Title: Culture Wars in the UK
Description: Penguins & P. Bears don't talk anymore
Green River - February 17, 2011 05:48 AM (GMT)
James Dellingpole & the zealous climate sceptics (and their equally zealous opponents): I’ve noticed how this issue is taking on the characteristics of a US-style culture war with ridiculous polarisation, ad hominem attacks and no real debate that doesn’t end up in a slinging match.
I for one greatly value the ability to have mature, reasoned debate with others of different political persuasions in this country. Even on this forum, some of the people I most respect have almost completely different political views to mine (JDD, Atlantic, &c. comes to mind), but this whole thing around global warming seems to me to be spiralling out of control.
At risk of sounding alarmist, are we in the UK at risk of creating an American-style culture war over this issue, where all meaningful debate stops and the two sides become entrenched in armed camps of dogmatism?
Note that this thread is not about the climate debate itself, but rather about the possibility of a ‘culture-war’ springing up around this issue and others.
Razhbad - February 17, 2011 08:56 AM (GMT)
It is more then possible that could become the case. Several peopel can get quite fanatical with one side or the other. Over the years i have every so often watched things like question time which seems a good place to see debates, but even that can spiral out of control. The unfortunate thing is it is becoming more common for people to consider their views to be absolutely correct and to not give a damn about others views.
It would be nice to have people who did not copy the United States in all things. Not that i am complaining about the culture of another nation, but I am British and thus i feel it necessay to have our own culture. We do not need to be carbon copies of another nation, individuality is what makes the world and ensures healthy debates.
As for Global Warming itself, i cannot possibly know whether it is happening or not. Are the melting caps due human work, the sun or the end of the last ice age. I do not know, but it would be more logical to invest money into the event it is caused my carbon dioxide as the other 2 we cannot do anything to stop. This way we at least have attempted something.
Xisor - February 17, 2011 01:30 PM (GMT)
With global warming, I find many people conflate 'political', 'pub' and 'science' debate. Diversity and differing opinions between scientists are some of the most horrific and viscious word-wars I can concieve. Why? Because they both have facts on their side. It's very difficult for one to say to the other "that's my opinion, you can't poopoo that!" when what they really mean is "I'm right, you're wrong, there's the evidence" whilst the other says the same thing and points at some other valid evidence.
Scientific consensus, however, is the best thing we have in this line. It's not therefore true
, but it's still the best thing we have. And the consensus is climate change is real and man-made effects are a significant contributing factor. Linky
With that in mind, I can see the actual issue being completely overlooked in favour of a political 'culture war'. Politicians rarely have a good understanding of measuring scientific opinion and even less so give credibility to experts. I'd be inclined to wager that the public at large are even more
contemptuous of experts and scientific legitimacy on this point.
I'd like to lazily point at the media for dramatising trivial things (Pluto's declassification, every medical advance being linked to a cure for flu/cold/cancer [delete as appropriate] or physics advances being a step towards invisibility cloaks. Go less than a decade back and think of Frankenstein foods and MMR vaccines. Two decades back and look at nuclear power in Scotland.) but that's lazy on my part. There's a whole boat-load of trouble which makes the lay person, myself included on things not exactly
related to undergrad physics, mathematics or computer science, seem to think that their opinion or, shockingly, gut feeling
is as worthy as someone who's actually done the time.
Wait, not, not one someone. A whole raft of competing people, who compete for money and jobs, producing report after report which is actually supporting the current claim, in a world where decent evidence to refute
is heavily incentivised. Legitimately illustrate and/or disprove ACC with a coherent bit of whatever at your back and I can foresee a lot
of money going your way. Nobel prize? Why not!
Promoting better understanding of facts, ideas and motives whilst de-incentivising (a word?) the pereceived benefits gained from deliberately dramatising or obfuscating issues in hand.
Quite how that's done, I don't know.
I'm inclined to say, however, that I disagree with Rahzbad's "This way we at least have attempted something" sentiment on its own. We can readily see that 'just doing things for the sake of it' has got us into a fair few problems in the past. I'd refine the sentiment by saying something more like "This way we at least have attempted something plausibly worthwhile".
But, again, I'm being facetious.
LordLucan - February 17, 2011 07:44 PM (GMT)
I was always annoyed when nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations were equated with each other by environmental movements. Nuclea rpower stations are awesome damnit. As long as we figure out a safe way of disposing of the waste, they're fine.
In resposne to the OP, I have to echo xisor. I feel their simplification of things does ten to spark kneejerk reactions from people, which in turn makes opponents defensive and then it begins to get political, as arguments tend to be polarising. In many cases I think some people argue against the consensus (even scientifically agreed results) simply because they dislike who is telling them.
Though I don't have any statistics to prove this, those people I know who argue agaisnt climate change seem to do so not because they disbelieve the science, but are rejecting the way it is being presented to them. People don't like being blamed for things and then piously being told they have to cut back on their resources and carbon footprint, by people who can afford to do so.
There seems to be this perception that carbon offsetting and other such measures are a very mddle-class sort of thing (though to be fair, the working classes and those less well off generally produce less carbon anyway, so maybe this is a natural assumption?). I'm not sure whether there is a class divide over the climate debate, or whether it has been politicised.
I myself believe in climate change and man-made climate change, and want to combat it with larger more industrial solutions. But I too sort of resent the guilt based rhetoric utilised to sway us. In particular, that ad about switching off stand by lights annoyed me for soem reason for instance.
Carandini - February 17, 2011 08:23 PM (GMT)
I'd be very careful about trusting any kind of scientific consensus on the climate. Number one, these are the same soothsayers who can't give you an accurate 7 day weather forecast! Number two, if you don't think that science has made an unholy alliance with politics, then I have a bridge down at Lake Powell to sell you. I'm reminded of a line from the '76 'King Kong' where Charles Grodin is trying to buy Jeff Bridges and makes the statement 'there are superstars in science too, you know.' I'm not sure if we've seen the same kind of grandstanding and egotism in academia that is going on now since the 1800's and things like the Dinosaur Wars. Every field seems to have its ego-maniacs making wild claims just to slither into their fifteen minutes of fame (and the coveted grant money such exposure can yield). Pick any field of study and you'll get your Zahi Hwass or Jack Horner. To believe that science and scientists are some altruistic cadre of truth-seekers is simply naive. They're after fame and fortune these days, and if that means twisting facts or making wild claims, so be it.
Being over here in the Colonies, I see this sort of nonsense constantly and quite frankly it really pisses me off. A bunch of stooges pushing a political agenda and cloaking it in the respectability of scientific fact. The only reason you have a 'consensus' is because these rats have shouted down, blackballed and otherwise bullied into obscurity or silence all of their opponents. I can't tell you how many protests these wackos have staged over here trying to get any professor or climatologist kicked out of his position for daring to question the 'fact' of man-made global warming. There is no room for debate, because as Hierophant Alphonse Gore says 'the debate is closed'. And isn't it convenient that the chief proponent of man-bear-pig is also the guy who stands to make a fortune peddling carbon credits? And isn't it so nice that every time the weather does something that violates the computer models that support this theory, well, they just go ahead and change the models and claim it is still evidence supporting their position? You get the slobs like Kevin Trenberth caught red-handed manipulating data and, because all of this is married to a political agenda, the entire matter is reported only with the greatest reluctance by the media and then swiftly swept under the rug.
As with anything else, follow the money if you really want to know where the truth is hiding.
It pains me to know that the UK is now sinking into the same bankrupt toilet of ideaological fanatacism as America. Because it's not a nice place to be.
I'll leave you with a website that focuses on the way this material is being foisted on folks and the political chicanery which has polluted any 'pure science' involved in this corrupt scam: http://www.globalclimatescam.com/
I'm with the late great Michael Crichton on the matter. He didn't buy into this trickery and was very upset over the way the proponents of it refused to even consider any contrary evidence. Why should hey, when it's much easier to simply bury any such inconvenient truths?
Raziel4707 - February 17, 2011 09:37 PM (GMT)
My own position on this argument is this; meh.
I'm partly with Carandini on this one. The media reporting of this issue in particular has been scathingly one sided, biased and unfair. The word cynic seems to be the word for "those who are wrong, backward or wilfully ignorant", and that simply willl not do.
I am a climate cynic. Why? Because something about this whole deal feels wrong and I am sick of having the arguments of the believers rammed down my throat by the media while anything cynical is reported with anything from a mild sense of amusement to vitriolic disbelief. I once watched a debate on the BBC, advertised as a discussion about the subject. The format? "These six people are cynics who do not believe in climate change. Can our panel of experts convince them?"
Not experts from both sides of the fence presenting honest, impirical evidence for their case and allowing the cynics to make up their own minds based upon a review of the facts. But to convince them. Since when do scientists behave in such an unscientific manner?
The media has its own agenda and it intentionally polarises people in order to sell papers. There is no fairness in the popula press, no honesty and no true scientific method. You are one of us or you are one of them. It is devisive, sensationalist propaganda that serves to create conflict, and nothing sells quite like misery. This is true of so many issues, whether it is the UK's membership of the EU, the war in Iraq or the salt content of MacDonalds food. You are with us or against us, and you're a coward if you sit on the fence, even if that is ostensibly the correct place to be.
The most common evidence I hear for climate change is "The X-est summer/winter/autumn/tuesday afternoon/hanukah since records began." Which was when? The 1900's? Which tells us approximately f-all about a planet 4.56BILLION years old.
If there is better evidence then that's fine, I'm interested and I'm not discrediting it, but that "since records began" crap is the crap that is wheeled out to us as proof and I'm bloody sick of it, and even more sick of being called some sort of moron for calling bulls*** on such bad science.
The fact is that people are passionate and impessionable primates at the mercy of that evil electric fishtank in the corner and while we remain glued to it, the culture war will rage.
Xisor - February 17, 2011 09:55 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Carandini @ Feb 17 2011, 09:23 PM)|
| I'd be very careful about trusting any kind of scientific consensus on the climate. Number one, these are the same soothsayers who can't give you an accurate 7 day weather forecast! Number two, if you don't think that science has made an unholy alliance with politics, then I have a bridge down at Lake Powell to sell you. I'm reminded of a line from the '76 'King Kong' where Charles Grodin is trying to buy Jeff Bridges and makes the statement 'there are superstars in science too, you know.' I'm not sure if we've seen the same kind of grandstanding and egotism in academia that is going on now since the 1800's and things like the Dinosaur Wars. Every field seems to have its ego-maniacs making wild claims just to slither into their fifteen minutes of fame (and the coveted grant money such exposure can yield). Pick any field of study and you'll get your Zahi Hwass or Jack Horner. To believe that science and scientists are some altruistic cadre of truth-seekers is simply naive. They're after fame and fortune these days, and if that means twisting facts or making wild claims, so be it. |
I'd quibble a couple of points in this, though certainly not devalue the central message: scientists are as human, fallible and crooked as any other person with the stars (or dollar-signs) in their eyes.
Having said that, unlike politics and general media (though there are boundaries in law, though even that has a celebrity/fame trouble to it, try as they might to minimise its effect) portrayals science has built-in, best-we-can-get methods to prevent stooges, crone-ism and fraud which are broadly superior to almost all other human endeavours.
Don't mistake that with 'science being innately good' (as said: that'd be naive), but there is a massive, overarching incentive favouring telling the truth and not being a crook and a sham in science. Mainly: actual, proper, 'heights of science' fame comes from being broadly accepted by peer review, by being reviewed by people who're doing the same thing and share your interest in fame/wealth/naked-women. Simply: peer review levels the field such that if you're crooked, you better be magnificently awesome otherwise someone better but not quite as crooked as you will crucify you.
The consensus is achieved by not standing out from the crowd (mob instincts!), but fame is achieved by changing consensus. These competing aspects force folks pursuing science to either be legitimately successful or thoroughly exposed in time. Cross reference: Andrew Wakefield & MMR.
To that extent
The link I squeezed out earlier has no reason to be doubted (from the perspective of some non-expert perusing it) on scientific grounds. It's certainly not definitive or something seemingly foolproof like the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But the ongoing brouhaha over climate change has exceptionally little to do with what the work of scientists actually says. In climate research, the evidence is repeatedly going one direction. It remains to be seen whether that continues or not but, at the moment, that's our understanding.
The point is similar, in an extent, to Creationism. Ideology masquerading or 'hamfistedly speaking the jargon' of science without actually doing it properly. Cargo Cult science, you could call it.
Xisor's Pithy Petulance
Herr Werner: there's a massive difference between climate and weather, willingly conflating the two serves well to illustrate the general lack of understanding of what science is. There's a difference between doubting a specific scientist and a specific claim.
(Also something about distinction between attacking the people making an argument rather than the argument itself, but again that's somewhat pedantic on my part.)
The fabrication of the carbon economy, for example, is still very much in its infancy if it's a legitimate, long-term idea. There's still plenty of room for it to utterly, miserably fail (if it hasn't already).
I almost wholeheartedly concur with LL on the point that, to paraphrase, "if this is happening, doesn't mean I agree with you as to the solution". E.g. everyone half-heartedly recycling when convenient and doing the odd bit of car-sharing mightn't make a drip in the ocean if, say, we could completely remove fossil fuels in grid-energy production.
To that end, even in any discussion outside of the scientific arena (which none of us are knowledgeable enough to comment on in the first place), it's almost completely clear to see that Britain's somewhere near crossing the line from 'still room for informed debate' and 'now for an eternity of grandstanding divorced from the facts'. I'd like to believe we're on the right side or that, if we're not, we can go back to the right one, but the cynic in me now cringes whenever it comes up in a day-to-day argument.
The only bit that's 'real' as far as we're concerned is that the scientific consensus is as it is. Beyond that, even within that, we're not well placed to scrutinise yet people will happily obscure this fact by variously telling us we are able to contribute meaningfully and that *points at archetypal opponent& they are trying to stop us contributing!
For the record
There's some pretty interesting ideas floating out there which take the 'mad scientist' approach to the whole thing. E.g. presuming man-made-climate-change is real, it's a proof of concept: we can and do alter not only the environment around us, but the on-going climate itself.
It's terraforming, baby! Next stop: arcologies! Then? Stompy robot-bodies!
flick - February 17, 2011 10:11 PM (GMT)
Scientists may not be perfect, but I trust them a 100 times more than some senator with links to the oil industry/Fear-mongering shock jock.
Besides, if Sir David attenborough says it's a real threat, then that's good enough for me.The man has been studying the enviroment and the critters that live in it, for about 60 years(!).
schaferwhat‽ - February 17, 2011 10:39 PM (GMT)
Personally I don't get the global warming thing. Historically the world's climate hasn't been static, that man plays a factor is hard to dispute but the issue is that we should be painting the rooftops white and planning stilted communities and plotting for the forthcoming floods.
We're at a risk of wasting the evoloutionary advantage of developing science to realise stuff is about to go down if we keep harbouring on.
As for the culture of the debate, I blame the media, everything is more advesarial and black and white. Science always, always, ALWAYS! does really badly in being reported because scientists are rarely sure about anything, it's all just hypothesis with whatever data from whatever study they have to hand which isn't very useful to the NARRATIVE that the media wishes to go for.
LordLucan - February 17, 2011 11:25 PM (GMT)
The thing about climate change is, it seems to be the most vague and underwhelming of environmental catastrophes, with consequences that seem very far off, and we are extrapolating from a relatively small time scale of change. The eventual depletion of oil and other easy to consume fossil fuels seems to be of greater import. I advocate replacements being created for these for the reason our society requires an alternative to these fuels, rather than the notion the environment will be hotter. I understand a rise of one degree worldwide would mean much more extreme weather, but in the grand scheme of things I think we could survive such things. Loss of the primary fuel driving our entire culture, however, we cannot, and we require creative solutions.
I still think we should mine the moon...
Xisor: While science is certainly a more evidence/experiment based discipline, I think other academic areas are equally evidence based and peer reviewed (history for isntance). In fact, arguably imo, history and politics and science should be considered in an interdisciplinary way. For instance, the mini ice age during the late medieval period-early modern period iirc, is such a topic which should be approached from several angles. Indeed, sometimes science would require chronological or documentary accounts in order to form a theory on what occured, in the absence of other evidence. I don't believe the subjects are seperable myself.
schaferwhat‽ - February 17, 2011 11:32 PM (GMT)
Lucy it wouldn't take much to rapidly increase the global warming, the sea has lots of frozen carbon deposits which as sea tempetures increase could get it to be released into the air which ruins things.
Me I'm worried about the sky falling and the magnetic poles switching, both things are more than overdue.
LordLucan - February 17, 2011 11:40 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (schaferwhat‽ @ Feb 17 2011, 11:32 PM)|
| Lucy it wouldn't take much to rapidly increase the global warming, the sea has lots of frozen carbon deposits which as sea tempetures increase could get it to be released into the air which ruins things.|
So eventually global warming will turn the planet into a lifeless scolding desert world, like venus? Or are we jsut talking things getting hotter and there being more climatological disasters?
See this is why I find it hard to judge how much to care about global warming. There seems to be so many more pressing and urgent potential crises.
schaferwhat‽ - February 17, 2011 11:50 PM (GMT)
No it'll not become a desert world, water will still exist, the seas will be larger, the weather will be different the types of plant life and animal that exists will change, really we'd just be aping the climate several million years ago and then it'll cool slowly the carbon will be absorbed into the sea and freeze again and eventually it'll likely return to something comparable to now.
LordLucan - February 18, 2011 12:00 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (schaferwhat‽ @ Feb 17 2011, 11:50 PM)|
| No it'll not become a desert world, water will still exist, the seas will be larger, the weather will be different the types of plant life and animal that exists will change, really we'd just be aping the climate several million years ago and then it'll cool slowly the carbon will be absorbed into the sea and freeze again and eventually it'll likely return to something comparable to now. |
Exactly. That seems to be, historically speaking, a rather short term climate crisis; a large fluctuation shift within the overall system, but not apocalyptic.
I do not like the way climate change and man-made global warming is presented to us. yes we shouldn't deliberately exacerbate the situation, but beyond cutting down on carbon emission and finding alternate non-carbon emitting energy sources, what are we supposed to do? reverse climatological change? Keep the earth exactly as it is in 'the present'? It seems a rather futile goal in th elong run. Adaptation is the key I feel.
Green River - February 18, 2011 12:08 AM (GMT)
For me, I most fear the polarisation of the ‘debate’, which will result in great roadblocks to real solutions being put up everywhere by the reactionaries.
People like James Dellingpole
at the Telegraph are the people who will lead us into this dead end. Here is a man who is well versed in the American style of firebrand empty rhetoric and is attempting to import it into the UK (he contributes to Fox news, &c.). Personally, I do not like the idea of the centre ground of politics being turned from a boundary of compromise into a no-man’s land, but it is happening. Like Xisor observed, the first thing that comes to my mind when somebody identifies themselves with the ‘climate sceptics’ is ‘quack’ or ‘loony right-winger’, and that is not right. Individual dignity and respect has been sucked right out of this issue and we’re scant months away from calling each other baby-killers like those crazy yanks.
If you look at the link above, this is James Dellingpole attempting to associate ‘Eco-Fascists’ with the real Nazis. He’s writing a book about it, and going on about how the two are ‘intimately bound’. Now, of course, for me (and I daresay LL), the historical assertion that ‘environmentalism was a core tenet of National Socialism’ is a serious causal claim that represents a major rethinking of the historiography. Of course, I asked him if it had been submitted to a historical journal (such as EHR) for peer review – it has not. His supporters say that this is because he’s a journalist, not a historian, and therefore has free reign to make wild unsubstantiated claims on the subject because of this absurd ‘immunity card’.
People like Dellingpole are simply printing what amounts to libel; they will not accept logical arguments (Even if environmentalism was linked with National Socialism, that does not make it inherently false or morally wrong = straw man argument, logical fallacy; correlation is not causation, &c.), empirical arguments (there is not enough explicit evidence in primary sources for this) or moral arguments (publishing such a book would only help to degrade the quality of the debate by entering into mud slinging). I wish Sir Ian Kershaw has still knocking around my department so I could ask him what he thought about this.
On top of this, Dellingpole even has the cheek to claim in his blog post that he chooses his words ‘carefully’ (courtesy of an Oxford education don’t you know) – resort to labels like ‘Eco-Nazi’, ‘Eco-Fascist’, ‘Greentards’ and the like are apparently very apt and well thought out…
A call for a more mature debate on this, and to stop resorting to such puerile rhetorical nonsense does not go down too well in the climate sceptic camp (they probably feel under attack and have entrenched themselves as a result)
schaferwhat‽ - February 18, 2011 12:10 AM (GMT)
its apocalyptic in the fact that our way of life is being challenged and lots of people will likely die as a result of it.
People are small minded with regards what they think is an apocalypse. Ultimately it might be a shift that is too much for humanity but you know life goes on, here is hoping that some sort of human survives and develops into some sort of crocodilian style niche in the post-human world.
You know like when they say "Crocodiles are dinosaurs" they'll say "thesethings are humans"
LordLucan - February 18, 2011 12:27 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (schaferwhat‽ @ Feb 18 2011, 12:10 AM)|
| its apocalyptic in the fact that our way of life is being challenged and lots of people will likely die as a result of it.|
People are small minded with regards what they think is an apocalypse. Ultimately it might be a shift that is too much for humanity but you know life goes on, here is hoping that some sort of human survives and develops into some sort of crocodilian style niche in the post-human world.
You know like when they say "Crocodiles are dinosaurs" they'll say "thesethings are humans"
So it IS a threat to all human life then?
GR: I can't find fault with your argument there GR. However, I would say that journalist has already lost the debate, for the reasons you mention, and is now simply arguing, as I say, because he hates those who are arguing with him, rather than for any intellectual reason. That's how these debates tend to degenerate I feel.
Green River - February 18, 2011 12:32 AM (GMT)
Incidentally, James Dellingpole was the jounalist recently interviewed (and stumped by) the Nobel-prize winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse (President of the Royal Society) in a recent BBC Horizon programme on this very matter.
schaferwhat‽ - February 18, 2011 12:57 AM (GMT)
It needn't be a threat to all human life, we know it's coming, we can predict what may happen. We use technology to overcome the elements and tame the environments, from a biological history point of view the worlds climate should shift and force new life to take dominance but we're far to advanced for that to happen if we stop whining like babies about whether it is happening or not or pissing in the wind in vain attempts to stem mankinds contribution to the inevitable happenings
LordLucan - February 18, 2011 01:17 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (schaferwhat‽ @ Feb 18 2011, 12:57 AM)|
| It needn't be a threat to all human life, we know it's coming, we can predict what may happen. We use technology to overcome the elements and tame the environments, from a biological history point of view the worlds climate should shift and force new life to take dominance but we're far to advanced for that to happen if we stop whining like babies about whether it is happening or not or pissing in the wind in vain attempts to stem mankinds contribution to the inevitable happenings |
So it is survivable through human ingenuity and adaptation? That's what I said originally.
Gundi da Grot - February 18, 2011 02:01 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Green River @ Feb 17 2011, 06:48 AM)|
|At risk of sounding alarmist, are we in the UK at risk of creating an American-style culture war over this issue...|
Silly GR...we haven't got any culture (unless you could Justin Beiber and Lindsay Lohan).
|QUOTE (Green River @ Feb 17 2011, 06:48 AM)|
|Here is a man who is well versed in the American style of firebrand empty rhetoric and is attempting to import it into the UK (he contributes to Fox news, &c.).|
Empty! I'll have you know that that rhetoric is filled to the brim with the finest hatred, racism and willful ignorance in the Western Hemisphere!
His Will - February 18, 2011 02:28 AM (GMT)
I liked that one.
He is just a journalist, this Delingppole character. It's our responsibility to ignore, and failing that, mock people who "argue" like him.
A cursory view of the link you provided makes me think that he is basically a troll, of the standard Glenn Beck mold. He has the right to be a twunt, and we thankfully have the right to ignore him.
On the subject of rights and so forth:
I'd really like it the whole guilt-machinery could just crumble up and die, so I wouldn't have to pretend to give a rats arse when I run around and throw used batteries into creeks and bird sanctuaries.
Better if western governments just took a top-down approach and forbade private ownership of vehicles in cities, switched to unicorn dreams for our energy needs, and perhaps enforced it by making offenders into fossil fuels.
Anything is better than the current "I sort my veggie garbage and I once saw Al Gore moan about something, so I am one of the good guys, right?" hypocrisy and blatant bs.
Assuming that we even can stop or mitigate the negative effects of global warming, I think it should somehow be more than a politically correct fad you can indulge in at your leisure.
Yep, some pub logic mixed with a genuine weariness and a hint of rage here.
flick - February 18, 2011 02:59 AM (GMT)
I just want to say how pleased I am, that someone else is using the word 'Twunt'.
Sig - February 18, 2011 03:05 AM (GMT)
I believe that climate change is happening but I'm unsure if it is man-made. No ordinary layperson is going to be able to look at the data and be able to draw any kind of accurate conclusion, so I feel that we have to trust the science community. We're going to have to find substitutes for oil and petrol soon enough, so we might as well start trying to find and start using them now, as well as conserving our use of non-renewable sources. The cowardice of political leaders disgusts me and we are truly screwed if the Republicans win the next US election (sometimes I think that the US elections are too important to let American citizens vote in, it should be the whole world...).
I do agree that GR's original point is an extremely valid one.
Chun the Unavoidable - February 18, 2011 06:35 AM (GMT)
The thing -or one of them, forgive the definite article- is that scientists are as human as the rest of us. I've read a few popular science books, and one thing that has made an impression on me is how much back-stabbing and petty argument goes on within the scientific community. And if they're arguing among themselves, what bloody conclusions are laymen supposed to come to?
People don't like to be proven wrong. They don't like the taste of humble pie. The fundamental problem with all of this is that people are the fundamental problem with all of this.
Personally, I colour my opinion with what I have observed. I've noticed the weather getting much milder (these cold snaps we've been having notwithstanding though I think even they are brought on by sinking warm currents in the Atlantic (the name of which escapes me)); I've noticed that there are fewer bees knocking about; I've noticed that trees and other plants seem to come into leaf earlier each year; I can't deny the evidence that the polar ice caps are shrinking. Something is causing all this. Whether it's us or some kind of planetary/solar cycle doesn't really matter. What does is what we do about it... 'cause we are the only ones who can.
Raziel4707 - February 18, 2011 07:02 AM (GMT)
A point of interest:
19p a litre 'petrol' in development
A British company has invented artificial petrol that emits no greenhouse gases and could cost as little as 19p per litre at the pumps.
Cella Energy, the Oxfordshire-based firm that is developing the fuel, uses hydrogen, which is currently much cheaper than oil.
The first road tests of the as yet unnamed fuel are scheduled to take place next year. If everything goes to plan, then the miracle 'petrol' could be available in three to five years.
Though a figure of 19p per litre has been suggested, it is expected that the motorist would pay around 60p per litre with the addition of Government fuel tax.
Even so, that would reduce the price of filling up a 70-litre petrol tank to £42.
Speaking to the 'Daily Mail', chief executive of Cella Energy, Stephen Voller, said: 'In some senses, hydrogen is the perfect fuel. It has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns, it produces nothing but water.'
He also said that the fuel could be used in existing cars without the need for engine modifications: 'Early indications are that the micro-beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification. The materials are hydrogen-based, and so when used produce no carbon emissions at the point of use, in a similar way to electric vehicles.'
Critics remain sceptical of the real world savings, though. AA president Edmund King commented: 'The fact the hydrogen is cheaper now doesn't mean it always will be because the Government would soon get its hands on it and increase the tax.'
Now, had anyone else heard about this? Not many have, because it's good news. A bit of good news and no-one seems to give a s***. If we can run our current cars on this stuff, with no modifications, then even myself and Jeremy Clarkson can be bloody delighted. The reaction of the AA president made me rather angry though. A solution that suits everyone? An ecologically sound fuel that enables us to slow the incredibly damaging production of new cars, allowing us to stick two fingers up at the self righteous Toyota Prius crowd? Sounds good to me. But the reaction? "Wah wah wah, taxation, politics, David Cameron wants to eat your kidneys, wah wah wah."
All this hybrid car rubbish is the same sort of stupid, short-term thinking as the catalytic converter. "What do we want? A TEMPORARY SOLUTION THAT WILL ULTIMATELY ONLY DELAY THE INEVITABLE, AND LET ME GET BACK TO WATCHING EASTENDERS. When do we want it? WHAT? SORRY, I'VE ALREADY CRAWLED BACK TO THE TELLY..."
I also love the implication that hydrogen could be a rare commodity or suffer the same availability issues as oil. Currently cheaper than oil... Of course it is. If there was a comparable amount of oil as there is hydrogen, the universe would vaguely resemble the inside of Homer Simpson's carotid artery.
The government getting their hands on it? Yeah, I can see the headlines now. "Government steals all the hydrogen! Universe collapses, AA president told you so and is, in no way, a miserable c*** like Alec said he was..."
Carandini - February 18, 2011 09:03 AM (GMT)
Hate to break it to anybody who pins their hopes on US elections, but the two-party system is based on 'which one of these rats makes me less sick'. With the power-abuses and arrogance of reptiles like Nancy Pelosi (Cthulhu rot her pancreas), the odds of idiots with an R after their name getting elected are pretty much like finding a mosquito in a mangrove swamp. Be thankful you have a system that hasn't become so corrupt that your only choice is 'at least that twit isn't going to make my lightbulbs illegal'. It's sick and, quite frankly, shows what a joke this entire republic has become. Your vote matters... only until you've cast it and then the politicians can get back to taking their bribes from lobyists and pandering to fringe-group special interests (oh, and of course getting third-hand kickbacks from foreign governments).
That out of the way, the thing that really incenses me is how environmentalism has been hijacked by a loathsome, maniuplative cadre of megalomaniacs out to acquire as much power as they possibly can. I've been an environmentalist for pretty much my entire life. I ride a bicycle everywhere I can, recycle bottles and paper, limit my consumption of consumer products (except, well, I have this problem about books...). I used to donate quite a bit to various charaties as well, but when the literature coming out of the Sierra Club started reading like Mao Tse-tung might have written it, I pretty much gave up on that front. Fortunately it seems the California Condor is hanging in there without my $25 a month.
There are alot of sound reasons to take care of the environment. I'm not one of these bloated maggots like Rush Limbaugh who wants to see a damn golf course every time he waddles across a scrap of undeveloped land. And the real reason to cut back on carbon emissions has nothing to do with the weather but has everything to do with poisoning our water and land.
Anyway, i'm sure I had a point somewhere in this rant, but I'm too tired to remember it just now :P
Razhbad - February 18, 2011 10:20 AM (GMT)
@ Xisor, now for my orginal statement on the grounds of putting money into the problems here is my reasoning. So far we have 3 main reasons as to the cuase of global warming. Firstly it is the might of our Sun the life giver that is doing this to us. Now we cannot very well invest money to deflect its rays as it is extremely costly and attempting to tamper with the sun though not feesible would be idiotic as we could never understand its consequences. The second is that the ice age is finally coming to an end and thus the planet is returning to its normal state and position within the solar system, this would mean we would have to have the power to alter our orbit to do anything about it. Finally it is caused by mankind and carbon dioxide, now there is something we can do about this, money we can invest which could do something. Naturally if it proved to be wrong then the nation would have flushed money down the drain but its not like Britain has not done that before (Millenium Dome anyone). I prefer to take some kind of action just on the grounds that if nothing is done and it is proved that we were wrong we could have wasted our opportunity, now I do not believe all the fear mongering that is shoved at us but I do not like the idea of sitting idle for something to happen either.
Like Sig I believe that Climate Change is very real, yet I am not certain of the reasons behind it. Now of course you can quite easily say that perhaps it is caused by us, it seems believable. Yet I am more inclined to consider that the planet is restoring itself to a much natural state, what I am babbling about is that just over 10,000 years ago we were going through an ice age, now who knows for sure how long it takes to end an ice age, we may still be part of it now to a degree.
What we really need is for those who side with Al Gore and those against him to come together in huge numbers, then they should have a healthy debate and discuss their theories evidence and findings together. This would help and it would be far better to have then what we get. Now politicians will unlikely do that, as our political system now utilises any types of fear to keep the populace in line, all you have to do is look at the news to notice the tactics. Perhaps Climate Change falls into this bracket. The problem is with the shifting politics within our nation and a turn from healthy debate obscures the process we have making it more difficult to deside who is right, nor does it help that we have shifted away from a multi party system to having different parties of almost the same views. This means that when we finally do get healthy debates both sides are so very much the same it is difficult to tell who is right or wrong or more accurately who to side with if you do. Now when Democracy fails in such a way a careful look is needed to get it back on track.
This is why I am suggesting you vote me your Consul, and in no ways will I make my self king… honest.
Remerez - February 18, 2011 08:32 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (LordLucan @ Feb 17 2011, 11:25 PM)|
| with consequences that seem very far off |
Oh no. No, no, no, no. It'll happen overnight. First there'll be a big tidal wave then everything will suddenly freeze. Then Donnie Darko does some stuff, or doesn't, and his girlfriend dies or something.
I think there might be wolves, too. Or dogs. Feral dogs. I don't know.
Then Dennis Quaid kills the giant shark and saves Sea World (although that may have been a different film).
Caution: the above may contain spoilers.
Athelassan - February 18, 2011 09:17 PM (GMT)
I think the debate is already so polarised as to be beyond salvaging, and the above conversation confirms it. Everyone feels the need to state whether they're a believer or a sceptic *first* and then go on to offer their opinion on the subject. There are many problems with this approach. Firstly, it changes the argument from one about facts to one about faith- I think this is something of a victory for the more reactionary end of the climate sceptic camp, myself, because by giving it the characteristics of a religious debate it's changed from an argument that can be won to an argument where nobody can be objectively right. Secondly, by stating your position to begin with, it means that the following argument, however valid, is already coloured, and all too often, dismissed regardless of actual validity, by opponents simply because you're on the opposing side, and therefore wrong.
The debate has already become politicised, too, and that's another problem. I'm thrilled that we have investigative journalists of the calibre of James Delingpole, because this issue is so important that it does need to be subjected to proper scrutiny. However, Delingpole also does himself no favours with the vitriol of his rhetoric. Repeated, unironic use of "libtard" to describe just about anyone who disagrees with him about anything does his arguments no favours. What's more, Delingpole and his cohorts in the outspoken climate sceptic camp tend to be US Republican-style far-right-wingers; guys like Christopher Booker, Peter Hitchens et al, the sort of guys who think John Wayne was a bit too much of a communist, who aren't represented by any serious UK political party (including UKIP) and have generally already been rejected, rightly or wrongly, as neanderthal reactionaries by political consensus in the UK.
Although there probably is a degree of causation in there, the correlation also works against them by allowing the believer faction to shut down debate by characterising their opponents as political disciples of Attila the Hun and win the argument by dint of straw man. They're also hurting their own political cause (ie libertarian conservatism) because the correlation works in reverse. Anyone who believes in small government must be a climate sceptic, and in the modern era that's become political cyanide not far off the point of Holocaust denial.
The Greens don't do themselves any favours either, for two hilariously unrelated yet mutually catastrophic reasons. The first is that the outspoken greens tend to treat the environment as the only issue which counts, while disregarding utterly the complex, delicate and mutually interdependent social and economic structures on which our civilisation is constructed. Radical green solutions which involve wholesale changes of lifestyle (and orresponding reduction in quality of life) over a rapid timescale are simply not possible. Yet they are blinded by the scale of the forest, so can't see the trees.
However, when they do express wider political opinions, they're, again, usually so far left-of-centre that the same centrists who ensure that Delingpole and co will never be taken seriously take a sharp breath inward and make a mental note never to let them near government where they might make a difference. If the sceptics are guilty of importing US libertarian conservatism and alienating UK opinion that way, the believers seem to have acquired a sort of Jacobin socialism from across the channel from the other end of the spectrum. For a population who, and generalising enormously here, like to be titillated but not shocked, and who consider Jonathan Ross a bit "radical", such extreme political views simply aren't on the menu.
I do bemoan the result of the 2000 presidential election, as I think that was our last, best chance to fix this. It's in the last ten years that these political divisions have really entrenched themselves; the sceptics unwittingly (or sometimes wittingly) lining up with Bush, Cheney, Rice and co by default, and the believers sliding more and more to the left to compensate. With Gore at the helm, we might have stood a chance, but in opposition, the green movement became so isolated and radical that they were dismissed as extremists; meanwhile, the sceptics were associated with a regime so globally unpopular that their entire movement lost international credibility.
For my part, I remain sceptical, but also think that the situation needs to be taken seriously. The Booker argument that "this winter was really cold, so global warming can't be real" misses the point so fundamentally that if I didn't know better I'd suggest he was a green plant to discredit the sceptic movement. To be honest, although I don't agree with him about even half of what he spouts, I do think Jeremy Clarkson has a point. Regardless of whether burning fossil fuels is actually heaating up the planet, we can't keep burning them forever, because they will run out, and our grip on the supply of oil in particular is becoming increasingly fraught and tenuous. For that reason if nothing else, we need to find alternative sources of energy.
In that, though, too, the green movement has a lot to answer for (as does, for unrelated reasons that I won't get into here, Matt Groening), because they did such a hatchet job on nuclear power in the 80s and 90s that it's now considered a measure of last resort rather than our best, possibly only, hope of securing a viable energy supply for the medium term. Wind, hydro and tidal power are bad jokes with horrible local environmental issues. Geothermal is too difficult to manage; hydrogen too difficult to store. Biofuels are the best con since carbon offsetting. Solar can't e produced on a large enough scale, and fusion power is thirty to forty years away- as it was ten years ago, and ten years before that. Nuclear is here, it's not perfect but it's adequate, and yet it's politically unacceptable. The green movement (insofar as there's a single voice) seemed to realise last year what a massive cockup they made on the issue, but I think the damage is already done.
So yeah. This might be my cynicism showing through, but regardless of what I might think about the issue itself, my opinions of both sides of the debate and their conduct is pretty negative. I don't think it's possible to revive it in sensible format, either. I just have to hope that whoever's in charge makes the right call; unfortunately, I have little faith that they will.
J D Dunsany - February 22, 2011 11:05 PM (GMT)
A couple of points. (Sorry, it's late so these will be brief.)
The infantalisation of political debate has been an ongoing source of despondency to me for aaaaaages. The main political houses on both sides of the Atlantic are adversarial in structure and, despite the apparent desire for a more consensual style of politics (if the recent UK election result is to be interpreted in that way - not a conclusive interpretation, by any means), the various establishments involved in politics (and I'm not just talking about the political class here - I'm also talking about the media) show little sign of actually wanting to dispense with hyperbolic rhetoric/defamation of character in order to get their points across. That the realm of scientific inquiry should be infected with such an approach should really not surprise us.
For all the scientific establishment's claims to the pursuit of 'pure' truth, its practices (which depend on financial investment for their continuance) are profoundly susceptible to precisely the kind of pressures that lead politicians to portray their policies as the last best hope for mankind and their opponents' as the feeble fumblings of congenital idiots. The problem with climate change is that there is, undoubtedly, a 'truth' to be uncovered here. My reading of both proponents of man-made climate change and their naysayers suggests to me that at least some of the measurable climate change taking place on this planet is our responsibility, but historical facts like the ability of English entrepreneurs in the Middle Ages to cultivate vines that now only grow on the Mediterranean coast suggests to me that some of it may well be part of some wider cosmic cycle over which we have no control.
What we do have control over, however, is how we try to respond to that change. My concern over the rhetoric surrounding climate change is, very simply, that it slows us down in doing anything meaningful about it. Tom Baker's Doctor uttered the line "About time the people who run this planet of yours realize that to be dependent upon a mineral slime just doesn't make sense" 35 years ago. Now that's depressing.
Ragnar Blackmane - February 25, 2011 07:20 PM (GMT)
I thought it was an accepted fact that earth has gone through 9 or so ice ages in succession, and this is merley the end of one where the world is again flooding, and that is being sped up by the pollution we have caused. It's going to happen anyway, regardless of our emissions.
If the leading enviromentalist of world got together to discuss a project to keep the world at a stable temperature, funded by the worlds leading countries, we might have a chance. Might. As each country itself can't decide on the f***ing issue we are screwed.
The fact they cannot even agree on this is a sign on the self-destructive qualities of humans. This isn't going to change. The human creature is incapable of co-operating fully. We are doomed by our own actions and inactions, and the fundemantal makeup of our psyche.
Probably not what your looking for, but since this is the closest I can come without spending hours ranting...