Conservation = Conservatism?

I think my blog posts on environmentalism may have surprised readers who know me well. They have certainly drawn a lot of comment. After all, I want a more socially responsible government. Why then, am I not an avid supporter of the Green movement? The Greens want us to look after our environment. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? One friend said she was surprised to see that I was so conservative.

Actually, I believe that it is the Green movement is conservative. This is not necessarily a bad thing. My problem with the Green movement is not the fact that they are conservative per se, but the way in which they make many problems a matter of faith rather than a matter of logic. This post has been percolating away in my head for a while, but it popped to the forefront of my mind after I got involved in a brief online “debate” with Mr Lefty the other day.

There are two reasons why I am not comfortable with the Green movement:

  1. I perceive that many in the Green movement base their policies not on fact or scientific data, but on what they want to believe. It is almost like a religious faith. They do not have a clear understanding of the way in which scientific methodology operates (they say there is incontrovertible proof that certain things are occurring, when such proof just can’t be provided). They are scared of science and “chemicals”.
  2. I believe that some Greens are actually conservative rather than progressive. In fact, I would say that the extreme Greens are reactionary. As can be seen from the link, the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy describes a reactionary as “an extremely conservative person or position that not only resists change but seeks to return to the “good old days” of an earlier social order.”

Of course, I realise that the “Green movement” covers a vast spectrum of belief. I don’t want to say all Greens are like this: but enough of them are like this to worry me.

Now, there are some good things about being conservative. In part, being conservative means that you don’t squander what you have, you look after your resources, you look after your land and you are mindful of past tradition and society (including indigenous traditions). Would anyone deny that these things are part of being a Green? I think it is a good idea to try and husband the earth’s natural resources better. I am also a strong supporter of looking after our natural environment (let’s not eat whales, let’s not wantonly destroy rainforests and rare bird species, let’s not leave awful contaminants in the soil etc).

However, it seems to me that the Green movement is permeated by “scientific illiteracy”. I should disclose my biases here. I was raised in a household where science was a religion. Dinnertable conversation might be on the theory of relativity, Popper’s notion of falsibility, the amazing properties of carbon, Kekule’s dreams about benzene rings or black holes. I was always aware, as Democritus hypothesised so long ago, that reality is atoms and the void. Whenever I hear someone say “but it’s got chemicals in it”, I wince. I’ve got news for “chemo-phobes”. Humans are one giant chemical reaction, an amazing sentient collection of atoms. Water is a chemical, air is a bunch of different chemicals, grass is an amazing array of organic chemicals etc, etc…

I’ve talked before about what I perceive as a lack of scientific analysis by many of those who espouse environmental causes. The example I gave in a previous post was of a Greenpeace man telling a woman that global warming caused tsunami.

Why is it always presumed “natural” means better or healthier? What about organic heavy metals like arsenic and mercury? What about plant poisons like curare and belladonna? What about the nerve poison, botulism, produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum? (Yes, it’s the one in Botox). What about aflotoxins, which grow in peanuts, nuts and the like? For goodness sakes, radioactive elements such as uranium occur naturally as well…it’s all part of nature, red in tooth and claw. It doesn’t even have to be a toxin to be fatal – I’m severely allergic to the “natural proteins” in tree nuts.

To be fair, it’s not just environmentalists who lack scientific knowledge: many people are unsure about science, particularly where scary chemical names are featured with a bunch of awful statistics. What about the famously dangerous chemical, dihydrogen monoxide? Please click on the link and see if you have been exposed to this chemical…

The thing that concerns me is that people are easily scared, and if an official “Climate Change Scientist” says that the end is nigh, many will believe it. My heart sank when I read the recent doomsaying reports about global warming. People are going to die from heat related diseases! Dengue fever will rise! Coral reefs will be bleached! Jeez Louise! Why are all of the effects of climate change be said to be uniformly bad? When I lived in the UK, every winter, elderly people would die as a result of the cold. Presumably this wouldn’t happen any more if the temperature rose. It worries me when reports are so one-sided, and I start to wonder about the agenda behind them.

It is often said that those who doubt climate change have links with the oil industry and are biased. What about the bias of climate change scientists? Their grants, their careers, and their standing all depend on establishing the reality of climate change. Somehow they’re supposed to be selfless and not interested in their livelihood, whereas those other nasty scientists denying climate change are totally different? Perhaps we shouldn’t just swallow all this stuff without question. We should be allowed to debate it. I do not believe that the anthropogenic causes of climate change are as clear-cut as these reports portray them.

Many people seem to want to believe everything the doomsayers say. But it’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of science, and as I said in my previous post, science involves questioning the facts and advancing different hypotheses. I hate the way in which many Greens take a holier-than-thou attitude – someone who merely questions climate change and the Green agenda is instantly written off as some kind of fascist.

Which leads me beautifully into my next point. Is it me who is the fascist, or are some environmentalists the real fascists? As Mr Lefty commented, the Green Party in Australia is are libertarian in relation to sexuality and drugs. (That’s the progressive bit of the Greens). I’m happy with the former, but less comfortable with the latter, which is why I suspect I came out as “moderate right” in terms of “traditional values” when I did the OzPolitics test.

However, he then asserted that the desire to live a sustainable way is “hardly reactionary”. This is not defensible. There is an incontrovertible reactionary element to the Green movement. The Green movement is permeated by a longing for earlier days, when we didn’t use evil machinery and engines fired by fossil fuels. It often looks admiringly at indigenous societies who lived in a sustainable manner, and regrets the rise of rampant consumerism. To an extent, I am sympathetic to this aim, but within reason.

Some Greens wish to turn back to nature, and wind back the clock to a time when the world was less populated, less mechanized, less technologically dependent. In fact, some of my acquaintances who are environmentalists wish to stop development altogether, no matter if this causes people to die of starvation or disease. One girl once said to me that I’d have to throw away my asthma spray, as it was a blight on the environment. I said that I would die. Her response was “Sometimes we all have a price to pay”. What does this look like? “An extremely conservative person or position that not only resists change but seeks to return to the “good old days” of an earlier social order.” Yes sirree, that’s reactionary.

The Greens are suggesting that we should all curtail our greenhouse gas emissions. Where do greenhouse gas emissions come from?

  • burning of fossil fuels (creating higher emissions of CO2);
  • deforestation (meaning less CO2 is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis); and
  • farming (emissions of methane, NO through fertilizers).

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that the evil dihydrogen monoxide is one of the principal greenhouse gases, but it’s very hard to take into account as a variable as its presence in the atmosphere varies so much.

The main way in which we can reduce carbon emissions is to burn less fossil fuels (less cars, less trucks, less planes) and ensure more areas are forested. This means we can all use cars, trucks and planes less. In fact, environmentalists such as George Monbiot argue that air travel is an evil which should be curtailed at all costs. I don’t think people have really thought through the logic of such a statement – looks great on paper, not necessarily so good in practice.

Monbiot has suggested that resources should be allocated on the basis of carbon credits. A review of his book Heat summarises his proposal as follows:

Monbiot recommends the per-capita carbon budgets be allocated nationally. Nations would decide how to parcel out these allocations. Ideally, these could be passed through to individuals. But Monbiot notes the administrative costs involved in having people spend their carbon allowances on tens of thousands of products and services, each one denominated in carbon credits as well as currency. To simplify the process, he recommends a strategy developed by two of his compatriots, Mayer Hillman and David Fleming. They argue that since 40 percent of the UK’s carbon emissions result from the use of fuels and electricity and it is relatively simple to develop a method by which individuals pay for these energy sources with carbon credits, 40 percent of the nation’s carbon allocations should be passed through to individuals. The remaining 60 percent would belong to the government, which might auction them off to generate revenue.

[emphasis added]

My fear is that if carbon trading was introduced, the price of everything would be raised substantially for the average person, as corporations tend to pass on extra costs involved in transporting goods. Many people would lose their jobs. The poor would suffer. And if carbon credits were auctioned off to raise government revenue, it would be the rich who could afford to travel and and to heat their houses during winter. The net effect of this could be to create a tremendous gap between “haves” and “have-nots”, with a new “carbon-friendly” elite. Any scheme would have to be introduced very carefully.

As I said above, conservatism is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot to be said for conserving one’s resources, being frugal and harking back to traditional ways of doing things. But I just want any measures which are taken to be logical and not based on scaremongering and fear. And what I really do not want to see is people suffering as a result of ill-thought out measures to deal with predictions which may or may not be accurate.

Postscript

Catallaxy has an interesting post on the economics of a carbon trading regime and the recent report of the Productivity Commission on the matter. A section of the key points are reproduced below:

There is a growing consensus that the anthropogenic contribution to climate change could pose serious risks to future generations and that coordinated action is needed to manage these risks. However, uncertainty continues to pervade the science and geopolitics and, notwithstanding the Stern Review, the economics. This is leading to divergent views about when and how much abatement effort should be undertaken.To be fully efficient and effective, greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement must occur globally. Effectiveness increases with the coverage of emissions and of emitting countries. Below a certain threshold, any abatement action will have little effect.

It is in Australia’s interest to participate in the design of a multilateral framework – for example, pressing for:

  • emission caps for all major emitting countries that are supported by strong verification arrangements, and can react flexibly to new information;
  • allowance to gain credits for emission reduction projects in other countries and also flexibility in rules on land cover change.

Independent action by Australia to substantially reduce GHG emissions, in itself, would deliver barely discernible climate benefits, but could be nationally very costly. Such action would therefore need to rest on other rationales.

  • Facilitating transition to an impending lower emissions economy is the strongest rationale for independent action, but it is contingent on the imminent emergence of an extensive international response.

Current climate change policy in Australia is a disjointed, fragmented patchwork of measures across sectors and jurisdictions. The potential impact on resource allocation (for example, firm location) underscores the need for a national approach.

A national approach should be based on GHG pricing – through an emissions tax or an emissions trading scheme. Due to its administrative simplicity, a tax has some merit as a transitional tool and could be introduced in a revenue neutral way.

If it were decided to introduce a national emissions trading scheme:

  • to constrain costs, the emissions price should be kept modest via a ‘safety valve’ until a multilateral regime that comprised major emitting countries was in place;
  • to limit adjustment costs and international relocation of production, it may be appropriate to mitigate the most adverse competitive impacts on energy-intensive producers until an international regime is in place;
  • existing regulations that substitute for emissions trading should be discontinued.

It concerns me that the Australian economy could be crippled by a purely ideological decision to commit to the reduction of greenhouse gases, when there would be very little net benefit to the environment or Australia. As the key points state, our emissions are so small in global terms as to be of limited impact unless there is some kind of concerted global effort.

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17 Comments

Filed under carbon credits, environment, politics

17 responses to “Conservation = Conservatism?

  1. Tim Lambert

    So let me get this straight. Because some Greenpeace dude said something silly, you are dismissing climate science in its entirety?

  2. Legal Eagle

    Now, I’m not sure if it’s even worth getting into a discussion with you, because as far as I can see, you’ve made your mind up and everything is cut and dried. But anyway…

    No, I am not dismissing climate science. It is incontrovertible that the climate is changing. And it seems that temperatures have been rising.

    In fact, climate change is a “no brainer” – for goodness sakes, the climate has always been changing! But why is it changing? Is it “meant” to change anyway? Is it changing through human agency? Is the recent rise in temperature just a statistical glitch? What happens if we cut emissions and the climate keeps rising, but there’s massive unemployment?

    I am saying that there is an awful lot of scaremongering and unscientific analysis out there. And I can’t stand it. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to question whether this is happening? After all, if you guys get your way, I will have to change my life massively…

    Do you want me to go through every instance in the last 20 years when I have heard a “Green” make an unscientific comment? Because there’s a lot.

    Example: mixing up PCBs and PVC.

    Example: chlorination of water is evil (tell you what, typhoid’s a hell of a lot worse than chlorinated water).

    Example: 15 – 20 years ago, it was said the sea level would have risen a metre (guess what? It hasn’t. But everyone has conveniently forgotten).

    I could keep on going, but it would get a little boring. All I am saying is that, although not every environmentalist is unscientific by any means, there has been enough examples of ill-informed lobby groups asking for changes to society which could have wide-ranging consequences, when they don’t seem to have thought through the full implications of the changes. It makes me very nervous.

    So, now I’ve got some questions for you.

    How come ALL of the effects of climate change are uniformly bad? Surely there will be some positive effects, even if they are minimal? (In my opinion, asking a climate change scientist if climate change is occurring is a bit like asking a Catholic Cardinal if the Pope is infallible…)

    What guarantees do you have that people won’t be unemployed or suffer great hardship through radical ill-thought out action? Or are you like my acquaintance who said we all have to suffer for the greater good?

    Why is it necessary to have such scaremongering tactics? It’s that which I really object to. I don’t mind a reasoned discussion where everyone listens to each other and acknowledges that there are multiple aspects to a problem – environmental, social, economic, political.

    I am fully supportive of well-thought out, thorough responses to environmental problems. Just seems to me that because of the scaremongering going on, there’s not a lot of thinking out there.

  3. missv

    I agree with you that the alarmist rhetoric that surrounds climate change is not particularly helpful and that any action taken should be well thought out rather than reactionary.

    I think both ends of the spectrum on this issue are conservative – whether they are trying to conserve the environment or trying to conserve a modern consumerist lifestyle.

    I do feel however that the rhetoric of this post conflates scientifically misinformed environmentalism with any advocacy on the issue of climate change. There are legitimate scientists working in this area who believe climate change is an area of concern.

    But I do also do agree with you that there should be room for debate around this issue. Bring it on LE!

  4. Legal Eagle

    Miss V, you said:

    “I do feel however that the rhetoric of this post conflates scientifically misinformed environmentalism with any advocacy on the issue of climate change. There are legitimate scientists working in this area who believe climate change is an area of concern.”

    Yes, I agree with that. However, I still think it is important to acknowledge that science cannot tell us whether climate change is definitely occurring. This is not the way in which true science works…

    I went in with all guns blazing because I was so irritated by all those ridiculous reports in the paper on Saturday. And then Mr Lambert irritated me further by not actually engaging with any of my arguments, just making a snide comment.

    I wouldn’t mind if someone came and said, “I’m an environmentalist, so I disagree with some of your points, but I can see that there are other concerns at work and we can’t just immediately stop the way in which our society works without a massive impact. I support moderation and compromise.” Then we could have a nice discussion about it, and probably come up with some middle ground. But so far, no one has done that.

    Life is a compromise. Let’s take the example of chlorinated water above – it may be that chlorinated water does have some negative side effects for human health, but without chlorination, terrible diseases flourish. So you have to weigh things up – not just make a knee jerk reaction that “chlorinated water is bad” – what are the consequences of making such a stark decision? Do the bad consequences outweigh the good? Sometimes I feel that some environmental lobbies get so fixated on one issue that the forget to think about the big picture.

    I don’t like absolutes: I MUST do this, I MUST do that. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt as a lawyer, it’s that there’s always an exception to the rule, and always another side to the argument.

    I guess I just really hate this kind of debate where there’s no room for discussion. It’s why I’ve never had much truck for political parties or organised religion either…I just can’t keep following some creed without questioning it…

  5. Jeremy

    I agree that some part of environmentalism is innately conservative – the part that says, “uh – don’t do that, you’re making things worse”. But another large part of environmentalism today is progressive, in two ways:

    1. It’s about developing new technologies so that we can both enjoy the fruits of the modern world without destroying it. (Encouraging the development of alternative means of producing electricity, for example.)

    2. There’s a need to progress beyond the present economic system that does not give sufficient weight to long-term consequences of corporate actions. You know as well as I do what a corporation is, and what its directors’ duties are. Looking after the community resources it gets its hands on for the benefit of the community is not one of them.

    Finally, I’m not actually a member of the Greens because I’m a big environmentalist. I’m a member o the Greens because they’re the only progressive party dedicated to decent public education and health systems, and which will stand up for basic liberal/libertarian positions on social issues.

    Labor should do this, but it constantly sells out. The Liberals are a strange mix of corporate Australia and religious Australia. The Democrats just want to be somewhere in between the ALP and Liberals. And the Nationals are social conservatives who want a socialist farm sector.

    The Greens seem to me to be a modern progressive party, notwithstanding the point you’ve raised.

  6. Legal Eagle

    Hi Jeremy,

    As I’ve said above, I would agree that some aspects of the Green party are progressive (they tend to be the bits I like more).

    I also agree that the development of alternative sources of power is really important. As is evident from my post, I am an asthmatic, and anything that reduces harmful car fumes is fine by me.

    That is one of the reasons I find some green lobby groups (eg, Greenpeace) really frustrating. A friend of mine was trying to develop environmentally friendly fuel cells for vehicles. We had the bright idea of contacting Greenpeace and looking at their alternative technology website. At that time (5 years ago) the information on the site was pathetic and totally non-scientific. They were not interested in scientific developments which might help things – they just wanted to criticise people and jump up and down. In the end, my friend couldn’t continue with his project in this country. It was frustrating. Possibly my poor friend was ahead of his time…

    Like you, I am also concerned by the way in which corporations behave these days – I am not a big fan of economic rationalism. Life is not about efficiency. (One of the reasons why I thoroughly dislike those law and economics scholars).

    I would also agree that the Liberals are a very strange mixture of economic rationalism and conservative family values. The irony is that the economic rationalism tends to undermine the very family values which they treasure so dearly…

    How would you deal with the issue of carbon credits to ensure that it didn’t become yet another market where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer? I’m interested to know your point of view.

    Have you read Beyond Right and Left, by David McKnight? I read it recently, and I recommend it. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s well worth a read.

  7. Tim Lambert

    Once again, I fail to see how some random person confusing PCBs and PVC has anything at all to do with the accuracy of climate science.

    To answer your questions.

    The IPCC did not say that all the effects are bad. Unfortunately, most of them are. I don’t think you have looked the new report.

    Maybe we shouldn’t take radical ill-thought out action? Who is proposing this? How many people do you think will be ruined by a modest carbon tax. If we take action now, we don’t need to take radical actions. If we wait another decade, more drastic action will be required.

    Scaremongering tactics? Like what? Do you think that the scientists should conceal their findings because you find them scary?

  8. Legal Eagle

    My comments about some in the green movement lacking scientific knowledge is more about track record – it doesn’t inspire confidence in present statements.

    People are taking scientific studies and saying “Climate change is definitely occurring”. There is not incontrovertible proof. In fact, there can never be incontrovertible proof of any scientific hypothesis, because science does not work in this way. Have a look at Karl Popper’s theory of falsibility.

    The certainty of some of the “predictions” is ridiculous. Global warming will apparently:
    *increase incidence of dengue fever in Australia;
    *cause starvation in sub-Saharan Africa;
    *melt Himalayan glaciers in 20 years;
    *increase wildfire and insect outbreaks in the US.

    And you say there’s “no scaremongering”? I define scaremongering as manipulating politics by making the electorate scared. It’s not just the Greens. John Howard uses it all the time – let’s make people scared of terrorists, let’s make people scared of economic instability etc. I hate the politics of fear with a passion. It produces irrational responses.

    Let’s be honest: of course these conclusions are designed to induce panic! I suppose the idea is to creating panic and fear amongst the electorate and thus
    force governments such as the Howard Government to react. Look how successfully it’s working.

    The climate change predictions are based on “models” – and the outcome of the models depend largely on the variables. I am not confident that studies can accurately take into account all of the variables (the fluctuating levels of water vapour in the atmosphere, the way in which the ocean acts as a heat sink etc etc). Weather and climate patterns are immensely complicated systems, and, as far as I’m concerned, we do not have enough information and detailed records to see the big picture. I may be convinced – but I’m certainly not going to stop now and decided that we have reached “the answer”. It is really important to question one’s hypothesis, and gather more evidence. So, lest those climate change scientists become too complaisant – here I am, asking for more.

    Anyway, for the sake of argument, let’s say Australia implements a “modest” carbon tax… As far as I can see, this will just stop the poorer people in society from having cars, air-conditioners, heaters etc and the rich will keep on burning fossil fuels happily.

    And this carbon credit business? Gimme a break – people salve their consciences by knowing some dudes will plant trees and thus “neutralise” their “carbon debt”…seems pretty ridiculous to me. I guess there’s some pretty clever operators out there.

    And what about the conclusion of the Productivity Commission that even if Australia did implement such a tax, the global impact would be negligible, but the economic impact would be very substantial? You have to weigh up the implications of actions. It would be pointless if other major carbon dioxide producers (US, China) do not follow suit.

    Personally, I think we should concentrate on developing alternative non-polluting fuel sources instead of scaring people and creating bullsh*t carbon economies. As I said in my comment to Jeremy, my friend had a great idea five years ago – that’s the kind of thing which could really help reduce fossil fuel use – but instead everyone’s faffing around with carbon credits? Seems kinda stupid to me. Anyway, that’s my personal opinion. I’m not against trying to do something constructive, I just don’t think the current atmosphere of panic is conducive to sensible responses. But I suspect you and I will just have to agree to disagree on this issue! 🙂

  9. Tim Lambert

    So, basically, you dismiss any scientific findings that you find uncongenial. Obviously there is no way to convince you with mere evidence.

  10. TimT

    A good post, and there is a conservative element to the Greens. Like any sizeable political party, of course, it consists of a number of widely divergent factions with vastly differing ideological goals.

    One way in which the Greens are conservative is an idealisation of past ways of life and of indigenous societies who supposedly lived in ‘harmony with the land’. Unfortunately, the ‘ideal’ society which is envisaged here is often contradicted by the real society that existed.

    Another way might be the appeal of the Greens demographic to conservative property owners. In order to keep house prices high, property owners will often sign up to campaigns to keep various industrial developments out of their neighbourhood.

    A third way is in the influence of ‘old’ political ways of thought on the modern Green party: hence, the migration of communists to the Australian Greens.

  11. Mondo Rock

    LE – you may dismiss Lambert’s initial comment as snide, but in reality he’s highlighting the critically false part of your argument.

    You cannot legitimately argue that “some Greens make absurd and exaggerated claims therefore I am justified in rejecting the Green movement”. It is a nonsensical position.

    You appear to be a relatively intelligent person, and as such you must be well aware that ANY movement will have a range of participants – from legitimate specialists and scientific experts right down to the faithful idiots who can’t understand what the people at the top are talking about, but who ‘feel’ that this is the right movement to be in. You know – the people that Blair and Bolt single out and then falsely claim are representative of the whole movement.

    You cannot legitimately base your criticism of an important social and political movement on your personal objection to the behaviour of some of the members of that movement.

    Take your “Chemicals are bad” example. I’m fairly sure you would agree that there are some extrordinarily harmful chemicals out there, and many whose long term effects remain unknown. Does the fact that some dopey friend of yours has failed to grasp the complexity of this issue and simply boiled it down to “all chemicals are bad” somehow negate the danger posed by chemicals? Does the fact that your friend misunderstands the issue have any relevance at all?

    Of course not – and it is an illegitimate line of reasoning to suggest it does.

    In a way you remind me of the Righties who hate the Left because they were harrangued at Uni by some feral Lefties. Their politics are not based on any rational analysis, but on a well maintained emotional scar dating back 30 years.

    Your position comes across as “I think the Greens have some sensible policies and I like the idea of an environmental movement – but I won’t support it because I don’t like the behaviour of some of the people involved.”

    I find this a very curious position for someone who claims to hold great respect for science and scientific analysis.

  12. Legal Eagle

    Mondo Rock, there is some truth in your comment that my negative view of some Greens comes from some very bad experiences (like that girl telling me I should die for the good of humanity). You are also right that there are always idiots in any particular stream of thought (left, right or central). As I understand it, some of the climate change skeptics are pretty crazy too (see this article).

    I guess I’m conservative myself in this way: I don’t like being panicked, and my instinctive reaction is to dig my heels in. I like to take a deep breath and think before I act. My position is that we have to be careful that the cure isn’t more disastrous than the original problem…

  13. Mondo Rock

    Thanks LE – I should come clean at this point and admit that I’m also a bit of a global warming skeptic (sorry TL) due to what I perceive as a failure to establish:

    1. that the Earth’s current warming is meaningfully influenced by human activity

    2. that the current measures proposed to combat GW are likely to make any significant difference, and

    3. that the impact of global warming will be as disastrous as has been predicted.

    Which is not to say that I don’t support reduction of harmful emissions (I think this is a worthwhile goal regardless of global warming) – I just think that caution must be exercised when devising solutions.

  14. Tim Lambert

    Mondo Rock, the scientists have examined the evidence and concluded that there is a more than 90% probability that most of the warming in the last 50 years is man made. Why do you think they are wrong?

    Are there other areas of science where you think that the scientists are all wrong?

  15. Mondo Rock

    Hi Tim

    I don’t think that the pro-GW scientists are wrong – I’m just not certain that they’re right.

    You claim that “the scientists” are pretty sure that warming over the last 50 years is man made. I have no reason to disbelieve you – to be frank your public profile is such that I tend to trust that you wouldn’t knowingly make a dishonest statement.

    (although, having said that, your second question above is a little dishonest as it implies that “all the scientists” agree with man-made global warming – when there is at least a fringe who don’t)

    To be honest I have insufficient expertise in this area to evaluate the claim you’ve made at all – even if you were to provide the source evidence. I’m just not a scientist.

    I try really hard to remain conscious of the things that I don’t know for a fact (those issues in relation to which I am relying on representations made by a third party), and to avoid taking definitive positions in relation to these things.

    The Global Warming debate falls squarely into this category I’m afraid. As such, I consider myself a sceptic – well, not a complete believer at any rate.

    Which is not to say that I don’t support the measures being proposed to combat GW. I do – and my voting patterns reflect this support. I think that aggressively cutting back on man-made emissions is a worthwhile goal whether our globe is in imminent danger or not.

    I appreciate that it almost appears that I am arguing semantics here Tim – but I’m just trying to explain how it is that I can support the Greens, support measures intended to combat climate change, and trust you as an honest pundit, whilt remaining a little sceptical of the realities of the Global Warming danger.

  16. …they say there is incontrovertible proof that certain things are occurring, when such proof just can’t be provided.

    Indeed, it’s not in the nature of science to provide incontrovertible proof, but rather inductively strong theorem and principals. I think it’s more the “incontrovertible” than the proof that’s the problem. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the inately skeptical (and corrigable) nature of science of which many of the pseudo-skeptics (of evolution and climate change particularly) also demonstrate.

    So when you rock up to a discussion with a number of Green’s, at least in my experience, you wind up with a number of dogmatic members running rough-shot over scientific analysis of a given environmental problem. Problems with “solar for every home” promised by the Greens in the last SA state election, and subsequent discussion is my prefered example.

    And this during an attempt to recruit me into the party!

    Speaking as someone who’s (1 subject to go) BSc Major is environmental, and someone who’s on the progressive side of the fence, this ticks me off somewhat. Not to say all Greens do it; best mate’s father is a Green and he doesn’t, nor does my friend Romana who is also a green.

    For me, there is a critical mass of dogmatists that excludes me getting on with the broader party in the way I would prefer.

  17. Legal Eagle

    Sounds like we’re coming from the same space, Bruce. I know some good Greens, but I’ve also come across an awful lot who don’t think through the practicalities of their ideas. Like you, I think there’s too many dogmatists for me to be really comfortable with the movement.

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