Category Archives: Values

Hate mail and cyber trolls: great article on science versus vested interests (reprint)

A great article on The Conversation today about the relentless war waged against scientists and science communicators by vested interest groups, conspiracy theorists and internet trolls. Obviously this resonated with me – as I’ve said a number of times on this blog, the climate debate can feel like trench warfare. It’s not for the faint hearted.

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By Simon Chapman, University of Sydney (The Conversation 6 September 2012)

The Charlotte Dawson troll saga shocked many Australians, with revelations of vile tweets, death threats and online intimidation. Nobody should have to endure this kind of abuse, but unfortunately it’s surprisingly common for those of us working in areas that challenge strong interest groups.

Over 35 years, my work as a public health researcher and advocate has upset many disease-promoting industries, their cheer squads and various nut-job cause leaders.

In the 1990s, after lobbying for gun law reform, I got lots of feverish hate mail from “decent, law-abiding shooters” and a traced death threat. Each anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre I’m sent anonymous white feathers. Sixteen years on there has not been another mass shooting.

A leading anti-vaccinationist challenged me to bare my backside on TV while I was injected with all the evil vaccines I supported, calibrated up to match my weight. I didn’t do it but by coincidence, the next day I had five vaccines for an African trip. I write from the grave.

More recently, Gerard Henderson told readers that because I have no medical degree, no one should believe a word I say about the problems with prostate cancer screening – despite similar concerns having been raised by every expert group that investigated the issue. I’m sure Gerard wouldn’t listen to Oxford’s Sir Richard Peto, the world’s foremost epidemiologist, either. After all, he’s a mere mathematician.

Gerard’s sentiments are shared by UK blogger “Big” Dick Puddlecote, who sounds like he might be a Beatrix Potter villain. According to Dick, I’m a “swivel eyed loon … a sociologist who has posed as health expert for the past 30 years.”

The pro-tobacco people also have a way with words. And the growing momentum toward plain packaging has made their heads spin like Linda Blair in the green projectile vomit scene in The Exorcist.

According to the tobacco lobbyists, I am “the Worst Public Health Person In The World … the perfect storm of a card-carrying public health person who is harmful to both public health science and the public’s health.” I am also “responsible for the most pointless deaths of his countrymen since the guy who ordered the army to Gallipoli”.

All this is because in the 1980s, I advised the government to ban smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff) in Australia, thwarting a circling US tobacco company hoping to start a whole new route of addiction here.

For years, the author of this nastiness, “Professor” Carl Phillips who “runs a university-like research shop”, took money from the smokeless tobacco industry. Unlike the fools who awarded me various medals for my work, Carl notes that “nothing Chapman ever did made any substantial difference in the inexorable flow” away from smoking. Apparently, it all happens by itself.

Bathing in cyber sewage

Within the blogosphere is a sewer of frothing, often anonymous, swill. The comments are today’s equivalent of the threatening call from a phone booth. A dozen or so blogs I check on occasionally – with the compulsion we have to look at car crashes – are echo chambers for the same small group of serial hate mongers.

Jay, who has the gift and never exaggerates, says of me: “Like a vicious herpes infection, or a stinking, floating turd that just won’t be flushed, Simon Chapman won’t go away. To say he is a petty, hateful bastard is being way too kind. This man is quite possibly the root of all evil in modern society. In the fullness of the time, the world will see him as one of the most hateful beings to have lived.” I don’t believe we’ve met, Jay.

Always on the spot with timely comparisons, Lou observed recently, “The similarities in reasoning between Simon Chapman and Anders Breivik are terrifying. Both are convinced of their own ‘right’ and thus their justification to take life. Simon Chapman only wants official sanction to do this and I have no doubt he would derive great pleasure in shooting smokers. Indeed I suspect he would spend many years doing little else.” Lock your doors.

One commenter suggested that April should be “make Simon Chapman regret saying silly things on Twitter month”. Terrified, I locked myself in my lead-walled bunker.

Patsy had a red-hot go, insisting I earn $3 million a year (that’s around the total competitive grant funds I share with various colleagues, spread across five years, all of which pays for staff). But Pasty won’t hear a bar of it. She says I’m “a dangerous sociopath and he scares me.”

Another troll says I’m “the kind of vermin that now infest our society … I believe he’s been involved in producing several studies which I would dearly love to boil down in fish oil and force feed him every rotten scrap.”

But nothing prepared me for the UK’s Christopher Snowdon, an “independent” blogger who is now a cyber errand boy for Big Tobacco. I’ve copped “grandpa”, “scrotum-faced head-banger” and “wrinkled rocker”, all because I have attained the advanced age of 60 and sing in a band. With life expectancy of at least another 20 years, about half of young Master Christopher’s age, I plan to be around for a while.

Meanwhile, smoking rates are the lowest on record and still in free fall. Today’s male lung cancer rates per 100,000 were last seen in 1962 and female will never get to half the peak seen in males.

Simon Chapman 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.

The Values of Anthropogenic Climate Change (guest post)

Today’s post is from fellow blogger Mothincarnate at New Anthropocene:

Today, in the latest publication of Nature, I stumbled upon the article, Climate Science: Time to raft up, by Chris Rapley.

We are naturally good at finding patterns – perhaps too much so – and I found it interesting that I stumbled upon this article just after reading Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape and at a point where I was ready to return to my online writing, but not knowing where to start.

I was drained from my previous efforts in science communication and welcomed all the activities that have, over the previous twelve months, kept me away (or, at best, mere status updates).

I have avoided the arena of climate change debate, for it seems in some ways doomed to the course of the evolution “debate”. So what was I to write about?

Both of the mentioned material are worth reading. However, I have to disagree with aspects of Rapley’s article.

On climate science advocacy, Rapley writes;

“There are dangers. To stray into policy-advocacy or activism is to step beyond the domain of science, and risks undermining legitimacy through the perception — or reality — of a loss of impartiality.

“However, as Sarewitz has pointed out, scientists carry authority “in advocating for one particular fact-based interpretation of the world over another”. So acting as a ‘science arbiter’ — explaining the evidence and contesting misinterpretations — is part of the day job.”

However, I feel this has been part of the problem with science communication on climate change and perhaps other topics such as evolution.

Later, Rapley goes on to write;

“The climate-dismissive think tanks and organizations have been effective because they have understood and put into practice the insights of social science. They deliver simple messages that are crafted to agree with specific value sets and world views. Their flow of commentary is persistent, consistent and backed up with material that provides deeper arguments.”

And:

“Regarding the vast body of evidence on which all climate scientists agree, we need to offer a narrative that is persistent, consistent and underpinned by compelling background material.”

But previously, he wrote;

“We need to respond to questions that go beyond facts, such as ‘What does this mean for me?’ and ‘What are our options?’.”

The article is right in many ways in my view, but Rapley is too tentative and maybe, in light of the previous when compared to the others, contradictory.

In chapter three of The Moral Landscape, Harris talks about belief. Rapley does in fact (under the subheading, Why don’t we get it?) talk about very much the same thing.

Belief, that is, the acceptance of certain evidence to be true, is not so strongly based on rational verification as we would like to think it to be. We’re not calculators after all. Belief derives from shared values that in turn derive from different factors, such as social norms, genes etc. We are far more likely to accept evidence presented when it confirms our already held values / the social norms of our community than those that challenge those values.

Sam Harris, in a presentation on Death and present moment, puts it in no uncertain terms (about 13 mins in);

“When we’re arguing about teaching evolution in the schools, I would argue that we’re really arguing about death. It seems to me the only reason why any religious person cares about evolution, is because if their holy books are wrong about our origins, they are very likely wrong about our destiny after death.”

Evolution thus challenges more than one idea (ie. that we were divinely created in recent millennia in our current form), but rather an entire outlook on life and a total way of living, not simply for the individual, but also the social group with which they associate themselves with. The wealth of evidence supporting the theory of evolution is simply not enough to counter such a wide scope of personally held values which are also attached to what we often mistakenly take as one, individual and isolated premise.

Likewise, I suspect the potential reality of anthropogenic climate change, based on very strong evidence, challenges a much wider scope of values that remain unaffected by rational debate over that one point (ie. whether or not our contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrate affects potential heat storage). We fail to move the “committed sceptics” because the evidence we provide challenged just one point of a wider range of related personal values.

Perhaps, for instance, it challenges the idea that a god is the sole force shaping the world and that we are incapable to such radical modifications (or that an intervening god wouldn’t allow us to harm ourselves in such a way) for certain religious individuals. Perhaps the idea challenges values associated with neo-liberal markets that ought to make us and future generations rich. Perhaps it’s something else.

Rapley was right about the success of climate-dismissive think tanks applying value to their message. He is also correct to argue that we need to go beyond facts and address questions, such as ‘What does it mean for me?’ and ‘What are our options?’ which are at their core really questions regarding a network of wider social and personal values related to the problem of anthropogenic climate change.

Maybe we need to be clearer which hat we’re wearing – that of scientific investigation or of advocacy – or, as Dana Nuccitelli once mentioned in a comment thread (that, if I can locate, I will link to), we should apply a “Gish gallop” approach, the favourite approach, successfully applied by Christopher Monckton in debate, because, unlike with Monckton, when reviewed, the evidence will support the statements we’ve made.

I tend to agree with Dana’s idea as it allows more value based discussion intertwined with the evidence. You can say what the evidence supports and swiftly move into its personal and social ramifications. This latter arena does truly need debate.

We have done all that can be done to explain the science of climate change and there are many excellent reference sites to which people can venture if they so decide. What we need to talk about are the value question as it is the answers to these that will define who we will become and how our society will look and function.

It’s understandable that people would be uncomfortable with such unknowns. We need to be part of a community with shared values to feel content. In the “debate” over climate change, we hear predictions of how the future might look and how foolish “deniers” are for not understanding science proven over a 150 years ago.

This isn’t only counter-productive, it also dehumanises the issue completely. The global climate has changed many times before without human influence or consequence. This time it is personal. We need to make our  debates and communications just as personal if we are to do the best we can for future generations.

Conspiracy research library

I’ve restructured the section Sceptic Conspiracies to make it more accessible. It now includes pages on individual topics and a page dedicated to research materials including academic papers, articles and books.

In many ways I views this as the most important and valuable contribution I can make to understanding climate change denial.

While my posts can cover a broad range of subjects (being the views and opinions of the author of WtD), I would refer readers to Sceptic Conspiracies as the “heart” of WtD.

Readers are welcome to send me items of interest.

Mike @ WtD

News Ltd, you’re a disgrace: Bolt claims PM is “playing the sexism” card

A failure to learn from one’s mistakes is a failure of ethics

Yesterday the Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a masterful performance in front of the media, tackling head on every question and incidence of innuendo about her past generated by the likes of Larry Pickering and The Australian.

So appalling was The Australian’s behaviour they were forced to make two apologies through gritted teeth.

But today, News Ltd has decided it was all the PMs fault – really if only “she had answered the questions“.

No pause to reflect on their actions – no reflection on journalistic ethics.

It’s right back to the smear campaign, albeit with a different twist.

Their line of attack?

It’s all “Julia’s” fault.

She has broken trust in not answering the smear campaign of Mitchell’s merry band of hacks.

The putting aside of ethics, their cluelessness and the sheer intellectual bankruptcy of Chris Mitchell and his “journalists” (and I use the term every so loosely) at that “newspaper” (actually it’s not a newspaper, it’s a piece of agitprop) is beyond belief.

Indeed, the campaign of hate has gone beyond sanity – beyond any conventional sense of decency.

These men – all white, conservative, affluent and in positions of power – are filled with a rage, hatred and a world view at odds with community standards.

Further evidence of this rage – a blog piece from resident climate change denier and bully boy Andrew Bolt who argues it was “clever” to make The Australian “look like the bully”:

It was masterly how she made the most insignificant error in a minor colour story in The Australian seem a massive error which discredited weeks and many pages of meticulously accurate coverage.

It was terrific how she made out the controversy started with the utterly scurrilous blog of Larry Pickering, with a base media just recycling his smelly wares, when serious journalists, politicians, lawyers and unionists have raised serious questions about this for a long time.

It was effective, albeit a little desperate, to play the sexism card, portraying the criticism of her as misogynist and sexist – and then to play the woman betrayed. Sensational, and you can see how that will dovetail into an attack on Tony Abbott.

Again, it was clever tactically to make The Australian a villain, to fit in with the wicked Murdoch media narrative to rally the Left. Never mind that 2UE, 3AW, the Financial Review and, belatedly, Sydney Morning Herald were also demanding answers from her.

And it was a masterstroke to spring the press conference on journalists who thought they were there for an announcement on the new refugee intake, and then stand there until the questions from the largely unprepared petered out in the only opportunity Gillard says she’ll ever give them.

I salute John McTernan, Gillard media director. A masterpiece.

The ugliness of the perpetrator blaming the victim shows not only a lack of empathy, but a failure of journalistic ethics.

Bolt then lets the gaggle of misogynistic forum posters sink the boot in further: I hope every student of journalism reads this blog post and studies it as an example of character asassination.

That’s right Andrew – when women “play” the sexism card it is for personal advantage – men are the poor victims.

Poor Andrew.

Poor misunderstood hacks at The Australian – see, they’re really just honest, plain speaking truth tellers picked upon by lefties, greens, women, refugee advocates, scientists, academics and anyone with a sense of right and wrong.

Can’t people see the men of News Ltd are simply hard-working chaps, who make the occasional mistake?

Are there not women who work at News Ltd?

What do they make of this overt and ugly sexism?

There are two words for such behaviour: cowardly and immoral.

I’m not the biggest fan of the current Labor government – I take issue with many of their policies, lack of vision and continued support for the fossil fuel lobby.

Indeed I’ve been harsh in my criticism at times.

But there comes a time when one has to put politics aside and act with integrity.

News Ltd, you’re a disgrace.

The protocols of the elder climate scientists and “banksters”: is the media twigging to just how extreme some sceptics are?

Statement by WtD: let me state I do not equate climate change denial with holocaust denial. The term “denier” is used to refer to one who denies a consensus position in science. This includes climate change, evolution and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. All three scientific theories continue to elicit opposition.

For some time I have been travelling the darker corners of the climate change “sceptic” movement, investigating the some times puzzling and absurd claims of the movement. I have posted extensively on the culture of conspiracy that permeates parts of the sceptic community.

I have stated that the Australian media has ignored the very public, and easily sourced, claims about conspiracies, international bankers and world governments by the likes of Lord Monckton, David Evans and Jo Nova.

However the media is now starting to became aware that this something not-quite-right about parts of the sceptic community.

To his credit Andrew Bolt has distanced himself from the extreme views of the Galileo Movement and Malcolm Roberts.

Bolt reproduces an email he sent to Roberts:

On now receiving an email from Malcolm Roberts, I’ve sent this reply:

Malcolm,

Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

Again, I insist: remove me from the list of people you claim are prepared to advise you.  I’ve never advised you, Malcolm, and would never want to. I am offended to be linked to you.

Andrew Bolt

Bravo Andrew!

But Roberts is merely the tip of the iceberg Andrew… you need to spend far more time investigating the claims of the “sceptic” community to see who you have aligned yourself with.

Without doubt climate change scepticism is held by a variety of individuals, of different political views, religious beliefs, demographics and level of education. I respect that many sceptics are honest – if mistaken – in their scepticism. Ones values will shape the acceptance or rejection of scientific facts.

The climate denial spectrum

On one end of the spectrum we have “luke warmists” such as Bjorn Lomborg, who accept that humanity is having some impact on the climate and that “it won’t be as bad” or we’re better off simply adapting to changing conditions.

The middle position is taken by those like Andrew Bolt who think the science isn’t settled, and somehow its all just a fantasy of those on the left who love government intervention and tofu.

At the other end of the spectrum are the true outliers, the “super conspiracy” theorists like the Australian sceptic Dr David Evans, Monckton and Jo Nova.

If you want to understand how extreme parts of the sceptic movement is, then look no further than the paper published by Evans, “Manufacturing money and global warming” on October 27 2009 through the Science and Public Policy Institute.

This is the same institute that counts Christopher Monckton, Bob Carter and Ian Plimer as personnel. Another recent “convert” to the super conspiracy theory is James Delingpole in his latest work “Watermelons” (more on this coming).

It was this paper that alerted me to the fact that climate change denial had merged with the pulse of conspiracy culture. Indeed, climate change denial slots easily into the pre-existing fantasies of “super conspiracies” and hidden agendas.

New world order and the finance industry

For several decades’ conspiracy theorists have posited a mysterious “them” have been influencing events and shaping history through financial institutions such as banks and the United Nations. No doubt you would have heard of phrases such as “New World Order”: it is the belief that the world is about to be taken over a shadowy cabal that has been planning such a coup for centuries. They work behind “front groups” such as the media, academia, UN… and just about everyone else in the world.

Understanding conspiracy culture

In seeking to understand conspiracy culture I have been guided by the work of Michael Barkun (A culture of conspiracy), Mark Fenster (Conspiracy theories) and Robert Alan Goldberg (Enemies within: the culture of conspiracy in Modern America).

Much of what I will post over the next few weeks is rough drafts and research I’ve accumulated over the past few years. I had hoped to shape this into a more coherent – and published – form.

What is important to note about the work of these scholars is the links conspiracy communities make between banks and the coming NWO. According to the more extreme theorists “they” have been planning a “coup” for centuries.

Sadly, many aspects of this belief draw upon older, and more sinister forms of anti-Semitism.

Conspiracy belief defined

Barkun provides the following definition of what a conspiracy theory is:

“…a conspiracy belief is the belief that an organisation made up of individuals or groups was or is acting to covertly achieve some malevolent end.”

Attributes of conspiracy belief include (again Barkun):

  • Nothing happens by accident
  • Nothing is as it seems
  • Everything is connected

Types of conspiracies

Barkun classifies conspiracies into the following classes:

  • Event conspiracies – limited objectives and a discreet event or set of events (i.e. the Kennedy assassination)
  • Systemic conspiracies – “the conspiracy is believed to have broad goals, usually conceived as securing control over a country or region, or even an entire world
  • Super conspiracies – multiple conspiracies are linked together.

Thus, some sceptics see climate change as an event conspiracy, i.e. scientists are lying or fudging temperature records to obtain funding. Climategate is an example of an event conspiracy (allegedly) exposed by hackers. This event conspiracy grew in scope as the event merged into the greater conspiracy “narrative” of Evans et.al.

Without douht the writings and activities of Evans and Monckton indicate belief in a super conspiracy:

Manufacturing money and global warming: “gold smiths” and “international bankers control the world

I will state this: the tone and content of Evans paper is very similar to not only “New World Order” conspiracy theories but to the language of anti-Semitism.

It demonstrates all the attributes that Barkun describes: everything is connected in Evans world, and there are conspiracies within conspiracies.

Evans blends “New World Order” conspiracy theories with climate change denial to weave a pattern of events that has been centuries in the making. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic, given Evans receives the support of the likes of Gina Rinehart.

The following extracts highlight what I regard as deeply concerning, in particular the repeated use of terminology used as “code words” by extremist right-wing groups.

Evans on the “goldsmith” and “international bankers” link

Evans on “gold smiths”:

“…In the Middle Ages, goldsmiths took gold deposits from individuals for safekeeping. The receipts for these deposits circulated as money, because they were more convenient than the metal itself. But the goldsmiths learned they could issue many more “receipts” than they had gold. They would typically lend out receipts for ten times as much gold as they had, on the assumption that not everyone would try to redeem their receipts for metal at the same time. Money was thereby manufactured, or created out of thin air. Furthermore, the goldsmith would charge interest on the receipts they lent out, to compensate for the risk of not being repaid and to make a profit.

For example, if customers deposited 200 ounces of gold with a goldsmith, then the goldsmith would issue them with receipts for 200 ounces. But he would also issue receipts for another 1,800 ounces to people as loans, and charge interest on them — for a total of receipts for 2,000 gold ounces. Notice that 1,800 of the gold ounce receipts that the goldsmith manufactured were for gold that did not exist. For a typical interest rate of 5%, the goldsmith is earning 90 gold ounces per year by lending out these receipts to gold he does not have — pretty profitable eh? If any customer came to the goldsmith with one of the goldsmith’s receipts and asked for “their” gold, the goldsmith would hand over some gold and destroy the receipt. In normal business, they knew from experience that keeping back 10% of the gold was enough to keep this scheme working and, if it wasn’t, they could simply borrow gold from another goldsmith. The only downside for the goldsmith was an unpaid loan—he owed gold on all the receipts issued, so he would ultimately have to pay any unpaid loan out of his own pocket.”

This quote in particular is alarming:

“…Over time the goldsmiths became bankers, governments introduced central banking, and finally, in 1971, the world financial system switched from using gold as its base money to using cash (paper money). The world financial system is now unpinned by cash, which governments can print at will. We have a fully paper system, with no hard constraints on how much money there is.”

In Evans reasoning is that “goldsmiths” from the medieval period – let’s be frank he is clearly talking about Jews – founded a “paper aristocracy” that secretly rules the globe.

Gold.

Smith.

Got it?

Do I really need to spell it out? [1]

Evans use of the “banksters” term: they killed two presidents!

The term “banksters” came into vogue in the 1920s and 1930s at the height of the Great Depression when feelings against banks ran high. It was also a term used by the so-called “Austrian” economists.

However it also has darker connotations in that it is a code word used by anti-Semites for Jews (search Google for “bankster and Jew” for evidence if you must, I refuse to link to such sites).

We see Evans using the term:

“The paper aristocracy has overwhelming wealth. They own or influence all the media – if only because every media organization borrows from banks. They influence almost all the institutions that employ professional economists, by supplying the money for PhDs and providing most of the lucrative consulting jobs for economists. They buy politicians by the truckload. The banksters have even killed the occasional thorn in their side—including, probably, two US presidents, Lincoln and Garfield. If no one knows or objects to their activities, why shouldn’t the paper aristocracy do what they want? If they don’t flaunt it, and the system seems to basically work for most people most of the time, what’s so bad? (In southern Italy some people say the same about the Mafia.) If people don’t know that the system would run better if the paper aristocracy weren’t there skimming off their take, are they really being ripped off?”

Yes, the banksters killed two presidents. Come on really? These people are feted by conservative politicians and the Murdoch Press?

It gets better, as Evans explains just how “cunning” the banksters are:

“Bankers know far more about banking and its subtle ramifications than politicians, and have usually been able to persuade, con, or bribe governments to do their bidding. The politicians, our representatives, are the patsies here. The banksters have conned government big time, including when they talked US President Woodrow Wilson into setting up the Federal Reserve in 1913 (which, by the way, Wilson later bitterly regretted)…”

Climate change and the international bankers

For Evans climate change is a manufactured “crisis” created by the “paper aristocracy” as part of a conspiracy to control the globe. No really, that is what he states:

“Like fiat currency and all the games with money manufacture, this is another game brought to you by the paper aristocracy: you pay, they enjoy. Ultimately people who produce real goods and services will pay—because there be will another bunch of bureaucrats and financial smarties living off our efforts.

Controlling who can emit carbon dioxide gives the government and the paper aristocracy an excuse and mechanism for controlling every activity on the planet. We all breathe out carbon dioxide, and nearly all energy use emits carbon dioxide. Further, the whole world has to be involved for the emission restrictions to be effective, so this will be the start of world government—you will no longer be able to escape by moving to a different country.

Note the “parasitic” metaphors that are sprinkled throughout Evans paper. Clearly he is drawing on much older and darker analogies about “Jewish financiers”.

Paper aristocracy: the inheritors of the “gold smith’s” power

Evans is engaged in broadening and furthering the conspiracy culture in drawing together long-standing views on the roles of Jews, international bankers and the coming New World Order.

This is typical of conspiracy theories: in general they broaden pre-existing theories and reshape them to incorporate contemporary anxieties.

Evan’s chronology of world events posits the “paper aristocracy” as the literal inheritors of money and power from centuries ago and that they have been actively shaping history for centuries:

“There are a small number of families who, over the centuries, have amassed wealth through financial rent seeking. They are leading members of the paper aristocracy. For example, the Rothschilds are the biggest banking family in Europe, and were reputed to own half of all western industry in 1900. That sort of wealth doesn’t just dissipate, because unless the managers are incompetent the wealth tends to concentrate. The banking families don’t work for a living in the normal sense, like the rest of us. They avoid scrutiny and envy by blending in and make themselves invisible. Since they own or influence all sorts of media organizations, it isn’t too hard. There are unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories, but nobody can really credibly say how much wealth and influence they have.

What are the paper aristocracy going to do in the aftermath of the current huge bubble? The course and end of the bubble are quite foreseeable, so they must have a plan.

There are unsubstantiated rumors that they influenced the system to make an almighty bubble, and intend to buy lots of real stuff, such as real estate and businesses, in the ensuing bust, when everything is dirt cheap. By the way, this is how the paper aristocracy has made most of its wealth over the last few centuries, and how those banking families originally became wealthy. Bankers would introduce excess bank money, then deliberately cut it back on it one day, watch prices plummet as businesses failed, then buy distressed assets cheaply. Earning interest was a second way of earning money but less important. Bank fees were just for pocket money and to keep customers distracted.

Perhaps today’s fiat currencies—the US dollar, pound, yen and so on—will go up in smoke in an inflationary crescendo in the next few years, perhaps as planned by the paper aristocracy. Maybe they will reintroduce an asset backed currency. And guess who has all the gold? Those banking families have been salting it away for years. Possibly a global currency, so one cannot escape the predations of the paper aristocracy. This is not just about money, but about power, of course. Anyway, these are only unsubstantiated rumors. We shall see.

Yes, we shall see. Nothing is at it seems, everything is connected…

As I and others have noted, the Rothschild’s have long been the favorite target of conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites for decades.

Evans and the conservatives: why such unqualified support for a conspiracy theorist?

What alarms me is that Evans is treated as a serious commentator on the climate debate.

In addition to written pieces in The Australian and The Age, Evans was one of the “experts” former Senator Nick Minchin took Anna Rose to meet in the show “I can change your mind about climate change”. Andrew Bolt often links to pieces on Jo Nova’s blog.

Let me stress, I do not believe Bolt and Minchin share these views: however I believe the claims of Evans and Monckton are glossed over and ignored because they have proven useful to vested interests and those fighting the culture wars.

Bolt and Minchin are culture warriors, they see AGW as a left-wing “belief” that should be countered in much the same way conservative Christians oppose Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is a case of values driving a world view and the acceptance – or rejection – of a particular scientific theory.

Quite frankly, on any other issue conspiracy theorists such as Evans would be ignored. However because climate change has become so politically charged that Evans scant qualifications (he has a PhD) and his seeming authority on the issue have made him a cause-célèbre in the sceptic community.

His claims are endlessly repeated throughout the climate sceptic echo chamber so by the time it reaches more “respectable” sceptics such as Bolt, Minchin and the pages of The Australian the ugly conspiracy theories are glossed over and weened out to make the climate scepticism of Evans more “respectable”.

Remember this as well: shock jock Alan Jones has been a vocal front man for the Galileo Movement. Jones nursed it into being… and that does my head in.

Think: some of the most powerful media players in the country have thrown their clout behind these people.

Unwittingly Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Minchin and the conservative movement have helped the trojan horse of radical conspiracy theories distort public debate in Australia. One wonders how quickly they will come to realise just what they have done.

The sleep of reason produces monsters.

Here Andrew, here Alan – here are your monsters.

[1] This is a bold claim, and thus will warrant further research and investigation. I’ll leave it in here because that is what I published originally, but I will expand on this point and a provide a far more nuanced explanation. At best the claims made by Evans parallel the language and claims made more more extreme forms of conspiracy theory. Mike @ WtD

Coalition of the Rational: if the deniers will soon occupy all levels of government, how should we respond?

“Power abdicates only under counter-power” – Martin Buber

While some may not view it these terms, Graham Readfearn’s article on the real possibility of climate sceptics assuming power both federally and in most states is a call to arms:

Anyone who places any stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn’t) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that the Liberal-led Coalition will sweep to power at next year’s Federal election. Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap“.

As I noted in the articles “Locking in the March of folly” (Part 1 and Part 2), conservative governments and vested interests across the country are in the process of opening up new coal mines, gutting climate change programs, ripping up “green tape”, firing public servants and buying up the media.

What we are seeing is a counter-reformation: in short an attack on the last 50 years of progressive politics, government regulation and even secularisation. It is nothing more than a campaign of revenge against those that dare question the privileged world view of the few.

They have looked for the enemy, and have seen us: progressives, liberals, greens, the LGBT community, indigenous Australians, the irreligious and scientists.

We have dared (dared!) to suggest the ethical circle of concern be drawn ever more broadly to include not just women, gays and minorities but even non-human species. Perhaps even the planet itself.

This may explain the cause of the barely comprehensible rage that finds expression in the denial movement, anti-gay marriage stance of conservatives and resurgent right-wing parties of Europe.

From the rage of the Tea Party against “leftist elites’ and News Corporations relentless war on the mildly progressivecentre right Gillard government, the politics of hate and division seem to rule.

This in turn lead has led to a sense of defeat or deflation amongst those fighting to preserve a livable climate: “Why cant the public see what’s happening?”

As recent polling suggests, concern for climate change and environmental issues amongst the Australian public has declined. It would seem a few decent rain showers that have filled some damns and angst over the “carbon tax” has turned many into climate agnostics: in essence, they may accept that the climate is changing, but they’re going to hold off supporting policies designed to mitigate climate change and its impacts. 

So if the deniers hold the levers of power – as Readfearn has pointed out – and the public has no appetite for action and prefers the safe, warm media bubble of Master Chef and endless home renovation projects what can we – should– do?

Firstly, contemplate the use of counter power.

Keeping the wolves at bay

A good start is Tim Gee’s “Counter power: making change happens” which explains the basic concepts and provides examples:

“No major campaign has ever been successful without Counter power – the power that the ‘have-nots’ can use to remove the power of the ‘haves’. This is examined by investigating the history and tactics of the suffrage movement, the labour movement, the anti-war movement, the anti-colonial movement, the environmental movement and today’s human rights and anti-globalisation movement. In the context of the financial crisis and the threat of climate change, engagement in system critical social movements is on the increase…”

Secondly, consider how the now disparate and deflated activist, scientific and other communities can work together far more effectively.

Within Australia the number of those actively engaged in politics or supportive of environmental activism, science, atheism, and social justice would be in the hundreds of thousands – if not millions.

Over a million voted for the Greens: there is part of our base. Over 22% of Australians have no religious preference – the fastest growing “faith” (or lack thereof) in the country. The politics of those under 30 are in direct opposition to the frightened old men that staff the ranks of the Liberal-National Party. There are more, so many more.

Call it the Coalition of the Rational: those who value the truth, and wish to see public policies formulated in response to what science, reason and compassion tell us.

We can be the twenty-first century’s civil rights movement, its suffragette’s and Abolitionists. We can follow in the steps of the ANC and Indian Congress. Should we not continue the tradition of these social movements?

Could we not?

The evolution of these movements can be traced from William Wilberforce, Thomas Paine, Emily Pankhurst, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Rachel Carson to you. Yes, you.

What the coalition of the rational can demand, and why

Distilled, our demands are simple:

  • a livable climate for us and our children [1]
  • equality and justice broader than just economic opportunities 
  • transparency and accountability in politics

We fighting not just to save the climate: we wish to preserve those core values that have found expression across the centuries in disperse projects such as The Enlightenment, the Civil Rights Movement and gay rights.

Each of these battles were fought – and won – over the span generations. And yet the environmental crisis and the conservative counter-reformation are putting all of this at risk. There is more to this fight than preventing the mass die off species and loss of habitats (though these are tragedies).

The disruptive effects of climate change on our society, economy and infrastructure will test the tolerance and resilience of nations and by extension billions of individuals.

That should be of concern: all too often the Old Russian proverb, “Man is wolf to man”, has proven to be true. The only true competitor to Homo sapiens is Homo sapiens.

But the wolves can be kept in check: the worst and most disruptive effects of climate change and its impact can be mitigated.

Perhaps it is too late the stem the brute physics and chemistry of climate change.

But it is never too late to change minds and win hearts by building a culture based on the values of compassion, rationality and equality.

[1] And their children, and those that follow…

If I could stop one heart from breaking: carbon tax greeted with gnashing of teeth, claims of witchcraft and blood oaths

 

The face of denial: anti-carbon tax protestor in Sydney (source: The Age)

 

On 1 July Australia saw the “carbon tax” came into effect, and the nation’s response has been telling.

To quote Gandhi:

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

And what hearts we have; what a culture we have made.

In less than 48 hours segments of the Australian media and public have gone into a frenzy of panic, fear mongering and denial:

Piers Ackerman in the Daily Telegraph claims the tax unnecessary because the science of climate chance is undecided:

Despite the bleating of the government’s shills, there is no scientific certainty about the causes of climate change.

The Earth has been much warmer with less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, warmer with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

There is no concrete evidence that carbon dioxide is even a major climate determinant.

The constant claims of settled science have not led to any reassurance in science; they have led to an unprecedented distrust in scientific institutions, spurred largely by the disgraceful practices engaged in by contributors to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

No fact checking – Ackerman trots out a stunning series of falsehoods and lies.

It gets better.

This morning protestors converged on the steps of state Parliament houses in Victoria and New South Wales to protest the tax. Right-wing radio shock-jock Alan Jones made some startlingly claims about climate science:   

About 2000 people marched from Hyde Park to Belmore Park to hear Bronwyn Bishop speak against the government’s Clean Energy Bill, while a much smaller group in Melbourne heard the broadcaster Alan Jones refer to climate change science as ”propaganda”.

”The notion of global warming is a hoax,” Jones told a group of about 150 people on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. ”This is witchcraft. Commonsense will tell you its rubbish; 97 per cent of all carbon dioxide occurs naturally … 3 per cent around the world is created by human beings.”

That’s right; climate change is “witchcraft”. Let’s roll back the Enlightenment and declare anything we don’t like sorcery.  

“Won’t somebody think of the children!”

In addition to protecting the world from witches, tax protestors are deeply concerned about our children:

Ms Bishop and a Liberal MP, Craig Kelly, repeated the opposition’s line that MPs would swear a ”blood oath” to repeal the carbon price legislation immediately after the next federal election, should the Coalition win government.

Mr Kelly also accused the government of using ”fear tactics”.

”The worst thing that they’re doing is that they’re scaring our kids,” he said.

The protests were far smaller than last year’s rallies in support of a carbon price, but there was no shortage of placards.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was depicted as a Soviet army officer and a snake-haired Medusa, while there was also a sprinkling of other banners and signs referring to ”illegals” and ”boat people”.

Obviously the worst thing about climate change is it might scare the kids. And of course, conservative politicians continue to pledge a “blood oath” to repeal the tax.

Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of the carbon tax, the response of the Australian media and large segments of the public has been telling.

When compared to the vast majority of our fellow human beings on the planet, the average Australian enjoy advantages in education, careers, entertainment, peace and security, access to consumer goods and travel opportunities that make our lifestyle the envy of the world.

And yet as extreme weather events escalate across the globe and temperatures continue to rise most Australians are in a state of panic about having to spend a few extra cents in the dollar after being compensated in billions of tax breaks.

The debate on climate change has revealed the soul of our nation. And now that our national soul has been laid bare, all I can do is but weep.

Stop one heart from breaking

Despite this, I will not dwell in despair.

Why?

I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone.

Across the globe there is a community of activists, bloggers, scientists and citizens concerned about the state of the environment. Millions of equally passionate, committed and concerned individuals who collectively through word of mouth, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Facebook have a voice.

Thus there is one thing we can do today to counter the fear and panic being spread by conservative politicians and the Murdoch press in Australia: we can tell our fellow Australians “It will be OK”.

We can push back and tell the media and the organised campaign of deceit and denial by saying we will not succumb to fear.

The poet Emily Dickinson wrote about the experience of overcoming grief:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Nothing will have been in vain should you tell one other person that the neither carbon tax or climate change is the end of the world.

Yes – the scale of the present environmental crisis seems daunting and the vested interest groups too powerful.

But to quote Gandhi:

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

I’ve told you: now go tell someone else.

To pilot a planet: the future of the climate change debate

“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.” – Albert Einstein, 1920

I’d like to ask you – the reader – to conduct a simple thought experiment.

Imagine the children in your life and picture them as adults debating the reality of climate change. Now try to imagine their children doing the same thing. Then try to picture their children, and their children continuing that same debate. Its 2200 CE and future generations are locked into the same debate.

Does that seem at all plausible?

The intent of this thought experiment is to raise your gazes above the trench warfare that epitomizes today’s “climate debate”. Forget everything that seems so vitally important about the “debate” raging across blogs, YouTube and the opinion pages of the dying newspaper industry.

Ask yourself this question: “How long do you think this debate will continue?”

Years?

My own feeling: this debate will continue for centuries.

As long as there is an industrial civilisation we will be investigating, confirming, denying and debating anthropomorphic climate change.

Science controversies past and present

A recent paper in Physics Today contrasts the time lag between experts agreeing on “controversial” scientific theories and the considerable time lag before public consensus emerges. The author sees direct parallels between the climate change debate and past science “backlashes”:

“The historical backlashes shed some light on a paradox of the current climate debate: As evidence continues to accumulate confirming longstanding warming predictions and showing how sensitive climate has been throughout Earth’s history, why does climate skepticism seem to be growing rather than shrinking? All three provocative ideas—heliocentricity, relativity, and greenhouse warming—have been, in Kuhn’s words, “destructive of an entire fabric of thought,” and have shattered notions that make us feel safe That kind of change can turn people away from reason and toward emotion, especially when the ideas are pressed on them with great force…”

Thus we could speculate the climate debate will continue for decades, if not centuries. It will outlast most nation states now in existence – the very same nation states who will determine the course of history for future generations by their action – or inaction – on climate change.

Most of the individuals and organisations so prominent in the current debate will be forgotten, their existence barely noted in scant foot notes in some yet to be written history of climate change.

The irony is that we fight this debate as if month-to-month opinion polls are all that matter. In Australia, a carbon tax is about to come in effect on 1 July. It has proven enormously unpopular with the public while the conservative Opposition has been using it an opportunity to run an effective fear campaign: “We well be ruined, ruined by this tax!”

And while climate change scepticism may serve contrarians well enough in the short-term, the viability of our civilisation is being sacrificed for political gain.

The Great Awakening may not just be “around the corner”

Science has granted us with a view of the universe that often runs counter to cherished beliefs about ourselves and our place in the universe. Thus, for every major scientific theory one can find a counter-narrative.

Five centuries after Copernicus a 2004 survey found 20% of Americans in opposition to the idea the Earth revolves around the sun.

And yet it seems to me the scientific community, climate change activists, writers and bloggers are infected with an unrealistic optimism that “victory” is just around the corner. Most commentators propose it will take only a few more years before our civilisation undergoes the “great awakening”.

After all, it is an eminently sensible argument: surely “people” will get it, and demand action?

Many hope to see a global “mass mobilisation” with nations and individuals across the globe uniting to confront the enemy that is climate change. Commentators often cite the efforts of “The Greatest Generation” in defeating the Nazi’s and fascism during the Second World War as a parallel. I can understand this, the mythos that has been built around the Nazi defeat is great. Recall also the Germans and Japanese also mobilized for total war: effort does not ensure victory. 

More often than not those closest to the debate are projecting their own intellectual and emotional journey onto others.

Sadly, not everyone is “going to get it”.

Those of us blogging, reading and debating climate change are outliers: we are highly motivated to understand the science, politics and responses to climate change. For most individuals, it is an area of third, fourth or fifth level importance even if they accept the science.

What if I’m wrong, and there is a great awakening?

Still let’s challenge the above assertion: let us imagine the best of all possible worlds were we cap emissions and usher in a golden age of renewable energy.

Time to declare the debate over?

Should we avert disaster there will be those who will claim that as evidence climate change never was a problem: all those emissions taxes and support for clean energy was a wasted exercise to solve a non-existent problem. There will be groups wishing to wind back policy and legislative mechanisms in the same way conservatives are trying to wind back environmental legislation in Australia, the UK and the US.

“Surely not!” some of you would argue “Who would be so stupid?”

Well yes – we can be that stupid.

Consider the case of vaccination, a triumph for evidence based medicine.

It is still within living memory of many that that Polio, tuberculosis and Whooping cough killed thousands in the developed world. These diseases were almost completely eradicated in the developed world with the introduction of mass vaccination.

And yet we are now presented with the spectacle of millions of educated, middle to upper middle class parents conscientiously opposed to vaccination and reducing the populations “herd immunity” by not vaccinating their children.

These diseases – once thought banished – are now returning because there are those who doubt their effectiveness even when presented with the compelling evidence of children dying.

The point is these examples is this: we forgot mass horror and tragedy quickly, often within the span of a generation or two.

And even when we forget, we often refuse to believe facts that challenge our core values or beliefs.

It’s been over 150 years since Darwin published his theory of evolution in The Origin of the Species, and yet in public uncertainty about the validity about the science remains high from the United States (50% of the population) and around the globe. Those that “accept” evolution are very much in the minority.

America landed on the moon in 1969 and yet a staggering 10%-20% of the American population doubt this actually happened. If anyone had a vested interest in believing in American technological superiority it would be the average American citizen?

Strangely outlandish conspiracy theories have someone proven more compelling than actual reality.

How many Americans doubt their President was even born in the United States?

A recent survey of Australians show 10% believe the world will end in 2012 – a “New Age” belief that mangles and distorts Mayan cosmology despite the fact it has been debunked many times.

While one may be appalled by such willed ignorance, it is important to remember that denial is part of our nature and won’t go away even presented with the most compelling evidence.

The long debate

We cannot hope to quickly undo the damage to the atmosphere in a few short decades. It will take generations to both fix and manage the climate.

Now that we understand how CO2 impacts the atmosphere, we must forever abandon fossil fuels as an energy source.

The climate debate has only just begun.

And yet through all those long centuries that stretch before us, through the vicissitudes of wars, dark ages, renaissances and technological change we must hold onto the simple and fragile truth that the planet’s atmosphere must be managed intelligently and co-operatively by our species.

Our species made this mess; it is our species that has to manage it for all the long millennia ahead.

Climate change – the idea that we are altering the planet’s atmosphere – has profoundly changed how we view ourselves in the same manner Copernicus’s assertion of a heliocentric solar system unseated mankind from the centre of the universe.

It seems our fate as a species is tied up in trusting this wonderful construct we call “science”.

And yet to paraphrase Carl Sagan how very much it is like a fragile candle in the dark – a speck of light in a demon haunted world.

Tenacity, compassion and reverence for the truth: the accidental geo-engineers toolkit

Our role is not merely to debate the reality of climate change. I would suggest it is a far more expansive and nobler role than that.

We – the vanguard and the outliers of the debate – can be the mentors and teachers of the next generation. It falls to us to teach them resilience, tenacity and to trust the scientific method.

However, in addition to fostering scientific literacy we should teach the values of compassion and empathy.

Climate change has taught us the need to rebuild our industrial civilisation from the ground up in order to avert the suffering of billions fellow human beings.

Knowledge and compassion are inexorably linked – once cannot act without knowledge. Indeed, once you understand climate change, you are compelled to act. 

We can do more than bequest future generations a broken planet; we must also teach them to pilot the planet and our civilisation.

The generations that follow are accidental geo-engineers, a role neither asked for nor deserving. And while it may be impossible to forecast what our global civilisation will look like 1000 years from now, we can lay the seeds for its survival today.

Thus it falls to us to teach them the values that will guide them through the coming centuries of change: resilience in the face of adversity, compassion, empathy and a deep reverence for truth.

In essence, to lay the seeds of a humanist culture that recognises its place in the cosmos, appreciates the fragility of each individual life and our civilisation and fosters the hope we can guide it to better futures.

That is the legacy each of us holds in our hands, and has the power to pass on.

We speak in facts, they talk about values: denial is not an emotional state but part of ones world view

  
I’ve been arguing this for some time, while Tim over at Moth Incarnate also makes this point:

“…No, denial of ACC is not one of the stages of grief. Denial of this nature comes from employing fear propaganda.

Many of the individuals who deny the science do exactly that – they deny the validity of the evidence regardless what is said about it.

The reason for this denial is because they are scared of the future, but not the end of business as usual, rather a hidden and unrealistic enemy.

Evidence won’t help them.

Reason will not sway them. Even debunking their heroes of denial is merely seen as oppressive.”

Now George Monbiot seems to be getting it as well:

“…The answer, I think, is provided by the most interesting report I have read this year. Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology(1). It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight which now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change.

Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the Enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires.

A host of psychological experiments demonstrates that it doesn’t work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.”

The longest campaign

This climate “debate” has always been a debate about values. It is an extension of the culture wars of the 1990s.

My reply to Tim on his blog sums things up my pet hypothesis on why so many reject climate science:

“…I’ve come to view “denial” as reflective of an individual values, rather than an emotional state they pass through. It is a culture war issue, in the same way abortion, stem cells, Sharia law and creationism have become litmus tests for conservative Christians, Muslims etc.

…Creationist reject evolution because it contradicts their literal reading of the bible. Ergo, thus *must* reject the science in order to affirm their tribalism and confirm their membership to the creationist “tribe”. It’s about outward signs of orthodoxy and inwardly managing ones identity.

Free market libertarians, culture warriors and ultra-conservatives see climate change mitigation as deeply threatening to their “choices” within the market and individual “liberty”.

If your committed to small government and limited intervention in the market, then things such as a carbon tax, ETS or regulation are anathema. After all, the “market” will fix this.

Hence why the debate is bogged down and mostly along partisan lines – especially in the US and Australia

Curiously this is not the case in the UK, where the Conservatives hope to be the “greenest” government ever. However I suspect this may have more to do with older traditions of conservatism (ala Edmund Burke) than it’s radical neo-con offshoots in other Anglo-sphere countries.

The denial machine has been very good at fusing people’s values with climate scepticism, making it a litmus test of ones world view and political outlook.

If you attack their scepticism, you also attack their values – in other words, you attack them.

I also view the debate as a prolonged election campaign between competing views of the future. This campaign has been waged since the 1990′s and its prize is the public opinion. Like all election campaigns it is about building your credibility and tearing down your opponents. In this debate the “conservative” side argues for no (or less) action, while the “progressive” side argues for action.

Yes, [it] is a gross oversimplification, but scepticism and acceptance of climate science falls along political lines.

[However] this is not a new debate: it has been waged since the beginning of the enlightenment.

Kant challenged us to “Dare to know!” – he argued that knowledge of the universe could be liberating, and yet often conflicted with the orthodoxies of the power elites.”

I cannot stress this point more strongly.

The denial machine casts its arguments in terms of values, not facts.

Thus they argue:

“Do you value freedom? Why the greenies/UN/IPCC want to take that away from you!”

“Do you value a free market? Why the greenies/UN/IPCC want to take that away from you!”

“Do you want the Australian/US/UK economy to remain strong and grow? Why the greenies/UN/IPCC want to take that away from us!”

The tobacco industry coached their defence in terms of personal liberty:

“Hey, it’s your body and you can do want you want with it! You have rights you know!”

The denier coaches their arguments in positive terms: liberty, free markets, the right to free expression. They wrap their denial up in good-old fashioned patriotism.

The climate change debate taking place in the pubic realm is not about facts: it is about values.

It always has been.

Climate change: dare to know! [1]

Accepting the reality of climate change does not need to be seen as a negative, it can be posited as a value. Try this for size: 

An individual who accepts the science of climate change is someone who has a feel for “the big picture”. They are both pragmatic and informed. It also signals concern for ones community, ones country and fellow human beings. It stems from a deeply humanistic world view, in which compassion is a motivating factor.

Can one argue with such values?  

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapere_aude

 

There is a growing realisation that denial of climate change is less an emotional state (following the Kubler-Ross model) than an aspect of an individuals world view.   

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