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Its Not About Science. Make it Private   

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First Posted 29 March 2010

 

Dr. Michael Tuckson

 

We need to change track. In view of the recent alarming growth of climate scepticism or denial, and continued industrial resistance, those of us who support climate change theory and appropriate strategies would do well to reconsider our approach.

 

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 genetics. They attack climate science without explaining why climate science is supposedly so much worse than other sciences.

 

Senior deniers, and resisters, who are the quieter, but more powerful financiers of private tanks and media where deniers work, form a team. While the resisters finance, the deniers provide intellectual sustenance.

 

The deniers' attacks come as they believe resisters' and deniers' wealth and lifestyle, presumably that of their families, are threatened. Resisters and deniers appear to fail to see, however, that the threat to their family's lifestyle from climate change and sea intrusion is far greater than that from low carbon behaviour and technology.

 

I suspect we should focus less on responding to the public online and paper denier attacks with scientific explanation, as the onslaught is not about science, but about defending a lifestyle. Instead we need to put more effort into pointing out the irrelevance of the quality of science argument, and comparing the possible horrendous consequences of inaction with a feasible smooth transition to a low-carbon society, as is already happening in several European nations. 

 

Moreover, it could well be important to discuss these issues quietly and privately with as senior deniers as possible, rather than continue the rancorous public quarrel. For this we could benefit from senior people to volunteer as links between deniers and scientists/strategists. Film documentaries that explicitly compare the alternatives are also needed.

 

It’s Not About Science

  

We live in unique times, our lives threatened by environmental degradation, and social inertia that has given rise to a dangerous belief, climate denialism, as a defence against change. Scepticism is the deniers’ preferred term, but real scepticism is susceptible to good science. Senior climate change deniers have not only been resisting the science, but any of the proposals for technological change, for nearly 20 years. They attack climate science without explaining why climate science is supposedly so much worse than other sciences. The only possible explanation is that it's not about the science, but about the deniers' wealth, income, lifestyle and status which they appear to support in the short-term whatever the consequences for their families. Simply, they assume climate science is worse as it seems to result in a threat to their lifestyle.

 

But by refusing to countenance technological change, let alone behavioural change, they are contributing to the misery and death of their descendants, whether they understand that or not. They appear to be mired in a lifestyle and ‘world view’ or ideology so satisfying that they are willing to defend it almost like suicide bombers, taking their descendants down instead.

 

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 science. The WSJ is responding to resistance in the financial sector.

 

Let deniers 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.

 

Denial is not about science, but is based on a false understanding about how to save your lifestyle. It stems from a resistance to change, as the guidance of strong government is wrongly seen as worse than the global reaction of nature. If they resist the science they are condemning their family, whereas if they understood and supported the science and the strategies for change, they could increase their family's chance of a reasonable future. If they care only about themselves in the short-term and not their family, or have no family, the rest of us will have to act to try to reduce their influence, apart from those approaches recommended below.

 

If you want to see a simple, clear explanation of the main points of the science that show denial is wrong , go to....Basic GLOBAL WARMING Information 

 

An introduction to climate science can be found at ......Climate Science

 

A Comparison

 

In order to convince the deniers it may be best to put more emphasis on comparing the possible social consequences of denial and the implementation of a wide range of alternative technologies. The concepts are not easy to understand, so the deniers must be given clear presentations of graphs and maps with minimum jargon, and preferably have the opportunity for discussion with the scientists. Part of denial is probably a rejection of scientific complexity and poor presentation, not to mention specialized schooling.

 

When the senior deniers are presented clearly with evidence of the implications of carbon pollution together with surface Earth system inertia, feedbacks, tipping points and irreversibility for the lives of their children and grandchildren, some may be willing to reconsider. It will be necessary to focus on the most important points and make the explanation fully up-to-date, as with climate change accelerating, much science just a few years old is now untenable. For example, independent scientists no longer consider a 2 degree maximum a safe aim, as climate could become dominated by feedback at that stage. We must aim firmly at 1.5 degrees as an absolute maximum.

 

Although a rise to 1.5 degrees will kill millions, a rise to 2 degrees could result in feedback processes taking us further to 3, 4, 5, and 6 degrees that would cause a human and biological wipe out. 

 

The longer you wait, the worse it gets, and the harder it is to turn the system around. Moreover, we must absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now. And this is not to mention the separate crisis that will hit us within a decade of two stemming from a major rise in the price of oil, if we do not manufacture buses and arrange other alternatives for oil-based products, preferably supported by contraception.

 

Are deniers telling their grandchildren that they could face a catastrophe because granddad is unable, or couldn't be bothered, to learn, or change his habits?

 

We must get deniers to see that this is not a contest between the downtrodden and the government, between the miners and city, or any other intra-society conflict of ideas and interests, but about humanity living with nature.

 

The recommended programmes for change involving solar thermal power stations such as those already running in arid areas of Spain, and wind farms such as those common in northern Europe, all linked with a new electricity grid, can be set up in 10 years, as has been demonstrated by Safe Climate Australia for Australian conditions. Photovoltaic, geothermal or hot rock energy and wave energy will be other sources. As well, we will have to conserve all existing forest, and plant and nurture hundreds of billions trees and other plants globally to soak up the carbon already in the atmosphere and store the carbon as houses and biochar in the soil to save it from fire. Moreover we can store more carbon in the soil by appropriate soil management such as minimum tillage.

 

Given that humanity continues to be slow to learn and act, under the influence of the resisters and deniers, I suspect it will be necessary to include a large element of behaviour change, such as car pooling, e-commuting and an extra jumper in winter, while the new technology is set up. This will also need job-time sharing through shorter work weeks to minimize temporary unemployment.

 

Whether through new technology or behaviour change, we will need price incentives derived from auctioned cap and trade, preferably a carbon tax, or rationing, as cap and trade is largely irreversible.

 

When you understand the climate science properly, if you have sufficient empathy with your children and grandchildren, you will be willing.

 

Our individual effort must be integrated in collective action at any feasible level with international agreement. Although many understand and empathize, some believe that other countries will not contribute. We need to give hope that others do understand and wish to move ahead. For example, China is now the world’s largest annual investor in renewable energy, having overtaken the USA in this respect too, and plants 2.5 billion trees annually. India has announced that, even though it did not contribute much to the problem, it must be part of the solution. South Korea is progressing fastest with 249 percent increase in renewable investment over the last 5 years, compared with Australia’s 40 percent. Brazil has the most ambitious plans among the large nations. Much of Europe is well advanced. The Maldives will be carbon neutral by 2020.

 

Following the weak and deceptive effort by governments at Copenhagen, we should work internationally at all levels from city, corporative groupings, unions, universities, religious organizations, NGOs and government. For example cities in developed and developing countries could pair off to exchange ideas, information and technologies. Global corporations could reduce electricity and petrol use in all nations equally. Universities could pair off to exchange staff and students and help each other.  

 

Private Dialogue

 

Considering the common failure of public discourse between scientists and deniers, more effort should be put into private dialogue, especially with the influential and powerful.  I have seen confrontations with deniers on the media, notably George Monbiot’s now famous drubbing of Ian Plimer on Australia’s ABC. But few deniers would now be game to face the redoubtable Monbiot in public, especially if the moderator is strong and pro-evidence.

 

What we need is quiet informal dialogue in private, where it can be arranged. Are there politicians or other government figures at national, state or provincial level, or senior corporate or other institutional figures, who might volunteer as go-betweens to arrange meetings of influential and powerful deniers with a selection of senior climate scientists? Although Jeffrey Sachs has failed so far, and Clive Hamilton on the ABC has noted other failures, we must try again,

 

Others that understand sufficiently, or have the energy to learn, should seek out deniers at their own level. It could be worthwhile to also try to arrange meetings with the senior deniers' less powerful spouse, the children, and the grandchildren, if old enough.

 

A large number of people are not deniers but remain uncommitted or support the main parts of climate change theory, but remain silent and inactive. We could call them idlers. 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.

 

Another group is the greenwasher deniers who in government and corporations claim to be green while massively using or promoting fossil fuels. Could these be the hardest to turn?

 

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 help turn many others. In fact more of those previous deniers who have seen the evidence, similar to the US Southern Baptists and Frank Luntz, the Republican advisor, should be encouraged to participate in private dialogue. But we need senior volunteers to get the dialogue going. These people could be noncommittal or still have some degree of scepticism themselves now or in the past, and with links to the senior deniers.

 

I don’t believe we should emphasize the political aspect of the denial process. Discussion of left and right 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 of changing weak knowledge, resistance and denial into understanding and a willingness to change. Climate change denial is not like other denials, such as holocaust or evolutionary denial, because, in the climate case, denial condemns the deniers’ descendants.

 

Conclusion

 

If sufficient of the influential and powerful fail to learn of the threat to their grandchildren and the feasible alternatives, 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, and start absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

 

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 rate of change is poorly known, but how many wish to condemn their descendant’s future? The solution is feasible behavioural and technological change over several decades, made global by international communication, exchange, education and negotiation.

 

Copyright  © 2010 Michael Tuckson. All Rights Reserved 

 

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Language Links Above

减缓气候变化的新对策  

NUEVAS ESTRATEGIAS PARA MITIGAR CAMBIO CLIMATICO

วิธีหยุดโลกร้อน 

Các chiến lược mới để làm giảm nhẹ sự thay đổi khí hậu      

Semi-Random Slogans

Invite a denier to lunch

Eat less meat every day

Form a small climate group

Inertia will kill us, twice

Holiday on bicycles

Learn how to plant and nurture trees

  Drain your rice fields sometimes 

Auction caps 

Grow and store carbon 

Write to a newspaper in a denier region 

Help the employees, not the fossil fuel owners

Read a book, not a newspaper, on the bus

350 not 450

Study tropical forest protection

Why are most deniers men?

Carbon tax before cap and trade

Look for a home closer to work

Write a new page for this website

Oppose lobbying

Put a new slogan on your bicycle or bag every day 

Study the latest climate science first

No air-conditioning before lunchtime

Drink just a little cow milk

Study Earth's thermal inertia

Learn how to teach

Send parts of this website to a politician

Grow and store carbon in houses 

Organize exchanges with Asian universities 

Grow crops not livestock

Rationing is equitable

Study thermal inertia in buildings

Practice dialogue, not argument

Behaviour before technology

Make a bicycle path plan

Don't use concrete

Drive a much smaller car

Study the denier claims

1.5 not 2.0

Don't use trees for offsets

Work with a bilingual person 

Eat even less meat every day

Support better democracy

Do deniers care for their grandchildren? 

Paint your roof white

Oppose advertising by polluting companies

Consume less, save money

Form an international group 

Help a politician to learn

Making cement emits CO2.

Education must be global 

Grow and store carbon in the soil

Fans, not air-conditioning

Lobbying is bribery

Study growing algae

Improve the school curricula

You can't read driving a car

Find dated photos of glaciers

Study which companies bribe political parties 

How do you entice a denier to want to learn?

Share your job with an oil driller

Plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere

Have you tried Tahini dip?

What do deniers understand?

Dress less formally in the heat

Design a more tempting commuter bus

Get to know a denier's children

Pay tax to fund retraining

Less clothing, not fans

Eat kangaroo meat 

E-commute

Improve the university curricula

One is enough

Interview a climate scientist on video

Insulate your home

Open a wind turbine factory in a coal town

Study Earth feedback processes

300 not 350

Wheat is safer than rice

Take men's fashions up, and women's down

Use a condom in emergencies

Share some job-time

Protest forest destruction

Wear a cotton coat

Study tree plantations

Eat just a little cheese

Get to know a denier's grandchildren

Why do the rich want to grow?

Put on an extra jumper when its cold outside

Offer a new job to a coal miner

Adopt two

Join an NGO today

Political bribes, not donations

None is enough

Holiday close to home

Invest in a diverse plantation

Wear less in the heat

Talk to migrants about emailing home

Make compost

Promote eco-tourism for locals

Read more of this website

Ask a politician have they read James Hansen

Eat less cream

Jumpers are cheaper than gas

Arrange a climate debate

Build a thick-walled house

Study how to turn moderate deniers

Study fast growing trees

Hand out appropriate leaflets at railway stations

Study your local energy organization

Learn about the delights of veganism

Study Chinese

Practice walking

Shirts are enough in hot weather

Support rapid research on how to turn deniers

Try an IUD

Asians make blankets from cotton and kapok

Get to know your neighbours

Recycle jumpers and coats

Holiday by mass land transport

Drink red wine, not milk

Support rapid research on capturing CO2 from the air.

Hand out leaflets at bus stops

Men's legs are beautiful too

Talk to local government about recycling biological waste

Keep a stock of morning after pills

 

Adopt another one

When will the USA go metric?

Write and publish leaflets

Holiday on a sailing ship

Start a course on climate change and solutions

Exercise periodically when its cold

Farmers now support the Green party

Give a talk at the local school

Chocolate's great with soya cream

Climate crisis not climate change

Share a car with your neighbours

Study tipping points and irreversibility

Email government ministers

Form a climate group with your neighbours or friends

Read Climate Cover-Up

Study palaeo-climatology

Soon meat becomes less tempting

Improve your foreign language skills

Adopt a baby girl 

Write an article for your local newspaper

Read Storms of My Grandchildren (after reading some climate science such as on this website)

Take plastic packaging off at the shop

Climate emergency not climate crisis

Ask you government to make a good video on the climate emergency

Move your company to where your workers live

Invite your favourite denier to a vegan lunch

Ask the supermarket to turn off half the lights

Study carbon taxes in more than one nation

Join yours with other climate groups

Shop at dimly lit shops

Email people you know abroad

Ask a climatologist to explain the various! meanings of CO2e

Plant and nurture trees in your garden till its full

Learn about biochar

Study the bus routes in your town or city

Support James Hansen for the Nobel Prize for physics, peace or whatever.

Protest new oil exploration

Install a solar thermal hot water heater

Shop for food where the fridges have lids or doors

Plant 10 trees a month in neighbours' gardens and in parks

Ask your adult children what they think

Write a better letter to the newspapers

Organize a demonstration outside coal company offices.

Where are the Nobel prizes for Earth and social sciences?

Form a climate group at work

Give a talk at a school in a coal town

No children is best

Buy a glass of wine for a denier

Start an NGO

Support honest and intelligent politicians

Study short-term GHGs

Join a good political party

Give a talk at a school at an oil town

Study hire-purchase for solar panels

Stake out a coal energy factory

Don't export coal or oil

Work in a vulnerable area

Invest in geothermal

Live with a farmer family in the holidays and help them plant trees

Build a sailing ship

Give talks at the local town.

Hand out leaflets at another station

Video a debate

Move to a swinging seat in time for close elections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 
 

 Michael Tuckson

The website author and publisher, December 2009.

 

Easy Summary

 

We must try to understand up-to-date climate science coming out over the last few years that warns of possible disaster. Ice shelves and sheets are melting much faster than before. Global temperatures are rising, with oscillations due to ocean oscillations. Natural causes are minor compared with pollution. This understanding must be spread by advanced adult education, especially among the powerful. As many readers as possible must spread understanding.

 

Denier leaders are funded by the fossil fuel, tobacco and similar corporations and/or are ideologues. Their arguments are always against, not considering pro and con, as with real science. They rarely call for better understanding, just attempt to confuse. None are climate scientists. Their motivation is salary and weak government, not salary and discovery. Either they do not care about their descendants or they do not understand the probable future.

 

We must put more emphasis on the short-term greenhouse influences such as methane. Carbon dixide must be captured from the atmosphere. Also we must lead with behaviour change before appropriate technology spreads. Birth control is important in some regions. Job-time sharing and retraining can reduce any unemployment resulting from mitigation measures. Mitigation must be coordinated globally by government and citizens in modern sectors. City pairing could be useful.