Lab f1: Climate

Climate Change

Climate alarmists feel very strongly that if we don’t change our ways, the Earth will change to a point where life as we know it will no longer be possible. On the OboxPlanet, there are two reasons why such alarmists often have more public attention than on Earth, firstly because of greater wealth, secondly because of the logic of politics on Earth. 

At one end of the spectrum, some people think that the immediate threat of climate change justifies costly and radical measures. At the other end, there are many who barely know that there exists such a problem. The climate alarmists can generally be found among the well educated population in rich countries. The ignorant mostly live among the masses of people who are daily struggling for food, shelter and bare survival.

So far, the situation is the same on the OboxPlanet. Except, on average, people on the OboxPlanet are many times richer than on Earth. There are therefore more wealthy people who can afford to say “better safe than sorry” and invest in a problem whose consequences will only become visible in the distant future. One could say that we are talking about a moral issue in the sense that people are doing something because they think it is right, not because they see an immediate profit.  

Furthermore, on the OboxPlanet, just about all technologies that we can imagine on Earth today exist already, plus some technologies we cannot even imagine. People on the OboxPlanet most likely use fusion power, which is in essence the way the sun produces energy. They have “the sun on earth” and are producing limitless energy for a fraction of our energy costs on Earth. 

More wealth and self-responsibility may give climate activists a greater audience than on Earth. 


On the OboxPlanet, there is no state institution that decides what is right and forces people to follow it’s edicts. This puts the responsibility for choosing the right actions in the hands of every individual. Whether protecting the climate, the environment or treating animals well, nobody waits for state instructions. On Earth, it is easy to hide behind state regulations and in effect live by the motto “if the state has not outlawed it, it cannot be terribly wrong”. 

The political process on Earth is slow an sluggish, states can only enact laws which are either supported by a majority of the population or at least not actively opposed by such a majority. If you take a careful look at what the different countries have “committed” to in the Paris climate accord, you will realise that there are very few hard and measurable criteria outside of the wealthy industrial societies. 

Lastly, climate activists sometimes argue that climate change is an issue of a danger to life and property and preventive measures are justified as an act of self-defense. 

There is some imprecision to what exactly is a physical threat, but the basic idea is clear. A threat, which allows my use of defensive violence, must be “an objective and reasonable fear of injury or deach” or damage to my property. A clear example for such a threat would be somebody pointing a gun at me. On the other hand, if am climate activist says “maybe in 50 years, my garden will be flooded”. he has no grounds for using force upon me because he believes my burning fuel will endanger his property. 

On the OboxPlanet, no individuals may use force to make others change their ways because of a climate scare. But think again: this is no different on Earth. I am not allowed to threaten my neighbor as long as he follows the law, and even less American gas guzzling pickup-drivers or some slum-dwellers in a poor city who burn tires and poisonous trash in open fires. 

All this supports the conclusion in the introduction: more wealth and self-responsibility may give climate activists a greater audience than on Earth. 

It is no coincidence that many of the climate activists are rather young. One reason may be that for the older generation, many of the arguments sound quite familiar from other crisis we have lived through. Whether this topic is different from other alarms or not, we cannot know for sure. And while history never repeats itself in all the details, there are some lessons we can learn from experience.

Up to the time of globalization, existential crisis were primarily religious phenomena. In the Middle Ages, in Europe, there were several predictions that the world would come to an end unless people would fast, pray, pay, go on pilgrimages and crusades, pay dues or self-flagellate. While this may sound stupid to our modern ears, it may still make us wonder: why do people voluntarily punish themselves with acts that obviously have no direct and. perceivable effect on solving the problem? Do these examples point to a masochistic streak in human nature, a desire to pay for some undefined guilt?

With the globalization of politics and trade, priests got replaced by scientists. Here are some of the scares within the last generation: 

1. In the 1960’s an 1970’s, overpopulation scares predicted widespread famine and societal collapse.

2. in the 1970’s, global cooling advocates believed in a global cooling trend that could lead to an ice age.

3. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, scientists kept warning of the imminent depletion of resources like oil, gas and minerals.

4. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, acid rain scares predicted widespread devastation to forests, bodies of water, and human health.

5. During the 1980’s, an irreversible ozone layer depletion scare predicted dire consequences worldwide.

6. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were reoccurring alarms that tropical rainforests would disappear within a few decades.

What is the common dynamic of all of these scares?

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the scares all started in the academic and political circles of rich countries and for the most part, awareness of them remained limited to these countries. the reason is clear and simple and rooted in human nature. When you struggle for food and survival, you have little or no interest in anything else. Studies show that it takes 5000 dollars income for people to start caring about the longterm welfare of their environment. Or you can take the “washing machine” acid test. Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician and professor points to his experiences that many students claim they would be willing to give up driving an automobile for protecting the climate. When Rosling proceeds to ask whether they are willig to wash their cloths by hand, it’s another story. Today, on earth, this backbreaking and time-intensive labor is still keeping roughly 2.5 billion girls and women from doing other work like going to school or contributing their brainpower to humanity. 

Since the Earth has a state and the OboxPlanet does not, it is useful to see what role, what possible interest the state could have in crises. There exists, in politics, the saying “never let a crisis go to waste”. If we transfer the problem to the state, no wonder that it calls for more power to regulate and to tax. This in turn creates a bureaucracy and state-dependent industry which will fight all it can to keep up state support. And then there are the anti-wealth forces, often with a religious-type motivation. They are happy to call for less travels, less fun in your spare-time, less drinks, less fancy food and less wealth and comfort in general. Too often these rules of course apply “for thee, not for me”. Politicians make all kinds of excuses and exceptions for themselves, like the pigs in the novel animal farm, see the climate conferences, flooded by countless private jets.

And what happened to all the crisis that didn’t happen? Did academics and politicians learn and apologise? Looking at past crisis, nothing happened, or better: the last crisis was drowned in a new one. 

To sum it up: Crisis start in rich countries and have little to no echo in poorer regions. In the 1960’s, when almost 90% of the World population was on an economic survival level, there was little worldwide appetite for scares. Nowadays, with 15% on the same economic survival level, the reception is greater. But don’t let yourself be fooled: politicians like to show off in conferences but when push comes to shove at home, the climate issue takes a backseat no matter the rhetoric. 

Some big picture facts on climate policy. China likest to boast its great investments in renewable energies. That’s true and half the story. At the same time, according to the energy research organisation CREA: “Coal power plant permitting, construction starts, and new project announcements accelerated dramatically in 2022, with new permits reaching the highest level since 2015. The coal power capacity starting construction in china was six times as large as that in all of the rest of the world combined”, which, according to another source, equals starting two large coal power plants each week.

Now it’s your turn. Suppose you believe we should reduce CO2, do you believe we can achieve this as planned on our Earth?

Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:

A global problem must have a global appeal. It must be perceived as such by a majority and then it will be dealt with on PlanetObox as well as on Earth. The fact that the Chinese and Indian population does not seem to care should give us pause to think. Is it conceivable that this is one more of countless world scares in recent decades, scares that only we in the West perceived and scares in which we believed just as much as the climate issue?