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Discussion > Duck recognition for dummies

Further long post. This is the last, I promise.


This is the political component of my tentative conjectures. It isn't really party political, but merely as a position statement I am for small government, liberty, personal responsibility. I hesitate to use the term right-wing because it is so elusive of definition. Perhaps one aspect of the political place of climate change sceptics relates directly to that.


A while ago it was my theory that if we could settle the science side of the debate we could then formulate appropriate policy for dealing with whatever scientific position emerged. How naive. That went by the board in the 80s in terms of possibility. As soon as the science of CAGW was understood in political circles the bandwagon began to roll. Every politician of whatever stripe could see it as a way to a goal. Trans-nationalists see it as a way to extend UN control over national government. People of a left-wing persuasion may see it as a chance to exercise collective solutions. Any politician may see a chance to tax or a way to more influence or advancement. It really is a gift to pols. And the number of them on any side who actually believe in lower taxes and small government as anything other than a vague principle to be distantly aimed at is small. It is not just elected politicians, there has also come together a confluence of interests involving a number of other groupings:


Scientists who use it as a lever to get funding.

NGOs who are looking for more influence and funding.

NGOs with other agendas entirely who see ways to achieve their ends (preserve the rain forest, protect the polar bears) whether relevant or not.

People who are uncomfortable with the human effect on the 'planet'.

Malthusians.

Luddites (people who suspect technology).

Class warriors (people who must be in a struggle against oppression even when there isn't any), ragers against the machine.

Businesses who expect to make money out of it.

Big energy businesses looking to be greenwashed.

Washed-up ex-politicans lookng to salvage a disastrous election defeat by adopting a fashionable cause.

It most definitely is NOT a conspiracy. Those people don't have secret membership of a cabal. It's all out in the open. They don't have secret meetings or a cell structure. When they are caught out they have no shame, they truly cannot see that a scientist ought to be objective or a politician should not have an interest in a green energy firm, after all it is a good cause, saving the world.

One phenomenon which has changed in its nature in recent decades has been the doomsday scare. Once upon a time the threat of doomsday came from God, or the Gods, punishing man for some sort of perceived misbehaviour or hubris. But now we know we are not in an unchanging world ordained by God but that human influence is a factor in events, we are in a position to assume the blame for more transgressions. One of the effects of advances in Science is the ability we have now to attribute bad outcomes not to divine offence but to what we do or what we eat directly. With statistics and ever more sensitive equiment we can detect trends which would have gone unnoticed before and attribute them, rightly or wrongly, to things we have control over. The Ice Age scare of the 70s or the asteroid impact scare hd no legs in scre terms because there wasn't a damn thing we could do about them. Cancer scares or the AIDS scare are rather more useful but their disaster potential is merely personal not planetary. Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is perfect. It appeals to the wide grouping of interests above. It is not immediate, and any prediction which fails to come through can be recycled for a later date. No-one can escape it. No single personal action can safeguard you or your family, only collective action can work. Taxes will save us. There is plenty of open-ended funding to use the lights of a perverted science getting more and more slim evidence of a homeopathic effect.


It's the perfect scare. It has all the elements of the very best scares and everybody can join in. It may even have an element of truth, also essential in a good scare.


It quacks like a duck, and that is why it is one in all likelihood.

Aug 30, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda

You have hit many nails on the head in your post but I dont agree with all of it. You say you dont believe there is any conspiracy

Wiki defines "Conspiracy Theory" as follows:

A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

There are three conspiracy groups but two of them are groups of like minded but independent people and the third is your real conspiracy hehe.

Group 1:

People who have no interest in science or threats to the planet but see an opportunity to make a lot of money.

Group 2:

Scientists who either genuinly believe in CAGW or jumped on the bandwagon because that belief gave them wealth and influence.

Group 3

The really dangerous group. The World Wide Fund for nature, Friends of the Earth etc plus the UN. These people are of the hard left and are anti capitalist and want us back in the stone age.

Our politicians are either one of the above or they are empty headed pawns.

Rhoda you have a razor sharp mind plus determination and stamina. Why dont you approach UKIP and offer to stand as an MP?

Aug 30, 2012 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"I am for small government, liberty, personal responsibility."

My feelings too, I'd describe myself as a Libertarian, I also think I'm a conservative socialist. We should look after those who need it well, and in order to have the money to do so shouldn't piss it all away on those who are too lazy or feckless to look out for themselves.

Anyway. I think much of the problems we're seeing arises from the problems funding an ever expanding higher education 'beast'.

My father was an academic, and from what I understand initially (late 60's) they had enough funding to do whatever blue sky research they wanted. Papers would be published when interesting results were produced.

Towards the end of his career this changed (instigated by the tories in the 80's I believe) and everyone had to join the scramble to justify and attract money for research. At this point there became much more of an emphasis on the number of papers published, so knocking them out ASAP became much more important.

At this point not rocking the boat becomes an issue, espeically if there's a cash cow in your line of work. I wonder if there would be as many people continuing to propogate the AGW line if they weren't depending on the 'right' result to continuing their funding/ careers?


On another note.
I know my dad was asked to review/referee papers on a fairly regular basis, even in areas where he wasn't an expert. When asked about this he said that the reviewer was looking out for obvious errors, areas where explanations could be improved, that the work was worthy of publishing, and in areas which weren't his area of expertise that it wasn't a case of a small clique promoting each others work.

Peer review isn't a review to guarantee that a paper is correct, it is only when it is published and built upon/ tested by others that the conclusions can be verified.

All the warmist propoganda around 'peer review' is meaningless if enough details aren't included for the work to be replicated.

But then you all knew that.

Aug 31, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

"It most definitely is NOT a conspiracy. Those people don't have secret membership of a cabal. It's all out in the open. "

It may not have been one universal conspiracy. But the Climategate emails show plenty of acts of conspiracy perpetrated by The Team which they never dreamed would see the light of day.

Aug 31, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Rhoda: I think there is another amorphous group which, in the same way that some obsessed people weigh themselves twice a day, and go into a decline if it's gone up half an ounce since the last time; or those who take their temperature three times in case they are ill and then worry excessively because it is 0. 5 of a degree lower than the average, so the hypochondriac eco-scientists take the measurements of things that were never measured in earlier times -and then panic and insist that we must all panic as well.

Aug 31, 2012 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

What you're saying rhoda is that CAGW has given a licence to the 3Gs.

The Gullible
The Greedy
The Greens.

I aGree.

Sep 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"This is the political component of my tentative conjectures. It isn't really party political, but merely as a position statement I am for small government, liberty, personal responsibility. I hesitate to use the term right-wing because it is so elusive of definition. Perhaps one aspect of the political place of climate change sceptics relates directly to that."

rhoda, that is because your view there isn't right wing. I much prefer the political compass ttype of view that splits authoritarian/libertarian view from the economic left/right view (Which I understand as more socialism/capitalism type of thing). What you listed above is a libertarian view and not related to left/right wing politics. I think I fall slightly into the libertarian left view from the test on the poliitical compass website and is as described here on wikipedia.

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

Sep 1, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Rob

Its great that we can discuss CAGW on BH without letting left right get in the way. I am most certainly of the right but although in the USA CAGW seems to follow left and right, it is more confused in the UK and indeed not relevant to the discussion.

Sep 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Sep 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM | Dung

I think that my idealistic view is probably a bit different to my pragmatic view (I try to avoid any kind of politics really). I think one of the problems with academia is that idealism really takes a strong hold without the experience of having to work in the 'real world'. Working in industry you quickly come into a contact with people from all walks of life and with large range of different opinions. Academia is at the least constrained to have lots of people who are good at taking 'A' levels and at passing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Sep 1, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Many environmental NGO’s have changed into multi-national businesses paying >$100k salaries to their senior executives. Gone are the days when they did something useful such as draw attention to radioactive wate water outfall from Windscale into the Irish sea. They were amateurs then, of good intent and specialising in local direct action for those with conviction about real environmental issues.

Now the product they sell is organised ‘hand-wringing’ and they apply it to every part of our existence. They have each become churches of environmentalism, playing on the natural fears and anxieties of the less well informed members of society. They offer ‘professional’ careers to impressionable young people who would rather “give something back” than work. Universities have helped out by creating environmental, sustainability and social science qualifications that lend credence to the new religion. An alternative model of existence is being cultivated and universities are producing thousands of newly qualified disciples every year.

Now environmental NGOs claim that they represent the voice of the people and demand to be included in policy consultations. They become European and UN officials and European and UN officials become them. They come with no ‘solutions’ – their job is to ‘challenge’, it is for business to come up with solutions and justifications for every new innovation made. Politicians are forced to take heed and ensure that the pre-cautionary principle is applied to every new policy. Controls and bureaucracy are applied to limit the free market to satisfy the church of hand-wringing. We are suffering an economic crisis because of this.

They can’t let up. They have become too big, they need the cash flow of donations. So like big business they need to find new and innovative ways to market and grow their hand-wringing product or go bust. Just like banking, the crash will come when it is discovered that environmentalism has been over-hyped and has little useful value. When the control society begins to cripple the great economies there will be a backlash. Growth and innovation will be re-discovered.

The best way to address poverty, population growth, inequality, hunger, biodiversity loss and consumption is not through aid programs, carbon taxes or attacking businesses. Standards are shown to rise in all the countries where there is a move to real elected governments, the protection of property rights and free markets. You just need to look around at some of the countries making tentative steps in this direction – China, Brazil, India, Botswana .... etc. Inward investment only comes when these things are put in place. Big business is waiting to invest and raise standards of living and health everywhere – it only needs the right conditions.

Sep 1, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterChairman Al

The thing about CAGW being a scare just like a whole succession of previous scares is that it will probably conform to the trajectory of those scares. My expectation here is strongly informed by the bible of scaredom, Scared to Death by Booker and North. These things have a dynamic. Leaving aside the more easily disproved scares (the world will end by this date..or all the computers will break on 1/1/2000) what happens to scares is that when the things fails to happen, or time goes on and nothing changes, they begin to lose their supporters. When the costs of the suggested policy course begins to rise too high, politicians are liable to distance themselves from it. not by damascene conversion, but by more subtle methods. Even when they first have doubts they usually still pay lip service to what the public (apparently) wants to hear. They will not go head-to-head against Greenpeace or WWF whom they recognise as skilled political opponents with clout. already we are seeing some backing off from the extremes of energy policy stupidity. Largely forced by the recession. The political turn will be followed by some of the profiteers deciding that the well of money is drying up and moving on to the next scam.The media will see that the scare can't be sustained in the total absence of anything happening and also move on, there is always another one behind. The public just seem to forget about it. The scaremongers who believed will still believe. They will always believe. They will spend the rest of their lives searching the skies for signs of the expected doom, and they will never admit they might have been wrong. The scare will never be refuted by some killer blow and die instantly. It is not constructed that way. We as non-believers should not be trying to kill it in any way other than hastening the trajectory of a dying scare. That means targeting the most vulnerable, politicians following bad policy because they think it buys them points or votes. In the UK, that means energy and jobs. Thoughts, anybody?

Sep 2, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Grassroots community activism is probably one effective countermeasure Rhoda. It has worked well enough for environmentalists for decades, so why not take a leaf out of their book? Instead of talking about the deficient evidence for AGW, ignore that at a local level and concentrate on the obnoxious CO2 mitigation impacts, wind farms being the main target.

It shouldn't be too hard to find likeminded people, as is already starting to happen with the get-togethers of BH denizens. Bring in some bird-lovers and traditional admirers of the English countryside. Oppose and protest every wind farm development, enlisting the support of your MP, mayor, councillors and other people of influence if at all possible. If numbers are sufficient and fundraising feasible, perhaps take the developers to court on environmental grounds. Don't make it easy for them. Have some media-savvy people in the protest group, and get the local (even national) media onside. Transform CO2 mitigation into a public whipping-boy, as popular as mud.

Such tactics, when repeated many times in different locales, will help to change the narrative and perceptions about AGW. Talk about the greed of Big Wind, the environmental hypocrisy, rising energy costs and energy poverty.

I realize it's easy for me to talk, here on the other side of the world. But the loathsome carbon tax has fired people up, motivating and bringing together many people who normally wouldn't dream of attending a protest rally. Seems to me that in the densely populated UK it should be relatively straightforward to get a protest movement up and running. Just takes a bit of dedication, organization and effective leadership to (hopefully) beat the CAGW aficionados at their own game.

Sep 2, 2012 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Rhoda

For the first time I do not agree with you.
We are not dealing with a scare story here, quite the opposite we are dealing with a feel good story. People are being encouraged to feel good about:

Driving electric and hybrid cars
Using energy saving light bulbs
Staying home rather than flying abroad
Cutting down on their water usage
Allowing the installation of spy technology in their homes to report their energy usage
Paying a carbon footprint tax
etc, etc, etc

Because they are helping to save the planet. Even if the CAGW argument runs out of puff there is a sustainability train coming up behind it. I do not think we can afford to relax at all.

Sep 3, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, I don't know if you've ever seen this:

http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2011/05/warm_words_1529.pdf

An old publication laying out the tactics for warmers to involve the public and shut us out of the process.

It explains how the things you mention are proposed as a response to the scare. Give people things to do which are meant to help, no matter how useless. It is still a scare though, and if my conjecture is correct will follow the same trajectory. What I failed to mention is what happens afterward. All the daft precautions and regulations brought in because of panic or troughing remain. They do not get reversed, we never return to status quo ante. A lot of that is to avoid embarrassment, and a lot of it is because those who used the scare to achieve their aims want it that way. This one will have cost humanity trillions of dollars and millions of lives before it is done. Nobody will ever be made accountable for it.

Sep 3, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Dung, I'm not so sure that the feel-good encouragement is working. Whilst many people associate and sympathise with saving the environment per se I think that most see right through the examples you quoted as being 'plastic environmentalism'. Your examples are what the PTB *want* us to encompass but the general attitude towards them is imho quite the opposite.

Sep 3, 2012 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Chairman Al, are you seriously suggesting that the current economic depression was caused by environmental NGOs?

Rhoda, I am for small government, liberty, personal responsibility - so am I, but we are in a small minority. And I doubt the leviathan state can be significantly reduced without much worse economic conditions than today's.

Chris M, ...the loathsome carbon tax has fired people up - out of interest, why is this tax so loathsome? Assuming you are not against taxes in general, how does it differ from other taxes?

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Bitbucket, if you need a comprehensive overview of the Australian carbon tax, there are many threads on Jo Nova's blog that will enlighten you.

There are a few main themes. One is that the then very new PM Gillard (having knifed Rudd to seize power) declared during the 2010 election campaign, which resulted in a hung parliament, "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead". The majority of the electorate haven't forgiven her for that betrayal.

The carbon tax at a fixed $23/tonne is the highest-priced in the world, way above the EU's floating market-based price. Even though only the "big polluders" pay it, it has an insidious flow-on effect through the whole economy via energy, particularly electricity, price hikes. Small businesses are particularly hard hit and there are already early signs, a few months after the tax started up, that many will go under due to unsupportable overheads.

The reason for its introduction was primarily ideological, to show the world that Australia is doing its bit to mitigate against CAGW, as a "responsible" member of the international community. Some Australian politicians tend to have an inflated view of our importance in the world, as a nation of (I think) 23 million people, at latest count.

And has been pointed out many times, what will this noble self-sacrifice do to mitigate CO2 emissions, given that we are responsible for only 1.5% of global emissions? Well, as close to zero as no matter, or to use Aussie parlance, 'bugger all'.

I trust BB that I have left you with some of the flavour of the debate in our fair land. Most of us are holding out until the election next year, when (if as everyone expects) the opposition leader Tony Abbott becomes PM, and as promised he abolishes the damned thing. If he does that and the UK follows suit, seeing the writing on the wall (with dominoes then falling elsewhere), it's game over for the CAGW meme, after 25+ dreary, pointless and unconscionable years.

Sep 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

BitBucket
Any tax is loathsome that is levied on the basis of a false prospectus. Which makes carbon taxes doubly loathsome or possibly even more so.
In the simplest case, the Australian version was levied by a government led by a PM who had stated in so many words that there would be no such tax in a government led by her. So either she lied or she has no sense of basic decency which should have caused her to resign when her colleagues decided to go ahead and levy it anyway. (Assuming she voted against it; if she didn't then she is also patently dishonest.)
The tax is futile — both in the UK and Oz — because worldwide CO2 emissions will be barely (if at all) affected by the tax which in any event is only designed as a revenue-raiser as politicians well know.
The effect will be, as politicians also know but will never dare admit, to depress economic activity in the UK and Oz to the benefit of countries like India and China which do not need any help from us to become the next major players in the world economy and which will not be taking futile actions aimed at reducing CO2 because, unlike the woolly-minded effete western hand-wringers, they know that they are being sold a false bill of goods and that economic growth is the answer to global warming (if any "answer" is needed) not impoverishment.
I think that probably sums it up!

Sep 4, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Chris M,

Small businesses are particularly hard hit and there are already early signs, a few months after the tax started up, that many will go under due to unsupportable overheads.

I have no axe to grind on the issue but it interests me... How much of a rise in end-user prices has there been and what sorts of small businesses use large enough amounts of energy to be sunk by these increases alone (as opposed to other cost rises/currency level etc)? I understand that end user prices were already relatively high - why is that?

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Mike, Gillard did indeed decide to go ahead with it in enthusiastic agreement with her minority government partner Bob Brown, the now retired leader of the Greens. She seems, as a big-spending 'progressive', to have viewed it as a convenient way to raise more revenue, in addition to earning brownie points with like-minded Western governments. The irony is that there wasn't a snowflake's chance in hell that the Greens, being watermelons, would ever swap their support to the conservative opposition, which is anathema to them. She could very easily have told them to buzz off and kept her promise to the electorate.

BB, I'm not inclined to engage in 20 questions (it's late here) but try your average small shopkeeper who needs to keep bright lights on all day so that customers can see what they are purchasing, or needs gas or electricity for cooking, space heating or making things, or large fridges for perishable goods. I'm sure you can think of many other examples. Many small businesses operate on very thin profit margins; it doesn't take much to render them unviable. From memory the carbon tax electricity impost is in the order of a 20% rise, although I am open to correction on that point.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

OT really, but from this report, http://www.esaa.com.au/content/detail/internationalAustralianelectricityprices, it is hard to see electricity prices in Oz being a problem. They look cheaper than in almost all European countries.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB, it's not the actual amount, but the addition of a little in a stable system that creates a tipping point.

See what I did there?

Anyhow, any tax is bad, more tax is worse, a tax with a direct negative effect on all economic activity is worst of all. Small government, liberty and personal responsiblity. Which part of that entails taxes purportedly to achieve a collective solution where 98% of the world are not playing? Looks like political opportunism to me.

When they tax sin, the government becomes a pimp. They can't let go of the immoral earnings. Or mind their own damn business.

Sep 4, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

See what I did there? No, sorry.

However small the government is, it must still be paid for. So tax is unavoidable and that implies choices of what to tax. Compared with taxing employment or investment income or corporate profits, energy taxes seem least harmful by far.

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I lost what I was typing, so I'll try again ...

Tut tut BB, you sound like you could be employed by a green NGO. The data you linked to is at least a year old, and in the case of the ABARES bar chart dates from 2009. This is the page you need:

http://www.esaa.com.au/content/detail/electricity_price_growth_FactSheet

And those rises were before the imposition of the carbon tax. Why add an additional burden to an already heavily inflationary trend - pure sadism? Part of the reason for the rapid price rises is various misguided green schemes, similar to the UK's. For instance greedy opportunists are heavily subsidised for feeding electricity into the grid from rooftop panels, resulting in a huge drain on the public purse.

There is something terribly wrong with a system that rewards smartarses at the expense of the less fortunate in society. I am far from being a socialist, but do believe in basic fairness.

Sep 4, 2012 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

A year old; yikes! That's almost prehistoric! But even the terribly old 2011 data shows the Oz price at $0.10, the UK price at $0.15 and the German price at nearly $0.19. So Oz energy was cheaper (using market exchange rates) up until a year ago and hasn't gone up enough to close the gap since. And with over 80% coal generation, the money is staying within Oz not feeding dictators etc.

The steep rise in prices before the tax seems a more likely cause of problems for small businesses than the tax, and yet you stress the effect of the tax on business. This makes me suspect that your objection to a 'loathsome' tax is based more upon ideology (as, you suggest, was its introduction) than upon the economics.

Sep 4, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket