Copenhagen and After
THIS LAST BLOG POST HAS BEEN UPDATED A LITTLE ON ITS OWN PAGE
It’s the Lifestyle, Not the Science
Saturday 29 May 2010
In view of the alarming growth of climate denial over the last six months, reflected
in climate change polls and political relapses, climate theory supporters must reconsider their social analysis
As the review of the IPCC gets under way, we must proclaim firmly that deniers, not
including scientists involved in genuine debate, only pretend to be interested in the science. In reality
they are concerned for their own lifestyle in the short-term, apparently with little concern for their own
descendents, community and nation, let alone humanity. Some may be suffering from an inappropriate education,
weak on integrated learning, and just a few are inveterate sceptics, unable to shed early convictions. This
condition, occasionally poorly described as ‘politics’, stems from a synergy of relative selfishness and
Seven Types of Evidence
Seven types of evidence assembled here make a convincing case that the quality of
the science is irrelevant to denial. Early evidence comes from the ideological origins of the movement, the
selective nature of the attacks, and the institutional origin of their writing. More recently, we have seen
their rejection of dialogue about the science, the usual poor quality of their contributions, the internal
contradictions in their ideas, and the avoidance of the worst possible case.
Behind the deniers, lie the quieter but more powerful resisters, their
financiers from the fossil fuel and related industries, and the mass media. While denial is funded by
resistance, resistance draws short-term mental and material sustenance from denial. They are part of the same
Science historian, Naomi Oreskes (lecture available on You Tube) and James Hoggan
and Richard Littlemore in Climate Cover Up have shown that early denial and resistance had two sources,
the tobacco industry and Reagan’s anti-Soviet crusaders. The deniers launched repeated attacks on health science
over tobacco, and the theories on acid rain and the ozone hole. They took on climate science in the early 1990s,
only when they realized it had achieved momentum.
Resisters and Deniers
In each case they were shown to be wrong, and yet they continued telling lies on
successive topics. The quality of the particular science under attack was, and still is, irrelevant. Resisters
are opposed to government regulation that may lower profits, and senior deniers are doing their bidding, usually
for money, through think tanks or the mass media, and because they are ideologically driven, are sceptics who
have become addicted, or some combination. They push uncertainty, because the poorly educated public doesn’t
realize uncertainty is normal in natural science. Guidance by government appears to them as worse than the
vicious global reaction of nature that they may or may not understand.
In a recent AAAS symposium, recorded by the ABC’s Science Show, Riley Dunlap
noted that 78 percent of books espousing climate change denial come from conservative think tanks, providing
further evidence that the quality of science is not the issue.
Why Climate Science Now
Have deniers given any valid reason why the sciences relevant to acid rain, the
ozone hole, and now climate science, are supposed to be so much worse than other sciences? Simply, they claim
they are defective, as they seemed to result in a major threat to their own and supporters’ wealth, income,
status and lifestyle. Deniers sometimes couch their case in technical language, with increasingly subtle
diversions, but never explain why, for nearly 20 years now, they have singled out climate science.
Did you ever read a comparison of climate science with say electronics, genetics,
hydrology or volcanology that explains why climate science in the writer’s eyes is the only defective one at the
moment? Of course not. It merely has the misfortune to imply that we must radically change our polluting
The denier generals know that the frenzy at all levels has nothing to do with the
quality of the science, whether the denier foot troops realize it or not.
For too long we have jousted with the deniers who have cunningly and foolishly
mislead us into thinking that we must defend the science.
Instead we need to put more effort into denying that the quality of the science is
relevant, and starkly comparing the possible horrendous consequences of inaction with a feasible smooth
transition to a zero-carbon society.
Refusal to Talk
When economist, Jeffrey Sachs, as reported by him in Scientific American,
attempted to bring the editors of a Murdoch paper, the Wall Street Journal, together with senior climate
scientists, the editors declined, providing additional evidence that denial is unrelated to the quality of the
science. The WSJ is responding to resistance in the finance sector. Clive Hamilton, in the ABC’s
Unleashed, has referred to Australian cases in which senior deniers and resisters have declined to meet
Denier writing ranges from the complex papers of Willie Soon, to the disgusting
abuse found in many emails, as described by Douglas Fischer in the Daily Climate. If deniers were
genuinely interested in the science, we might expect a greater effort to get abreast of the main concepts.
The internal contradictions in their ideas provide further evidence for their
duplicity. Denial has not presented an internally consistent alternative theory, but a never ending list of
speculations and complaints. While some deny warming or predict imminent cooling, others deny human
responsibility, and yet others criticize strategies to stop warming. Extremists claim fraud and conspiracy. This
is five theories at least, certainly providing us with a choice, but hardly recognizable as a Kuhnian scientific
Resisters show their insincerity by avoiding consideration of the worst case
scenarios, just as BP did for oil leaks in deep off shore drilling, as has been discussed by John McQuaid in Yale Environment 360. The responsibility
is widespread in the case of global warming, but nevertheless the fossil fuel industry is refusing to
acknowledge the worst cases that, for example, James Hansen’s NASA teams fear.
The senior deniers have cleverly pulled the wool over our specialist eyes. Studying
only one science, leaves us open to manipulation by those who in some ways are more worldly wise, but in other
respects are selfish or ignorant people, living in the short-term.
Of course, a few of the leaders in this struggle, must offer general defenses of
climate science, as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, does, but it is ill-advised for all supporters to
respond to every absurd attack. That is what they seek.
Because deniers tend to point the finger, usually in contradiction, at certain
developing nations, we need to give hope that, as well as developed ones, they wish to move ahead. For example,
according to Pew Charitable Trusts, China is now the world’s largest investor in
renewable energy, having almost double the annual investment of the USA. China Daily noted that Chinese
citizens planted 2.5 billion trees in 2009, while in the USA 1.5 billion were planted. According to Isabel
Hilton in Yale Environment 360, India is now taking a generous global approach, agreeing that while it
has not contributed much to the cause, it must be part of the solution.
Selfish or Ignorant
Although we rail against denier selfishness and ignorance we hardly know to what
extent they are selfish, and to what extent they are ignorant. In Storms of my Grandchildren, James
Hansen plumps for the former, but a more flexible interpretation might be useful. They may have heard the
evidence, but how deeply did they understand? Climate science is difficult for other scientists, let alone those
trained in finance, management, journalism or the arts.
Many deniers and resisters may not understand the implications of carbon dioxide
equivalent, surface Earth system inertia, feedbacks, tipping points and irreversibility for the lives of their
descendents. Based on the very low media coverage of these concepts, few among the general public are likely to
Many have probably blocked out opportunities to learn, and now they are in
contradictory double denial, denial of the science, and denial that it is useful to learn the science, or at
least to learn more.
Our societies focus on short-term material satisfaction, and our schooling systems
emphasize specialist skills, creating a poor capacity for long-term integrated analysis and understanding,
whether culturally or materially oriented. Our populations are thus severely challenged when faced with global
warming analysis and mitigation strategies.
Many people may not deny the theory, but, feeling guilty, avoid it, not as
individuals, but collectively, claiming to follow cultural norms, as sociologist, Kari Norgaard, (AllAcademic
Research) has found. Although they may feel they are moral people, they have become enamored of high
material culture, perhaps see short-term benefits in warming, and cannot see an alternative pathway. Actually,
there is little in Norgaard’s paper that shows that avoidance is not either a case of selfishness or inadequate
understanding, especially of the mitigation strategies, even if the level of generosity and understanding
required is far greater than most people have ever been expected to show before.
If people understood up-to-date climate science and strategies sufficiently,
and have some care for future generations, many would surely come around. People don’t change their selfish or
generous personalities overnight, but previous positive swings in the polls show that accurate information and
ideas can change people’s attitudes. Conditions such as newly discovered fossil fuel resources, unemployment and
the weather can, of course, influence attitudes.
The question is whether the seniors are amenable to learning. If the industry and
finance managers and owners fully understand the climate future, but remain intransigent, we must try to educate
the mass, especially the young, with a view to strengthening the political movement, but such a clear difference
between the top and bottom seems unlikely.
At the same AAAS symposium, Naomi Oreskes pointed out how dull and
ineffective scientific websites are, compared to the propaganda programs of the resisters and deniers. We have
to do radically better, by for example, starkly comparing on film the wrath of nature with the steps to a
feasible zero-carbon future, focusing on green jobs. Too often we see videos that cover one or the other, but
not both. When shown the likely fate of nature and innocent humanity, we must also be shown a clear
And we need to get the science up-to-date, focus on the critical points, and compare
at least two scientific views. Although a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will
kill millions of people, some scientists believe a rise of 2 degrees could result in natural feedback
processes taking us eventually to a human and biological wipeout. We need to better link the easily conceived
present with the perplexing future, and any uncertainty in the science should be compared with the danger of
disaster. Moreover, we should not forget the risk of peak oil prices and import uncertainty, not to mention
devastating oil leaks.
Assumptions and Dialogue
The rancorous public quarrel is hardly productive for the progressives, as the two
sides make different assumptions. While the scientists assume the value of evidence and life into the future,
the deniers seem to assume the value of individual lifestyle in the short-term. Apart from sponsoring top
quality documentaries, scientists could well put more effort into dialogue. In careful private dialogue with
senior deniers and resisters, with some clear graphics on the side, it may be possible to get beyond the
debilitating differences. Although failures have been noted, we must try again. For this, we could benefit from
concerned seniors to volunteer as go-betweens. Climate scientists should meet deniers and resisters together
with social scientists. And this might have to happen on some scale, with backing from academic and other
research organizations, to create a peer effect.
I believe widespread private dialogue under institutional guidance could be our best
hope. Climate change denial is different from other social disputes, such as those over taxes and health
services, as it is certain that all classes in all nations will eventually suffer badly if nothing is done. We
must make the CEOs realize this.
Understanding and Interacting with Climate Change
Monday 29 March, 2010
We live in unique times, our lives threatened by social inertia that has extruded a
dangerous belief, climate denialism (scepticism is mainly a front term) as a defense against
change. Climate change deniers are mired in a lifestyle and ‘world view’ or ideology so satisfying that
they appear willing to defend it almost like suicide bombers, taking their grandchildren or their children down
instead. In view of the recent growth of this dire challenge, I suspect we should change our approach. We should
focus less on responding to the public newspaper and online denier attacks with patient scientific explanation,
and put more effort into interacting privately with as senior deniers as possible.
We must realize that the denier onslaught on climate science has nothing to do with
the quality of the science, whether the denier foot troops realize it or not. If it did, they and the denier
generals should also be systematically attacking other scientific theory such as quantum mechanics or
Let them also attack the applied sciences of medicine, electronics, water resources,
aeronautics, structural engineering and others on which their present lifestyle depends. But no, the climate
deniers show they lack integrity by the absence of systematic attack on these other disciplines, attacking
climate science alone, that is no better or worse than the others.
When economist, Jeffrey Sachs, as reported by him in Scientific American,
attempted to bring the editors of a Murdoch paper, the Wall Street Journal, together with senior climate
scientists, the editors declined, providing excellent, if not sad, evidence that denial is unrelated to the
I have described
denial as a virus as it is evolving with the progress in science and the worsening conditions, adapting
from denying the warming, to denying the human dominance in the cause, to denying its importance. The focus may
soon be on the impossibility of stopping it. The virus also uses increasingly aggressive techniques, from
claiming scientific uncertainty, and jumping on individual errors to claim a global collective error, to
steeling and publishing private information, claiming scientific fraud and conspiracy, and lately abusing the
in The Daily Climate and Clive Hamilton in the Australian ABC’s Unleashed, describe the regular abuse and threats that climate
scientists receive by email, encouraged by senior deniers in denier tanks and some of the mega mass
The crudeness of
the language shows clearly the weakness of the denier arguments. It must be of some wonder that the senior
deniers, including editors in elements of the Western press are content to be associated with such rudeness.
The restraint that the scientists have shown in the face of this abuse is much more remarkable
than the tough attitude to poor quality submissions to peer-reviewed journals. The law appears flat footed in
the face of these newly obnoxious flat-Earthers.
is no longer an almost totally objective process, but through the 1990s and 2000s, since the fall of the
Soviet Union and the joblessness of Reagan's anti-communist crew, has been dragged a little into politics
by unscrupulous operators. The global scientific bureaucracy that is the IPCC, including nations ranging from
tiny atolls to the fueled behemoths, contributes to the politicization.
Starting in the early 1990s, deniers were anti-government ideologues working in
so-called think tanks funded by rich individuals and corporations, as explained by science historian, Naomi
Oreskes, in a lecture that can be seen on YouTube, and Hoggan and Littlemore in Climate Cover Up. As
noted by Clive Hamilton, the mass media, particularly that controlled by Rupert Murdoch, has partly taken over
Any misdemeanours that may have been revealed at East Anglia pale in comparison with
the systematic financing of deception by the fossil fuel and other corporations and now some of the private mega
mass media. Moreover, if the worst at East Anglia is proved to be true, then it is almost totally a reaction to
denier deception. Professor Phil Jones’ reluctance to provide access to data, and his toughness with sceptical
submissions to journals and the IPCC appear to be at least partly due to deniers.
All concerned must
rise to the challenge, and the challenge must be seen to be global and multi-lingual, not simply local.
Asian, African and Latin American nations must be involved in an ongoing dialogue and mutual education. The
challenge now will have to be smarter, just as medicine must rise to face evolving viruses and bacteria.
The Online Contest
Contesting with the majority of online denier commenters below feature articles is a
largely futile exercise. Although consideration of strategies must be contingent upon the science in the climate
debate, a problem with the online scuffle organized by the denier generals is that if you assume essentially
standard scientific theory, the denier troops will attack you remorselessly for not proving the theory.
Although the few real sceptics should be welcome, major media are not providing a
service to the people in allowing space for thousands of denial diatribes, which may be mixed with useful
comment. The online denier onslaught is nothing to do with the quality of the analysis in the various feature
articles. The article is often ignored, in favour of some favourite target such as emails or glaciers.
What the sincere media, need, are at least separate columns for the scientific
“debate” of this sort, such as it is, and one or more other columns for useful comment. The media must select,
edit and stream to make the columns at all useful. Only a few of the idle want to wade through hundreds of
mainly poorly informed and deceptive comments on a range of topics, even if all are related to climate. It is an
almost total fallacy to treat these comments as useful as can be the case with other topics. I once read a long
string of comments on airport security, finding nearly all of them interesting, as such security has no
organized opposition. In fact we should not be spending effort at all answering denier’s comments on line. It is
a distraction that they are pleased to provide.
It would be better to invite a leading denier to put the denier case or cases, and
then invite a climate scientist to reply. Thereafter for some time all those wishing to spar could be referred
to that exchange.
Considering the common failure of public discourse of this sort, more effort should
be put into private dialogue with deniers, especially the influential and powerful. I have seen confrontations
with deniers on the media, notably George Monbiot’s now famous drubbing of Ian Plimer on the ABC. But few
deniers would now be game to face the redoubtable Monbiot in public, especially if the moderator is strong and
What we need is quiet dialogue in private, where it can be arranged. Could the
American, Australian and British governments at least arrange meetings of the editors of denier newspapers such
as Wall Street Journal and the Australian newspaper with a selection of senior climate
scientists, as a start? Although Jeffrey Sachs failed, and Clive Hamilton has noted other failures, we must try
again, if not with the powerful spouse then the other, the kids, and the grandchildren, if old enough. Perhaps
it would work at the senior level if the President or Prime Minister were to host it. Others that understand
sufficiently, or have the energy to learn, should seek out deniers at their own level.
When the senior deniers are presented clearly with evidence of the implications of
surface Earth system inertia, feedbacks, tipping points and irreversibility for the lives of their children and
grandchildren, some may be willing to reconsider. We must get them to see that this is not a contest between the
downtrodden and the government, between the miners and city, between environmentalists and the farmers, or any
other intra-society conflict of ideas and interests, but about the interaction of humanity and nature. Not
humanity versus nature, but one of humanity living with nature. Once intelligent people make the decision to
learn, they can learn enough in a few days. Once a few of the seniors have reconsidered, they may be able to
turn many others. In fact more of those who have seen the evidence, such as the US Southern Baptists, should be
encouraged to participate in private dialogue.
If sufficient of the influential and powerful fail to learn of the threat to their
descendents, we will eventually be consumed. Already hundreds of thousands are dying each year, and soon
millions and then billions will die if we don’t get emissions firmly under control.
large number of people are not deniers but remain uncommitted or support the main parts of climate change
theory, but remain silent. It is important that we seek out such people, especially when senior, to help
them understand the theory, its critical importance, and how to contribute to the discussion.
I don’t believe we should emphasize the political aspect of the denial process.
Discussion of left wing, right wing, or any other wing detracts from the need to spread scientific understanding
among those who care for their descendents, if not the continuity of their culture and nation. The issue is not
one of competition and contest, but one matching ignorance, self-regard, resistance and denial against
understanding and a willingness to change. Much of the media, including the BBC and the ABC don’t yet get it.
This is not just another issue that may or may not get resolved like a restricted war or health care, but an
absolutely primary one concerning the future of all humanity.
The influential and powerful deniers must be persuaded through careful discussion
and related presentation that this will affect their children, more seriously their grandchildren, and so on. It
is not simply a matter of reduced profits and unemployment, a recession turning into a depression, but
eventually much worse than that, for the poor first and then the rich, within one, two or three generations. The
timing is poorly known, but how many wish to condemn their descendent’s future? The solution is feasible
behavioural and technological change over several decades, made global by international communication, education
Hacked Emails and Peer-Review
Thursday, 11 March,
We are learning more about the hacked emails
that makes it clearer that scientific data collection can have its problems, and that the politics of data
sharing and peer-review is pretty tough. Professor Jones has admitted errors on his China
data but points out that the conclusions have been verified by his subsequent published research
(Fred Pearce in Guardian and Guardian Weekly and Olive Heffernan on Climate Feedback).
Some inaccuracies in data is inevitable
especially under difficult social conditions, as in China, but scientists strive to ensure that this
is not critical. Jones' difficulty with Chinese data may not be
all his fault. His colleague lost the data. But in the end it is quibling with details as subsquent
research confirmed the conclusions. The obvious evidence that global warming is far from being an urban
affair is shown in another webpage Basic GLOBAL WARMING
Information This is what we must focus on.
It has always been the case that a
paper in which the data and analysis is indifferent.is likely to be rejected, especially one that
doesn’t square with the prevailing theory subscribed to by leading established scientists. Thomas
Kuhn wrote in the 1960s, basing his thoughts on centuries of science history, of a strong tendency to
maintain a theory until the evidence of its weakness becomes overwhelming. However, in contemporary climate
science the pressure to get it right is overwhelming the more conservative tendencies we find in more
obscure science. It is clear that the rejection of submissions is not based on personality or ideological
history, but on the quality of the evidence, the methodology used to gather evidence, and the interpretation of
the evidence. Much of the so-called sceptical scientific-like articles that I have read are
of poor theoretical quality. Moreover it appears that the East Anglia issues are a ruthlessly planned
pre-Copenhagen distraction promoted by people not interested in science, but wishing to destroy
Pearce does not explore the reasons that the
peer-review process appears so tough. Although it is certain that peer-review in the natural sciences has always
rejected the poorly documented paper, the fact that senior deniers are out there attacking the science point
blank makes the scientists scrutinize anything that will give the deniers ammunition particularly carefully. In
other words it is what I am calling the denier virus...(See the webpage Climate Science and Strategies ) that has created what appears to
be a tougher peer review process, and certainly not the other way round. The scientists have not changed their
processes just a little without reason, but because they have been under ever changing attack from the
ideological and bankrolled deniers now really led by just a few mega media barons, as described by Clive
Hamilton (Australian ABC). See also my earlier blog posts and the webpage Sceptics and Deniers. Douglas Fischer in The Daily Climate describes
the regular abuse and threats that climate scientists receive by email. The restraint shown by climate
scientists in the face of crude abuse is much more remarkable than the tough attitude to poor quality
submissions. Climate science is no longer an almost totally objective process, but through the
1990s and 2000s, since the fall of the Soviet Union and the joblessness of Reagan's anti-communist
brigade, as described by Naomi Oreskes, has been dragged into politics by unscrupulous operators. Let them
Reading and Thoughts on Deniers
Monday 4th January
When I first set up this website three months
ago I wrote in measured tones, but my reading of the global warming deniers’ antics since then has led to a
rather different attitude. My PhD was in stratigraphy and palaeo-ecology, a type of geology that could have
easily led me into the oil industry. So I am sorry to have gradually discovered that the oil, coal and related
industries, together with the tobacco industry, have been long paying people to lie about climate science. If
you are in any doubt about this, read Climate Cover-up by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore and watch
the video on YouTube of a lecture by Naomi Oreskes. Any misdemeanours that may have been revealed at
East Anglia pale in
comparison with the systematic financing of deception by the fossil fuel and other corporations. Moreover, if
the worst at East Anglia is proved to be true, then it is almost totally a reaction to denier deception.
Just compare the motivations, if you do not
understand. Scientists are motivated by a salary and the cost of research equipment and perhaps some travel to
their research area, that is true, but the salaries are not notoriously high, certainly often not high enough to
motivate without the excitement of discovery. In contrast, the fossil fuel and related industries are motivated
by enormous profits. It appears that the toadies they hire are paid much more than the average climate
scientist. These hirelings are rarely practicing scientists, and virtually never climate scientists, and yet
they purport to tell us that climate science is bunkum or a fraud, or more subtly, in dispute. Not only
do they lie for money, many of them hate government, science and the perceived threat to their way of life by
the reality of global warming and the mitigation necessities.
Few apparently know that all science includes
dispute, going back for example to the dispute in the early 1800s between Wenerian Neptunists that believed all
rocks were formed under the sea or in other aqueous processes, and the Volcanists and Huttonian Plutonists who
saw an origin for basalts as lava, and granites and similar rocks in magma crystallization at depth in the
earth. How many have read Thomas Khun’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that outlines the way
theories contest during theoretical change. Right now, real climate science includes, for example, a dispute
over the exact average global temperature that is dangerous. It should come as no surprise that exact
predictions are impossible, given the complexity of surface earth systems and scientific competition. True, many
scientists are claiming consensus, but only in reaction to the biased and fraudulent assault by the deniers.
Scientists have previously been known to speak of a consensus in reaction to the corporate lies about tobacco
smoke. Otherwise the word consensus is rarely emphasized in science. Don’t be fooled by the deniers’ claims to
be sceptics. This is just part of the ruse. Good scientists are perpetually sceptical, seeking ways to disprove
their theories before others do. Karl Popper pointed out that the falsification of a theory is more viable than
its confirmation. Consensus is always relative.
Are the deniers also unaware that the
possible future includes misery for the rich, including many of the grandchildren or at least subsequent
descendants of the managers, directors and owners of the fossil fuel corporations? Do they think that all the
descendants of the rich will be able to escape the drowning, the heat waves and fires, the hunger and especially
the energy and food riots and general violence with which the rich countries as well as the poor countries will
be afflicted if climate change gets out of human control? You, the powerful denier may be rich but your
descendants could easily lose the inherited wealth and opportunity if they are not of the same intelligence and
predisposition. If you have doubts about the biophysical basis of this future, read Mark Lynas’s Six
Degrees. But if you want an introduction read on in this website.
What do the Media Outlets
Believe about Science?
(An article similar to this one was
subitted to the Comments section below one of the articles in the Australian, but rejected)
1 January 2010
Do we know the media outlet’s positions on
climate science? I don’t mean the politics or the mitigation strategies, but the biophysical science. While some
say it’s settled, some say it is under debate and some say it’s a fraud. Do the media take positions on science
as on politics? Global warming is not like other scientific issues as it threatens much of humankind. In this
case survival may mean that the major media outlets take a stand or at least present a balanced scientific view.
By balance I do not mean to include every nutter's idea, but to include the range of ideas from practicing
up-to-date climate and related scientists. In the days of paper newspapers we used to be offered editorials that
would present the editor’s view. This was important as it allowed us to see something of the background ideology
that guided the journalists.
On the issue of global warming it is
critical, I believe, that we get the newspapers position. If the journalist team does not understand the science
sufficiently they should hire someone who does to work for the paper full time in cooperation with journalists
who understand writing for the public. The comments columns are full of ill informed and partly informed
comment, that should be reduced by the media unit offering a balanced view. Clearly the deniers are off the deep
end. Whatever the occasional tweaking of models, they might visit the
Antarctica to see the
melting for themselves, or for that matter the Sahel
or southern Africa to see what warming in
the Indian Ocean is doing for the herders and peasantry. The complete consensus view is also
extreme as science has always been full of debate. We find levels of consensus. That the ice is melting fast
and that carbon dioxide is a main cause have high levels of consensus. That surface earth system feedbacks
are important is unchallenged. That carbon dioxide is the only dominant cause is being challenged. At the
moment some are arguing for a larger role for methane and other greenhouse gases, partly because the ice is
The people must really understand the science
or we are lost. It might be a good idea for a team of leading deniers to hire a plane and go together to see the
ice melting and African famines so their revelations will be collective and mutually reinforcing. Perhaps they
should take a glaciologist and climate scientist or two with them who could explain exactly where, how and why.
This will create carbon pollution that will be worth putting up with.
Distinguishing Science and
December (Modified 30-12-09)
Following the weak
Copenhagen deal, those of us who believe we understand the science must not give up. The science
and social deniers are on the rampage, focusing on the case of East Anglia, and laughing at the weak
deal. Meanwhile the Arctic and Greenland are melting and the Africans are suffering repeated droughts, whatever the models are
showing. East Anglia must be resolved by an open inquiry, while governments must try again to, firstly
come to a mutual understanding of the science, secondly agree on a methodology to spread responsibility for
emissions, and thirdly agree on actual responsibility in a GHG strategy, possibly in five year steps.
Governments must try to distinguish an open
agreement on the science from the debate over how to cope with the consequences. It does not bode well for Mr.
Rudd and Mr. Miliband to simply tell the Africans and island states that 1.5 degrees is too difficult. All
leaders must first accept that 1.5 degrees is a better aim, and that 0.5 degrees is probably an even better aim.
Let them first admit that, and then argue the case for an overshoot, if they can, ignoring the adult
educational, behavioural change and carbon bio-capture options. Note also that the ‘developed world’ and the
major developing nations are ignoring the latter’s huge poor and powerless populations that will probably suffer
with the Africans and islanders, before we all suffer. If they refuse to acknowledge the up-to-date science and
the poor, they are relative deniers or semi-deniers. They claim to be basing action on science, but only the
science of their choosing, the apparently convenient science, the out of date science.
Now, post Copenhagen, all professionals and
others who understand must devote at least a part of their time to overcoming global warming. In another section
of this website I give a short outline of the various strategies people are using and a few new or less common
ones. If we are to beat this crisis more people will have to contribute. We can’t leave it to the existing NGOs
and a few good politicians. Everyone must offer effort and perhaps money, either in their leisure or work time.
We must struggle against the science and social deniers who call themselves sceptics.
The critical difference between real sceptics and deniers is in their motivation.
The former are interested in fully scientific alternative evidence and explanations, whereas the latter are only
interested in criticizing the mainstream information and ideas for “political” reasons. The former are critical
of some theory but rarely with an identified pattern, while deniers are always opposed to any evidence or ideas
supporting a particular theory. They give themselves away by their false consistency. They never attack those
scientific theories that do not appear to have negative consequence for themselves or their paymasters. Even
when they find the science hard to undermine, they attack the social strategies, as if to say, well I am beaten
there but I will struggle on in this other field. It is a contest for them, not an analytical process.
We must remember who the powerful deniers were, as in the future it is possible
we will decide that their actions merit court action. James Hansen has called for this already.
The Denier Deceit
25 December 2009
Recently illustrated by the
debate between George Monbiot and Ian Plimer on ABC radio, deniers are liars, distorting science, artfully
selecting from science, misquoting science, perhaps claiming to be scientists and thus lording it over
journalists that are asking questions, perhaps asking for references, or challenging statements. They do it for
money, out of habit, or in ignorance as they have been indoctrinated. We must realize that deniers, that call
themselves sceptics, are really politicians deceitfully claiming to use science, but are ignorant of not only of
the critical science but human affairs predictions, and are probably helping to lead humanity to a
Let us distinguish denying
from the development and cut and thrust of science. Real scientists constantly refer to the uncertainties in
their work, the gaps in their evidence, the weaknesses in their models, the need for further work. They often
disagree a little over the reliability of evidence or the scope of a model, but resolution is available in
further discussion and research. Not deniers. They know everything, rarely referring to doubts or the need for
extra research in their own area, only in that of others.
Agreeing that science is a
process, not a set of facts, we must accept uncertainties in the process. Thus it is appropriate to be
precautionary. We do not think a climate catastrophe is certain, but probable and deniers are making it more
likely. In fact I believe that at some stage in the future most educated people could come to see the
influential and powerful deniers in government, corporations and even in academia as having indirectly lead to
the death, and thus indirectly murdered, billions of people. They did this by helping to hold back global
agreements on GHG strategies. Deniers, especially in the old fashioned rural and business oriented parties in
the former white colonies such as the USA and Australia, helped to seriously weaken
the Copenhagen agreement. The powerful in the newly semi-industrial nations played their part, but
they were not the leaders. The West and Japan
must lead, but they find it difficult to lead if anti-logic and
anti-evidence ideologies continue to grow in the West. Adult education is needed. Progressives in every field
in government, corporations, the religions and of course the NGOs, and all private citizens, must consider
reducing their effort in their conventional work and leisure areas to put more time into addressing global
warming. With alternative strategies, we can still prevail, but millions must help.
Reflections on Final Outcomes at Copenhagen
Sunday 20th December (modified 30-12-09)
Following the ''deal" pushed through by a last minute
cabal of some of the biggest semi-deniers at Copenhagen, plus Brazil, we are faced with many more months of
intellectual contest. As Ed Markey, one of two congressmen that organized the USA's climate change legislation,
said on Democracy Now, this is a first step that could eventually lead to an agreement on 1.5 degrees. He, as
with nearly everyone, put his faith in technology.
Possibly the best outcome from the Copenhagen process
is the greater knowledge the media attentive populations have of nations that face the greatest threat and their
calls for a 1.5 degrees limit. I presume that this was partly based on the effort of Bill McKibben and team at
350.org, but needs to be strengthened to meet that aim. The summit also raised general awareness and presumably
understanding of climate change around the world. Hopefully this will result in an upgraded global dialogue over
the next few months. However, we now need to look closely at even this 1.5 degree figure.
The IPCC chairman, having agreed personally a few
weeks ago to 350ppm, that is less than the present 387 ppm, yesterday stuck with the official IPCC line of
450ppm, but at least gave notice of changes to come.
I believe that in the future, science historians, if
they exist, will look back on this summit to thank the small island nations for their dramatic effort to tell
the world that 450 ppm and 2 degrees will be dangerous. It will surely be dangerous for all of us, including the
descendants of the rich.
One of the main values of this deal is that the
original five countries that signed up are among the least likely to have signed any deal. I see it as the
result of President Obama, perhaps with President Lula of Brazil, out in front, leading his own very difficult
country and four others to a deal, that involves for the first time a temperature aim, not a GHG concentration
aim, with all countries agreeing to a transparent planning process with figures on promised emission reductions
by 31st January 2010. It does not include emission targets, but it will be possible to compare national
plans and total them to obtain a global plan to see how much additional emissions reductions are necessary.
Previously, China was the most prominent if not the only country unwilling to countenance outside emission
observers. This deal was subsequently reluctantly agreed to by nearly all other nations. It will be
the basis for further discussion and hopefully eventual legal agreement. The major problem is that 2 degrees is
almost certainly a dangerous aim. So over the coming months, scientists and their supporters will have to
globally educate and campaign for as low a figure as possible.
Given that the IPCC chairman has given notice of
reconsideration, the IPCC should meet immediately for an emergency session, not wait until 2013.
A partial IPCC team met just before Copenhagen to
produce a report called the Copenhagen Diagnosis.
As with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this conference
outcome, despite its positive aspects, was a degradation of the United Nations, another demonstration that
certain powerful nations are quite willing to ignore the majority of nations to get their way. True, in this
case they probably constituted a majority of the population of the Earth, but they certainly did not represent
the interests of that majority, in the short-term or long-term, or even their own interests. What would be of
value from the media and the 'leaders', is a much sharper analysis of the short-term and long-term interests of
the poor, the intermediate and the rich in this contest, in all countries, keeping in mind that in the
long-term, the interests of rich and poor will converge if our response to the crisis is inadequate. It is
notable that even the radical leaders such as Hugo Chavez offer no analysis of inequality within nations,
presumably because it may be embarrassing at home, and could embarrass some major resource allies. What we never
hear from the leaders of the developing countries, in claiming the right to 'keep developing', is a promise
to provide their own poor sectors with energy rather than provide their already modern sectors with
more of the same. Until this promise is made we must treat their noting of low per capita emissions with some
As part of the bullying of smaller nations by larger
ones, a notable part of the process was the bribery that was used by the USA to get large numbers of small
nations to accept the deal in some way. The USA, and I blame the pressure the Republicans are exerting more than
the Democrats, announced that the poor nations would only receive adaptation assistance if they accepted the
deal. What we must do is link the internal to the international contests in each case.
Friday 18th December
The ''press" is full of useless chatter about dignitaries, hope, claims etc. One
interesting piece on the Australian ABC online reported on three poorish to poor nation leaders/dominants claims
that the cause of climate change was ''çapitalism". If this includes technology, schooling systems, democracy
etc it must be true as this is how our human caused climate change works. The question is whether such invective
will influence Mr. Abbott and his unknown Republican equivalent. I suspect that the approach of the Maldives and
Tuvalu combining science and justice is more effective.
A Letter to Mr. Rudd and Ms. Wong At
Friday 18th December (Sent via the Get Up facility)
Dear Mr. Rudd and Ms. Wong
Scientists cannot know for sure when we will meet the climate
precipice, so I believe we must act now and strongly, as the risk of weak and delayed action is catastrophe for
If emission reductions turn out to be stronger than necessary we
may face some unnecessary unemployment, but if they are weaker than necessary most of our descendents could be
dead within a century. Unemployment can be mitigated by job-time sharing.
It is important to understand that a small rise in global
temperatures could create further rises beyond human control that will result in a biological wipe out, but that
we do not know for sure what this point is. We could have already passed it.
I am sure you are aware of the research by Spratt and Sutton that
suggest that 300ppm and 0.5 degrees are the necessary limits.
Also, much research is pointing to gases other than carbon
dioxide as being equally important, and perhaps more amenable to reduction.
It will be necessary to reduce the carbon dioxide concentration
by biocapture and possibly technological means.
It is I believe unlikely that technological change by itself will
solve the problem in time. Globally we will need to institute behavioural change such as car pooling to start
Birth control is also an important method to use alongside
technological change. Women must be given access to the methods. If nothing else birth control will reduce
future deaths by massive climate change.
I believe that all governments should begin a multimedia adult
education programme of climate science and climate mitigation strategies to boost support. Understanding in some
large and medium countries is too weak.
I hope that ALL leaders at
Copenhagen understand these few critical points. It
concerns me greatly that some important leaders among developed and developing nations may not yet fully
understand. I hope you will be able to help in this regard.
A Question for Western Leaders at
Friday 18th December (modified 30-12-09)
Enlarging on the previous discussion (below) concerning the ideas of Mr. Ed
Miliband, I would like to ask why Western leaders are holding out for
450ppm and 2 degrees rather than 1.5 degrees or less that leading scientists have recently proposed as a limit,
and the poorer nations are seeking? This is not to mention the 300ppm and 0.5 degrees limits that Australian
researchers are proposing.
Could any of five possible reasons be wholly
or partly true:
1. Is it possible that Western leaders do not
understand that climate change could go beyond any human influence if it reached 450 ppm carbon
dioxide equivalent or 2 degrees Celsius?
2. Or are Western leaders holding out because
they more or less understand the recent science, but believe that the descendents of the Western rich can
survive a climate catastrophe?
3. Or is it that the Western leaders believe
that the mass could not be persuaded using adult education, regulation and incentives to change their carbon
emitting behaviour before appropriate technology, including that which will capture carbon, is spread
sufficiently, and are thus prepared for a possible catastrophe?
4. Or is it just a European negotiating
strategy to get the USA and Canada
to take decent responsibility and thus bring the major developing nations on board?
5. Or is it that they all believe James
Hansen and the NASA team are wrong?
Rich and Poor
Wednesday 16 December 2009
The Copenhagen contest continues with little analysis of the meaning of "developing
country", which according to this summit includes all from Mali to South Korea. An absurd concept. China has
already declined aid from the USA. If the West helps the poor countries, countries with large rich and poor
sectors such as India or China could take a different strategy. While the modern sectors attempt to reduce
emissions as in the West, both the West/Japan, and the modern sectors to an extent, could help the poor sectors.
We must stop viewing nations as though they are homogenous, with the same interests throughout, speaking with
one voice. The Chinese peasantry and the Tuvaluans have much in common. Both would demand, if they had a decent
education and chance, that all polluters desist, where ever they live, right next door or across the
Ed Miliband and the
Theory of Mitigation
Tuesday 15 December 2009
Ed Miliband, the UK Minister for the Environment has
said in the second week of the Copenhagen negotiations that the 1.5 degrees aim demanded by the small island
states and others is not politically or technically possible. According to Australian researchers that should be
0.5 degrees, but why are politics and technology the only two considerations. What about science, behaviour and
education? It is extraordinary that journalist and politicians in at least the major English speaking nations
appear not to have realized that they do not sufficiently understand the latest science or the mitigation
options. Moreover it is extraordinary that in public at least it has been the tiny island states, perhaps with
NGO assistance, that told the so called developed nations that 350 ppm was closer to the necessary aim than 450
ppm. They understand as they are threatened more obviously. The slightly more subtle threat to the developed
nations is too difficult for our ‘leaders’, let alone the mass to understand. Yes, Mr. Miliband is right that
technology may not be sufficient in the short-term. We need behavioural change, for which adult education is a
prerequisite given the poor eductional background of most of even the 'developed' populations. We need crash
courses in climate science and change strategies using the most effective multimedia the world can assemble. We
desperately need more leadership outside the political sphere that is bogged in fossil fuel and other denier
lobbying and bribery, to organize advanced adult education for the whole population. Who will lead?
Some have more influence and power to stifle change than others, namely the large
corporations, sometimes the unions, rich individuals if they choose to exercise it, and the politicians in
alliance. We must conclude that those powerful people, in holding back change, are in fact indirectly murdering
the mass, including at least some of their own descendants in the future. They must be seriously opposed by any
means possible as this is a matter of happiness and misery, a matter of life and death for billions. Study the
Many believe that the resisting powerholders are simply selfish towards their
community and especially the world, but is it not likely that they care at least about their own descendants.
The question is whether their resistance takes into account the probability that even their grandchildren and
especially great grandchildren will probably suffer if the climate changes beyond human control. In other words
is their denier behaviour based mainly on selfishness or ignorance? This question surely needs urgent study by
human affairs accademics as it is central to the strategies that the "çhangers" must use. In this respect
climate change is an issue quite different from the 'traditional' issues of poverty and the like, as here the
rich will also surely suffer in the not too distant future, if not through économic' processes, then through
Copyright © 2009 Michael Tuckson. All Rights
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