Tuesday 29 October 2013

Climate change denial

Global warming factoid of the day
Stupid is competing with Ignorance over there. It's a dead heat


In one of the Harry Potter novels, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Dark Lord Voldemort has returned and is threatening the wizarding world. 

As the person who has been warning of the danger Harry Potter is singled out by the Ministry of Magic to be silenced. He is summonsed by a court and then tortured for "lying".

In the end he is proven right, but it is (almost) too late.

This always struck me as an allegory for the modern world of denial just as the picture  of the chimps above, holding their nose and covering eyes and ears is also symbolic of a disease that is overtaking the whole of humanity and pre-selecting it  for extinction.

The image of Harry Potter only does so far. It paints a picture of what otherwise "good" people do when they are in denial.  

When it comes to Harry Potter fighting the dark forces (and winning) it is clear that the Dark Lord Voldemort resides in the soul of each of us, and it is up to each of us which side is going to 'win'.

Global Warming Fact of the Day

Yesterday I heard that there was an interesting debate going on on a Facebook page called Global Warming Fact of the Day.

(UPDATE: I incorrectly called the group Climate Change Fact of the Day, for which I apologise. In the meantime they have become (if my information is correct,  a 'closed' group - SMR)

When I went to have a look, little did I realise that this was going to act as a symbol for human denial.

These were presumably going to be reasonable people with a scientific bent who were comfortable talking about the realities of anthropogenic climate change, people who were on board with the increasingly dire situation of the planet.

But when  I came on board it turned out that Guy McPherson was the Harry Potter of the day.

The moderators and other regulars reacted violently to any suggestion that a tipping-point had been reached and that climate change was irreversible.

Any suggestion that mankind might be headed for near-term extinction simply made them apoplectic.

Put quite simply they kept denying any possibility of NTE and asking for evidence.

The immediate response was to immediately provide the evidence in spade loads.

The response to this was always to respond 'there's no evidence, please provide the evidence'

Then the response would be - 'here it is,and here's more  evidence'

And so it went on.

It's called "contempt prior to investigation'.

Not for them was the truth that if the climate changes outside certain parameters (i.e if we get an increase of global temperature of 2C more) it becomes impossible to grow food and to adapt to loss of habitat.

We got assertions - backed up with scientific evidence (not) - such as:

"We don't get a lot of calories from wild caught fish anymore, having pretty much fished them up already. It's a luxury now, not a major protein source..... But I don't see that it will kill us in the short run..... Crops can be re-bred and crop growth zones can move. It will be hard on Georgia when Ohio has better peaches, but that doesn't necessarily mean there won't be peaches.....Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south..."

Then back to: "There is no scientific evidence that says mankind gets wiped off the planet due to climate change"

You really can't win.

Then pinpricking on whether a 2C increase equates to 40C or not ("actually it's 38F, so you'd best apologise")

And then we got some really high-powered scientific questioning:

Can man live without food, water, air and a livable habitat that support body temperature?”

Can you give a link and quote for me where in that link the claim is made?....
I want a link that says that the claim is true. Or rather, that such a condition will arise

And then finally things became even more surreal - 

Mr Irving opined "There should be alternate forum for people focused on NTE. Get them out of here ASAP AFAIAC.....  They are akin to a plague IMO.... This forum is clearly being attempted to be hijacked by extremists " and (sorry I've lost the exact quote for this) -  "these people are losers"

A few hours later and Guy McPherson is excluded from the group, basically for upsetting the applecart.

"Mike Ferrigan was banned, too? For what? Disagreeing with the moderators?."

For the sin of asking why this happened and repeating my questions in the face of non-answers, I am also ex-communicated, only to be followed by at least one person.

Well what can one say?

Cognitive dissonance

It seems to be becoming more and more the norm that what would normally be described as "reasonable" people become angry, reactive and irrational when their comfortable viewpoints and attachment to continuing "civilised" life, business- as- usual, comes into confrontation with reality.

These people are wedded to saying "if we don't do something about climate change then (some time in the future) things will become very dire.

Ask them to even entertain the possibility that a tipping-point might already  have been reached, and climate change is irreversible and they become apoplectic.

They become something asking to the Inquisition dealing to Galileo.

"We are the consensus", "you are outside the consensus", the "outliers" - and therefore to be condemned and excommunicated.

Science ceases to be a quest for knowledge or truth and becomes some sort of magic item to be carried and defended at all costs.

The carriers of the "Truth" become impervious to logical argument.

If it wasn't so tragic it would be hilariously funny.  I really have to ask whether I'm misanthropic.

But then I realise I'm simply trying to see things as they are.

Great comment -

Nice essay, but frankly all I think its a waste of valuable energy. My motto with these types is to remember this quote from Mark Twain — 'Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.' Why do I think of this quote....the argument around climate change has never been about facts, its about beliefs. Its about the STORY. Its a story we've been indoctrinated with since birth--a story that tells us who we are as a person, a gender, a race, a species, a being....and how we fit into the greater picture of our community, culture, country, civilization, human history, the world , the universe. The only path to undo ones belief in this story is a long path of questioning and seeking the answers. A little debate with facts tossed back and forth will never undo years of indoctrination. For those mired in the story, if you catch their attention at all with the facts, they will simply strive to work this information into the story. And there is no point in bothering with expending the ATP to get these folks to see the big lie. They are like religious zealots.

Carolyn Garcia

UPDATE - Some more discussion since the group became a 'closed' group

Larry Lazar -
Perhaps SKS should come up with another page of "Climate Misinformers", but with the pics of the NTHE alarm crowd?

Yea, but Larry, "G" uses facts and science to support his claims about the end of humanity! He must be right!

Response: Roy Spencer, John Christy and the other misinformers, many of whom have far more experience and education than "G", don't think AGW is bad at all!

There are "Climate Misinformers" on both sides of the ideological spectrum.

Which is why CONSENSUS and widely accepted science matters

G”, I presume, means “Guy McPherson” - you can't call the Dark Lord by name!


  1. Upon reading the lengthy requirements as set forth by a moderator, I thought well what's the point of participating on this site? It's so constrictive, I mean aside from the usual constricts of no abusive language, no rude or snarky comments. etc...geez they are hanging on tight to those rose colored glasses, huh?

  2. Have you ever heard of Terror Management Theory? It is the study of the violent reactions we have when confronted with intimations of our own personal mortality. I think a similar reaction is occurring among those environmentalists who cling to the hope of pulling us out of the crapper. Take away their hope and remind them that our extinction is already a forgone conclusion and they become irrational and violent. I have seen it happen over and over again, especially among the more radical environmentalists. I don't even know how to approach them. Facts don't seem to be the answer.

  3. Thanks Bob Boldt for the comments - I think you've really identified the issue very well. It's a psychological issue really - of protecting their own hope. They can say the same thing for 30 years and never once accept that the future might be here already in the form of runaway climate change.

  4. Yes it's crazy how GWFotD can claim to be science and evidence based and then say the prediction of 4 degrees within a lifetime is nonsense. These people really are anti-science, I don't know how they got such a large membership. I haven't been kicked out of the group yet, I still read some of their articles, but they don't promote activism nor paint a realistic picture of what's really happening. I'm friends with one of the mods John Irving and he's probably the most liberal of the bunch, but it's sad that they're eliminating such good suorces of information such as Sam Carana and Paul Beckwith. If you are interested in my personal story of climate enlightenment and an appeal for doomers and activists to gather in Comox to make it green, sustainable, and resilient, check out my story at http://www.earthyear.blogspot.ca/2014/01/my-descent-into-madness-story-of.html

    1. Thank you Shaheer, for your thoughtful comments. I shall be reading your own account very carefully. For what it's worth, I'm afraid John was one of the most outspoken, saying there was no room for views such as Guy's on FWFOTD.


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