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« In which I catch a Turner | Main | GatesRLocked »
Tuesday
Sep272011

A service

Last night's public event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh had the feel of a church service about it. The lecture theatre was packed and anticipation was high, a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of their bicycle helmets as we all waited for proceedings to begin. Everyone was eager to hear Archbishop Adair Turner, newly arrived from the capital to give the sermon for the day. Also on the rostrum was a lesser eminence, the Right Reverend David Sugden, who just written a very exciting encyclical, we heard, on better forms of worship and how one's soul could enter the Kingdom of Gaia. Events were presided over by the vicar of the parish, whose name, alas, I failed to record, but who moderated in a straightforward and efficient manner.

The Archbishop was an exotic creature: his suit was sharp, his green tie glowed under the lights, for all the world like a laser-powered crucifix. The air of strangeness was heightened by his strange mop of grey hair, which he would push off his brow from time to time, mesmerising the assembled worshippers. Nobody in Edinburgh has hair like that. When he spoke one could feel the audience hanging on his every word.

One felt a little sorry for Bishop Sugden. Although he has reached great heights of the ecclesiastical firmament, he has the air of a sexton rather than a bishop, so although this was supposed to be Sugden's day, a celebration of his report and the culmination of months of work, one sensed little interest from the audience. The poor fellow was left completely in shade by the great visitor from the capital. Rev Sugden thought he had an ace up his sleeve in the shape of a video his team had made...

...but at the end, the polite applause suggested that the audience couldn't wait to move back to the question and answer session so they could get some more pearls of wisdom from the man with the hotline to Gaia.

Although this was not a meeting that was ever going to produce any intellectual spark, the question and answer session was not without its moments of interest - or even of drama. I'll explain a little later.

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Reader Comments (29)

Great video

If people are the problem I am sure the clergy have the ultimate solution in their sights.

I know you Brits would like to beat the Australians at something (and it won't be Rugby Union this year), but how dare you try to claim the record for "more CO2 per person than anywhere else" when we Aussies have been told repeatedly that we are the winners in the CO2 stakes.

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterBad Manners

a laser-powered crucifix
Pmsl that's a Josh one for sure !

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterzx

pubic?

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterthe typo pedant

'Last night's pubic event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh...'

That's a little below the belt, Your Grace! Was it R-rated?

[BH adds: Whoops!]

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjlEB8_9Qsg

Now that's what I call preaching.

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I know you Brits would like to beat the Australians at something

Cough... getting a bit bored with it actually.

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

Sorry BM but Australians are only 11th in the CO2 stakes.

Qatar is number 1.

The UK is 43rd, which means that David Sugden has lied in the AGW pulpit.

As we all know telling porkies is normal behaviour for CAGWists.

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of their bicycle helmets

Strictly speaking, it ought to be "its" bicycle helmets (there being only the one congregation . . . ) but, no matter, you conveyed more about the event in those dozen words than I'd have thought possible. Super.

Sep 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Mac - they've used a clever little device called the past tense: "The UK has produced more CO2 per person than anywhere else". It's all in the past. That was the case in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century at the height of the industrial revolution when the CO2 emissions per capita were higher in the UK than "anywhere else". Note that they can't even say "other countries" because the countries around 200 years ago aren't what they are today in most cases, though there was a United Kingdom 200 years ago. But like most propaganda, they hope that most viewers don't spot the subtlety of the past tense and will believe that it relates to today.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

I don't know how far the Bish' traveled to sit through this piece of nonsense........but it was too far.

Unless, of course the Q and A session was a revelation!

I wait with baited breath.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

ScientistForTruth:
"The UK has produced more CO2 per person than anywhere else". It's all in the past. That was the case in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century at the height of the industrial revolution when the CO2 emissions per capita were higher in the UK than "anywhere else".

This is actually an important point! One of the problems with Kyoto is that it addressed the problem as one of 'flows' (as the economists would put it). In fact, it is one of 'stocks': because carbon dioxide is assumed to have a residence time in the atmosphere of 100 years (contentious), the greatest responsibility for the current elevated levels of GHGs in the atmosphere lies with Europe. But (thanks to the Dash to Gas - the first one - and the collapse of the former East German economy after re-unification) the selection of 1990 as the base year plus the definition of the problem as being one of flows (annual emissions) gave Europe a free pass while expecting the rest of us to bear most of the costs. Thankfully, not enough of us were that naive. Brazil actually ran this as a proposal in the Ad Hoc Group of the Berlin Mandate, but it didn't gain traction. The EU+the Climate Action Network (see EU funding)+G77 prevailed. The rest is (the sorry) history (of the failure of Kyoto).

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Sugden's encyclical states:

"Cultural perspectives and political values influence the priorities of science, its interpretation and how we respond to it. Much of the public attention on climate science has focused on political controversy about the reality of human-induced climate change. This has shaped scientific priorities and evidence in ways that understate, rather than overstate, the risks...There is an element of the self-fulfilling prophecy at work, such that the cautious framing of the science acts to confirm assumptions that the public and our elected politicians are unwilling or unable to take informed democratic responsibility for acting on the human risks entailed in the range of possible futures."

Thus says the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and I thus categorize them as climate alarmists. They really believe that the risks have been understated, and that science has been too cautious? Well, if caution is unwelcome, see how you get on with recklessness.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

Aynsley Kellow - the per capita emissions two hundred years ago were tiny, even in the UK (even though they were then higher than 'anywhere else'), and can be completely ignored. The population was only a quarter of what it is today, so the total emissions then are not worth bothering about.

As for "the greatest responsibility for the current elevated levels of GHGs in the atmosphere lies with Europe" you clearly see that as something negative, whereas it is overwhelmingly positive. Would you really like to go back to the supposedly pre-industrial 280ppm of CO2? How many billions of people would you like to wipe out thereby due to famine since most food crops grow poorly at those levels? Thanks to Europe everyone in the whole world has considerably better agricultural yield. I think the developing countries should be thankful for all the hard work put in extracting coal in years gone by. I and my descendants will be very thankful for all the hard work the Chinese miners are putting in mining coal and the Chinese burning it. It's securing our future.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

On Saturday evening I endured worse. In Great Malvern's ancient Priory Church Sir John Houghton of IPCC and Met Office fame, gave a 'sermon' on 'God, Science and Global Warming'.
From the hushed reception from the 99 other supplicants one would have thought that we had got 'old beardie' himself in the pulpit.
After 10 minutes confessing his Christian faith and assuring us God was on the side of the Warmists, he launched into a series of old IPCC slides. One of these showed the various levels of inundation that we can expect before half of Bangladesh disappears under water. He then explained about the barbed wire fence the Indians had built to keep out these 'climate refugees'. (On google, the fence itself seems to be more about preventing 'sacred cow' smugglers !)
However getting 'God' onside seems to be the latest policy. Didn't Constantine use the same ploy in 323 AD with some success ?

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Great video ;. But 25% of all the EU's wind energy (see @ 50 seconds)?

The total EU energy consumption is about 75 EJ/yr. Onshore wind turbines produce 64 TJ/yr.km^2 (as per David MacKay) and the land area of Scotland is 80,000 km^2. So if Scotland were paved cheek to jowl and from tip to toe with wind turbines it would produce a maximum of 5 EJ/yr. What exactly do they have in mind?

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

ScientistForTruth:
I made no comment on the desirability or otherwise of an increase in GHGs. And 'the per capita emissions two hundred years ago' may well have been tiny, but the UK, Germany, etc industrialised (using coal) well in advance of the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, etc, and their emissions surged in the latter part of the 19th C. Emissions in 1990 (PC or gross) are not a relevant measure of anything.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Bishop Sugden is just pushing the government line du jour which is that planning processes get in the way of forcing inefficient green 'energy solutions' down the throat of the populace.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

"Doing Nothing is Not an Option"

Oh yes it is...

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

DaveB "a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of their bicycle helmets

Strictly speaking, it ought to be "its" bicycle helmets (there being only the one congregation . . . )"

Only in American English. In British English it is correct to use the plural with collective nouns where the action is by individuals within the group. See, for example, Wikipedia on collective nouns:

"In British English, it is generally accepted that collective nouns can take either singular or plural verb forms depending on the context and the metonymic shift that it implies. For example, "the team is in the dressing room" (formal agreement) refers to the team as an ensemble, whilst "the team are fighting among themselves" (notional agreement) refers to the team as individuals. This is also British English practice with names of countries and cities in sports contexts; for example, "Germany have won the competition," "Madrid have lost three consecutive matches," etc. In American English, collective nouns almost invariably take singular verb forms (formal agreement). In cases where a metonymic shift would be otherwise revealed nearby, the whole sentence may be recast to avoid the metonymy. (For example, "the team are fighting among themselves" may become "the team members are fighting among themselves" or simply "the team is fighting." "

In the Bish's case, it was individuals within the congregation who were adjusting their own straps, so in British English the correct rendering is "a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of their bicycle helmets". In British English it could only be "a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of its bicycle helmets" if the bicycle straps belonged to the congregation corporately (e.g. part of church property), rather than to the members individually.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

That video is a worrying example of climate doublethink.
The message is that in order to save the environment we must loosen planning restrictions.

Sep 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

It is our responsibility to keep the green environment. We can help through simple ways but, can create a big change.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

"Doing Nothing is Not an Option"

I completely agree. We need to build a whole bunch of NPPs (Nuclear Power Plan). An update of France's 1975 Messmer plan on steroids. Lots of small Generation IV reactors located close to their customers.

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergallopingcamel

Bish - thank you for suffering on our behalf!

I switched off when they dropped those poor elephants on the houses - because we waste so much CO2 heating them.

Did the people like being reminded that heating houses is really really bad? Just before winter starts?

Sep 27, 2011 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Bish writes:

"Last night's public event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh had the feel of a church service about it. The lecture theatre was packed and anticipation was high, a wizened congregation fiddling with the straps of their bicycle helmets as we all waited for proceedings to begin."

This is excellent writing. Maybe you should begin an additional career.

Because you are writing satire, I guess you are not serious about the comparison to a church service? If you are, where do you find such a church service?

Sep 27, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Scientistfortruth,

Very well explained. I always enjoy these non-American aspects of English.

Sep 27, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

From Sugden's report:

Two planets met in space. Earth said “How are you?”

“Very well thank you.How are you?” replied the other planet.

“I fear I’m a little under the weather just now. I have been infected with Humanitis.”

“Oh!” replied the other planet “Don’t worry! It doesn’t last long.”

I don't know what to say.

Sep 27, 2011 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Here is more:

Population segmentation and profiling are in turn used to propose interventions likely to be effective for different groups. ‘Positive greens’, ‘concerned consumers’ and ‘sideline supporters’, for example, are seen as likely to respond to ‘interventions that enable and engage… by tackling external barriers (such as information, facilities and infrastructure...) and engaging through communications, community action, targeting individual opinion leaders’. ‘Stalled starters’ and the ‘honestly disengaged’ are seen as least susceptible to influence, and as requiring ‘interventions that enable and encourage, for example choice editing in product availability or,where necessary, regulation’.

Sep 27, 2011 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Scientistfortruth quotes:

"Cultural perspectives and political values influence the priorities of science, its interpretation and how we respond to it."

Such thinking has been the mainstay of most sociologists, anthropologists, and similar thinkers. It is the mainstay of all Marxists. It gained a foothold in commentary on the hard sciences in Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions."

Please notice that if the sentence quoted is true then intellectual responses to science are caused by cultural perspectives and political values. In other words, their interpretations contain no novelty whatsoever. In fact, novelty in their interpretations or responses must be as rare as genetic mutation. Actually, even rarer, because Marx was quite serious when he claimed that philosophy (read: all products of intellect) is an epiphenomenon of economic relations among people.

What is my point? It is that anyone who has produced a novel idea, especially a new hypothesis in the physical sciences, or knows of some who has produced novel ideas, could not for one moment take seriously the sentence quoted. "Knowing someone who has" includes knowing their works. Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein and many others evaluated the sciences of their time and contributed truly novel products in the form of hypotheses. It is so very sad that the Royal Society of Edinburgh is not aware of scientific novelty.

Sep 27, 2011 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

In Sugden's 'encyclical' are the words: "evidence was taken from over 110 public, private and third sector organisations".

This 'third sector' - fanatical pressure groups masquerading as charities - has rapidly become a major force in our democracy. The scary Byony Worthington is a good example of how eco-nazi nutjobs have slimed their way into the corridors of power. Don't these people have any real work to do?

A recent contributor to WUWT, Daniel H, shed a little light on the inner workings of the Global Warming industry: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/24/the-scandal-deepens-ipcc-ar4-riddled-with-non-peer-reviewed-wwf-papers/#comment-298859

Sep 28, 2011 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

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