Saturday, May 02, 2009

There's something fishy about global warming

As always, Sam Mann makes good notes of celebrity sustainability speakers who visit our town. I actually went along to Bill McKibben’s talk about Global Warming which was really about making a call to action under his banner. Bills talk alarmed me.

I found the talk dissapointingly shallow, as though he intended only to promote, and not to engage in the discussion about climate change as it goes on around the world today. One indication of that is his insistance to use the term Global Warming instead of Change, I could be nit picking I guess.. but far more surprising was that in his 1 hour and 10 minute talk he didn't once refer to any of the compelling counter arguments to the climate change thesis, not even an attempt to counter them. The closest I heard him come was a rather repugnent throw away line that went something like, "those of us who get it, over those who don't" My words there, but it was something along those lines.

By the end of the talk I was way low on time but was sticking around for a possible question time. It looked as though there was not going to be a question time, but when it did eventuate, I jumped in:

Sam seems to have missed the thrust of my question, so here it is as I intended to come across:

Assuming the 350 campaign works, and it does pressure international governments to meet the carbon caps, have any of the campaigners given any consideration to what the ethical limits might be for those govs while they attempt to meet the 350 parts per million goal?

When Bill asked me to explain more, I gave examples of what some might consider to be stepping over the line to meet that goal:

  • World government
  • Laws and actions that unfairly impact on people's lives and freedoms.. (expanding here, would it be right to enact sanctions, invade, or force nation states to meet caps? Because he and others certainly make it sound that serious)
  • Cultural bias and insensitivity - considering Bills words of "those with us", without defining who "us" actually are. Does he mean the less than 20% of the world who have access to a phone line? Does he seriously imagine us, as in U.S. leading the moral charge here?
  • And what about the various controversies, some of which see scientists other than climatologists challenging the models and forecasting used to establish the theories that the 350 campaign goal is based on? Is it ethical that the campaign ignore the widening range of contributions to this issue?

I felt that Bill did not stop to consider my question, especially as it seems he had not heard such a question before. Instead he seemed to pull out a number of ready made general responses. Sam did seem to capture Bill's answer well:
Time is short. We don’t get to chose the world - sure it might be easier if the whole world adhered to a nature based religion, but they don’t. The only lever large enough to move systems in the time we have is the market. We need to inject one piece of information into the market - that carbon carries a very high price. A 350 limit will be quickly followed by a cap on carbon, this will see an “unleashing of innovation” (reflecting Krupp’s optimism). He acknowledges that this the

Our biggest challenge that humans have faced but it is our ethical obligation to the poorest and most vulnerable people and to the endless number of future generations not to leave them a planet pauperised beyond anything we can imagine

The list of actions that would have ethical challenges in them could go on, and I think Bills answer either show's he didn't understand my question, or that he had not thought of this dimension to his campaign yet. So I left feeling more than a little alarmed at the shallowness of the campaign message and its failure thus far to consider the implications of its own actions, or to at least prepare statements for the potential delimas we are about to face.

I didn't have time to ask my last question, nor stay around for the other interesting questions that Sam captured. But seeing as I'm here now, my comment would have been in relation to Bill describing the disproportionate political and economic power that fossil fuel companies have over the world, and how the campaign needs to somehow be equally powerful in its pressure message in order to rock that political (market) power. My thought at the time was that to effectively do that would probably require something more like "absolute power", and we all know what they say about absolute power... what I mean to say is that the way in which the campaign is being expressed, and the lack of thought gone into the possible results (apart from how to pull off a large media stunt), causes me a lot of concern.

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sparkered said...

So I had a look at the site, what can I say.

I've always associtaed these type of climate change alarmists with the old winter solstice high priests conning the frightened well meaning masses out of their wealth, goats, chickens... by telling them the sun won't come up and they won't be able to plant crops. How does a simple peasant dispute that? The high priest knows best in his white robes with long sleeves (To laugh into).

i.e. 'If we're already past 350, are we all doomed?'

'The planet is in its danger zone because we've poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we're starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.'

Fear and faith can't beat it, all we have to do is profer up our freedoms, lifestyle and wealth (Laugh up sleeve). From what I can see the climate change political reform message is religious one of faith that there really is a problem.

How does one reconcile the mixed messages of information that categorically state there is no problem i.e.

Consider this article Global warming alarmists out in cold'Name just three clear signs the planet is warming as the alarmists claim it should. Just three. Chances are your "proofs" are in fact on my list of 10 Top Myths about global warming.

And if your "proofs" indeed turn out to be false, don't get angry with me.

Just ask yourself: Why do you still believe that man is heating the planet to hell? What evidence do you have?

So let's see if facts matter more to you than faith, and observations more than predictions.'

Who do you believe? Give me you pigs and chickens!

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Sparks, it is an interesting sensation to watch a talk in which so many people believe in - including myself most of the time, but to watch it with hyper critical alertness. The things you have pointed to in the past do prop up.

I draw the line in thinking of it as an evil conspiracy though. I'm sure there are plenty of people with misplaced intensions spending long hours thinking about how to turn this popular idea into their market favour, and I guess that IS a conspiracy - or an inherent evil or corruption in our civilisation at the moment. But I think most of the campaign is made up of very well meaning people who like you and I only have so much capacity for info and truth finding. They make their conclusions and we make ours, and we all say our conclusions are open to changing if the right evidence should appear, but that's where I think we all get it wrong. The capacity to change a position when the swell gets too big. One of the things that worries me about

As always it all seems to boil down to what you and I and everyone can do in ourselves, and hope that approach to change is what affects real, lasting and sustainable change.

sparkered said...

Good links Kath.

Listen to the fraud and spin from the high priest Al Gore the Bernie Madoff of global warming lying to the people who trusted them in order to make money. Disgusting or stupid or both?.

"This is climate politics. It pretends to be about saving the planet. But in reality, it is crass, petty, and self-interested.

"Climate sceptics ought to take two messages from this.

First, it is clear that environmentalists are clutching at straws to make their case.

Second, that climate politics of this kind has achieved this level of prominence therefore cannot be blamed solely on climate activists. It cannot be argued that environmentalism has risen under its own steam. It’s momentum has been generated by a vacuum of ideas that all political parties suffer from. This is the issue that needs addressing."

sparkered said...

Q: What is McKibben’s thoughts on proposals to pump sulphur into the atmosphere?A:

The largest experiment of all time - combusting fossil fuels - has failed, are we really suggesting that we rely on a geo-engineering experiment on an equally vast scale? In hoping that we could moderate the temperature by creating a smog to stop light getting through in the first place, we would see truly catastrophic consequences, unpredictable and large scale effects. It would be enormously expensive and incredibly politically problematic”.

Worse, this type of suggestion reveals the depths of our addiction - it is junkie logic.

Read this in relation to Leigh’s points about global warming global governance and absolute power consider the obvious ethical dilemma’s.

Geoengineering and the New Climate DenialismAlso watch:

Stop Chemtrails

traceys said...


If you really want to know about changes in the environment then ask someone who is not formally educated in the subject (or any subject), but has lived in the same place for a long time and who has had a close and intuitive relationship to the land, sea, plants and animals. These people have the real answers. People who go jetting around the world giving talks on ANY topic are just contributing to pollution and providing entertainment through mental stimulation. It's a bit rich to then give a talk and expect to lead others in a drive against "global warming" as there are obvious connections between pollution and the environment that I don't think anyone would dispute.

I often consider what it would be like to look at the earth from space with a completely open non-judjemental mind ie. with the innocence of a child or an animal. What would I see? When I look at people I would see all of them, everyone, going busily, dilligently, expertly and purposefully about transferring heat from one place to another. Every single effort against global warming is actually increasing it. All of us are doing it, even in the processes talking and of comsuming food, we are turning chemical energy into heat energy. Observe the climate change experts on planes flying to different parts of the world to give talks on global warming. There's such an irony in that. I wouldn't be sad to miss out on their talks. I'm not saying its wrong to try and prevent global warming because that would be like saying it's wrong to eat or breathe or tidy up after your children. We are all going to produce heat to varying degrees and it's all going to eventually find the warmer parts of the world. What I cannot understand is why we all share this common purpose if it is so negative? I truly believe there IS a reason for this purpose, but I just don't know what it is yet.