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Duration:14:55
Uploaded:2018-11-26
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Dissecting great pundits is fascinating, but it is also really scary.

 (00:00) to (02:00)


I've never made a video like this before, I feel a little weird doing it, but I think that it is important to understand some things, particularly how we communicate, how we change peoples' minds, how people change our minds and make us questions our beliefs.  I think that like, true confidence in one's worldview must come from a place of knowing that you can challenge and question your own beliefs, but I wanna play for you a minute long clip and don't watch it if you're not gonna watch the rest of the video, because it's really deceptive in some really interesting ways, and so I'm gonna play for you that clip.  It's from Meet the Press, which is the longest running television show in America.  Meet the Press is a well-respected show.  It is intended to be a show in which we learn about the world.  It is intended to be a non-biased show and it is a show where there's interviews and there's panel discussions and it, in general, is designed to help people understand the complexities of the world, and in general, I think, does it well.  And so it is very interesting to me that this clip that you're about to watch comes from that show and comes from a place of very much designed to be appealing to a center crowd and it is also interesting to me that this was even a thing that happened.  Of course, it was questioned by the other panelists but we're just gonna watch it and then we're gonna talk about it.

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Clip:

From the standpoint of those who have doubts about this, and I don't think we can have any doubts that there is climate change, whether it's anthropogenic, I don't know, I'm not a scientists.  I look at this as a citizen and I see it so I understand it.  On the other hand, we need to also recognize that we just had two of the coldest years, the biggest drop in global temperatures that we've had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years.  We don't talk about that, 'cause it's not part of the agenda.  The United States has been dropping in CO2 emissions since we pulled out of Paris.  There are actually good things that are happening.  We are not using dirty coal anymore.  It's the Europeans who are using dirty coal.  There actually is some corporate leadership on this.

 (02:00) to (04:00)


Yes, we need to deal with these problems.  Yes, we need to mitigate the things we see, but we shouldn't be hysterical.  

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H: First, let's talk about the American Enterprise Institute.  They are the biggest conservative think tank.  A think tank is just a company that people pay money to, or an organization that people pay money to, oftentimes corporations and sometimes foundations and sometimes individuals, pay money so that they can basically affect policy and also affect like, the minds of the public, and they also are designed to come up with messages that will resonate with people and thus get their policy objectives accomplished.  They are funded by a lot of corporations.  They are a strongly anti-regulation organization.  They believe that regulations are bad for economies and economies are the way that everything good happens.  Roughly, I think that's safe to say.  I don't think that that's, like, harshly crtical of them.  They have done some stuff in the past, like, in 2007, they sent letters to scientists, this was a long time ago but saying like, "We will pay you $10,000 if you will put out a letter or a paper that disagrees with the intergovernmental panel on climate change."  Like, they got in some trouble for that one, but generally, now their perspective on climate change is it exists, it's probably caused by humans, but it's probably not as bad as everybody's saying it is and so we shouldn't regulate too much, and this has basically just like, been, like, one step against the other of like, how can we draw this out for as long as possible, and now we're this far down the road where the American Enterprise Institute says it's probably caused by humans but regulation is not the way to solve this problem and it probably isn't as bad as everybody's saying it is and we should probably focus on like, building walls around Manhattan or something.  

That's the background of who this woman works for.  The other people on the panel are a historian and two journalists and then we've got a lobbyist, a person whose job is to affect public policy and to affect how people understand things, to change them, to use her words to change peoples' opinions, whereas the other peoples' job, theoretically, is to use their words to explain the world as it is.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)


It's strange to have her on this panel.  So let's just go through it one by one.

"I don't think we can have any doubts that there is climate change, whether it's anthropogenic, I don't know, I'm not a scientist.  I look at this as a citizen."  

So I've seen a lot of people share this clip and say, like, look at this woman who is dumb and not a scientist and I'm like, stop, one, why are you sharing the perspective of the person who is trying to prevent us from dealing with the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced.  We knew she wasn't a scientist!  But the fact that she said she's not a scientists, that divides people.  So one group of people, like, like, ultra-me-type people are gonna be like, well, why are you even talking on this panel?  Go away.  Especially it can be like a gotcha and it can be a Twitter thing and like, you can get a bunch of likes on your Tweet, but none of the other people on the panel are scientists either.  They're all news people or a historian, and also, like, I'm not a scientist, I'm just a citi--and like, as a citizen, like, I don't think that invalidates your perspective.  I'm also not a scientist.  I haven't been in a lab in like, 20 years, so the--like, I'm not a scientist is a fine thing to say and it is not a gotcha moment.  I'm not a scientist.  She's not a scientist, and I think that it is also interesting that she chooses the word anthropogenic, which makes that sentence more confusing than all of the other sentences she says in this.  Anthropogenic instead of "I don't know if people are causing it", she says anthropogenic.  It's an interesting choice.  

To me, this seems extremely well-crafted and it's not--it wouldn't be weird for it to be well-crafted.  The American Enterprise Institute does lots of working on this messaging.  They work very hard on messaging.  They do like, surveys to see what messages resonate most with people, so like, this is bound to be like, the best message that they could find to work on the broadest number of people, and so that's why I think it's interesting to look at, because like, here we have the message that they have calculated works best, so let's look at the message that works best and now we get into the really interesting part of it.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


"On the other hand, we need to also recognize that we just had two of the coldest years, the biggest drop in global temperatures, that we've had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years."  

I'm just gonna say that back to you. "On the other hand, we need to also recognize that we just had two of the coldest years, the biggest drop in global temperatures that we've had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years."   Here's a graph of temperature increase over the last 100 years or so.  It's from NASA.  What?!  Show me--I'm super confused about what she means.  This is not something that she would not be able to defend this statement, because she's very good at this and I'm upset with Chuck Todd for not asking.  What do you mean we've had two of the coldest years since the 1980s, in the last 100 years, the biggest drop in temperature?  Which are a bunch of different things.  She says 'since the 1980s' and also 'in the last 100 years', she says the coldest years and the biggest drop in temperatures, which are two different things.  It's an extremely confusing statement and I cannot figure out for the life of me what it means, and I feel like probably, if you look at the data in some partiuclar way, maybe you can find a big temperature drop from year to year, but that doesn't mean anything.  It just means that the climate's going crazy.  Like, if there's a bigger than average temperature drop one year to the next than has every been had, like, that would be an indication of the climate being unpredictable and annoying and that's bad.  Maybe this is it: if you average out all the years in 1980s, if you average out the 1980s and then there was a year--there have been two years where it was colder than the 1980s average?  Is that what she means?  It's very confusing. 

 (08:00) to (10:00)


And then she says this: 

"We don't talk about that, 'cause it's not part of the agenda."  

It's not part of the agenda.  We, "we" don't talk about it, because it's not part of the agenda.  So there's a premise in that statement that is assumed, that is never questioned, that somehow there is a "we" and there is somehow an agenda, and by "we", she's on Meet the Press, it sounds like she means the media doesn't talk about this because it's not part of the agenda, which indicates that the media is participating in an agenda.  Terrible!  Like, so clever, amazing, premise in that little sentence buried in the middle of this thing.  I mean, honestly, like, it's--I almost feel impressed that "we don't talk about it because it's not part of the agenda."  Not because it's not part of the narrative, no, not part of the agenda.  Not part of the agreed upon work that the media is doing to push the idea of climate change.  We don't talk about it.  So this is something that was carefully crafted.  They had found a statistic that makes it seem like climate change is less of a big deal.  I don't even know what it is, I can't figure out what it is, and I know a lot about this, but there's probably a statistic that they found that they can back up and it's complicated enough that no one's ever gonna look at it, because it's like, oh, so you averaged out all of the 1980s and then we had some years that were below the 1980s average?  Or something!  I don't know!  But we don't talk about that weird statistic that she found, because it's not part--it doesn't like, fit into the agenda.  OOF!  

Next sentence.

"The United States has been dropping in CO2 emissions since we pulled out of Paris."  

That's another fascinating premise that's hidden in there.  We've dropped CO2 emissions since we left Paris.  We were decreasing in CO2 emissions before we left Paris, and that is a very slow decrease and that started in 2008 when the economy collapsed but has continued due to efficiency, energy efficiency, due to largely, it is due to natural gas taking over from coal-fired power plants, and it's also due to some renewables but mostly it's due to natural gas taking over, and when she says it, it sounds like it happened because we left the Paris Accords, but it is a trend that has continued and honestly it's a trend that has continued in every country.

 (10:00) to (12:00)


Even China and India have seen significant slow-downs in how much greenhouse gases they're producing and that has happened recently and it's a huge story.  It's a really big deal and it's really good news.  We're not gonna talk about that.  Instead, let's talk about this!

"We are not using dirty coal anymore.  It's the Europeans who are using dirty coal."  

So first, the thing I love about this sentence is that you think that she's gonna talk about China or India.  Let's talk about those places because they're, you know, China is contributing more to global warming than any other country right now, but like, that sort of is a little played out, and second, we know that China's dirty.  Like, we know that India's dirty, those are the developing countries, but compare--so like, she's saying, well, compare apples to apples.  Europe is worse than America in one way, and like, it's such an esoteric way, so Europe is burning less fossil fuels than America per capita by far, but we burn more low sulfur coal.  There are a lot of different ways in which you can look at this information.  You can look at how much people drive, you can look how much electricity they use per capita, you can look at a ton of different things.  You can look at decreases, but if you look at that one thing that she found, then she can say this sentence, which sounds to your ears in the middle of this sentence just all you hear is 'Europe is actually worse than America so what are we complaining about in America?  Why is--why are we so bad when over there, in their like socialist Europe, they are still worse than us?'  Oh man.  It's neat.  Except it's terrible.

And then finally, we end with ultimately the new talking point that we're all gonna have to get used to.  

"Yes, we need to deal with these problems.  Yes, we need to mitigate the things we see, but we shouldn't be hysterical."

"We need to deal with these problems", unclear what exactly they are.  "We need to mitigate the things that we see."  Mitigation, in climate speak, is when you handle the problems as they occur, so, you know, the jet stream shuts down and you try to do some geoengineering or you build a wall around Manhattan or you start pumping out the streets in Miami.  You start building office buildings so that the power comes in on the third floor instead of on the bottom floor, like, that's the kind of thing--that's mitigation.

 (12:00) to (14:00)


So we need to mitgate the things that we see, but we should not be hysterical about it.  This is the new thing that we all need to get used to, as people who are concerned about climate policy, as people who are concerned about the effect that global warming and the change in the climate is going to have on the world.  The using of this phrasing, "we shouldn't be hysterical about it" indicates that the current perspective of, you know, people who care about this, people who are worried about it, is just doomsday prophecies and yeah, we can--we--and like, we can handle this.  The market can handle this.  As this becomes a more obvious problem, we'll figure out ways to deal with it and that like, ultimately might be the thing that we end up doing and I, personally, I don't think that it's gonna like, extinct us.  I think that it will cost us more if we wait.  It will cost us more if we don't spend money now.  I think that the dividends it will pay if we work hard to decrease our emissions faster than they are currently decreasing, that will be a better investment than continuing to have the cheapest possible energy right now, and the question of "should we be hysterical?', like, the answer to that is pretty obviously, if people, if you're an average person, like, I don't wanna be hysterical about that, like, no, so like, framing it as hysterical--and then one of the other people on the panel said actually, frankly, I think we should be hysterical about it.  You just took her word for what this is.  Not reasonable, not reasonable concern, hysterical.  You took her word, you said that we should be that, and I don't think we should be hysterical.  Like, I think that we should be gravely concerned.  I think that we should be, you know, frankly indebted to the rest of the world for the benefits that we have gotten from the emissions that we, we in America, per capita, more than almost anywhere else in the world have pumped out into the atmosphere, and I think that that is a serious problem that we should take seriously, and I think that it is also something that we should lead on, and saying that that is hysterical is incorrect.

 (14:00) to (14:55)


We should be gravely worried but we certainly shouldn't be hysterical because that word means upset, illegitimately.  That woman is amazing. That was--that was the perfectly crafted response to appeal to the center on climate change and we need to be ready for it.