The Age’s Jo Chandler is a climate change zealot, she is the sort of alarmist who claims that climate change is the cause of natural disasters like the flooding in Pakistan so it will surprise no one that she has written a book defending the AGW proposition and now that this tome has been published (with very little fanfare) its hardly surprising that The Age should be giving her the opportunity to promote her book in the guise of her semi-regular scribblings for that organ of the Fairfax press. So for your reading pleasure I thought that I would unpack what she is claiming here.
THE sea hare is a gelatinous lump ordinarily found grazing on coral reefs, home to many far more eye-catching creatures. Nonetheless, the one captive in the aquarium at Heron Island Research Station, on the Great Barrier Reef, provides a mesmerising spectacle as it chomps through great bouquets of red algae plucked from the reef flat and delivered fresh each morning by a young marine scientist.
”We used to have two hares in the tank,” she explained, ”but when there are two, they just shag continuously, fail to eat, then they die.” We conclude that herein lies a powerful warning about the risk unrelenting pleasure-seeking poses to any species aspiring to long-term survival.
Its a classical persuasion technique to begin with a bright and cheery anecdote and Chandler’s has it all. That opening sentence would not be out of place in a Mills and Boon romance and the whole point of this opening gambit is to play into the underlying guilt that so many of people still feel about the procreative act, there is however a certain irony that in a piece that is essentially about anthropomorphic global warming that she shoud begin by anthropomorphising the humble “sea hare” which is not in fact anything like a “gelatinous lump”, rather they are sea slugs a type of soft bodied molluscs that only live for about a year and the inescapable fact for such creatures is that they mate at the first possible opportunity to meet the requirements of the biological imperative that they reproduce before they die. Yet Chandler has chosen to imbue them with the human notion of lust and to suggest that the lust will have a fatal result and by extension she wants to say the same thing about humanity.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the sea hare this week while observing the fallout from the Climate Commission’s report, The Critical Decade. Wondering, too, about primitive human biology, about what factors interfere with our survival instinct – fear, fun, greed, legacy, even good old distracting lust.
Err OK, here is the first appeal to authority, the authority of the latest piece of scaremongering from Julia Gillard’s “Climate Commission”. However I just can’t help but think that Chandler odes not understand the Human animal at all because here she is demonstrating a complete ignorance of our collective biology. becuse instead of “interfer(ing) with our survival instinct “ the “fear, fun, greed, legacy, even good old distracting lust” all serve that instinct. Fear impels us to avoid danger, “fun” helps us to live together as social animals, an appreciation of “legacy” helps us think of the future rather than just the present moment and finally there is nothing distracting about lust it is just the embodiment of the same biological imperative that drives the sea hare and without it our species would be soon extinct. To be frank this sentence tells us a great deal more about Chandler than it does about “climate change”.
The report is a powerful enunciation of what science now knows about climate change and the risks it poses. That the atmosphere and the oceans are warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps, sea levels are rising and the biological world is changing. ”We know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary causes.”
No the report is a tool intended to help sell the Gillard/Brown Carbon tax and it is actually quite fraudulent in the way that it overstates the certainty of the AGW proposition There is no proper citation for Chandler’s quite here(presumably its from “The Critical Decade” so we can take it as an unfounded assertion. In fact there has been no definitive case made that the observed warming is in fact the result of human causation. For someone who is supposed to understand the very political nature of these sorts of documents Chandler seems to have checked her critical facilities at the door, so instead of thinking about just who is served by the conclusions of this report she treats it like holy writ.
In the nuanced language of science, it doesn’t get much stronger. As the American scientist Naomi Oreskes has observed, ”History shows us clearly that science does not provide certainty. It does not provide proof.
It only provides the consensus of experts, based on the organised accumulation and scrutiny of evidence.” And here we have it.
Consensus actually has no place in any real scientific process or study and it certainly has no standing in the scientific method. Yet for the AGW enthusiast it is the great bulwark of their their faith; they truly believe that if they are listening to the choir of the like minded then the song will be have to be validated
So how do you respond to such confronting news? Do you weigh the credentials of the speakers, study the evidence? Or do you switch it off, turn the page, scream and shout? According to psychological research by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University, your reaction either way will have little to do with the strength of the arguments or the calibre of the science. It will have everything to do with whether it gels with, or offends, your deep-seated views about morality and how the world ought to work.
Yale law professor Dan Kahan’s ”cultural cognition of risk” theory attempts to explain public disagreement about the significance of empirical evidence by plotting individuals on two scales of cultural belief: individualists versus communitarians, based on the importance people attach to the public good when balanced against individual rights; and hierarchists versus egalitarians, based on their views of the stratification of society. Simply explaining the science to these audiences, he finds, will only serve to wedge the two sides.
While its a fair call that most of us are more prepared to accept as valid the arguments that we already consider correct I think that Chandler is quite wrong to suggest a sheep like reaction form the people when it comes to the issue of Climate Change. Having done a little checking on this social theory It seems to me to be suggesting that when it comes to the big questions human beings are very reluctant to give up their long standing positions on significant issues, well Doh! So what? However I don’t think that there is the dichotomy between those who are totally individualistic (and therefore indifferent to society as a whole) and those people who are warm and fuzzy socialists who value community ahead of their own self interest that Chandler wants to assert with her citation. Its not an either or proposition.
The sliding scales are not unfamiliar. Think Tony Abbott as the archetypal suit-and-tie individual hierarchical – values clustered around free-market enterprise, personal achievement, industry, regard for authority (though not, it seems, scientific authority), traditional family, personal freedom; and Bob Brown is out there as your sandal-wearing communitarian egalitarian, protesting that pretty much everything Abbott cherishes damages all he holds dear.
Here we can clearly see that Chandler is wearing her Karl Marx underpants in the way that she characterises Tony Abbott, but the description of Brown is just totally at odds with reality, Brown like most of the Greens demographic is in fact very far from being egalitarian as their disdain for the ordinary people in the suburbs demonstrates , I would suggest that socially elitist dilettante is a better descriptor than egalitarian when it comes to Brown.
Put a scientist in front of an audience of individual hierarchicals saying that global warming is high risk, and only 23 per cent of the audience will buy the speaker as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Same message, same scientist, and 88 per cent of egalitarian communitarians nod their heads.
The effectiveness of an argument form authority is in no way a validation of a scientific proposition, heck its no way to validate anything of substance but it is the foundation stone upon which all of the great religious faiths have been built. Make No mistake here the AGW proposition is the central piece of dogma in the new Green religion and it naturally follows that if you believe that humanity is outside of nature and that we are despoiling the beauty of Gaia then it is easy to lap up any Profit of the faith who plays to that notion. There is a certain irony that the minions of the left like to think that they are “so clever , classless and free” yet they are so willing to conform without question.
Have the same author change tack to argue that warming is no great drama, and the Abbotts now lap it up (86 per cent), and the Browns wander off (46 per cent). The well-oiled machinery of manufactured denial knows how to push all these buttons.
Let me get this right, Chandler is saying that there is but one truth and it is AGW and the white coats are its Prophets. News flash sweetie, the reason that AGW is falling out of favour is not because of some slick and effective propaganda campaign that has manipulated a gullible public but because there have been some rather inconvenient revelations about those who have been trying to sell the AGW proposition, namely the hypocrisy of the likes of Al Gore, the OTT claims of Tim Flannery and even Chandler herself (like predictions of unfulfilled doom and the attribution of blame for natural disasters to AGW) but more than anything by the revelations in the Climategate scandal which showed the deliberate manipulation of the peer review process and that those in AGW club would stop at nothing to avoid unwelcome scrutiny.
Yale’s audience testing finds the only factor likely to interfere with our psychological gatekeeping is if someone within our ”camp” – someone we perceive as sharing our world view – says something unexpected. (Hence the reverberations in industry and markets when BHP chief Marius Kloppers last year urged rapid action to put a price on carbon emissions.) In short, evidence from someone you identify with will sway your view; science – facts – won’t.
This strikes me as being an example of a Leninist’s “vanguard party” mindset and it is the underlying reason that Profits of the Green faith will try to convert people with a high profile in business to their religion and it may even work, in the short term, but lets not kid ourselves that such conversions say anything about the validity of the science because it is far more likely that someone who has devoted their life to making a quid may just be recognising the inner Ponzi scheme of the Carbon Tax/ETS proposed by the current government. To be honest I think that if someone that I respected in business were to come out with a statement that seems at odds with good-sense I would be more likely to dismiss that view as an aberration than as a reason to change my mind. However I draw reader’s attention to the underlying false assumption that chandler is running with here, yes, its that old “the science is settled” meme that has been so often shown to be wrong headed or just plain wrong.
Same as it ever was, maybe. But new media helps us contrive a self-affirming information bubble, an echo chamber in which only our own beliefs are broadcast back to us. Debate in the US on the Yale findings prompted the reflection that our instincts in this regard mean – as one political scientist observed – ”we are not well-adapted to our information age”.
The people not so well adapted to the information age are actually the “climate change” scientific elites who have successfully convinced governments to fund their hugely expensive research projects and their millenarian fantasies of our immanent demise. They are not well adapted because before the information age they were in a position to restrict the consideration of their ideas and theories to the very small number of people formally involved in the academic process. Now they resent the fact that they have to convince, not only those in their little clubs (universities and academies) but also the general public who are willing to take them on rather than just genuflect to their authority. This of course brings up the issue of Peer Review, which is so often touted as being the be all and end all of scientific veracity but now in the information age you don’t have to be in the club or have a million dollar super computer to crunch the numbers or to test the reasoning of a scientific claim. A Michael Mann of a previous time would have remained unquestioned for very much longer in the pre-information age but his “hide the decline “trick” Like wise journalists like Chandler resent the fact that they are no longer the gatekeepers to the public understanding of politics and issues like Climate Change because the citizen journalists and bloggers are out here ready and willing to publicly analyse and question the wild assertions that they make in anything they publish.
The findings also confirm that for all our modernity, tribal leaders remain critical. Leaders of all persuasions – political, religious, industrial, social – have immense power in influencing responses to the most diabolical of problems.
Does this assertion sound like more Leninist propaganda to you dear readers? Personally I think that the information age has lessened and diversified “tribal leadership” and that rather than anyone having to commit to a limited number of overarching tribes we each simultaneously belong to many diverse communities from the comfort of our keyboards, this also means that the criticality of influential “leaders” is diminished. To be fair I am happy to acknowledge that the climate alarmists like Chandler have done a pretty effective job of creating an atmosphere of panic and in their desperation they do present Climate change as a “most diabolical of problem” but that claim only works if you believe that it is a single over arching problem that is amenable to a man made solution. I don’t think that there is any realistic chance that any of the mooted solutions can be made to happen. Cynicism about the proposed panacea has a great deal to do with the collapse of support for the AGW proposition and measures like the Carbon Tax and claims of dark conspiracies by big oil and big coal are nothing more than the old art of misdirection that stage magicians have been relying upon since the dawn of time. If the AGW theory is correct then we will have to live with the consequences and I have a great deal of faith in our ability to do this if and when the need arises. History has demonstrated time and and time again that expending huge amounts of effort and treasure on solutions to problems as yet un-experienced costs a fortune and provides little lasting benefit. The Maginot Line is a very good example of this; built at great expense to defend French territory from German invasion it proved to be spectacularly irrelevant when German forces just went around it. As it turned out the underlying assumption, that Germany would respect the neutrality of the low countries was absolutely wrong. The same relevant principles applies to the economic pain and dislocation that is inherent on Gillard’s Carbon tax; it will be a huge expense and its chances of keeping the climate Germans from invading are virtually zero.
In the foreword to a new book debunking scepticism of science – Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand – Oreskes argues that fear is the major driver of denial. ”Fear that our current way of life is unsustainable. Fear that addressing the issue will limit economic growth. Fear that if we accept government interventions in the market place … it will lead to a loss of personal freedom. Or maybe just plain old fear of change.”
As economist John Kenneth Galbraith observed, all great leaders share one common characteristic – ”the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time”.
No, the reason that we sceptics are willing to argue against the Profits of the AGW industry (and it is a multi billion dollar industry) is that we can easily detect the bullshit and underlying political agendas. The carbon Tax is not about addressing Climate change it is about trying to impose a leftist totalitarian world view on our society and to redistribute the wealth of our society in a manner that would gladden the heart of any unreconstructed Marxist. The problem is that no matter how much they try to create a socialist utopia by stealth they can’t escape the fact that all previous attempts to create that ideal have ended in betrayal of the people and untold death and misery as the public image of the faith is shattered by the reality of the self serving leadership of the revolution.
Jo Chandler is a senior Age writer and the author of Feeling The Heat, which tracks climate field scientists.All text quoted from Here