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Because discussions of climate change are often so very dire, I do end this video on a positive note. That's something I went back and forth on a lot. Ultimately, what we're dealing with here isn't simple in terms of causes, problems, or solutions. We do see that economics are already making renewables more attractive. That is the path of least resistance, but it is also the slowest way to go.

We need governments to take action but that is an extremely tall order with a global crisis and competitive nations. Will this ultimately be a force that drives us apart? Or will it be something that brings us together.

There is actually a more positive way of looking at the outcome of Game of Thrones thus far...a common enemy brought an end to some, but not all petty squabbling. And maybe the unification brought by an external threat created an alliance that will show that one last squabbler a very bad time.


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Hank: This video is going to have Game of Thones spoilers up until season eight, episode three.
 Game of Thrones has, it's fair to say, captured a lot of attention, and while it is of course about the characters and their loves and trials and concerns and unpleasant fates, it's ultimately about people fighting for power in the shadow of a looming external threat that cannot be bargained with and indeed can only be escaped through the expenditure of tremendous resources. Basically, if there's any real-world analog to Game of Thrones, it's the geopolitics of global warming. This isn't even really conjecture. George R. R. Martin has said as much. 

George R. R. Martin: In a very broad sense, there's a certain parallel there. We're fighting our own battles, we're fighting over issues - important issues, mind you, foreign policy, domestic policy - but none of them are important if, like, we're dead and our cities are under the ocean.

Hank: When the Song of Ice and Fire begins, Westros is living large, a ten-year summer, the longest in living history, has brought the nation so much prosperity that there's plenty of resources left over to invest in armies and backstabbing and war, and so there are armies and backstabbing and war. The focus is on who can win power, because there's nothing else to worry about. But even without the threat of inhuman cold men, no one will let you forget--

Arya Stark: Winter is coming.

Maester Aemon: Winter is coming. 

Catelyn Stark: Winter is coming. 

Ned Stark: Winter is coming. 

Hank: Remember, winters in Westros are a thing outside of White Walkers. They come at random, they last sometimes for a year, sometimes for many years, and if you're not prepared, people die. Preparing for winter is a thing in Westros. It's a collective action that people take to avoid famine and death, and if you go to war right before a winter, feed all of your grain stores to the Golden Company, and torch the crops of your enemies, winter for the continent is not going to go well. And we start out Game of Thrones with academic experts assuring people that this winter is going to be a bad one. 

Maester Aemon: Starks are always right eventually. This one will be long.

Hank: And we continue with no one heeding those warnings because short-term because short-term geopolitics feels much more important after ten year of summer. 
But then, of course, it turns out more than just winter is coming. That's when we move right into the stages of threat denial. 
Number one, no one believes it. 

Tyrion Lannister: Yes, and the fishermen of Lannisport say they see mermaids. 

Hank: Number two, people who have any right at all to know all agree, but they are completely incapable of convincing those who benefit from the status quo or who will be asked to sacrifice substantially. 

Jon Snow: How do I convince people who don't know me that an enemy they don't believe in is coming to kill them all?

Hank: Three, the people who actually have good information go above and beyond to convince everyone. 
Four, the people who benefit from the status quo finally accept that the threat is real, but are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices because ultimately that would weaken them. 

Jaime Lannister: You pledged our forces to fight our common enemy. 

Cersei Lannister: I'll say whatever I need to say to ensure the survival of our house. 

Hank: It's a kind of prisoner's dilemma, no matter what, the best thing for any individual is to not expend resources facing the challenge. If other people do and the problem gets handled, you're all good and you got there for free, if the challenge is not overcome, you are still better off than the people who spent all those resources. 
But of course, the analog is not perfect, and I want to discuss three reasons why, because I think that it sheds some light on the magnitude of the difficulty of the problem of climate change. 
Number one, you can't beat global warming. Vox also did a video on Game of Thrones and climate change and they had this to say: 

Vox presenter: Stopping it requires the world's biggest nations, like China, India, and the U.S., to sacrifice a little in the short term and put away their political competition with each other. 

Hank: Unfortunately, this is a little bit ludicrous. The reality is that we don't have to sacrifice a little, we have to sacrifice a lot. We like flying to visit our parents, we like living in 2,000-square-foot homes, we like it when gas isn't $5 a gallon, and we like getting hamburgers, and many people who don't currently get to do those things would be rightly frustrated if we decided that no new people were allowed access to that lifestyle, and so in this way, our problem is worse than the Night King. As much as people would like to pretend that this isn't the case, there's a cost to leaving fossil fuels in the ground, it is not as great as the fossil fuel companies and the politicians paid by them would have you believe, but it exists. We don't get to throw a Dothraki horde at the problem. There's no boss-man we can stab and be done with it. 
John, in your last video you talked about a goalie in soccer has to scramble every time, even though 95% of the time it won't make a difference because the 5% matters. But the thing about hope in sports is that, at the end of a soccer game, someone wins, and that feels good, and so it is with battles and White Walkers. But with global warming, we will spend resources, and we will do it indefinitely, but we will not do it to win. We do it to make life, on average, a little bit better, and for me, that is the thing with feathers. Not a binary switch, but a constant push on the bell curve of suffering, because every millimeter that thing moves is a mother that doesn't lose her child to waterborne illness or a family that doesn't have to flee their home. Our Night King is, maybe unsurprisingly, ourselves, and our Battle of Winterfell is shoving on that bell curve of suffering every day until we're dead. 
Which brings me to number two. We are fighting ourselves. Climate change is literally global-scale collective problem our species has ever faced. It's not surprising that we don't know how to face it. We like solving problems that look familiar, problems we know how to solve. Tyrion says as much. 

Tyrion Lannister: White Walkers, the Night King, army of the dead.... It's almost a relief to confront a comfortable, familiar monster like my sister. 

Hank: Like this Our Chaning Climate video on global warming and Game of Thrones says: 

OCC presenter: We concentrate our efforts on the Cersei Lannisters of the world, problems that we can understand and for which there are established solutions. 

Hank: But this is not a familiar problem. It's not a familiar conversation, and even more than any of that, climate change isn't evil, it's not immoral. We can say that the problem is big, dirty, evil fossil fuel companies, but we say it at conferences that we flew to in planes, in buildings that are cooled by coal. Even if we live a pleasant, green lifestyle now, even if we do make that conversion, we will only have been able to do it because of the tremendous surplus created by the last hundred years of burning ancient sunlight. The White Walkers are at least evil and ugly. The Night King wants to kill us. Global warming doesn't want to kill us. It is simply an effect of humans doing their best to make life better for themselves and their children. 
No one really likes to talk about this because it's not a clean-cut story, but ultimately, there is less suffering in the world because of fossil fuels. Attempting to turn them into an immoral thing while exonerating the humans who use the resource ultimately can never ring entirely true. 
And last, number three. You can touch a Wight. So, White Walkers want to do us harm while global warming does not, but that's not even the biggest problem here. You can also, like, see and touch them. Now we try to do that here on Earth with graphs and visualization and dramatic footage of glaciers, but that is not the same as being nearly eaten by a zombie. If Westros was a perfect analog for our world, they'd be having three different arguments right now. One about whether the Wight was just a dramatic hoax, one about whether there's even anything we can do about it, and a final one about whether there are enough of them to even concern ourselves with.
Because of this difference, season eight has been able to take this analogy to an interesting geopolitical place. Ultimately, seeing the threat, some people who disagreed with each other did come together and sacrificed tremendous resources to end the threat, despite the fact that it will significantly decrease their ability to continue to fight a war and to feed people, as even if the White Walkers aren't coming, the winter still is. But the person in the best situation is the one who did nothing to combat the looming exterior threat. She let everyone else spend their resources and kept all her own, and that, it turns out, was the right choice. And isn't that the most frustrating thing, because while the psychology of White Walkers and global warming is different, the geopolitics is basically the same. Any individual nation that makes sacrifices hurts only themselves while helping everyone equally, while any nation that doesn't gets the gains with none of the sacrifice.
And so, even in a world where we understand the threat and appreciate its magnitude, which we're still a long way off from, the game isn't stacked in favor of solutions. The best course of action for any individual is to do nothing, while everyone equally reaps the benefits of the people who sacrifice. This is the lesson of Game of Thrones. 
And now you're probably thinking, "Well, I suppose it's hopeless then. Maybe our heroes figured something out in fantasy-land and we'll all have to imagine that they find some way coming back from their losses. But here on this planet, uh, we're hosed." But, there are also ways in which our problem is better than the problem that Westros has. We have a massive, malleable planet that is much less unpredictable than theirs, and it has huge amounts of resources and we have extremely advanced technology that is already pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible in terms of pace of change. We have brains made for problem-solving. In the last five year, 16% of coal plants in the U.S. have closed down. There may never be another one built in this country again. In 2017, we lost four gigawatts of coal power in the U.S. and gained seven gigawatts of wind. This shift is gonna take decades, even centuries, but it's happening now. 
And so there's kind of a fourth difference between our situation and theirs. This isn't a battle. We're not here to win or lose, but we do always change. We move forward, and that's something that it seems like we're actually way better at than Westros. 
John, I'll see you on Tuesday.