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Crop circles and contrarians

April 26th, 2009

Back in the 1990s, before the Internet created the self-sustaining parallel universe now inhabited by Republicans and their sympathisers, the task of casting doubt on climate science fell to a group of thinktanks and lobby groups. The most active was the Global Climate Coalition, funded by an array of industry groups, notably including motor and oil companies. Since climate delusions never die, a large number of the factoids now circulating among those who absurdly refer to themselves as “skeptics” can be traced back to the GCC and its FUD machine.

As reported by the New York Times, a recent court case allows us a peek behind the curtain at the (now-disbanded GCC). It turns out that even as the Global Climate Coalition was promoting delusional claims, its own scientists were advising that they would not stand up to scrutiny.

You might think that a chapter-and-verse demonstration of how the trick was performed might shock some self-styled “sceptics” into the realisation that they had displayed credulous gullibility. But at this point delusionists are like believers in alien-generated crop circles. It doesn’t matter if the tricksters who made the circles confess, and even show how it was done. As George Bush might have said of these guys “Fool them once, and they stay fooled”.

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  1. Skepticked
    April 28th, 2009 at 14:56 | #1

    old growth forests continue to accumulate carbon

    They can’t do it forever. Simple fizziks.

    Why is population growth stupid? The more humans there are, the more smart humans there are. The more smart humans there are the more technological problems get solved, and the closer we get to intergalactic colonization when these trifling concerns over sustainability will no longer be important for the continuation of the human race.

  2. jquiggin
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:16 | #2

    #48 Thanks, Tony G for presenting the anti-science view at its clearest. The fact that indigenous communities have severe social problems is presented as evidence in a discussion of climate science. And of course with a gratuitous overlay of racism. You can get the same from Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and the rest, but rarely quite as clear-cut.

    For these guys, there is, quite simply, no truth, only ideology.

  3. Salient Green
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:16 | #3

    #51 ROFLOL! you got me thinking you were reasonable and now my hopes for you are dashed completely. Cruel.

  4. Skepticked
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:19 | #4

    #53 My tongue was in cheek (mostly).

    (there is a case to be made for a big first-world population that can push along technological development. I believe technology is the solution to the rapacious human appetite).

  5. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:22 | #5

    Skepticked says#51 “Why is population growth stupid? The more humans there are, the more smart humans there are.”

    The more rats you crowd in the one cage, the more they eat themselves too Skepticked, dumb or smart rats.

  6. Tony G
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:23 | #6

    “The fact that indigenous communities have severe social problems is presented as evidence in a discussion of climate science.”

    I didn’t bring the subject up.

    “no truth, only ideology”

    The truth is staring you in the face if you want to go outside and look for it. Everybody is racist including you PQ.

  7. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:26 | #7

    I believe technology and job replacement is also part of the reason for rapacious unemployed humans. It drives me mad that CCAmatil can make Australia’s entire bottled and canned drink supply and half of some Asian markets from one robot factory in Victoria, get massive economies of scale and shove everything else of the shelves. What do I care about the price if Im an unemployed bottling factory worker. I wouldnt buy them on principle. And of the profits? Which tax haven?

  8. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:31 | #8

    Ill wait for the next argument. The unemployed bottling factory worker being equiped with perfect labour mobility has magically turned into fleet footed gazelle where he bounds off to a brand new career after twenty years at the bottling factory, some distance far far away where he becomes a famous opera singer.

    Sure. Perfect ability to get a new perfect job in a new perfect market. Shame about the almost grey hair.

  9. Skepticked
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:32 | #9

    The more rats you crowd in the one cage, the more they eat themselves too Skepticked, dumb or smart rats.

    I think we’re ok for a while. I don’t see the Hong Kongians eating one another, and we’re not even close to Hong Kong density globally.

    I believe technology and job replacement is also part of the reason for rapacious unemployed humans.

    In principle yes. But in practice technology has had a surprisingly minor impact on unemployment. A lot of low-paid manufacturing jobs have migrated to the service sector, where they can buy more manufactured stuff on the same wage because their previous job is now performed by an even cheaper robot. Win-win.

    Of course eventually nearly everyone will be redundant, but we’re not close to that state either.

  10. gerard
    April 28th, 2009 at 15:54 | #10

    @53

    #51 ROFLOL! you got me thinking you were reasonable and now my hopes for you are dashed completely.

    Skepticked has already admitted to being a teabagger. Why would you have had any hopes?

  11. Skepticked
    April 28th, 2009 at 16:00 | #11

    It is odd to me that the left have adopted such a sexually graphic denigration for tea parties (definition 2 is the sense in which the left are using the term).

  12. gerard
    April 28th, 2009 at 16:35 | #12

    that’s not a new definition by any means, and the choice of name just goes to show that the teabagging party organizers (i.e. Fox News Channel) aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. To say nothing of their audience.

  13. Salient Green
    April 28th, 2009 at 16:35 | #13

    Gerard, I didn’t know he was a teabagger and I wish I didn’t read the definitions. I’m going to drink coffee until the image fades or I learn to live with it. Zen and the art of teabagging.

  14. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 16:44 | #14

    Cuppa anyone? Ill take mine green. Its full of “ANTI” oxidants!

  15. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 16:49 | #15

    Skepticked. You need a filter for your definition of tea. Salient and I are recovering from the bad taste.

  16. Salient Green
    April 28th, 2009 at 18:06 | #16

    Thanks Alice, a nice cup of ‘Green’ tea has done more good than an hour of meditating.

    Now, where were we?

    Skepticked, I think we are quite clever enough already. What we need is to use our cleverness more wisely and go forward with a far better balance of the two than we (and I mean humanity in general and you in particular) have shown thus far.

    Forget space travel. Intergalactic? Won’t happen. The nearest star even is many human lifetimes away. Trashing this planet because we can move to another is not an option. Some of us tend to think we have already trashed it to a degree.

    Stop thinking that the Earth is expendable. Start thinking of it as tiny island in a huge ocean. You depend on the island and its biological and physical resources for your survival and if you treat it wrong you are going to suffer and you can’t go to another until you can live out on the ocean for 50 generations.

  17. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 28th, 2009 at 18:18 | #17

    Deforestation actually enhances the earth’s sequestration capacity An old-growth forest is essentially carbon-neutral, so can’t help you remove CO2. Chopping it down, turning the wood into furniture or buildings, and planting a new forest will sequester CO2.

    Cutting down a forest and then allowing a new forest to grow should not be refered to as deforestation. Cutting a forest down and creating a dairy farm is deforestation. Cutting a forest down and building a car park is deforestation. Cutting down a forest and then flooding the land as part of a dam is deforestation. However cutting a forest down and then letting the forest grow back is not deforestation. The correct term for cutting down a forest and then letting it grow back again is forestry. And forestry must be one of the most eco-friendly forms of commercial land use available.

  18. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 19:19 | #18

    Terje – a forest of fast growing pine just doesnt have the biodiversity of an old growth forest. its not just the trees. Its the whole balance and interaction of many life forms we are destroying in some places. Its the run off, the fauna, the little and big plants that heave developed Darwinian style. Can we not do better than erasing large scale forests and replanting with rows of pine. Some areas need to be off limits. Its about protection of species too. Its not just about running over stuff because someone can make a buck (usually a large scale buck) and then justify it by saying – well we will replant (and harvest) and replant (and harvest). That means running over the planet in the name of production. Far better we say – packaging? We dont need it. Dont make it. Its only used to advertise anayway in most cases and thats why we are running over forests. We need to seriously kick the packaging habit and that means kicking many manufacturers.

  19. Ikonoclast
    April 28th, 2009 at 19:31 | #19

    TerjeP, the history of forestry world-wide has been one of massive deforestation. Forests are rarely restored or even allowed to “grow back”. By the way, it would take about 500 years for a true forest to grow back to maturity. That is assuming that the character of the land and the local micro-climates and regional climates had not been changed pretty much permanently by mass deforestation.

    No matter how much foresters claim to be felling selectively and sustainably, I see no evidence of it. Clear-felling in broad swathes is the order of the day. Have a look at the clear-felled patches in Imbil State Forest on Google Maps (while bearing in mind that Queensland’s state forests are only remnant patches in themselves).

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&q=imbil&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&gl=au&ei=YMv2ScG0EZiHkQWM7sjSCg&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1

  20. Ikonoclast
    April 28th, 2009 at 19:36 | #20

    PS. To see the patches I mean you will have to zoom in about 3 to 5 k south of Yabba Creek Road. There are other patches in other locations.

  21. Alice
    April 28th, 2009 at 19:41 | #21

    JQ – isnt it interesting? Exxon Mobil dropped its financial support of this group the Global Climate Coalition (AGW contrarians. Yet they were still busy supporting this group in 1997 and 2002 when one of their Mobil execs ran it. That was ten or 11 years AFTER the Exxon Mobil disaster. Per Wiki – “The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989.”

    It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur at sea…. caused by drunk not given enough time off duty before the sail (the ship was on autopilot).

    “Prince William Sound’s remote location (accessible only by helicopter and boat) made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region was a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The vessel spilled 10.8 million U.S. gallons (about 40 million litres) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the sea, and the oil eventually covered 11,000 square miles (28,000 km2) of ocean.[2]”

    There was Exxon Mobil fighting against climate change and funding an AGW fraud science group 11 years later. Some organisations will always have a filthy reputation because they are filthy.

  22. gerard
    April 28th, 2009 at 22:04 | #22

    caused by drunk not given enough time off duty before the sail (the ship was on autopilot).

    that’s what exxon wants you to believe. actually the reason it crashed was because exxon didn’t want to spend the money to fix the ship’s radar system, which had been busted since its first voyage.

    http://www.gregpalast.com/stick-your-damn-hand-in-it-20th-birthday-of-the-exxon-valdez-lie/

  23. April 29th, 2009 at 00:05 | #23

    “peer-reviewed journals. Otherwise, accept the results of those who’ve done the work as the only reasonable basis for policy.”

    Yet another load of twaddle MrQ, One million peer reviewed papers a year, and they are all correct becasue they “have done the work”?

    Thats not science MrQ its fariy tales. Ill let you get back to your models and bell curves.

  24. Skepticked
    April 29th, 2009 at 06:18 | #24

    #62 – #66: The term “teabagging” was applied as a derogatory term by the left MSM in the US (specifically, not Fox News). The events themselves are always called “tea parties” after the famous Boston Tea Party.

  25. Skepticked
    April 29th, 2009 at 06:29 | #25

    RE #66:

    Skepticked, I think we are quite clever enough already.

    Why thankyou.

    But seriously, why do you think that? Human technology has barely begun. All the best stuff is still to come.

    Forget space travel. Intergalactic? Won’t happen.

    How casually you destroy my younger-self’s dreams… Cruel, so cruel.

    Trashing this planet because we can move to another is not an option. Some of us tend to think we have already trashed it to a degree.

    We’ve completely trashed it already. That’s why I find this whole sustainability gig so implausible. Look around – how much of the earth is not drastically impacted by humans? Roads, buildings, agriculture, mining, etc etc.

    Tinkering around the edges is not going to make a jot of difference. Either the earth has the carrying capacity to cope with humanity’s current behavior, or we’re all doomed anyway. The evidence is very much in favor of the former, not the latter.

  26. Alice
    April 29th, 2009 at 06:46 | #26

    72# Oh thanks for that Gerard

  27. Alice
    April 29th, 2009 at 21:30 | #27

    Sean#73 says
    “Thats not science MrQ its fariy tales. Ill let you get back to your models and bell curves.”

    OK so we should all just take Jen Maro’s word for the state of the environment (which is rosy) with no research at all eh (Jen doesnt do any)? Lets just buy a subscription to the IPA and re-engineer our own minds to receive the “stream of consciousness” style which tells us to believe that all science is wrong, all peers are not experts, all peer reviewed journals are really a left wing conspiracy and all science and all scientific method is bad science.

    What an incredible relief Sean – neither you or I have to think any more. The freedom of it all!!. I can see why it appeals to libertarians. Freedom from thinking! We can just tune out, turn off and drop out of academic debates entirely! Come to think of it – a few lines of dogma from IPA will get you out of a scientific debate as well. We dont need no ejucation!

    (irony all the way).

  28. jquiggin
    April 29th, 2009 at 22:04 | #28

    “all peers are not expert”

    Except of course, their favourite peer, Lord Monckton.

  29. Alice
    April 29th, 2009 at 22:16 | #29

    Oh someone has whipped that link out JQ!

    Oh as for Lavoisier — ewwww, money money money. One of their directors used to be at the golden table at Mayne Nickless. I used to work for them. Shame they ran MN into the ground with pipedream expansions shortly before the 91 recession, or he might still be gainfully employed. The execs at MN did expect silver service and King Island cheeses plus all afternoon in the corporate boardroom in Melbourne – must have got a bit lazy I think. Now he appears be consulting for the Lavoisier group and a bit desperate for his old lifestyle. Why else would he bother ($$ for retirement not necessary).

  30. Alice
    April 30th, 2009 at 10:00 | #30

    Lord Monckton apparently has been nicknamed the “climate clown.”

  31. Red Collie
    May 1st, 2009 at 22:01 | #31

    Concerning your extended analogy to “crop circles”, it is true that two old guys “confessed” to making 1000′s of such pictures all across England, late at night while no one was looking, yet never getting caught.

    But when asked to make a crop circle of their own under media scrutiny, they were completely unable to do so. It looked like a drunk had been wandering around.

    And the very place where most crop circles appear, near Avebury and Silbury Hill, was a location they had never visited.

    “True knowledge is much easier pretended to than acquired” (John Locke, 1690).

  32. May 4th, 2009 at 11:16 | #32

    Wow, a talking dog!

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