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Climate change hypocrites


(This comment was originally posted to Secular Blasphemy )

You know where the next big international UN climate conference is going to be? At Bali! You can't make this stuff up. Bali is known for its... well, for being a great place to drink, sunbathe and party. Incidentally, it is also a place where every interested party will need to get on a jet-plane and travel for hours and hours, burning all that fossil fuel in the process.

Do the climate fear jetset really believe in climate change, or is it just a convenient excuse to throw a party, introduce worldwide big state socialist politics, and hope the sky will not fall in the heads of this generation?

How many private jets are there compared to commercial planes? And how many planeloads does it take to bring climate scientists to Bali, compared to how many planeloads of passengers are transferred in total every day? Would it even make a dent in the emission figures if anyone did as you ask?

I know, I know, you're after the hypocrisy. Point granted. I'll agree to almost anything you want to say about idiot leaders and celebrity environmentalists. But is this relevant to the climate change debate? At all? When a politician who calls for carbon emission reductions also wastes fuel on luxurious plane trips, does that mean he is wrong about climate change? Sure, he's an idiot and a hypocrite, but politicians often are, including those who do more good than damage.

This sounds to me like a distraction and an ad hominem. I'm not trying to say anything about the climate here - but neither are you, or Glenn Reynolds. You're changing the subject from something potentially important that can be discussed objectively, to something irrelevant, obvious, and personal. All with valueless rhetorical decorations like "fanatics", "hysterics" and "doomsayers".

(Comment 2:)

Jan Haugland: "If you don't think it matters that those who scream the loudest about climate change are acting the most like people who don't believe in it, well, that is a problem for the whingeing cynicism you have displayed over the last few years, and nothing else."

'Matters' is a broad word. It matters if you're trying to make a point about someone's personal character. Remember how hotel chain owner Petter Stordalen was confronted with the discrepancy between his environmentalist facade and his personal habits. To someone who admires Stordalen, it matters that he's something of a hypocrite. But this is logically separate from the environmentalist issues themselves, such as whether one should use less water or drive more efficient cars.

It's the same with climate change. There is absolutely no way that the personal behavior of a climate change activist or politician can affect the truth or falseness of a climate theory. None. This is a really obvious point. You might as well say that 2 + 2 might not equal 4, if the person who told you this is an asshole. I know that's not the kind of explicit point you were making, but if we take away the sarcasm and insinuations, we're left with the implicit equivalent. "Climate activists are hypocrites. Sceptics like me are not. Therefore I'm on the right side, even if it turns out I'm wrong."

And then there are the greedy generalizations you're using, as when you say that "those who scream the loudest about climate change are acting the most like people who don't believe in it". Is that so? What does that even _mean_? It's just words in a row. Is everyone who warns against climate change a hypocrite? Is there nobody who acts more like they don't believe in climate change then these activists? What about, hm, major polluters who don't believe in or care about climate change?

(Comment 3:)

Jan Haugland: "If you had a seismologist who said a huge earthquake was coming to his hometown tomorrow, but he made no move to get himself or his family out of harm's way, would that not give you room for pause?"

This brings us back to the first thing I asked about, which is whether the private jet trips and other unnecessary travels of climate activists can be said to affect the climate. If it does, then their still taking these trips makes it doubtful if they really believe what they're saying. But of course it does not. You might say that if only they would take the lead, others might follow, but that's shaky. I think if anyone hopes to significantly reduce for instance the amount of air travel in the world, or increase the fuel efficiency of cars, they must do it through legislation. Anything else is realistically not going to have any effect. And this is what they're doing - they're trying to pass laws. So that leaves us with hypocrisy as the only charge you can make. And that really is irrelevant to the truth of these theories.

And who are "they", anyway? You say that "the loudest doom proponents are not acting at all as if they believe it is true". Who are these proponents, specifically? If you're going to smear all the world's climate scientists, activists, and sympathetic politicians, and then use that smear to imply that they're all wrong, then a story about some UN conference is not enough. You must know as well as I do that there's no way you can actually support such a claim with relevant statistics. And even if you did, all you would prove is that "they" are all hypocrites. Not that they're wrong.

So let's drop this angle, and focus on the science. I'm interested to hear your views. I'm somewhat on the fence here. I know I'm not qualified to evaluate the theories, and I've overcome my eagerness to pick a side on every goddamn issue. If I was going to make a bet, I would place it on human-caused climate change, because it's the established theory, but not on any specific prediction about the consequences or the best way to act. I'll listen to anyone who argues reasonably - for I can still evaluate that, if not the specific facts. So far I've found that there are reasonable people on both sides, and also people who are not. That's part of why I'm cautious.

(Comment 4:)

Bob Hawkins: "They also wasted a decade pushing Kyoto, when their own models say that Kyoto would only marginal effect. If Kyoto is also a small hypocrisy that they ought to be allowed to get away with, then what of what they say or do is worth taking seriously?"

My understanding is that supporters see the Kyoto protocol as a first step. First you get everyone to talk and pull together, even if only with symbolic effects. Then you do something useful. How is that hypocritical? At worst, it was sold dishonestly, presented as a useful accomplishment in itself. So you can make an argument that some Kyoto supporters were elitists who believed they had the right to deceive people for a good cause. But you can't argue that they didn't "really" believe in their own climate change theories. That's beyond unsupported, it's silly. This whole angle is.

(Comment 5:)

Gunnar Hansen: Jan hits the nail on the head with his comparison to the earthquake predictor. We're not talking about science here. This so called "Climatology" is fundamentally different than all other sciences.

You and Jan are talking about different things. Jan is saying that people who claim to believe in human-caused global warming are hypocrites who don't even believe their own theories. You're saying climatology is bad science. You're making a factual claim. Jan's argument was personal, and extremely silly. I don't agree that all climate science is bad science, and I think there's a misconception of how science is supposed to work that people sometimes unfairly use against sciences they don't like. Anything beyond the falsification of hypothesises is Not Science and worthless. That's an interesting discussion in itself, the definition I like best is that "the scientific method, as far as it is a method, is nothing more than doing one's damnedest with one's mind, no holds barred". But I'll still listen to anyone who says that this is bad science. That's a valid angle. "They don't believe their own theories" is not, for the reasons I've explained above.

They attack skeptics personally, often attempting to discredit them by comparing their credentials with others, or resort to "well these other scientists disagree"

And this illustrates what, that "they" are wrong, or that "they" are arrogant? I'll grant you arrogance, at least for some. But if every theory that is sometimes presented with arrogance and exaggerated certainty is wrong, there'd be nothing left. And if every alternative theory that has been supported by ridiculed, self-described skeptics is right, we'd have to be believe in "everything". So this angle is a distraction. It can't prove anything, and it can't disprove anything. All it can do is give amateurs something to feel certain about.

Btw, Jan wrote a post about climate _science_ a few days ago. More of that, less of this.

(Comment 6:)

Gunnar Hansen: the fact that they predict an event, then do nothing to change their own behavior also tells us something about what they truly believe. Logic dictates that if one truly believed something was harming the earth, one would not do it.

You may call this logic, I call it absurd. If the climate scientists are correct, the effort it would take to stop or reverse the process would be enormous. We need laws and/or technological breakthroughs, not individual effort. One plane trip more or less is not going to make any difference, at most it is a question of setting a good example, not of whether anyone "genuinely" believes their own theories.

In the case of MMGW, no scientific basis, and flies in the face of common sense, but for the leaders, it answers the question 'how will the agenda of marxism be moved forward?'

My experience is that people who talk with such big and general words, and in such a style of absolute certainty as this, usually do not know their subject well enough to be trusted. Valuable knowledge tends towards the specific and uncertain. I make no claim to know much about global warming, but to confuse climate with weather, wave about Occam's razor like a sword, and accuse an entire scientific community of being part of a marxist conspiracy, is the sign of a crank.