The Climate Debate: A Thought Experiment

Imagine your neighborhood has a swimming pool to which every neighbor has access. People exercise in it. Children play in it. And as a community, the neighborhood maintains the pool by cleaning it and collectively paying for the chemicals it needs.

Now, imagine that the wealthiest neighbor lets his kids defecate in the pool. And when confronted about it, they deny that the kids are doing it. You show them videos of their kids pooping in the pool, so they admit it’s true. But they reason that their kids feces are so small they couldn’t possibly harm the water.

Then this wealthy neighbor announces they will no longer help clean the pool. It’s costing them time and money. When the neighbors demand that their kids stop shitting in the pool, they are told that preventing the kids from pooping will be unhealthy for them and they will ultimately die from it.

Imagine the pool water gets dirtier and dirtier.

You ask, “Why don’t they use a toilet at home like all the other kids?”

“Because this is their pool, too,” they say. “Teaching them to use the toilet at home will take a lot of time and I’ll have to pay for the water they flush away.”

“But we all use this pool. Why are you the exception to the rules?”

“Your rules don’t make any sense,” they say.

“But the pool is becoming filthy!” you say.

“That’s normal,” they say. “You still haven’t really proven that our kids’ poop is what’s dirtying the pool water.”

“Yes we have!” you say, showing them video after video of their kids pooping in the pool and making the water murkier and murkier.

“No you haven’t,” they say. “You’re just trying to kill my children.”

“But the videos,” you say.

“We’re shutting off all the cameras,” they say. “That way all our kids can do whatever they want and be happy and healthy and prosperous.”

This is our nation’s current environmental policy.

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