Home > #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media, Science > The Mail on Sunday’s own goal for delusionism

The Mail on Sunday’s own goal for delusionism

October 4th, 2013

I’ve been struck by the fairly straight reporting of the IPCC Working Group 1 report on the physical science of climate change. Even Graham Lloyd at the Oz could find only one para for delusionist Benny Peiser[1] in his report, headlined “Science solid on global warming, IPCC declares“. What happened to the much anticipated delusionist counterattack?

I think we have the Daily Mail to thank for the no-show. As readers will recall, the Mail ran a story by David Rose under the headline “‘World’s top climate scientists confess: Global warming is just HALF what we said”. This was obviously absurd, and the Mail was forced to retract, but not before the story had been circulated throughout the denialosphere, notably including Bolt, the Oz, and the Torygraphs (both UK and Oz). The Oz eventually retracted, but Bolt didn’t bother. This misfire made it pretty much impossible to get much traction out of the modest adjustments that were actually contained in the report, such as reducing the lower bound estimate of climate sensitivity to 1.5 degrees (it was increased from 1.5 degrees to 2.0 degrees in the Fourth Assessment Report0

What’s interesting here is the fact that such obvious nonsense as Rose’s article got such a credulous reception. The idea that estimates of warming since 1950 could be out by a factor of two, or that a few years of additional data could change them substantial is entirely implausible, and a “confession of error” unsupported by a quote ought to raise alarm bells. Multiple levels of stupidity are needed to explain this. First, the majority of delusionists are simply innumerate, and ignorant of the most basic facts about data (we saw this with the claims about “no significant warming” since 1993). Second, the confirmation bias that affects everyone is magnified to a pathological extent in the parallel universe created by the right. Third, the tribal character of the movement means that there are no incentives to correct error. Presumably there are at least some delusionists who must have thought the “confession of error” story too good to be true. But no one would have thanked them for raising doubts. Whereas real climate scientists disagree vigorously among themselves (though all but a handful agree that the evidence for the basic fact of human-caused climate change is overwhelming), “sceptics” never criticise any claim on their own side, however absurd.

Most obviously, Judith Curry who was quoted in Rose’s article (not as a source for the bogus claims) must have realised it was nonsense. But she implicitly endorsed it, after its publication, but before its retraction. Note that, while saying the article quoted her accurately and would not be welcomed by the IPCC, Curry carefully avoids mentioning taking a position on its main claim, which she must have known to be false (she mentions the dispute briefly, at the bottom of here post, but offers no opinion). This is fairly typical of her, and her role-model Richard Lindzen.

But in this case, it was too clever by half. A smart delusionist if one existed would have jumped on Rose’s error and used it to build up some credibility for the future.

fn1. Peiser is, or was, a social anthropologist, and, according to Wikipedia, is currently a visiting fellow (not a real job, I suspect) at the University of Buckingham (definitely not a real university[2]). He’s therefore eminently qualified to represent the delusionist viewpoint on issues of physical science and the interpretation of statistical evidence.

fn2. To be boringly clear, I’m fully aware that Buckingham is an accredited institution with lecturers, degrees and so on, legally entitled to call itself a university. It’s still not a real university.

Categories: #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media, Science Tags:
  1. Mick Peel
    October 4th, 2013 at 19:06 | #1

    Perhaps they may now consider it “misson accomplished” in the Lomborgian sense that humans have now delayed action to the point that the trajectory of effects from climate change have indeed reached irreversible momentum.

  2. jon frankis
    October 4th, 2013 at 19:59 | #2

    Nice reference to Benny’s institution 🙂

    ps typo above where you should have sensitivity in degrees

  3. John Quiggin
    October 4th, 2013 at 20:47 | #3

    @jon frankis
    Fixed now thanks

  4. October 4th, 2013 at 22:01 | #4

    “the University of Buckingham (definitely not a real university)”

    With you in general, but for the record, the University of Buckingham is definitely a real university, and is an entirely legitimate academic institution. It does have an unusual-for-the-UK funding model: no state funding at all. (Though this is hardly unknown outside the UK.) It is very small: about 1000 undergraduates, 500 postgrads, 100 academics/faculty. It does seem to relish controversial appointments. But it is officially recognised by the UK government as a body that awards genuine degrees. It even has an entirely pukka Royal Charter as a university and everything!

    I’m not a fan of it, overall, and disagree with many of its members and affiliates quite vigorously on occasion, but I do like to keep criticism to a reasonable basis.

  5. Sancho
    October 5th, 2013 at 03:48 | #5

    “Confess”. “Confession”.

    Seems a bit overwrought for a discussion of scientific data, until you realise that it’s written for an audience which thinks there’ll eventually be a grand gotcha moment, when climate scientists break down in tears and admit they’ve been communist conspirators the whole time.

  6. October 5th, 2013 at 04:52 | #6

    My father spoke to me:: “Do the right thing at all times – even when you feels no one is observing.” So I expect it of myself and I seek it in others.

  7. Ikonoclast
    October 5th, 2013 at 08:43 | #7

    Too much climate change damage has been done already; including meaning it is already built into the climate system even if not yet manifest. The campaign of denialism and confusion from about 1990 to the present, combined with some other important factors, has been successful in preventing any substantial progress on addressing climate change. The other factors are general complacency, system momentum and vested interests. Of course, denialism and confusion make complacency and BAU an easier position to maintain.

    When will it become glaringly obvious to the great majority of the population that climate change is real, resource depletion is real and major economic disruptions are imminent? I wonder how people will react at the general crisis juncture? Nothing is less credible than the prediction that man has tamed the forces of nature and history and faces no more crises.

  8. Donald Oats
    October 5th, 2013 at 09:34 | #8

    Curry didn’t go public on the under-estimation of uncertainty issue with respect to articles written about (alleged) factor of two errors, such as claimed by Rose, then? Oh…asymmetric uncertainty principle, I get it now; it only applies to climate scientists who have found evidence of AGW, and not to their vociferous, vocal, belligerently and repeatedly wrong “crtics.”

    Gotta luv the denioverse.

    On a more or less serious note, I don’t really think the reduction in sentivity range to 1.5C actually carries any great significance: to have a low sensitivity like that is very much like saying we could roll ten sixes in a row, given that we’ve witnessed people rolling seven in a row: sure we could roll ten in a row, but there is a big difference between evidence that people have managed seven in a row, and actually making it all the way to ten of the suckers in a row.

  9. John Quiggin
    October 5th, 2013 at 11:05 | #9

    @Doug Clow

    I’ve added a footnote in response.

  10. Jim Rose
    October 5th, 2013 at 11:17 | #10

    John, as you are now a regular daily mail reader, you might have picked up that it is not pitching at a high level.

    no page 3 girl, but lots of other salacious material befitting a middle-market tabloid.

  11. Hermit
    October 5th, 2013 at 13:20 | #11

    According to ABC Rural 2014 could be an El Nino year with heat and dryness like 1998. The middle of next year is also when the minor party senators may join ranks with the LNP to ‘axe the tax’. If the public thinks something is amiss with the weather at the time the whole thing is going to seem slightly deranged. As if US politics wasn’t enough.

  12. John Quiggin
    October 5th, 2013 at 13:40 | #12

    “as you are now a regular daily mail reader, you might have picked up that it is not pitching at a high level. ” I assume you mean *not*

    I understand this – the problem is that Andrew Bolt, Graeme Lloyd, Chris Mitchell, Judith Sloan, Piers Akerman and the Australian right in general do not. So, the nonsense printed in the Daily Mail is reproduced here with the claim that it is derived from a credible source.

  13. jane
    October 5th, 2013 at 14:32 | #13

    What really puzzles me about deniers, apart from the certainty of their position in the face of all the evidence, is that they are so willing to risk the health of the planet and future generations.

    Surely with something so potentially serious, you’d think they’d err on the side of caution. After all, adopting measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, even if you don’t believe it, will not ruin people’s lives or the planet’s health.

    However, doing nothing or ramping up the behaviours that are claimed to be likely to damage us & the planet is not only short sighted, but criminal, imo.

    Seems as bad as puffing cigarette smoke over children, or risking their health by refusing to vaccinate against diseases like polio, measles, mumps & rubella etc. Off topic slightly, I wonder how many anti-vaxxers would knowingly expose their unborn child to rubella?

  14. Jim Rose
    October 5th, 2013 at 14:33 | #14

    @John Quiggin yes, their citing of an infotainment source was not wise. the fact everyone refers to the daily mail as a tabloid was fair warning to them.

  15. Donald Oats
    October 5th, 2013 at 16:43 | #15

    The opinion piece writers here in Australia, generally come from journalist backgrounds, and certainly are usually working from within print-media or radio and TV media, companies. If anyone is in a position to be aware of the impoverished nature of what passes for knowledge in articles in the Daily Mail, it would be these opinion writers who have the advantage of being inside the tent.

    All of which means it is hard not to conclude that they know full well that they are quoting and citing big steaming loads of cat’s piss in their opinion pieces, articles with far less credibility than the vast bulk of peer-reviewed literature on AGW and climate science. They know it; we know it.

  16. Andrew Davison
    October 5th, 2013 at 18:58 | #16

    Muted response from the delusionists, maybe. But I don’t see any good news either – our new government is still going to repeal the carbon “tax” (and building up a tissue of lies misleadings in the process). From my (limited) conversations on the issue, I think most people are “over” climate change (ie, drifting into a sort-of apathetic denialism).

  17. October 5th, 2013 at 21:22 | #17

    @jane

    The deniers are committed to their position because they suffer the delusion of being rugged individuals whose lives would be heaven on earth if only governments would get out of their way. That is, unable to accept that their own limitations are holding them back, they project their failings onto the government. To them, global warming is the ultimate excuse for increased government control, and as such it is a “line in the sand” issue for them.

    Having said this, the deniers are not alone in projecting their failures onto others 🙂

  18. October 5th, 2013 at 21:30 | #18

    Just to be clear, the deniers think their cause is a noble one.

  19. Ikonoclast
    October 6th, 2013 at 07:12 | #19

    I am not sure deniers think.

  20. Fran Barlow
    October 6th, 2013 at 09:15 | #20

    @Ikonoclast

    I am not sure deniers think.

    The class “deniers” is a very large and somewhat heterogenous one. Undoubtedly, some do “think” — it’s just that their “thinking” is radically at odds with notions to which most at least pay lip service, such as authentic community, human solidarity, social justice, intergenerational equity, ecological and resource sustainability, evidence-based policy etc …

    Some are ignorant and deluded or possessed with an exaggerated sense of their own perspicacity, some gullible, some recklessly self-serving or malign or misanthropic or tied to some dogma about the virtue of the rule of the privileged. The class “deniers” is a cultural biome in which sharply diverse elements, some of which are in incipient opposition cohabit, feeding from the unmet needs of the others.

    What’s interesting about their “thinking” when it occurs, is the relationship between its shape and the rest of the denier “biome” and in turn, the relationship between the biome and the greater cultural environment.

  21. October 6th, 2013 at 14:28 | #21

    John Brookes, deniers think their cause is noble because they want to think of themselves as noble. It’s a common human failing that I’m not immune to myself. (And this is despite me having four cladists and a Magistrate disagree about the human part.) It’s a commonly repeated pattern. People look around for monsters to slay and become monsters themselves. Personally I think it’s definitely worth taking the time to discover a cause that actually is nobel, such as helping the poor, treating sick children, or protecting the world from global warming. But it seems that many people don’t perform this basic dilligence and insist they are acting nobly when they hurt the poor, deny sick children treatment, and exacerbate global warming.

  22. October 6th, 2013 at 14:39 | #22

    @Ronald Brak

    I’ll quote myself from a 2012 sandpit:

    With the (barely reported) news of the all-time record Arctic sea ice melt, I came across a great essay from Alex Carey from 1976 about “Pragmatism & Propaganda”.

    It’s a few thousand words but I found it nailed some key reasons for so many of the world’s problems today. Highly recommend it.

    This part about the concept of “truth”:

    “Dewey similarly holds that beliefs should be distinguished as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, not as `true’ and ‘false’. Beliefs are good if believing them has beneficial consequences.[5] ‘Facts’ do not exist for Dewey, Bertrand Russell observes, ‘in the sense that “facts” are stubborn and cannot be manipulated’.[6] For Dewey proposed to replace the notion of truth with the notion of ‘warranted assertibility’.[7] Any belief which can be claimed to bring useful consequences may acquire ‘warranted assertibility’ on that ground alone.”

    People often question/argue whether climate change deniers with megaphones (eg: Bolt) are ‘dishonest’ or ‘stupid’, but reading this essay I reckon that is the wrong way to look at what they are doing:

    “There is a remarkable correspondence in attitude to truth between pragmatists and propagandists. Both justify the promotion of false beliefs wherever it is supposed that false beliefs have socially useful consequences. Indeed the principal difference between them consists perhaps in this: the ordinary propagandist may know that he is telling lies, but the pragmatist-propagandist, having redefined truth to make it indistinguishable from propaganda, is likely to become inescapably trapped in the supposedly ‘useful’ deceptions and illusions he approves as ‘warranted assertibilities’.”

    So these people are much better described as “pragmatist-propagandists” in the sense Carey uses it.

  23. Ernestine Gross
    October 6th, 2013 at 18:03 | #23

    Taking a break from working my way through the IPCC report, as much as I can do this, I’ve reached one conclusion. We need a lot more politicians with a science background, everywhere.

  24. Jim Rose
    October 6th, 2013 at 19:47 | #24

    @Fran Barlow do any jobs depend on climate alarmism?

  25. October 6th, 2013 at 20:23 | #25

    The misrepresentation of facts about climate change is a huge industry.

    Jobs dependent on “climate alarmism”? You bet!

  26. October 6th, 2013 at 20:47 | #26

    Megan, it seems that people always end up believing their own propaganda. Or perhaps the most effective way to be a propagandist is to believe what you are peddling yourself. Either way, it’s plain to see from a multitude of online commentators who to me seem nuttier than lumpy chocolate bars that there are plenty of people who have no interest in what is conventionally known as the truth. There are people who will quite happily say that NASA temperature data supports their contention that the earth is cooling and then with their next breath will say that NASA is faking their data. Generally I consider these people to be dishonest and liars even if they are incapable of sustaining a coherent internal monologue. This is because they are lying through negligence. If someone states that the earth is cooling they have to actually put some effort into finding out whether or not that is the case. It’s not good enough to simply rely on what one’s limbic system tells one. Just as a person has to perform some basic hygiene to interact with people face to face, in online discussions about real world phenomena people need to use some basic mental hygiene. Some people online really need to wipe their medial longitudianal fissure, scrub their paranoid reactions out of their brainstems, and apply some debigotryant.

  27. Fran Barlow
    October 6th, 2013 at 22:45 | #27

    @Jim Rose

    do any jobs depend on climate alarmism?

    Classically silly.

    Sounding the alarm when there is cause and a means of mitigating harm ready to hand is a worthy thing. Whether this leads to a job as an alarm sounder or mitigator of harm is moot.

  28. rog
    October 7th, 2013 at 04:17 | #28

    @Fran Barlow Snarky conservatives might must approve of “climate alertism” as opposed to “climate alarmism”.

  29. rog
    October 7th, 2013 at 04:24 | #29

    @Fran Barlow Sounding the alarm is a prequel to war eg invading Iraq. It also seems to have influenced our attitudes to “border protection” and the economy. Now that the conservatives have achieved their goal we are less alarmed by boats and govt spending/debt.

  30. Fran Barlow
    October 7th, 2013 at 16:48 | #30

    Hmm … wondering which word triggered my post into moderation from 8:42 … “death panels”? terror? capitalism?

  31. Fran Barlow
    October 7th, 2013 at 16:50 | #31

    Obamacare? cant?

  32. Fran Barlow
    October 7th, 2013 at 16:52 | #32

    what about “killer”?

  33. Alan
    October 7th, 2013 at 18:05 | #33

    @Jim Rose
    Quite a lot of jobs depend on the allegation of climate alarmism, from speaking fees on the conservative talk circuit, to paid consultancies for the Kochtopus, to plain old hacks working for belief tanks like the Heartland Institute. Since it can be presumed from your post that you disapprove of people making a living from advocacy, will you be denouncing the various climate change denial shills who make a living from their dishonesty?

  34. may
    October 7th, 2013 at 19:07 | #34

    Donald Oats :The opinion piece writers here in Australia, generally come from journalist backgrounds, and certainly are usually working from within print-media or radio and TV media, companies. If anyone is in a position to be aware of the impoverished nature of what passes for knowledge in articles in the Daily Mail, it would be these opinion writers who have the advantage of being inside the tent.
    All of which means it is hard not to conclude that they know full well that they are quoting and citing big steaming loads of cat’s piss in their opinion pieces, articles with far less credibility than the vast bulk of peer-reviewed literature on AGW and climate science. They know it; we know it.

    but they are not writing for the ones who “know it”.

    they are writing for the ones who trust and do not verify( quote-raygun had to be good for something).

    the same ones who still believe the previous govt were stealing peoples hard earned super and the same ones who believe howard got us through the GFC by leaving a huge surplus that could be and was squandered.

    these and many other beliefs are what caused the believers to vote against their own interests.

  35. Jim Rose
    October 7th, 2013 at 20:07 | #35

    F@Alan how many goverment jobs depend on alarmism.

  36. Ben
    October 7th, 2013 at 21:08 | #36

    @John Brookes
    John, I don’t think deniers see global warming as “the ultimate excuse for increased government control”, rather that admitting it’s happening leads to the realisation that the only thing that can address it is increased government.

  37. Fran Barlow
    October 7th, 2013 at 22:28 | #37

    @Jim Rose

    I’ve already listed some of them in my modded post above, Defence and National Security are obvious ones.

    The idea that the economy would shut down if we didn’t keep the dirtiest coal plants open means that those jobs are also based on “alarmism”.

  38. October 7th, 2013 at 23:54 | #38

    How many trolls are directly, or indirectly, employed to troll?

    About all of them?

  39. Alan
    October 8th, 2013 at 04:36 | #39

    @Jim Rose

    The problem, Jim, is that there is no alarmism. We spend quote a lot on defence, considerably more than most comparable countries. Australia has not been invaded since 1787. I ask you how many government jobs depend on invasion alarmism? has your house ever burned down? How many government jobs depend on fire alarmism? I can think of at least one government job that depends directly on carbon tax alarmism, waste alarmism, fiscal alarmism, and boat alarmism, but I suspect you don’t object too much to that one.

  40. rog
    October 8th, 2013 at 07:05 | #40

    @Alan Speaking of fiscal alarmism we had the new QLD govt commission a non-economist ex-politician to conduct an economic audit, an audit which recommended the political solution of austerity.

    God knows how much all this has cost but it is alarming and if little nett benefit.

  41. Alan
    October 8th, 2013 at 07:34 | #41

    @rog

    At least we are beginning to understand gay wedding alarmism. Clearly conservative weddings are not about the union of a man and woman for life. Barnaby, George and Tony all seem to be insisting marriage is about political networking.

  42. Tim Macknay
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:00 | #42

    @Alan
    Indeed. And it seems the main problem with gay weddings for the conservatives is that, because they won’t be invited to them, they won’t be able to claim them on expenses. Anything George Brandis can’t claim on expenses is clearly unacceptable!

  43. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:44 | #43

    Hmmm let’s try without the link

    @rog
    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.

    In any event, it seems to me that the right least of all has standing to object to the kind of alarm-sounding that they assert against climate science. These are, after all, folk who sound alarms without sound cause as a matter of their political paradigm on virtually a daily basis.

    Even if we move away from climate science and climate policy — where they assert that the harm is non-existent or radically overstated and the resultant policy settings likely to lead to anything between economic collpase and a return to pleistocene era usages — there is everything else.

    In the USA, the Affordable Care Act — a modest measure aimed at both controlling health costs and giving a measure of protection from the costs of maintaining health for non-priviliged folk – has been dubbed “Obamacare” — a “job-killer” in which “death panels” will snuff out the lives of silver-haired grandmothers. So grave is the threat according to the right that funding for the US government must be obstructed, on the basis that the majority of congress is conniving at the collapse of the US economy. If that’s not “alarmism” with prejudice on behalf of privileged elites, it’s hard to know what would be.

    And we can add the case for massive military expenditure, which by their own reckoning in every capitalist state is the foundation for huge numbers of astonishingly well paid jobs. The armed forces are there, it is nebulously said “to protect the interests of {fill in your capitalist country of choice}. This is said more than two decades after the end of the “Cold War” which was supposed to be followed by “a peace dividend”. Apparently not, because there are new threats which nothing short of enormous expenditures and a dreadful toll in human casualties — prices that utterly dwarf anything being done in the hope of mitigating CO2 emissions — must be undertaken. Ironically, the US military may actually have bodies that could be called “death panels” — since they control the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan — literally deciding who must die by their hand. The right is silent on this but keen to sound the alarm in the ongoing “war on terror”. Few if any on the right in this country are less enthusiastic about this source of threat.

    And so it goes. We have had here assertions of “budget emergency” “boats crisis” “debt crisis” “Whyalla (and several other places) wipeout” “Government chaos” none of which have had any substance at all and which, post-election have produced no crisis abatement measures or even further comment — except to backpedal and duplicate what the last regime did. Clearly, when the right speaks of “alarmism” it is merely projecting its own willingness to tell self-serving lies onto us.

  44. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:45 | #44

    Ok let’s narrow this down (PrQ please delete these tests):

    para 1

    @rog

    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.

  45. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:48 | #45

    para 1,2

    @rog

    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.

    In any event, it seems to me that the right least of all has standing to object to the kind of alarm-sounding that they assert against climate science. These are, after all, folk who sound alarms without sound cause as a matter of their political paradigm on virtually a daily basis.

  46. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:49 | #46

    @rog

    para 1,2,3

    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.

    In any event, it seems to me that the right least of all has standing to object to the kind of alarm-sounding that they assert against climate science. These are, after all, folk who sound alarms without sound cause as a matter of their political paradigm on virtually a daily basis.

    Even if we move away from climate science and climate policy — where they assert that the harm is non-existent or radically overstated and the resultant policy settings likely to lead to anything between economic collpase and a return to pleistocene era usages — there is everything else.

  47. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:54 | #47

    Para 4
    In the USA, the Affordable Care Act — a modest measure aimed at both controlling health costs and giving a measure of protection from the costs of maintaining health for non-priviliged folk – has been dubbed “Obamacare” — a “job-killer” in which “death panels” will snuff out the lives of silver-haired grandmothers. So grave is the threat according to the right that funding for the US government must be obstructed, on the basis that the majority of congress is conniving at the collapse of the US economy. If that’s not “alarmism” with prejudice on behalf of privileged elites, it’s hard to know what would be.

  48. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:56 | #48

    Para 5

    And we can add the case for massive military expenditure, which by their own reckoning in every capitalist state is the foundation for huge numbers of astonishingly well paid jobs. The armed forces are there, it is nebulously said “to protect the interests of {fill in your capitalist country of choice}. This is said more than two decades after the end of the “Cold War” which was supposed to be followed by “a peace dividend”. Apparently not, because there are new threats which nothing short of enormous expenditures and a dreadful toll in human casualties — prices that utterly dwarf anything being done in the hope of mitigating CO2 emissions — must be undertaken. Ironically, the US military may actually have bodies that could be called “death panels” — since they control the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan — literally deciding who must die by their hand. The right is silent on this but keen to sound the alarm in the ongoing “war on terror”. Few if any on the right in this country are less enthusiastic about this source of threat.

  49. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 11:59 | #49

    OK it seems to be in para 5

    First half …

    And we can add the case for massive military expenditure, which by their own reckoning in every capitalist state is the foundation for huge numbers of astonishingly well paid jobs. The armed forces are there, it is nebulously said “to protect the interests of {fill in your capitalist country of choice}. This is said more than two decades after the end of the “Cold War” which was supposed to be followed by “a peace dividend”. Apparently not, because there are new threats which nothing short of enormous expenditures and a dreadful toll in human casualties — prices that utterly dwarf anything being done in the hope of mitigating CO2 emissions — must be undertaken.

  50. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:15 | #50

    literally deciding who must die by their hand

  51. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:16 | #51

    Ironically, the US military may actually have bodies that could be called

  52. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:19 | #52

    Pakistan, Yemen

  53. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:20 | #53

    Wow … the word S&malia is out! A whole country is being modded by wordpress

  54. Fran Barlow
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:22 | #54

    OK PrQ … sorry about that, but I just had to know what the naughty word was … please delete all of my previous tries in the mod queue and the parts that have appeared.

    @rog

    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.

    In any event, it seems to me that the right least of all has standing to object to the kind of alarm-sounding that they assert against climate science. These are, after all, folk who sound alarms without sound cause as a matter of their political paradigm on virtually a daily basis.

    Even if we move away from climate science and climate policy — where they assert that the harm is non-existent or radically overstated and the resultant policy settings likely to lead to anything between economic collapse and a return to pleistocene era usages — there is everything else.

    In the USA, the Affordable Care Act — a modest measure aimed at both controlling health costs and giving a measure of protection from the costs of maintaining health for non-privileged folk – has been dubbed “Obamacare” — a “job-killer” in which “death panels” will snuff out the lives of silver-haired grandmothers. So grave is the threat according to the right that funding for the US government must be obstructed, on the basis that the majority of congress is conniving at the collapse of the US economy. If that’s not “alarmism” with prejudice on behalf of privileged elites, it’s hard to know what would be.

    And we can add the case for massive military expenditure, which by their own reckoning in every capitalist state is the foundation for huge numbers of astonishingly well paid jobs. The armed forces are there, it is nebulously said “to protect the interests of {fill in your capitalist country of choice}. This is said more than two decades after the end of the “Cold War” which was supposed to be followed by “a peace dividend”. Apparently not, because there are new threats which nothing short of enormous expenditures and a dreadful toll in human casualties — prices that utterly dwarf anything being done in the hope of mitigating CO2 emissions — must be undertaken. Ironically, the US military may actually have bodies that could be called “death panels” — since they control the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, S***lia and Afghanistan — literally deciding who must die by their hand. The right is silent on this but keen to sound the alarm in the ongoing “war on terror”. Few if any on the right in this country are less enthusiastic about this source of threat.

    And so it goes. We have had here assertions of “budget emergency” “boats crisis” “debt crisis” “Whyalla (and several other places) wipeout” “Government chaos” none of which have had any substance at all and which, post-election have produced no crisis abatement measures or even further comment — except to backpedal and duplicate what the last regime did. Clearly, when the right speaks of “alarmism” it is merely projecting its own willingness to tell self-serving lies onto us.

  55. sunshine
    October 8th, 2013 at 12:37 | #55

    Having just read todays Herald Sun for one of my ‘know our enemy’ efforts ,I am wishing for a time when like minded people cant effectively control enough of the information flow needed to win elections . You would have to think the unfolding internet revolution should help ,but the pace is slow compared to average life expectancy .

    I think our military budget is about 100million per day . Why is this always beyond public debate ? We spent 10 billion on the 2 mid east wars and have only achieved negative outcomes (which we will be paying still more for well into the future) .We are watching the raid decline of Western civilisation ,we have hitched our wagon to the American empire . Arrogance ,greed ,wasted opportunity.

    This mood is the reward I normally get for reading the Herald Sun.

  56. Troy Prideaux
    October 8th, 2013 at 13:57 | #56

    sunshine :
    I think our military budget is about 100million per day . Why is this always beyond public debate ?

    Because we buy most of our military kit from the US – that’s why it’s beyond public debate! If we actually supported manufacturing here so we had the capability to produce military, aerospace and other high-end capability, the bean counters would be constantly screaming for cutbacks and rationalization of our defense spending.

  57. October 8th, 2013 at 16:01 | #57

    @sunshine

    Tying two things together:

    Recent developments in media control/ownership and regulation (largely taken directly from a post on “Article19″‘s site):

    The draft Media Law of Somalia was passed by the Council of Ministers on 11 July 2013 (Draft Law).

    There is a Technical Expert Committee on Re-drafting the Somali Media Law, set up by the Deputy Minister of Information, Abdishakur Ali Mire, following the international criticism of the Draft Law.

    The Draft Law clearly violates international human rights law on freedom of expression, particularly Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Although the Draft Law has some positive aspects, such as the proclamation on media freedom and safeguards for transparency of media ownership, it reinforces the state control over the media by allowing censorship of state media, giving powers to the Ministry of Information to authorise private media and requiring permission for the operation of foreign media. Moreover, the Draft Law contains blank and vague prohibitions on expressions like “harming the country, the people or the religion.” Last but not least, it sets out a media regulator, the National Media Council, which is not independent.

    If you replace “Ministry of Information” with “Rupert Murdoch” you realise they have better protections from media-manipulation and lies than we do!

  58. October 8th, 2013 at 16:06 | #58

    @sunshine

    Just confirmed Fran’s observation. Here was what I wrote (with the offending terms fixed) –

    Tying two things together:

    Recent developments in media control/ownership and regulation (largely taken directly from a post on “Article19?‘s site):

    The draft Media Law of Somxlia was passed by the Council of Ministers on 11 July 2013 (Draft Law).

    There is a Technical Expert Committee on Re-drafting the Som*li Media Law, set up by the Deputy Minister of Information, Abdishakur Ali Mire, following the international criticism of the Draft Law.

    The Draft Law clearly violates international human rights law on freedom of expression, particularly Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Although the Draft Law has some positive aspects, such as the proclamation on media freedom and safeguards for transparency of media ownership, it reinforces the state control over the media by allowing censorship of state media, giving powers to the Ministry of Information to authorise private media and requiring permission for the operation of foreign media. Moreover, the Draft Law contains blank and vague prohibitions on expressions like “harming the country, the people or the religion.” Last but not least, it sets out a media regulator, the National Media Council, which is not independent.

    If you replace “Ministry of Information” with “Rupert Murdoch” you realise they have better protections from media-manipulation and lies than we do!

  59. Alan
    October 8th, 2013 at 16:41 | #59

    Australia has a record of heavy military spending that reaches back long before the US alliance. In the 1920s and 30s Australia was already outspending the other countries in the old empire by a long way:

    In 1927-28, the figure for Australia was £1 5s 5d per head ; Canada 5s 7d ; New Zealand, 14s 1d ; South Afric a 11s 4d (counting the European population only) ; and Great Britain , £2 12s 2d. The Australian figure was 6s a head more than it had been in the last year before the 1914-18 war and was a good deal higher than most countries of her population.

    The US kit theory does not work.

  60. Will
    October 8th, 2013 at 17:42 | #60

    Fran Barlow :

    While I know full well the connotation the Rose-types put on “alarmism” — a caricature in which people sound the alarm without cause in order to swindle people — whether one sounds an alarm or blows a whistle, such folk are needed when there is indeed cause. It’s pure cant — and not with an initial K — to assert that because taking the prospective harm seriously might lead to some momentary advantage for some, that the sound of the alarm was a scam.
    In any event, it seems to me that the right least of all has standing to object to the kind of alarm-sounding that they assert against climate science. These are, after all, folk who sound alarms without sound cause as a matter of their political paradigm on virtually a daily basis.

    A month after a (highly successful) political campaign by the right in which election literature was bandied around warning of an unstoppable flood of boat people and the imminent bankruptcy of Australia, a right-winger warns of the left’s use of political alarmism.

    This is so deliciously ironic. This is Pilbara levels of irony. You could add trace amounts of vanadium, nickel, chromium and manganese and make surgical steel out of JR’s comment.

  61. Alan
    October 8th, 2013 at 17:55 | #61

    @Will

    You underestimate the conservative sense of humour. We can expect to hear wedding expense alarmism at any moment.

  62. rog
    October 8th, 2013 at 20:19 | #62

    Writing in New Matilda Sarah Burnside indicates that alarmism is a matter of opinion

    ?.in the Financial Review last Friday, Laura Tingle noted that Forrest had been “utterly silent” about the WA government’s recent decision to increase mining royalties, which would “hit the core of his business”. When asked why he had not complained about this decision, Forrest explained: “the royalties I pay will go to teachers, nurses, hospitals, roads etcetera … the MRRT has been whipped into place by a government desperate to plug a hole which has appeared in their budget caused by their own actions”. Tingle suggested dryly that this distinction had “just the slightest smack of partisan politics about it”.

  63. Troy Prideaux
    October 9th, 2013 at 08:39 | #63

    Alan :
    The US kit theory does not work.

    Maybe, but that won’t stop me ranting about it! 😛

  64. Hermit
    October 9th, 2013 at 10:02 | #64

    I think Greg Hunt the Minister for Accelerated CO2 is heading for a massive reality check. He could barely wait a week to disband the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Commission almost putting Pr Q on the dole. Last week he fast tracked CSG drilling proposals before landholders could establish water quality standards. This week he’s chomping on the bit to repeal carbon tax. That safely assumes the senators for sporty motoring etc will lend support.

    What if Direct Action is a massive dud? For example if budgetary constraints stop general revenue going into it. Secondly nobody can agree what the emissions benchmarks are or how to measure soil carbon. Even if it was properly thought out big investors are not going to spend billions on energy infrastructure if the rules change every couple of years. It’s going to be interesting watching the Coal-ition squirm their way out of the problems ahead.

  65. Alan
    October 9th, 2013 at 10:30 | #65

    @Troy Prideaux

    The other problem with your theory is that we buy warships from Spain. Why we cannot match Spain’s technology and industrial capacity is another issue entirely.

  66. Alan
    October 9th, 2013 at 10:33 | #66

    @Hermit

    Direct Action will be a massive dud. Everybody in Canberra will know it is a massive dud. The LNP will (when they have time off from attending weddings and Abbot’s own personal Lycra-led economic recovery) line up to swear on a stack of Bibles that it is working just fine.

  67. Tim Macknay
    October 9th, 2013 at 11:44 | #67

    I think Greg Hunt the Minister for Accelerated CO2 is heading for a massive reality check.

    Hunt waved bye-bye to reality years ago.

  68. Jumpy
    October 9th, 2013 at 20:42 | #68

    With the Senate we have now the carbon price and ETS are gone and direct the action thing is stillborn.
    That’s the most likely outcome.

  69. Tim Macknay
    October 9th, 2013 at 21:35 | #69

    @Jumpy
    So it would appear.

  70. Donald Oats
    October 10th, 2013 at 10:37 | #70

    Given we have a coal miner and a motoring enthusiast as the balance of power in the senate, I don’t see that there’ll much further interest in Greg Hunt’s portfolio; in fact, he may as well be missing in action. He could surprise us all and put a bill forward that is a major positive step towards addressing AGW, for all the difference it would make.

    [And it would be a hell of a surprise.]

  71. BilB
    October 10th, 2013 at 11:05 | #71

    The scope for delusional denialism is rapidly decreasing, at least on the environemntal front

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYaubXBfVqo

    The next wave of delusionaism is that Australia does not need manufacturing. In todays news I hear the …………………………….intensely dumb comment……………………….”well manufacturing is declining anyway so we may as well get rid of it altogether”. This was in the reporting of the failure of “carrot and stick” dealings with GM Holden.

    WTffffffffffffF!!

  72. October 11th, 2013 at 05:06 | #72

    I suppose that if one is a coal-go cultist and believes that the demand for and price of exported coal is only going to increase then I suppose it would also follow that Australian manufacturing is unnecessary as the high dollar that will result will let us buy anything we want from overseas. Of course coal-go cultism requires a rather large disconnect from reality. Fortunately banks like to not lose money and so a number of large coal mining project have been abandonned.

  73. BilB
    October 11th, 2013 at 05:27 | #73

    That argument, RB, might have some substance if the proceeds of the coal were to be evenly divided amoungst all Australians, but in the present concept of mining that is not what happens at all. What we have are a handful of rich fat cats who collect all of the funds, who whinge endlessly about how hardly done by they are, and who also now presume to tell us how to live our lives through media and politics.

    There was some equity whe state owned coal was used by state owned power generators to provide cheap electricity that we all had access to. But somewhere along the line that state owned coal was handed over to a handful of individuals for their own personal exploitation, and I don’t recall getting that memo.

  74. October 11th, 2013 at 15:40 | #74

    If you think they whinge now, BilB, wait until the price of coal drops to $40 a tonne. But then a number of them will be out on their posteriors when that happens, so just maybe it will result in a modicum of humility being developed? (In the meantime I am currently combining swine DNA with that of eagles.)

  75. Jim Rose
    October 12th, 2013 at 10:50 | #75

    Let climate science be settled. How much will global warming cost is the correct question.

    The chances of India, China and the rest of the Third world agreeing for forego or even slow economic development to fight global warming is zero even before you consider the international collective action, verification and free rider problems.

    Adaptation and richer is safer are the only games in town.

    I found the best writer on global warming to be Thomas Schelling. Schelling has been involved with the global warming debate since chairing a commission on the subject for President Carter in 1980. He is an economist who specialises in strategy so he focuses on climate change as a bargaining problem. Schelling drew in his experiences with the negotiation of the Marshall Plan and NATO.

    International agreements rarely work if they talk in terms of results.

    They work better if signatories promise to supply specific inputs – to perform specific actions now. Individual NATO members did not, for example, promise to slow the Soviet invasion by 90 minutes if it occured after 1963.

    NATO members promised to raise and train troops, procure equipment and supplies, and deploy these assets geographically. All of these actions can be observed, estimated and compared quickly. The NATO treaty was a few pages long.

    The Kyoto Protocol commitments were made not about actions but to results that were to be measured after more than a decade.

    Climate treaties should promise to do certain actions now such as invest in R&D and develop carbon taxes that return the revenue as tax cuts. If the carbon tax revenue is fully refunded as tax cuts, less reliable countries, in particular, have a additional incentive to collect the carbon tax properly to keep their budget deficits under control.

    The only case for even a token carbon tax is to avoid EU green tariffs on exports. We may as well collect the revenue for ourselves rather than let the EU get it. It is safe to say that green tariffs are more likely in the USA than carbon trading.

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