Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Post-Email-Hacking phase of climate denialism - What can we expect?

Below is a great reply to RPJr from Bart Verheggen/ourchangingclimate

[To go along with Michael Tobis' http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/07/roger-jrs-top-ten-opinions.html]

I really appreciate Bart quoting of David Keith:

"However when people and the political community hear technical people say “can’t be done” they assume we mean that technically can’t be done and that is untrue and destructive.
It’s destructive because it hides the central moral choice: we could cut emissions if we want to, we could have started decades ago when the scientific warnings about climate change were first raised, but we decided not to. It was a choice, implicit or not. A choice that, in effect, we cared more about current consumption than we did about preserving our grandchildren’s chances to enjoy a climate like the one in which our civilization developed."
Where do I agree with RPJr's list, and the viewpoint of the very-very-balanced never-dare-call-us-deniers boys and girls?  The most I would grant to RPJr, Fuller, et al. is that the lack of political will is as least as important as the science.  (I will not grant any more, because their behavior is consistent with a mania to provide intellectual cover for the powerful who refuse to consider a change in consumption consistent with the mainstream scientific view of the risk of climate disruption and ocean acidification.  The behavior consistent with mania (squealing for false balance and blubbering from hurt feelings from those naughty scientists) separates them from rational actors.)

These fellows cannot help but telegraph their moves, and, reading the above from RPJr, we can infer that in the near future morality and moral consequence will completely vanish from scope of their analysis.  It is a three-legged stool - science, morality, policy - and it is sufficient (and efficient) to attack a single leg to compromise the whole.  Their arguments (along with Kloor and Curry), now we are in the post-email-hacking phase, will suddenly be devoid of moral language, and they will open up the waterworks with Glenn-Beck-like whaling sniveling if any mainstream climate scientist dares to use moral language or draw out moral imperatives.

RPJr has already practiced with the term "stealth advocacy" for any climate scientist who has not suffered frontal lobe damage - in other words, for any scientists who is a whole human and cannot resist finding out the consequences of common moral imperatives (that we human individuals owe the future of the same quality (if not quantity) that we owe to the past that born us), and acting accordingly.

Comment on Pielke Jr’s main conclusions « ourchangingclimate/Bart

9. In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly. (Pielke)
Without specifics, this is impossible to answer, and is bound to lead to even more misunderstanding. I could try reading your mind of course. You probably have some of your critics in mind, notably some RealClimate scientists as well as Hansen, who you have criticized. I find this very problematic. In most instances that I followed (involving Gavin Schmidt, Michael Tobis, Eric Steig, Hansen, Briffa at different occasions), I have found your and others’ criticisms off base, besides the point, largely irrelevant to the bigger picture and having the smell of a smear campaign (science-bashing). As I commented regarding the latest McIntyre affair (see my review here): “A lot of scientists are getting understandably frustrated with self-proclaimed auditors of science (and their supporters) who cast doubt about a whole scientific field by blowing minor flaws out of proportion and insinuate accusations of scientific misconduct”. Against this backdrop of a lot of people ready to embrace any little nitpicked criticism as if it overthrows the whole scientific consensus, and ignore the mountain of evidence in favour of this consensus, I can perfectly well understand that a lot of scientists (and their supporters) are getting frustrated having to deal with this behavior and (mostly) fake arguments. In the grand scheme of things, the big problem as I see it is the contempt of science and its practitioners by a sizeable segment of the general public and some high profile bloggers; if a scientist responds to faux criticism in a frustrated tone, I find that a minor flaw in comparison. Granted, they (climate scientists) are your subject of study, so you naturally focus on their behaviour, but at the same time, please consider the context in which they operate, as well as the main message they are trying to convey. In light of this, your claim that “bad behavior by the folks at Real Climate does more to hurt the cause for action than the political actions of the skeptics” is preposterous. William Connolley brought up Fred Singer as the most obvious example.
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