Below are some comments from the original moonbat himself. He accuses climate skeptics of vituperative gibberish. But what is his article if it is not vituperative? I can see no mention of any single scientific fact in it. It is all abuse: "native idiocy", "infantile blathering" etc. And, as for "gibberish", his paranoid ravings that his critics are "astroturfers" (i.e. in the pay of "big oil" and the like) ignores all the eminent retired and tenured climate scientists (Singer, Lindzen, Kininmonth etc.) who need no pay from anyone to point out that global warming stopped more than 10 years ago. And paranoia is a type of madness, madness that often produces "gibberish" such as Monbiot's
On the Guardian's environment site in particular, and to a lesser extent on threads across the Guardian's output, considered discussion is being drowned in a tide of vituperative gibberish. A few hundred commenters appear to be engaged in a competition to reach the outer limits of stupidity. They post so often and shout so loudly that intelligent debate appears to have fled from many threads, as other posters have simply given up in disgust. I've now reached the point at which I can't be bothered to read beyond the first page or so of comments. It is simply too depressing.
The pattern, where environmental issues are concerned, is always the same. You can raise any issue you like, introduce a dossier of new information, deploy a novel argument, drop a shocking revelation. The comments which follow appear almost to have been pre-written. Whether or not you mentioned it, large numbers will concentrate on climate change – or rather on denying its existence. Another tranche will concentrate on attacking the parentage and lifestyle of the author. Very few address the substance of the article.
I believe that much of this is native idiocy: the infantile blathering of people who have no idea how to engage in debate. Many of the posters appear to have fallen for the nonsense produced by professional climate change deniers, and to have adopted their rhetoric and methods. But it is implausible to suppose that this is all that's going on. As I documented extensively in my book Heat, and as sites like DeSmogBlog and Exxonsecrets show, there is a large and well-funded campaign by oil, coal and electricity companies to insert their views into the media.
They have two main modes of operating: paying people to masquerade as independent experts, and paying people to masquerade as members of the public. These fake "concerned citizens" claim to be worried about a conspiracy by governments and scientists to raise taxes and restrict their freedoms in the name of tackling a non-existent issue. This tactic is called astroturfing. It's a well-trodden technique, also deployed extensively by the tobacco industry. You pay a public relations company to create a fake grassroots (astroturf) movement, composed of people who are paid for their services. They lobby against government attempts to regulate the industry and seek to drown out and discredit people who draw attention to the issues the corporations want the public to ignore.
Considering the lengths to which these companies have gone to insert themselves into publications where there is a risk of exposure, it is inconceivable that they are not making use of the Guardian's threads, where they are protected by the posters' anonymity. Some of the commenters on these threads have been paid to disseminate their nonsense, but we have no means, under the current system, of knowing which ones they are.
Two months ago I read some comments by a person using the moniker scunnered52, whose tone and content reminded me of material published by professional deniers. I called him out, asking "Is my suspicion correct? How about providing a verifiable identity to lay this concern to rest?" I repeated my challenge in another thread. He used distraction and avoidance in his replies, but would not answer or even address my question, which gave me the strong impression that my suspicion was correct.
So what should we do to prevent these threads from becoming the plaything of undisclosed corporate interests? My view is that everyone should be free to say whatever they want. I have never asked for a comment to be removed, nor will I do so. I believe that the threads should be unmoderated, except to protect the Guardian from Britain's ridiculous libel laws. But I also believe that everyone who comments here should be accountable: in other words that the rest of us should be able to see who they are. By hiding behind pseudonyms, commenters here are exposed to no danger of damaging their reputations by spouting nonsense. Astroturfers can adopt any number of identities, perhaps posting under different names in the same thread. We have no idea whether we are reading genuine views or corporate propaganda. There is also an asymmetry here: you know who I am; in fact some people on these threads seem to know more about me than I do. But I have no idea who I am arguing with.
Some people object that verifiable identities could expose posters to the risk of being traced and attacked. This is nonsense. I make no secret of my whereabouts and attract more controversy than almost anyone on these pages, but I have never felt at risk, even when, during the first few months of the Iraq war, I received emails threatening to kill, torture and mutilate me almost every day. For all the huffing and puffing in cyberspace, people simply don't care enough to take it into the real world.
So how could it best be done? Amazon prevents people from reviewing their own work by taking credit card numbers from anyone who wants to post. Is this the right way to go, or is there a better way of doing it? What do you think?
British Greenie academics say it's time to ditch "cap and trade" climate policies
Just when everyone has decided that "cap and trade" is the holy grail! What a nasty spanner in the works!
An international group of academics is urging world leaders to abandon their current policies on climate change. The authors of How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course say the strategy based on overall emissions cuts has failed and will continue to fail. They want G8 nations and emerging economies to focus on an approach based on improving energy efficiency and decarbonising energy supply. Critics of the report's recommendations say they are a dangerous diversion.
The report is published by the London School of Economics' (LSE) Mackinder Programme and the University of Oxford's Institute for Science, Innovation & Society. LSE Mackinder programme director Gwyn Prins said the current system of attempting to cap carbon emissions then allow trading in emissions permits had led to emissions continuing to rise. He said world proposals to expand carbon trading schemes and channel billions of dollars into clean energy technologies would not work. "The world has been recarbonising, not decarbonising," Professor Prins said.
"The evidence is that the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying approach have had and are having no meaningful effect whatsoever. "Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment."
The report has drawn an angry response from some environmentalists, who acknowledge the problems it highlights but fear that the solutions it proposes will not work. Tom Burke, from Imperial College London and a former government adviser, said: "The authors are right to be concerned about the lack of urgency in the political response to climate change. "They are also right to identify significant weaknesses in the major policy instrument currently being negotiated. "But nothing could be more harmful than to propose that the world stop what it is doing on climate change and start again working in a different way," Professor Burke contested.
"This is neither practical nor analytically defensible - and it seems to have been born more out of frustration than understanding of the nature of the political processes involved. "This is a far more complex, and urgent, diplomatic task than the strategic arms control negotiations and will require an even more sophisticated and multi-channel approach to its solution. Stop-go is not sophisticated."
G8 leaders will discuss climate change on Wednesday before joining leaders of emerging economies on Thursday for a meeting chaired by President Obama.
G8 EMISSIONS PLEDGE UNRAVELS AS RUSSIA OBJECTS
A target set by the G8 for developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 is unacceptable for Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev's top economic aide said Wednesday. "For us the 80 percent figure is unacceptable and likely unattainable," Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters. "We won't sacrifice economic growth for the sake of emission reduction," he added.
Dvorkovich declined however to unveil Russia's precise targets, saying that releasing them would be premature. Dvorkovich also said there was no consensus by which year emissions would have to be reduced. "This question is a mystery for everyone," he said. "The calculations are being done. There are different scenarios," he said, adding they ranged from 20 percent to 60 percent by 2050.
"Discussions on climate are of political nature and are sensitive for everyone," said the aide, within hours of his boss Medvedev apparently signing up to the deal. "There remains a lot of questions. No one wants to sacrifice their economic growth."
The Russian official was speaking on the margins of a three-day Group of Eight summit in the earthquake-shattered Italian town of L'Aquila. G8 leaders agreed on the summit's opening day Wednesday to bear the brunt of steep global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, agreeing to cut overall world emissions by 50 percent by 2050. At the same time they called on a broader bloc of developed countries to reduce pollution by 80 percent by the same year.
Medvedev's top economic aide also said the target to reduce emissions by 80 percent as compared to 1990 reflected the position of the European Commission but not the G8 as a whole.
Major developed and developing economies face mounting pressure to make ambitious commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions with the clock ticking ahead of the key Copenhagen climate change meeting to set international targets. "We still have the time to agree our positions before Copenhagan," Dvorkovich said.
No More Green Guilt
Every investment prospectus warns that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” But suppose that an investment professional’s record contains nothing but losses, of failed prediction after failed prediction. Who would still entrust that investor with his money?
Yet, in public policy there is one group with a dismal track record that Americans never seem to tire of supporting. We invest heavily in its spurious predictions, suffer devastating losses, and react by investing even more, never seeming to learn from the experience. The group I’m talking about is the environmentalist movement.
Consider their track record—like the dire warnings of catastrophic over-population. Our unchecked consumption, we were told, was depleting the earth’s resources and would wipe humanity out in a massive population crash. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb, forecasted hundreds of millions of deaths per year throughout the 1970s, to be averted, he insisted, only by mass population control “by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”
But instead of global-scale famine and death, the 1970s witnessed an agricultural revolution. Despite a near-doubling of world population, food production continues to grow as technological innovation creates more and more food on each acre of farmland. The U.S., which has seen its population grow from 200 to 300 million, is more concerned about rampant obesity than a shortage of food.
The Alar scare in 1989 is another great example. The NRDC, an environmentalist lobby group, engineered media frenzy over the baseless assertion that Alar, an apple ripening agent, posed a cancer threat. The ensuing panic cost the apple industry over $200 million dollars, and Alar was pulled from the market even though it was a perfectly safe and value-adding product.
Or consider the campaign against the insecticide DDT, beginning with Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring. The world had been on the brink of eradicating malaria using DDT—but for Carson and her followers, controlling disease-carrying mosquitoes was an arrogant act of “tampering” with nature. Carson issued dire warnings that nature was “capable of striking back in unexpected ways” unless people showed more “humility before [its] vast forces.” She asserted, baselessly, that among other things DDT would cause a cancer epidemic. Her book led to such a public outcry that, despite its life-saving benefits and mountains of scientific evidence supporting its continued use, DDT was banned in the United States in 1972. Thanks to environmentalist opposition, DDT was almost completely phased out worldwide. And while there is still zero evidence of a DDT cancer risk, the resurgence of malaria needlessly kills over a million people a year.
Time and time again, the supposedly scientific claims of environmentalists have proven to be pseudo-scientific nonsense, and the Ehrlichs and Carsons of the world have proven to be the Bernard Madoffs of science. Yet Americans have ignored the evidence and have instead invested in their claims—accepting the blame for unproven disasters and backing coercive, harmful “solutions.”
Today, of course, the Green doomsday prediction is for catastrophic global warming to destroy the planet—something that environmentalists have pushed since at least the early 1970s, when they were also worried about a possible global cooling shifting the planet into a new ice age.
But in this instance, just as with Alar, DDT, and the population explosion, the science is weak and the “solutions” drastic. We are told that global warming is occurring at an accelerating rate, yet global temperatures have been flat for the last decade. We are told that global warming is causing more frequent and intense hurricanes, yet the data doesn’t support such a claim. We are warned of a potentially catastrophic sea level rise of 20 feet over the next century, but that requires significant melting of the land-based ice in Antarctica and Greenland. Greenland has retained its ice sheet for over 100,000 years despite wide-ranging temperatures and Antarctica has been cooling moderately for the last half-century.
Through these distortions of science we are again being harangued to support coercive policies. We are told that our energy consumption is destroying the planet and that we must drastically reduce our carbon emissions immediately. Never mind that energy use is an indispensable component of everything we do, that 85 percent of the world’s energy is carbon-based, or that there are no realistic, abundant alternatives available any time soon, and that billions of people are suffering today from lack of energy.
Despite all of that, Americans seem to once again be moving closer to buying the Green investment pitch and backing destructive Green policies. Why don’t we learn from past experience? Do you think a former Madoff investor would hand over money to him again?
It’s not that we’re too stupid to learn, it’s that we are holding onto a premise that distorts our understanding of reality. Americans are the most successful individuals in history – even in spite of this economic downturn – in terms of material wealth and the quality of life and happiness it brings. We are heirs to the scientific and industrial revolutions, which have increased life expectancy from 30 years to 80 and improved human life in countless, extraordinary ways. Through our ingenuity and productive effort, we have achieved an unprecedented prosperity by reshaping nature to serve our needs. Yet we have always regarded this productivity and prosperity with a certain degree of moral suspicion. The Judeo-Christian ethic of guilt and self-sacrifice leads us to doubt the propriety of our success and makes us susceptible to claims that we will ultimately face punishment for our selfishness–that our prosperity is sinful and can lead only to an apocalyptic judgment day.
Environmentalism preys on our moral unease and fishes around for doomsday scenarios. If our ever-increasing population or life-enhancing chemicals have not brought about the apocalypse, then it must be our use of fossil fuels that will. Despite the colossal failures of past Green predictions, we buy into the latest doomsday scare because, on some level, we have accepted an undeserved guilt. We lack the moral self-assertiveness to regard our own success as virtuous; we think we deserve punishment.
It is time to stop apologizing for prosperity. We must reject the unwarranted fears spread by Green ideology by rejecting unearned guilt. Instead of meekly accepting condemnation for our capacity to live, we should proudly embrace our unparalleled ability to alter nature for our own benefit as the highest of virtues.
Let’s stop wallowing in Green guilt. It’s time to recapture our Founding Fathers’ admiration for the pursuit of each individual’s own happiness.
EVEN THE BBC CLIMATE BLOG QUESTIONS 'SHRINKING SHEEP' HYPE
Wild sheep on a remote Scottish island are shrinking, and new research suggests that they're global warming's latest warning. But is climate change really to blame for the dip in this mouton célébré's size?
According to Tim Coulson and colleagues at Imperial College London, Soay sheep on the Outer Hebridean island of Hirta shrank by two kilos over the 25-year long study. And it's not because they've discovered the Atkins diet: Professor Coulson says that climate change is shortening Europe's harsh winters, allowing the puny sheep that would normally perish in the cold to survive. 'The Soay sheep provides another example of how far-reaching and unpredictable the effects of climate change can be', he remarks in the Times.
While there's no doubt that Europe's winters have become markedly warmer since the '70s, allowing the sheep to shrink, not all scientists are as sure as Professor Coulson that climate change is pulling the strings. This 2007 study by Dr Anastasios Tsonis, for example, points the finger at natural variability rather than greenhouse gas emissions. The North Atlantic Oscillation, the northern hemisphere's weather-maker, has simply been stuck in 'positive' (a.k.a. winter-warming) mode since the 1970s, he suggests.
'The standard explanation for the post 1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse gases overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols', notes Dr Tsonis. 'However [our models suggest] an alternative hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted after the 1970s event to a different state of a warmer climate, which may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend', he concludes.
So: William Blake's 'Little Lamb' can still thank the mild and the meek for its existence - but not necessarily climate change.
AMERICAN 'ENVIRONMENTALISM' GOES BACK A LONG WAY
The Democratic Party has won the White House and both houses of Congress. While Democrats won support from across the country their base of support is in the North-East. The US is in the midst of real economic, and alleged environmental, crises. During the Hundred Days the President has brought environmentalists into the senior realms of government and Congress has floated a raft of environmentalist legislation. The stage is set for a major federal government expansion that will change how electricity is generated and will restrict the amount of land available for development. The year is 1934.
New Green/Left policy: Keep those ordinary scum Australians off Ayers rock
Only "special" people (like Greenies) should be allowed to set foot on it
Whose rock is it anyway? And is this really about religion ... or power?
The Northern Territory Labor government and the federal opposition are furious with a federal plan to close the climb to the top of Uluru, saying Peter Garrett is slamming the gate on a world famous tourism experience.
A 10-year draft management plan for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, released yesterday, indicates the days of climbing the rock are coming to an end: “For visitor safety, cultural, and environmental reasons, the director and the board will work towards closure of the climb,” it says.
One reason to instinctively distrust this try-on is the claim that a ban is also for “visitor safety” and “environmental reasons”. Every visitor who climbs it knows full well from all the signs that it’s a challenge, and it’s clearly their own judgment that the climb is worth the risk, just as countless people judge that flying is worth the risk of deep vein thrombosis. By what right does Garrett insist it’s not? As for the “environmental reasons”, I rather suspect that a million more people may walk on this giant rock without grinding the thing into a pile of sand.
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