about union jobs created outside the auto sector. But you get the point: you make progress on climate without pissing off consumers, and as a bonus you make (some part of) organized labor happy.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Also, the unions these days will find workers whether they're in their stated industry or not. The UAW represents Philadelphia's public defenders. (Seriously, UAW Local 5502 is a bunch of lawyers and paralegals.) So UAW may well be just as happy as any other union to see new industries open up from a membership perspective.

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Also the deregulation but support for UAW might "raise costs as opposed to the counterfactual where we _only_ allow geothermal", but if they don't raise costs as opposed to _now_ voters are less likely to complain (i.e. if the result is that costs don't drop as much as they might)

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Matt already articulated that the compromising with the UAW likely also accords well with the normie position of “EV cool but needs to not hurt me before I buy one.”

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Didn’t Regan and Trump win Macombe County. The UAW are rather fickle partners, and quite spoiled compared to the median blue collar worker

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The rank and file can be fickle, but leadership is very much an ally of the Democratic Party. Like UAW wasn't doing GOTV for Reagan and Trump.

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Also by the time Trump came around, Macomb was less of a union bastion. There's plenty of union voters there to be sure, but these days there's also lots of non-union types as well. For instance, there's the Chaldean community in Macomb County, which is a very conservative, reliably GOP voting bloc and tends to work in family-owned small business (so not union). Historically, Chaldeans were mostly in Wayne County (in Detroit itself and in Dearborn plus like Canton) and Oakland (in places like Farmington Hills), but there's been a lot of migration to Sterling Heights and to a lesser extent Warren since about 2010.

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>> How are the unions not the narrow interest group whose ox should get gored here?

IMO, it's less about voter counts and more about political power.

I don't just mean overall political power, but sometimes political power at the margins in specific places like in West Virginia or in Michigan, where the votes of one or two key senators determine the outcome.

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One can be a strong supporter of labor rights even without belonging to this or that union (or any union). There is something called solidarity.

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The 12 percent figure pertains to voters under 30, while the percentage is notably lower for older demographics. Moreover, these younger voters are predominantly liberal and are inclined to support the Democratic Party. Finally, they are dispersed across the entire United States and are unlikely to swing any elections. On the other hand the UAW is highly concentrated in Michigan and losing their support could make it much more difficult to win presidential and senate races in the state.

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Because:

1) people still prioritize family finances of the environment by a wide margin;

2) far more people work in jobs where the pay is affected by UAW contracts than just the UAW workers (e.g. essentially every manufacturer in 100 miles of an auto plant has to deal somewhat with the effects on the labor market caused by those contracts);

3) even more people view labor broadly as a social issue, not simply a question of their own personal paycheck, much as environmentalists view environmental issues that don’t directly affect their personal lives as important. Another way to look at it: at a minimum the question for the labor movement is “is this decision pro-labor,” not “how does this decision directly affect my union contract.”

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An outcome that favors the UAW doesn't even really benefit all union workers, only workers that belong that that specific union. People who work in other jobs - including union workers - would probably be better off if the UAW lost and they had access to cheaper cars.

The real reason why the UAW has so much political power is that their 400,000 members are over-represented in key swing states. If Biden wants to win Michigan in 2024, he needs their votes, and there's no avoiding it.

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I mean, it would seem that "regulations that raise prices for consumers results in ubiquitous political backlash" doesn't actually hold in practice, though, right? Otherwise the Democrats would be trying to grind the unions into dust instead of kowtowing to them.

It appears that some combination of "concentrated benefits / diffuse harms aren't necessarily electorally harmful" and/or "very thin doesn't-survive-econ-101 level obfuscation of the harms in question prevents voter action" holds with respect to the capacity for the unions themselves to retain coalitional power.

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This is a fascinating history, but I think it still doesn't quite account for the basic disparity between "higher prices for goods and services due to union support yea, carbon taxes nay." I suspect it's some weird combination of obfuscation, messaging, vibes, and perhaps coalitional desire to be in *a* union even if not necessarily in any specific union.

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It does seem really baffling how much Musk got snubbed by the Whitehouse - especially after the Obama administration was an early backer (and copped flack from Romney over it in 2012). And it’s very clear that Musk was quite miffed, when Biden repeatedly held EV events where the big 3 were invited and Tesla was not.

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Biden takes the UAW’s support very seriously— and in general is tighter with organized labor than Obama— and doesn’t want to signal that he’s pursuing electrification at the unions’ expense. Tesla is famously non-unionized and union-hostile.

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Is it feasible that he could have invited Musk and then spent 5 minutes telling him the benefits of unionizing? Possibly a win - win?

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Given, well, everything about Musk’s personality, probably not.

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I dunno. Matt has made the point that Musk is remarkably reticent about commenting about China because its bad business. He can control himself if he needs to.

I think if Biden had shown a bit of love, then Musk would be more onboard. Its clear the deliberate exclusion hacked him off. To address union concerns, Biden could have mentioned the benefits of being unionized.

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Xi is a dictator who can literally kick Tesla out of China on a whim; Biden is a rule of law-bound elected official who Musk can bully.

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Yeah, see what happened when an NBA GM dared to say something in support of Hong Kong. It's the same reason why LeBron will criticize anything and everything about the U.S. but tiptoes around criticizing the far worse Chinese government.

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Not just kick him out, but take his factories and copy the technology with absolute impunity. Conversely, Musk has something on the order of similar power over the President of the US as the President has over Musk in the US.

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I'm not saying that Biden is the same as Xi. I'm saying that Musk felt that Biden and Democrats generally were excluding him so he should find other allies. If Biden hadn't been excluding him, but had made him feel like a valued contributor, then Musk would have recognized there was a lot of money to be made by playing nice and done so.

Its possible this doesn't work. I'm just saying China clearly demonstrates he CAN control himself, not that he would.

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What are the benefits of unionization from Musk's point of view?

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I guess "Biden will treat you nice", but that's a bit circular.

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I don't think that would have been particularly useful.

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Is it baffling? Musk was clearly on the “weird right wing” course well before the 2020 election, it would be poor politics for a Democrat to be seen hobnobbing with him now

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Industrial policy events aren’t about the politics of their CEOs though. It’s about proctoring a particular outcome - in this case EVs. Ignoring what was at the time the worlds biggest EV manufacturer is bonkers.

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Musk's antics over at least the past half decade is proof enough as to why a politician would not want to engage with him publicly.

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There was actually very good reason (particularly at the time) for the Obama administration to hope that the Big Three automakers would ultimately overtake Tesla in the EV market, though.

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Keep in mind that Tesla is only one of Musk’s companies, and lately seems to be the one he’s simply milking (to the detriment of other shareholders) to fund his true passions elsewhere. Also, Musk is uniquely weird, not really comparable to normal CEOs that care about promoting their industry.

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I feel like hobnobbing with famous and popular figures of a different persuasion is actually pretty good politics when you’ve won office and are looking to get re-elected. I was personally annoyed that Obama had Rick Wilson at his inauguration but it wasn’t bad politics.

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It’s especially good politics if you can provide an excuse like “come on, man, it was an EV industry event”.

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There's a long list of reasons the White House wouldn't want to share a stage with Musk. Some have already been listed. But the single biggest reason is that Musk is a loose cannon with a big ego, and absolutely uncontrollable and undependable. The very first rule of Presidential appearances is that you don't let anyone embarrass the President. Musk could never be counted on to not do that

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The White House recently had to ban a trans influencer for flashing her breasts at an event on the lawn. I don't think Musk would have done worse than that.

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> But the single biggest reason is that Musk is a loose cannon with a big ego, and absolutely uncontrollable and undependable. The very first rule of Presidential appearances is that you don't let anyone embarrass the President.

The problem with this theory is that the president is Joe Biden.

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?

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You can't have presidential appearances without someone who's uncontrollable and who might embarrass the president when the president is already that person.

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Tesla is a wasting asset in the drive for the spread of EVs. The Big Three (is Chrysler still big?) and the Japanese/South Korea firms will dominate sales in the not too distant future. Tesla's future share of sales will dwindle because, one may have noticed, their leader tends to be erratic and easily distracted.

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This has been the theory for a decade and it keeps not happening. Tesla's EVs are superior and they're the only ones making money selling them.

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Doubtful. Anywhere they’re allowed it’s going to be a horse race between Tesla’s superior technology stack, production quality, and user experience vs. BYD and maybe Guangqi’s heavily subsidized, low-wage cost advantage.

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I don't think we'll see Chinese EVs here for a long time, however good or cheap they are -- you know, politics.

Tesla may have a technology advantage over the big auto companies (for now), but these companies -- unlike Tesla -- have many decades experience in style design, marketing and customer satisfaction. When's the last time Tesla came out with a new model that wowed the public? They're like a bright shining star five light-years from Earth. They look great, but that's five year old light. I don't think they have much in the pipeline, especially if they're relying on Musk to guide them.

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Aug 17, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

“Anywhere they’re allowed,” as I said.

But otherwise, on the basis of the evidence, disagreed. The big two show no signs of pulling their heads from their asses at any real scale. They are insulated by the fact that European and Japanese manufacturers are mostly even worse and Chinese ones will be walled out of the whole US market and part of Europe… but to be honest the main things holding Chinese auto manufacturers back were their shitty ICE and drivetrain technology, both of which will be obsolete branches of tech in ten years.

As long as China keeps 10% of GDP focused on export competitiveness they’re going to hold a huge chunk of the market.

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I’m sort of skeptical about Musk as he’s behaved over the past few years being a useful ally. Dude is a mercurial assclown.

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Climate activists won’t become more practical coalition partners because very few are practical people.

It is not rational to worry about uncertain harms that will mainly accrue after one’s death. Climate activists worry anyway because they either enjoy apocalyptic thinking or can’t help themselves. Such tendencies do not pair well with making sensible tradeoffs between nuclear power, labor demands and neo-pastoralist fantasies.

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"It is not rational to worry about uncertain harms that will mainly accrue after one’s death."

Honestly I can't even with this attitude. Outlier climate-mediated events are a present and increasing problem right now al over the globe, every year has a high probability of being the hottest one on record, and basic predicates like "will this lake freeze over?" are significantly decreasingly frequent in places that have actual winter. And this is in some ways the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).

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The benefits of abundant energy are clear and ubiquitous. Natural disasters kill a smaller proportion of humanity than at any time in recorded history because 1) higher agricultural yields reduce malnutrition 2) transportation infrastructure makes it easier to get food and water to disaster areas 3) heating systems keep people from freezing 4) bulldozers and other high energy vehicles can rescue people from fallen buildings.

Extreme poverty is at a world historical low because industrial progress has greatly increased incomes even in poor countries like India and Bangladesh.

If the harms of greenhouse gases came without huge, history bending benefits, it might be useful to dwell on tail risks. The reality is a majority of humans in pre-industrial societies have been poorly fed and poorly housed, industrial progress rocks, and humans will flourish more if we chill out about climate and pursue lower carbon abundant energy.

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People absolutely are saying to go back to preindustrial times. Making that claim puts the entire environmental movement at risk because the existence of a single Unabomber show that we're disingenuous.

The problem is that, while there are people who do call for bullshit like this, they are a tiny minority within environmentalism, and the wider movement needs to be clear that they don't agree with this sort of bullshit.

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I can ally with an environmental movement led by people like Matt. Dial back the appreciation for industrial progress even a bit from Matt’s level, and I’m out

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I've worked with a number of people who anyone would consider to be climate activists and not one of them feels this way. I've also never met this hypothetical person that believes humanity will literally go extinct because of it. I'm sure these people exist somewhere, or maybe it's just me, but the SB community seems to believe these people are everywhere.

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I'll add that I live in Seattle, and previously worked for Paul Allen's company on environmentally focused projects, it's not like I wouldn't have been exposed to these people if they existed.

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Fair.

I think the bigger problem is that there is a wider tendency towards this as an aesthetic. Many of the people who don't like the look of a construction site end up finding reasons to oppose all actual construction (not NIMBYs, but BANANAs). They aren't consciously in favour of the neo-pastoralist consequences of their policy, and many are nominally in favour of some things being built (e.g. rail) but are opposed to construction sites.

The upshot is that while those who will bite the bullet to full-on neopastoralism are few, there are lots of the environmental movement who are motivated by an aesthetic appeal to nature and so find it hard to condemn neopastoralists, which makes many of us, who are pro-industrialisation and whose environmentalism is motivated by having an environment that is good for humans to live in rather than one that has moral value in itself, very suspicious that much of the environmentalist movement is really fuzzy - they want incompatible goals and regard it as someone else's problem to make them compatible.

It's like all the green objections to HS2 in the UK: they want a high-speed rail line to be built, but they want it with zero trees cut down. That's obviously impossible, but they just knock down every plan that HS2 Ltd comes up, rather than trying to write their own plan.

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A further tendency is wanting other people to embrace austerity without giving up one’s own forms of carbon spewing. Al Gore’s 20,000 square foot house is an hysterical example. More common is wanting working stiffs to car pool or ride transit while flying to interesting places for fun.

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It's not even just about consumption - Everyone would be significantly less fucked had the world adopted France's electricity production mix rather than continuing to rely on fossil fuels notwithstanding having unlocked that node on the tech tree.

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That is not really the question because :

1) increases in income (flow to wealth) in rich countries is increasing decoupled from emissions.

2) increases in income in poorer countries comes at the expense of increasing emissions per dollar.

3) China and the CCP are hockey sticking up their emissions per unit of income and part of their deliberate state policy. This is even after you account for pollution offshoring.

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Don't think that's true for China. Raw emissions per capita are increasing, but emissions intensity has been falling for a while.

(scroll down to see output per dollar)

https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-co2-emissions-in-2021-2

Sure, they're still building lots of coal plants, but they're building more solar and wind and even nuclear than anyone else by a lot. Most projections I've seen have them decarbonizing as well or better than the western world.

Of course, they tend to mislead with their reporting of this stuff, so time will tell how it actually turns out. I think the economics and deployment time for solar, wind, and storage are now set up so that the natural path for them will to go with more renewables, not less.

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https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/prod-cons-co2-per-capita?country=~CHN

I see where I was wrong. This is percapita and not GDP.

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"Sure, they're still building lots of coal plants, but they're building more solar and wind and even nuclear than anyone else by a lot." First chart in this article shows this very clearly on solar/wind. And third chart show the takeoff of electric vehicles there. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/08/12/climate/clean-energy-us-fossil-fuels.html

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deletedAug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023
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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

I cited Oxford data on emission flows. I explained why Hickel is intellectually dishonest. You ignored that the current flow of emissions and current source of most future emissions comes from the developing world.

In your cited article Hickel conflates flows with stocks and asserts therefore in the present the people not responsible for the accumulation of those past stocks and who are not responsible for the majority of current and future flows must suffer severe impoverishment.

This fails to:

1) Solve the emissions problem because it ignores the majority of new emissions. It means that Hickel’s solution does little to change climate change.

2) Do justice since those when the EU has a lower trade adjusted emissions per dollar in China?

3) And why should countries that are able to produce wealth with fewer emissions over time stop producing wealth while countries with higher emissions per unit of income can continue on an upward trajectory of emissions per unit of income? Wouldn’t it be better just to pay those poorer countries not to engage in less efficient activity?

Also don’t conflate emissions per income with emissions per person when the focus is on whether or not reduce economic activity. It’s the incorrect measure.

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Let me voice the naive(?) skeptic in the room: why should i care if the lake freezes over or not? For that matter why should I care if the summer is hottest on record, if I have A/C (provided my electricity bill doesn't go too high)??

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Do you eat food?

If so, you ought to care about whether the temperature outside gets so high that crop plants start dying or having severely reduced yields. Also, if your food depends on irrigation from glacier runoff from nearby mountains, then you really, really don’t want those glaciers to disappear.

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Ok. Good. This is far more convincing stuff. Thanks. Unfortunately it’s also more complex. It convinces me (hence I support moderate climate friendly policies). I’m just not sure it will convince many others.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Some people may enjoy being outside at times. For example, to engage in activities like ice skating or walking on lakes, and/or being outside in the summer.

"This is fine as long as I never have to touch grass" is an attitude that one can have--indeed, one I find it some people frustratingly willing to adopt--but I think it's fundamentally unsound.

[Ed: a word.]

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Nah. This is mostly western (ie cold climate) people suffering from adjusting to conditions others have successfully endured for centuries with far less advanced technology and wealth. You can still go outside at almost any weather. People go outside in Toronto and they go outside on the Sahara dessert. You just need to adjust to the new climate, ie learn to dress and behave appropriately. Perhaps adjust your working hours a bit. Temperatures that are literally impossible to tolerate will not happen where most (any?) people live.

P.S.

Yes, you may lose the privilege of skating on your natural lake, ie join the lot of 99.9% of humanity who never had access to a lake that freezes over in winter. Hardly the catastrophe level justifying one hundredth of the sacrifices climate activists are demanding, is it?

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

If you're taking the naive skeptic view that I understand you to be taking, why would I want the climate I live in be less hospitable to activities I enjoy? Fuck adjusting to the new climate, I'd rather not, I think it's worse than the old one and less fun for me personally. People can *survive* in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but no one behind Rawls's veil of ignorance seems like those are climates they'd voluntarily choose.

Also "99.9% of humanity who never had access to a lake that freezes over in winter" seems....way way too high. You're basically writing off all of northern Eurasia *and* all of North America north of, IDK, Delaware? There.

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Not really, living in the right climate to ice skate doesn’t mean you actually ice skate. Seems to me climate change - as you describe it- should only interest upper middle class people in Europe and North America, who have the luxury of considering the legacy leisure activities of their class their top political priority. This actually seems to check out with the groups that DO prioritize climate, so maybe you’re on to something.

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deletedAug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023
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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Nonesense. Of course you can go outside at 90 degrees. Just wear a hat, hydrate etc. and yes, 90 degree day might not be best for a jog. As a reminder -10 wasn’t either. In fact to this day many wouldn’t jog for several months on the east coast because the ice makes it dangerous. So the winter will become a little more hospitable to outdoors activities and the summer a little less. So what?

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"It is not rational to worry about uncertain harms that will mainly accrue after one’s death."

I take it that you don't have children.

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I'd word it differently. Something like "It goes against basic human nature to worry about uncertain harms that will mainly accrue after one's death."

Millions of Americans still smoke cigarettes knowing full well that the activity is proven to take somewhere around ten years off their life expectancy.

You can't really expect these folks to give up current material well-being to protect against some bad thing happening long after they're dead that's easy to convince themselves might not happen anyway.

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"...It goes against basic human nature...."

Fair. But "it's hard for humans to properly evaluate long-term risks" is very different from "it's irrational to consider long-term risks."

In fact, they are nearly opposites. It's hard for smokers to quit smoking, not because the desire to quit is irrational, but because it is always hard to act on what reason tells us is best, and even harder when we're affected by an addictive drug.

One of the purposes of deliberating together is to help people both come to see and to act on what is in the greatest long-term interests of themselves and their children. Many people thinking together can sometimes deliver more rational results than each of us thinking separately.

And we can do that by keeping in mind that it goes against human nature to assess future prospects without selfishness or short-sightedness. Factor that in from the start, by all means, as an obstacle to be overcome.

But to declare that a concern for the future is irrational is simply to give a spurious justification to human nature's own weaknesses.

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Aug 16, 2023·edited Aug 16, 2023

Totally agree. To me the key is to be very careful about relying too much on coercion and especially on outright bans and mandates. These are very likely to backfire if activists don't grease the path with a lot of work convincing people rather than just trying to compel them. The history of mask and vaccine mandates provides a good lesson here.

Really though, when you look at in terms of worldwide emissions, the only way out is improving technology to make cleaner solutions the cheapest solutions. So far we're doing great on this front and IRA does a fantastic job in this regard between encouraging early adoption with subsidies and with lots of research money.

People in the developing world aren't going to starve themselves to death to reduce carbon emissions.

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put any other way worrying about uncertain harms that will accrue mainly after one’s death is a luxury. most humans have struggled to stay alive long enough to find a mate and to provide for the immediate needs of their children. worrying 50 years into the future is the avocation of neurotics and those with fat bank accounts

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