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Andrew Simms: I ask again – 100 months to do what, exactly?

January 1, 2011

Every month, Andrew Simms writes a ‘countdown’ piece in the Guardian under the banner ’100 months and counting’. In September I asked what his point was – where does he think we’re going and why? Today sees the latest in his series 71 months and counting …” in which he draws comparisons between the sub-prime idiocy and the complacency of the denial lobby. Meanwhile, I’m still asking the same questions…

Andrew

So, governments and commerce colluded to perpetrate a gamble of outrageous proportions, with the public putting up the stake. I’m with you so far, sure.

But there are a couple of things that bother me about your analysis. The first is the effect the collapse had on the developing world. We hear much from deniers about how we should be spending climate change money on the third world. We hear much less about how much our caprice has cost the same poor people in terms of lost aid, failed initiatives, depleted NGO resources and so on. Everyone has been a victim of this catastrophe, not just those in the west who perpetrated this shabby shell game.

So the poor – the inevitable victims of the worst of climate change – are still suffering, just as they always have. And although you don’t say as much, it appears that you expect those who gave us the sub-prime mortgage, and the governments who turned a blind eye, will now leap into action to save us from climate change. Is that the message?

This is my principle concern now. What is the agenda of the environmental movement towards climate change? I believe that, as Monbiot recently admitted (and I’ve been writing for some considerable time now), we cannot expect politicians to do what is needed – Copenhagen and Cancun made that all too clear. I also believe we cannot expect the public to address the problems because it requires changes in infrastructure; both stable investment opportunity (through legislation), and a clear bi-partisan political agenda that displays some coherence and longevity, neither of which the public can provide.

If you accept that governments cannot, or perhaps will not, address these issues in a timely and consistent fashion, then what alternatives do we have? If you accept that consumerism and climate change mitigation/adaptation are mutually exclusive, then how do we bring about a paradigm shift that doesn’t dislocate the fabric of society so that the cure is worse than the disease? Or is the unthinkable what we should be starting to consider: that consumerism cannot become the global measure of success, or well-being, or anything at all, because it cannot be made to work without unintended consequences that destroys the profit of consumerism even as it is created.

We may be counting down to something, Andrew – and I’m not going to take cheap shots at the rhetorical device you use to focus on these matters – but we need to consider more what effective actions are available to us, and less about how we got into this mess. It really isn’t anyone’s fault, but now the consequences of our actions are becoming clear, how do we change those actions into something fair, something egalitarian and decent? And how do we get the public to understand that it isn’t demeaning to trust those whose knowledge of science exceeds our own.

We live in a paternalistic society, where our ‘democratic’ representatives are burdened with a kind of parental responsibility. We elect them, then we sit on our arses and blame the incumbents when they get it wrong, which is very convenient. Until we engage seriously with democracy, take part in it, and educate ourselves sufficiently to have an informed opinion instead of just ‘an opinion’, the public will be irrelevant to this debate, for they cannot discuss what they don’t understand.

So, Andrew. Here’s the challenge for the new year. How do we solve the problem of anthropogenic climate change, or should we start to consider that Lovelock’s Gaia theory may invoke a solution just as red in tooth and claw as nature ever is, for climate change left to its own trajectory will certainly solve the population problem.

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19 Comments
  1. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 1, 2011 10:46 pm

    I think that we are in the grip of the biggest and most insane hoax in history, and unless the public get wise to it soon, we will all be parted from what wealth we have.

    Lets take a simple economic view of what is likely to happen.

    In the absence of sufficient alternative solutions/technologies, the only way western countries can ever attain the IPCC demands of CO2 emissions reduced to 40% below 1990 levels, (thats about 60% below todays) is to machine restrictions on the use of fossil fuels. Emission Trading schemes are an example.

    As the use of fossil fuels is roughly linear with anthropogenic CO2 emissions, to attain a 60% reduction of emissions , means about the same proportion of reduction of fossil fuel usage, including petrol, diesel, heating oil, not to mention coal and other types including propane etc.

    No matter how a restriction on the use of these is implemented, even a 10% decrease will make the price of petrol go sky high. In otherwords, (and petrol is just one example) we can expect, if the IPCC has its way, a price rise on petrol of greater than 500%.
    First of all, for all normal people, this will make the family car impossible to use. Worse than that though, the transport industry will also have to deal with this as well and they will need to pass the cost on to the consumer. Simple things like food will get prohibitively expensive. Manufacturers who need fossil energy to produce will either pass the cost on to the consumer or go out of business. If you live further than walking distance from work, you will be in trouble.
    All this leads to an economic crash of terrible proportions as unemployment rises and poverty spreads.
    I believe that this will be the effect of bowing to the IPCC and the AGW lobby. AND as AGW is a hoax it will be all in vain. The world will continue to do what it has always done while normal people starve and others at the top (including energy/oil companies and emission traders) will enjoy the high prices.

    Neither this scenario nor any analysis of the cost of CO2 emission reductions is included in IPCC literature, and the Stern report which claims economic expansion is simply not obeying economic logic as it is known in todays academic world.

    The fact that the emission reduction cost issue is not discussed, leads me to believe that there is a deliberate cover up of this issue. Fairly obviously the possibility of starvation will hardly appeal to the masses.

    AGW is baloney anyway!

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  2. Graham Wayne permalink*
    January 2, 2011 8:46 am

    I already got the idea you don’t believe in AGW, but you can’t surely say the same about climate change, the evidence for which is quite clear. So let’s not focus on what we disagree about, but consider instead the implications of mitigation/adaptation, which is exactly what I think we should be discussing.

    But please Roger, if we are to hold any kind of rational debate, let’s also leave out the nonsense about deliberate cover-ups. The economic issues are discussed all the time, here, in the Guardian, in the business journals, in the Lloyd’s of London/Chatham house report last year, by insurance brokers and pension funds, by trade unions and the CBI, and most notably by the developing countries fearful that much of what you suggest will happen, but mainly to them and not us. Claiming this issue is being suppressed puts you back in the realms of the tinfoil brigade. And if you start with the silly challenges or the conspiracy theories again, you know what will happen to your posts – so keep a lid on the extremes please.

  3. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 2, 2011 10:56 am

    Graham,

    Quite right about climate change, if you visit my blog you will find that I dwell on the fact that the earth’s climate has always changed throughout its history as well as in human historical times.

    The fact that we see little official debate on the economics of carbon emission reductions, (and do not mix this up with “mitigation of climate change”) is an important point.
    No one has yet disagreed with the analysis above, and indeed I believe the process described is easily understood by economist and layman alike. However the fact it is not discussed and included in IPCC reporting is a serious omission and we should all ponder why such an essential issue has been neglected.

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  4. John Russell permalink
    January 3, 2011 12:20 pm

    The response of ‘Rogerthesurf” is interesting.

    He suggests we should not do anything about climate change because the economic repercussions of doing so are so great. That is a valid argument. Where his logic falls down is when he suggests that the science is wrong because the economic repercussions are so great. Sorry, Roger, that is simple denial.

    I am convinced that Roger’s comment reveals the primary reason why so many people reject climate science — they lack the courage to face up to what it actually means in terms of lifestyle change.

    Best wishes,

    John Russell

  5. elsa permalink
    January 4, 2011 11:57 am

    Happy new year Graham.

    As you know, it’s not often I rush to defend you particularly as I am pretty sympathetic to the view expressed by Rogerthe surf. However I think that there could be a substantial change in the relationship between world output and world fossil fuel consumptions if fossil fuels were to become more expensive. We can see an example in the present as Japan seems to produce about twice as much as the US for each unit of fuel input. That said Rogerthesurf is broadly correct and the issue of the potentially massive cost is just assumed away by the vast majority of warmists who seem to assume that because it is possible to use a windmill to produce electricity it follows that it will be as cheap as oil produced electricity.

  6. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 4, 2011 9:18 pm

    John,

    “He suggests we should not do anything about climate change because the economic repercussions of doing so are so great. That is a valid argument. Where his logic falls down is when he suggests that the science is wrong because the economic repercussions are so great. Sorry, Roger, that is simple denial. ”

    That is not what I am saying and you are deliberately twisting my words.

    I am saying that because the cost of reducing emissions will be so great that 1. we have been misled in that respect, 2. Because the cost is so great, we should demand a high standard of proof for AGW else we risk manufacturing our own apocalypse for no good reason.

    Cheers

    Roger

  7. Graham Wayne permalink*
    January 4, 2011 9:36 pm

    Hi JR – I’ve been trying to email you for days, but your mail keeps bouncing…

  8. January 8, 2011 12:20 am

    Hi Roger, I think your point goes a little too far to be worthwhile.

    Please allow me to satirise :

    I’ve been trying to give up smoking for some considerable time but it’s just too hard, and stressful, there’s too much angst, too high an emotional cost involved. Rather than invest in quitting smoking I’ve decided to question whether cigs cause actually cancer instead, and demand a higher standard of proof from my doctor/the medical establishment/anti-smoking do gooders.

    Now how do the above words affect my chances of getting cancer?

    Best wishes Hengist

  9. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 8, 2011 6:43 am

    Hengist,

    I have no idea what your analogy is describing.

    Perhaps a better analogy is that when one doctor diagnoses you with lung cancer and describes to you the pain and suffering caused by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, you may sensibly be tempted to get a number of opinions as to whether the first doctor was correct, and NOT rely on what you read in newspapers, magazines or see on TV.

    My comment is about the cost of meeting the IPCC CO2 emission reductions, and I am using standard middle of the road economic principles which I hope are clearly stated.

    It is true that I mention that AGW is baloney, but that was just in passing. If you want some proof that it is baloney, I suggest you read my blog http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com where you are more than welcome to comment on the reasoning.

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  10. Graham Wayne permalink*
    January 8, 2011 10:26 am

    Sorry Roger, but Hengist’s analogy seemed quite apt to me. Yours, however, can be paraphrased as follows: I saw 100 doctors – 97 of them told me I had cancer and needed drastic treatment. Three disagreed, but couldn’t actually provide evidence to make the shadow on my lungs go away – they kept telling me it was the x-ray machine, or the operator (who was being paid by corrupt big pharma to bend the results so they could sell more treatments).

    You have decided to take the advice of the 3%, ignoring the 97%. Most likely probability – you will die.

    (And by the way, why drag the media into it? Your diagnosis would come from the medical profession (i.e. science) not the bloody newspapers. May we assume that your source of information on climate change is limited – as in your analogy – to newspapers and not the primary science?)

  11. January 8, 2011 9:17 pm

    Roger, thanks . I havent put my point as well as I could and yes I will visit your website cos your statement “Because the cost is so great, we should demand a high standard of proof for AGW ” is a gem for us warmists.

    Your fallacy is that you are saying that economic values should inform the science. I say Science should be a dispassionate search for truth. And those economic values are not universally shared.

    Yes, I could search out another doctor to tell me what I want to hear but that is different to seeking out the truth of the matter.

    Best regards, Hengist

  12. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 9, 2011 5:03 am

    Hengist,

    You are still twisting my words.

    Can I try and clarify some more.

    I am most certainly not claiming that the COST of IPCC CO2 reduction requirements in anyway have anything to do whether AGW is fact or not.

    But the cost DOES OR SHOULD give us a distinct warning to think twice before we go down the IPCC road. The economics does NOT seek to inform science, but rather warns us to examine the science and evidence very carefully.

    If there was no cost and consequence to AGW why would we worry one way or the other anyway?

    I dont know about you, but if I was told I had a dangerous disease which needed a risky and painful remedy, I would not only seek a number of opinions, but I would demand to see the medical evidence, xrays & scans, justification for the treatment recommended, look at alternatives and read up on the issues, demand % success rates etc., until I was convinced it was the right thing to do.
    This is what I am recommending you do with respect to AGW.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  13. January 9, 2011 9:04 pm

    Hi Roger, I’m having some difficulty reconciling “Because the cost is so great, we should demand a high standard of proof for AGW ” with “The economics does NOT seek to inform science, but rather warns us to examine the science and evidence very carefully. ” and also with “I am most certainly not claiming that the COST of IPCC CO2 reduction requirements in anyway have anything to do whether AGW is fact or not.”

    I’m happy to examine the science and evidence very carefully.
    I’m reading McKibben ‘The End of Nature ” at the moment, he writes that the cost of defending the coastline of america against a 6ft rise could top $300bn. So it’s big money whichever way you look at it.

    A patient is entitled to keep questioning until he is convinced treatment is the right thing to do. Of course he risks the disease advancing by delaying his decision, which is why we have experts to advise the decision makers. In the real world Roger, the experts have found some considerable time ago that the global warming signal can be distinguished from the background noise and those experts have advised the decision makers (the politicians). It is the decision making process that has stalled since then, not the science which continues to show an ever worsening situation. The lack of political action is a failure of the decision making process and it is disingenuous to suggest it’s due to the science.

    It’s fine for you to forego treatment for a disease , thats your personal choice. But in the real world there’s the welfare of the human race to consider, thats billions of people. The best brains should decide this which means specialists. Scientific, political, philosophical and economic specialists. But no one person can qualify in all those fields, that’s just the nature of things. So I dont accept your premise “Because the cost is so great, we should demand a high standard of proof for AGW” because it is crossing too many disciplines to be meaningful or worthwhile.

    What role do you want to play, decision making patient or climate expert doctor?

    All the best, Hengist

  14. January 9, 2011 9:46 pm

    PS Kudos for giving me an object lesson in why analogy is not clever argument with a climate change denier. But , you can’t really reccomend I look into the science, the science is broadly on my side , I should be reccomending you look into the science;-)

  15. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:10 pm

    Hengist,

    I am unable to explain any further. Im sure all other reasonable readers understand perfectly clearly what I am saying.

    Your obtuseness makes me suspect that you are very young, maybe 12 or 13. Am I right? I have had this problem before and the correspondents turned out to be teenagers.

    “I’m happy to examine the science and evidence very carefully.
    I’m reading McKibben ‘The End of Nature ” at the moment, he writes that the cost of defending the coastline of america against a 6ft rise could top $300bn. So it’s big money whichever way you look at it.”

    Examining the science and evidence carefully is a good proposition.
    Might pay to start by applying the same to the theories you are defending.
    A 6ft rise might indeed cost $300bn but why dont you read what the IPCC predicts (and they are also prone to exaggeration) before you dump McKibben’s book.

    I will give you a clue where to look.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter10.pdf
    Page 750.
    And when you have read that go to http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm and read it from top to bottom.
    By that time you will have grown up and matured a little, but at least you will know what you are defending.

    Then you should go to this link http://globalwarmingsupporter.wordpress.com/page/5/ and note in the last comment where empirical evidence and proof by hypothesis are discussed.
    Then you will be better equipped for what you are trying to do.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

    I will not comment again.

  16. Watching the deniers permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:15 am

    Roger is a troll, used to hit my blog all the time. Don’t spend to much time on him.

  17. rogerthesurf permalink
    January 10, 2011 3:15 am

    Would help if my previous comment was published but it has been published at http://globalwarmingsupporter.wordpress.com along with the whole conversation.

    Cheers

    Roger

  18. Graham Wayne permalink*
    January 10, 2011 1:54 pm

    Comments are now closed for this item. See the next post for the reason why…

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