Balancing act

Yesterday I drew attention to one of the charity-cum-pressure groups that infest and — in my view — distort the climate change debate as highlighted by Louise Gray’s DT article.

Today I would like to look at another aspect of the debate which was raised by one of the commenters to that article.

The commenter, posting under the name ‘newsjunkie’ is obviously an AGW supporter and says at one point,

I understand the defensiveness of the scientists concerned, while not condoning any attempt to sit on the data, preventing genuine researchers from taking a close look.

So far so fair enough, though I might take issue with the concept of “genuine researcher” He has a point of view; so do I. He continues,

What we are seeing is not fair debate. In fact, I’d say that the attempt to portray the “AGW” school as frauds and crooks is quite the ugliest sight I’ve seen where the MSM and other internet forums are concerned.

Citing Delingpole’s blog in particular as a “florid example” he then describes the labelling of all warmist commenters as “trolls” and ends,

Is it too much of an exaggeration to say we are witnessing a quasi-nazi outbreak of book-burning, or the modern day equivalent of the medieval witch-hunt?

Again, this is a point of view though I am uncomfortable with the idea of an “AGW school” for what I hope are obvious reasons.

I have quoted this posting at some length because though I disagree with newsjunkie’s primary position I have a certain sympathy with what he says. I am not fan of Delingpole — whose polemics are a bit rich for my tastes though I largely agree with what he writes — mainly because of the support he draws.

And before I pursue this train of thought any further I would draw attention to a posting by the Canadian blogger Donna Laframboise here in which she argues the case for the application of good judgment to the climate change debate.

The majority of genuine sceptics are looking for honesty, transparency, a willingness to admit possible error, a willingness to listen to the very large number of scientists who disagree, and above all an end to ad hom attacks, accusations of being in the pay of Big Whatever and needless exaggeration and scaremongering.

And that applies to both sides.

The debate is not furthered by either side engaging in the sort of mindless yah-boo exchanges that have no place in anything as important as whether or not we need to spend trillions of dollars on ensuring human survival beyond the end of this century.

But the trolls — and it is the trolls that are the problem on blogs such as Delingpole’s or Booker’s weekly ST piece or at the Mail or even occasionally at Bishop Hill — can safely be ignored. All they do is give scepticism a bad name though that the genuine sceptics could do without.
What is of greater importance is the persistent trotting out of press releases from advocacy groups like WWF, Greenpeace, Club of Rome, Sierra Club, Oxfam, CAFOD and all the others with an axe to grind and an agenda to pursue. They may have tame scientists in their employ but the genuinely objective scientific content of this constant dribble of PR logorrhoea is virtually non-existent.
It is only because the likes of Gray or her editors are either too lazy or too committed to the “cause” — something a good journalist should never be — that these groups can, if they so wish, get away with some extremely monstrous exaggerations about which even the most committed of global warming scientists have expressed reservations.
In a previous post I suggested that humanity appears to have an inbuilt capacity for pessimism and that scares of all kinds find a ready audience among the gullible (and even the not-so-gullible). Any organisation rattling its begging bowl knows that it will fill up quicker if the public can be persuaded that it is contributing to the solution to some scary problem even if there is not the slightest evidence that such a problem exists.

At the same time there are enough people, one hopes, to make the point — as Donna does very well — that the more the ‘warmists’ exaggerate, scaremonger, distort, corrupt data (if that is what they have been doing), denigrate their opponents and generally behave like little boys caught with their hands in the cookie jar the more they will be distrusted.

Sooner or later the scientists will, we hope, engage in reasonable debate on the data and on the limitations of computer models with those who are not of a like mind. Hopefully, also, we will all come round to the realisation that NGOs do not have either the scientific expertise or the political legitimacy to decide our future for us. The sooner that happens and the sooner we tell them where to get off the better, for all the people of the world.

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2 Responses to Balancing act

  1. hro001 says:

    Hi Sam,

    Didn’t even know you had this little corner of the blogosphere but I saw your comment today on BH. All this and Climatequotes, too?! How on earth do you manage to find the time?! But I digress …

    I think your last 2 paragraphs say it all. It never ceases to amaze me that these “climate scientists” and other advocates are such “slow learners”. The tactics they’ve used in the past are just not working for them any more … yet they seem incapable of learning from experience and adapting their techniques accordingly.

    P.S. Thanks for the link on your blogroll 🙂

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