Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is Civilisation Doomed & Should I Worry

The following may offend some people -assuming they ever read it - but that's OK, they offend me too.

I've been obsessed  by science, the practice of science, its "method", its principles, its promise and excitement since I was a very small boy. A "freaky" small boy who read newspapers before starting year 1 and Southey's "Life of Nelson" at age 6. It was boring and they "talked funny" but I still have it on the shelves. By then I was reading adult fiction but mainly encyclopedias which I loved with a passion & always hoped for at Xmas. Later I taught physics & biology for years before being seduced by IT. If my science classes were popular, I think it was because the kids recognised genuine passion for the subjects and appreciated that we would always go beyond the textbook, into the latest articles and discoveries and into where this might take us. Science was, in a sense, my religion and my hope for the future of the world. Back then it was respected, even by business and mining magnates, largely because it continued to make them ever richer. And of course by the general public, who would live for centuries, without disease and only work two days a week. Oddly enough I don't recall actual scientists making those predictions but there they were in the magazines anyway.

Then we ("we" because I include myself in the sub-species sciencewonkia) discovered that DDT could exterminate entire species, even useful ones, that radiation didn't magically go away when you didn't need it,  that the Ozone Hole was growing, that Climate was Changing. And thus everything changed. Rachel Carson's famous "Silent Spring" probably started the demonisation of science and scientists. Here was a book that had the potential to reduce profits. Just to save some insects and fish and ducks and hawks that no true-blue capitalist could possibly care about. Clearly scientists had become dangerous. They were discovering things that would have best remained hidden and publishing their findings! Then it was remembered that many of them were godless, evil, Satan-worshipping evolutionists. Yet another nail in their coffin. So, gradually yet within my working lifetime, we have moved from the people who made you healthier, made your world richer and more exciting, who helped humanity, to a cabal of lying, self-serving, grant-scrounging, monster-making alarmist villains. The LHC will create a black hole and destroy the earth! And the scientists don't care! Well we would if that were anything but utter crap. Hey, we live here too.

Above all of course is Anthropogenic Climate Change. The "Greatest Con Job Ever". Except of course it isn't. Sure you can find tiny, insignificant mistakes - maybe even lies. A famous Korean scientist lied about cloning and was disgraced & kicked out. Oddly enough, no one seems to have decided that this meant that cloning itself was a total fraud? And yes, you can find a bunch of scientists who will rail against it. Most of them are right out of their area of expertise - as valid as a dentist criticising string theory. He could indeed be right but it's not very likely. Others are like Lord Monkton - a non-scientist, non-mathematician, non-anything useful who has demonstrably lied about his own background. Against them we have the vast body of world scientific research - not opinion, research. Science isn't a democracy but sheer volume of peer-reviewed research has to count. Quite a lot.

What irritates me is that so much of the evidence is available to ANYONE with eyes. Take all the fuss about "Himalayan glaciers". Ooooh, another fraud of the climate scientists eh? So, Google "reduction glaciers" and look at the photographs. So: maybe this is natural and unrelated to the rising CO2/Methane levels during this period. Bloody unlikely, even ludicrously unlikely but possible. Just. Even if that were so, the process still represents a massive danger to: crop production, island communities, populated coastal areas (like virtually every coastal area that's habitable). Add to that the masses of other evidence from so many totally different sources and our choice, in scientific terms, is simple; Fix it or Die.

Now the Deniers are clearly winning. They have the money, the spin-doctors, the paid politicians, Fox News and the works. Effectively they've won and we will not fix it. Instead we are going to die. Billions of hunger and thirst, millions more in "water wars", millions more of disease and the general violence that accompanies the downfall of any civilisation. And that makes me angry. At the Deniers, at myself for not helping more, at scientists everywhere because we were outmaneuvered. We lost the war before we even knew we were being attacked, because that's not the way we think. But especially at the Deniers.

So who are they, these Climate Change Deniers? After a little thought I've tentatively classified them as:

1. The ones who know the truth but do not care. Generally rich or relatively so, they are sociopaths who have no real empathy for younger or 'future' humans, even their own descendants. Wealth and power are their only interests. Motto: "Apres moi, le deluge" or "I'll have my fun and stuff you all when I'm gone". If any are alive when AGW is too obvious for anyone to deny, they should be placed on what is left of a small Pacific island and left to die, whether by drowning, starvation, cannibalism or suicide. All are acceptable.

2. The Paid Liars. Like the scientists who produced exactly the results specified by the Tobacco companies, these are traitors to their own species. Includes PR firms working for the energy industry and anyone working for Fox News. Quite a large group. Their names should be placed on a list, with photographs, and widely circulated. I imagine that dying communities will find some appropriate reward.

3. The "Look at ME - I want to be FAMOUS" scientists. And how does a mediocre scientist of no achievement become famous in the "popular" press? By presenting an anti-AGW argument. No matter how unqualified, tenuous, or specious it may be, you will be on the list.  TV appearances, quotes in the papers, grants from industry - all this can be yours. Some are probably self-deluded members of the largest group below, others just honestly wrong. Too bad. They've helped kill us anyway. I'm feeling harsh, so put them on the list with 2.

4. The Fools. Most blog postings come from this group. They cannot spell, capitalise or generally communicate effectively in any way. Often oppose anything "sciency" owing to a massive and well justified inferiority complex. Also oppose AGW on political grounds. Either it is a left-wing anti-wealth plot or part of the New World Order plot by the Jews and Big Business. Posts are generally short - "yah cant fool me its all crap". May be left to live or die by their own efforts. More to be pitied than blamed despite their annoying nature. We should have done more for them, and should be ashamed. I am.

5. Finally, the largest group of all. The Cowards. Truly those "In Denial". Faced with the worst disaster in human history, their cowardly minds cannot cope. They poke their heads firmly into the sand or hold their hands over their ears and shout "la, la, la" because to see, to hear, to understand and thus to believe is far too terrifying to contemplate. Fond of citing obscure articles which they have never read and wouldn't understand. Fond of quoting discredited pseudo-scientists like Monkton et al, or referring to vague lists of dissenting scientists which they have also never seen. Conversation (and blogs) contain comments such as "I'm not convinced by the evidence" or "there are too many questions/doubts" or "what about (insert so-called "scandal" here) - that proves it's all a lie". Not to be confused with the Fools, these people may be intelligent but their prime motivation is pure cowardice. We've all heard of the person who knows that "that mole" is getting bigger and darker but utterly refuses to go to a doctor. As long as they don't know the truth, they can pretend that everything is all right. So they shout at those who try to tell them, abuse them, stop talking to them. We've seen this in blogs, we've probably seen it in friends and workmates. The effort to save ourselves is too great, their selfishness too large. Give up my V8? Give up fossil-fueled cars??!  Go Solar? Live more simply? Reduce my standard of living!? PAY to fix this?? Pay with MY taxes, MY money, MY precious . . . ? Are we mad? Well yes I am. Very, very angry indeed. If I'm still around when civilisation goes belly-up and I have the option of dying slowly and unpleasantly or some other way, I might remember Poirot's Last Case.


  1. Yes, and yes.

    I think it takes time for the population to catch up to the facts.
    I remember when I was 15 and I developed an interest in nutrition - and I didn't want to become another statistic in our cancer cluster family.

    My mother died of breast cancer 2 days shy of her 42nd BD.
    I read about how rare it was in Japanese women and started reading about phyto-oestrogens and adjusted my diet accordingly.

    My grandfather - her father - was horrified that I would want to nix the red meat x 3 meals a day from my diet. He was a physician, of some note, on Wickham Terrace here in Brisvagus.

    He explained to me with utter sincerity that he thought my mother had developed breast cancer from playing hockey as a teenager.
    'She must have had a knock,' he assured me.

    The woman lived on scotch on the rocks and corned FKN beef.
    But that wouldn't do it, nooooo.....

    My interest in nutrition is still Witchcraft to that part of the family, but I choose to stay clear of The Earth Is Flat sector of my gene pool and stick to saner company.

    RE your concerns, I think that there will be a change in attitude over the next few years because climate change is already In Our Faces.

    How you get the selfish overconsuming lard butts out of their bloody BMW4WDs though I really couldn't say.

  2. Update:

    Yep, it's an orchestrated campaign. And far more personally threatening than I'd thought

  3. Ugly. Just ugly.
    But I'm not surprised.
    Remember what happened to that fellow who dared to say the earth is not flat?

    I did a bit of research online as to what motivates a bully and its usually some sort of fear and insecurity.
    I came across a lot of this sort of bullying from within my own family (most of whom I see as little as possible, these days) and it took a counselor to point out to me that they did it because in some way they felt threatened by me.

    I read the same thing on one of the bullying websites - bullies will often target someone who they feel threatened by.

    Then again it could be that the zombie apocalypse has begun and the climate change deniers are but the First Wave of Zed force.