The most important environmental article written in a mainstream newspaper…


…was written by Sunny Hundal in last weeks Guardian. I won’t post a link, because the Guardian doesn’t need the juice, but just type, ‘The climate change message is not being heard. Here’s how to change tack”‘ into google.

Here Sunny fluently explains what the green movement has been doing wrong about getting across the message to act on climate change. I’ve read one or two other blog posts a year or two back that said basically the same thing, but was extremely pleased to see that this message had made it onto a large newspaper in the UK.

If you’ve been following the climate change issue then you’ll have noticed that success hasn’t exactly been forthcoming. There are some massive obstacles in the way of progress. Big oil, big business, a system that won’t tolerate anything other than an increase in GDP per capita. There’s another one too – the environmental movement.

Look at one example. How many marchers were there in London just before the COP 15 at Copenhagen 2009? It was 50,000. 400,000 marched against the fox hunting ban in 2002. There’s a 7 year gap between the two, but it’s clear to see where the strength of public opinion truly lies when it comes to climate change, and other issues. To a city dweller such as me, that 400,000 could protest against a ban on a medieval practice of animal hunting seems absurd, but clearly this issue was extremely important to the people who live in the countryside and others.

So why doesn’t climate change – supposedly a threat to global prosperity and security – provoke the same sort of feeling? One reason is the environmental movement itself, besides the other challenges mentioned, and Mr. Hundal presents a few reasons why:

1) Doom-mongering – we don’t concentrate on solutions, we just bang on about how the world’s going to end. A crass generalisation about environmentalists from me, but the point would ring true for many I believe. Let’s be more positive and offer solutions rather than catastrophe.

2) Anti-capitalist – as Mr. Hundal rightly points out, we’ve been preaching to the converted.    It’s left-wing people that are largely behind the message to act on clmate change, but we’re losing the right, who are just as, if not even more, important than the left. Activists with dreadlocks threatening to smash capitalism isn’t the best way to win supporters from the right-leaning people.

3) Failure to address the economic argument – the right-wing tabloids continue to insist that green projects will cost the economy. Whether you believe in economic growth or not is irrelevant. Stopping climate change is one of the most important challenges the world faces – along with eradicating hunger and poverty. To do that there needs to be a broad concensus, or at the very least, a strong majority amongst the population on the need to act. We’re not there yet, and we should have been there years ago. Greens need to show how economic and environmental improvement can go hand in hand. Referring to arguments such as Potocnik’s here is a good example of this http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/29/eu-environmental-resources-new-recession (ok I said I wouldn’t link to the guardian but never mind)

The UK government is largely committed, at least in legislation, to slashing it’s consmption of emissions. This was achieved largely because of the dedicated work of a number of brave and industrious activists and NGOs. But we can go further and we need to, as do our friends in the US and Canada. We would all do well to learn from Mr. Hundal’s article.

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8 thoughts on “The most important environmental article written in a mainstream newspaper…

  1. In your opening post on your new blog, you claim that respondents shouldn’t comment unless they have evidence. Leaving aside what a deeply questionable and disingenuous demand that is – in what will always be chiefly a political discussion – I can see that already you have no intention of holding yourself or those that you champion to that standard. What evidence does the author of this piece provide for the statement -and I mean any element thereof – that “if we don’t invest in alternative energy; dealing with disruptive climate change will cost us billions and drive up food prices across the world.”? Who are these “secretive thinktanks…starting to bombard the press with research claiming it’s too costly to deal with the problem.”? Or the most insanely preposterous of all “This means talking about the potential for future innovation….and how it offers us security from war and disease and a better standard of living.” Security from war, no less. And the rest. How?

    Paranoia, mistrust of the public, flaccid reasoning and completey spurious appeals to unscientific futurology – all the hallmarks of contemporary environmentalism are encapsulated in this ‘most important environmental article ever written in a mainstream newspaper’.

    Like the author of the article, you’re happier blaming the ‘right-wing tabloids’ than confronting a few unpleasant truiths about the profound influence over government that environmentalism already exerts, and the certifiably negative consequences for the public. If these tabloids have argued, as you suggest here, that green projects are going to cost more, then (notwithstanding the Mail’s apparent exaggeration) they’re quite simply, indisputably right – and it is frankly bewildering to me that you can pretend otherwise, or sneakily try to put it down to right-wing propaganda. Ever heard of feed-in tariffs? Are you aware the DECC themselves have been forced to admit that fuel poverty in the UK has doubled since 2004? And are you seriously going to try and suggest that renewable energy is more energy-dense than conventional energy, and thus cheaper? Or that the previous Labour administration didn’t respond wholesale with energy policies lobbied for by FoE, among others (or that the present coalition has been doing the same – so much for the cloudcuckooland left/right dichotomy)? Just because the public is becoming weary of the increasingly shrill tactics of climate alarmists, that won’t stop governnments imposing the will of such people on the general public, because governments, having become so remote from – and fearful of – the public, only listen to NGOs and other elite democracy-dodgers.

    I think it’s important to note that it’s not just the endless projections of the worst-case scenario by environmentalists that alienates the public, though it certainly doesn’t help. People are alienated because environmentalists endlessly cast them as the problem: there’s too many of them, having too many kids, wanting too many things. When most people think of energy, they think of what it can do to enhance their lives, how it powers their cars, their home entertainment, how it can warm their homes, how they can fly to foregin climes, how it’s part of a freely-lived fulfilling life. A discussion about energy in this light, i.e. a discussion that views energy as primarily a good thing, is one many people could get behind, instead of pointless, finger-wagging discussions about not leaving your telly on standby. But such a discussion is never going to be initiated by an environmentalist, because it is the exercise of those very freedoms by people that makes them uneasy. So expect plenty more of such unselfcritical, unreflective articles of this type, and maybe reflect a bit yourself on why such gibberish strikes you as so profound.

    A final observation about Hundal’s abysmal piece. His closing line is one that should make any remotely questioning person sit up and take urgent note:
    “And yet it is the area where scientists and campaigners are comprehensively failing to advance their cause.”
    This is a brazen admission that science has been annexed to the environmental ’cause’, at least as envrionmentalists see it. Now, you can dress up this astonishing but very revealing slip however you like, but as soon as science is pressed into the service of a cause, it simply, utterly forfeits any claim to the disinteretedness, tentativeness and open-mindedness that is the hallmark of sound scientific inquiry. This writer evidently didn’t bat an eyelid writing this sentence, and nor did his editor reading it, and that to me is quite striking, because it reveals, albeit unwittingly, how entrenched is the mindset that will in the long run do greater damage to the standing of science than any amount of moronic Tea Party creationist blatherings. Because when science becomes subordinated to the political exigencies of environmentalism, it may assume many other forms, but it ceases to be science.

  2. Actually Justin, I asked that they be prepared to provide evidence. Shame you ignored that polite suggestion because it would have saved me a lot of time having to clear up your guff.

    Let me answer your questions marks in order.
    1) The Stern review. The cost of billions being for the world, rather than the UK alone. I could go read up on Stern and see what he says about the UK, but I know that having even mentioned Stern will result in a long-winded, paranoid tirade against economists that are in bed with the anti-democratic forces of environmentalism.

    2) The Global Warming Policy Foundation – we know former Chancellor, Lawson set up the foundation, but that’s about it. The Foundation refuses to declare it’s sources of income or finance. I call that secretive. On a less secretive note, Civitas has joined the fray I see by claiming that wind turbines are ineffective at reducing co2 emissions, all based on the work of a single Dutch physicist called le Pair whilst ignoring a body of peer-reviewed literature on the topic.

    3) Nations have fought over energy before, (Iraq?) and they may well do so again. Therefore having an independent source of energy that can’t be stolen would offer some protection against militarists trying to justify the next foreign venture. The US military is also (apparently) seriously looking at conflict scenarios over energy supply and the UN has published a report about climate change and war. Go read it. Oh, but they hate all people too of course, the UN?

    Disease – Jesus, I have to really explain why coal, for example, kills people through disease? Really? Ok, please look at this. http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html. Interestingly, renewables are not the only way to solve the harmful health effects of coal but they are certainly one method and support Hundal’s comments.

    Better standard of living – well if reducing thr former two weren’t enough there’s the argument that stopping climate change will improve our standard of living. But we’re not going to agree on that.

    “Paranoia, mistrust of the public, flaccid reasoning and completey spurious appeals to unscientific futurology – all the hallmarks of contemporary environmentalism are encapsulated in this ‘most important environmental article ever written in a mainstream newspaper’.”

    Tell me, would you prefer it if Hundal’s reasoning were erect?

    What you miss about feed-in tariffs and green projects in general is that there are high costs up front. It’s a fledgling industry and for those there are often high expenses, especially in something as huge as energy supply. But in the long run we can reap the rewards from having developed a fledgling industry into a successful and independent one. And not just the industry itself but also bills. Renewable energy costs more today without a doubt. But this is an investment in the future. Fossil fuel prices will very probably increase. Renewable costs will very likely decrease. That’s called supply and demand and is the fundamental driver of prices. Look it up.

    Oh wait, it looks like you already did as you’re clearly aware that fuel poverty has increased in recent years. Mistakenly you try to blame this on green policies, but fail to identify the global trends upon which energy prices depend – look up the impact of the Japanese Tsunami as an example of how global events impact on UK prices. Nor do you seek to question the role of our 6 major energy providers and their often cartel-like behaviour. Lastly, the Labour government spent 10 years doing little to nothing about our energy infrastructure, meaning that we’re now paying for the upgrades. It’s brilliant, you admit that the Daily Mail made some mistakes then go on to commit them yourself! Just for the record Ofgem estimates that “environmental and social costs’ make up about £100, or 7% of an average domestic energy bill. Where is your concern for the other 93%?

    ” And are you seriously going to try and suggest that renewable energy is more energy-dense than conventional energy, and thus cheaper?”

    If increased energy density equalled cheaper then nuclear power would be the cheapest option, which you know not to be true. “The amount of uranium required to provide the
    same amount of energy as 16 kg of fossil fuels, in a standard fission reactor,
    is 2 grams” (see http://www.withouthotair.com/, chapter Nuclear, page 161) But we know that prices are more complicated than density. However it is one factor and you are correct. At this moment in time renewables are more expensive than fossil fuels. But they are getting cheaper and fossil fuels largely not. Perhaps, 30 years from now Justin you’ll buy me a beer for being largely right about renewables, whilst we watch the news and laugh as those idiot Ukrainians once again have their gas supply cut off from Russia. Or maybe I’ll throw you a husk of bread through my cell bars in our green concentration camp, a last pitiful attempt at gaining forgiveness for supporting those nature-loving fascists all those years ago. Neither is likely, but I’ll put my money on the former.

    “Or that the previous Labour administration didn’t respond wholesale with energy policies lobbied for by FoE, among others (or that the present coalition has been doing the same – so much for the cloudcuckooland left/right dichotomy)? ”

    Yes, and I’m glad they didn’t! You know I’m in favour of renewable. I’m in no doubt that NGOs play the lobbyist game, but if, globally, you want to see where the money goes then see here. http://feed.ne.cision.com/wpyfs/00/00/00/00/00/16/FE/AB/Fact%2002-pic01.jpg Follow the money, you know you want to really.

    But you’re second-last paragraph is excellent. I love this point. You’re completely right. Energy is good. But it’s not the freedom to use energy that environmentalists have a problem with. It’s the effects of such use. You’re confusing the hatred of environmental destruction with the hatred of freedom. Sunny doesn’t mention that in his piece and he urges us to focus on the positives. That’s why I think it’s a great, but far too late, article.

    “This is a brazen admission that science has been annexed to the environmental ’cause’, at least as envrionmentalists see it.”

    No, but perhaps the views of scientists correspond with those of environmentalists? Perhaps scientists are concerned about environmental impacts and have called for this to cease? Science is not driven by environmentalism but often it’s products support the environmentalists cause. There’s no conspiracy there, Justin, but if you insist on looking for it I’m sure you’ll find one. This discussion goes back to ours on your facebook page. I’m going to ask my library tomorrow to order Laframboise’s book. Hopefully will reply this month. Cheers!

  3. Nicholas Stern? Oh, I could have sworn you said ‘evidence’. Sorry. By the way, name-calling in advance is an exceptionally poor form of argument, and one you use liberally. I may have been hard-hitting, but always in response to argument. This from you:

    “I could go read up on Stern and see what he says about the UK, but I know that having even mentioned Stern will result in a long-winded, paranoid tirade against economists that are in bed with the anti-democratic forces of environmentalism.”

    is really cheap – and like all attempts to anticipate rather than engage in argument, it comes across, ironically, as very paranoid indeed.

    All you seem to be able to summon up as an argument against Lawson’s foundation (again) is about funding uncertainty. Is this as far as your analysis of them goes? And you’ve no problem with FoE’s lobbying. Does this mean you think that no money is involved in their activities? This is just double-standards. You think Lawson is the only person who sends out press releases? Just because Guardian churnalists reproduce other NGOs press releases uncritically, does not mean they have any substance and the GWPF’s do not. For the record, as a charity, this organization is fully entitled not to name its donors – and when one sees the routine vilification meted out to ‘deniers’ in the Guardian, the Royal Society and the BBC, it’s a protection they may welcome. Interestingly, one of the most vociferous anti-GWPF attack dogs in climate alarmism compound, Bob Ward, of the Grantham Institute, ought to look a little closer to home someday http://www.gurufocus.com/news/142244/jeremy-grantham-foresees-oil-decline-and-increases-oil-holdings-oil-xom-prb-prba-su-cnq-bp
    But such a barren issue, funding; weird too that it’s always environmentalists that substitute actual argument with it, as they are the ones with by far the most money: http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/01/well-funded-well-funded-denial-machine.html
    But even that article is more worth reading for how much it nails the hollowness of always sniffing after the money, than for fingering the hypocrisy of environmentalists who refuse to/can’t go beyond that argument.

    Was the Iraq war solely about ‘energy’? I’ve never bought that argument; it was far more about a morally and politically bankrupt Western elite seeking a legitimacy abroad that it could not muster at home. In this way, it had more in common with other Western wars of intervention over the last 20 years. But it might be naïve to think that there won’t be disputes about energy even if renewables entirely replace fossil fuels. They may not eventuate in wars, but there will still be much heated discussion to be had about distribution, infrastructure and cost, so they may not be the cure-all you think they are. But we’re only having that discussion because of trumped-up green panic-mongering about wars in the first place. Actually I’d love to think that in 30 years time we’d be drinking to the success of worldwide nuclear power, and neither of us will be in concentration camps or living on husks of bread!

    The graph, incidentally, still shows that renewables are oversubsidised compared with their efficiency, and the fact that hydro is presumably included in that category means it is even more flattering to other forms of renewable energy such as wind, which are still hugely inefficient. It also disguises other problems, such the question that a not inconsiderable percentage of the world’s food crops being used for biofuels has the effect of pushing up food prices – robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. Or quite simply just taking the food out of Peter’s mouth.

    You admit that renewables are more expensive because they have yet to reach their full potential – and that’s certainly a respectable argument. I’m all for that: developing the efficiency of technologies is an unalloyed good. But while we wait for this to happen, the costs are showing up in people’s fuel bills, and there are other negative consequences. Last year, SSE switched their patronage, in the form of a 25% stake, from a nuclear consortium to renewables, especially wind. This is a worrying development for supporters of nuclear: there is clearly no political will behind advancing nuclear, and the UK government seems to be simply obeying the diktats of NGOs like the FoE. And thus a deeply inefficient form of power, that isn’t even CO2 neutral, is pulling the rug from under a far more environmentally-friendly and efficient form. And this is just the UK. We both know the pass it has come to in this country. And in both cases, and others, it is first and foremost a political question.

    And lastly, it isn’t conspiracy-mongering to point out the obvious implication in Hundal’s closing paragraph. I’m actually doing the opposite: just highlighting how routinely, casually and NON-conspiratorially science in seen in this way, and how worrying that is.

  4. In my elevenses, I decided to probe further into the Civitas report you mention. You have grossly misrepresented this report. You claim that it is
    “all based on the work of a single Dutch physicist called le Pair whilst ignoring a body of peer-reviewed literature on the topic. ”
    This is not so..In no way is the report ‘based on’ le Pair’s work, nor does it claim to be. Here is the report, so you can judge for yourself. http://www.civitas.org.uk/economy/electricitycosts2012.pdf
    I can make no claims for or against its contents, though to me it would seem to be pertinent to the wind-power debate. It’s just that your claim seems to have been prompted by Leo Hickman’s column in the Guardian, rather than any attempt to read the report itself. Even Hickman is much more measured in his assessment of it.

  5. Another teabreak. You say: “Just for the record Ofgem estimates that “environmental and social costs’ make up about £100, or 7% of an average domestic energy bill. Where is your concern for the other 93%?”.
    Where’s your concern for the 7%, would be more to the point. I’m glad money has never been that tight for you. Believe me, there are people living in the developmed world for whom every single cent counts.

    Which is why I’ve been looking at some DECC reports on cost-optimisation pathways. A very interesting appraisal of them here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/12/30/lying-with-numbers-green-energy-edition/2/

  6. Hi Justin,

    1) Name-calling? I wouldn’t call it that. I recall that you once called Michael Mann “thin-skinned”. Pot, kettle, black?

    2)The Civitas report used 6 references in total – but as far as wind power costing co2 is concerned it only uses le Pair, and a poor study it is at that. Amazing that you can claim wind “isn’t even co2 neutral”. Or do you have some better sources to support that? For some proper science check these out.

    http://www.apere.org/manager/docnum/doc/doc1248_090706fiche36.pdf

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032111001924

    http://cleanerproduction.curtin.edu.au/local/docs/publications/2009/sts.pdf

    3) The other 93% is more important. A certain percentage of this is because of course, energy must cost something, but not all 93% of it. Perhaps you might want to question why the supply of gas has recently pushed up prices, by far more than renewables have. http://www.metro.co.uk/money/82857-gas-giants-find-new-way-to-push-up-prices

    Or perhaps you might want to question the curious cartel-like shape from which our energy supply comes from. But that would mean questioning big business wouldn’t it? Not to keen on that when there’s IPCC scientists to bash.

    p.s. I’m in Germany, the land of free education for a reason.

    4) Is “income” in your link what Greenpeace receives or spends specifically on climate change issues? The sources for this info do not work either. Would be useful if they fixed that.

    In the meantime I’ll just make the point that lobbying isn’t the problem. It’s lobbying to distort science that is – as the recent Heartland episode so aptly demonstrates. I’ve no doubt that Greenpeace have done this too (nuclear power), but when it comes to climate change it’s quite obvious which group is on the wrong side of the fence. It’s business funding anti-science. NGOs exaggerate it’s risks, which is also anti-science, but this is arguably not as dangerous or as inaccurate as what the fossil fuel industry has been up to.

    5) I wish it was just all pumped up green-panic mongering but as much as I tell myself that greens have been wrong on a lot of things historically, I just can’t get away from the fact that we are pushing the boundaries globally. Most environmental indicators are up and I don’t see that changing soon. There is a point of no return, but I hope that technology and human ingenuity can stop us reaching that point. http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0914-vital_signs.html

    6) I think it’s paranoid, Justin, really I do. When it comes to climate change many many scientists are concerned about the issue. Campaigners have been informed by their research (they didn’t invent the climate change problem out of thin air). As long as the evidence points to climate change having negative consequences for the human race scientists are bound to worry about it. That’s a consequence of being a human being. You see climate scientists as being infiltrated by environmentalists. I see climate scientists as people who seek to discover truth and are worried by what they see.

  7. I once called Michael Mann ‘thin-skinned’ in a facebook status that only friends and acquaintances could see, in the context of a mock newspaper headline. You drag this into a public blog because you cannot find any example of where I’ve done such a thing in our exchange. Do I need to point out what extraordinarily poor form that is? You might as well cite an utterance in a pub conversation. If I was making a public statement about him I would do no such thing, but merely ask “Why IS such a powerful and well-connected person so ready to vilify those who are merely asking questions about his work, and why oh why is he still refusing perfectly reasonable requests for data in the process?” Did you read The Hockey Stick Illusion yet by the way?

    Leaving aside the attempted inundation by pdf, can it really be that you don’t fully understand wind farm manufacturing yourself? The bone of contention, seized on by you, was my assertion that wind power is not carbon neutral. In other news, Pope Benedict XVI is a practising Catholic. You do know how wind farms are made, don’t you? The majority of manufacturers still use refined neodymium to make the permanent magnets required for turbines. Sadly, this cannot be grown on an allotment in Surbiton with Margo Leadbetter looking over the fence; it requires intensive mining, chiefly in Inner Mongolia, to retrieve it. Now, can you tell me when heavy industrial mining has ever been CO2 neutral? In fact, CO2 generation is the least of it – the pollution it also causes is immense, because like many rare earth elements it is associated with radioactive tailings and acid pollution. But all you seem to see is the end result, which in any case, in spite of all the hard earned taxpayer’s money that’s continually thrown at it, still provides less than 0.5% of the world’s energy.

    “Or perhaps you might want to question the curious cartel-like shape from which our energy supply comes from. But that would mean questioning big business wouldn’t it? Not to keen on that when there’s IPCC scientists to bash.”

    Ugh – what a snide little comment – but my God how mercilessly it exposes the absolute shallowness of your insight. ‘Big business’ as you put it, gets big in the first place from the tax and regulatory structures that cartellise costs and suppress competition. And who are these created by? Well, by governments, of course, the same people without whom you and your co-religionists would perish in an instant, because of Big Green’s systematic avoidance of democratic processes and consulting with the great unwashed. Far better to press flesh and lick bum in the corridors of unaccountable power than actually have to sell your bloodless little obsession with making do with less to people who are a) already cash-strapped and b) paying for your empty Durban, Copenhagen and Rio boondoggles as it is. And by the by, the most pressing question to ask big fossil fuel producers is why they outdo each other to donate so much money to green NGOs and organizations

    http://climatechange.mensnewsdaily.com/2012/04/11/the-wwfs-vast-pool-of-oil-money/

    Again none of this is a secret, but I don’t expect you to desist from your babyish fantasy that the world is split between evil oil-funded deniers and honest green activists who are just acting out what The Science is telling them, even though all the observed reality indicates the precise opposite. I don’t expect you to, because if you did acknowledge how fatuous the whole world-view you’ve erected for yourself is, it would simply implode. You’ve tried to pull a mean-spirited little trick with the above comment, but all it reveals is that you haven’t reflected at all on the basic tenets of your belief system.

    And to answer your contemptibly-phrased question for the record, one can do both: ask questions of ‘big business’ and the IPCC alike. The fact that you simply can’t bring yourself to do the latter is down to your intellectual cowardice, not mine.

    But just when it seems your line of argument can get no more predictable and impoverished, you bring up the Heartland Institute. What you write about it could be summed up as follows:

    “Yes, yes – rich and immensely powerful green NGOs play fast and loose with the facts and distort the science. But that’s ok, I basically agree with them. But I hate the Heartland Institute, so what they do is much worse. Boo!”

    You illustrate the perils of believing only the Guardian newspaper better than anyone I’ve ever encountered. For by now there are earthworms who know that the supposedly clinching document from the Heartland ‘uncovered’ in February was a hilariously inept fake, and only by being a stranger to reason and intuition could you possibly deny that fact. We now know that the unmentionable Peter Gleick is responsible for the theft, and anybody who doesn’t have pinhead oatmeal for brain cells knows he also perpetrated the witless document in question to give his rotten little act some play in the gullible green-leaning media. And witless it certainly was, but beautifully revealing of the childish goodies vs baddies mindset of environmentalists. We also know that Gleick was invited to take part in a debate by the Heartland some months before – and refused. Debate? Christ, no, we don’t do that in Enviro-land. Much better the sleazy, underhand, backstabbing method – after all there’ll always be a Guardian and an Independent and a BBC to uncritically lap these things up as fact, and journalists who invoke the truly dodgy Greater Truth argument when that becomes untenable.

    So we’ve already established that being anti-science is ok by you as long as you broadly agree with the overarching dogma of whoever is doing the lying (I’m pretty sure you don’t like that reformulation, but I’m afraid it’s exactly what you’re saying).
    But my question is : Where are the Heartland being ‘anti-science’ (please don’t tell me you actually swallowed the fake document)? And why don’t you have a problem with other people being anti-science? And don’t you see how risible, how blatant your double-standards are?

    Oh and one more thing on this issue- the funding, one of your beloved obsessions. Well, get your petard ready, and prepare to be hoist sky high:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/02/logic-gate-the-smog-blog-exposes-irrational-rage-innumeracy-and-heartlands-efficient-success/

    And bear in mind only a tiny amount of the Heartland’s money has anything to do with climate change.
    Seriously, though, are you just ever going to be able to face facts? The. Green. Alarmists. Are. Thousands. Of. Times. Better. Funded. Than. Heartland. Have you finally understood that now? No, no, do you – finally, finally get it now? It is an argument you simply cannot win, and it’s a pointless argument anyway.

    The rest of your response is mostly just incoherent handwringing.

    “we are pushing the boundaries globally.”

    What sort of boundaries are you talking about? Boundaries between what and what?

    “Most environmental indicators are up…”

    Indicators of what, and with what known consequences? (Not predicted, IPCC modelled consequences; I mean real, observed consequences.)

    “There is a point of no return”

    Where and when is it? How do we recognise it?

    “When it comes to climate change many many scientists are concerned about the issue”

    A statement of such sublime triteness I thought I’d copy and paste it just for fun.

    “As long as the evidence points to climate change having negative consequences for the human race scientists are bound to worry about it.”

    But it does no such thing. Most of the catastrophic scenarios are just that – scenarios – and are derived from modelling, not observed reality; most predictions from the past that have attempted to panic us into changing our behaviour have failed to come to pass; and some of the consequences may not even be negative. Let me ask you this extremely simple question: At what point would you stand up and say “Your models have failed. Why should we – at great expense to ourselves and the development of the world – continue to listen to you?” What would it actually take?

    “I see climate scientists as people who seek to discover truth and are worried by what they see.”

    Well, you answer my previous question. If, in all seriousness, you can make such a simpering, drivelling, weak-kneed observation, you would never be able to find the moral courage to subject these people to any meaningful scrutiny. Can I ask, does this just apply to climate scientists? Nobody else can seek truth and be worried by what they see, in the deathless anti-humanism of climate alarmism, for example?

    To hold such a position, and to put it up on a blog that smugly calls itself realisticbeinggreen (now there’s a hysterical misnomer if there ever was one) is just too ridiculous for words. Do you think Climategate was a conspiracy cooked up by your cartoon big oil villains Cameron? Those emails were real…every last sickening one of them, and what they reveal is a bunch of people who are prepared to destroy careers and reputations to protect their own politically-driven work from being examined closely. Check out the Denizens category of Judith Curry’s blog sometime: you’ll find many of the excellent regular contributors are themselves climate scientists (incognito of course) who passionately resist the dangerous and shrill climate alarmism orthodoxy but who cannot speak out because it would mean the end of their careers. We’ve already seen how embarrassingly you’ve misread the Heartland episode – aren’t you angry about the disgraceful and utterly indefensible actions of Peter Gleick? No, sadly the terrifying truth is that you don’t even seem to see there is anything worth getting angry about. Did you follow how the much-trumped Joelle Gergis hockey stick was recently withdrawn due to flaws pointed out by Steve McIntyre, but not before the whole green-leaning media (i.e. the overpowering majority) had swallowed it whole? Can you bring yourself to acknowledge that overwhelmingly the power in politics, education and the media today is firmly behind climate alarmism, and if you cannot, isn’t it time you learned how to read, listen and think? I’m tired of trying to argue with someone who is just too afraid to acknowledge some very basic truths about the world around them. You’d rather nurse the fantasy that they’re all just blameless heroes seeking the truth. Grow up, for goodness’ sake.

    Oh wait, you can’t, because that would mean questioning Big Green, wouldn’t it? And we all know what happens when somebody tries to do that:

    You are presumably on the side of those environmental ‘journalists’ who cut McAleer off. Everything about your fear of standing up to the real wielders of power – made more apparent than ever in your response – suggests you would have been right up there, wrestling the mike out of his hands, to save your repulsive hero’s blushes.

    • I once called Michael Mann ‘thin-skinned’ in a facebook status that only friends and acquaintances could see, in the context of a mock newspaper headline. You drag this into a public blog because you cannot find any example of where I’ve done such a thing in our exchange. Do I need to point out what extraordinarily poor form that is? You might as well cite an utterance in a pub conversation. If I was making a public statement about him I would do no such thing, but merely ask “Why IS such a powerful and well-connected person so ready to vilify those who are merely asking questions about his work, and why oh why is he still refusing perfectly reasonable requests for data in the process?” Did you read The Hockey Stick Illusion yet by the way?

      Regardless of whether it was right for me to post that, Justin, you are doing an excellent job of proving my point about that pot. I did not read the Hockey Stick Illusion. Independent panels found Mann not guilty of any wrong doing, and the findings of the Hockey Stick have since been replicated by several studies. I also thought it was clear to you now that neither of us is really prepared to read the literature that the other proffers. Not too get into too much amateur psychology but it should be clear to you that we are both too entrenched in our own opinions and will trust only authors that confirm our prejudices. I won’t read the Hockey Stick Illusion because Matt Ridley is not a climate scientist, and his mistakes have been extensively documented by climate scientists. It would be like reading a homeotherapist’s diagnosis about cancer. Call that snobbery if you will, but it’s just good sense. Our time is sadly quite limited on this earth and I don’t have enough of it to adopt a position of pure scepticism for every single thing that I read – or I would get nothing done. I have to put my trust in the people who are educated and qualified to write about their field of expertise and use my own logic to work out who’s more likely to be correct about this and that.

      Indeed the wind farm point is an excellent example of such behaviour from you. These links were free and readily accessible at least. If you had read even just the conclusions you would see that a proper lifecycle analysis for wind turbines would indicate that the Co2 spent building them is less than the the Co2 that the turbines then save by displacing conventional fossil fuel plants. That’s not the end of the story as the studies indicate. There’s still a lot of data missing and with time will come more thorough studies. But for now, to claim that wind mills somehow produce more Co2 than they save is false – unless you have some decent scientific literature to show the contrary? Something better than the Civitas report too, please.

      As for the pollution – of course it’s bad. But do you think the coal plants in China are much better? And what about the incidence of respiratory diesease attributable to coal? It’s not comprehensive but check this out for lack of a better study. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c24/page_168.shtml

      And yes wind supplies less energy than other forms, but the fossil fuels industry receives billions more in subsidies worldwide. I’m surprised you don’t know that. It’s one thing to say that wind isn’t worth the money – I can respect that even if I disagree with the position. But can we at least have an honest debate? As to whether wind is worth it or not I think it’s important to consider the historical development of fossil fuels and other energy sources. That is to say all energy sources were subsidised in the early stages of their development and most – oil and nuclear – still are. Why not renewables too? Do you also know that there are numerous studies indicating that renewables will be cost competitive with traditional energy sources in (depending on the country) less than 10 years? If technology can deliver such wonderful things to us, then why can’t it do the same for renewables? Can we not even agree that if renewables were cost competitive then it would be good to have more of them?

      You do a good job of side-stepping my points sometimes. Let’s go back a step. You blamed renewables for the increase in people’s bills and I blamed our energy cartel. Ignoring that point you blame the government for this situation which is somehow the fault of environmentalism because government and environmentalists are best buddies? Do you see Co2 levels dropping – or even dropping to the levels demanded by environmentalists? Has the government cut money allocated to its environmental departments or not? Are environmental activists being arrested for civil disobedience or not? The government has not been ‘captured’ by green interests and if you really believe they have then perhaps we can just agree to disagree and save a whole lot of time. Back to the point which you so artfully tried to avoid – it’s the energy companies’ fault for the majority of the price increases. And if you really cared about people struggling to make ends meet you’d direct your wrath in their direction as much as you would the governments’.

      And for whatever companies give to NGOs, it’s far outweighed by what they spend trying to distort science and lobbying to continue their reckless activities. You won’t read it, but it’s all recorded there in http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1408824663/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1.
      Call my comments contemptible all you like, Justin, but you still can’t fight with science and that’s why you and your ilk have to take to internet pages to do battle. When I start to see some real scientific literature that challenges the climate change consensus then I can start to change my opinions and my beliefs. Feel free to post that here; if it’s been done by real scientists (as in, those that have studied science, work in science and have had their work reviewed by other scientists) I’m happy to have a look.

      And no, I did not say it’s ok to distort the facts – even when NGOs do it. But we are discussing climate change here. Heartland has routinely, knowingly or unknowingly, distorted the facts or made basic mistakes about the science of climate change. If you want to say that a problem exists you need real evidence and they have been simply unable to provide this, so they tell lies. They confuse. They case doubt. Greenpeace may exaggerate the threats from climate change but there’s an important difference between the two. Heartland is demonstrably wrong about the basic science. Greenpeace take the worst case scenarios from some papers and make this out to be the reality of what will happen in the future. That’s also wrong but it’s not as bad as Heartland for reasons that should appear obvious.

      Peter Gleick is responsible for the theft, and anybody who doesn’t have pinhead oatmeal for brain cells knows he also perpetrated the witless document in question to give his rotten little act some play in the gullible green-leaning media. And witless it certainly was, but beautifully revealing of the childish goodies vs baddies mindset of environmentalists. We also know that Gleick was invited to take part in a debate by the Heartland some months before – and refused. Debate? Christ, no, we don’t do that in Enviro-land. Much better the sleazy, underhand, backstabbing method – after all there’ll always be a Guardian and an Independent and a BBC to uncritically lap these things up as fact, and journalists who invoke the truly dodgy Greater Truth argument when that becomes untenable

      This made me chuckle. So when Gleick does something wrong he’s a “backstabber” but when hackers steal information from the UEA it’s ok, ‘because they’re like, sticking it to the man’? There’s that pot and kettle again. And how can Gleick debate with the people at Heartland? Would you want to debate evolution with creationists? Science does its debate in research, observation and papers. Until some research can convincingly show that humans are not responsible for climate change then there’s no debate to be had. No debate to be had about THE SCIENCE that is. We can happily debate whether climate change will be a problem and what response society ought to take to this threat. (Heartland anti-science = )

      Seriously, though, are you just ever going to be able to face facts? The. Green. Alarmists. Are. Thousands. Of. Times. Better. Funded. Than. Heartland. Have you finally understood that now? No, no, do you – finally, finally get it now? It is an argument you simply cannot win, and it’s a pointless argument anyway.

      Better funded than Heartland, yes, but the whole denial machine, no. Again, it’s all in the above link.
      Some indicators of the top of my head – desertification increasing, ice caps melting, most glaciers melting (the majority), food supply under pressure, deforestation increasing, species extinction at a worrying rate that is attributable to human activities (as opposed to natural rates) and ocean acidification. These are all factors that can have a negative impact on human well-being and no they’re not all attributable to climate change, this is a more general point about human industrial activity. Our lifestyles have costs, Justin, the environment has acted as a sink for our waste for a long, long time and there’s only so much than can be absorbed. Anyone without their head in the sand can see that but I suppose in the world of the libertarian, techno-optimist everything’ll be fine, right, because technology is always there to save the day? I’m a believer in technology and I think it’s a great thing, but there are certain physical boundaries that even our brilliant technology will struggle to deal with. If we don’t take action to reduce our negative impacts then we’re playing dice with the environmental stability that we all depend on and that’s all I’m saying. I don’t know for sure that things will get worse and that amazing solutions won’t save us, but to deny that environmental problems exist and are serious as you do, is somewhat cavalier to say the least.

      As for modelling, what’s the Justin Smyth school of thought? Just wait and see? As I’ve said before, you have to use models because you need to predict based on previous observation. An amazing result of the empirical method has been prediction. And as much as you deny it, the prediction has often been accurate. http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hansen-1988-prediction.htm

      Again, in the absence of models, what’s the best approach to tackling the problems of the future? Is it not responsible to seek to avert future problems even if we’re not certain that they’ll occur? Like building flood defences near seaside communities?

      Your last few paragraphs descend into conspiracy mongering and some sort of attempt to make me feel bad about Peter Gleick. Yes, what he did was wrong – and as I’ve said before, so too was “climategate” those emails were stolen. What’s the difference, Justin? By the way, numerous independent commissions found the scientists innocence of any scientific wrong-doing. But it’s all just a cover up by Greens that have infiltrated the government, eh? What was so shocking from Climategate? “Hide the decline”, perhaps?

      Feel free to have the last word on this – see my other post on the Trojan Horse thread.

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