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Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

BPSDB Disempowering ourselves again

It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction,” Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.

Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard’s Stavins Says

The argument that people will not do anything until it starts to affect them has probably been around for all of history. Certainly it is an old one with respect to climate change. The most recent iteration by Harvard economist Robert Stavins.

I was not able to find  much response to Stavins in the climate science blogosphere, perhaps because we have repeatedly been here before. However, there were two which illustrate several of the false assumptions that tend to get associated with this argument:

  1. What do we mean by “affect”?

  2. “Act” or react?

  3. Why catastrophe? Why Wait?

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Let’s start by noting that what is being referred to is what is known as “trigger events” in discussions of political activism. Trigger events are things that spike public awareness of a particular issue, for good or ill.

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BPSDB

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Hat tip to Magnus and Gareth

The F-bomb again, sigh. Maybe Tobis really has fundamentally altered the tone of climate science discussion? OK, they are climate scientists, there are actual facts and some legitimate political commentary in there, enjoy.

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As long as we’re on the topic  (for the last time, at least for a good long while) I decided to move this post up (and several others still to appear).

The context is this video by Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy. It’s a little ditty that uses “f**ked” as a hook and to entertain, but that nonetheless touches on some important points relevant to mobilizing the public.

For most of the points I am going to do no more than note them in the expectation of returning to them at some later time. You may argue that I read too much into a comedic song, but I think that the lyrics resonate with the audience because they touch on truths regardless of the light nature of this particular context.

OK, that’s understated. In a microcosm it pretty much sums up where we are and why we are stuck here.  Kudos to Katie for raising those points, but the really scary interesting  scary thing about this video is the comments people made about it.

First watch the video if you care to (and are not too offended by the F-word) and then we can get to my points.

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When I first saw the video my immediate thought was that it should be the anthem for the youth climate justice movement. Let’s take a quick walk through some of the lyrics:

There’s never been a time
as fucked up as this

No argument there, not for humans anyway. Maybe the Toba eruption, and I understand the PETM was pretty nasty for most species, but that’s pedantic quibbling.

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BPSDB

Fuddle Duddle

Chamberlain, Trudeau or … ?

Flotsam

A couple of weeks ago Michael Tobis shocked the delicate, refined sensibilities of the climate change Deniers by stating unambiguously what is at stake and what he felt were the unhelpful contributions of Steve Mosher.

Michael was blowing off some steam and may have used some language that he generally doesn’t. The incident would warrant only passing remark except for some of the fall out and follow up.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Getting past the irrelevant, the incident raises some important questions about how we engage in the debate, what our goals are, and what the implications are for our struggle, as individuals and as a collective.

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Fuddle Duddle

Text of what Tobis actually said

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my “side”.

Unless and until you find it within yourself to understand that you have major fucked up, big time, by throwing big juicy meat to the deniers to chew on and spin paranoid fantasies about for years, even decades,”

What I heard as significant:

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake.

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BPSDB

Recently Joe Romm was very impressed with Dave Roberts’ Policy in an age of post-truth politics” where “the referees have left the building” and for the most part I have to agree (hint, read it).

However, I think there is one significant disagreement, less so with Roberts than Romm I think, who summarized Roberts’ article as:

“It speaks to what happens when the referees — the media — don’t call balls and strikes anymore but mainly report the play-by-play.”

The referee metaphor is indeed Roberts’, and he does say “But the referees [media] have left the building.” He is talking about a broken system, ie civic society generally, and the dysfunctional dynamic between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US specifically. The media reference is about the medias’ failure to play a watchdog role.

To which I say, what? Since when has the media been an impartial referee? Below is a sampling (and it is merely a small sampling) of quotes about the press over the past two and a half centuries. Use a search engine to find ‘Quotes “the press”‘ for many hours of more like them.

“The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where their interests are involved. ” – Henry B Adams

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BPSDB

Method without Science,

or method

… “Opps!”

Seeing the recent “Science without method” post at Climate Etc I opted to first read the Nicol paper it was discussing before reading Dr Curry’s discussion of it.

The article alleges to highlight failures of climate change science, and in an obviously unintended way both it and Curry’s discussion of it does.

To give credit where credit is due, the exercise led me to rethinking how we frame the question of our current impasse. How it is possible for drivel like Nicol’s to somehow be taken seriously by anyone, never mind winding up actually influencing policies of countries.

First let’s get some context. In his paper Nicol said:

Yet in contemporary research on matters to do with climate change, and despite enormous expenditure, not one serious attempt has been made to check the veracity of the numerous assumptions involved in greenhouse theory by actual experimentation.

greenhouse theory“, seriously? Has he not read any scientific literature post-1860?

That aside, this is just idiotically wrong as a general statement. Can he cite any specifics? Loaded as it is with qualifiers he would no doubt cite all of the relevant reserach (which he is clearly not familiar with, or simply doesn’t understand) as not “serious” attempt(s) (ie No True Scotsman fallacy).

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BPSDB The recent tornadoes in the United States have lead to a resurgence of articles talking about the link between extreme weather, natural disasters and climate change. If you are an interested member of the general public you are undoubtedly confused as the two sides of the debate seem to be making opposing claims, and both seem to have some science to back them up.

I’d like to talk a bit about why there is this confusion and what it means in practical terms for you and me. Then I’d like to discuss the opinion of the folks who take this issue very seriously indeed. No, I don’t mean the scientists, much more seriously than that – I am referring to the insurance industry.

The critical phrase is “seem to be making opposing claims“, because for the most part they are not. The climate change Deniers erroneously characterize the science based reports as ascribing the various tornadoes, storms and what have you as being caused by or linked to climate change. That is not what the ones I sampled were actually saying.

If you read the various reports they correctly note that given the current state of our knowledge it is impossible to directly link the recent extreme weather to climate change. It is also impossible to definitively say there is no link; that’s how uncertainty works.

Now from what I can gather it is probable that the influence of climate change on the most recent spate of tornadoes in the US south west was very small to none, but that’s not the end of the story.

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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 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  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

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    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

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    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

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    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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    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

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    Head

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    Heart


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    Hands


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    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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