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« Light blogging | Main | Beddington on warpath »
Tuesday
Feb152011

Real sceptics

An excellent piece by Graham Strouts, looking at scepticism in general but with particular reference to Lomborg and Gore and the Horizon programme.

It seems to me that at some point the science ends and there is a cross-over into politics and ideology, and this is why Lomborg is important because he takes the conversation away from the purely technical issues of CO2 and emissions into what is the most cost-effective response. He could be wrong in his conclusions- I dont know. Pigliucci clearly thinks he is wrong, but his own ideology comes through most strikingly when he defends Gore against the charge of hypocrisy for his high-energy lifestyle while telling the rest of us we must cut back on everything to save the planet: “Gore pays for offsets to his travels in order to achieve a zero-carbon balance, just as he encourages the readers of An Inconvenient Truth to do.”

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Reader Comments (139)

Ah this is good news. Andrew recently accused the BBC of hypocrisy for not using carbon offsetting, so we can expect to see a comment from him praising Al Gore for staying true to his beliefs and doing so.

The failure to issue a comment like this, would be hypocrisy on Andrew's part.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

What is a carbon offset?

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Anoneumouse

There's something called ''the internet' which should help you find an answer to that question.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

ZDB

Al Gore claims to have invented the internet.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

He's links to a real gem - http://www.cheatneutral.com/about - which clearly explains how useful carbon offsetting really is.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

The argument is completely false. The point is that Gore can afford to "offset" (I'm sure the equation for that isn't going to be zero-sum anyway), whereas most other people can't. Same with Zak Goldsmith, James Cameron and all of the other rich hypocrites we have bleating at us in the media 24/7.

Is Lomborg a "sceptic" anyway? I don't think he is.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

"ZDB
Al Gore claims to have invented the internet."
Feb 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Mac

Why am I not surprised to see tired old demonstrably false ad hominem attacks like this on this website.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Gore said:


During my services in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet.

Yes, he was trying to take credit for it in that interview. But it doesn't matter, because we know as he's a politician he's pretty much going to be talking ****ocks whenever he opens his mouth.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Mac and Robinson

Cherry picking par excellence. Take a look at this on the excellent Snopes website http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp then go and sit in a corner and think about how daft your comments are.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

ZDB stop dishing out abuse as usual and try to come up with a rational defence of carbon offsetting, as actually practised with all the frauds and distortions, rather than as a noble principle, if of course you really believe in it rather than merely setting out to annoy. You know perfectly well that the BBC are indeed guilty of hypocrisy, that is, not practising what they preach, while Gore's purchase of offsets actually does nothing to mitigate his grossly extravagant lifestyle, and his ownership of a large beachfront property while trying to scare the rest of us with threats of huge rises in sea level convicts him just as convincingly of hypocrisy.
Please stop trolling - there are plenty of people here who would enjoy a grown up discussion of the real issues, but that seems to be the last thing you want.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

"You know perfectly well that the BBC are indeed guilty of hypocrisy, that is, not practising what they preach, while Gore's purchase of offsets actually does nothing to mitigate his grossly extravagant lifestyle, and his ownership of a large beachfront property while trying to scare the rest of us with threats of huge rises in sea level convicts him just as convincingly of hypocrisy.
Please stop trolling - there are plenty of people here who would enjoy a grown up discussion of the real issues, but that seems to be the last thing you want."
Feb 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM | David S

This stuff seems somewhat logic-free. The Beeb are guilty of hypocrisy because they don't offset, but when Al Gore does it, somehow it doesn't work?

And we see the patently ridiculous ad hominem attack that owning a beach front property somehow undermines Al Gore? Scientific consensus is that ocean level rises will not threaten his property in this lifetime or that of his children - it's not sea level you know. It wouldn't have taken you a moment to find that out, but I guess you're someone who's not interested in accuracy or facts.

Once again the accusations of trolling come over as a back-handed compliment. Seems my points are a bit hard to take.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Gore is hypocritical for leading a lifestyle that he would deny to others. The BBC is similarly hypocritical for not doing what it espouses other should. It obviously finds that it is actually irrational to offset, since it incurrs and unnecessary financial penalty with no actual benefit (no 'carbon' is actually saved by using them, it's just a salve for conscience). The Bishop points out that in each case the bodies involved do not live by their own precepts. He is not hypocritical for telling the truth however much Zed tries to twist logic out of shape.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

"Is Lomborg a "sceptic" anyway? I don't think he is."

Robinson, in so far as he swallowed the Hockey Stick whole, I don't think he should be regarded as a sceptic. John Brignell - the NumberWatcher - has criticised him for "flying under false colours" and gave a lukewarm review of the Skeptical Environmentalist which is worth reading: http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/lomborg.htm

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

On Al Gore inventing the internet. I always assumed that people understood that this was not to be taken literally, and that Gore was claiming that he was directly responsible for facilitating the necessary legislative environment to see the Internet come about. The alternative interpretation, from the snopes.com, article I've personally never even considered until reading this because it is just patently absurd.

The "I engineered the internet" claim is indeed preposterous. The "I facilitated the internet" is not quite as preposterous, yet something people seize on as a typical hyperbolic Gore-ism; taking undue credit and misrepresenting the facts. JFK once said: go and walk on the moon and return safely and do it within 10 years. Gore never said: go and facilitate the creation of a worldwide, flexible generic peer-to-peer, information digital networking framework that influences how the majority of the people on the planet communicate, do business and disperse information.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew B

"On Al Gore inventing the internet. I always assumed that people understood that this was not to be taken literally, and that Gore was claiming that he was directly responsible for facilitating the necessary legislative environment to see the Internet come about. The alternative interpretation, from the snopes.com, article I've personally never even considered until reading this because it is just patently absurd."
Feb 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Andrew B

I'm once again forced to wonder whether the people who comment on this website actually look at any evidential sources they think they won't like. Snopes gives exactly the same interpretation as you regarding facilitation.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

He sought to take credit for it when in reality his part was probably just signing a piece of paper he hadn't read. He's no different to any other politician in this respect.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Time for bed Zebedee.

Just have a little break, lie down, and think nice thoughts.

You'l get over your hissy-fits.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

Hmmm,

Was it not discovered that Gore was buying those offsets from himself through a carbon hedge fund he heads up, can't remember the full details.

found a link:

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=40445

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Why am I not surprised to see tired old demonstrably false ad hominem attacks like this on this website.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM | ZedsDeadBed

Because you keep postng them?

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

ZDB: I enjoyed your witty observation. But your claim that the rebuttals towards you are "logic free" are unfortunently, logic-free.

It is perfectly reasonable to level due criticism of:
* Person A passionately espouses virtue X, but does not adhere to virtue X themselves. Calling into question their true conviction regarding virtue X.
* Virtue X amounts to nothing anyway's. It is worthless for the following reasons...

But if you indeed think there is a rhetorical fallacy at work here, feel free to bring it to my attention; because I do not see it.

BTW, on the whole issue of Gore and the Internet. The history of the development of APRANet pre-dates Gore's legislation by well over 20 years and the inertia and most importantly vision towards cross-geo peer-to-peer WAN was well and truly on it's way. Sure he nudged it along with funding in the early 90s; but my original comment that Gore was engaging in un-factural hyperbole when he said "I took the initiative in creating the internet" stands as is. The vision pre-dates him and the realisation of the vision did not require him (though it did benefit from his legislation).

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew B

I'm once again forced to wonder whether the people who comment on this website actually look at any evidential sources they think they won't like.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM | ZedsDeadBed

No hypocracy here then

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Golf Charley

- yes indeed - a past master at the two "arts" mentioned in both your recent posts...

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterNatsman

"Time for bed Zebedee.
Just have a little break, lie down, and think nice thoughts.
You'l get over your hissy-fits."
Feb 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM | RETEPHSLAW

Yet more ad hominem attacks from you. That said, as your contributions seem limited to thinking the Oregon Petition has any validity at all, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

I don't know where Gore gets his carbon offsets from, but mine all come from here, where they are priced appropriately.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

"- yes indeed - a past master at the two "arts" mentioned in both your recent posts..."
Feb 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Natsman

Hey Chris - self imposed exile still not lasting then. Have you been banned altogether from posting at the Daily Mail website?

For any of you that dont' know Chris, he's the person that bought me to the Bishop Hill website, so you can all thank him.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Bishop

How much longer are you going to let ZBD lie and abuse people here.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"Gore was claiming that he was directly responsible for facilitating the necessary legislative environment to see the Internet come about"

I wonder if Gore and Blair ever met, would they exceed the critical mass for hubris..?

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Jack

"How much longer.."

He'll only claim martyrdom. Best leave him be, IMO - his little glass house must be pretty draughty by now.

Feb 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"Bishop
How much longer are you going to let ZBD lie and abuse people here."
Feb 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Jack Cowper

Well that's a rather serious claim which I trust you have some evidence for. In what way do I lie?

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

James P

Agreed. Although i do think he/she is spoiling this blog.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

ZBD

You lied the moment you came here and called us all deniers. You know people who deny climate change. Which is an outright lie, I feel pretty safe in saying that everybody here believes the climate changes. We are just not convinced by the evidence for the man made part. But I suspect you already know that.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Jack Cowper

So you have no actual evidence at all for calling me a liar. I consider your comments to be disgraceful.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Jack Cowper

"Although i do think he/she is spoiling this blog."

I agree with that comment.

Unfortunately, that is his/her objective and whilst barring him/her is against BH thinking, surely the behaviour over the last few hours justifies such action.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Well Zebedee your repeated use of "denier" is disgraceful given that it only has one term of reference in most peoples minds [holocaust denial] then you know full well it is a term of abuse and name calling is very childish !
Oh and if you said we all disbelieve in C/C when we don't! then you have told a falsehood yes? so ergo you tell porkies !

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

Time for tea?...

http://fenbeagleblog.wordpress.com/

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterFenbeagle

Mat - can't make head or tail of what your claim is to my having lied, but I don't think it's valid whatever it is, or it would be more readily intelligable.

As for 'denier', it's still my preferred term everywhere except this website. I've been through my reasons for this many, many time before on here. Suffice to say, the Holocaust reference has been long overtaken by the climate change one. And people who get hot under the collar about it, often strike me as looking to take offence.

However, Andrew has asked me not to use it, so I don't. That should really be where the matter ends. Nobody has yet come up with an appropriate alternative. I'm currently using 'Hilly Billie' under sufferance from Andrew, but suspect that this too will get the kybosh. Leaving a linguistic hole which is proving very hard to fill. Which, when you think about it, is probably rather meaningful.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Blogs start failing when the comments turn into conversations with trolls.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Yawn...

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Carbon off-sets are a scam.
If emitting CO2 is truly a problem, carbon offsets do nothing to solve that problem since no one is performing the required balancing act by actually cutting back (ie., making real physical reductions) their emissions. Carbon offsets do not reduce the total quantity of CO2 being emited worldwide and finding its way into the atmosphere. The fact that Gore has purchased some off-sets in no way means that the total CO2 footprint he produces by his lifestyle (private jets and all) has not gone into the atmosphere. Quite obviously that footprint has gone into the atmosphere and has done whatever harm that CO2 does (I personally don't think that it does any significant harm, but that is a different issue).

Carbon offsets could only work if a corresponding individual was prepared to alter their life style by making actual and real physical reductions so as to compensate for someone elses extravagances. Eg., X has an extravagant life style. In order to carry on enjoying these extravagances X pays Y to curb Y's usual lefestyle. Eg Y normally drives 12,000 miles a year but agrees not to use his car at all. Y normally heats his house in winter and uses aircon in the summer but agrees to give up all forms of heat and all air con. In this scenario Y is making real reductions in his lifestyle such that he may be reducing his annual CO2 footprint by 15 tons and this will allow X to emit 15 tons of CO2 and together X and Y will be carbon neutral. In other words, it is a little like being a surrogate mother; someone has to make the lifestyle reduction to counterbalance the others excesses. However, carbon offsets do not work in this way and one merely purchases a certificate which means nothing at all since no one is actually making any physical reduction.

I think that Gore was instrumental in setting up the Chigaco CO2 offset exchange. This closed down within the last year since the bottom had fallen out of the market. When it closed, an offset of 1 ton of CO2 was being traded at the floor price of 5 cents per ton. In other words $100 would buy you 2,000 tons of CO2 off-sets. People were so desperate that if you had a $100 to spend, you probably would have got more than 2,000 tons.

I can't recall the estimated figure that each person in the west is meant to emit. I think that it is around 30 tons of CO2 annually. In which case, $100 would buy the average individual about 70 years of CO2 emissions. Everyone could have been CO2 neutral for a $100 stake. Just think buy a $100 of credits and then argue that you should not pay any green taxes or any green subsidies for the rest of your life because you are carbon neutral. I wonder how that would have scuppered their plans!

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Produce as much CO2 as you like,and lecture the plebs as much you want...as long as you`re absolutely minted,and can afford offsets.Gore ,Sting,Boneo won`t even notice the tax hikes on energy.
But the rest of us will.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

'Britain's most-read political blog', the excellent politicalbetting.com, was considerably improved a little while ago by the introduction of a tool called 'PB Enhanced'. This allowed readers to mark commenters as 'Favourite' or 'Ignore' for the thread they were reading.

The former status highlights posts from interesting or worthwhile commenters so they won't be missed, whilst the latter removes from view contributions from tiresome people - trolls, dullards, proven liars and the like - allowing the reader to avoid wasting time on them.

I wonder if a version of this might enhance BH.

Phil D

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

Quote:

I consider your comments to be disgraceful.

Now I know how Peter Sissons felt when threatened by Caroline Lucas.

Apologies to everyone else for my part in taking this discussion off topic.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Leaving a linguistic hole which is proving very hard to fill. Which, when you think about it, is probably rather meaningful.

Feb 15, 2011 at 1:42 PM | ZedsDeadBed

Correct. Time to buy a dictionary, and read it.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Your Grace,
Please allow ZDB to continue. I waste no time in reading his posts.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

“Gore pays for offsets to his travels in order to achieve a zero-carbon balance"

NOT exactly true!,

Gore has set up carbon offset websites/companys with other partners, it was originally developed by Gore and someone from Enron (I have read this, but it shouldn't be hard to confirm), therefore when Gore or his business partners pay a carbon offset they are actually paying it to them selves and if you and I were to start paying for carbon offsets we would actually be paying them too, so they can continue to have a high carbon lifestyles.

The whole business plan is based around the idea that people want to have high carbon lifestyles, if they were to reduce their high carbon lifestyles then Gore and his partners would be out of business,
if any one believes for one second that Gore and the rest have invested in a business to go out of business, Then WOW, just WOW!!

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSparks

Real Sceptics are Cool.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

z said.
As for 'denier', it's still my preferred term everywhere except this website. I've been through my reasons for this many, many time before on here. Suffice to say, the Holocaust reference has been long overtaken by the climate change one. And people who get hot under the collar about it, often strike me as looking to take offence.

Zed, it probably has a lot to do with the age of the the people your talking to. I`m old enough to find the word `denier` offensive in the extreme,and it`s without doubt wedded to the phrase ` holocaust denier` everywhere outside the climate bubble.
A place you could try hanging out.
I remember as a child watching documentaries about the death camps, the death trains, the ovens and zyklon b.Nazi officers inspecting the dead,and bulldozers pushing piles of dead jews into huge pits.
But you`re a troll,trolling,and i`m confident you knew that already.
`Alarmist`seems gentle in comparison.

Feb 15, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

Regarding lifestyle and being rich enough to buy carbon credits, I was in Rome on holiday last fall and just as I was walking past the Pantheon I passed a large black SUV with tinted glass and a chauffeur. The back window was down and the engine was running and sitting in the back was Zac Goldsmith. He was waiting for some hotty who joined him a moment later. The chauffeur then drove off. Nice life if you can afford it.

Feb 15, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

The hitch hikers guide to the galaxy advised "Don't Panic", as did Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, though he was not so good at taking his own advice.

So panickers and don't panickers?

Or would that be painknickers/pantknickers and don't panic us?

Feb 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Apologies if this point has been made already as I haven't read all of the comments.

The statement about how useful Lomborg is in moving the debate away from CO2 to discuss the most cost effective response is just another conflation of ideas. Its premise is that there is a problem which requires a response. The key issue IMO is the CO2 bit and whether the forcings and feedbacks are sufficient to create a problem. Only when this question is answered do we need to consider a response if any.

Gore is about PR to push and agenda which involves paying more in tax dressed up as a noble cause of saving the world. Again the premise for this is that the world needs saving. If the CO2 forcings and feedbacks are benign then Gore's conclusions are wrong and can be ignored.

Feb 15, 2011 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

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