Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Why I am not a Socialist

with 31 comments

…and other things “sceptics” should bear in mind!

In responding to the amazingly erudite blogger who is Patrice Ayme, on the subject of how we should treat all other life-forms with which we currently share this planet, I recently found myself explaining some very basic stuff regarding what makes me tick:

I also think you are right to point out the job creation potential of finally beginning to live in harmony with nature (i.e. being good stewards of it) rather considering ourselves to be superior to it (i.e. going forth, multiplying, and ‘subduing’ it). We have indeed lost our way, but were we led astray; or are we all equally guilty? Personally, I believe the blame lies within each and every one of us. In essence, this is why I cannot be a socialist. Socialists (and liberals) believe that humans are essentially good and capable of creating Utopia if the right conditions are provided for it to emerge. Conservatives accept that humans are essentially imperfect; and therefore rely upon received wisdom and tradition to optimise reality. By embracing moral relativism, socialists and liberals have made the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas – and the cynical rejection of all authority figures – a very powerful and corrosive aspect to modernity itself. It is the reason climate change scepticism is proving so hard to dismantle.

Given that I am not a socialist, and do not seek worldwide authoritarian government via the UN, I cannot be a Watermelon. On the contrary, I believe in David Cameron’s Big Society; and I believe in small government and generally low taxes. However, I believe that the cost of everything should reflect the damage done to the environment if we buy it or use it. I therefore believe, for example, that flying should be expensive.


Are you really tying to tell me you think everyone who says that climate change is a serious problem is foolish? If so, I should really like to know what logical, historical, and/or scientific evidence you have to defend that argument. To me, such a position is only sustainable by dismissing what I presume you consider to be climate change “alarmism” as political and scientific conspiracy: One that would make those invoked by people who doubt the reality of 9/11 and the Moon Landings seem small by comparison.


I will conclude by repeating the 3 questions I never got to ask Professor Richard Lindzen (because I first tried to address his failure to present relevant information to an already-prejudiced audience) when he came to London earlier this year peddling his conspiracy theory nonsense (i.e. he accused just about every climate scientist on the planet of being deceitful [or stupid and/or incompetent – but just how likely is that?]):

1. Concern over anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is based on the study of palaeoclimatology, not on computer modelling. However, models have helped to predict the atmospheric response to greenhouse gas emissions; and any uncertainties in model predictions have been due to uncertainties in emissions projections. Therefore, when reviewed retrospectively (choosing the most appropriate emissions scenario that reflects what actually happened to emissions), the models are demonstrably very accurate (if they include all climate forcings). Given all of this, why is it that you maintain that we have no reason to be concerned?

2. What is your answer to Utah-based Professor of Geological Sciences, Barry Bickmore, who recently suggested that today’s so-called climate “sceptics” are not like Galileo because, rather than fighting against one, they are fighting for an obscurantist and anti-intellectual Establishment, in an attempt to perpetuate the burning of fossil fuels for as long as possible?

3. Given the findings documented in Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s book, Merchants of Doubt, can you please tell me why, having fought for so long on behalf of the tobacco industry to prevent legislation to minimise the harmful effects of smoking, you have apparently focused instead on helping the fossil fuel lobby deny that anthropogenic climate disruption is happening?

For the record, even after emailing these questions (and many others) to Lindzen, he still did not answer. No doubt, he would claim I was rude to him but, even after I apologised for any offence caused by my bluntness, he still did not answer any of my questions. This is because he could not answer them without making it very clear that he has been prejudiced against taking any and all environmental problems seriously – if addressing those problems would limit the freedom of business to put profit before sustainable development. Unfair criticism? I don’t think so. With my thanks to Lionel A Smith (for some of these links), here is the evidence:

If Richard Lindzen shows up at your door, slam it!

Is Richard S. Lindzen deliberately lying, or just deluded?

Why does tobacco keep cropping up in discussion of Lindzen’s history of prejudice?

Written by Martin Lack

25 June 2012 at 00:02

31 Responses

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  1. Hello Martin,

    You and I seem to have very differing views of socialism. I do not know who is right and who is wrong – it’s just different.

    To start, I must note that I consider myself a socialist. I have no problem with high taxes when that money is used to improve the lives of my countryman. I believe that a country should be judged by how it treats its poorest and weakest and socialist countries seem to do that best. In my opinion.

    Second, I do not “believe that humans are essentially good and capable of creating Utopia”. That is why I believe it is important to have a government that will create the safety net and the regulations that will protect us from the less good among us.

    Finally, despite my socialism, I do not wish to see “worldwide authoritarian government via the UN”. I may be ignorant, or naïve (or both), but I see the UN as an opportunity to make countries work together while still maintaining their sovereignty. And work together we must in order to deal with global problems such as climate change.

    Finally, I completely agree that “the cost of everything should reflect the damage done to the environment if we buy it or use it”.

    So, what does that make me, I wonder? Well, if you asked me what “makes me tick”, I would say that it is a balance of different ideas. For example, I believe in capitalism and the free market, but within the boundaries of intelligent regulations. Having said that, I do not think that everything should be done through the free market. Healthcare and the military are two example of services that should not be open to the free market as it is in the US.


    25 June 2012 at 19:05

    • Thanks for all of those comments, JP. I do hope you appreciate that I was not attacking anyone other than climate change “sceptics”
      1. Right and wrong do not come into it. I am not saying socialism is wrong; merely why I am not a socialist.
      2. Secondly, it would probably have been better if I had given this post the title, “Why I am not a Marxist”; but I am not going to change it now.
      3. In essence, all I have done here is say that I am socially conservative (rather than progresive or liberal). I guess it is perfectly possible to be a socialist and yet be neither progressive nor liberal.
      4. The only people who think there is a plot to install worldwide authoritarian government via the UN are believers in Watermelon fantasy promoted by the likes of James Delingpole and Senator James Inhoffe (R-OK).
      5 As I will explain tomorrow, Capitalism was an equally utopian project, so I am no longer a fan of it either.

      Martin Lack

      25 June 2012 at 19:59

      • I did not feel attacked in any way. Actually, I find these types of discussions rather interesting!


        25 June 2012 at 22:10

        • That’s good. Only one problem with my previous response: A socialist that is neither progressive or liberal is probably a Marxist!

          I therefore must be true to myself and admit that I am a traditionally-minded conservative; but that does not stop me being very critical of modern ideologically-minded Conservatives and those who are simply inconsistent and/or hypocritical such as Roger Scruton:

          Martin Lack

          26 June 2012 at 11:38

        • Don’t get me wrong: I completely respect your political position. And I find it interesting because in North America, being socially conservative seems to be completely incompatible with environmental protection. The idea that climate change is not a “left” or “right” issue does not apply here. If you look hard enough, you can find “conservatives” that want to protect the air we breath and want to address climate change, but they are no longer in the mainstream. And they certainly don’t get elected!


          26 June 2012 at 12:31

        • JP, I think we are agreed that, in Canada, the conservatives have elected to sell their environment to the highest bidder. I think we would also agree that, in the USA, the Republican Party has gone down an intellectual blind alley: For the way in which Republican POTUS candidates have repudiated any previous concern for the environment, if for nothing else, they deserve to be soundly beaten. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear that their intellectual blind alley will yet turn into an electoral blind alley…

          There are a number of issues on which I do not agree with Barrack Obama but, if I lived in the US, I would most definitely vote for him (and keep doing so until the Republican Party engages with reality). However, none of this alters the fact that, outside of North America and Australia, the Watemelon fallacy does not hold sway: Green politics can and should transcend outdated concepts such as Left and Right. More on this tomorrow…

          Martin Lack

          26 June 2012 at 14:11

        • I look forward to it!


          26 June 2012 at 21:39

  2. […] other things, I explained why I am not a Socialist yesterday. Therefore, it seems only fair that I should also explain why I am not a Capitalist either. […]

  3. […] the last two days, I have explained why I am not a Socialist (despite dabbling with it in the past); and why I have lost my faith in Capitalism (despite being […]

  4. Conservatives accept that humans are essentially imperfect; and therefore rely upon received wisdom and tradition to optimise reality.

    Received wisdom is fine — if it is actually wise, and not just marketed with the presumption that it is such. Tradition is all well and good, until it prevents us from accepting reality.

    Like JP, I disagree with aspects of what you consider to be socialism.


    27 June 2012 at 12:13

    • I find that whether left or right of center, society as a whole has a really hard time learning from past experience. The example that stands out for me is the “trickle-down” economic theory – that if the rich get richer, we’ll all be better off.

      I don’t know how well that fits into the ongoing discussion, but I had to say it. So there : )


      27 June 2012 at 12:29

      • ‘Trickle-down’, yes, what a sad joke that is. Economics? ‘Economics’ is just a theory — or rather, several theories (Isn’t that an argument ‘sceptics’ use to pooh-pooh climate change?). That we base our entire existence on the stuff seems nonsensical to me.

        Money is a belief system. And when belief in money fails, oh boy, does it fail…


        27 June 2012 at 12:46

    • I think I have explained myself already but, cannot resist responding to this by saying that, I disagree with some aspects of what you consider to be conservatism.

      Martin Lack

      27 June 2012 at 13:44

      • Interesting discussion. I’m always a little reluctant to describe myself as ascribing to one political philosophy or another. There are issues with all of them, both in terms of what they actually are and what they’re perceived to be. Although I certainly lean more to the left than to the right.

        Something that particularly gelled with me was a comment that Jon Stewart made on his Daily Show where he basically said that the USA is essentially a Social Democracy (whether people like to admit this or not) and that it was time people sat down and discussed what this meant. It would seem to me that this applies also to the UK. It’s also not clear to me that what we mean by Social Democracy has to be the same at all times. Levels of taxation, what is provided by the state, etc could quite easily vary depending on the state of the economy and various other circumstances.


        23 May 2013 at 12:59

        • Agreed. I think I am more socially-conservative than politically-so, which means that some of my views might be considered old-fashioned. However, this social vs political distinction is very important. Not being politically conservative, I am not a prisoner of libertarian ideology or free-market economics. Therefore, being socially conservative and yet environmentally radical, I am free to demand that humans recognise that they cannot do without Nature; and that we need to stop treating it with contempt.

          Martin Lack

          23 May 2013 at 13:53

  5. […] When considering the remarks that follow, please bear in mind that I am a Conservative voter. […]

  6. Hi Martin,

    I’ve been very intrigued by your blog because you are incredibly solid on the facts and not emotional like weepy Bill Mckkiben or too defensive like Hockey Stick Mann. Attention junkies both.

    Two points though.

    #1 You are super solid on all the available research, projections, retrojections, speculations, suppositions, assumptions, conclusions, theory, debunking and (what else can I think of) blablaserchisitions of an ‘infinitesimal phenomenon’ if it can be so called, that is AGW. This is Dick Lindzen’s point. This whole thing is so small and ACD so incredulous that if it wasn’t for alarmists like those two opportunists I mentioned above, nobody would have even noticed.

    #2 In that light, it is very unsettling that so many very serious, expensive and counter-intuitive steps are being taken and solutions implemented on global scale already, to solve a non-problem. By the way, in Australia, we’ve mothballed 4 desal. plants that have been build at a cost of 2-3 billion taxpayer dollars each on the advice of climate alarmists predicting permanent drought. F*ck you very much Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year, Climate Commissioner, you should be in jail for stealing public money.

    Your defence that you are not a socialist or a watermelon does not ‘fly’ in the face of these two points. You must have another agenda and it can only be global governance or socialism.
    It just doesn’t make sense otherwise.

    Schlomo Wahl

    8 June 2013 at 16:08

    • Richard Lindzen is one of only a handful of genuine climate scientists who think equilibrium climate sensitivity is so low that we really don’t need to worry about it. Sadly, however, Lindzen was also one of a handful of scientists who helped the tobacco industry deny the truth that smoking causes lung cancer. He has done both these things because his libertarian politics have always prejudiced his attitude towards science.

      In Australia, you will be one of the first developed nations to be hit the hardest by the affects of ACD (as if this were not already obvious). Your desalination plants will therefore prove themselves a very worthwhile investment in the long run.

      I have no agenda. I just do not let my preference for free market economics and/or individual freedom prevent me from accepting the reality that there are limits to the capacity of our environment to deal with the consequences of human activity. However, if you are going to just swear that ‘black’ is ‘white’, or accuse me of being a liar, I can see little future for this discussion.

      Martin Lack

      8 June 2013 at 17:45

      • Apologies for swearing, but it was at Tim Flannery who has a reputation for making prognostications with the exact opposite happening while we pay him $180,000/year for being a ‘climate commissioner’ (the fact that we even have such a position makes me angry). Also while predicting 8 storey sea-level rises we see him signing a check for his new waterfront digs on the Central Coast. Hello Al Gore.
        Hope you can understand my anger.

        I am not saying you are a liar. I can sort of see now that maybe you truly believe that there is a ‘Climate Crisis’ caused by human emissions and perhaps you have no other agenda.
        But is your belief so immutable that you are allowing, aiding even, to have your Climate Crisis being hijacked by unelected Totalitarians ranging from Marxist to Fascist ?

        From where I am standing, it seems you are buying into a greatest money swindle in human history while perhaps deeply caring for Gaia and hoping that those charlatans pushing for global governance and total control over energy will ‘do the right thing’.

        Ignore lessons from history at your peril, but if allowed to happen, this AGW boondoggle is going to go terribly, terribly wrong. And by then there will not be any possibility of unscrambling the egg.

        Here is a couple of things you might enjoy:
        First from the great president Eisenhower, two paragraphs down from the speech warning about Military-Industrial Complex:

        ‘Yet, in holding the scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that the public policy could itself become captive to the Scientific-Technological Elite.
        The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present and is greatly to be regarded’

        Well, I think this is happening right now in front of our eyes !

        The other is this: do you mean that that in Australia we’ve had fewer and smaller natural events in the past ?

        Schlomo Wahl

        12 June 2013 at 05:59

        • Given your beliefs, Schlomo, I do indeed understand your anger. However, your beliefs are founded upon a false premise, which is that the majority of climate scientists have reached a conclusion that is:
          1. reasonable when it is in fact unreasonable; or
          2. highly-probable when it is highly-improbable; or
          3. near-certain when they know it is very uncertain.

          Fortunately, there is a fourth alternative, namely that the modern day scientific consensus regarding ACD is real, reliable and reasonable. This is now as close to being certain as anything ever is in science because climate sceptics are not like Galileo; they are like the medieval Catholic Church refusing to accept all the evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that they are mistaken. We already have 1 in 100 year extreme weather events being repeated after only 10 years. When, exactly, do you think it will be time for you to re-consider your position? Will that be when such events recur every 5 years, every 2 years, or every year?

          Given that atmospheric CO2 levels oscillated between 180 and 280 ppm for at least 800k years prior to the Industrial Revolution and have since increased by 40%, it seems entirely reasonable to me to conclude that:
          1. The Industrial Revolution has made a sevenfold increase in the human population possible but it has also significantly changed the atmosphere;
          2. Cyclical and/or random climate forcing factors (such as sunspots, ocean currents, and volcanic eruptions) have not changed significantly; and
          3. A geologically-sudden and significant increase in CO2 ppm is now pushing the Earth towards a climate it has not seen for millions of years; and
          4. All life on Earth is adapted to the way things are now and will not be able to adapt to the rapid change we are currently in danger of causing.
          5. Now we know beyond reasonable doubt that we are causing the problem it is time to modify our behaviour accordingly (when in hole stop digging).

          I am not the one who is allowing my political beliefs to prejudice my approach to the science. I am not the one who is accusing most scientists of being stupid, sloppy or sinister in order to dismiss the consensus; and I am not the one changing my preferred argument every time something I assert is shown to be unreasonable. Therefore, if you respond to this by repeating yourself further, any such comments are likely to be heavily moderated (or deleted).

          Martin Lack

          12 June 2013 at 12:53

  7. Sure, I am hoping to add something new to the discussion and I do it at the risk of being moderated or deleted. Thank you for the warning.

    I searched your website for ice core data and come up with

    Even though there is no CO2/Temp graph in your post (Is Hansen too scared to talk about it?)… [Re-statement of ‘CO2 change lags behind temperature change’ meme has been deleted. Glacial-inter glacial changes of the last 1 million years have all been driven by Milankovitch wobbles and thus temperature changed before atmospheric CO2 did (cold oceans can hold much more CO2 than warm ones). However, we have taken CO2 from the geosphere and added it the atmosphere. Therefore, the Earth will now warm up until the energy imbalance this additional CO2 has caused is eliminated. – ML]

    So you AGW Science Believers… [Re-statement of ‘AGW is only theory’ meme has been deleted. because – as demonstrated above – it is a hypothesis deduced from first principles; tested in a laboratory; and validated by computer models that (for the appropriate CO2 emissions scenario) correctly projected what would happen to temperatures (which cannot now be explained by natural climate forcings alone). – ML]

    And more alarmingly, Green-Industrial-Political Complex spawned on the back of this theory, is proceeding to mitigate this ‘non-problem’ at a frightening clip… [Re-statement of ‘Environmentalists want to take us back to the Dark Ages’ meme has been deleted (because it is yet another inversion of reality). – ML]

    Why are you not afraid of where this Green-Industrial-Political Complex is taking us? Oh, just remembered: ‘once in 100 years’ climate event is only that because you called it that… [Opinion stated as fact has been deleted – 1 in 100 yr flood events have recurred in Europe after only 10 years (and are the worst for 500 years) – Google it. – ML]

    Schlomo Wahl

    15 June 2013 at 06:30

    • Hi Schlomo. Why did you not post this comment in response to the ‘climate science in a nutshell’ post that your search led you to? Better still, why did you not read the series of posts that it is very clearly part of?

      There is nothing new in what you say and, more importantly, in effect, all you are doing is asserting that all climate scientists are being stupid or lying to you. As such, you are just repeating yourself. However, I have moderated (rather than just deleted) the above comment so as to preserve the evidence that all you are doing is recycling previously debunked arguments.

      Martin Lack

      15 June 2013 at 12:03

    • Thanks, Martin
      Re navigation around your website – I think I must be the stupid one. I am posting everything here because I’ve tried to do it in other spots but can never find them again – perhaps I should use pen and paper to jot down my location.
      Your site is huge and incredibly comprehensive.

      Schlomo Wahl

      19 June 2013 at 01:55

      • You are far too kind, Schlomo. My site is tiny compared to something like Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week All you have to do is remember the key words in the post title and you should be able to find it via the Search box (in the right-hand margin) – if not any search engine to search my homepage URL.

        Martin Lack

        19 June 2013 at 08:55

    • My new theory is that you must be independently wealthy to be able to live in the bubble filled with GIGO climate models, hypothesis, tortured data and once in a 100 year burning floods and dry deluges.

      Here in the real world I have to worry about existing in some sort of comfort, since life is short and I am lucky to live in the first world country so I even have the possibility of comfort. I do not want that to be taken away by another ideology.

      My prediction is that another few years of no significant atmospheric warming (as per the Met release in December last year) will kill your cause.
      It looks really bad, I am afraid.

      CO2-up/Temperature-down does not add up and the Deniers will never let people forget it. You can come up with all sorts of convoluted explanations about ‘oceans’ and such but will Joe Citizen even listen while examining his power bill ?

      I am sure you have already seen this but Andy Revkin appears to have lost his religion to a huge dismay of David Roberts who also reveals himself to be a really scary totalitarian.

      (reposted from Grist)

      Schlomo Wahl

      19 June 2013 at 03:22

  8. Yes, yes of course I’ll take your wager but I just assumed that we will not be in touch in a few years time.
    Since i only found you by accident…

    I concede there is no convincing you. You have an answer for everything and each sounds plausible but not to me. And not to many others who are observing the weather/climate.
    If you so supremely certain of your convictions then history shows that you are most certainly wrong.
    But let’s let the climate separate the fools from the well, other fools in the next few years.

    If there is no warming in the atmosphere in the next few years, will you concede that maybe you are talking shite ?
    MOST SURPRISINGLY, the last 15-17 years of no atmospheric temperature rise has had no influence on the catastrophist-political movement. How many years more will it take Martin?

    And don’t forget this thing: if examining the same evidence one has to believe or not in it then it is not really science, is it ?

    Love Schlomo.

    Schlomo Wahl

    25 June 2013 at 15:31

    • There is only one of us that is allowing ideology to get in the way of science, Schlomo. There is also only one of us that is having to be extremely selective about which evidence he will look at. As well as referring you to the links already provided, I would recommend you read Robertscribbler’s most recent comment on my most recent post. This addresses a wide range of your sceptical myths.

      Martin Lack

      26 June 2013 at 10:29

  9. […] Why I am not a socialist (25 June 2012). […]

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