Over in Australia, where the plague of special interest enmeshed AGW “truthers” has been just as bad, if not worse than the miserable corps we have here,* an impressive cross section of the Oz scientific community is actually making some noise.
At a new website (still in beta) called The Conversation, set up to be a unfiltered source of news and analysis from the Australian academic community, a group of Australian climate scientists are trying to do to climate “skeptics” (aka buffoons and/or grifters) what Bruins forward Brad Marchand did to Daniel Sedin’s chin in Game Six. In an open letter announcing the start of two weeks worth of demonstration that climate change is real, due to human activity, and amenable to certain kinds of action within our power if not our grasp. They write:
The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes.
Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.
Bam! Short, simple, clear and true.
They name and shame:
…Understandable economic insecurity and fear of radical change have been exploited by ideologues and vested interests to whip up ill-informed, populist rage, and climate scientists have become the punching bag of shock jocks and tabloid scribes.
Aided by a pervasive media culture that often considers peer-reviewed scientific evidence to be in need of “balance” by internet bloggers, this has enabled so-called “sceptics” to find a captive audience while largely escaping scrutiny.
Australians have been exposed to a phony public debate which is not remotely reflected in the scientific literature and community of experts.
And they make a promise:
For the next two weeks, our series of daily analyses will show how they can side-step the scientific literature and how they subvert normal peer review. They invariably ignore clear refutations of their arguments and continue to promote demonstrably false critiques.
We will show that “sceptics” often show little regard for truth and the critical procedures of the ethical conduct of science on which real skepticism is based.
And they’ve begun. You can check out the series here.
Now, while I was born at night, it wasn’t last night, so I know that even sharply argued rational discourse won’t make a difference to the professional skeptics. They’re in it for the money, and for the warm and fuzzies that come with comforting the comfortable.
The real targets of this kind of effort are the media, and through them, the mushy middle currently being persuaded by false information disseminated within a fake debate.
Anne Laurie wrote yesterday on the problem with that ambition: that too many, in the US at least, have now crossed the line into territory where belief in the great secular-scientific conspiracy on AGW has entered the realm of religious commitment, of identity. That’s territory in which argument has little or no pull; once it becomes a condition of one’s world view to affirm something false…counterarguments aren’t even heard.
She (and Tom Junod, who wrote the inciting essay at Esquire) may well be right. But the triumph of (bad) faith over works in this field is recent, and not yet universal.
The long road back begins with both hard fact and sound reasoning, relayed over and over again — and the repetition, just as loud, just as often, of the counter meme, that those lying about global warming are doing so to line their own and their patrons pockets.
“Follow the money” ain’t dignified (or original). But everyone, including true believers, understand what it means.
So, good on ya, my Aussie kin. Let’s have more of this, and over here.
*For more on that point, let me puff a book I’ve touted before, Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. They document how telling the “science can’t be sure/it’s just a theory” meme is a profitable business of long standing — if you have the conscience of a goat with IBS
Image: J. M. W. Turner, The Angel, Standing in the Sun, 1846.
Religion in this debate is represented by the Global Warming crowd. It’s got everything. A blazing death for heretics, riches for its Leaders (Al Gore and David Blood of Goldman Sachs), a living for its Clergy (see this posting), salvation for its Believers, and its very own symbol, the Windmill.
Heretics in this debate are represented by Mathematics. I’d get into it more but Religious leaders through the centuries react violently to Mathematics and Measurements, a recent example is found here. I will not be able to comment further as I now have to clock in to my secular job.
Brilliant. If only American scientists had the stones to do this too.
Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people)
Bless them for even trying this. I mean look at the first response to this thread – intended to derail, hijack the conversation, change the topic. Anything but discuss anthropogenic global warming and what can be done to change things.
If climate change is going to happen, no amount of disbelief will make it go away.
There are some folks, and I am one, who suspect that it is already too late to prevent much if any of drastic effects. Tipping points are just around the corner, although some may already be here. The Arctic region has probably already reached a tipping point. It’s going to change, no matter what we do. Unfortunately for lots of folks, Greenland is affected, too, and its ice is melting. The sea will rise.
But to those who steadfastly refuse to consider the possibility that climate change might be upon us, I have a question: How are the crops in Texas and Oklahoma doing?
Global warming is burning down the American West
In some ways, this reminds me of the issues brought up in ABL’s earlier thread. The religious fervor of climate change denialists built up because there was no pushback from people who knew the issue well and bore the responsibility of upholding the truth, as difficult or unfair as it seems. If we let our guards down, on any issue, we will lose.
How cute. Our infamous troll (or a fairly convincing facsimile) has reappeared with his special blend of word salad.
Welcome home. Prepare for the mockery that is sure to come.
Excellent! I’m glad Tim Lambert has some help, he can use it.
What truth is do compelling that it doesn’t need support when under attack? Like the rest of us, I’m sure US. scientists are stunned and unbelievingly themselves, as longstanding priciples of their profession are flushed down the toilet.
Sceptics really isn’t the right word. Denialists is more appropriate.
There are no “Dachau sceptics”. They’re denialists. Same here.
One of my fave writers (John Birmingham, an Aussie) has been doing some marvelous takedowns from BrisVegas.
I recently visited Australia for the first time, and it was really striking how hard the climate-denialist propaganda is being pushed in the media there. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised since it’s the home of Murdoch, but there was still something creepy about seeing stuff everywhere that was nearly identical to what you’d see on Fox News, but with a little added edge of pseudo-populist nastiness. Of course it’s front and center in the Murdoch tabloid, but the regular papers and TV news seem to be meekly following their lead– that is, the tabloid runs a bunch of front-page rage-spews about how elitist movie star Cate Blanchett* is trying to ram a carbon tax down our throats, and it’s been proven that it will cost everyone a zillion dollars a year… and then the rest of the press writes stories about how it’s a difficult issue because of all this controversy about Cate Blanchett, and “some say” it’ll cost a zillion dollars. Much like here, I know, but it was depressing to see it in another country… even though I know the extra vitriol is partly because their government is actually paying somewhat more attention to the issue than ours is.
* I wonder how well the anti-Cate-Blanchett strategy really worked with the average Australian. Personally, I would have no trouble with her having awesome power.
This is one of the few issues that can still drive me nuts. One blog, no matter how factual and well intended, is hardly a match for the well-oiled and well-funded machinery of climate change denialism. Petition the government? Right. When you have a substantial portion of Congress trying to replace Medicare with Death by Vouchers I’m sure that climate change legislation will be a slam dunk. I only hope that I live long enough to see some of those fuckers gasping their lungs out while they bid for the last fattened-up Poodle.
The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik
You’re not alone.
Unfortunately, like so many other issues, I’ve just about flat given in to cynicism. I just don’t see how anything’s every going to penetrate through anymore, either through the god-forsaken fog of media idiocy, or the iron wall of state-level Randian fucknuttery the GOP has erected all too successfully just within the last 2-3 or so fucking years.
So Australia has reached the point where discussing climate change is heresy?
The sad thing is that the continent/island of Australia seems to never miss out on any bad news. There is NO WAY they can duck climate change.
It would be nice to be able to say “We told you so.”
I get the feeling that Queensland is the sensible place at war with opportunistic denialist douchebags in NSW and Victoria.
Good to start a historical record, naming names and all.
When it all goes to hell here on earth, catastrophes egged on by these craven contrarians, it will nice to have a handy source to guide the vengeful.
It does not help one bit they’re the world’s largest coal exporter. Never mind the decade-long record drought, followed by record flooding, spiced with the gradual death of the coral reefs and sinking small Pacific island neighbor nations.
Murdoch, Rio Tinto, etc. are way too powerful for their own good (although Rupert’s family gives him grief on climate change).
Yup. I have a graduate degree in oceanography and trained in much of the relevant science. Unfortunately I also have a long history of activism and political engagement, so I know what we can practically accomplish given the current conditions.
Eat, drink and be merry.
Do those Australian scientists realize that they are objectively pro-Black-Death?
Tiny Tim, “The Other Side”
The icecaps are melting,
Oh ho, ho ho,
All the world is drowning,
Oh, ho, ho ho, ho…
I’m not really happy that Bill the troll has returned, but his meager effort here does make a pretty good illustration of what an incredibly bad analogy the whole “climate change is like a religion” thing is.
First, in order to portray Al Gore as a cynical church leader raking in the cash, you have to forget that there is approximately 1,000,000,000 times more money to be made by ignoring the problem– i.e. the total profits of the petroleum industry over the last hundred years. If you want people to be offended by the thought of religious leaders making money off their followers, you have to be able to assume that that’s a relatively easy and profitable scam compared to other jobs; it doesn’t help your case if the richest and most influential men in the world are all atheists.
Second, the thing about “a fiery death for heretics” just makes it clear that Bill has (or pretends to have) no knowledge of what the fuck he’s talking about. The threat of global warming, if true, will affect us all, not just the people who don’t acknowledge it. It’s as if fundamentalist Christians thought they would go to hell too unless everyone believed. Religion (of the hellfire variety– I’m a believer, but not that kind) sounds like a much easier pill to swallow. For that matter, so does “fiery death”, compared to what climate change actually threatens us with: scarcity, crop failures, forced migration, gradual reduction in livable land, general fucking-up of all the systems of civilization without any special effects at all.
I grew up scared to death of nuclear war, but as bad as those nightmares were, there was some kind of morbid fascination with the idea too, because it was pretty straightforward: if it happens, then it happens fast and it’s all over (or if not, then the survivors get to build some crazy new science-fiction world); and if it hasn’t happened yet, then we still have a chance; and if it happened, it would all be the fault of a few people. There was some kind of sick comfort in that, maybe something like what the troll is suggesting. This, though– no. If 40 years from now I find myself fighting with my neighbor over a can of beans, in a world that looks like this one but much shittier, there will be no joy at all in saying “I told you so.” There’s no possible comfort in this. It just makes my soul sick.
Yeah, we may be the band on the Titanic but we might as well keep playing.
Wellllll . . . . maybe.
I actually have a lot of faith in the ability of at least some humans to survive. But things are likely to get a lot harder than they are now [Oh, joy!]
Historically, as people met with some problem and had to spend more and more of their working hours trying to meet basic needs, their technological status deteriorated rapidly.
An example might be the area of the Ukraine when the Eastern invaders came through. The invaders left after a while but the remaining people no long knew how to build structures with domes. That architectural knowledge just evaporated.
So life 50 years or so in the future might well be more old fashioned, more human labor driven, and possibly even a bit primitive. Yuck.
Or, alternatively (or in addition), it’ll just be waaaay more expensive to deal with than it would be without decades of denial.
Please don’t call climate change deniers “skeptics.” The skeptical community accepts evidence that human activity has had a direct impact on global warming.
These people who deny climate change are not “skeptics.”
I think we should do something about global warming because there are a lot of people ( and I am pretty sure that I am not one of them) who will be substantially affected by it and cannot do anything about it — those in poor low-lying nations. Those who will suffer from increasing desertification, and on and on.
As I see it humans overall will survive — without a doubt and with barely a glitch (if at all) in population. This also means that the very wealthy (meaning middle class and up in the developed world)– like most of us, will do just fine.
The statements that this will make the earth uninhabitable — which is the ONLY condition that would wipe out both humans and cockroaches, are completely unhelpful to me. They are wrong and can be proven wrong.
The result is that those in the denialist camp then argue that if that overstatement is wrong then the actual changes that are coming, and that will be substantial, can be ignored.
The reason this is so big in Australia right now is there is talk of introducing a carbon-tax. Basically just an extra tax on high polluting companies. There is a quick-glance article about it here (that also lists other countries with a carbon tax). http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1492651/at-a-glance-carbon-taxes-around-the-world
It’s very light on the details cause unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress at all with the idea. As you can imagine, the mining and other industries have thrown a fair bit of money in to a propaganda campaign, which the media seems happy to be influenced by.
Actually, on of the saddest things (behind the fact that this issue seems to be up for debate at all is the fact that there are Australian politicians and interested groups that are looking at the tea party as a model to be adopted to protest all this.
Mind you, there was a protest against the proposed carbon tax a couple of months ago in Canberra. The was a counter-protest in Melbourne for people that want something done about climate change. The deniers got between 200-400 supporters at the Canberra protest. Melbourne got over 8000 at theres.
So obviously the Australian teabaggers need to learn how to do crowd estimates from their American counterparts, but besides that, they seem to be on track.
Posted to facebook. I have a lot of denialist friends. I expect to get defriended by some soon. :)
Funny thing is, the math (as in the actual science, not some back-of-an-envelope bullshit) is with Al Gore on this one. But Al is supposed to be the guy scared of Mathematics and Measurement in Bill’s little parable.
It’s almost like Bill here doesn’t know a fucking thing about actual math or science.
Catclub, our food supply worldwide is dependent on both reliable climate and fossil-fuel based fertilizer. Check out how much land is not being planted this year in the Midwest because of the floods, along with the record droughts in TX and OK. Climate systems are already starting to become more unstable and the climate of the next twenty years will be very different from the last twenty years.
I get the feeling that Queensland is the sensible place at war with opportunistic denialist douchebags in NSW and Victoria.
Queensland is the Texas of Australia (Western Australia is another candidate). A socially-conservative state heavy on mining, agriculture and rednecks. NSW and VIC are the media centers and hence the sources of Murdoch-ish denialist douchebaggery, but the population of those states is probably more progressive and more AGW-aware.
The LA TImes ran a great, but disturbing, article about how Australia is among the first frontiers of climate change.
From the article, “Australia — beset by prolonged drought and deadly bush fires in the south, monsoon flooding and mosquito-borne fevers in the north, widespread wildlife decline, economic collapse in agriculture and killer heat waves — epitomizes the ‘accelerated climate crisis’ that global warming models have forecast.”
I don’t think that what we need now are more climate scientists talking (they’ve proven their case beyond measure), we need psychologists explaining how denial reaches fever pitch right before things come crashing down. Or maybe anthropologists explaining how cultures create their own demise. Easter Island anyone?
The issue with Australia isn’t the impression that some folks there are feverishly denying reality, it’s that coal is the nation’s number one export and the Down Under versions of the Kochs are probably throwing their economic weight at skewing what the public gets from their media.
there are a lot of people ( and I am pretty sure that I am not one of them) who will be substantially affected by it
I admire your confident optimism concerning your own fate, but cannot share it.
There is much in the recent ice data to inspire gloom and thoughts of positive feedback loops and tipping points.
Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom
Not to take away from the seriousness of the post, but what an awesome picture. I had no idea Turner did paintings like that.
A minor point: please don’t use the expression ‘tipping point’. It doesn’t have any agreed meaning and it tends to confuse more than it helps.
For example, there is zero chance that we could make the planet into Venus, according to current theory.
Yes, there are warming points where new feedbacks kick in — methane from melting permafrost and clathrates is one classic example. But these are better described as feedbacks, not tipping points. It’s not the case that the atmosphere is settling irreversibly into a new mode; if we decide to pull that extra methane and CO2 out of the atmosphere we can have our old planet back.
This Carbon Tax debate is killing the government here.
With a media that is basically either clueless and careless or else mendacious and vicious, the government simply cannot get its message out. Add in an opportunistic toecutter for an Opposition leader and its no wonder the government’s poll numbers have gone through the floor and are heading for the basement.
The idea is to tax polluters a certain amount per tonne of CO2 they produce, $20 is suggested as a start, and increase it gradually over time. Thus using market forces to create incentives for efficiency and innovation. The money raised by the carbon tax would be used for income tax cuts to offset increased energy costs for lower income earners.
Of course the denialists are claiming that if this is done the economy will collapse, international competitiveness will be destroyed, and cats and dogs will lie down together.
Of course their trump card is that there is no point to any Australian action whatsoever so long as the USA refuses to take action on its own CO2 emissions.
You know, they may be a pack of lying bastards, but on that last argument they do have a point.
Sister Inspired @ #36,
A number of years ago, a younger version of me had the good fortune to visit the Tate Gallery in London, where many Turner canvases are to be found. It was a soul-stirring occasion for that young man.
And to bring it back to the theme of the thread, recall that if the melting of the polar ice proceeds as it would under AGW, London would most likely be under water; perhaps not in my remaining lifespan, but the Thames Barrier is going to get a harder workout in the near future, nonetheless.