Nature v technology: climate ‘belief’ is politics, not science (reprint)

Clive Hamilton has written an interesting piece in The Conversation today on the question of “believing” in climate change. Personally, I’ve always stated I accept the scientific evidence – what I believe is of little consequence. 

As Hamilton states, the climate change debate is a political one. Hamilton looks at how the Theory of Relativity played into the political debates of the 1930s, a point I also made in my piece “To pilot a planet”. 

By Clive Hamilton

It is hard to imagine a scientific breakthrough more abstract and less politically contentious than Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Yet in Weimar Germany in the 1920s it attracted fierce controversy, with conservatives and ultra-nationalists reading it as a vindication of their opponents – liberals, socialists, pacifists and Jews. They could not separate Einstein’s political views – he was an internationalist and pacifist – from his scientific breakthroughs, and his extraordinary fame made him a prime target in a period of political turmoil.

There was a turning point in 1920. A year earlier a British scientific expedition had used observations of an eclipse to provide empirical confirmation of Einstein’s prediction that light could be bent by the gravitational pull of the Sun. Little known to the general public beforehand, Einstein was instantly elevated to the status of the genius who outshone Galileo and Newton. But conservative newspapers provided an outlet for anti-relativity activists and scientists with an axe to grind, stoking nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiment among those predisposed to it.

In a similar way today, conservative news outlets promote the views of climate deniers and publish stories designed to discredit climate scientists, all with a view to defending an established order seen to be threatened by evidence of a warming globe. As in the Wiemar Republic, the effect has been to fuel suspicion of liberals and “elites” by inviting the public to view science through political lenses.

At the height of the storm in 1920, a bemused Einstein wrote to a friend:

This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation.

The controversy was not confined to Germany. In France a citizen’s attitude to the new theory could be guessed from the stance he or she took on the Dreyfus affair, the scandal surrounding the Jewish army officer falsely convicted of spying in 1894, whose fate divided French society. Anti-Dreyfusards were inclined to reject relativity on political grounds.

In Britain, suspicions were less politically grounded but relativity’s subversion of Newton was a sensitive issue, leading Einstein to write an encomium for the great English scientist prior to a lecture tour.

Like Einstein’s opponents, who denied relativity because of its perceived association with progressive politics, conservative climate deniers follow the maxim that “my enemy’s friend is my enemy”. Scientists whose research strengthens the claims of environmentalism must be opposed.

Conservative climate deniers often link their repudiation of climate science to fears that cultural values are under attack from “liberals” and progressives. In Weimar Germany the threat to the cultural order apparently posed by relativity saw Einstein accused of “scientific dadaism”, after the anarchistic cultural and artistic movement then at its peak. The epithet is revealing because it reflected anxiety that Einstein’s theory would overthrow the established Newtonian understanding of the world, a destabilisation of the physical world that mirrored the subversion of the social order then underway.

Relativity’s apparent repudiation of absolutes was interpreted by some as yet another sign of moral and intellectual decay. There could not have been a worse time for Einstein’s theory to have received such emphatic empirical validation than in the chaotic years after the First World War.

Although not to be overstated, the turmoil of Weimar Germany has some similarities with the political ferment that characterises the United States today – deep-rooted resentments, the sense of a nation in decline, the fragility of liberal forces, and the rise of an angry populist right. Environmental policy and science have become battlegrounds in a deep ideological divide that emerged as a backlash against the gains of the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Marrying science to politics was a calculated strategy of conservative activists in the 1990s, opening up a gulf between Republican and Democratic voters over their attitudes to climate science. Both anti-relativists and climate deniers justifiably feared that science would enhance the standing of their opponents. They responded by tarnishing science with politics.

Einstein’s work was often accused of being un-German, and National Socialist ideology would soon be drawing a distinction between Jewish and Aryan mathematics. Although anti-Semitism plays no part in climate denial, “Jewish mathematics” served the same political function that the charge of “left-wing science” does in the climate debate today.

In the United States, the notion of left-wing science dates to the rise in the 1960s of what has been called “environmental-social impact” science which, at least implicitly, questioned the unalloyed benefits of “technological-production” science. Thus in 1975 Jacob Needleman could write:

Once the hope of mankind, modern science has now become the object of such mistrust and disappointment that it will probably never again speak with its old authority.

The apparent paradox of denialist think tanks supporting geoengineering solutions to the global warming problem that does not exist can be understood as a reassertion of technological-production science over environmental impact science. Thus the Exxon-funded Heartland Institute – the leading denialist organisation that has hosted a series of conferences at which climate science is denounced as a hoax and a communist conspiracy – has enthusiastically endorsed geoengineering as the answer to the problem that does not exist.

The association between “left-wing” opinion and climate science has now been made so strongly that politically conservative scientists who accept the evidence for climate change typically withdraw from public debate. So do those conservative politicians who remain faithful to science.

The motives of Einstein’s opponents were various but differences were overlooked in pursuit of the common foe. Today among the enemies of climate science we find grouped together activists in free market think tanks, politicians pandering to popular fears, conservative media outlets like the Sunday Times and Fox News, a handful of disgruntled scientists, right-wing philanthropists including the Scaifes and Kochs, and sundry opportunists such as Christopher Monckton and Bjorn Lomborg.

While Einstein’s theory posed no economic threat and industrialists were absent from the constellation of anti-relativity forces, the way in which climate denial was initially organised and promoted by fossil fuel interests is now well-documented. In the last several years, climate denial has developed into a political and cultural movement. Beneath the Astroturf grass grew.

This is an edited extract from Earthmasters by Clive Hamilton, published by Allen & Unwin.

Clive Hamilton does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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72 thoughts on “Nature v technology: climate ‘belief’ is politics, not science (reprint)

  1. [...] Nature v technology: climate 'belief' is politics, not science (reprint … [...]

  2. john byatt says:

    Cold in Europe?

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/014036

    latest paper re arctic melt/cold europe winters

  3. john byatt says:

    They are weird

    nuclear and geoengineering are seen as right wing solutions therefore good

    mitigation, solar and wind are seen as left wing solutions therefore bad

    The fact that the so called left (china) embrace nuclear, solar and wind is somehow lost on them.

    very quiet about the Monckton on ice show !

    • Dr No says:

      Time to challenge Eric on his favourite topic: Eugenics.

      According to Wikipedia: “By the end of World War II, eugenics had been largely abandoned, having become associated with Nazi-Germany…. Both the public and some elements of the scientific community have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced “racial hygiene”, human experimentation, and the extermination of “undesired” population groups.

      However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century are… raising for some people numerous new questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.”

      Is it (now) a valid research area?
      Was it valid back in the past?
      Were scientists really culpable?
      Or is it forever besmirched by the actions of the Nazis?

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Good grief, I’m not against studying how genes affect us. I suffer from several nasty allergy conditions, so an advanced permanent “cure” for these conditions, based on studying in detail why my immune system gets it so wrong in a few cases, would be very welcome indeed.

        When I refer to Eugenics, I usually say “Alarmist Eugenics”. By this I refer to the pseudoscientific movement which climaxed in the early 20th century, which postulated an imminent genetic crisis which, which they believed, without intervention, would overwhelm the carrying capacity of civilisation with a tide of morons and defectives.

        If this distinction hasn’t been clear, please accept my apology.

        The interesting thing about Hitler in this context, is he wasn’t the product of Eugenics at its peak. Hitler was the desperate, last ditch attempt by Eugenicists to create a model, a showcase for their beliefs, to convince the public in America and Britain that they were wrong to reject their science.

        So those well meaning fools poured their still enormous wealth and power into bankrupt Germany, into the hands of the one politician who they thought would save their movement – and in doing so, made the rise of Hitler unstoppable. Because in starving, bankrupt, broken Weimar Germany, joining the NAZI party meant next week your family would eat proper meals. And Hitler’s message of hope and rebirth was an irresistible siren call to people who for years had only seen misery and despair.

      • john byatt says:

        “would overwhelm the carrying capacity of civilisation with a tide of morons and defectives.”

        well they did warn us

      • Dr No says:

        “I’m not against studying how genes affect us. I suffer from several nasty allergy conditions, so an advanced permanent “cure” for these conditions, based on studying in detail why my immune system gets it so wrong in a few cases, would be very welcome indeed.”
        I take that as YES to questions 1 and 2

        “When I refer to Eugenics, I usually say “Alarmist Eugenics”. By this I refer to the pseudoscientific movement which climaxed in the early 20th century, which postulated an imminent genetic crisis which, which they believed, without intervention, would overwhelm the carrying capacity of civilisation with a tide of morons and defectives.”
        I take that as a YES to question 4

        I assume then, that the answer to question 3 is NO. i.e. the scientists carried out legitimate research and were not doing it for ulterior motives.

        BTW, I sometimes feel as if we are being overwhelmed by “a tide of morons and defectives”. Just look at the quality of debate both here and in the US.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        I assume then, that the answer to question 3 is NO. i.e. the scientists carried out legitimate research and were not doing it for ulterior motives.

        No, their motives were fine (the Eugenicists believed in what they were doing), but their science was defective – their technique was sloppy, but they were utterly convinced they were right – they discarded discordant evidence, and shouted down critics, called them names.

        Do you hold someone culpable for being incompetent? That issue has split the skeptic community – some of us want the climategate scientists thrown in jail forever, others like Steve McIntyre think simply proving them wrong is enough.

        One of my goals is to do my bit to accelerate the demise of climate alarmism. I don’t particularly care whether anyone goes to jail, I just want the movement broken. Not that I can do much – I’m hardly a major player. But I do my bit.

      • Eugenics is practiced by right wingers. Don’t vote the blighters in. Job done.

      • How about chucking Tony the Weatherboy into the clink for handling stolen goods?

      • Nick says:

        I hope you’re not attempting to argue that because Eugenicists were ‘sincere’ ,their motives were fine? We know they were misguided ,and I’d suggest that there was enough information and diversity of opinion AT THE TIME for them to consider that possibly they were misguided. As for their collective sincerity,I think that’s questionable,too. The whole thing was an abuse of power and position,enabled by class-system entitlements and impediments, lack of rights, and disenfranchisement. Wealthy,connected people in those days could kill and rape the lower classes with impunity. Siring of bastards was still at medieval levels. Truly free men were able to pull in many directions,and the rest could lump it.!

        Because of that kind of idiocy we have greater inclusiveness and accountability today,particularly in the sciences. But we still have problems with elite-imposed technological agendas,usually from the resource-owning, military and consumer technology community sectors.

      • Nick says:

        And it’s extraordinary that anyone could consider there is some kind of illegality revealed in the stolen emails, let alone delude themselves into thinking that anyone is imprisonable. That reveals a whole lot of failures of comprehension and reason. So you see,the rational community notes that not only are you guys wrong in science,but completely lacking ethics and restraint, and prone to absolutely crazy ideation. Positively Moncktonian.

        Really,some of your fellow travellers are insane…simply insane.

      • Tremble with fear, warmist fellow travellers, the Viscount has armed his mighty knights with ten, count ‘em, ten killer questions, http://sppiblog.org/news/10-killer-questions-for-climate-extremists.

        I’ve already seen one deployed – the first one – by Tony the Weatherboy’s apprentice, asserting that 0.1C is indistinguishable from zero. I’d rather we discussed statistical significance. And I’d rather not just leave it at the default of 95% sure. I like my “p” stated. If I’m in business and ask if something is likely to happen, knowing it’s at 95% is only half interesting. If it didn’t hit 95%, but was 91% or even 82%, I’m very likely to take the same decision.

        Prepare for the rest. Brush up on your Aristotle http://sppiblog.org/news/10-killer-questions-for-climate-extremists. No, of course he doesn’t give citations. Don’t be silly. If he did you could debunk him and he couldn’t say you’d read the wrong paper.

  4. john byatt says:

    Eric “I do not believe it but Nuclear would fix it”

    how like
    “The apparent paradox of denialist think tanks supporting geoengineering solutions to the global warming problem that does not exist can be understood as a reassertion of technological-production science over environmental impact science. Thus the Exxon-funded Heartland Institute – the leading denialist organisation that has hosted a series of conferences at which climate science is denounced as a hoax and a communist conspiracy – has enthusiastically endorsed geoengineering as the answer to the problem that does not exist.”

    • Eric is just like all those conspiracy theorists that protested the Lewandowsky paper by claiming a conspiracy. His lack of self awareness is hilarious and sad at the same time.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        I know its difficult for you to hold two ideas in your head at the same time, but make an effort.

        My position is:-

        a) I don’t think CO2 is a threat.

        b) Even if it is a threat, the solution is not your social reengineering BS – the solution would be replacing carbon intensive energy with nuclear energy.

        • social reengineering? Shhhhhhh Eric, they’ve got your house bugged….. you better ditch the tinfoil hat and go for tinfoil underpants. You are speaking out of your arse afterall.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        FFS, by this I mean attempts to reduce travel (e.g. taxes on air travel), to change the way we use energy through punitive taxes and subsidies, to show propaganda trash like “An Inconvenient Truth” to school kids, regardless of the wishes of parents, experiments with ridiculous extra layers of bureaucracy, such as the “personal carbon credits” scheme trialled on Norfolk Island, to see if it could be applied to the rest of us, and ridiculous wasteful tampering with market mechanisms, propping up useless wind turbines, at great cost to us all.

        None of it necessary, even if you believe in the carbon fairy, if decarbonisation was achieved by building a few nuclear power plants.

      • Nick says:

        Eric,you have a naive view of energy availability. Think about extractive bottlenecks. Think about the reality that extracting energy sources is using increasing amounts of energy per unit won . Think about growing population and where energy is used. Think about expectation built on hollow promises. Think about how much of the worlds primary productive capacity is used by humans,what spare capacity we might have, and the consequences of shortfalls for the biosphere and environmental services,when one part of the world has the ‘freedom to pull’ your resources from you. Cornucopian populism’s increasingly hollow promises are dangerous.

        It’s not a matter of ideology, it’s simple accounting that farmers everywhere understand. We need to use less per capita,not more.In many places this is actually happening,imposed by natural conditions or directed by visionary legislation and co-operation. We are changing because of ecological limits. Do you want,as Gil Scott-Heron asked forty years ago, to direct the change or be a victim of it?

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Nick:-

        Eric,you have a naive view of energy availability. Think about extractive bottlenecks. Think about the reality that extracting energy sources is using increasing amounts of energy per unit won .

        Then why has the price of gas plummeted in the USA?

        And Thorium, the next generation nuclear fuel everyone knows is coming, is abundant enough, and energy dense enough, so we shall simply not run out under any imaginable scenario. A cubic metre of garden soil contains around 60g of Thorium, on average. The energy that Thorium would yield, in a reactor, could supply the household who owned the garden with energy for a decade.

        Think about growing population and where energy is used. Think about expectation built on hollow promises. Think about how much of the worlds primary productive capacity is used by humans,what spare capacity we might have, and the consequences of shortfalls for the biosphere and environmental services,when one part of the world has the ‘freedom to pull’ your resources from you. Cornucopian populism’s increasingly hollow promises are dangerous.

        There is no evidence we are running short of productive capacity. Doomsayers like Malthus and Ehrlich have been predicting starvation and collapse for well over a century, and so far we’ve stayed ahead. This trend shows no sign of failing.

        There are sometimes problems in the third world, but this has nothing to do with the capacity of the land. There’s no point investing in modern farming, or anything likely to show up as increased wealth, if you know the local warlord will simply steal the benefits of whatever improvements you make.

        It’s not a matter of ideology, it’s simple accounting that farmers everywhere understand. We need to use less per capita,not more.In many places this is actually happening,imposed by natural conditions or directed by visionary legislation and co-operation. We are changing because of ecological limits. Do you want,as Gil Scott-Heron asked forty years ago, to direct the change or be a victim of it?

        Nonsense. We need to use more per capita, to make life easier, richer, and happier. There are no ecological, or any other limits.

        • “We need to use more per capita, to make life easier, richer, and happier. There are no ecological, or any other limits.”

          No other limits? Hmmm, I can only wonder Eric, what sort of world population you think this planet can cater for? 9 billion? 15 billion? 100 billllion? 500 billion? How many Eric?

      • “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

        http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/data/climatechange/planets/

      • Nick says:

        Falling gas price is temporary glut/bubble induced,and will pass as yields from new sources tail off. ‘Boom and bust’ is apparently the kind of economy we want to run still In the long term….and you know why,don’t you? Short-term profiteering…get rich and get out,and f**k the overall cost,that will be picked up by the taxpayer. Once FFs become impossibly expensive through lack of sufficiency and mounting cost of extraction,they will get cheaper as the economy contracts..but will continue to wane in extractability until they are effectively exhausted.

        “There are no ecological limits”. You simply delude yourself. No species can escape the limits imposed by habitat and energy yield. If you’re not interested in ecology,at least do some thought experiments and scale them upwards. Look for total planetary energy budgets work. I’d suggest your delusion stems from ignorance of what unlocking fossil fuel meant in energy terms. Once it’s exhausted,we are left with renewables which though considerable [particularly if we can get photosynthetic generation going] are limited in yield. The 300 million years worth of portable concentrated sunshine that we will effectively exhaust soon cannot be entirely substituted for. I see a lot more wind turbines up ahead.

        We are trying to arrange a softer landing for you,but you prefer self-harm.

  5. Eric Worrall says:

    I’m going to call BS on this one.

    You’re conveniently forgetting for a long time there was strong bipartisan support for climate mitigation. Right wingers love emergencies as much as left wingers do – its a chance to mobilise the army and wave the flag.

    And Thatcher practically started the movement, at least the modern politicised version – she founded the Tyndall Centre.

    Where it went wrong was when the right realised the climate change movement had been hijacked by the left. The ridiculous “solutions”, which all seemed to involve an increase in state control, and the half hearted support, or even outright hostility to nuclear power, all pointed to motivations other than reducing CO2 emissions.

    Then along came Climategate, which kindof holed your credibility below the waterline.

    Even now I find accusations that I disagree with alarmism because of my politics rather bizarre. If I thought there was even a serious risk anthropomorphic climate change is the problem you guys believe it to be, I’d be a fervent supporter of decarbonisation.

    The difference is, I would put my weight (quite a lot of it :-) ) wholeheartedly behind using a chain of new nuclear power stations to decarbonise the world, and would ditch all the useless non solutions such as wind turbines, and would continue to oppose (to me) politically unacceptable curbs on individual freedom.

    I don’t support measures to reduce CO2 because I think the case for alarmism is nonsense – because if I thought it was true, I’d chuck out all your useless lefty ideas, and bring some right wing expertise to solving the problem.

    • Military intelligence. Right wing expertise. Oxymorons abound.

    • zoot says:

      Then along came Climategate, which kindof holed your credibility below the waterline.

      Only in the denialosphere Erric.
      9 inquiries, that’s 9 (almost all of your fingers) conspiracies you need to uncover.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Oxburgh was the silliest – he forgot to mention he was a senior office of GLOBE, when he hosted his inquiry. The rest have varying degrees of dodgy.

      • Hilarious. All nine are dodgy? All nine? There is an alternative hypothesis. Occam would be proud. That alternative? There was no case to begin with. You lost. Nine times.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        It depends what you expect to find.

        The climategate emails suggest to me that alarmists are activists first, scientists second. It is riddled with references to adjusting the interpretation of the data to present the right narrative – the infamous “nature trick” simply being the most famous.

        But there is no suggestion as far as I can see that they did these adjustments because they were cynically manipulating the process. The suggestion as far as I can tell is more that they are so sure they are right, they distrusted data which contradicted their narrative, and were worried that skeptics would make a big deal of discordant data – that skeptics would use it to sew doubt, to impede their vital mission to save the world.

        So they tried to hide the flaws in their work, to present as strong a case as possible for action.

      • Nick says:

        The construct that climate scientists are ‘activists first,scientists second’ is such easily dismissed rhetorical nonsense it’s barely worth acknowledging. Very few scientists actually have much profile as activists,and it is usually only well into a career that they have the authority,profile and time to be useful advocates. Logically it is bunk as well.-,as it assumes that the two activities are mutually incompatible or activism is undesirable per se….your authoritarian streak gets in the way of your brain.

        Have you ever considered that acquired detailed knowledge leads to, in some cases,activism, because scientists have the right and duty to be politically active and contribute their knowledge to societal direction? Or do we leave it to the professional political class? People like Chris Pyne,Peter Costello and the odious Nick Minchin are activists from their teens,inducted through law faculties and university politics and parachuted straight into leadership. Ditto for the Labor luvvies…and they all know sweet FA about how the world really works!
        Activists first, both temporally and literally! And willing captives of unelected big money interests that direct policy.

        We are all suffering at the hands of the limited,poorly educated views of political activists of the old order. Educated fools from uneducated schools.

      • Nine times. And you still can’t let it go. Loser.

        • He gets it but he has pinned his entire being to this idiocy and to acknowledge that would leave him empty….in his mind. He doesn’t seem to understand that if were to put his hand up and acknowledge that he was wrong, he would earn some respect. It’s a pathetic soul that chooses to be ridiculed to hold onto a position he knows is wrong.

    • Deniergate? Donors Trust? How come the deniers get all the good, proven, conspiracies, huh?

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Oh you mean when Gleick stole a few harmless memos, then spiced up the swag with a forgery?

        • You mean the guy who ferreted out the facts from a secretive organisation that’s fooling no-one but fools with it’s claims of forgery? And the same organisation runs a PR campaign, swears it’s going to court – and then bottles it just when we were all hoping they’d have to disclose their documents? Yup, them idiots. Good thing their revenue is down the pan.

          Nothing about the secretive Donors Trust? Any idea who funds GWPF?

      • Nick says:

        Funny thing is,that document WAS GENUINE. Heartland proved it by getting so worked up over it. They have never established it was forged,which should have been easy. They protesteth too much.

      • How about Donors Trust, Eric?

      • How about the liars at the GWPF?

    • Berbalang says:

      Eric Worrall, you are projecting Right Wing thinking onto others who don’t think that way. I don’t like emergencies. Right Wingers like to create emergencies and then demand the power to “fix” the problem but they don’t actually fix it. They then turn around and say they can’t fix it unless they get more power. All the while going on about how power hungry the Left is, after all, they think the Left thinks like they do.

      I am curious as to why you regard wind turbines as a non-solution.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        If you look at history I think you’ll find both right and left wing politicians use imaginary and real emergencies as a political distraction – its something bad politicians do, regardless of their policy leanings.

        As Terry Pratchett once said:- Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.

        Beware any politician who demands we unite for a cause – and watch for their hand picking your pocket while you are looking where they point.

        As for why I regard wind turbines as a non solution, the reason is they can’t do baseload – noone can control when the wind blows. Until cheap energy storage is available which can hold several days worth of base load, even if you could build enough wind turbines to contribute a useful amount of energy, the lack of an energy storage solution means you need to build a second set of generators, to provide 100% backup generation capacity.

        This means you are paying twice for your power – you pay a heavily subsidised fee to wind turbine operators, to cover the extravagant cost, then you pay an additional subsidy to gas turbine operators, to cover the cost of keeping their plants at idle some of the time.

        Worse, since wind fluctuates so violently, the only type of generator which can keep the grid stable is single cycle gas turbines. More efficient closed cycle gas turbines can’t keep up with the power fluctuations (closed cycle turbines are more efficient because they reprocess heat from the primary process to extract more energy, instead of throwing it away – but they aren’t flexible enough to use as wind backup).

        So it is doubtful whether wind turbines actually save any CO2 emissions – given the amount of backup they need from inefficient single cycle gas turbines.

        Compare all this to say nuclear, with its ability to produce continuous, predictable base load, and it becomes obvious why wind is a waste of time and money.

      • Nick says:

        The fallacy of free men pulling in all directions is the foundation assumption that free men CAN feasibly pull in all directions on any issue at any time. It’s a fallacy built on convenient ignorance of ecology. It is crap,simple as that. The world has become too small for free men to use any and every corner of it as an ash tray. We have simply overwhelmed some systems ability to handle our waste in a timely fashion,a timeliness that we as a species [and many other species] need for our health and security.

        The sad thing is that we have known this,having encountered ecological problems at local and regional scales for centuries,but have rejected modifying some of our activities despite our best knowledge. One of the things we have to modify is economics itself,as many economists know.

        Free men have pulled together in one direction on a lot of global scale details,such as law and tax matters,and many scientific protocols. It’s only the bad-faith operators and free riders who diminish the effect of such agreements. Email thieves,too.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        The fallacy of free men pulling in all directions is the foundation assumption that free men CAN feasibly pull in all directions on any issue at any time. It’s a fallacy built on convenient ignorance of ecology. It is crap,simple as that. The world has become too small for free men to use any and every corner of it as an ash tray. We have simply overwhelmed some systems ability to handle our waste in a timely fashion,a timeliness that we as a species [and many other species] need for our health and security.

        Nicely put – the case for tyranny. But none of the dire consequences to freedom which have been predicted have actually occurred yet.

        And history shows us that free countries take care of their environment far better than tyrannies – the clean water and air of western countries, vs the gruesome air pollution of Chinese cities, or the legendary pollution and toxic legacy of Soviet times, are evidence that people who have some say over their own lives do a better job of taking care of their environment than people who have to do what their leader tells them to do.

        Free men have pulled together in one direction on a lot of global scale details,such as law and tax matters,and many scientific protocols. It’s only the bad-faith operators and free riders who diminish the effect of such agreements. Email thieves,too.

        You certainly won’t find me criticising the benefits of say free trade agreements. But I wouldn’t dream of suppressing the right of people who opposed such agreements to pull in the opposite direction. I want to win because of the merits of my case, not by stifling voices that oppose me – calling them names, making out they are insane, doing everything I can to avoid having to actually engage with their arguments.

      • Nick says:

        Eric,don’t you understand that tyranny flows also from Pratchetts simplistic notion? He is unwittingly enabling a tyranny of ignorance,and in order to ‘freely pull in any direction’ some men will oppress others regardless of the ‘merit’ of their ‘arguments’. They do it through traditional feudal behaviors enshrined by economic philosophy and mechanisms and built on violent colonial wars. These philosophies are ad-hoc, crude and unsustainable in the light of what we now know about the planet.

        The environment does not understand or have any need for political boundaries. It has its own orders,scales, budgets and trajectories. We live in that environment because we are of it. We cannot manipulate it at all scales and time frames just because our social constructs would wish it. We can not freely pull in all directions just because it is a comforting notion or an ideal aggressively touted by a loud minority. Neo-libertarianism needs to grow up. It is an unworldly idealism marooned in the 1800s. It actually does not understand or explain the way we live now. It is actually a ‘fuck you’ rather than a considered socially enhancing view.

        You well know that we ‘free countries’ have outsourced our environmental problems to the less free, ship-breaking in India,computer waste to Africa, invasion of regional fisheries under ‘laws’ of the sea,manufacturing and its waste to low-cost low regulation nations, the co-opting of good parts of poor nations biological resources to feed or enrich us. So that somewhat unravels your free/unfree blandishments. If you want to ‘freely pull in any direction’ it helps if you set the rules and start with the most,and most mobile, capital.

        And I believe it is possible to call you insane AND engage with your arguments: we do it here all the time.

    • You are an absolute classic. You call bullshit on an article that discusses the politicisation of a scientific discussion by rightwingers where they use tactics like discrediting scientists and accuse the scientists of attacking cultural values, and then you turn around and try to discredit scientists and accuse them of attacking cultural values like “individual freedoms”.

      The only bullshit around here Bozo is the stuff that no doubt dribbles from your mouth while you frantically clack away on your keyboard putting your ridiculous thought bubbles into words.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        If you considered my point logically, you might have noticed what I was calling bullshit on was the concept that right wingers reject alarmist climate science, because of our political ideology.

        I advanced two arguments to support my point:-

        1. Right wingers were heavily involved in the early stages, for example Thatcher was a strong support of reducing CO2 emissions, and did a lot to promote this issue on the world stage.

        2. There are means to reduce CO2 emissions which would be palatable, even attractive, to right wingers – the main example of which is nuclear power. Anthony Watts for example is a strong fan of Liquid Thorium reactor technology – a much safer nuclear cycle than current Uranium and Plutonium breeder designs. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/12/im-on-al-gores-radar-for-showing-a-path-forward/

        What we find most objectionable about your position is your social engineering BS, your wasteful corporatist big government subsidies for useless non solutions.

        We don’t think you are right about CO2 – but we have no ideological reason to dismiss alarmist climate projections. Because we know exactly what we would do if it turned out CO2 was a threat. And it doesn’t involve wind turbines. Our objections to alarmist science are due to sloppy procedure and the track record of failed predictions – we simply think you are wrong.

        • Oh come off it Eric, your opinion gleaned from crybaby watts is not based in any science at all and is completely driven by ideology and the way you can hold two postions must have you in knots. No global warming but you have the solution? Please! Your credibility as anything other than an ignnoramus is shot.

      • Nick says:

        The ‘wingedness’ arguments are no really very focussed or needed at all for that matter. I’m sure all politicians would like to reduce CO2 emissions as a basic aim,as the benefits are many. Thatcher acted on advice from scientific advisers because she was scientifically literate,not out of ideology. There are a few climate scientists who have identified as Republicans [in principle] in the states. As for others views we really would be making huge and unnecessary assumptions about folks. One of those assumptions is that a narrow political philosophy has any part to play in working science or directing research. It can’t,as it has no functional value as a work tool. Believing in Freedman or Keynes will not assist your wildlife survey methodology, help calibrate your satellite sensors or help you find the best statistical tool [unless you are a 'political scientist' perhaps].

        You’ll find many agree with you that some if not much of government approaches to AGW are ill-directed and rortable. Government is often captive to interests capable of gaming legislative efforts to arrive at best practice. The ‘liberalising’ of markets,the unshackling of money,lobbying,pay-for-access politics,political /mates appointed as departmental functionaries— the retreat of government for the people is responsible for a lot of this. No government in Australia has the guts to seriously manage mining or plan for a feasible future EVEN UNDER THE DELUDED TERMS OF CURRENT ECONOMICS. The NT government has NO ACCESS to Ichthys Field gas produced at the underconstruction gas plant near Darwin: it has ALL been forward sold to overseas markets. The previous Territory Labor government obviously got bullied and failed its constituents there.

        “Social engineering BS” This always makes me laugh,because it is very unaware. Liberal/neoliberal economics is social engineering. Be it a one party state or a scandinavian social paradise,it engineers societally. The modern business/government relationship is social engineering. The ‘freedom to pull in all directions’ is social engineering. All agreed and imposed social behaviors are social engineering which result in further social engineering. What process involving societal outcomes [ as in all processes] does not result in social engineering? A big employer [capital] arrives in a state or town,after engineering suitable conditions from regulators,places demands on local infrastructure,attracts workers, operates and then decides to seek a lower cost domain to manufacture from,leaving the community to pick up a lot of the cost. That’s not social engineering?

        Is mandating or motivating lower per capita energy demand not actually useful social engineering? It encourages adaptive and exploratory behavior. Show me your energy budget that proves that we actually have a realistic future under BAU.

        No-one here is turbine fan for the love of it. And no-one here is a turbine exclusivist. Mixed renewables is not a choice, it’s an axiom. But you would exclude turbines? Your argument? I think you’ve succumbed to the Delingpole/Booker axis of nonsense. Both men a famed energy consultants.

    • The atmosphere may not be warming; but if it is, this is probably due to natural variation; but if it isn’t, the amount of warming is probably not significant; but if it is, the benefits should outweigh the disadvantages; but if they don’t, technology should be able to solve problems as they arise; but if it can’t, we shouldn’t wreck the economy to fix the problem.

      Put so succinctly it’s obviously crazy. That’s why deniers use so many words; to hide the inanity.

  6. “Einstein’s work was often accused of being un-German, and National Socialist ideology would soon be drawing a distinction between Jewish and Aryan mathematics. Although anti-Semitism plays no part in climate denial, “Jewish mathematics” served the same political function that the charge of “left-wing science” does in the climate debate today.”

    Enter Eric, to discuss Eugenics yet again.

  7. Skeptikal says:

    You can’t compare Einstein’s scientific breakthrough with the trash that’s now being presented as climate science. By doing so, you’re doing little more than sullying Einstein’s reputation. His ‘general theory of relativity’ stood on its own feet, not needing lots of (should I use the word scientists?, maybe not) computer modellers to try to prove the theory has any merit.

    Climate change is a ‘belief’, just as with any other cult. The models don’t work because the theory is wrong, but don’t let that stop you “believing” in the pending doom which your prophets tell you that the planet faces. Ignore that the global temperature has flatlined… in fact, just ignore everything that doesn’t fit with your “beliefs”. Let your brains move into retirement… it’s far easier to believe the propaganda than having to think for yourself.

    • Which models are wrong skep?…actually just pick one and explain in some detail why YOU think they are wrong?

      • Skeptikal says:

        Oh look, the troll’s back… and asking more questions.

        Do you remember this?…

        uknowispeaksense says:

        I won’t answer the questions because they are the wrong questions.

        Well, I won’t answer your questions because they are a troll’s questions.

        • No, you won’t answer questions because you can’t. I wouldn’t answer those specific questions of yours because they were idiotic questions that were completely irrelevant in the context of the discussion. Rather than quote mining me, why don’t you provide some context? Would that be because any normal person reading it would see just how idiotic your questions were? Now you can call me a troll until the cows come home if you want to add juvenility to the long list of character flaws you already have demonstrated, or you can demonstrate that you actually know anything about the things you critique by adding a bit of justification for your comment. How are the models wrong? Simply stating something without providing any backup is pointless….Oh look everybody, Skeptical says the models are wrong. I guess its time to pack up and go home because Skeptical the all-knowing has spoken. Moron.

    • zoot says:

      His ‘general theory of relativity’ stood on its own feet, not needing lots of (should I use the word scientists?, maybe not) computer modellers to try to prove the theory has any merit.

      You really, genuinely, have no clue, do you?

      • Skeptikal says:

        I really, genuinely, have no clue why you would want to save the world from something that it does NOT need saving. I have no clue how you can look past the flatlining global temperature without questioning it. I have no clue how you can ignore all the tipping points that didn’t happen, how you can believe the apocalyptic prophecies of coastal inundations which we’re still waiting for, how you can point to every weather event as a ‘sign’ of impending doom. I really, genuinely, have no clue about the cult mentality which you’re displaying.

      • zoot says:

        Can we find a troll with an IQ above room temperature?

        Please?

      • He’s just admitted he is clueless. About time.

        “I really, genuinely, have no clue”

        See how quote mining works Skep?

      • Nick says:

        On the sea-level rise issue,Skep,please just think a bit.

        ‘Apocalyptic prophesies’-sigh-‘of coastal inundations which we’re still waiting for’?

        Sea-level is rising,that is established. It is rising very much according to projection,that is established. It has shown some acceleration through the last century,that is established by competent statisticians.

        So the ‘prophesies’ are unfolding on schedule and target…where did you get the idea that ‘we’re still waiting’? No one said that we’d be ‘inundated’- not even qualified by you–right now. Rhetorical charges like that are ridiculous.

        Rates of rise vary for complex reasons.Impacts were never expected to be uniformly distributed,that is an unphysical concept,though I’m not claiming you claimed that. Some places have seen serious impacts already; Kiribati,for instance, and parts of the Bay of Bengal.

      • Skeptikal says:

        Nick says:

        Sea-level is rising,that is established. It is rising very much according to projection,that is established.

        Sea level has been rising for thousands of years. The projection is for the rate of sea level rise to accelerate. There has been no acceleration in the rate of sea level rise. Big FAIL!

    • Nice to see you back, Skeptinun, after having your ocean cooling nonsense so thoroughly debunked. Hint – look there for the heat from the very trivial energy imbalance. It’s really simple – you can cope. The models are working pretty well.

      Ironically it was then Einstein who said “God does not play dice with the universe” as his rejection of quantum theory.

    • Nick says:

      This is a ridiculous blurt from top to bottom. Amazing. Get a grip,Skep,and get up to speed. Hyperbole,slander,misunderstanding,strawman-ing,shunning of evidence and misdirection. Your GTR conception is nonsense,and how is it relevant?

      You’ve showed abundantly already that you cannot get your head around time-frames,cannot assess evidence because you are unwilling to or are ignorant of its existence,and are captive to useless fruity rhetoric ‘cult,’belief ‘prophets’ propaganda’. You don’t even know the factors underlying sea level rises. It’s no wonder that you’re exasperated: rage without knowledge.

      Your conception of this issue does not even rise to the level of absurd. So consider this argument from simple incredulity. Do you really think you have presented any or enough evidence to find that global institutions of learning are wrong,let alone indulging in behavior that fits a rational use of the word ‘cult’?

      • I’ve already featured you in my AGW proponent comment of the day but I’m begining to think I should start collecting some of your quotes. You have a way with words.

  8. Cue Eric on eugenics. Please let him make a fool of himself.

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