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 Post subject: climate change
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:08 pm 
Avisaru
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We should prevent global warming. But the simple fact of the matter is that we will never do it. The only way to force humanity to comply with reality is to brutally wrest power away from the factions with corporate backing by means of policies that would arguably be genocidal in character. The only alternative to genocide is allowing global warming to continue. There are those who would argue for the genocidal path. My eternal hate goes out to their targets, but I am nevertheless not in the genocide camp. Therefore, I should assume that sea levels will rise and submerge low-lying regions like in Vanuatu. Given that this outcome is unavoidable in the future, should we be planning for the relocation of the inhabitants of these areas?

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:59 pm 
Smeric
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other than the question de rigor, who's 'we',I think that succinctly put yes. Furthermore, the authorities in those countries are already buying land in nearby continents, and should continue to do it and probably do it even more.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:30 pm 
Avisaru
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Torco wrote:
other than the question de rigor, who's 'we',

A Zizekian empty "we", the "we" that presupposes the possibility of language proper, and without which language would be reduced to mere information content like any other natural phenomenon. Fill in your own answer regarding what "one" ought to do.

Torco wrote:
I think that succinctly put yes. Furthermore, the authorities in those countries are already buying land in nearby continents, and should continue to do it and probably do it even more.

What about regions like the Sunderbans? Where will its residents go when their land turns into an archipelago? Is there enough space for every jungle dweller in the cities under capitalism? More importantly, what advances in agriculture can feed so many people once climate change hits our crops?

If civilization survives capitalism, how should we change economics to prevent it from perpetrating disasters like this repeatedly? Should we simply extend the time frame we consider relevant instead of rapidly discounting future events, or even regarding many of them as externalities to our model like in current practice, or do you have an alternative Marxist answer?

PS. And people talk about being in the grip of a malevolent AI like it's a future possibility. Can't they see that there is no escape from these algorithms that are killing us unless we create a Friendly AI?

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:11 pm 
Sanno
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Fortunately, climate change is a fairly minor problem on the large scale, and one we'll have solved long before any serious issues emerge.

Sea level rises are a very minor issue, for the simple reason that such rises - a couple of metres - are tiny, and slow. There are a number of major population centres that will need additional flood protections, but we're really good at that (c.f. the Netherlands). Less populated coastlines won't be able to afford all those protections, but since they're less populated they'll just move a few hundred metres inland over the course of the century. Likewise, some hardly-populated islands will be submerged, but they're hardly populated. The populations we're talking about would be absorbed into the cities in the blink of an eye.
[predicted coastline changes are actually far smaller than we've experienced in much of the world already in the last centuries. In England, for instance, literally miles of land have been lost on the east coast, and literally miles of land have been added elsewhere - there's a town near me that became a coastal port town 500 years ago, and now is15 miles inland again. People adapt.]

Changes to soil fertility will be a bigger problem in the short term, in certain areas. It will undoubtedly exacerbate hardship in some places, until populations shift to compensate. On the other hand, the stress will be an order of magnitude less than has been suffered in much of Africa and India in the last half-century due to rapid population increases.

And even then, the worst effects only occur if you assume the worst possible course of future energy use for the next 500 years - and so far we're doing significantly better than that. True, we'll miss the targets to avoid "irreversible change"; but we should bear in mind that irreversible change is a constant in life, at the large scale. And if we assume that doomsday scenario, new opportunities will also open up (if you think this is likely, go buy up land in Alaska!).

Now, sure, global warming IS a problem and we SHOULD continue to do something about it. It will cost a lot of money, and prevention would be cheaper than cure. But we also shouldn't get histrionic about it as though it were some sort of civilisation-threatening crisis.

----

meanwhile, there can be no 'algorithmic' solution to moral quandaries. First, because there is no consensus on ethical questions in general. But more particularly, because any consequentialist approach to solving moral problems has to treat population as uncontrollable, which renders results suboptimal (what if controlling population were good?) and potentially irrelevent (what if population changes unpredictedly?).
[population has to be taken out of the equation, because population levels in consequentialism are the equivalent of dividing by zero. You have to arbitrarily set a baseline "value of human life", and if that's zero or negative then all problems are solved by reducing the population to zero (or in some setups the minimum sustainable population of a few hundred people, depending what values you've set), but if it's greater than zero than all problems are solved, in the longterm, by force-breeding humans to convert as much of the universe's matter into humans as possible. Both solutions are counterintuitive, particularly when they result from seemingly arbitrary differences in set-up]

[actually, more technically, it's about how you define utility and disutility. If you consider utility additively, you end up human-rabbiting (the value of a life is always greater than zero). If you define utility subtractively (start at zero and subtract suffering) you end up exterminating all human (the value of a life is always less than zero). To not yield infinite breeding or infinite extermination, you need to precisely balance the values of every possible bad thing with every possible good thing so that the average life in every feasible scenario always equals exactly zero - and not only is that not practically possible, but you still end up with an algorithm that wants to exterminate 50% of the human race all the time. This is considered a Problem by most consequentialists, but fortunately so far a theoretical one (they can use consequentialism in the short term the way we use newtonian equations in day-to-day situations at low velocities).]

This doesn't get into the broader problem that the sort of AINazism you suggest is both silly and deplorable. [Implementing AINazism would be just as difficult as implementing NAINazism, except you'd have to build your own Hitler first, imbedded with all the values real Hitler would have to have, which you'd have to decide yourself first. You may as well just go ask Hitler.]

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:52 am 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
Fortunately, climate change is a fairly minor problem on the large scale, and one we'll have solved long before any serious issues emerge.

To clarify, I'm not asking how minuscule the problem is per se. I'm asking what methods will be used to deal with the problem. For example, what agricultural methods will we use to deal with climate change? Based on the techniques you know of, let us judge for ourselves how irrelevant the problem will be.

Salmoneus wrote:
Sea level rises are a very minor issue, for the simple reason that such rises - a couple of metres - are tiny, and slow. There are a number of major population centres that will need additional flood protections, but we're really good at that (c.f. the Netherlands). Less populated coastlines won't be able to afford all those protections, but since they're less populated they'll just move a few hundred metres inland over the course of the century. Likewise, some hardly-populated islands will be submerged, but they're hardly populated. The populations we're talking about would be absorbed into the cities in the blink of an eye.
[predicted coastline changes are actually far smaller than we've experienced in much of the world already in the last centuries. In England, for instance, literally miles of land have been lost on the east coast, and literally miles of land have been added elsewhere - there's a town near me that became a coastal port town 500 years ago, and now is15 miles inland again. People adapt.]

I've read from reputable sources that the changes would be devastating. Now, it is possible for Some Guy On The Internet to have access to better information, but I must ask you to reveal your sources. Also, how will poor countries pay for flood protections? How long is this blink going to take in human years? For example, when Eastern Jews migrated to the West, how long did it take for the accompanying problems of poverty and crime to be ameliorated?

Salmoneus wrote:
Changes to soil fertility will be a bigger problem in the short term, in certain areas. It will undoubtedly exacerbate hardship in some places, until populations shift to compensate. On the other hand, the stress will be an order of magnitude less than has been suffered in much of Africa and India in the last half-century due to rapid population increases.

Again, where are you getting your numbers?

Salmoneus wrote:
But we also shouldn't get histrionic about it as though it were some sort of civilisation-threatening crisis.

I don't understand the difference between hysteria and morality. Not all morality is ethical, but computers are amoral agents because they are not hysterics. Computers can be ethical without having a moral compass if they are programmed that way.

Salmoneus wrote:
meanwhile, there can be no 'algorithmic' solution to moral quandaries. First, because there is no consensus on ethical questions in general. But more particularly, because any consequentialist approach to solving moral problems has to treat population as uncontrollable, which renders results suboptimal (what if controlling population were good?) and potentially irrelevent (what if population changes unpredictedly?).

Not all algorithms have to be consequentialist, and this objection does not apply to all forms of consequentialism either. For example, are you familiar with Paul Cockshott? Even if it did apply to the algorithm under consideration, like in mathematical problems where division by zero turns up, we can avoid these difficulties by isolating the cases where they occur and applying limits or ignoring them where appropriate.

Salmoneus wrote:
[population has to be taken out of the equation, because population levels in consequentialism are the equivalent of dividing by zero. You have to arbitrarily set a baseline "value of human life", and if that's zero or negative then all problems are solved by reducing the population to zero (or in some setups the minimum sustainable population of a few hundred people, depending what values you've set), but if it's greater than zero than all problems are solved, in the longterm, by force-breeding humans to convert as much of the universe's matter into humans as possible. Both solutions are counterintuitive, particularly when they result from seemingly arbitrary differences in set-up]

[actually, more technically, it's about how you define utility and disutility. If you consider utility additively, you end up human-rabbiting (the value of a life is always greater than zero). If you define utility subtractively (start at zero and subtract suffering) you end up exterminating all human (the value of a life is always less than zero). To not yield infinite breeding or infinite extermination, you need to precisely balance the values of every possible bad thing with every possible good thing so that the average life in every feasible scenario always equals exactly zero - and not only is that not practically possible, but you still end up with an algorithm that wants to exterminate 50% of the human race all the time. This is considered a Problem by most consequentialists, but fortunately so far a theoretical one (they can use consequentialism in the short term the way we use newtonian equations in day-to-day situations at low velocities).]

I have already explained my algorithm at the level of abstract generality multiple times. For plans of action A1 to An, find maximum discontent relevant to governance under each plan max(A1), ..., max(An). Across all plans, find the minimum value among the maximum discontent min(max(A1), ..., max(An)). Take action Ax such that max(Ax) = min(max(A1), ..., max(An)). "Contentment" is defined in terms of wish fulfillment, like in Buddhism.

I came up with this by taking all these objections into consideration. If any of them still apply, then I made a mistake.

Salmoneus wrote:
This doesn't get into the broader problem that the sort of AINazism you suggest is both silly and deplorable. [Implementing AINazism would be just as difficult as implementing NAINazism, except you'd have to build your own Hitler first, imbedded with all the values real Hitler would have to have, which you'd have to decide yourself first. You may as well just go ask Hitler.]

You want me to profit from human misery ("if you think this is likely, go buy up land in Alaska!"), and you are accusing me of being unethical? I am against any plan to transcend capitalism that is not certain of producing good results.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:30 am 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
Fortunately, climate change is a fairly minor problem on the large scale, and one we'll have solved long before any serious issues emerge.


You've had a *really* good Christmas, Salmoneus, haven't you? Or was it the cricket?

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:59 pm 
Boardlord
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Salmoneus wrote:
Sea level rises are a very minor issue, for the simple reason that such rises - a couple of metres - are tiny, and slow. There are a number of major population centres that will need additional flood protections, but we're really good at that (c.f. the Netherlands).


Maybe a "minor issue" for the UK.

A rise of 1 meter in sea level is likely by 2100, if nothing much is done. In Bangladesh, that 1 meter rise will inundate 17.5% of the country, currently containing over 17 million people. However, many more would be affected by subsidiary effects: increased flooding, salinization, epidemics. One report estimates that 40 million people (at current population levels) could become refugees.

By comparison, about 5 million people have fled Syria. This may have been a "minor issue" in the UK, but it's greatly affected European and American politics.

And 1 meter is an optimistic scenario.


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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:16 am 
Avisaru
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I wanted to compare them to Palestinian refugees, but Sal's source apparently says the number of refugees will be very small, so he should still bear in mind that the inhabitants of the Sunderbans are more often Hindus than the rest of the population in an increasingly Islamist country:

Image

Some studies have even indicated that rises in temperature will increase civil unrest globally. IIRC the Wikipedia article linked to it the last I checked. In this situation, anyone who encourages international Islamism in any shape or form, whether moderate or otherwise, has no moral high ground to stand on.

As for sea level rises, check this out: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/ ... ctica.html

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Last edited by rotting bones on Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:37 am 
Smeric
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And in Oceania, some countries are at risk of being entirely submerged by the end of the century or even in a few decades. This includes areas where the population maintains hunter-gatherer lifestyles and reject modern technology, so they will have to completely abandon their culture where ever they are relocated, assuming they'l be relocated in the first place. In one of the most likely refuge countries, New Zealand, a court has set a precedent for denying refugee status to climate change refugees.

BTW, I feel like this climate stuff should be in a different thread.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:54 am 
Boardlord
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Moved. And rotting, please don't use the venting thread for stuff like this; it just creates extra work for the mods. Nothing wrong with starting threads.


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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:05 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
One report estimates that 40 million people (at current population levels) could become refugees.

Given that the two countries that border Bangladesh are India and Burma and neither one seems to be...let's just say particularly eager to allow immigration from Bangladesh even now, this is going to look ugly.


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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:30 pm 
Sanno
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zompist wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Sea level rises are a very minor issue, for the simple reason that such rises - a couple of metres - are tiny, and slow. There are a number of major population centres that will need additional flood protections, but we're really good at that (c.f. the Netherlands).


Maybe a "minor issue" for the UK.

Actually, the UK is potentially one of the hardest hit countries (not counting tiny island nations).
Quote:
A rise of 1 meter in sea level is likely by 2100, if nothing much is done. In Bangladesh, that 1 meter rise will inundate 17.5% of the country, currently containing over 17 million people. However, many more would be affected by subsidiary effects: increased flooding, salinization, epidemics. One report estimates that 40 million people (at current population levels) could become refugees.

I agree that 1 metre is an implausibly optimistic outlook, and of course the big sea rises will hardly have started by 2100. And it's true that I'd overlooked how terrible Bangladesh is.

However, three things have to be remembered about those refugees. First, most will not actually become refugees, but rather Internally Displaced Persons - in most disasters, the vast majority of displaced people do not become refugees, but simply migrate within the country. Even in the case of Syria - where the entire country is affected and there are hardly any 'safe' areas - there are more IDPs than refugees, as is pretty much always the case for civil wars. For natural disasters - which typically only effect a particular part of the country - IDPs are usually many times the number of actual refugees.

Second, nobody is seriously suggesting that, *blam* in 2100 there will be 40 million displaced people suddenly. We're talking 40 million people over the next 80 years. Or around 500,000 a year on average. And... that's not many! To pick a country, there have been around 2,000,000 displaced in south sudan this year alone. Hundreds of thousands more in Ethiopia and Somalia. And that barely makes the news. Increasing numbers of climate refugees will certainly add to the global strain, but the annual numbers will be much smaller than we currently experience from wars, oppression, manmade famines and random natural disasters. 500,000 a year. For a benchmark, there are currently around 22 million refugees a year.

And a large part of why we barely notice most displacement is because, third, even refugees generally only reach neighbouring countries. IWith Syria, for example, there are around 6.6m IDPs, around 4.8m refugees to neighbouring or near-neighbouring states (Iran and Egypt, in particular), and only 0.6m refugees to more distant countries.

I've been reading a report on climate displacement in Bangladesh, and here are some numbers:
- there have already been 6 million displaced persons due to environmental change in Bangladesh in the last few decades (which the world has barely noticed).
- 64% of those displaced have been displaced locally
- 27% have been displaced to more distant locations within Bangladesh
- 9% have become refugees.
[and because this is Bangladesh: in 179 subdistricts that have seen river bank erosion, the majority of villages have been flooded every year for the last three decades, and 42% of people have had their houses destroyed. Bangladesh has always been a horrible place to live.]


And the other thing we have to bear in mind is that these projections are for if governments take no measures to deal with sea level rises. Tidal defences can have a major effect (a lot of southeast England, including all of London, would have been under water for decades without them). Even in Bangladesh, the government has become polderisation that has begun to allow people to return to their homes. Will polders and barrages prevent any displacement? No, of course not. But they will ameliorate a lot of the worst of the impact, as will strategic relocations (it costs less to relocate people before the flood than afterward).

So yeah, sure, climate change is bad. It will be expensive. But its effects will just be a strain added to existing strains, not some cataclysmic new disaster.
Quote:
By comparison, about 5 million people have fled Syria. This may have been a "minor issue" in the UK, but it's greatly affected European and American politics.

It hasn't particularly, no. Trump didn't get elected because of Syrian refugees. The rightward drift of eastern europe is not because of Syria. Indeed, the absolutely tiny number of Syrian refugees compared to the xenophobic rhetoric is a good demonstration that the actual facts of immigration are not the issue here. The UK, for instance, has allowed in a paltry 120,000 refugees, barely statistically noticeable, and Syrians are only a tiny, tiny fraction of that - yet read certain papers and you'd think they'd already taken over the country - one syrian and one million syrians are essentially the same for these people (because they'll never meet any of them either way). Then again, in real terms even the simmering xenophobia at the moment is a trivial political distraction - hardly anyone cares passionately about it, and there has been virtually no violence.
In the 20th century, Western civilisation survived holocausts and pogroms, wars and civil wars and revolutions and lynchings. People grumbling a bit about how these Syrians (or Bangladeshis) they've heard about don't integrate quickly enough... well, that's not nice, but let's keep a little perspective here and not reach immediately for the 'suspend democracy, institute a robot dictatorship and let's start talking seriously about mass genocide' button as rottingham would like to do.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:25 am 
Avisaru
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Note that I intended this to be a vent about my perception of futility in fighting climate change, not a separate thread with an OP coldly discussing and rejecting genocide as a strategy.

Baseless ad hominems aside, doesn't that argument assume sea level rise would be a more or less uniform process? My understanding was that we should expect tides that never recede below increasingly higher levels. These jerky and increasingly rapid non-retreats would still come in seemingly small vertical increments, but then, the Sundarban mudflats are not characterized by particularly steep inclines either. Bangladesh has an economy that would be hugely affected by erratic climate as it relies on local agricultural output, and the place is known for harassing religious minorities even when they don't impose on others for much. What am I missing?

Not that I'm waiting for a comprehensible response. From Sal, I've come to expect nothing less than an almost fascist hostility towards rational argument. I'll be getting more Nietzschean "alternative truths" if I'm lucky. Can't wait to find out whose babies I've been munching on this week.

PS. The West should care about this more because they are responsible for causing this catastrophe. I can hear the alt right already.

An alt right murderer: I'll stop murdering you if you stop murdering me.

Victim: But you're attacking me!

Murderer: That's just the kind of feminist double standard I'm defending civilization from with my blade! *stab*

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:50 am 
Smeric
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I think Sal is wrong about climate chane and his tone is definitely dispassionate, but calling him a fascist is uncalled for. For one thing, he has mentioned many times that his long, cold analysis is actually how he puts his passion into good use.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:13 am 
Avisaru
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I don't think Sal is a fascist (yet). I think he ignores rational arguments and responds with complicated ad hominems they way fascists are known to do. I don't see you protesting against him calling me a Nazi and potential mass murderer more than once, and ignoring my good faith efforts at explanation:

Quote:
This doesn't get into the broader problem that the sort of AINazism you suggest is both silly and deplorable. [Implementing AINazism would be just as difficult as implementing NAINazism, except you'd have to build your own Hitler first, imbedded with all the values real Hitler would have to have, which you'd have to decide yourself first. You may as well just go ask Hitler.]

Quote:
let's keep a little perspective here and not reach immediately for the 'suspend democracy, institute a robot dictatorship and let's start talking seriously about mass genocide' button as rottingham would like to do.

What's more, he has done this multiple times over an extended period, not just in this thread. This is the first time I've accused him of adopting fascist tactics against me, and immediately there's a protest. I can't remember a single instance of someone defending me for Sal's frankly abusive language directed against me when I've discussed algorithmic governance. Hallow once spoke up for me against zompist. Sal? If there was such a case, then I must have forgotten. Instead, there are immediately hordes of people ready to accuse me of misunderstanding the simplest things, despite extended explanations.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:31 am 
Smeric
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Sorry. I think you are right about Sal too. I was actually pretty angry at Sal for using that language. How about we start this conversation all over assuming everyone currently participating has the best intentions because we do have the best intentions.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:55 am 
Avisaru
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Apology accepted. People have defended me from Sal many times on other subjects. Zompist has done it too. Sincere thanks to everyone who spoke up.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:58 pm 
Boardlord
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Salmoneus wrote:
Second, nobody is seriously suggesting that, *blam* in 2100 there will be 40 million displaced people suddenly. We're talking 40 million people over the next 80 years. Or around 500,000 a year on average. And... that's not many! To pick a country, there have been around 2,000,000 displaced in south sudan this year alone. Hundreds of thousands more in Ethiopia and Somalia. And that barely makes the news. Increasing numbers of climate refugees will certainly add to the global strain, but the annual numbers will be much smaller than we currently experience from wars, oppression, manmade famines and random natural disasters. 500,000 a year. For a benchmark, there are currently around 22 million refugees a year.


You're right that 40 million Bangladeshis won't be refugees in one event, but it's just as silly to imagine them trickling in at a steady half a million a year. When it comes to floods, changes in watercourses, melting ice, and last but not least politics, the number could fluctuate wildly.

Plus, 500,000 is a lot of people when their new neighbors don't want them. That's about the number of Rohingya refugees.

Quote:
Quote:
By comparison, about 5 million people have fled Syria. This may have been a "minor issue" in the UK, but it's greatly affected European and American politics.


It hasn't particularly, no. Trump didn't get elected because of Syrian refugees.


Germany has taken in 600,000 Syrian refugees, and it has absolutely affected German politics.

As for Trump, don't be disingenuous. You know perfectly well that incendiary comments about Syrians were part of his campaign, and that a "Muslim Ban" was both one of his campaign proposals, and almost the first thing he did in office. The tiny number of Syrians actually resettled here, and their complete innocence of "terrorism", had nothing to do with the political effect.

Quote:
The UK, for instance, has allowed in a paltry 120,000 refugees, barely statistically noticeable, and Syrians are only a tiny, tiny fraction of that - yet read certain papers and you'd think they'd already taken over the country - one syrian and one million syrians are essentially the same for these people


Exactly. Small streams of refugees produce an inordinate reaction. At the least, climate change is going to ensure a continuing supply of refugees, and thus a continuing temptation to xenophobic reaction.


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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:03 pm 
Sanno
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rotting bones wrote:

PS. The West should care about this more because they are responsible for causing this catastrophe. I can hear the alt right already.

An alt right murderer: I'll stop murdering you if you stop murdering me.

Victim: But you're attacking me!

Murderer: That's just the kind of feminist double standard I'm defending civilization from with my blade! *stab*


You're right, that's a perfect impression of my arguments on this topic.

As for 'insulting' you, I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with. You began with the premise that the only way to combat climate change was through "policies that would arguably be genocidal in character", and explained, as you have done before, that the only way "civilisation" could "survive" was giving absolute power to a dictator (in this case, one who happens to be a robot). So I can't see where I've mischaracterised you. [note that I didn't say you were in favour of genocide. Just that you wanted to discuss genocide as a serious option, as seemed to be indicated by you saying "The only way to force humanity to comply with reality is to brutally wrest power away from the factions with corporate backing by means of policies that would arguably be genocidal in character... There are those who would argue for the genocidal path. My eternal hate goes out to their targets, but I am nevertheless not in the genocide camp". Sure, saying you'd like to kill everyone but aren't quite 'in that camp' as a practical policy yet is not the same as outright advocating genocide. But it is "talking seriously about mass genocide". When I characterised you as advocating that we suspend democracy, institute a robot dictatorship, and seriously discuss genocide, that was because that's exactly what you said, on this and several other occasions.

If you support totalitarianism - such as advocating a "friendly AI" to execute "algorithmic rule" - then don't pretend to be upset about being called that. "AINazism" was just shorthand for your sort of totalitarian-oppression-through-robots stance.

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But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:52 pm 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
You're right, that's a perfect impression of my arguments on this topic.

These people exist, and they are the reason Western governments are worried about signing "unequal" climate treaties with the third world. I have explained the ways in which the accusation I actually made regarding your behavior is justified. As to whether you are in the company of the people the quoted passage is an impression of, you have not said enough for me to decide.

Salmoneus wrote:
When I characterised you as advocating that we suspend democracy, institute a robot dictatorship, and seriously discuss genocide, that was because that's exactly what you said, on this and several other occasions.

I don't see why a violent revolution can't reinstitute democracy after the necessary changes are made, considering democracy was established by means of violent revolution to begin with. Regarding dictatorship, see below. I'm sorry you thought I was proposing genocide as a serious option. I was venting that it is the only way to prevent irreversible climate change. This statement is 1. true to the best of my limited understanding, and 2. intended to be read in the sense that it is impossible to prevent it because the only way of doing that is morally unconscionable.

Salmoneus wrote:
If you support totalitarianism - such as advocating a "friendly AI" to execute "algorithmic rule" - then don't pretend to be upset about being called that. "AINazism" was just shorthand for your sort of totalitarian-oppression-through-robots stance.

When we give reasons for our actions, we describe the procedure we used to reach the decision which led to the action. A procedure is an algorithm. In that sense, reasons are algorithms. I prefer democracy over other forms of government I know of for a reason. But what if I could have an AI which ran that reason as its algorithm? How could democracy possibly be superior to an AI whose raison d'etre is the criterion by which democracy is superior to other forms of government, and how could that AI be totalitarian? Non-totalitarianism is part of the algorithm I used to pick democracy!

If anything, an accurate criticism of my position would be that my AI might be too wishy washy to get anything done! I'm worried that, concerned about increasing the brutality of the world by being too meddlesome, my AI might turn itself into a deus absconditus that occasionally makes itself known through minor miracles.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:42 pm 
Sanno
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zompist wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Second, nobody is seriously suggesting that, *blam* in 2100 there will be 40 million displaced people suddenly. We're talking 40 million people over the next 80 years. Or around 500,000 a year on average. And... that's not many! To pick a country, there have been around 2,000,000 displaced in south sudan this year alone. Hundreds of thousands more in Ethiopia and Somalia. And that barely makes the news. Increasing numbers of climate refugees will certainly add to the global strain, but the annual numbers will be much smaller than we currently experience from wars, oppression, manmade famines and random natural disasters. 500,000 a year. For a benchmark, there are currently around 22 million refugees a year.


You're right that 40 million Bangladeshis won't be refugees in one event, but it's just as silly to imagine them trickling in at a steady half a million a year. When it comes to floods, changes in watercourses, melting ice, and last but not least politics, the number could fluctuate wildly.

Yes, that's true. I'm sure no-one will disagree that we will see continued periodic refugee crises, as we have done for decades. There may be several million one year, and then fairly few for a couple of years.
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Plus, 500,000 is a lot of people when their new neighbors don't want them. That's about the number of Rohingya refugees.

That's true, and many countries will have an assortment of political discussions over such issues - for some countries, this will be a continuation of existing political disagreements, while for others it will represent another turn in the endlessly turning cycle of political disputes.

Again, I never said that climate change would not be expensive. Just that it will not represent a serious threat to the survival of civilisation, as rotting puts it. And indeed that it will largely be business as normal. Which, yes, will be unpleasant for some people, as the world is always unpleasant. So yes, Bangladesh will have some climate problems. But just look next door at India, which already has more undernourished children than sub-Saharan Africa, where the political structure (which has nuclear weapons) appears profoundly weak, and where the entire agricultural system is, analysts tell us, on the verge of wholesale collapse even without climate change. And then we move along to Pakistan, and I'm sure they'll do just fine, they've got no problems at all...

If apparently I'm a monster for being willing to discuss real-world problems in a "dispassionate" way - that is, treating them as real world problems we will have to address, rather than as edgy slogans for more-distressed-than-thou political posturing - then I would reply that to treat future climate change as a unique, unprecedented problem is disrespectful to all the people who have died and are dying and have been displaced and are being displaced on an even greater scale by all the other problems in the world that nobody cares about. Oh, suddenly we care about Bangladeshis now, when they may be affected by climate change. Great. I mean, the same people didn't give a shit when they were just starving from poverty, dying of disease, being flooded by cyclones, being slaughtered in a brutal war, or being victims of religious extremism. But if there's some nice fashionable global warming involved, suddenly those refugees are an existential threat to civilisation. This whole idea that the significance of human suffering in the third world can be weighted precisely by how much it can be attributed to the specific political issues that being discussed on Western university campuses today is, I think, frankly rather repellent. I'm sure, Zompist, that you're not doing it on purpose. But when we fearmonger over the suffering that will be caused by this one cause, against a blank background, as though even greater suffering weren't already happening for many other causes, that's exactly what we're doing - we're whitewashing the current, and future, suffering of the world and focusing only on the relatively small bit that directly resonates with our own policies.

Yes, I regret that tens of thousands of people in Vanuatu are going to have to move to higher ground, or other islands, or out of the country altogether. But I don't see that as more important, or more of an urgent give-all-power-to-Robot-Draco threat to civilisation, than, say, the tens of thousands of people killed by the genocidal campaigns in Khordofan. Ok, let's say maybe 10 million people end up fleeing Bangladesh - I don't see that as much more important than, say, the 10 million Germans forced to flee the Sudatenland alone, or the 10 million people who fled Colombia. More than a million fled Colombia in 2000-2005 alone. 2 million Iraqis fled Iraq between 2003 and 2006 alone. It's not disrespectful to Bangladeshis to say that their future refugees will be no more cataclysmic than all of the ones from a hundred places in the world who aren't refugees from a hot-button issue like climate change - in fact, it's disrespectful to everyone else to pretend that oh, when climate change kicks in suddenly there'll be refugee problem, as though there weren't already a refugee problem on a far larger scale. One group it's disrespectful to is Bangladeshis, who have been emigrating at similar levels for decades - there's more than 100,000 first-generation Bangladeshi immigrants in London alone (1/3rd of the population of one of the boroughs - one ward has even been renamed "Spitalfields and Banglatown").

[nor is this a new phenomenon. In Ireland in the 19th century, for example, a million people died of starvation and by 1890 40% of the surviving Irish-born population had emigrated. Yet civilisation survived us.]
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Germany has taken in 600,000 Syrian refugees, and it has absolutely affected German politics.

Oh, have the old political parties collapsed? Have there been constitutional amendments? So far there hasn't even been a change of Chancellor. A right-wing party did well in the polls for one year, and now is doing less well. It's hardly the fall of Weimar, is it?
Quote:
As for Trump, don't be disingenuous. You know perfectly well that incendiary comments about Syrians were part of his campaign, and that a "Muslim Ban" was both one of his campaign proposals, and almost the first thing he did in office. The tiny number of Syrians actually resettled here, and their complete innocence of "terrorism", had nothing to do with the political effect.

Which is exactly my point! The political effect had nothing to do with Syrians. And you know perfectly well that incendiary comments about Syrians were a tiny part of his campaign, and that the "Muslim Ban", which of course was never implemented, was not specifically about Syrians.
Quote:
Quote:
The UK, for instance, has allowed in a paltry 120,000 refugees, barely statistically noticeable, and Syrians are only a tiny, tiny fraction of that - yet read certain papers and you'd think they'd already taken over the country - one syrian and one million syrians are essentially the same for these people


Exactly. Small streams of refugees produce an inordinate reaction. At the least, climate change is going to ensure a continuing supply of refugees, and thus a continuing temptation to xenophobic reaction.


No. Climate change is not going to ensure a continuing supply of refugees. That's like saying that climate change is going to ensure a continuing supply of rain in Scotland. No - it was going to rain in Scotland anyway. Increasing the sales of bacon would not 'ensure a continuing supply' of heart attacks and cancer - because those things are happening already. They're in no danger of going extinct. "Ensures that it continues" implies that there would otherwise be some risk of it ending! Selling more bacon may statistically produce an uptick, but it's not the underlying problem. Focusing on controlling bacon sales because otherwise there might be heart attacks and cancer in the future is kind of ignoring all the people whose relatives are dying of those things right now for reasons that have nothing to do with bacon. Likewise, refugees are not an endangered species. There's no 'risk' of refugee crises ending any time soon. Adverse climatic change and sea level rises may statistically increase the number of refugee crises (hopefully countered by a decrease in the much larger causes of refugees: war and genocide), but they're not ensuring that the crises continue, because those crises were going to be continuing anyway.

We're staggering along with our arms cut off and haemorhaging blood, and being told that, oh no, that nasty rash we've got is sure to kill us dead unless we change to these fully organic wool t-shirts.

Don't get me wrong, it IS a nasty rash. We should do something about it. But we should also retain a sense of proportion about all the other things that are wrong with the world.

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Blog: http://vacuouswastrel.wordpress.com/

But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:54 pm 
Avisaru
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I don't think it is wrong to be dispassionate. I like computers because they are dispassionate. I just think it is not wrong to be passionate. I don't think refugees will cause civilization to collapse. I think every problem caused by climate change, taken together, might pose a serious threat to civilization, as many respected climate scientists have said, poseurs as they are. I doubt anyone thinks climate change is the first time there might be a refugee crisis in human history. I'm sure everyone thinks climate change will cause refugee problems to seriously increase, putting pressure on a civilization trying to cope with increased violence, issues with soil fertility, and all the rest. You know, common sense.

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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:13 pm 
Sanno
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rotting bones wrote:
I don't see why a violent revolution can't reinstitute democracy after the necessary changes are made, considering democracy was established by means of violent revolution to begin with.

Promoting dictatorship on the grounds that, after much terrible bloodshed, it might be possible to reinstate democracy one day (and presumably then reinstitute dictatorship again to solve new problems as they arise, ad infinitum) is still promoting dictatorship. Particularly when it's dictatorship by a literal superhuman.

Quote:
I'm sorry you thought I was proposing genocide as a serious option. I was venting that it is the only way to prevent irreversible climate change. This statement is 1. true to the best of my limited understanding, and 2. intended to be read in the sense that it is impossible to prevent it because the only way of doing that is morally unconscionable.

OK.
Quote:
Salmoneus wrote:
If you support totalitarianism - such as advocating a "friendly AI" to execute "algorithmic rule" - then don't pretend to be upset about being called that. "AINazism" was just shorthand for your sort of totalitarian-oppression-through-robots stance.

When we give reasons for our actions, we describe the procedure we used to reach the decision which led to the action.

No, we don't. We normally give our reasons, rather than our decision procedure. If someone says "why did you drop that bit of metal?" and you say "because it was really hot", that's a reason, but it's not a decision procedure.
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A procedure is an algorithm.

No, it's not. I mean, you could have an algorithmic decision procedure, but I don't think many people would advocate that even in theory, and certainly we don't do that in practice.
Quote:
In that sense, reasons are algorithms.

No, they're not. This is a category error. Even if you believe decisions are made algorithmically, which they're not, reasons are the input, not the process. You can't "run" a reason - perhaps you're confusing 'a reason' with 'reasoning'?
Quote:
I prefer democracy over other forms of government I know of for a reason. But what if I could have an AI which ran that reason as its algorithm?

As I've said, this doesn't seem to make sense as a use of words.
Quote:
How could democracy possibly be superior to an AI whose raison d'etre is the criterion by which democracy is superior to other forms of government

Quick question: are you God? If not, there's an error in your reasoning here. Leaving aside all the confused jargon about 'algorithms', let's put this in simple clear terms:
1. I believe X is the always the best thing to do
2. Person A always does X
3. Therefore Person A always does the best thing

This is fallacious reasoning, because it relies on the addition premise, "1.a. everything I believe is necessarily true". Support for democracy is indeed much less appealing if you accept that premise. But most democrats don't accept it - they think they might be wrong about things. So they don't feel that imposing their preferences on everyone via a robot superman is the best option. And even if they think they aren't wrong, they think they might be wrong; and if they think they can't be wrong, they at least think they can't know that they can't be wrong, so shouldn't be dictators just in case.

The other thing democrats would say is that you're actually arguing:
1. I believe X is always the best thing to do
1a. Everything I believe is necessarily true
1b. Therefore X is always the best thing to do
2. Person A would always do X if they ruled the world
3. Therefore Person A would always do the best thing if they ruled the world
4. Therefore Person A should rule the world.

Now, even if you accept all of 1-3, 4 does not logically follow. That assumes that the only criterion for judging the justice of a political power structure is the moral accuracy of the decisions made - and most people would disagree with that. The value of democracy is not just the instrumental virtue that democratic decisions are often good ones!

It should also be pointed out that there seems to be a confusing in your basic idea. If an overman, using your terminology, "ran" your reason for democracy, then the result would by definition just be "democracy". It wouldn't be "lower the voting age to 16" or "raise taxes on whiskey". An Overman that is expected to make real moral decisions must have an entire moral framework, not just "democracy is good", or even "democracy is good because X".

Quote:
, and how could that AI be totalitarian? Non-totalitarianism is part of the algorithm I used to pick democracy!

By coincidence, I have a non-totalitarian invisible pink unicorn here. It really exists! I know, because existence is part of the algorithm I used to choose which invisible pink unicorn to have. So this one definitely totally exists.

Does the Overman (or its owner/operator/facilitator) make whatever political decisions appear best to make? Does the Overman (etc) have the power to enforce their decisions even when public opinion disagrees with them? If 'no', then it's no improvement over what we have. If 'yes', then it is a totalitarian dictator. It may, you suggest, choose not to be a brutally oppressive dictator. But if it chooses not to be a tyrant, then it is still a dictator.

Certainly any dictator who could, for example, impose energy use rationing on every family on earth would be totalitarian!

_________________
Blog: http://vacuouswastrel.wordpress.com/

But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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 Post subject: Re: climate change
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:01 pm 
Avisaru
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Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:25 pm
Posts: 409
Salmoneus wrote:
Promoting dictatorship on the grounds that, after much terrible bloodshed, it might be possible to reinstate democracy one day (and presumably then reinstitute dictatorship again to solve new problems as they arise, ad infinitum) is still promoting dictatorship. Particularly when it's dictatorship by a literal superhuman.

What? I meant create a democracy immediately after revolution with institutions balanced to handle climate change.

Salmoneus wrote:
No, we don't. We normally give our reasons, rather than our decision procedure. If someone says "why did you drop that bit of metal?" and you say "because it was really hot", that's a reason, but it's not a decision procedure.

Yes, we do. The inference is the heat was burning your fingers, and it is known that humans instinctively avoid that.

Salmoneus wrote:
No, it's not. I mean, you could have an algorithmic decision procedure, but I don't think many people would advocate that even in theory, and certainly we don't do that in practice.

Yes, it is. That is indeed what everyone does all the time, with the proviso I explain below.

Salmoneus wrote:
No, they're not. This is a category error. Even if you believe decisions are made algorithmically, which they're not, reasons are the input, not the process. You can't "run" a reason - perhaps you're confusing 'a reason' with 'reasoning'?

Yes, they are. There is no category error. Decisions are made through an analog distributed synthetic-biology-type system, but that is irrelevant. I only care about the level of representation. It is because you do not understand this that you think there is a category error where there is none. The problem is that you think I'm attacking this question as an analytic philosopher and trying to articulate what things are in ways that can be challenged only by phrasing things in a convoluted manner. But I'm attacking the problem as a computer scientist, and in our discipline, we don't care what happens beyond the level of representation. What things are is an interesting question, but one we abstract away in our solutions. This always produces category errors when taken literally, but that doesn't matter even a little bit at the level of algorithmic analysis. It is common practice among the sciences to carve out their niches of mutual irrelevance in this way. It is an interesting question how this is possible in computer science in particular, especially if you believe in philosophical materialism, but analytic philosophers don't have an answer to this question. We just know that it works by induction for some reason. We don't even know how it is possible to characterize the "space of algorithms" per se, but again that's a different question. Even speaking as an analytic philosopher, not all analytic philosophers agree with the position you have adopted to attack mine.

Salmoneus wrote:
As I've said, this doesn't seem to make sense as a use of words.

Study computer science. You don't speak our language.

Salmoneus wrote:
Quick question: are you God?

This whole train of reasoning is irrelevant, not because I'm putting you down, but because the algorithm my AI is running is based on fulfilling people's own wishes. Therefore, I'm not imposing my particular overarching vision on others. I'm only seeking to raise the baseline of wish fulfillment. I think I can get all non-monsters to agree with this aim. So to answer your question: No, I'm not God, but I know Satan when I see him.

Salmoneus wrote:
It should also be pointed out that there seems to be a confusing in your basic idea. If an overman, using your terminology, "ran" your reason for democracy, then the result would by definition just be "democracy". It wouldn't be "lower the voting age to 16" or "raise taxes on whiskey". An Overman that is expected to make real moral decisions must have an entire moral framework, not just "democracy is good", or even "democracy is good because X".

This is not true because I don't support democracy just because democracy is democratic. Nor, I claim, do most democrats. For example, many people are of the opinion that democracy is the least bad form of government. This would make no sense if they wanted democracy for the sake of democracy. It follows that people want democracy for some other reason. My AI is intended to optimize for that reason.

In particular, people say they want to live in democracies because that is the best way to fulfill their dreams. My AI only seeks to raise the baseline of wish fulfillment among humans.

Salmoneus wrote:
By coincidence, I have a non-totalitarian invisible pink unicorn here. It really exists! I know, because existence is part of the algorithm I used to choose which invisible pink unicorn to have. So this one definitely totally exists.

This is totally not condescending in any way! I thank you muchly for the most respectful conversation I've had in years!

Salmoneus wrote:
Certainly any dictator who could, for example, impose energy use rationing on every family on earth would be totalitarian!

Any democratic government that seeks to redistribute resources is totalitarian! We should totally return to traditional religions like Catholicism and Islam that never impose forms of social organization that seek to regulate our lives in any way!

As I keep telling you every time, the AI will not seek to regulate people who do not want to be regulated by it except in cases of dire need. But humans follow the same reasoning. The AI only seeks to fulfill the dreams of the less fortunate slightly more than in today's world.

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 Post subject: Re: Venting thread
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:26 pm 
Boardlord
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Salmoneus wrote:
Again, I never said that climate change would not be expensive. Just that it will not represent a serious threat to the survival of civilisation, as rotting puts it. And indeed that it will largely be business as normal.


There's a huge range of outcomes between "serious threat to the survival of civilization" and "business as normal". You haven't made a good case that global warming will be "business as normal", and simply stating that it will not end civilization is saying very little at all. Lots of things could be catastrophic without ending civilization.

Quote:
If apparently I'm a monster for being willing to discuss real-world problems in a "dispassionate" way - that is, treating them as real world problems we will have to address, rather than as edgy slogans for more-distressed-than-thou political posturing - then I would reply that to treat future climate change as a unique, unprecedented problem is disrespectful to all the people who have died and are dying


Oh jeez. Look, for reference, here is a list of things I absolutely did not say, and so I am absolutely not under any obligation to reply to your insinuations that I did:

--"future climate change [is] a unique, unprecedented problem"
--that climate change is the one and only source of refugees
--that no one should "give a shit" about "poverty, dying of disease, being flooded by cyclones, being slaughtered in a brutal war"
--that "the significance of human suffering in the third world can be weighted precisely to the specific political issues that being discussed on Western university campuses"
--anything whatsoever about "Robot-Draco"
--anything whatsoever about World War II, Colombia, Iraq, or the Irish Famine

If you want to rank problems the world is facing, or faced 150 years ago, or faced a thousand years ago, that might be a fascinating intellectual exercise, but a) it tells us nothing about how important climate change is, and b) when no one else has provided their rankings, it's not OK to simply make up silly positions and pretend they said them.

That people are somehow too concerned about climate change is... well, an odd position... but I'd invite you to consider that human beings are particularly frustrated when a problem is not addressed, or barely so. There has been a good deal of effort in the last 70 years to address poverty, world wars, pollution, and disease-- you can certainly argue that it isn't enough, but quite a bit of progress has been made. Climate change scares people because we are not doing enough to address it, and (in the US) because half the country not only doesn't want to address it, but wants to pretend there's no problem to address.

Rotting's idea that nothing will ever be done is excessive... things are being done, and ironically one of the chief worries of a decade ago-- that US inaction would let the Chinese and Indians justify increasing carbon emissions-- has turned out to be wrong; both are ahead of their climate goals, and both are heavily investing in solar power.

And while you're terribly worried about "respecting" Third Worlders, it's rather disrespectful to paint a picture of South Asia as always and inevitably starving. Re Bangladesh: "In 1991, well over 40% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Today, the World Bank says that less than 14% still does."

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that the "Muslim Ban", which of course was never implemented,


You're misinformed; the Supreme Court allowed the latest version of the ban to be implemented. Plus, the administration has more tools at its disposal than the ban, and these are throttling the flow of Muslim refugees.


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