Be strong and courageous
Having posted something fairly controversial on Judith Curry’s blog earlier this week, I am now being referred to in absentia as ‘Joshua’ (for having the temerity to be so certain I am right and “sceptics” are wrong*). Maybe so, but such an accusation
is no would not have been a substitute for not having a sound scientific basis for maintaining your “scepticism”. It is, however, entirely coincidental that this post should appear today (as I wrote and named it last Sunday).
* It turns out this was not the reason.
So said Moses to Joshua, apparently, before the Jews annexed Palestine for the first time in their long history. For the record, I am not anti-Israel. I recognise its right to exist; and so must all its Arab neighbours. Israel is there; and they need to get used to it. Indeed, both parties need to focus on achieving a two-state solution wherein everyone feels secure and there is no need for monoliths to human stupidity like the Peace Wall on the West Bank.
But, yet again, I am getting off-message… We are today in a battle, whether we know it or not, whether we want to be in it or not; we cannot escape from it. It is also a fight to the death; and a fight for survival – for the survival of modern civilisation on a habitable planet capable of supporting more than 6 billion people.
Unfortunately, a very small but powerful elite have been engaged in a guerilla war for at least the last 24 years in an attempt to prioritise their right to sell you stuff and provide you with fuel to pollute the atmosphere; to the detriment of the right of future generations to enjoy the planet as we were lucky enough to find it.
Although people like Peter Jacques have been telling us for years that “anti-environmentalism is an attitude that most citizens would consider a violation of the public interest” [Jacques, P. (2009), Environmental Skepticism: Ecology, Power and Public Life, Farnham: Ashgate (p.169)], it is only now, thanks to the self-sacrifice of Peter Gleick, that we have direct evidence of the lengths to which Conservative Think Tanks (CTTs) will go to defend their pro-business agenda from demands that the right of nature to exist should also be respected. More than that, we now know of the depths to which CTTs will stoop to invert reality and corrupt the minds of schoolchildren. And all for what, exactly? James Hansen nailed that one in 2009, when he said: “Policy inaction is the aim of those that dispute global warming”.
However, as I demonstrated all last week, the CTTs may be providing the fuel for climate change denial but it is generally a scientifically-illiterate media that is perpetuating the myth that the science is unsettled (exactly as they did for decades in relation to cigarette-smoking). I say “generally” because, as I have demonstrated this week, we also have to defeat people like Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels and Roy Spencer who, for reasons best known to themselves, continue to provide a veneer of scientific credibility to the crusade to deny the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). In so doing, they continue to deny the reality of all the accumulating evidence that the Earth is now passing a tipping point; beyond which lies centuries of accelerating and/or rapid warming and sea level rise, which will only stop when the planet is ice-free (as it was 35 million years ago the last time atmospheric CO2 reached 450ppm).
In this context, I find myself asking if ad hominem attacks are ever justified? It is a tricky one: I try desperately hard to avoid them myself. I try very hard to shoot down the message; not the messenger. However, sometimes the irrationality of the blind prejudice that drives all these peddlers of misinformation is so blatant, it is hard to avoid the accusation of indulging in ad hom.. Take, as an example, James Delingpole and his book Watermelons. In the two quotes that follow, where does sarcasm end and ad hom begin?
However, although English, History and Geography were among my favourite subjects at school, I paid attention in science class and, by the age of 16, understood why scientists had changed their minds about an approaching ice age and were now concerned about global warming. Moreover, despite the absence of any discernible scientific understanding, James has convinced himself that Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) is a scam; whereas I understand that most relevantly-qualified scientists are convinced that ACD-denial is a scam.
(Martin Lack – ‘Background’ to Lack of Environment, August 2011).
I’m glad I don’t live in James Delingpole’s world. For this cut-price Telegraph blogger, everything exists in stark black and white, clearly delineated between good and evil – where “evil” is a sinister, UN-based, left-wing conspiracy to destroy industrialism, and “good” is represented by the efforts of a ragtag band of right-wing libertarians and climate-change deniers to beat the environmental communists/Nazis before they can take over the world. It is a schoolboy vision, deluded and naive, of a topsy-turvy world in which the Royal Society and other august scientific bodies are peopled by “liars, cheats and frauds”, while the little guy surfing the internet (Delingpole himself) who courageously disbelieves the white-coated “expert” elite is always right in the end.
(Mark Lynas – Review of ‘Watermelons: How Environmentalists Are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future’, in the New Statesman (16 February 2012)).
We therefore have two problems that we must tackle:
1. Very clever and highly intellectual misrepresentation of evidence; and/or
2. Very stupid and completely illogical misrepresentation of reality.
So, go forth today and do battle; and remember who and what it is you are fighting for.