The US Government Cannot Help the Climate

Jeff Sachs recommends an informal international mostly academic collaboration to come up with actual options and get around the noise-making. He points out that expectations of leadership from the US government are unrealistic in the near future.

Long (over an hour). Intro lasts about four minutes.

h/t Rust Never Sleeps

[vimeo w=400&h=225]

JEFF SACHS from HUCE on Vimeo.


  1. As an aside to rustneversleeps, there is something called the art of memory, invented by a Greek apparently, over 2,000 years ago. There are various forms, but one of the ones used by famous orators involves, IIRC, imagining a walk through a building and placing parts of their speech (Not necessarily words, rather the main points to be brought up) in each room, in an easily memorable form. It's a way of tying together many threads in a visually memorable way. It's certainly one way you can make a long complex speech. Or you can just memorise it all word for word.

  2. Steve, find somewhere else to play this game, thanks. I do not have a strong reason for mistrusting Paul Kelly, other than that when he first showed up, his web site really reeked of snake oil. I have nothing specific of which to accuse him but on the other hand, as you see, it's a lot easier to get verbiage out of him than specifics.Clearly, trying to get him to be specific or engaged is not going to work. He will be specific when it suits him and not before. If you want to keep trying, you are not helping my purpose of keeping the comments lively and interesting, though.

  3. Steve, Thanks. I really needed a good laugh today. I'm glad you agree with the whole 10% thing. I read Reveille for Radicals while in high school and Rules for Radicals when it came out in the early Seventies. Guess by your definition, I'm an educated man.

  4. More mush and baseless assertions, PK. You have no academic training/background (formal or informal) or, apparently, real-world experience to base any of that on. All that comes through from you is the tone trolling, and that's getting really boring.If you want to start educating yourself, a good start would be your homey Saul Alinsky, who more or less formalized the methods for the whole 10% thing (methods with which I am intimately familiar via long experience, BTW).

  5. I noticed that there are some write-ups of the talk here and here.Neither or which quite seem to hit the right notes… I am trying to get a transcript made.I think the highlights for me were his discussion of the history and dynamics of how we got here, and why – paraphrasing – "there is no door to knock on in Washington that's going to a difference right now. Washington is the wrong place to go to get the solution." Someday it will be, but for now, we need to really look at concrete plans for what an energy transition would look like.I was not completely convinced of his "solution". I think he is thinkning of something like a blueprint for DesertTEC, but planning on an even more global scale, and for more sectors than just electricity. How exactly to coordinate that and make it authoritative, I kind of lose the plot at that point. But at least he is working towards a needed deliverable over the next ~ two years or so, rather than twiddling thumbs while waiting for another run at U.S. climate legislation, or waiting in vain for a miracle in Durban or COP 18 or COP 19 or…Anyway, on a tangential point, I was astounded that Sachs' appeared to speak for a full hour without notes but stayed so structured. Did he have a prompter or something? If not, he has a real gift in that regard… And, even though Jeff Sachs' natural demeanour is calm/congenial/cerebral – you can tell how pissed off he is…

  6. new Throbgoblins worthy of note? arrow back for the next one, as well as a good one before that on the financial industry. Some people prefer to access these through his blog Throbgoblins.)Also this nice Fiore (SolyndraGatePocalypse) on comparing Solyndra with the massive exploiters in the fossil fuel industry:

  7. Steve,We are surrounded by institutions that are social rather than political. Charitable and fraternal organizations, the internet, the parochial school system, private universities, private enterprise, sports – well, the list goes on. I think most people can easily separate the social from the political. Do they overlap along the margins? Sure.I read recently that the critical mass for major societal change can be as little as 10% of the population. Political majorities are not required and the quest for them is effectively an instrument of delay. Note that the quest for political majorities underpins the discredited and non applicable information deficit model.

  8. It means nothing, PK, except to the extent that a literal interpretation (i.e., one excluding more complex levels of interaction) would in a simplistic sense imply anarchism.Part of what makes it in fact utter nonsense is your implication that there is some manner in which the social and the political can be separated. The only way you could salvage some meaning would be by redefining those terms, thus my remark.Let's put it in the form of a question: How would you obtain a political majority if not as a result of accumulated points of social interaction? Or flip that around: Once you've accumulated enough such points to effect a major change in society, how is that not a political majority?

  9. Steve,What do you need defined? Surely you know understand the words climate problem, government, and political majorities. Accumulated points of social interaction means all of the actions taken by and among individuals that occur along the time line from now until the goal of that interaction is reached.

  10. I read the beginning of chapter 11 of For the common good: redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future by Herman E. Daly & John B. Cobb upon a recommendation. Having done so, I pass this on as sensible economics.

  11. Climate is a people problem, not a political one. It's solution lies with the people, rather than with governments. Success will come from accumulated points of social interaction much faster than from the quest for political majorities.

  12. "He points out that expectations of leadership from the US government are unrealistic in the near future."Well then, there is no hope for the world. That is where United States optimism has got us. The sooner people face up to the inevitable disaster, then the sooner we can take some action to prevent the worst. We have got to stop running scared of being called alarmists, and sound the alarm.Cheers, Alastair.

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