David Roberts+ Your Authors @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Apr. 30, 2019 2 min read + Your Authors

I just want to quickly endorse something @DrJaneFlegal has been saying today in various ways: in climate policy, obsessive arguing over targets (& what models say is possible) is mostly a distraction, which is why today's developments are so irritating. For the most part ...

... we don't know how far we can get, or how fast, or how much it will cost. Debating our competing guesses over these things becomes a form of identity politics, a competition over who cares more, or who's more radical. Targets are nothing but a promise to make policy, so ...

... why not just start making the damn policies. Get started, try stuff, see what works, adapt as we go. Maybe we'll find it's easier than we thought & we can achieve much more than anyone dared hope way back in 2019. Maybe we'll find social resistance to change ...

... a more substantial barrier than technology or economics, and it'll all be harder than anyone now thinks, and go slower. Maybe we'll learn all kinds of shit we don't yet know & make better subsequent decisions! None of today's online take havers, including me, know.

Nor can models settle the question of what targets are appropriate or achievable. Models are always wrong (ask the people who make them). They can help us avoid some mistakes, move in the right direction, but they can't cure our current condition of deep uncertainty.

Only one thing will reduce uncertainty, illuminate possibilities, expose costs & benefits, & clarify priorities: action. DOING SHIT. Setting targets ≠ doing shit. Resolutions, slogans, targets, purity tests, none of this is doing shit. None of it matters unless it LEADS to shit.

What's necessary to take bold action in the crucial next 10 years? The filibuster matters more than a precise target. 49 Dem senators vs. 52 Dem senators matters more. Inspiration & motivation from the state level; trust- & institution-building among diverse constituencies; etc.

What do you need if you DO get the power? You need performance standards & clean-energy standards & infrastructure investments & tech-specific industry R&D clusters & race-to-the-top state grants & EV + DE tax incentives & low-carbon fuel standards & etc. etc.

You need to do *everything you can do*, in the smartest, most coordinated way you can manage. The limits on that are going to be practical stuff, speed limits of social & institutional change, not disagreements over long-term targets.

Anyway, I'm rambling, so in conclusion: doing shit is more valuable than picking long-term targets, *for almost any value of "shit"*. Never let disagreements over targets hinder action, any action, on any scale. Claw forward. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. </fin>

You can follow @drvox.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.

Follow Threader