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That is the nature of our problem, is it not. Humans see their condition as being part of a comedy, where the hero, after seeing his folly, overcomes that folly and continues on. They (we) cannot see that we are really in a tragedy, of our own design, in which we continually encounter our folly only to try to "overcome" it in such a way as to achieve ever greater folly.

The clever ape must use its cleverness to overcome its problems through the inevitable march of technological progress. Luke... it is your destiny.

No other story fits the human comedy. We must overcome our folly, and technology is the clever ape's tool/weapon of choice. The comedy must continue. The hero must overcome.

Our tragedy is that we think ourselves to be in a comedy. We cannot even properly identify the nature of our own story.

Ken Barrows

It may make no difference in the larger sense whether this blog exists, but it is a bright light in a number of lives. And that's something.


The definition of tragedy I happen to like is "the inexorable working of things." Greek tragedies such as Oedipus Rex make a point that even knowing what is to come won't change things.

Sophocles declares "that it is wrong, in the face of the incomprehensible and unmoral, to deny the moral laws and accept chaos. What is right is to recognize facts and not delude ourselves. The universe is a unity; if, sometimes, we can see neither rhyme nor reason in it we should not suppose it is random. There is so much that we cannot know and cannot control that we should not think and behave as if we do know and can control.

Life has achieved whatever "balance" it has because, up til now, biologic induced change occurred at a genetic pace. The fore-brain of man has produced culture and civilization. These, in turn, have allowed man to change the planet, in pursuit of short term and shortsighted gains, far faster than the slow genetic world can adapt. Science is better than religion as far as explaining and sometimes seeming to control the inexorable working of things. But, as Sophocles points out above, it's not good enough. And, as the Flatland hypothesis makes clear, it never will be.

We are about to be winnowed by nature and I'm afraid most of the "gains" of science will be left behind as chaff. Perhaps it's for the best. Impossible to say, really. The exemplars of the scientific method show no talent for building community outside their academic panopticons. They exist mostly to consume grant money and wring their timid hands. Edward Snowden wouldn't be welcome as a colleague

So we are left with rancid mythologies holding together the tatters of human sociability in a high energy system gone mad with its delusions of grandeur.


People do not listen to logic. No matter how much you tell them.

So, how do you get humans to change there behavior?

Dave Cohen


Re: the inexorable working of things.

Yes, a beautiful phrase, one of my favorites too.


-- Dave

Dave Cohen

So, how do you get humans to change there behavior?

Well, Chris, regarding the big things that matter, the answer is you don't.

-- Dave



People will change when they are forced too. It's how to do it before it's a crisis or it's too late.

I'm not that smart, but someone must have the answer!



I remember your comments in feedback to a blog written by Robert Scribbler regarding his feeling that happy technology - wind, sun, unicorns, etc. - could save humanity from the climate change juggernaut.

In Hansen's comment, "We could already be phasing out fossil fuel emissions if only we stopped allowing the fossil fuel industry to use the atmosphere..." I see the same unicorns and rainbows, thinking that our society could actually pull back from our complete dependence on fossil fuels and maintain, as James Howard Kunstler calls, "Happy Motoring".

We might be able to reign in our use of fossil fuels, but EVERYTHING would need to change and be scaled back.

Dave Cohen


I have never commented on Scribbler's blog, nor would I.

Perhaps I was being quoted.

Lots of unicorns and rainbows out there.

-- Dave


I was rather hopeful 10 years ago that Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Debt would save us from ourselves. But then we found "exciting new" technology and other financial parlor tricks to continue down the path of our own demise. Extraordinary when one can actually see the situation for what it is. We can't help ourselves.



There's "you" and "me" but no "we" - and that's the problem. Talking to "we" is as hopeless as an ant trying to talk to the ant hillary. "We" is an "emergency" - so to punspeak.

david higham

Atmospheric CO2 levels are now increasing by around 3ppm per year.
Before the industrial revolution,the highest recorded increase was
0.15 ppm per year.https://theconversation.com/mass-extinctions-and-climate-change-why-the-speed-of-rising-greenhouse-gases-matters-56675


"We might be able to reign in our use of fossil fuels, but EVERYTHING would need to change and be scaled back."

What exactly does "might be able" mean? And who exactly would be "doing" the "EVERYTHING" that needs to be changed?

Chin up, shoulder's back - look the devil in the eye and spit - that's what I say. It's quite possible to see the impossibility of change and not be overcome by despair. We weren't born into this existence with any promises that it was all going to work out swell.

As the Beatles would say, "There will be an answer. Let it be, let it be."


"..we are left with rancid mythologies holding together the tatters of human sociability in a high energy system gone mad with its delusions of grandeur." ~ LJR

Now that is a great quote.


"Hansen has misunderstood tragedy. The coming (and present) sorrow and suffering caused by global warming is tragic because it is necessary in the sense above."

Dave, indeed.


Have you seen this video linked recently in a couple of places?
"French engineer schools politicians on the physics of energy and resulting incidences on economics."

It's hilarious. He's telling them there will be no growth because of no energy.."NULL". It's clear the system cannot process this.


In a comment about the paper's review process, Hansen seems to echo Kevin Anderson's rebuke to scientists for toning down their comments on their work:

There is a very important issue at play here: the relevant scientific community, in our opinion, has been exercising self-censorship in its warning to the public about the danger of human-made climate change. It would be difficult to overstate the threat of increasing human-made climate change, which we suggest threatens to bring about some of the greatest injustices in the history of the planet: of current adult generations to young people and future generations, and of people of the industrialized North to people of the South, as climate change is due mainly to emissions from nations at middle and high latitudes.

Self-censorship is just a normal human behaviour, though Hansen hopes that can somehow change. Many (most) climate scientists don't like the accusation, unsurprisingly.

Alexander Ac


indeed, Jim Hansen is part of the great ongoing tragedy our species called Homo sapiens is since its inception to Earth.

So is Robert Scribbler, and his recent comment only proves your words:

"I think that Americans are starting to wake up now. And that when they do respond, it will be an overwhelming effort. We, as a group of people, greatly dislike injustice. And is simply due to the fact that many, many of us have been fooled and exploited that we’ve had such a slow response so far. But when Americans see what is happening clearly, they will fight for their children. Any who doubt this are fooling themselves."

NOBODY is starting to waking up to nothing. Nor is anybody "fighting" for his/her children. All we are doing is "fighting" for ourselves, ignoring pretty much everything and everybody else.

Greed and ignorance are still NOT good, even if they are (supposedly) "green"...



Tragedies are very hard to watch, but its also hard not to watch.


"The latest data from Gallup about how much Americans worry about global warming are nothing less than amazing. Today, we are exactly where we were more than one-quarter of a century ago. And yet, climate science has progressed, temperatures have been rising, the ice has been melting, the sea level has been rising, and plenty more evidence of dangerous global warming has accumulated. But the curves go up and down while the average remains constant; no long-term trend is apparent. It looks like trench warfare during the first world war. Mighty battles, lots of casualties, but neither side is winning."

I disagree neither side is winning, I'd say BAU is winning pretty convinicingly. It's just that nobody can admit it.


Mr. Cohen, I say we (you and your fellow readers and some people we pick from reddit) pool our money, buy an island and create for us there a sustainable system in which to survive the coming storm.

David Laskaris

@ Norton: Good luck with that. *rolls eyes*


@David Laskaris: well now that we KNOW out Titanic is going to hit the iceberg within our lifetimes, isn't it more productive to ponder escape plans (even if fantastical, like my island community idea) than to keep rehashing the gloom and doom?

I mean, that COULD be productive. Eventually. You know.

Mike H

Dave, Hansen's (et al) tragedy is but the first part, we are now moving inexorably to another phase where in human affairs where repression and scapegoating will become the norm and retribution for speaking truth will become common, then over time more severe, they will find in a short period of time; their research will be shut down or those who do this type of research will be encouraged to misrepresent it for the 'common good'. As tyranny replaces democracy, the brave new world imagined by Aldous Huxley will become reality and the great silence will be imposed, computer trashing (not book burnings) will become common place and the scientists will find that they will be held responsible for what we are doing and then slowly they and those who shared these misplaced views will be eliminated, after all somebody has to be at fault and business and the wealthy certainly will not be, and so the play will go, with us all either as part of the audience or members of the cast, until the bitter end, we have no other capacity to do otherwise and have never done anything different.


Scientists Slowly Reintroducing Small Group Of Normal, Well-Adjusted Humans Into Society.


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