Tag Archives: climate change

Can we get on with fixing the world now? [BEST

Global warming is a fact. It’s even more of a fact than it was yesterday. It is factier. The factuality of it all has been proven beyond de-factification by a sceptic-sponsored super-study of weather station data. It’s done. Fact this in your fact hole, fact-face. I fact yo’ momma. And she loved it.

If you’re anything like me (and I hope, for your sake, you aren’t), your first act after hearing the news was to quickly check its “interpretation” by the Telegraph’s resident troll, James Delingpole. Sadly, at the time of writing this, he’s been unusually quiet. No doubt he’s busy scouring the (three) denier blogs he reads, looking for someone, anyone, to tell him what to think.

In truth, believers in reason over ideology will find limited satisfaction in this news. Already arch-sceptics are either weaving this study into their elaborate conspiracy theories, or pointing out (genuinely in some cases, but with slippery dishonesty in others) that they never, ever said the earth wasn’t warming and, anyway, the real question is whether or not the change in global temperature is being caused by humans. So there.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem an unreasonable position to take. But this argument, like much of the news coverage I’ve seen of this study, misses an important point. The BEST report is further proof that climate scientists are not engaged in deception, exaggeration, or sloppiness. There is no conspiracy. There is no scam.

It’s shocking, I know, but they really have been telling us the truth all along.

And while climate scientists have been vindicated, the climate ‘sceptics’ are the ones who have been proven wrong. Yet again. All their doubts, protestations and demands for ‘real science’ have been shown to be completely unfounded.

So, maybe next time the science guys and gals who’ve been proven right say to the public, “yes, global warming is caused by humans, we should be worried about it and here’s our evidence to prove it”, should we, and the media that channels things into our putty-like minds, not trust them a bit more? Wouldn’t that make sense? I mean, not everyone can be a climatologist or a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Some of us can’t even spell physicist. And we can’t all spend our days picking apart stultifying statistics in some stodgy journal. We’ve got to accept some things on the basis of authority and credibility, right?

And when the alternative is to listen to the confused rants of the eccentric, hysterical science-deniers, repeatedly, embarrassingly showing themselves to be wrong time and time again, is there really any choice at all?

We all know the results of this latest study will not change a single person’s mind. But who cares? If you want to believe that a secret, globe-spanning cabal of evil scientists are inventing science while under the command of a mysterious shadow-EU for the sole purpose of inventing a crisis that allows them to impose new taxes FOR SOME DIABOLICAL REASON, then go for it. Good luck with that.

I only hope journalists, bloggers, columnists, politicians (and anyone else setting the agenda that defines the future) stop indulging in the fake “debate” and focus on the real one. Climate change is here. Shit. What the fuck are we going to do about it?

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Both sides continue to claim victory as the Climate Change Deniers take on the Extremists in the match of the century

There’s everything to play for in the climate change arena as both sides continue to claim victory in a contest that looks set to drag on even longer than the Holland v. Spain world cup final.

The latest drama started back in 2009, when the captain of the Deniers, Lord Christopher Monckton (Nobel Peace Prize winner and unicorn), pulled off a convincing early shot with a flamboyant speech, which supporters maintain landed over the goal line. Although far from decisive, such forceful attacks by the Denier’s veteran leader boosted his side’s confidence and they continued to have the upper hand, leaving their opponents, the Climate Change Extremists, scrambling in disarray.

Yet despite this, the Deniers’ energetic, well-organised offensive failed to find the back of the net again, and again, and again.

The Extremist counterattack was slow but impactful, led by the relatively unknown super-sub, John Abraham. Studiously working his way up the pitch, Abraham tackled the cumbersome Monckton and exposed the weakness of the Denier’s defence. Storming towards an open goal and supported by the Extremist’s pugnacious striker, George Monbiot, it looked like victory was within easy reach. A clumsy attempted tackle by Monckton within the penalty area was easily shrugged off by Abraham and the ball sailed into the back of the net…

But the clear win desperately sought by the Extremists looked uncertain as Monckton angrily appealed to the referee, accusing Abraham of committing a foul. The crowd is left bewildered by Monckton’s 466-point argument, while Monbiot protests that the old Lord is merely time wasting.

Extra time looks a given at this point, which will surely favour the Deniers. Both sides are increasingly hungry for that decisive goal, but with the Deniers repeatedly moving the goalposts and the Extremists mostly getting on with doing important science stuff, the only outcome that looks near certain is the gradual destruction of our environment.

This just in: earlier this evening, it looked as though Denier fullback James Delingpole, whose previous contribution to the game largely consisted of hacking ineffectually at the opposing players and getting a yellow card for excessive stupidity, may have scored an own goal. This was overlooked, however, as nobody could tell whether or not he was playing the same game as everyone else.

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Amazongate: why it matters (as seen through a bullshit filter)

This post is a rewritten version of Delingpole’s latest, as filtered for bullshit. I don’t know if the recent implosion of “Amazongate” has affected him, or if his traffic’s dropped, because this screed is even more pathetic than usual.

In the war for spreading doubt about the near-universally accepted science of AGW, the resoundingly debunked “scandals” of Amazongate and Climategate (none of which actually challenged the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change) were the best attacks deniers could muster.

They cling to these shallow “victories” because the last three or four months have seen every assault on climate science the deniers could muster collapse under scrutiny. Despite their efforts, due to the scientific consensus and extensive evidence of climate change (as well as a more general need for energy security), Britain is investing £50 billion into a Green Investment Bank, which will create almost a quarter of a million jobs, generate much-needed energy and pump money back into the economy.

And what has been the deniers reward for their constant efforts? Their complaints have triggered a string of official inquiries, including three into Climategate, a Penn State one into Michael Mann, a Dutch one into the IPCC, plus the Press Complaints Commission one which led to a climbdown by the Sunday Times over its reporting of Amazongate – every one has exonerated the climate scientists involved and the science of global warming remains unchallenged.

It’s no wonder that promoters of AGW can claim to have right and truth on their side, and that their enemies are just vexatious kooks with no evidence to support their outrageous claims against decent hardworking honest scientists like Michael Mann and Phil Jones.

However, it is a big mistake to think deniers will go quietly.

They honestly believe virtually every respected institution in the world is involved in a climate change conspiracy.

They honestly believe that in a straightforward battle between truth and lies, the deniers have the facts on their side.

Unfortunately, it is likely they will continue to have success in the battle for hearts and minds. In the case of the Amazongate saga, they know that the minutiae is complex, involved and slightly dull. They know that their readers think it is complex, involved and slightly dull, which is why they won’t bother going into detail. They will link to other voices in the denier echo chamber who repeat the same debunked claims, sometimes with passion and sometimes with what appears to be sciencey sounding language.

However, they know their followers won’t go to the effort of reading all those other articles. They only use these other sources to give the impression of credibility before spouting their misleading (and sometimes outright dishonest) claims.

This is why they can say black is white with impunity and confidence.

They will say the Amazongate retraction by the Sunday Times is the result of activism on behalf of the AGW conspiracy and the pro-Warmist bias of the Press Complaints Commission (of all things!). They will, without irony, accuse climate change scientists of employing the same tactics deniers have been using for years.

Why do they do this? If the close of Delingpole’s article is any indication, narcissism is just one of the psychological problems motivating the leaders of the denier movement. As this special report in a May issue of New Scientist explains:

[Seth Kalichman, social psychologist at the University of Connecitcut] believes the instigators of denialist movements have more serious psychological problems than most of their followers. “They display all the features of paranoid personality disorder”, he says, including anger, intolerance of criticism, and what psychiatrists call a grandiose sense of their own importance. “Ultimately, their denialism is a mental health problem. That is why these movements all have the same features, especially the underlying conspiracy theory.”

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Is James Delingpole for real?

If you’re familiar with the work of James Delingpole, you’ll know him as the painfully ignorant, eternally inaccurate “journalist” trolling on the Telegraph Blogs. Like a pickled deformed foetus, he is at both repulsive and fascinating. Repulsive because every opinion he has, belief he holds and statement he makes manage to distort reality and normal human decency to such an extent his articles become something like a written manifestation of a Dali masterpiece – if said masterpiece was painted by a brain damaged chimp with stumps for hands. Fascinating because I can not comprehend how someone so devoid of an ability to construct a cogent opinion (let alone honestly report anything factual) is a journalist – and has a regular presence on the website of one of Britain’s biggest daily newspapers. Yes, being an ignorant jerk isn’t exactly uncommon within the British press, but Delingpole is SO consistently bad, it genuinely troubles my mind.

I’ve long suspected Delingpole to be a fake. That the James Delingpole persona is entirely fictional; his blog nothing more than a vessel for other Telegraph writers to vent their most vile and hateful thoughts. Like a columnist ‘river of slime’. However, that doesn’t quite add up as I’ve seen the ‘Pole on the telly and I don’t think they make CGI that ugly. In the past, I’ve termed him a professional troll – a shameless shill paid to discuss issues he doesn’t really care about (and clearly knows very little about) simply to stir up controversy and attract readers. This too isn’t quite right, as Jimmy spends his offline time head-to-head with the world’s brightest, debating issues he knows very little about.

So, even though it hurt my brain to do so, I was forced to accept that Delingpole was genuine. At least, I did until today… (the plot thickens!)

Delingpole’s latest post on the Telegraph is so pointless it’s barely even worth mentioning. I only do so to set the scene. He rants in response to today’s “exclusive” report in The Times about EU plans to adopt a more ambitious target for the reduction of CO2 emissions.

[As an aside, earlier today The Guardian's George Monbiot wrote a blog post about the same story. It's interesting to compare the differing approach of the two long-term rivals. When confronted with the news, the first thing Monbiot did was phone the European commission in an attempt to check the validity of the story (for the record, they said it was "totally wrong" - interesting to think that The Times will be charging for such exclusives very soon). Meanwhile, Delingpole smacked his angry face into the keyboard until something resembling an article was vomited forth.]

Towards the end of this stream of non-consciousness, he rages about David Cameron’s commitment to tackling climate change (going so far as to use ALL CAPS – truly the mark of a serious journalist). This is despite telling his readers to vote Conservative pre-election. In the comments, one of his followers, Jacquesarden, points out this inconsistency. Not particular cutting, I feel. It is entirely possible to support one party about others but criticise individual policies. Regardless, the really interesting part of this tale is Delingpole’s enigmatic reply:

@jacquesarden Sorry mate, but I think you may be a bit too stupid to understand the point of any of my blogs. May I suggest the Guardian’s Comment is Free, or similar?

Now, this is unusual for a couple of reasons. For one, Jacquesarden’s is the only comment out of 16 to which Delingpole bothers to reply. It’s odd that a so-called professional journalist would respond to such a harmless comment with such a childish rebuke. More intriguingly is Delingpole’s reference to “the point” of his blogs. He could’ve just said something like: “I still feel voting Conservative was the best option; albeit out of an exceptionally bad bunch. However, just because I supported David Cameron in the general election, this doesn’t mean I’m going to relent when trying to bring some common sense to British politics”.

Instead, he teases us with talk of a “point”, suggesting a grander scheme behind the blog – something only an inner circle of his sycophantic followers know about. Maybe they’re not even in on the secret?

Now, what could this “point” Delingpole refers to be?

It can’t be to inform or educate his readers; his articles mainly consist of misleading claims and tenuous assertions.

It can’t be to further the debate about climate change; he frequently regurgitates long-debunked denialist arguments.

It can’t be to spread doubt and confusion about climate change; he lacks the credibility and knowledge to make much of an impact.

It can’t be to promote the libertarian philosophy; he’s very aggressive towards people whose thoughts differ from his own and is remarkably critical about people making money (admittedly the only people with money he mentions are the ones who also campaign for protecting the environment).

It clearly isn’t to help or support a Conservative government; if his advice for the Tories are anything to go by, he either wants them confined to the political wilderness or understands even less about the British public than he does about climate science (I think it’s the latter).

So, what’s the point?

Possibly there isn’t a point and the James Delingpole blog is nothing more than the earnest writings of an egotistical man-child, overcompensating for his own insecurity and whose privileged upbringing managed to disguise what I suspect is a mild case of autism.

On the other hand, this could be the closest I’ve got to seeing Delingpole admit that the whole thing is a hoax – a parody. Could it be that the “point” of James Delingpole’s blog, and in fact his entire existence, is to act as a twisted reflection of ourselves?* A dark satire, exposing man’s innate instinct to eschew rationality and compassion in favour of bitter, instinctual self-interest? His every assertion is baseless and narrow-minded. Every piece of “evidence” he uses is mercilessly corrupted to fit a predefined conclusion. How then does he differ from the rest of us in our every day lives? When we tell our friends about how unfairly we’ve been treated at work, we don’t stop to fact-check or make sure all quotes are put into proper context. When overhearing a snippet of private conversation between two friends, we don’t seek to establish the full story before leaping to (and passing on) any conclusions. Delingpole’s gift to humanity has been to expose its lack of credibility by sacrificing his own.

Just think: when you’re reading Delingpole, you’re reading yourself telling the people who you want to take you seriously things you think you know stuff about.

Either that or you’re reading the deluded scrawlings of one of the world’s biggest cunts.

*That question was totally an homage to John Rentoul.

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Shock: Climate Change Denier cites Dodgy Evidence – ‘Eaglegate’

I figured it’s Sunday, ‘Undercover Princesses’ is on the telly and unpacking from yesterday’s big move to London has lost its appeal: it’s time to dust off the ol’ shovel and start clearing through the thick layers of shit that make up another James Delingpole climate change-bashing article.

In this masterpiece of ignorance and arseholeism, James tackles wind farms, taking his lead from a report in The Sunday Times and, oddly for a libertarian conservative, taking exception to rich people making money.

Normally, I don’t bother making a big deal out of the spurious garbage written by Mr. Delingpole – professional troll as he is. However, this time around Mr. Delingpole actually evokes strong evidence to back up his argument and provides source links…

Perhaps there was a time, in the early days of wind farms, when these men could have pleaded ignorance of just how evil and useless wind farms are. Not any more. So much strong evidence has now emerged of the damage wind farms do to bird life and to the natural beauty of the landscape, in return for no real benefit to anyone except heavily-subsidised wind-farm-owners, that the only way anyone could possibly ignore it is to stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and go: “Nyah nyah nyah. Don’t care. My estate manager tells me it’s going to make me pots and pots of lovely dosh, so bugger the peasants who have their views ruined and the little people who have to pay for my lovely holidays in Mustique with their increased eco-taxes and inflated electricity bills.”

Given his enthusiasm for declaring a new “gate” whenever any evidence for climate change turns out to be slightly more complicated than he can evidently comprehend, I thought it was only fair to investigate Mr. Delingpole’s own credibility.

He makes three claims, supported by three links that supposedly at least mention the “strong evidence” he is referring to:

1. They kill birds.

2. They ruin the natural beauty of the landscape.

3. They offer no real benefit.

I’ll start with point two. The linked article isn’t even about natural beauty, it’s about wind farms under performing compared to theoretical estimates. The point is fundamentally stupid at any rate, as anything manmade would obviously have a negative impact on whatever’s considered naturally beautiful – if Mr. Delingpole extended his scope beyond the limited confines of the British Isles, he would be arguing the environmentalist cause. Considering that any source of power would result in something occupying the landscape somewhere, the question becomes less about natural beauty and more about unnatural beauty. This is far more subjective, but equally as shallow an argument.

Point three depends, I guess, on your definition of a ‘real benefit’. He links to a typically terrifying opinion piece from the Daily Mail. Not wanting to fuck around, Christopher Booker sends you immediately racing to the emergency bunker:

Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity.

And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.

The real benefit is clear: providing enough power to keep the kettles going. However, I believe Christopher Booker’s argument constructs a straw man and misrepresents the report the article’s founded on. Booker’s article was published on the 15th July 2009, on the 13th the CBI released their “blueprint for secure and sustainable energy future” . I think it’s reasonable to assume that this is what Booker was referring to. The CBI do criticise the government’s energy policy and recommend “reducing the percentage of wind power expected by 2020 under the Renewables Strategy… to encourage investment in other low-carbon energy sources”, however this conclusion isn’t quite as damning as Booker (and, by proxy, Delingpole) would have you believe.

According to the CBI, at the time of the report, this is what Britain’s energy scheme was heading towards:

By 2030 gas would provide more than a third of the UK’s energy (36%); coal would contribute 1%; wind 24%; nuclear 20%; other renewables 12%; and clean coal 8%. That would mean 64% of electricity would come from low-carbon technologies, behind the Climate Change Committee’s 78% target, and leaving the UK struggling to meet its long-term carbon reduction targets.

Following their recommendations for, what they call, a ‘balanced pathway’, they laid out their preferred distribution as this:

Under this pathway, by 2030 gas would make up 16% of the energy mix; coal 2%; nuclear 34%; wind 20%; other renewables 15%; and clean coal 14%. That would mean 83% of our electricity will come from low-carbon sources, compared with 64% under a business as usual model. Meanwhile, power sector emissions would halve by 2020 and halve again by 2030, getting the UK back on track with its longer-term carbon targets.

A shift of only 4% is wholly disproportionate to both Delingpole’s and Booker’s anti-wind farm rants.

Cutting back to the chase, the ‘real benefit’ is that, in the future, wind power will provide 20% of our energy – this will be sustainable, clean and secure. There’s nothing in either Delingpole’s or Booker’s article that says otherwise.

Finally, to point three: killing birds. I’m sure Mr. Delingpole’s totally ignorant to the irony of someone who devotes much of their time aggressively attempting to derail the most important environmental issue of our time by appealing to animal lovers (he’s such a big fan of the WWF, after all). He links to his man Christopher Booker again (this time writing for The Telegraph) who uses studies, conspiracy and YouTube to prove how wind farms are evil. Typically, the sources of these studies were not linked to, so I had to look myself to see whether this argument bears fruit. Whether Delingpole did or not, I don’t know. I’ll just say it took me only a few seconds to find this:

The number of bird deaths from wind farms is relatively low. Treehugger, in an article “Common Eco-Myths: Wind Turbines Kill Birds”, put the claim under the microscope and shed some light on the perpetuity of this argument:

Whether by intent or because older studies are more common, opponents of wind power will have cited bird mortality data from studies done before 2000 and, to make their point, are likely to focus on studies done on wind turbines erected in high exposure situations: e.g. in migratory pathways, at mountain passes, near nesting areas, and so on. Those are the numbers that get quoted at public hearings, published in the media, and that therefore underlie the collective consciousness about wind turbine hazard to birds. Not unlike what happens to people who constantly see fires crashes and shooting on the local news and come to think that what they are seeing is far more common than it really is, it all comes down to a risk communication problem.

That article was written 4 years ago. Maybe Delingpole’s love of animals starts and stops with birds as he loves flogging dead horses…

Given Delingpole’s propensity to rabidly pounce upon any controversy in sources, over-amplification of findings and suspected errors in the case of climate change scientists, you would think he would hold him and his fellow deniers to the same standards. He doesn’t.

Let’s recap. Wind power is bad because…

1. It kills birds. This argument was weak four years ago. Under this condition domestic pets, cars, ALL power lines and windows would be “evil”.

2. It ruins natural beauty. An argument that could be applied to anything man does. Would a nuclear power station add to the natural beauty?

3. It offers no real benefit. Other than clean, sustainable and secure energy, that is. Presumably he means it offers no real benefit over other types of energy sources. If so, he should explain why he thinks this. Regardless, nobody’s recommending only using wind farms. If somebody didn’t get a field full of wind farms on a hill near them someone else would be getting a whopping great nuclear power station outside their town. Either way, it’s late and trying to understand Delingpole logic is hurting my head.

Good night.

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Weathermen, scientists and the lack of uncertainty about climate change

Traversing the snake pit of flaws and functional shortcomings that is the media’s ability to effectively communicate any message that veers from a position of so-called common sense or conservative opinion (note the little c) is a fun, if often fruitless, game. While such an exercise brings many opportunities for raging rants, getting to the root cause of why they are so fundamentally useless at their, almost, singular role in society is surprisingly difficult.

In the case of climate change and, in particular, how it relates to the decidedly un-warm weather in the UK, you can hardly be surprised that such noteworthy columnists as (ahem) Gerald Warner and Janet Daley get confused about the science when, reportedly, so do the meteorological magnates across the pond.

In a survey of U.S. weathercasters, 41% said their biggest obstacle to reporting climate change was “scientific uncertainty”. I’m sure many of the most vocal ‘sceptics’ (as they like to be called) in the media would agree. This appeal to doubt as justification for their failure would be more understandable if another survey didn’t show that 96% of climatologists agree that man is having an impact on global warming.

To see the bizarre discrepancy in acceptance of AGW (human-caused global warming) between climate scientists and those who could arguably be called their most public voice, I’ve cobbled together this graph based on the results from a number of surveys*…

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Copenhagen: a clusterfuck with a worthwhile outcome?

Looking back over 2009, it’s easy to forget that what was once hailed as one of the most important international summits EVER actually happened. Fortunately, I happened upon this article by David Aaronovitch, providing an insightful and entertaining summary of Copenhagen. In a nutshell: there’s hope.

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Snow in UK proves global warming is a lie – does record heatwave in Bulgaria prove it’s real?

There are so many idiots writing nonsense blogs for The Telegraph it’s barely worth highlighting individual examples of their boastful ignorance. Sometimes, however, I can’t help but be encouraged by the gushing veneration of their commenters.

Thusly, it was Stew’s comment on Gerald Warner’s post, BBC: forecast of a mild winter ‘wasn’t actually wrong’. And they called climate sceptics ‘deniers’, that spurred me into writing this inaugural post for 2010.

Stew wrote:

“Devastating; and brilliantly argued. Thank you, Mr Warner.”

Now, after reading just a few paragraphs of Mr. Warner’s paranoid rant, I would not have considered it “brilliantly argued”. Nor would I have considered it sensible, rational or relevant. Still, I can’t help but think that maybe it’s me who is at fault here; that I’m just too blinded by my liberal sensibilities to spot the luminosity of the polemic. I must therefore stick my surgeon’s cap on and dissect the article, in the hope that I might learn something.

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What would’ve made the ‘Climategate’ emails truly damaging…

You may have noticed an increased chill in the air since Friday as, over the last week, global warming has finally been exposed as an elaborate hoax orchestrated within the innately Machiavellian halls of the University of Anglia. At least, that’s what right-wing commentators would have you believe following the revelation of hacked emails from leading climatologists. In reality, and despite the bitter cold, climate change continues to devastate lives and 2009 will be one of the top five warmest years in the past 150 years.

Unexpected as the sceptics seizure of what scant controversy exists is, I was surprised by the rabidity of The Telegraph’s James Delingpole. Even the great arch-hatemonger Melanie Phillips’ responded with hyena-like caution

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