Pause Button

Just like global warming, this blog has now entered a sort of “pause” or “hiatus” and will remain there for an indefinite period. (Actually, it’s not quite the same thing, as global average temperatures could just as well start going down instead of up, but you see what I mean…)

Lots of very interesting events will, no doubt, happen between now and this time next year, and I may pop back from time to time to add my 2 cents (just slightly over 1 British pence). However, at least for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be otherwise engaged and blogging will be on hold.

There’s still the transcript site, which will be updated now and then, when time allows:


“The Next Asbestos”

Here are a few recent audio transcripts I’ve done.

My favourite quote is from that last transcript (“You are being lied to, all the time. And we are not lying.”) as it sounds exactly like one of those paradoxic “knights and knaves” type logic puzzles.

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2015: “Florida will be under water”

You’d think “Will St. Petersburg [Florida] be here in 2015?” a headline tailor-made for the global warming scare, but it actually relates to a little-known prophecy to be found in Google’s newspaper archive; in 1974 Hollywood writer and hypnotist Elroy Schwartz produced a movie called 75 I.T. about the startling yet somewhat unfeasible prognostications, made in a trance state, of former Los Angeles newspaper feature writer Wanda Sue Parrott.

According to Schwartz, Ms. Parrott describes a future that is just recovering from a worldwide nuclear disaster that happens (happened?) sometime between 2005 and 2015 when a nuclear device in Communist China accidentally goes off and causes a worldwide chain reaction.

A gigantic tidal wave inundates the world, wiping out most of the U.S. A cloud of nuclear fallout drives the surviving civilization underground, into caves.

To come over all Jungian for a moment, could there be, I’m wondering, something or other deep in the human psyche that is prone to inklings of universal catastrophe? From Edgar Cayce dreaming of vast geological upheavals, to Paul R. Ehrlich’s apocalyptic imaginings of global famine and the population bomb, to the current “climate crisis”, it’s almost as if there were kind of internal goblin (for want of a better word) lurking beneath the surface of the human mind, perpetually whispering about the end of the world.

Perhaps there are some people to whose inner ear the goblin’s voice is clearly audible and who go on to associate with, hire and promote people like themselves, who also heed that voice. And that, in turn, could be one reason why some of these grand environmental panics have flourished in the way that they have.

(Probably not, I suppose, but it’s fun to idly speculate.)

Happy new year, by the way!

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“The Ill-Informed Pub Bore”

The Royal Society, a well-known UK-based faith organisation which until a few decades ago mostly concerned itself about scientific matters, has issued a new pamphlet in a push to win converts and isolate climate heretics and unbelievers (those members of the ordinary public it characterises as the “ill-informed pub bore” or the “family know-it-all”.)

A few mornings ago, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a segment in which a reporter – armed with the RS’s tract “A short guide to climate science” – went into an actual pub to speak to a sample selection of pub-goers (how representative a sample is not very clear) about the contents thereof and to separate (in time-honoured religious fashion) the sheep from the goats. This is how it ended:

Zoe Conway [BBC reporter]: So Frank, you’re taking this guide away – are you threatening to bring this back to the pub?

Frank [CAGW believer]: Absolutely. Got to try and convince these people to start doing things about supporting the argument to stop global warming.

Zoe Conway: Ian, what will you do if Frank brings this guide back in, like I’ve done?

Ian [CAGW sceptic]: Make sure I’m not here. [Laughter.]

I think the BBC deserves some praise at this point for usefully warning us about a new kind of obstacle we might now encounter, on venturing into a drinking establishment, between us and a well-earned beverage – the beady-eyed individual with a rolled-up copy of “A short guide to climate science”, on the lookout for unwary victims to convert and to cajole into “doing things about” global warming. Thanks for the heads-up, BBC!

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“Is the Climate War over?”

There seems to be a sort of face-saving exercise getting under way, with BBC Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin, at the start of this month, reporting on what he depicts as a surprising convergence between climate sceptics and mainstream science:

Roger Harrabin: I’ve been seeking the views of some of the UK’s most prominent climate change sceptics, and there is now among them a fairly broad agreement on some of the basics of climate change. Firstly, CO2 from humans has almost certainly contributed to warming the planet. Secondly, the current pause in warming is likely to end some time, because of increasing CO2. And thirdly, if we double CO2 emissions – which we’re likely to do, later this century – we’re likely to provoke a temperature rise of about 1.7 degrees. If you take into account the uncertainties, it’ll be between 1.25 and 3 degrees. Now that’s significant…

However, Ben Pile at Climate Resistance explains what is more likely to be really going on, with far more eloquence and energy than I can muster. No-one knows exactly how this whole thing will pan out, but I wonder if we will eventually be told that climate sensitivity is indeed at the lower end of the climatologists’ projections (and thus still consistent with the models), that CO2 mitigation would still be the wisest course to take (albeit at a slower pace, for practical reasons) and that the victory can be announced, of science, over the irrationally stubborn straw men of climate denial.

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Vivienne Westwood: “Eat less”

Don’t you think “Eat less” would look great as a slogan on a T-shirt, maybe by the same people who brought us “This is what a feminist looks like”? Ex UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher was just telling BBC Radio 5 Live listeners how unpopular food containing “any chemicals” was (quite right, literally everything’s laced with stuff like dihydrogen monoxide these days), when the climate and anti-GM revolutionary made her statement:

Michael Meacher: What makes us so very angry about this, of course, is it’s never been properly tested, and if you have a referendum on “Are you willing to allow the food supply to be contaminated with the GM effect on your – on the food that you eat?”, I am sure that there would be a very large majority in this country who’d say “Don’t do it”. If you ask people, the vast majority of people want organic food which is free of any chemicals –

Dino Sofos: Not everybody can afford organic food.

Michael Meacher: Well, it is very –

Vivienne Westwood: Eat less.

What then followed was a studio discussion where shouty anti-GM activist Liz O’Neill made the venerable fashionista seem like an angel of sweet reasonableness, by comparison. Well, almost.

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Russell Brand: “Reeducation”

    From Chapter 25 of Russell Brand’s quite hilarious new book Revolution:

    We’ve already, thanks to Helena Norberg-Hodge, had a cursory glance at the gluttonous absurdity of global trade agreements and the profligacy and inefficiency of industrialized agriculture, neither of which has any place in a world built on common sense. They are only advantageous to the elite organizations that implemented them. Anyone who tells you different is on the make. In fact, we are at the point where the catastrophic failings of the system are so gallingly obvious that anyone who supports it, or denies that change is needed, is verbally daubing themselves with the black cross of the damned. As soon as someone pipes up with “There ain’t no climate change” or “Compassionate capitalism could work,” we should just nod, smile, and lead them to the sanitarium to begin their reeducation.

    Aside from noting the obvious and typical reversals of logic on display (industrialised agriculture is inefficient, as opposed to?) my thought is that if we ever found ourselves under a Russell Brand-esque government (lucky us!), it wouldn’t just stop with those few awkward individuals opining “There ain’t no climate change” – if the history of bad regimes is a guide, that would only be the beginning of a process that would end with even the most fanatical catastrophe-believers being hauled off to the mental hospitals for having deviated from the orthodoxy by the tiniest fraction of an inch.

Ed Davey: “We started the greenhouse effect”

New mini-transcript from the BBC Radio 4 news at 6am this Thursday morning – Roger Harrabin reporting on the Green Climate Fund:

The Fund was created to help poor countries adapt to shifts in climate caused by the greenhouse gases mainly emitted by rich nations. It also subsidises low-carbon energy, like wind and solar, so developing countries don’t depend on the fossil fuels that helped the West get rich. The Climate Secretary Ed Davey told BBC News the Fund was a moral imperative, because we started the greenhouse effect. It’s supposed to hold at least 6 and a half billion pounds by the end of 2014, but the green group Friends of the Earth say that’s just a drop in the ocean, compared with the scale of the problem.

It was Star Trek’s Scotty, I believe, who used to say “Ye cannae change the laws of physics” (usually when he was asked to do something impossible with the Enterprise’s warp drive) but it turns out maybe the Chief Engineer was wrong and that we have somehow altered the fundamental laws of the universe during the industrial revolution. To be fair, though, this makes about as much sense as anything else in Roger’s report, so perhaps I shouldn’t be singling it out.

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“There’s an overwhelming consensus…”

New transcript: it’s Michael Mann, being interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol last week, on the day of the New York summit and a few hours before his lecture at the University. He ascribed activity by hostile entities, in part, to the continued existence of public scepticism about climate catastrophe:

Geoff Twentyman: … do you think people generally are aware of the threat of global warming, right now?

Michael Mann: Well, I think they are. Now, part of, you know, the attacks that I’ve been at the centre of are part of a larger effort to, sort of, undermine the public confidence in the science. And so I think, to some extent, the public is not as aware as the scientific community is. There’s an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community – more than 97% of the scientists who study climate change will tell you that global warming is real, it’s caused by us and it represents a threat if we don’t do something about it. The percent of the public that has that same understanding is somewhat lower, and in part it’s because there has been a successful campaign to delegitimise, to attack the science, to create doubt and confusion.

Personally, I don’t think we sceptics can generally take the credit for this: after all, what need to invoke dark forces when utter public indifference will suffice?

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“A Tremendous Opportunity”

Sunday night and I’m a bit tired, so here’s just a roundup of several transcripts recently added to MyTranscriptBox. Firstly, the “tremendous opportunity” quote comes from Lord Stern last week on the Today programme, where he talks about the many ways to spend money during the “great change, in the world economy that’s coming”:

On the economic story, I’m optimistic, positive about what we can do. The technology’s changed remarkably quickly, and particularly – as we show in this new report, Better Growth, Better Climate – we show that through the process of urbanisation, through the process of investing in energy in the coming three or four decades, there is a tremendous opportunity to invest well, invest in cities that are much less congested, much less polluted, to invest in ways which can reduce wastage, increase energy efficiency.

On the subject of return on investment, he’s a bit light on the detail, though. Also last week, at the start of the Ryder Cup, here’s Donald Trump, talking about golf, wind farms and a bit of an upheaval he claims is happening up in Scotland:

Justin Webb: Are you saying one of the reasons why Alex Salmond lost the Referendum vote was his energy policy, was offshore wind?

Donald Trump: Oh, absolutely. Well, onshore wind, too – you have a minor revolution going on in Scotland, because of these wind farms, and if you happen to have one near your house, your house loses at least 50% of the value. So there are a lot of people that voted against, you know, Alex Salmond’s energy policy, there’s no question about that.

Finally, still on the subject of energy policy, here’s a speech by Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK, back in July:

This transition to a low-carbon economy, fuelled by the sun, the sea, the wind and the waves, has the potential to be a major source of wealth and prosperity for decades to come, creating jobs here, exporting expertise and technologies abroad, and making our economy smarter and leaner.

Meanwhile, people are seriously discussing the possibility of power cuts in the UK, this winter or the next.

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