Lack of Environment

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

Archive for the ‘Ian Plimer’ Category

The Sceptics’ Creed

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For this spoof of the Anglican version of the Nicene Creed I apologise to all those who lack a sense of humour:

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[All stand]

We believe in some gods,
like Professor Ian Plimer,
writer of ‘Heaven and Earth’,
of all that is mean and not green.

We believe in some lords; John Christy
and in Richard Lindzen.
Endlessly they are proven wrong and yet still,
from their shite we recite,
true lies from sad guys,
opinions, not facts,
of one thing we are certain,
through them all truths were made.

For us and for our salvation
they came down from science:
by the power of our human folly,
they became embedded in ideology,
and made their plan.

For our sake they were crucified by climate scientists;
they suffered ‘death’ and were ‘buried’.
On the third day they rose again
in accordance with the sceptics;
they returned to their jobs,
and are seated in academic tenure.

They will come again in future to fudge the reason and the facts,
and their soapbox will have no end.

We believe in the wholly spurious, our god, the slither of doubt,
which precedes our judgement of evidence.
With the money and the vice it is worshiped and glorified.
It is supported through the profits…
We believe in one wholly cynical and irrational church.
We acknowledge one purpose; for the pursuance of greed.
We look for the perpetuation of growth,
and the life of the World to shun.

Amen.

[Please be seated]

Copyright © Martin Lack 2013

Fostering denial in the C of E (Part 2)

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This is the second half of my rebuttal of the ideologically and theologically prejudiced denial of climate science by the Rt. Rev. Peter Foster, Bishop of Chester.  The first half was published yesterday (and should be read first in order to understand the context and what it is that I am reviewing).

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Having reduced the evidence for ACD to something that is contingent and uncertain, Bishop Peter describes concern over ACD as “climate alarmism”.  However, use of such a pejorative term (implying that there is no cause for alarm) can only be justified by belief that the modern consensus regarding climate science is unreliable, unreasonable, or unreal.  This in turn requires that the majority of climate scientists must be either stupid, wrong, or deceitful.

Bishop Peter’s next target is computer models, which he describes as expensive and complex; and cites the data-mined, de-contextualised, emails illegally obtained from the CRU/UEA (a.k.a. ‘Climategate’) as evidence of scientific malpractice and/or dishonesty. He then takes a swipe at all the vested interests “springing up” who have a reason to engineer “alarm”.  Unfortunately, the reality is that the fossil fuel industry is by far the largest vested interest – receiving tax credits and subsidies many times greater than either academia or the green economy.

Next, Bishop Peter attempts to minimise the significance of a 0.8 Celsius rise in temperatures over the last 100 years by reference to the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA); and attacks the validity of the famous Hockey Stick graph (i.e. in the IPCC’s 2003 reports).    However, these concerns (that current warming is not unprecedented) have been widely debunked; so I will not attempt to do so again here.

Next on Bishop Peter’s list of ‘expert’ witnesses is the Professor of Earth Sciences, Ian Plimer; and his book Heaven and Earth, which is a lengthy re-statement of a variety of contrarian ideas and second-hand opinions including the “volcanoes are causing the warming” and  “CO2 is plant food” memes).  Unfortunately (for Plimer and Co.) this has also been widely discredited (e.g. here by Michael Ashley in The Australian newspaper).   With regard to the latter meme, recent research has repeatedly found that any positive effects of CO2 increase are irrelevant when account is taken of negative impacts of increased temperature and shortage of water – as experienced in the USA this year.

Once again, Bishop Peter equates concern over ACD with religious belief – something that, in doing my MA research, I found to be most common amongst economists.  This suggests to me that Bishop Peter is merely repeating arguments fed to him by his friends at the GWPF.  Whatever the case may be, equating concern over climate change with religious belief is yet another fallacious argument; as it requires great faith to dismiss all the evidence for the reality of the problem.

Next, Bishop Peter completely mangles the truth that secular humanists fool themselves that we can control Nature, in order to bolster a fallacious argument that it is foolish to think we can have any impact on our climate.  This is swiftly followed by the argument that the ACD problem, even if it were proved to exist, is probably too costly to fix:  Yet more economic rationalism from the GWPF me thinks; and completely at odds with the view of most commentators today -  that ACD is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.  Sadly, economic arguments will always be the last bastion of denial of science – especially if doing something to stop things getting worse will impact negatively on massive vested interests in the maintenance of “business as usual”.

Next, Bishop Peter turns his attention to carbon capture and storage (CCS), correctly observing that, despite much talk, it is still little more than a concept. However, if CO2 is not the cause of the problem – who cares?  Surely, then, CCS is an irrelevance; a complete waste of time and money?  I am afraid I am at a loss to understand the point being made.  What is clear, however, is that Bishop Peter believes that we should burn fossil fuels simply because they are there (because God has provided them for us to do just that).

Nearing the end of his walk-through of debunked contrarian ideas, Bishop Peter laments the fact that UK government policy “is in a mess” and admits that the use of hydrocarbons is unavoidable for some purposes.  I agree – aviation is an obvious example.  However, that leaves huge scope for substitution in other processes; what we lack is the political will to take action.  However, what Bishop Peter completely fails to do is to acknowledge that policy is a mess because policy inaction is the goal of those that deny that burning fossil fuels is damaging our environment– and always has been.  Denial of responsibility is a tried and tested business strategy, pioneered by the manufacturers of organic pesticides and the tobacco industry.

In his final paragraph, Bishop Peter calls for “a non-political debate” about policy.   However, this is a tacit admission that he thinks climate change is a hoax and a politically-motivated conspiracy designed solely as an excuse to tax people more heavily.  In his final sentence he even claims that expenditure on the “unproven” science is hurting the poorest in society.  Sadly, this is yet more reality inversion – what is now hurting the poor the most is the consequence of decades of denial orchestrated by the fossil fuel lobby.

And so it can be seen that, in the course of less than 1000 words in the Church Times, Bishop Peter neatly affirmed his support for all six pillars of climate change denial, namely that:
1. Global warming is not happening.
2. Global warming is not man-made.
3. Global warming is not significant.
4. Global warming is not necessarily bad.
5. Global warming is not a problem.
6. Global warming is not worth fixing.

Just one problem with that hypothesis; most scientists, economists and environmentalists have long since concluded that it is.  Therefore, for his part in peddling such scurrilous misinformation, I believe Bishop Peter should be truly ashamed of himself.

—————–

In light of the comment made on yesterday’s post by thefordprefect (referring to the irrationality of a certain Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming), it seems appropriate for me to repeat part of my response here:

Not all Christians are fully signed-up members of The New Flat Earth Society…  The Evangelical Climate Initiative (2006) is (or was?) an alternative viewpoint: One endorsed by many Christian charities; including the UK’s Tearfund (i.e. The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund).

The problem with inverting reality

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reality inversion

What's wrong with this photo?


OK, so people on both sides of the climate change “debate” claim the other party is deluded.

How can all those people sitting on the fence know who is right?

Well, perhaps the undecided should trust their senses a little more…

If they tend to smell something fishy when they look up in the sky; and see flights of fantasy being taken when they get beneath the surface, I think it should be clear what the situation is…

Generally-speaking, grass tends to grow beneath your feet; rather than above your head (as it seems to be here =>)!

For those of you who were not following this blog 4 months ago, you may enjoy reading this: High profile scientist resigns over climate change (29 September 2011) – it’s one of my all-time favourite posts.

For those who need more convincing, consider this litany of reality inversions from the last 100 years:

Heroin addiction is socially acceptable.
Smoking cigarettes is sophisticated.
The Titanic is unsinkable.
The War will be over by Christmas.
Things can only get better.
Hitler is not dangerous.
Smoking is not harmful.
Organic pesticides are more effective than natural predators.
You’ve never had it so good.
Organic pesticides are safe.
Population growth is not a problem.
Famine and starvation are a thing of the past.
Limits to growth do not exist.
Mutually assured destruction is a sensible military strategy.
Smoking does not cause cancer.
The hole in the ozone layer is not there.
CFCs aren’t causing the hole in the ozone layer.
Acid rain does not exist.
We are not causing acid rain.
We can’t afford to prevent acid rain.
Humanity is too insignificant to affect our climate.
The climate will not change faster than we can adapt to it.
The climate is not changing.
Passive smoking is not dangerous.
We are not causing the climate to change.
We cannot afford to prevent climate change.
Climate change has stopped.

Although sure it will not be 21 December 2012, I do wonder where or when it will all end.

The road to hell is paved with good inventions

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…that are not true!

Earlier this year, I posted a review of Prof. Ian Plimer’s most recent 500-page epic, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming – the Missing Science, on amazon.co.uk under the title “Nice book (cover) – shame about the facts!” I was not the only one to criticise it but, it is a sad indictment of the population as a whole that the average rating for the book is 4 stars; and nearly 60% of reviewers have given the book 5 stars (i.e. the top rating)!

Regrettably (for Plimer), the book is full of red-herrings, misinformation, and false claims. One of the most stupendously stupid claims made, especially given that the author was once a well-respected geologist, is that volcanoes emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) than humans; and that humans are therefore not the cause of global warming (note the implicit acceptance that CO2 is causing the atmosphere to warm up).

Therefore, in this month’s Geoscientist magazine Ian Plimer is heavily criticised for making this claim by Colin Summerhayes (the Vice President of the Geological Society); who cites the latest United States Geological Survey analysis as having concluded that, on an average annual basis, human activity is responsible for 135 times more CO2 emissions than all the world’s volcanoes (on land and underwater) combined.

Unfortunately, as with all denialist arguments, such misleading and/or false claims are often made but hardly-ever publicly retracted. Even more unfortunately, however, they are almost invariably seized upon by scientifically-illiterate commentators such as Christopher Booker, James Delingpole, and Melanie Philips; who also never admit they are wrong – even when subsequent research shows the original claims to have been wrong – and guess who the majority of people depend upon to make their minds up about stuff like this…

That’s right… Hence the overwhelmingly-positive customer review data on amazon.co.uk! It really is a case of the blind leading the blind and, yes, unless they can be stopped, we all (blind and sighted alike) are going to end up in a very hot place.

This is just one example of how misinformation has been stated, circulated, and endlessly repeated. However, one day it will have to stop (just as it did with the pro-smoking propaganda). Like a wildfire started with one little spark by an arsonist, climate change denial can, at times, seem like an unstoppable force but, with extreme weather of all kinds now becoming more frequent (just as the IPCC predicted), I think its days are numbered. At least, I really do hope they are numbered, because it is already two years since it became the widely-accepted view amongst relevantly-qualified experts that emissions reductions (alone) are not the answer.

This is because the cumulative total of emissions determine the eventual temperature rise we will see (by the latter half of this century). Therefore, we must move towards a zero carbon economy as soon as possible: If you consider the cumulative total to be the area under a line on a graph then it becomes clear that the later we leave it to take action, the faster we will have to reduce emissions to prevent the same amount of eventual climatic change.

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