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« Parliament debates wind farms | Main | Liz Wager on conflicted peer review »
Friday
Feb112011

Greens and a tin-opener

Brian Micklethwait writes about last night's BBC Radio 4 programme about the psychology of climate change. Having read the blurb for the show I had decided to give it a miss, and from what Brian has written I was probably right to have done so. Nevertheless, he makes some perceptive points about the problem facing our opponents given that many people have simply concluded that the world is not going to fry:

The elephant in their room is that they have lost this argument, in the sense that they need unanimity [on climate change], but are drifting further and further away from unanimity. They are ignoring this elephant. They are behaving like that economist, stuck on a desert island with various other sorts of experts, who is wondering how to contrive a tin-opener. "Let's assume we have a tin-opener." This won't work.

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Reader Comments (53)

Wow - the BBC really is 'doing climate change scepticism' at the moment isn't it?

I couldn't stand the stress of listening to it either, just as I couldn't bear to watch the Storyville and Horizon programmes. Some will say that gives us no right to comment on it, but life's too short really.

Feb 11, 2011 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

The whole, 'let's assume we've won and move on from there' is exactly the problem. My memory's not good but years ago was it the Fiona Fox brigade? said the way to get the message across is to assume the argument is won and then move on to what we're going to do about it - so the media and the goverments went with that line of absolute certainty. The science is settled.

But if you assume the argument is won, ANY cracks, any mistakes, any dissention, any questioning is going to bring the whole lot into disrepute. And, of course that's exactly what's happened.

Feb 11, 2011 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

You're right Dougie, I didn't watch either. I simply can't risk getting furiously angry at my age. Only a few years left so looking for a bit of peace and tranquility - you know good food, glass of wine, warm memories of an honest age with some achievements. Don't read newspapers either. Worried about local library closures, not that there's any good books left - read them all. BTW looking forward to your next book Bish.
Max

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaxwell75

The Warmist position is: "The People are stupid, They are too stupid to accept what We have been telling them. Therefore We must tell them in a different way."

They view the situation a bit like a parent trying various strategies to get a toddler to eat their rice pudding.

This overweening arrogance and the many actions that have stemmed directly from it (Jack & Jill ads, Splattergate) have rightly alienated many sections of the People who might otherwise have been mildly favourable to a planet-saving mission.

The agit-prop has backfired, yet here they go again trying to devise new forms. Long may they continue turning people off their absurd CAGW crusade -- the quicker it becomes a political liability, the quicker it will be unravelled.

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Douglas Adams on the Wheel (from the R4 series, made when the BBC was good)
"Well if you are so clever, you decide what colour it should be ?"

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

A little o/t but, further to the refusal of the BBC to reply to my 2009 enquiry asking it to name the "best scientific experts" who had attended the notorious 2006 "high level seminar" on the reporting of climate change, I have once again been refused by the BBC. My enquiry asked whether the BBC buys carbon offsets when buying airline tickets for its journalists.

This time, however, having refused to provide the information in one paragraph, it then provided it in the next! The BBC does not buy carbon offsets for its journalists' airline tickets because - "in considering such questions, the BBC must balance our environmental policies against our responsibility to our licence fee payers, and we do not believe buying offsets represents good use of licence fee income." Some confusion there then!

The reponse may be seen at : http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/61319/response/149735/attach/html/3/RFI20110144%20final%20response.pdf.html

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Let us, as sceptics at least be clear about the problem.

The real elephant in the room is the undisputed increase in carbon dioxide (of about 1ppm per year) which certainly appears to be unprecedented in historical times. What sceptics should understand is that the details, the arguments which can lead to a realistic understanding of what the climate is and will do, are irrelevant to most people - they are akin to arguing about the mediaeval discussions relating to the number of angels on a pin-head.

"Carbon dioxide is a GHG continually released from fossil hydrocarbons by man - and there is a heating effect associated with its presence in the atmosphere."

Never mind if the actual heating is measured in tenths of a degree. It's still undisputed rock solid fact. On the back of this elephant rides the politician who enjoys power and too often, the sheer pleasure of spending other people's money via taxes - while getting to feel morally justified while doing it.

Relentless increase in CO2! Above 10,000 ppm, this elephant would start to be dangerous for people breathing it, never mind that levels like that are fantasy. People see lines on graphs and believe we're on a road to disaster.

Such is the AWG movement and the psychology behind it - IMHO. I'm not sure if enough sceptics understand that arguing about temperature levels will not induce the elephant to disappear.

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

I think they have great difficulty in persuading people that the science is settled when new studies constantly emerge which suggest that the problem is "worse than was previously thought".

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

The current approach used by alarmists to persuade skeptics is telling us that we are idiots for not trusting "the overwhelming majority" of climate scientists who are alarmists. They want us to pretend that ClimateGate did not happen, that climate science wasn't exposed as being grossly politicized, and to ignore what we have learned by doing our own study of the effects of increasing CO2. The bottom line is that the science is not settled, that the confidence intervals of global climate models have grown considerably in recent years (per Trenberth) and that it is premature to grossly disrupt our economies based on this shaky, immature, politicized science.

We've also seen that the response to ClimateGate was as disturbing as ClimateGate itself. We've seen the authorities conduct sham investigations that the media announces prove ClimateGate was no big deal. We've seen no disgust or outrage by the vast majority of climate scientists re: ClimateGate. We now realize that the IPCC is much more about environmental politics and transferring wealth from rich countries to poor countries than climate science.

From a practical perspective, the USA, China, and India will not agree to regulate CO2 emissions, so there is no way much smaller countries/economies can substantively impact world wide CO2 levels. The alarmists are in denial (ironic, isn't it?), they refuse to accept that CO2 regulation is not going to happen in a meaningful way anytime soon (if ever). Smart countries such as Japan and South Korea have already indicated that they will not unilaterally hamstring their economies by regulating CO2. Some other countries may choose to handicap their economies but CO2 levels will continue to rise. Economies that generate power via windmills and solar panels will be at an economic competitive disadvantage and will decline accordingly. Sooner or later, the politicians who unilaterally regulated CO2 will be voted out of office.

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Koch

OT but another reasonably sensible article from Monbiot - that's two this week:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/feb/10/bristol-biofuels-plant-planning-permission

And the EU bureaucrats are beginning to see the light on the implications of 30% emission cuts -

"The UK government's plan to push Europe to deeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions has been dashed by the EU's energy chief.

Günther Oettinger, the EU's energy commissioner, dealt a heavy blow to the hopes of several member states that have been pressing for a target of slashing emissions by 30% by 2020, against the current 20%.

He said the tougher target would force industries to move to Asia. "If we go alone to 30%, you will only have a faster process of de-industrialisation in Europe," he said, citing the steel industry as one of the likely casualties. "I think we need industry in Europe, we need industry in the UK, and industry means CO2 emissions."

full story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/10/hopes-greenhouse-emissions-cuts-dashed

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

The consensus scientists and politicians involved with the alarmist cause continually refer to the risk assessment principle of the 'potential' risk to the planet of increased CO2 in the atmosphere is so enormous that the actual data doesn't matter. We have to do something to avoid the 'potential' risk. Well for the first time there is the other side of the risk assessment emerging which provides an interesting read.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/other/55_benefits_of_co2_pamphlet.pdf

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

The programme was interesting because it nicely epitomised the warmists’ basic problem – a problem of which they are, it seems, totally unaware. Having decided that the best approach is to assume the science is settled, they’ve made the fatal mistake of being persuaded by their own propaganda. It’s not so much that they think people are stupid, it’s that they believe that most people now share their assumption – dissenters are simply cranks.

So the challenge – as they see it – is to resolve the paradox that, despite the common assumption, hardly anyone seems interested in “cutting their carbon”. So why are people thinking one thing and doing another? Find the “reasons” for this, find and deploy the marketing tools to tackle them and the problem is solved. Hence last night’s focus on how to overcome perceived views such as “it’s too far in the future for me to worry about”, “I don’t want to change my comfortable lifestyle”, “it’s a way of introducing unwelcome leftist ideas”, “it’s too big a problem for me to have any impact” etc.

And that’s why programmes such as this don’t consider the possibility that there is no paradox – that people do not assume the science is solid.

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Lapogus I make that 3 Monbiot pieces I've agreed with this week!

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/02/07/a-corporate-coup-detat/

I don't know weather that's statistically significant considering how may I disagree with <lol>

Thje Douglas Adams on the Wheel analogy was spot on for the OP!

Feb 11, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

You can see the problem they've got. They've given it their best shot - "it's worse than we expected", "we're all doomed", "think of the children and/or the polar bears", "we're all going to drown", "we're all got to burn", "we're all going to freeze". After some initial success this strategy is now quite clearly failing. They're no longer having to deal with the public's attitude of "don't know" anymore , but one rather of "don't care" - something which is far harder, if not impossible, to tackle.

Should we sceptics care? After all, as Napolean said (or was supposed to have said): "Never interfere with an enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself." Well, probably not - why not let them stew in their own juices? Don't suppose they'd listen if we were to give them any advice anyway. They might think we were using the "Steig Gambit" - heaven forbid. You know, the one where you give someone some advice privately, then criticise them publicly for following it.

If I were to give them any advice - which I'm not - I'd start by pointing out the bleeding obvious: you've got to identify and analyse the problem clearly, objectively, and honestly. If you don't do this you run the risk of going off at half-cock - devoting all your efforts to solving either a problem which doesn't exist or the wrong problem. Which, I would maintain, is exactly what we're seeing (and hearing) at the moment. Witness last night's radio program and Horizon's "Science Under Attack", for example.

You're going to have to talk to the people you're not reaching - and that most certainly includes your opponents (ie us sceptics) . Not to persuade them that they're wrong, and that you're right. But to really listen to them, find out what THEY think the problem is, and do something about it - or not, as the case may be.

It's easy. Done all the time in business.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Boyce

Frosty - yes, I saw the Corporation Tax one (Mrs lapogus spotted it in the Guardian online on Wednesday), but what was the first?

Chris - I had forgotten the Douglas Adam classic wheel colour line, so thanks for the reminder. I still remember the hairdressers though.

http://www.geoffwilkins.net/fragments/Adams.htm

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

alleagra: "the undisputed increase in carbon dioxide (of about 1ppm per year) .. certainly appears to be unprecedented in historical times"

At the risk of joining the angels on the pin, I think the 'unprecedented' claim lacks support. It relies on the Vostok ice records. But those records very likely document a process with a built-in low pass filter (thus obfuscating high frequency changes). And there are other historic CO2 records -- chemical analysis of the air from C19 and early C20 -- that imply more variability then than the 50 year Mauna Loa record does now.

alleagra: "I'm not sure if enough sceptics understand that arguing about temperature levels will not induce the elephant to disappear."

No, but I expect the elephant to retire if we get another 15 years of no significant temperature increase.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

The CAGW dogmatists have passed the point of diminishing returns. Their most scary scenarios, including those that imagined an apocalypse of Biblical proportions, are all laughed at now. One only needs to check the environment pages of the Guardian in 2007 to see just how much crazy doomsday scenarios dominated the agenda 4 years ago.

The problem is the CAGW dogmatists are having difficulty adjusting back to normality after spreading out endless prophecies of doom-and-gloom in order to win over the ditherers and 'denialists'. Going back to normality will mean an admission that they were wrong and that the future is nothing to be afraid of.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

I am listening to the show now...the first bit is about the marketing and communication tactics of small carbon neutral "outreach" groups and how much difficulty they are having convincing and connecting with ordinary people.

The classic line from one of the outreach members "To get funding I had to talk about global warming.
I had to talk about what happens globally potentially at each degree of warming. And it was really great for getting funding but actually it wasn't particularly good activity to do to get people to do voluntary carbon reduction"

She blames it on "climate change fatigue", but you can kind of tell that the group she is talking to aren't really taking her seriously. She says that the "energy level drops" when she talks about "tipping points".

For skeptics this is re-assuring. They don't get the air time obviously, but most ordinary people share the same lack of credulity.

The dark side I guess is the call for the authorities to enforce carbon cutting as a "social norm". And the idea that people need to be "made less material".

To be honest though, there is nothing the show to which the average person wouldn't say "leave me alone you nut".

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarney Boyle

I mentioned it in the other unthreaded discussion. They've actually gone nuts about climate change, not just in the programs about.

The other day there was a R4 program, the Moral Maze. The subject was multiculturalism. The long intro talk basically said that until recently to question multiculturalism would have meant people would assume to be a racist.... and you wouldn't want to be assumed to be a racist because that would make you one of the most hated scum of the earth, like a pedophile or climate change denier.

Later, I was again listening to R4, and there was a program about seals, and of course climate change affecting them.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

"There was no speculation about why people disagreed."

I heard the programme (at least until I could bear it no more) and they stated at the outset that they were accepting the 'scientific consensus', so at least they admitted as much. Frustrating to listen to, though, especially the poor saps who were convinced that replacing a few light bulbs would help save the planet...

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The interviewer also gets a guy to practically admit he is being dishonest in describing CO2 as a "pollutant"... its not a bad piece actually..

Pretty good - at the end of the day, the activists seem to saying that all normal people are insane...that can't be good for them!

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarney Boyle

At least the programme provided the phrase "don't make a polar bear cry" which will now be used in this household to ridicule AGW at every opportunity.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James - right - the editorial stance is clear.... but its hard to believe the interviewer didn't come away scratching his head a bit.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarney Boyle

We wouldn't be having these BBC programmes if the alarmists thought they had already won the battle of ideas.

In attempting to use psychological Blitzkrieg tactics the alarmists forgot the true essence of real war - no battle plan survives contact with enemy.

The wheels have come off the CAGW badwagon. The alarmists are stuck in the mud of their own making and they now complain that the tactics deployed by the sceptics of openess, transparency, critique and honesty is a form of self-deceit.

One again the alarmist deceivers are deceiving only themselves. The consenus has fallen.

Feb 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

In part their central problem is they bought into the AGW so much that they simple cannot understand why others have not. So their indulge in massive arm waving to come up with reasons, its a conspiracy, unbelievers are stupid , unbelievers are racist or fascist, unbelievers are in the pay of big oil etc etc

Bottom line they simple cannot understand that people can look at the evidenced and with good reason come to hold views on AGW different to theirs, after all as its ‘self evident truth’ that is simple not possible . So they need to find a reason why they are losing public support and that reason does not need contact with reality.

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

"don't make a polar bear cry"

An appeal to reason?????????????????

Love it - LoL

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

If I had to spend a day on my own in the rain in Knoydart, I'd want a long hot bath afterwards and be damned to the carbon footprint.

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

I just finished listening the program, and it is better than we thought. Even though it gives the full floor to CAGW advocates, none of them come across as persuasive.

I also learned a new word today: 'eco-psychology'.

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

It can't be easy, being consumed with a mix of panic about the planet, hatred of humanity, and frustration at the obtuseness of your fellowmen for failing to share your emotiions. It could make you go demented, and produce stuff like 'Selling the Sizzle' (Futerra), 'No Pressure' (10:10), and of course cajoling your chums in the media to produce distortomentaries such as the recent offerings on BBC television. Once the panic has set in, into the dna so to speak, it cannot be readily removed or calmed down.

If you really are convinced that the crowded theatre is on fire, and you and your chums have been rushing about screaming to that effect, but without getting large sections of the crowd to rush for the exits, it will take more than 'voices off' saying 'where's the smoke?', or 'can't see what the fuss is about', or 'show me just one bit of evidence', to make you calm down. Oh no, your trusted oracles from computerland have assured you there is no serious doubt about the fire - it is raging away and will get worse and worse and worse, and omg do something!

One day, we may have a better understanding of what leads people to get into such a state. At the moment, we are preoccupied with dealing with the consequences such as the blatantly irrational Climate Change Act, and associated foolish wastes of resources such as concrete, steel, and beautiful landscapes being consumed by windfarms, or the yet-to-be quantified harm to young minds and spirits being fed alarmist propaganda such as the reprehensible 'An Inconvenient Truth' in our schools.

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Roger Pielke Jr is well worth reading on this sort of thing. (Pielke is usually worth reading even if, as in my case, you don't share his belief that AGW is a real and serious problem).

In The Climate Fix he points out that belief in AGW and support for tackling AGW is already at least as high as it was for previous environmental scares. The reason that solutions are not being implemented is not because people don't believe in AGW but because no effective solutions exist. Most people are perfectly willing to pay a reasonable amount, which turns out in practice to mean about $100 per year, to "fix" AGW. Even as a deep skeptic I wouldn't get too upset about paying that: it's fairly small beer compared to other forms of government waste. But 90% of the population have no interest whatsoever in spending thousands of dollars on "solutions" that don't work.

If the Climaterati want AGW fixed they need to come up with workable solutions; ramping up the fear factor doesn't work and can't work. Indeed, rather ironically, the recent ramping up of the fear is probably the cause of the growth in skepticism, far more so than Climategate.

Fascinating times. Do read Pielke if you haven't done so already. It's best to treat the existence of AGW as a premise you are prepared to accept while reading the book; temporary suspension of disbelief can take you some interesting places.

Feb 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Re: Ramping up the fear

After being told "you're all going to die tomorrow" a certain number of times, and but doom always being postpone, it's natural to start to doubt whether it will ever arrive. And in this scenario, it doesn't matter how much more scary and painful your forecasted demise is.... you stop worrying, if you don't believe it's going to happen.

This is the real climate change fatigue.

Furthermore most ordinary people are probably not comparing 25 year old Independent and Guardian articles to today's climate, but they know they've been threatened with death and disaster for a long time, and it hasn't arrived yet. On the whole, the world is better place than 25 years ago. The only people who don't know that are those who don't remember - the youngest members of society - and hence their belief in imminent climate change disaster is higher, simply because it isn't yet fatigued.

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

I always find it interesting that the AGW marketers are prone to ascribing complex unconscious motives to the majority of unconvinced people without evidence that they have sought out sceptical members of the public (not hard to find) in an attempt to confirm this. How on earth would they know whether the person in the street is genuinely sceptical (or genuinely indifferent!) re the catastrophic AGW message or whether he/she is masking unconscious angst or terror? It seems to me that they are going out of their way *not* to find out why we are actually thinking as we do!

And I'm curious about why they care what the surveys reveal, anyway. The EU and UK are set on a course to meet CO2 mitigation targets whatever people's attitudes might be. It seems very important to them that they win back hearts and minds to the cause, but if they are going to get their CO2 mitigation via airport taxes, sky-high fuel bills, scheduled closures of coal-fired power stations, etc. etc., things that none of us have a direct say in, I wonder why they feel that they need our approval. As long as we comply with the requisite piece of legislation, why should they be bothered?

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

@Alex - Somebody said on a warmist forum the other day (it actually turned them off): How come the debate had changed from looking for solutions to convincing and/or persecuting the skeptics/denialists?

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

And thankyou for reminding me of the other economist joke. The first is:

Two economists are waking down the street. One sees an £50 note on the pavement and says "Oh, I see a £50 note on the pavement." The other says - "No you don't; if it was there, someone would have picked it up already".

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bouvier

I listened to the first few minutes. The idiot narrator said something like this (I paraphrase from memory):

"Now, we're not going to go into the science. We're going to accept that the consensus scientific position is correct. So that, like we saw from the recent Met Office report, we could see 4 degrees of warming by 2070. That would be very bad."

So immediately the unexplained and undefined "consensus" is conflated with a wildly exaggerated and alarmist opinion of the warming that could, possibly, might, maybe happen in the next 60 years. Step 1: a scientific consensus is asserted, Step 2: a wholly misleading impression of what the scientific consensus is is given.

4 degrees in 60 years is 0.67 degrees per decade, EVERY decade for the next 60 years. We've seen about 0.8 in the last CENTURY, and over the last 30 years, the rate has been, what? 0.2 per decade or less, apart from a short spell in the 90s when it was a shade over 0.3 per decade. And yet this stupid, hand-wringing, misleading excuse for a radio programme starts out by giving the impression that the scientific consensus is that we could well see 4 degrees warming in 60 years; that it is going to warm twice as quickly as it ever has this century, every year for the next 60 years starting tomorrow.

THIS is why nobody believes these cretins. They take a very narrow scientific consensus (CO2 = greenhouse gas, CO2 has increased; earth has gotten (a bit) warmer)) and then try to pretend that the consensus equates to all scientists agreeing that it is definitely going to get very hot very soon. Which plainly they do not. Not even Gavin, I suspect. People don't believe them because they constantly talk crap. You can imagine them doing a programme about flying pig deniers:

"Now, we're not going to go into the science of flying pigs; we're simply going to assume that the consensus of scientific opinion on flying pigs is correct. So, like this recent report from the Flying Pig Doomsday Society says, we can expect the skies over Slough to be darkened by vast numbers of flying pigs by the middle of next year. The question is, why are so many people burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the coming Swineageddon?" [cue 25 minutes of pointless navel-gazing]

Of course, they're stuck in a Catch 22. Because what they need to do to get people to start listening to them is to stop exaggerating. But if they don't exaggerate, people won't act because there is no imperative to do so.

I must say that I did feel sorry for the poor sap, the Useful Idiot, who was doing the community outreach program. Her job was to go out and talk to small groups of people to try to persuade and cajole them to lower their "carbon footprint". She earnestly explained how, in order to be credible, she and her team had had to make lifestyle changes themselves. So none of them could take any flights or foreign holidays, for example. Poor girl. Did she not pause to look at those above her who had sold this message to her? At the hypocrisy of the Great and Good, our politicians and scientists and journalists, who preach low carbon lifestyles whilst jetting around the world (business class, no doubt) attending Important Conferences at Nice Hotels in hell-holes like Bali and Cancun and Copenhagen and Rio and Kyoto?.....

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

Bishop, talking about 'psychology, how about this for the psychology of 'climate scientists' a la Gavin etc, something I wrote on Judith s blog:

An analogy: mathematicians, and, by extension, physicists, love perfect circles and tend to see them everywhere but, of course, there are no such things – just as there are no ‘atoms’, no ‘particles’, no ‘things’ – these being necessary and useful shorthand for what is, in a sense, over determined, convenient fictions, a semiotics which, in itself, has nothing to do with reality – they are merely idealised concepts of which nature is indifferent. Similarly, assuming – as I do – that the greenhouse affect is a well grounded theorem, it is thus, to speak in metaphor and not in metaphor, in ‘the laboratory’ – but, in the real world, where we encounter the uncountable variables of ‘stochasticism’, the ‘certainty’ of this physics can mean very little. Indeed, with ‘chaos theory’ even causation can break down. It is, however, natural that scientists, and, much more so, lay people can not resist the tendency to transfer a certainty of theory, of the laboratory, on to this intolerable disorder – they fight the ‘uncertainty monster’ by attempting to hoop perfect circles around it’s neck. But it is just that, an illegitimate transfer, a projection or, at best, a useful illusion.

So when a scientist or a lay person says, clumsily enough, ‘the science is in’, they are merely confusing ideation with reality, projecting on to the world the comforting certainties they find at their desks and in their laboratories, because they can’t help wishing it were true. The alleged ‘patronising arrogance’ of certain of these actors is, however, based on their feeling of inadequacy, their ultimate, wounding (for them) knowledge that it is not true. It takes some cajones to acknowledge you do not know precisely everything!

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

She did not attempt to explain why she takes her holidays in Marrakesh by train so Scotland can be saved from a little warmth. I reckon Marrkesh must be a good eight degrees warmer than Scotland, and yet somehow it is desirable to go there. Wouldn't you die from the heat?

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Actually, this' psychologicalization' (a neologism as ugly as that of which it speaks!) of a discourse they have failed at, is as old as Socrates. The more recent version came about in the 19'th and 20'th century, Soviet 'psychiatry' being one of it's inspiring examples (for greens!) that he who disagrees with you does so, not because he has a good argument - for 'the debate is over' - but because he is in denial - originally a Freudian term - he is neurotic etc etc. Ie ad hominem by other means (the straight jacket!).

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

They asked a question I used to ask of people: "If you believe in global warming, then what actual practical steps have you personally taken to counteract it?" I have never, ever, met a person who has done something beyond (yawn) put some energy saving lightbulds in and (zzzz) try to use the car a bit less and (snore) do a bit of recycling. "Every little helps", they drone. Well, no, actually it doesn't. It merely pays lip service to solving the alleged problem.

Rather like children's belief in Father Christmas (bright eight-year-olds don't show much curiosity about the logistics and manpower requirements of the worldwide 24 Dec operation) , I think that proponents of AGW don't quite believe strongly enough to act on it.

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

The reason that solutions are not being implemented is not because people don't believe in AGW but because no effective solutions exist. - Jonathan

A solution does exist Jonathan, it's nuclear power. If we followed the French lead we'd be well on our way achieving greenhouse emissions targets. But the problem is that Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace etc etc don't like that either and let's face it, currently they run UK energy policy


If CAGW really was the "biggest problem facing mankind" they'd grasp nuclear power with both hands. The fact that they don't massively dilutes the power of their argument on CAGW, IMHO.

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

With this sort of prpgramme being aired, the alarmists are definitely losing the battle and they show it by their desperation. 1984 writ large.

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Two things seem certain in the CAGW debate.

1) It is not about the science per se
2) It is not about saving the planet

So what is it fundamentally about? An American psychiatrist puts it thus:

The environmental apocalype envisioned by the left serves an important psychological purpose. It disguises the underlying reality of their desire to have power over other people's lives. They absolutely need the environment to be on the verge of catastrophe; just as they need victims for whom they can champion so that they can keep this image of themselves as being heroic, compassionate, champions of the oppressed (including the oppressed planet).

The social/psychological delusionist, however, chooses to remain delusional in order to protect their self-image or their hidden motivations or to preserve an ideology that does not work in the real world. They do not want to accept reality and prefer instead to claim their dysfunction is the only reality.

When the facts go against them, the true delusionist will alter the facts. For them it is a psychological necessity.

And like all necessities, this is not going away any time soon.... :(

Feb 11, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I haven't heard the programme yet. I did, however, skim through McKibben's Eaarth yesterday. McKibben is actually a pretty gifted writer - but it is clear that he is stuck in a pre-industrial age. He massively and misleadingly exagerrates the possible implications of the warming that we have experienced to date - especially the trends in storms and precipitation.
But the most telling point - as somebody above mentioned - is that he has no viable solution. Moreover, the solution he promotes - localism as in local food, local energy supply (think Good Neighbours) - works rather nicely if you happen to live in rural Vermont, earn a good salary from a job that allows plenty of free time and are blessed with a famous local college that supplies an endless flow of tuition revenues and discretionary spending from well-heeled city dwellers and cheap naive student labour. This solution is hardly going to work in most parts of the world or for all but a tiny percentage of the population. More importantly it reveals the naive Utopianism that underpins most of the Green political agenda and which has led to so much misery in the world.

Feb 11, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Rick Bradford:
Can you provide a source to the Psychiatrist you just quoted. He/she seems to have nailed it.

Feb 11, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

I had to chuckle at "Taking the train to Marrakesh". Since this is going to involve at least one ferry crossing, or more probably two, is it really going to be greener than a 3-4 hour flight?? Quite apart from the 4 days it takes to get there and back.....

Feb 11, 2011 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

Bernie - google is your friend ;-)

http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-delusion-can-be-psychologically.html

Feb 11, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

^
Thanks woodentop

Even a quick read of the Dr Sanity site, and all the seemingly unconnected strands of Warmist (among others) behaviour suddenly make so much sense that you feel stupid for not working it out for yourself.

Feb 11, 2011 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Buck: agree with you on nuclear power. I was paraphrasing Pielke rather than stating my own view.

Feb 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Woodentop:
Many thanks for the link.
I am off to take two buses to get my haircut - it should take about 3 hours in total. On second thoughts if I take my car then I will be back in under an hour. Greenies, like most government bureaucrats, attach zero value to other people's time.

Feb 11, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

Just listened to it -- the really creepy bit was about the climate indoctrination in the wilderness. The rest of the proselytisers reminded me of those smartly-suited people who knock on your door and ask if you've discovered Jesus.

It's the Climate Witnesses, quick, pretend we're not in. No wonder they're losing the propaganda battle.

Nice to hear the fragrant Solitaire Townsend though, the thinking sceptic's crumpet. Oh, those powerful women.... Futerra should be worth an in-depth blog post. And Fenton.

JF

Feb 11, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

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