Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Environment > Ignoring the elephant

Ignoring the elephant

February 3rd, 2010

My piece in Thursday’s Fin noted the prevalence of delusional conspiracy theories about climate change on the political right, pointing in particular to Lord Monckton, Nick Minchin and the Lavoisier Institute as sources for the claim that the whole thing was a plot to destroy the economy and bring in a communist world government. Among other points on the silliness of this claim, I observed that all credible economists agreed that the cost of measures to stabilise global climate (less than 5 per cent of GDP) on all estimates, did not appear sufficient for the catastrophic destruction required by the conspiracy theorists.

The piece attracted a couple of responses, one from the Lavoisier Institute and one from Sinclair Davidson (who has given Monckton plenty of favorable treatment on his blog, and his pushed conspiracy-theoretic views of the IPCC). Curiously, neither of them mentioned the conspiracy theories that were the main subject of the piece, and which Lavoisier has pushed for years.

Rather they cavilled at the point that the economic costs of an ETS or carbon tax would be marginal. Lavoisier’s Ray Evans did not offer a counterargument, but simply claimed that economists had been wrong when they said the effects of Thatcher’s 1981 Budget would be disastrous. Davidson accepted the standard estimates, but said that, if you converted them into present values at a low discount rate, they looked really big. He also made a spurious personal attack on me (reply over the fold).

This is just silly. Although Australia got off relatively lightly from the GFC, our national income is several percentage points below where it would have been in the absence of the crisis and is likely to remain below trend for some years to come. Has anyone noticed the collapse of civilisation as we know it? Even in countries like the UK, where the impact of the GFC has been many times the size of the maximum estimates put forward by economists for the cost of climate stabilization, many observers believe that the threat of imminent communist dictatorship and a return to the Dark Ages may yet be staved off.

As I said in my original piece, it is tempting to dismiss all this as mere hyperbole. But, for delusionists, the only alternative to crazy conspiracy theories is the claim that thousands of professional scientists have fallen prey to errors that can easily be discerned by the average (scientifically untrained, innumerate, information derived from blogs) rightwing pundit. Now that’s really crazy.

My response to Sinclair Davidson’s letter (which is republished here)

Sinclair Davidson claims (Letters, 2 Feb) that I was unable to summon the courage to debate Monckton face-to-face when invited to do so by the prestigious Brisbane Institute. This claim is false, as Davidson knows. As I indicated in the reports on which Davidson relies, I received an invitation from the Brisbane Institute on 12 January. I responded, seeking to determine conditions under which this debate could focus on Monckton’s conspiracy-theoretic claims, rather on scientific questions on which neither of us have any expertise. I also mentioned the invitation on my blog, observing that debates with dishonest antagonists don’t add much to the sum of human knowledge. I then discovered that, on 13 January, and without advising me, the Institute had invited another speaker, who had accepted. This fact was reported on my blog and in Crikey. Davidson has publicly acknowledged that he was aware of it when writing his letter.

Davidson’s dishonesty in this matter only goes to confirm the point made in my article. No credible economist suggests the economic impact of the CPRS will be more than marginal.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity, Environment Tags:
  1. melanie
    February 3rd, 2010 at 22:25 | #1

    I wish we could move on from this stupid stuff and actually discuss the merits of the CPRS/ETS. I was hugely disappointed in the previous Senate debate, that the Greens focused their attack on the delusionists rather than on the government scheme. As we all now know, if they’d voted with the govt, the scheme would be up and running – and subject to modification of targets and prices down the track. Are they just against any scheme that uses markets to achieve an outcome (do they want to abolish capitalism by parliamentary means)?

    Are we going to get more of the same in this go-round, or will the government at least be able to do a better PR job? Minchin must surely be silenced by the Mad Abbott (at least for the short term), so debating the scheme itself might genuinely be possible. However, I’m not confident of the numbers.

  2. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 3rd, 2010 at 22:26 | #2

    For what it is worth I broadly agree with your point about the cost of an ETS even whilst opposing it.

  3. Freelander
    February 3rd, 2010 at 22:44 | #3

    John, if people like Sinclair and Monckton were suddenly to be constrained by facts (like his knowledge that you were ‘uninvited’) they would be completely disarmed in spouting the nonsense they do.

    Being uber-individualists, in the fashion of a Randian hero (or is that a cheap Nietzsche superman knock-off) they are also unconstrained by any of the norms of decency and civilised behaviour.

  4. February 4th, 2010 at 00:22 | #4

    Davidson is searching for every opportunity to debunk the science of climate change even though he expresses an overall ambivalence to the science. Its a constant muck-raking exercise without sense or perspective. The underlying hypothesis of an underlying conspiracy always underlies the search for scandal. It is ludicrous. I wonder why he is so intent on bringing such discredit on himself and on what was once the half-decent Catallaxy blog.

    I noticed the deception about you piking it on the debate with Monkton. You are being overly generous in describing this as ‘Boneheaded stupidity’.

  5. February 4th, 2010 at 00:50 | #5

    What emissions trajectory counts as ‘stabilisation’ for you?

  6. Hermit
    February 4th, 2010 at 06:38 | #6

    I don’t think we need to use a discounting model but simply consider how we can get through the next twenty years with Peak Oil and demographic shifts. We also need shock proofing against possible ‘bombs’ like the bursting of the China bubble. It is highly prudent to put the economy on as sustainable a footing as possible. That precludes dependence on finite fossil fuels ie we need to decarbonize regardless of AGW.

    As for possible trajectories I’d need to check the numbers and remove some fudge factors. As a minimum we want 2020 emissions 25% less than 1990 levels. If we are now 30% (?) above 1990 levels that suggests we have to cut 2010 levels by more than 4% year on year for the next decade. The fact that trajectories are not expressed this way is another example of the jiggery pokery coming from the government. In any case increasing coal exports renders the whole exercise pointless from a global CO2 perspective.

  7. Hal9000
    February 4th, 2010 at 08:16 | #7

    @melanie
    “…if they’d voted with the govt, the scheme would be up and running”

    Not so. The government plus the Greens still requires Xenophon and Fielding for a majority, if the opposition opposes. Fielding’s position, insofar as it’s possible to say he has one, is located somewhere between Minchin and Monckton. This lineup is of course likely to change following the election (whether a double dissolution or a normal half-Senate election) later this year. While it is true that a couple of Libs crossed the floor in the end, this was in the secure knowledge their gesture would make no actual difference to the result. Had these mavericks’ votes been germane to the outcome, you can rest assured that they would have been coerced into the party line.

  8. Ernestine Gross
    February 4th, 2010 at 08:40 | #8

    Sinclair Davidson is plainly wrong when he writes:
    “John Quiggin does a magnificent job of destroying a straw man in his attack on Christopher Monckton (Tepid conspiracy theory” Source: Link in JQ’s post.

    John Quiggin did not destroy a straw man. He did destroy the central thesis of Monckton & Co. And he did so in an elegant manner. In a few lines John Quiggin showed Monckton to be not only a conspiracy theorist but a lousy one at that.

    There is nothing left to debate. (The Brisbane Institute seems to have understood this when they un-invited Professor Quiggin after he had signalled his topic.)

    It is Sinclair Davidson who introduces a red-herring, named strawman, to muddy the water unsuccessfully.

  9. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    February 4th, 2010 at 08:45 | #9

    Melanie, the Greens and Labor couldn’t have passed the scheme without Fielding and Xenophon as well.

  10. derrida derider
    February 4th, 2010 at 09:07 | #10

    True, Lord Downer***. But Xenophon would have voted for it and there’s no doubt at all that such legislation would have got a couple of Liberal senators crossing the floor. It would have got through, and furthermore Rudd would still have split the Liberals – which was probably his main aim all along.

    *** nice name. Mike Carlton had an hilarious mock “War Diaries of Lord Downer of Baghdad” going during the Iraq adventure.

  11. derrida derider
    February 4th, 2010 at 09:18 | #11

    PS John – the “boneheaded stupidity” classification is right. I can’t understand how people like Sinclair Davidson – professionally trained in a subject that purports to be a science – can be so willing to betray their intellectual standards.

    Sinclair, being a denialist doesn’t make you a daring iconoclast – to the contrary it makes you a conformist to wingnut tribal norms. Sometimes things are true even if Al Gore says they’re true.

  12. Freelander
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:00 | #12

    I just read Sinclair’s Update on Cataleprosy. Seems he has a Moncktonesque partiality for misrepresentation.

    Having intimated that JQ turned down the debate – “he was unable to summon the courage to debate Monckton face-to-face” (in his rewrite of his Fin Review letter) – Sinclair’s ‘update’ makes the claims that JQ’s “argument is that I have knowingly misrepresented the fact that he didn’t debate Monckton and this is further proof that no credible economists believe the CPRS will have more than a marginal impact.”

    With access to their own ‘facts’, their own rules of language, inference and acceptable behaviour, sensible debate with someone like Plimer or Monckton or his peerless imitator, Sinclair, seems pointless except for the purpose of entertainment.

    Unsurprisingly, given that JQ’s reputation hasn’t been built on his skills as an entertainer, he took a couple of days to weigh the costs and benefits of participating in a spectacle with two whose reputations are principally based on being spectacles.

    If the Brisbane Institute was ever ‘prestigious’ (Sinclair’s description), all prestige disappeared the moment they hosted the event.

  13. Fran Barlow
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:12 | #13

    @Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer

    Troeth is not running again and is somewhat of a liberal (as opposed to a Liberal) and may want something big to hang her hat on as she leaves.

  14. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:45 | #14

    Who cares if JQ turned down the debate because he is a scared cat or simply that he got uninvited. It seems like an irrelevant side issue.

  15. Fran Barlow
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:54 | #15

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    That’s rather snide Terje. You float the claim that PrQ is a scared cat without owning it and being prepared to defend it.

    Being unwilling to be a minor player in an intellectual flea circus that debases a serious policy issue doesn’t make PrQ anything but rational.

  16. gerard
    February 4th, 2010 at 11:54 | #16

    when I try to post a link to the Brisbane institute website my post gets blocked.

  17. gerard
    February 4th, 2010 at 11:57 | #17

    anyway, I just wanted to point out that they are claiming UQ is their primary sponsor, and the QLD government and Brisbane city council are their other sponsors.

    I want to know why public and university money is being put into this circus?

    Can’t they use private coal money instead?

    Will they be staging a “debate” between non-biologists on evolution vs creationism next?

    And John since you ought to be able to pull some weight at UQ, could you find out why they are sponsoring these douchenozzles?

  18. Ken Lovell
    February 4th, 2010 at 13:54 | #18

    The Brisbane Institute sponsors Online Opinion … enough said about intellectual rigour, I think. Presumably its mission is to promote dumb populism on the internet.

  19. Alex
    February 4th, 2010 at 14:54 | #19

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    What nonsense. Davidson told a bald faced lie, which goes to the heart of his (non-existent) credibility. Hardly a side issue.

  20. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 4th, 2010 at 15:38 | #20

    Fran – I have not accused JQ of being a scaredy cat. I accept his outline of why he is not part of the debate. However I don’t care either way and I don’t know why Sinclair or anybody else cares. It’s a spat between two professors but not of any material interest. Even if Sinclair was right I still wouldn’t care.

  21. Fran Barlow
    February 4th, 2010 at 15:58 | #21

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    You miss the point. You say you don’t care whether it is true or not, but you invite others to suppose that it is.

    Were I to say far be it from me to accuse Terje of being [something seriously derogatory] and I wouldn’t care even if he were because it is an irrelevant side issue you’d be entitled to insist I defend the claim or rescind the suggestion.

    This is disingenuous and snide. Either you think things are worth claiming or you don’t, and if you do, you defend them. The idea that PrQ is ill-equipped to defend his ideas intellectually from a bunch of dissemblers and side show freaks is not an irrelevant side issue, as you well know.

  22. Ernestine Gross
    February 4th, 2010 at 16:50 | #22

    @Fran Barlow

    Hear, hear! I agree with you on this one, Fran Barlow regarding Terje @20 and elsewhere. However, I wish you would not ply the same trade when it suits you (“…if I would have spoken aloud..” – which you did for all those who can read. Whether or not a statement is seriously derogatory or not is not of primary importance in academia. What matters is whether something is true – based on evidence or logical argument – or not).

  23. Donald Oats
    February 4th, 2010 at 17:37 | #23

    But how do you defend the indefensible? Well, if you are Monckton you just move straight onto the next quotable spiel and ignore any questions to the previous line. I mean, how would someone defend this claim

    A NASA satellite that would have measured atmospheric carbon dioxide with unprecedented accuracy fell into the Indian Ocean in February last year.

    NASA said the crash was ”extremely disappointing”. Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, dubbed the ”high priest of climate sceptics”, doubts the space agency meant it.

    ”Not greatly to my surprise – indeed I predicted it – the satellite crashed on take-off because the last thing they want is real world hard data,” he told a climate sceptics’ lunch in South Yarra yesterday.

    NASA understood that getting the satellite into orbit would have demonstrated ”the whole darn thing” – climate-change science – ”is nonsense”

    Especially if repeated in more than one sitting?

  24. Alicia
    February 4th, 2010 at 18:00 | #24

    Scenario: In the lift at work. A bloke from an insurance company leasing space in the building after commenting on the humidity at such an early hour (8:20am) and the oppressive, sleep-interfering overnight temps, confides in me that over the Xmas shutdown the temp in our building at some point exceeded 40 degrees and the 30+ goldfish in the tank in his office who’d survived ok up until now for the 35 years he’s had fish in tanks in non-airconditioned buildings in Sydney died en masse one day in December 2009.

    This experience, he stated, was the single most important reason he is now convinced indeed militant about agreeing with the majority consensus on AGW and climate change.

  25. Fran Barlow
    February 4th, 2010 at 18:19 | #25

    @Ernestine Gross

    However, I wish you would not ply the same trade when it suits you (“…if I would have spoken aloud..” – which you did for all those who can read.

    I’ve read this a couple of times but the reference eludes me.

    Whether or not a statement is seriously derogatory or not is not of primary importance in academia. What matters is whether something is true

    False opposition. Both are important, but each has a different type of significance. Here the claim that PrQ feared to debate underpins both the claim that a debate was possible and that PrQ recognised that his case was weak. It being unlikely that we can ever have definitve proof of PrQ’s sentiments had the Brisbane Institute not uninvited him, the suggestion hangs as a smear against PrQ or against the scientific case for CO2 mitigation.

    Had the claim been merely that PrQ had accepted but the acceptance had been mislaid by the organisers, this claim would have been untrue, but have said nothing at all on substantive matters.

  26. BilB
    February 4th, 2010 at 18:52 | #26

    You’d have to look back to the Lima agreement to attempt to find some ground plane for this nonsense.

    Not that I know much about this meeting but I understand that the upshot of this was that it was decided to feed production opportunities to China to try to woo them away from the communist flock. This was Gough Whitlam. Not malcolm Fraser.

    This was the kick off as far as Australia was concerned for opening up to world trade. Now that does not sound communist to me. Quite the opposite. In fact going down the list of leaders the “communist” leaning left have acted pedominately “right” in every aspect other than human rights and working conditions. (big broad brush generalisations think Rolf Harris). And the Right have been pushed to the extreme right to funnel wealth from the bottom to the top of the pyramid. More, the Right have consistently preferred to form strong associations. Think Malcolm Fraser Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and John Howard, George Bush and free ranging merchant banks.

    There is no communist conspiracy here. The Right/ Republican/ Conservatives got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and are now desperately trying to rewrite history to read as the contrary, as they do. They can’t blame the financial crisis on the Left because it was clearly (memories are still a little too fresh) their doing so they need something new, something big.

    A conspiracy of scientists as Lefty government pawns building global fear for a diversion to disguise world communist domination.

    Did the Republicans hire a “dream team” of Hollywood script writers slash publicists? Is their next election to be financed with royalties from the board game/movie/action figures/computer game////?

  27. paul walter
    February 4th, 2010 at 18:57 | #27

    Tend to agree with someof the criticisms of Melanies comment, as to the Greens as the problem rather than Labor or the delusionists.

    The idea was to introduce a scheme that dealt with a real world ecological problem; not for the Greens to legitimise thru the use of the Greens brand to booster precisely a scheme that deliberately scuttled genuine reform and in fact made the problem worse thru deliberate inaction, successfully passed off thru spin to the public as actual action.

  28. paul walter
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:02 | #28

    BTW, Alicia. Its true that most of us can discount global warming (what’s an ice cap melting,between friends, whern all is set and done!), but things are crook in Tallarook when a fellow’s goldfish kark it.
    After thirty five years, too…

  29. nanks
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:07 | #29

    @paul walter
    What was the genuine reform? – bogus policy to cover business as usual hardly seems reformist. All the talk about ‘be stupid now so we can be incrementally smarter later’ is fine when talking to people who have no concept of science and physical limits. Otherwise it is garbage.
    The Greens – flaws and all – are the only party who have been influenced by the last 100 years or so of science (other than of course spin psych). That’s not a good thing, but it is the way it is.

  30. BilB
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:11 | #30

    Paul,

    What you have said there is all Rhetorical gobbledegook. I say this because there is no realtime yard stick with which to compare approaches.

    And the problem here has been created by the economists who have failed to offer any meaningful measurement process for every non economist to make judgements by in an actual side by side by side comparison.

    Come on JQ. Give us some fairly definitive evaluation method for assessing the flodd of hypothasese floating around the media.

    By meaningful evaluation I mean factors such as

    Cost to households

    Overall system efficiency

    Emissions reductions time frame (not relative percentage of emissions, actual overall emissions reductions)

    Actual cost to the economy per year +/-

    What ever else makes real sense.

  31. Ernestine Gross
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:37 | #31

    Fran Barlow :@Ernestine Gross

    However, I wish you would not ply the same trade when it suits you (“…if I would have spoken aloud..” – which you did for all those who can read.

    I’ve read this a couple of times but the reference eludes me.

    Whether or not a statement is seriously derogatory or not is not of primary importance in academia. What matters is whether something is true

    False opposition. Both are important, but each has a different type of significance. Here the claim that PrQ feared to debate underpins both the claim that a debate was possible and that PrQ recognised that his case was weak. It being unlikely that we can ever have definitve proof of PrQ’s sentiments had the Brisbane Institute not uninvited him, the suggestion hangs as a smear against PrQ or against the scientific case for CO2 mitigation.
    Had the claim been merely that PrQ had accepted but the acceptance had been mislaid by the organisers, this claim would have been untrue, but have said nothing at all on substantive matters.

    1. Check your posts on the Monday Message Board (on Tuesday), 12 January 2009.
    2.a. You ignore a ranking (“primary”).
    2b. We don’t need “definitive proof of PrQ’s sentiments because Prof. Quiggin ruled out debating ‘the scientific case for CO2 mitigation’ (JQ, “Clarification…12 January 2009) and he did publish in the Fin Review exactly what he had foreshowed he would debate with Monckton and he published the full argument. (The method used does not require 2 people exchanging words. Frustrating as it may be for deconstructionists, it is a very effective method.)

  32. Alice
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:52 | #32

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    You know damn well why Prof Quiggin didnt end up debating that (monkey’s rear end) Monckton Terje.
    It was because he asked all of us in here what we thought and many of us said…

    Dont bother to flatter the idiots with your presence JQ…it lacks dignity and… you dont give the charlatans air play…

    In the meantime while we were here giving JQ the good advice not to sully his reputation…the institute went desperately (desperately….!!!!!) scrounging for someone they thought they could hook to debate this monkey.

    They found it in Barry Brook who did the science no justice at all (because the consensus was he was a lousy debater) but even so…he shouldnt have bothered. Charlatans are not necessarily stupid but they are still quacks. No decent academic or scientist whould waste time on antagonists that are just plainly and simply obstructing human adcancement and progress.

    Terje – you have shown yourself many times in here to be siding with the lunatics and I dont care how polite you happen to be about it…but your snide little remarks about JQ being a scared cat are just obnoxious (as is your support for climate change denialists).

    We know who you root for Terje and it isnt good. Its pathetic.

  33. Fran Barlow
    February 4th, 2010 at 19:55 | #33

    @Ernestine Gross

    I’ve just checked my messages (there were several) on 12/1/09 and can find none that are structurally similar to Terje’s effort above. Perhaps you should point me to the one in question.

    Which is “primary” is not the question. It’s a matter of the quality of the claim.

  34. Ernestine Gross
    February 4th, 2010 at 20:35 | #34

    @Fran Barlow

    1. Yes, I know you wrote many messages. You’ll just have to carefully read through all of them. It’ll take longer than 2 or 3 minutes.

    2.a In long hand: Your claim of ‘false opposition’ @25 is false because you ignore the ranking (“primary”) with respect to the stated context.

    I take it that your sentence: “It’s a matter of the quality of the claim”, is your way of saying that you accept my 2.b.

  35. paul walter
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:06 | #35

    Since I posted last at least a couple of fellow bloggers have felt the need to query aspects of my comment. To tell the truth, am not sure what either Nanks or Bilb are getting at, as Nanks statement echoes just my point about Labor; serious reform stymied under a welter of spin.
    And I say good on the Greens (as the only party that has taken notice of science!!) for not legitimising the lie inherent in the legislation.
    But compared to our marsupial friend, Nanks is no problem.
    Particularly when his previous comment, #26 seemed to express such a rational line.
    For Bilb has contented himself with little more than an ad hominem grunt (“rhetorical”…WTF?), followed by a whack of grousing about why every one can’t just reduce terms and substance of the conversation to a monosyllabic idiocy that could only reduce the comprehension of the issue and its backgound to the point of improbability.
    Bilb.
    I share your concern at the refusal of mass media and politicians to fess up as to the real state of ecological play on this planet. I also beleive that this is deliberate obfuscation..
    People like Quiggin are trying to help us learn the esoterica and jargon precisely to prepare voters to see thru the BS.
    But people have got to throw off the media shackles and start getting interested in reality if not there own, then for their kids sake
    And if that means no parquetry for the conservatory floor this year, or club med, or one less botox, tough tits and about time the public shook off its consumerist hangover and got real about life’s issues, even if only belatedly.

  36. wilful
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:11 | #36

    Ernestine, it’s really frigging boring to dig up that old crap. I recall what you are referring to, and you are a) completely off base, your interpretation is only held by you and one other person here, b) really old news and irrelevant, and you’re trying to re-fight the same old tired battle that dind’t go anywhere. What’s next, call me confused because I still don’t have or want airconditioning?

    Can I suggest you lay off the petty irrelevant bickering over what Fran may or may not have typed three weeks ago?

    Though more generally everyone, please take your hand off it, I’m sure terje, who’s been here a long time and been perfectly civil for many years, can be taken at his word and accepts Pr Quiggin’s version of events. Why you need to try and find fault in him in every post just because his economics are nutty is beyond me.

    A couple of new psoters here in the past several months are really ruining this blog for me. Sniping and dragging in debates from other sites, other threads, it’s really boring to wade through the bitchiness.

  37. Louis Hissink
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:14 | #37

    JQ wrote:
    “My piece in Thursday’s Fin noted the prevalence of delusional conspiracy theories about climate change on the political right, pointing in particular to Lord Monckton, Nick Minchin and the Lavoisier Institute as sources for the claim that the whole thing was a plot to destroy the economy and bring in a communist world government. Among other points on the silliness of this claim, I observed that all credible economists agreed that the cost of measures to stabilise global climate (less than 5 per cent of GDP) on all estimates, did not appear sufficient for the catastrophic destruction required by the conspiracy theorists.”

    This is a non sequitur

  38. nanks
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:16 | #38

    @paul walter
    paul I think your comment was more ambigious than you noticed. i have re-read in the light of your response and can see your interpretation – but to me the easiest interpretation is one that criticises the Greens. Still, I get where you are coming from now and agree

  39. Ernestine Gross
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:23 | #39

    @wilful

    What is the elephant that is igored?

  40. paul walter
    February 4th, 2010 at 21:47 | #40

    Thanks, Nanks.
    Terje P, #20;
    “…its a spat between two academics but not of any material interests”.
    Firstly, it is difficult to say that an issue that effects the survival of the species is” not of any material interest”.
    Secondly, it is not a debate between two academics, if the term academic is to have any meaning. It is an exchange between a hired gun think tank hack (Sinclair Davidson) and a genuine academic, Quiggin. But Alex explained it well enough at #19, so no need to continue further here.

  41. Alice
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:09 | #41

    @paul walter
    Sinclair Davidson is yet another “stink” tank hack Paul Walter. Exactly. So many immoral unethical people acting as paid mouthpieces to deliberately distort and twist the facts for self gain. Yes, the distinction between he and JQ rather a big overlook by Fran (intentional?).

  42. Alice
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:11 | #42

    @wilful
    Wilful – I found your dummy on the floor. Would you like it back? Ernestines posts I find perfectly reasonable.

  43. February 4th, 2010 at 22:15 | #43

    Davidson is not in the same league as Quiggin, but he’s a “genuine academic” alright. They don’t give out professorships to just anyone, you know.

    As you were.

  44. Freelander
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:25 | #44

    @Louis Hissink

    I don’t follow your comment. The statement you quote makes perfect sense to me.

    One of the preconditions for the absurd conspiracy theory (that the AGW ‘hoax’ was invented to destroy the economy) to be at all believable would appear to be that addressing the ‘supposed’ problem would ‘destroy the world economy’. Pointing out that addressing AGW would not, by a very wide margin, seems a perfectly sensible point to make.

    What exactly is your problem (with it) ?

  45. Alice
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:26 | #45

    @Jarrah
    I would suggest to you Jarrah that RMIT isnt exactly known as one of the best universities in this country (where Sinclair davidson got his phd) and he is far more prolific writing opionion pieces for IPA than his published works in journals most of which he has authored with others. The academic title for Davidson has some large question marks as to his objectivity.

  46. John Quiggin
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:28 | #46

    Calm down everyone, and don’t feed trolls like Louis Hissink

  47. Alice
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:31 | #47

    @Jarrah
    Sometimes they do give out professorships to people who then go on to abuse the title..Plimer is a case in point…a Professorship should be revokable on questionable “non objective” behaviour for self interest and monetary gain. In many public sector positions behaviour such as this for personal reward could be referred to the ICAC. Many other qualifications can be revoked for inappropriate behaviour not fitting the position (but then these days unis ignore scandals if it means money is flowing in).
    We get what we dont pay for…shoddy academics and shoddy qualifications.

  48. nanks
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:35 | #48

    @Alice
    RMIT has some quality centres – spatial information architecture for example

  49. Freelander
    February 4th, 2010 at 22:40 | #49

    Jarrah :
    Davidson is not in the same league as Quiggin, but he’s a “genuine academic” alright. They don’t give out professorships to just anyone, you know.

    Well they do, you know.
    And this is one of many areas where your tax dollars are being wasted.

    They have done so ever since and as part of the inauguration of the ‘Dawkins’ revolution. (Remember him, John Dawkins) That is one of the reasons why, the possession of a degree and a university education has become a complete joke. At least Australia has turned the whole thing into a money making export industry – giving worthless pieces of paper to foreign students for considerable recompense. Nowadays, a degree and a university education are the ultimate consumer goods. One is no longer a fully clothed adult without them. Occasionally some of these students actually learn something worthwhile. Also, while they are ‘learning’ they stay out of the unemployment statistics.

  50. BilB
    February 4th, 2010 at 23:16 | #50

    The reason why I said that, Paul, is that so much of the discussion conducted around the CPRS and other systems is reduced to chess piece like key word symbols moved around an idealised playing field, but in this game the pieces are not meaningfully defined. And the reason for this vagueness is that there is an invisible playing piece dubbed “the Market”, and the effectiveness of “the market” cannot be assumed other than it will perform better than any other piece. And just as Chess has only symbolic connection to the affairs of Kingdoms, this debate game has failed to connect to real lives in any meaningful way. Hence the publics disconnect with it. We can wax on forever in this manner but nothing will ever be achieved.

    The good thing that happened recently is that IPART (the independent pricing advisory body to the electricity industry in NSW) actually put a value on the power of “the market”. With that the whole CPRS device became visible and determinable from an everyday point of view.

    What we need is for these various models to be defined with a common set of parameters in a way that they can be meaningfully compared in an every person sense when loaded with everyday values. We’ve pushed the pieces around the board long enough. Keeping the discussion in this ethereal form gives succour to the Moncktons, Joyces, and the Abbotts, because the pieces that they bring to the game, however ineffective and deformed they maybe, serve to devalue the game and delay its conclusion. It is time to demystify, time to quantify, time to choose a path, time to get on with it.

  51. paul walter
    February 5th, 2010 at 00:12 | #51

    Thanks for considered, constructive reply BilB.
    I reckon its the same game with economics and pol economy- slippage thru emphasis on elastic and elusive key terms. Or its because people like Sinclair Davidson know full well what’s being asked, when a person asks “what is the environment?” or “what is the economy?”.
    That’s why I support Alice’s questioning of Davidsons motives, if he be as well-educated as some say. After all, these life and issues are surely treated in good faith, aren’t they?

    Back to the ErnestineGross question asked at#39, “what is the elephant that is ignored?”.
    My answer would be to suggest, the elephant facing you rather than the other way…

  52. Grim
    February 5th, 2010 at 00:31 | #52

    Does it matter, just for the sake of accuracy, that two liberal senators – Judith Troeth and Sue Boyce – did actually cross the floor in the Senate vote on the ETS on 2nd Dec 2009, and that therefore, had the Greens supported the legislation it would have already been passed ?

  53. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 5th, 2010 at 07:49 | #53

    Fran – I was not being snide. Others have suggested that John Quiggin was avoiding debate because he was afraid and I was commenting on this. You perhaps missed this context because you have not read the corresponding Catallaxy articles.

    For what it is worth I have not formed the view that John Quiggin was afraid to engage in debate. His reasons for not being in the debate seem perfectly reasonable to me. On the other hand the debating tactics he proposed suggest to me he would not have been a particularily worthwhile choice.

  54. Michael
    February 5th, 2010 at 08:01 | #54

    TerjeP (say tay-a) :
    On the other hand the debating tactics he proposed suggest to me he would not have been a particularily worthwhile choice.

    Some might say the TerjeP doesn’t like the admit when he is wrong. I however I doubt this is try, even though he might drop in a phrase like the one above without elaborating.

  55. Michael
    February 5th, 2010 at 08:03 | #55

    TerjeP (say tay-a) :
    On the other hand the debating tactics he proposed suggest to me he would not have been a particularily worthwhile choice.

    OMG…. lets try that again whilst not trying to do three things at once….
    Some might say that TerjeP doesn’t like to admit when he is wrong. I however doubt this is true, even though he might drop in a phrase like the one above without elaborating.

  56. February 5th, 2010 at 10:52 | #56

    @Alice
    “RMIT isnt exactly known as one of the best universities in this country (where Sinclair davidson got his phd)”

    Third in Victoria, tenth in Australia.

    @Freelander
    “Well they do, you know.”

    What’s your professorship in, then? And where’s mine? Although I understand there has been some degree/title inflation over recent years.

  57. wilful
    February 5th, 2010 at 11:20 | #57

    Alice :
    @wilful
    Wilful – I found your dummy on the floor. Would you like it back? Ernestines posts I find perfectly reasonable.

    Precisely the non-contribution that I anticipated from you Alice. Far more interested in the personalities than the ideas, you are.

  58. Jim Birch
    February 5th, 2010 at 14:44 | #58

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    FWIW your comment was clear to me. I wouldn’t have expected you to use the term “scared cat” without irony.

  59. jquiggin
    February 5th, 2010 at 17:02 | #59

    Alice, you are derailing the threads. Please take a break for a week.

  60. John Coochey
    February 5th, 2010 at 17:24 | #60

    So, given the opportunity under a sensibly moderator. will you face him? Yes or no?

  61. John Coochey
    February 5th, 2010 at 17:25 | #61

    Sorry did I miss the Lavoisier response? Where is it?

  62. jquiggin
    February 5th, 2010 at 17:44 | #62

    @John Coochey
    I said, quite some time ago, that I’m happy to debate Monckton’s conspiracy theories, including the latest claim that NASA sabotaged their own satellite. If it’s too late for Monckton, I’m equally happy to debate Plimer on the same points.

    Lavoisier was in the Fin, last Friday I think.

  63. Tony G
    February 5th, 2010 at 18:36 | #63

    JQ Said;

    “Calm down everyone, and don’t feed trolls like Louis Hissink”

    John, with respect, the bulk of your posts are either an exercise in trolling or propaganda for the politburo. It is the custom of such bureaus not to want opposing ideologies promoted. Accordingly, can you spell out this policy of yours more clearly by updating the ‘discussion policy’ to include ‘that no opposing views will be tolerated’.

  64. paul walter
    February 5th, 2010 at 18:41 | #64

    Look, you are all missing the point as to Davidson and his ilk.
    Its not his education that is the issue, as I said above, but its the betrayal in spirit and praxis of that education anf its philosophy, pointing to a credibility damaging character deficiency, that critics like Alice have examined.
    Thinking on it, very much like Socrates against the Sophists
    But had better not comment too much further, esp my feisty friend Alice, but instead in flight recall Aristotle’s flight from Athens, lest it “sin twice against philosophy” (given what had happened to Socrates).

  65. paul walter
    February 5th, 2010 at 18:43 | #65

    Tony G, cant you for just once attempt a intelligent, reality-based response to a thread, focussing on the topic, instead of using a given topic to feed your McCarthyite fantasies?

  66. Freelander
    February 5th, 2010 at 18:47 | #66

    Tony G :
    … no opposing views will be tolerated’.

    Explain the toleration of your post(s) then?

  67. Tony G
    February 5th, 2010 at 18:53 | #67

    Paul @ 15 It is “focussing on the topic”

    “many observers believe that the threat of imminent communist dictatorship and a return to the Dark Ages may yet be staved off. ”

    If we do point out the threat it won’t be “staved off. “

  68. Alice
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:34 | #68

    @Tony G

    “If we do point out the threat it won’t be “staved off. “

    A) On communism: whatever threat existed was “staved off” half century ago. Get over it. The only enemy the liberals have these days is their own lunacy and the voters they have turned off.

    You really are an idiot Tony G.

  69. paul walter
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:49 | #69

    Well, Tony G, it will only be “staved off” if Posse Comitatus and Aryan Nation can discover where the hidden Soviet Divisions hidden in the mountains of Montana are discovered.
    BTW, who exactly is the Weet-Bix you appear to be quoting, re “dark ages”?

  70. Tony G
    February 5th, 2010 at 21:46 | #70

    If Australia cuts emissions by 100%, carbon in the atmosphere will still increase by 1.5ppm pa.

    So, if it the ETS isn’t a commie plot what is its objective?

  71. Tony G
    February 5th, 2010 at 21:52 | #71

    “Dark Ages ”

    The ‘Weet-Bix’ is JQ above post; par 4; last line

  72. Alex
    February 5th, 2010 at 22:04 | #72

    @Tony G
    it’s called irony. You’re not really that dim are you?

  73. Stephen L
    February 5th, 2010 at 22:15 | #73

    Melanie (way back at the start). You’re right that the Greens voting for the ETS would have meant it passed, assuming the two Liberals would still have done so if their votes mattered.

    However, if you look at the proposals Senator Milne put up, they’re far more free market than the ETS itself. The main reason the Greens voted against was that the advice they were given was that once passed in the format proposed it would be very hard to improve for at least ten years, including any tightening of targets. Penny Wong denied this in parliament, but I’ve never seen a detailed response refuting it. There were plenty of other reasons the Greens didn’t like it, most notably the huge compensation to big polluters, but I think all of those might possibly have been swallowed if it looked like something that could be improved with time.

  74. John Coochey
    February 9th, 2010 at 16:03 | #74

    Seems someone is prepared to debate the Big M in Melbourne. Here is your chance Johno, last chance for glory if you dare, I note one of the people who faced him, Readfearn, has now resigned from a job he had had for several years. That must have been a hell of a kicking he got but at least he did the right thing, even his own paper said he lost in “three straight sets”.

  75. jquiggin
    February 9th, 2010 at 16:35 | #75

    I already said I’d debate him on his conspiracy theories. I found out that, as soon as they suckered Barry Brook into debating in my place, the Brisbane Institute went back to the rigged format they offered me. No wonder the pro-science side lost. The fact that loons can win debates when the deck is stacked ought to be familiar to Plimer at least – the creationists cleaned the floor with him back in the 1990s.

    But debating skills don’t matter here. Anyone who believes, as Monckton does , that NASA is sabotaging its own satellites to keep secret the truth about the global conspiracy for communist world government is a loon, and anyone who believes him, as you obviously do, is an idiot.

  76. Tony G
    February 9th, 2010 at 16:47 | #76

    Anybody who is proposing a new great big tax on everything and saying it is going to stop carbon increasing in the atmosphere at the rate 1.5ppm per year is lying, a loon and an idiot.

  77. jquiggin
    February 9th, 2010 at 16:53 | #77

    Tony, I think everyone reading your contributions to this and many previous discussions can tell who is an idiot here. I don’t see any value in taking this further, so I’ll declare this thread closed.

Comments are closed.