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Archive for April, 2011

XKCD always! BPSDB

hat tip to MindofDan

(how many climate change Deniers will actually get it?)

Rabett Runs

Eli has a totally fun flow chart in Rejection is fungable

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OK, make that “Highlight the decline”

BPSDB Almost a year and a half after the CRUde Hack incident (“Climategate” to Fox News fans) the scientifically illiterate (aka climate change Deniers) are still obsessing on, and lying about this incident. I suppose that is what you do when you have no facts and don’t understand the science.

Renewed interest by the hard of thinking (aka #climategate) in this non-issue has led Greenman3610 to produce a new video: Unwinding “Hide the Decline”

Hat tip to DeSmog for the heads up. Added to Climate Denial Crock of the Week

My own discussion of Muller and his roadshow may be found at Richard Muller is a well bad tosser. Below is the bulleted version of the facts for the climate change Deniers who apparently can’t handle more than a couple of paragraphs of text or a few minutes of video:

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Does this face look bovvered?

BPSDB Sometimes it takes a cartoon character to help understand a cartoon.

Recently I was introduced to the comic character Lauren Cooper,  a fictitious character created and performed by British comedic actress Catherine Tate.

While I enjoyed the comedy I was also struck by how much Lauren’s conflict dynamic mimicked that of many climate change Deniers.

Divorced of its’ normal context I found I was able to get much more analytical about what might actually be going on psychologically for the individual Denier. Possibly much more interesting, I was led to ask myself  “Why do I like Lauren even though she is a caricature of annoying people who make my life difficult?” and of course, what clues are there for how to deal effectively with Deniers?

Lauren Cooper, climate change Denier?

Lauren is an aggressive, obnoxious, poorly educated, self-absorbed, lower class 15 year old. Naturally her success as a comic character is because she parodies behaviour that we recognize; good comedians have to be keen observers of human behaviour.

No, Lauren is not a climate change Denier (I doubt she would even know what that meant), but she is interesting in that her argumentative dynamic uses the same basic pattern as the Deniers. Relative to everyday life Lauren is an outrageous, over the top caricature. Compared to some of the more familiar Deniers she is pretty average.

A Lauren Cooper sketch follows the same basic formula. First Lauren is caught out having done something “well bad” (ie stupid) and her mates remark on it. Often she will baldly deny it even happened at all despite the obvious fact that it did.

At some point she will attack the questioner with a Gish Gallop of shifting goal posts and red herrings that completely ignore the original issue “Are you disrespecting me? are you saying my mother is a prostitute? are you saying I’m stupid? are you saying my father is a wino? are you saying I’m a pikie?

Always she will express her total indifference to what others think or have to say by repeatedly asking “Am I bovvered?”

At no time will she ever admit to any error, acknowledge the validity any criticism, nor will she respond to what the other person is actually saying (on the rare occasions that she even detects that they are saying anything).

Sound familiar?

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BPSDB

Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules.

The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools.

Let me begin by saying I have enormous respect for William M. Connolley (aka Stoat) and generally do not significantly disagree with him.

However, in his Apr 5th piece “Muller is rubbish” Stoat said “But he [Muller] isn’t a tosser.

Stoat, you’re just plain wrong, Muller most definitely is a well bad tosser, a “denialist chumming complete bollocks.”

Short Prologue

(more documentation at bottom)

Richard Muller is a Berkeley physicist of some minor notoriety in climate change circles for being critical of “the Hockey Stick” (ie historical temperature reconstructions). By “critical” I mean calling it “phoney.”

Earlier this year the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group began a project to re-examine the existing temperature data. The project drew criticism for, among other things:

  • consisting exclusively of people with a poor track record for:
  • discussing the science honestly.
  • actually understanding the science.
  • being funded in part by Koch Industries.
  • On March 31 Muller testified before Congress and affirmed the high quality of the existing climate science which sent the climate change Deniers into a frenzy.

    The Muller sideshow has been one I have been largely ignoring, but then a repeat commenter brought this video clip to my attention:

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    BPSDB

    (hat tip to Quark Soup and Climate Progress)

    Maybe you celebrated Earth Day, maybe you ignored it. Maybe you share the cynicism that has been becoming overt on more than a few environmental sites, or at least noticed it.

    For the international celebration of a cause that we are working for, articles like (just a sampling):

    don’t exactly seem to be caught up in the spirit of it.

    Or how about this group email?:

    “It’s that time of year again: Earth Day, a singular day when the faithless are moved to buy reusable grocery bags.

    At #######, we get pretty rankled at all the Earthapalooza shenanigans. What’s next, Ye Olde Mattress Sale? Honestly.

    Let’s face it, we’re all just doing the best we can. And we do the best we can every stinking day. Not just on some tarted-up, feel-good, strum-your-guitar day of glowing holiness …

    I want to talk about something far more important than Earth Day, more important than saving endangered species,  or “the planet”, or humanity.

    First a little context.

    Continue reading at News Junkie Post:

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    BPSDB

    Mark Hertsgaard and James Hansen

    hat tip to Growth is not sustainable

    Future Climate Change

    with Dr Richard Alley, always worth hearing

    and this is pretty cool too; consider it within the context of the two preceding talks.

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    BPSDB Judith Curry’s latest post Polyclimate is actually about an interesting and important topic that deserves real discussion, but that is apparently not the real purpose of her post, and as a consequence not of this one either.

    The topic in question is the clear, effective communication of climate change science, and I just want to draw to your attention Dr Curry’s attempt to further undermine it.

    Dr Curry is actually quite a clever misinformer, so a single blog post is not sufficient to document all of the errors, misrepresentations  and cheap shots in the entire piece. Indeed may not even be sufficient to cover the introduction which attempts to frame the issue as being about flawed science. While masquerading as a serious discussion piece the fact is that a great deal of it is actually just juvenile swiftboating.

    I suppose I should begin by thanking Dr Curry for the backhanded semi-compliment she gave in “it seems that few people read Greenfyre, but it is representative of the genre and more literate and entertaining than most“, but still note the typical gratuitous put down she felt obliged to insert. Moving right along:

    In short, the blame is being placed on “deniers,” the mainstream media, conservatives and libertarians, and tactics used by the environmental movement itself.  The science itself is a non-issue in this matter: the incontrovertability of the Tyndall gas effect has somehow been translated into high confidence knowledge of what is going on with the climate system and what should be done about it.”

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    BPSDB

    I admit it, I have underestimated the virulence of the climate change Deniers.

    I had thought that they were merely  politically motivated, close minded, frightened people egged on by a corporate driven profit agenda.

    Increasingly I am convinced (by them) that we are dealing with a hysteric, desperate, terrified mob driven by ideologues.

    My post Love, blood and rhetoric really got the Digg Patriots into a froth, so I used the opportunity to see if I could cajole/goad/bait anyone of them into making a single relevant, rational comment about the post. I wasn’t hoping for much, just about anything that referred to what was actually said and responded with something that made any sense would have done.

    No luck. Several of the commenters even took took pride in their certainty that what I had written was treasonous, dangerous propaganda despite their not having read a single line of it. Several threatened to (and supposedly did) report me to the FBI/Homeland Security even though they hadn’t actually read the piece. Wow!

    Which led me to rereading a Sun Magazine interview with Chip Berlett, and realizing that I had failed to appreciate the full significance of something he said.

    “Barsamian: The virulence of language on the Right is acute. Everything is Armageddon, apocalypse, or a “nuclear option.”

    Berlet: That’s because it’s portraying the political opposition not as people with whom you disagree but as a force of evil with whom there can be no compromise. How can you compromise with Satan? How can you compromise with the people who want to destroy America?

    Brewing Up Trouble: Chip Berlet On The Tea Party And The Rise Of Right-Wing Populism by David Barsamian

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    BPSDB As we hurtle into the catastrophe of the sixth great mass extinction that defines the Anthropocene, it is interesting to note just how recently we only just began to understand that which we are now annihilating, and why it is so important to preserve it.

    (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882)

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

    On the Origin of Species, First edition

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    BPSDB 

    .

    Just over a year ago I did two posts documenting at length that uber climate change Denier PopTech’s (aka PopTart) list of “skeptic” science was blithering nonsense of the worst kind:

    .

    Those who have any experience with PopTech are well aware that he never lets inconsequential trivia like facts or reality influence his beliefs, so you won’t be surprised that he kept adding to his Septic List and finally managed to double it “900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of “Man-Made” Global Warming (AGW) Alarm ” (simple math for PopTech, 2 times 0 is still 0).

    Now Carbon Brief has had a look at the expanded list and brings us:

    1. Analysing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil
    2. “Using our paper to support skepticism of anthropogenic global warming is misleading.” Part II of our analysis of the 900+ climate skeptic papers

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    BPSDB  This trailer for a new documentary that is still in production popped up five days ago and it looks interesting. Clips from the interviews have been being posted every day since (selection below). See what you think.

    Oooh, they just added Elizabeth Kolbert and Barbara Bramble (The Birth of the Rainforest Action Network) (and look for Steve Schneider in the trailer).

    A Fierce Green Fire Official Trailer

    .

    Oh, a storm is threat’ning
    My very life today
    If I don’t get some shelter
    Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

    Bill McKibben – Public Consciousness and Climate Change

    .

    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    Lois Gibbs – The Uniqueness of Love Canal

    .

    Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
    Our very street today
    Burns like a red coal carpet
    Mad bull lost its way

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    SOA Quebec City 2001

    BPSDB In the dim mists of time hundreds of us were gathered by a foundation to discuss how we were going to move from our then state of impending environmental crisis to a sustainable society. Demographically we were a sampling of politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business people, NGO staffers, and community organizers.

    We talked and worked over three days in ever changing combinations that always had representation from each sector. By the last evening we were a much smaller, exhausted group consisting almost exclusively of the NGO staffers, community organizers and scientists, with only a handful of the others still present.  The organizers then revealed our last task, which was to answer:

    1. What needs to happen?
    2. What will it take?
    3. Who will pay for it?

    There was a long silence, and then finally a voice (an environmental consultant) said in a calm, measured manner “Revolution … Blood in the streets … Eat the rich.”

    There was another long silence as we all looked around to see how the others were reacting to this.  What we saw was a room full of people calmly nodding. We then spent the last few hours translating that answer into language that the Foundation could actually publish in it’s report.

    Make no mistake, this was not a gathering of radical activists. The participants were drawn from quite mainstream, moderate organizations and institutions. Nor, I think, would that have been the answer given when we first gathered, even by the subset of us still there at the end.

    Although the group had an abundance of experience trying to make change, the day long sessions of quibbling over trivia and dross had brought into stark relief just how inert “the system” was. Apparently imminent catastrophe was simply not sufficient reason to fiddle with the price of gas, or anything else for that matter.

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    BPSDB Mark Hertsgaard (author of  On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency) is interviewed by Democracy Now about his new book “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.”

    Some worthwhile points that he makes:

    It’s a crime

    Our inaction on climate change is a crime. It is and should be treated as such. The lies and propaganda of the Anti-science Machine are crimes against humanity and hopefully they will be formally recognized as such.

    “Uncertainty”

    The alleged uncertainty of the science is very much an American phenomenon. Not that there aren’t Bolts, Delingpoles, Balls and Mtols all over the world (what village is without its’ idiot?), but that widespread and official Denial is peculiar to the US.

    Update 18/4/11:

    Nukes

    I am not yet ready to talk about Nuclear Power, but Hertsgaard makes some interesting points relevant to that discussion.

    Food & GMOs

    As with Nukes, here is another I will be returning too, but he is certainly right in saying that food is the issue with respect to climate change.

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    BPSDB

    .

    Head

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    Heart


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    Hands


    .

    .

    If by any remote chance you have not heard of them, Koch Industries is a major funder of many right wing agendas including climate change Denial (The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science) and a core driver of the Tea Party movement.

    Of course it is unlikely that you haven’t heard of them, which begs the question of what the point of this post is? I want to suggest that it is not enough to simply  know about them, what are we going to do about it?

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    BPSDB  “…we manipulate the medium … that’s how you control the online dialogue.”

    American Majority trainer

    This clip exposes one of the many tactics that the right wing is using to control the information that the public gets, the information that you get.

    This is how The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science is operationalizing the corporate agenda, just one tactic of many being used to subvert democracy.

    The clip is from the documentary (Astro)Turf Wars that was released last October

    Trailer for (Astro)Turf Wars:

    We are drowning in propaganda, drowning in it. And I’m not speaking figuratively, it’s threatening our lives, it’s cutting off our air. It’s making real democracy all but impossible. It has brought the planet to the point of ecological destruction.” [emphasis added]

    Mark Crispin Miller, New York University, (Astro)Turf Wars interview

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    BPSDB

    Last week John Mashey did an excellent talk on “The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science” at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. John is an incurable geek (my highest praise) who has been a tireless bulldog in going after the power networks that support the professional world of climate change denial (and just a really nice guy).

    The talk is well worth it, so watch it:

    Video of John Mashey’s talk and the pdf of the presentation.

    Thanks to Tim @ Deltoid and Deep Climate for the heads up.

    Some things to watch for

    1) This is not a summary and will not substitute for watching the presentation itself, it’s just a sampling of some of the things he talks about that I have my own agenda for drawing your attention to, so go watch it already ;-)

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    BPSDB

    I feel a little awkward in that M’s comment on the post “Sciencey Spice Etc” is such a perfect set up for the post I was intending to write regardless that even I am a bit suspicious about it’s authenticity (it is a real comment nonetheless).

    In a nutshell, the comment reveals a naive and dangerously simplistic notion about what both science and politics are, but which I believe is fairly common in the science community.

    The post in question discusses and seeks to understand the phenomenon of Judith Curry and her blog Climate Etc as a social and socio-political event within the broader context of climate change Denialism, and begins to examine some of the gender and other dynamics which appear to be in play.

    M says “I find the gender-based speculation in this post highly unnecessary, and even inappropriate. Stick to criticizing the lack of science in JC’s blog rather than attempting amateur psychoanalysis.”

    Stick to criticizing the lack of science in JC’s blog

    Right.

    That’s worked really well for us.

    We simply document the bad science and lack of rationality in the climate change Denier arguments and they simply go away, c’est touts.

    Not.

    Obviously.

    For those who missed it, climate change Denial has been increasing, not decreasing. Our strategy is not working. When are we going to acknowledge that while documenting the absence of science or rationality in the Denialosphere may be necessary to making our society a reality based one, it is clearly not sufficient.

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    I have to out myself now as a Daniel Radcliffe fan. Having never seen a Harry Potter movie I had no idea until yesterday, but then I happened upon a youtube clip of an interview he did on a British talk show.

    In this interview Radcliffe opted to sing a Tom Lehrer song.

    Lehrer was a mathematician at Harvard, MIT and U Cal who dabbled in musical comedy on and off, but principally in the late 50s and early 60s. For those not familiar with Lehrer I recommend you correct that deficiency as soon as possible.

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    BPSDB


    Guest post by Martha

    Martha has been a frequent participant in discussions on Judith Curry‘s blog and shares with us some thoughts and observations.

    It seems like only yesterday that American scientist Judith Curry announced her arrival on the blogosphere. She has created a blog based on the idea that climate change deniers are good for science and she insists deniers are skeptics, compelled to expose what they (and she) see as the ‘corruption’ of climate science and the peer review process.

    While she brandishes a contrarian sword she strongly presents as disinterested in the usual denier conspiracy theories about a one-world government plot threatening the free market economy.

    Judith Curry asserts she is independent of all that. She is the right scientist: the good scientist. She denies any ulterior motives that might be perceived negatively by others.

    Sure, she has disclosed a small private commercial venture associated with the resources and students at her academic institute, but this is not generally viewed as problematic (although maybe it should be). While attempts to downplay or dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change are not new, especially for ideological or profit motives, she insists she is only interested in the scientific evidence.

    ‘I am right’.

    Judith Curry sometimes posts bone-dry data, which I guess at least ensures the appearance of some examination of the science. However, it is apparent that she doesn’t let the most current research or huge holes in her basic knowledge hold her back. She litters her blog with posts that are a curious grab-bag of recycled denier arguments and irrelevancies that she calls ‘common sense’.

    Apparently being right requires an abundance of false misleading comments, deliberate confusion and other mischief-making. Her juxtaposition of serious claims to science with what amounts to denier ad copy is bizarre. She disputes whatever she can think of and excoriates colleagues as often as possible.

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    Simple people,people who don’t exist,prefer things which don’t exist,simple things.

    e.e. cummings; six nonlectures

    Al Gore had a few minor errors of no particular consequence in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth“, but his book “The Assault on Reason” was wildly wrong in at least two important respects:

    i) The internet has proven to be a far more useful tool for the climate change Deniers than it has for the science fact community. This is undoubtedly because it is easier to tweet simple things such as “If evolution climate change is real, why are there still monkeys snowstorms?” than it is to understand the facts.

    Not that the explanation is that complex, just that it takes more than 140 characters to say and a bit of actual thinking to understand.

    ii) What we are witnessing is not an “Assault on Reason”, it is the wholesale abandonment of reason. Democracy requires dialogue, a dialogue that simply isn’t happening, and quite possibly cannot happen when one of the camps has chosen paranoid delusions and willful stupidity as their coping mechanisms.

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