Global Warming Skeptics Deserve Bigger Headlines

Because at least they fucking work for them! At least they, when churning out their boilerplate propaganda, actually place it at the level of the layman so it can be read and understood without an undergraduate degree! At least they realise that the real debate about global warming (ie. the 'What the fuck are we going to do about it" debate) will take place in the public sphere because it’s Joe Sixpack who’s gonna have to pay for it and Joe Sixpack really fucking hates paying for anything.

Global warming advocates generally have no fucking clue whatsoever how to present their material to the layman. The notable exception to that rule is, of course, Al Gore. Al understands that scientific opinion is not the only currency in this debate, public opinion counts too. Al understands that most people find climate science really fucking dull, and so he brightens it up with fancy presentations, attention-grabbing computer simulations, eye-catching books filled with colourful pictures, and he ties it all together with easy to understand analogies comprising simple words. Because that’s what works! That is how you get apathetic laypersons to sit up and start giving a shit.

However, Al doesn’t take it far enough. The skeptics can easily rattle off a dozen plausible sounding rebuttals to Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’, and they have. The average pleb, not knowing enough about science to differentiate between truth and truthful sounding bullshit, is confounded and goes back to square one.

I’ll give you a case in point. I’m the average pleb I spoke of earlier. I found science fairly boring in school and never really paid much heed to any of it. But still, I happen to live in the environment and, consequently, if something’s wrong with it I’d like to know. I hear that there’s this organisation called the IPCC which is apparently the daddy of all scientific institutes on this topic. Unfortunately, the material they produce is about as user unfriendly as it’s possible to be. Six hundred page reports, much of which is consumed with the dissection of abstruse graphs, executive summaries comprising little more than a series of assertions based upon the aforementioned impenetrable data. Utterly useless for the layman. I know that the IPCC reports are not intended for the layman, so I don’t take too much umbrage at their inaccessibility but I wonder why, if climate change is so fucking important, and if they’re the most august climatological institute in the world, they don’t pump a little more cash into their PR department and squeeze out something for the dummies to absorb.

I then go to junkscience.com, a website run by a known fraud (Steven J. Milloy, a man who’s first act after 9/11 was to write an article blaming the Clinton Administration for the collapse of the twin towers by taking the asbestos out of them) and funded by people with a vested interest in discouraging the search for alternative energy sources. There, I read easy to understand arguments broken down into digestible chunks garnished with just enough science to make me feel smart for having grapped with it, rather than a moron for having drowned in it. They say things like “Well, the ice caps are melting on Mars and no-one’s driving any SUV’s up there”, or “In the 1970’s they said there was a new ice age coming and they were wrong about that”. Now, on further inspection, it turns out that these counterarguments against global warming are unmitigated horseshit. However, they make “common sense” and the environmentalists who have been ceaselessly banging on for what seems like a millennia about how badly we’re fucking up the environment by not shutting off the standby lights on our computer monitors, have yet to publish any simple, common sense rebuttals.

What the environmental movement needs is it’s own Richard Dawkins, someone who can explain highly complex theoretical principles in a straightforward manner. Someone who realises that jargon isn’t impressive to the layman, doesn’t make you sound smart, and subsequently eschews it. Someone who can dissect the most sophisticated skeptical counterarguments and show us the weak points in the carcass. Someone who can make things simple, without making them simplistic.

Until such a person comes along, the environmental movement will always lose to the skeptics in the public sphere.

Joe Sixpack pays for more than his share already, you ivory tower jackass. Correct me if you’ve sent voluntary tithes to the US Treasury, but I feel safe in saying that the only money you delight in parting with belongs to other people.

Richard Dawkins? :smiley: Why not Dick Donato?

Woah! Where did you get that from?

I think he just said that as a fact, not as a critisism. And it is a fact. Most people don’t like parting with money.

If you need them to part with some you gotta explain to them why, not just throw a load of figures at them.

Okay, sorry. It’s the “Joe Sixpack” reference that irked me. It’s often a reference to Southerners or people who work for a living — a ephemism for “redneck”. Education, in the traditional sense of a college campus, doesn’t necessarily make people smarter than people who had to go to work.

Perhaps I should have been clearer. *I’m Joe Sixpack. I’m the layman who’s going to have to pay the price of combating climate change. That’s partly why I’m so pissed off about all this. I’m constantly being told that the climate change will doom us all and wipe trillions off the stock market, but the people who are telling me all this never bother to explain in simple terms exactly what in the big blue blazing fuck is going on. So I, and people like me, are more inclined to side with the skeptics just because they’re the only one’s working hard to publicly make a case that people can understand. When I read an article on junkscience.com I only ever need to read it once. I can’t remember the last article supporting the scientific consensus on global warming that I was able to digest in less than half an hour.

Now, as it turns out, after doing a lot more legwork than I should have to, I’ve come to the conclusion that the skeptics are full of shit. I therefore think that the environment is pretty damn important. But I look around and see millions of people who haven’t done the legwork uncritically absorbing the garbage of the skeptics because it (a) sounds good and (b) can be quickly digested, but are ignoring the environmentalists because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to educate oneself to the point where those defending global warming actually start making sense.

[sub]*figuratively speaking, of course. [/sub]:slight_smile:

Okay, like I said: sorry. (Still, Dawkins blows, and is probably the worst apologist for atheists since Madalyn Murray O’Hair.)

Would you mind giving a link to that article please?

The thing is, I think Joe Sixpack DOES get it, mostly. It’s more about the legislators being in the pockets of corporate interests, and hence doing nothing about global warming. The polls seem to indicate the public is in favor of at least some moderate changes, like mandatory fuel efficinecy increases and emissions standards. The industry itself throws out lots of scary numbers to frighten us all about the expense, which they’ve been doing ever since Ralph Nader came along and started consumerism and the “safety” industry. The industry ALWAYS claims that new stadards will bankrupt them because no one will pony up the money for what they will cost to implement, and yet they happen with hardly a hitch when push comes to shove.

I don’t know…

My mom is a very intelligent, insightful woman. She’s an RN with a Master’s degree and has a firm grasp of complicated topics like community health. Also, she hates FoxNews, which I take as confirmation of her intelligence. When I was out on a visit last June, I made a passing mention of the need to get busy in regards to global warming, I got a remarkably hostile reaction from her, that there is no agreement as to whether global warming exists, let alone is caused by human activity, let alone can be ameliorated by human decisions - which is pretty much the chief line used by global warming deniers (not skeptics, deniers).

So, I had to hold her down and beat her with the IPCC report until she cried uncle.

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be getting a good Christmas present.

Well, please allow me to try to help.

The climate is a long term variation in the weather. Weather changes daily, and even faster than that, at times. Climate changes very much more slowly.

Measuring the weather in your neighborhood is only a very small part of climate, and there are only records for weather in a reliable scientific sense for about a hundred years all together. So, the fact is that climate is not well documented at all, in the sense that lay people can look at and understand. One of the favorite tactics of the pro waste and pillage faction is to insist that we show the results of a hundred years of waste and pillage like you show the dead body in a court room. Suggesting that we stop wasting and pillaging is a real dramatic thing to ask, and the major waste and pillage comes from the most rich and powerful people in the world. (That would be us, by the way.)

However small the total amount of easily understood evidence is, it all shows that global warming is happening. People who have studied it very closely are pretty much convinced that either A: Of course it’s happening, all the evidence which is very hard to understand also shows that it is happening. or, B: If you look very hard, in lots of places, you can find one or two bits of evidence that do not show that it is happening, so it is possible to convince a lot of people to ignore the rest.

Even if it is happening, the argument remains whether human actions are causing it. Of course it is absurd to believe that humans have absolutely no effect on it. Look at the vast stretches of forest in Asia, and America, and the huge rain forests. Of course you have to not think about the fact that they represent only a small fraction of what was there before humans began changing the earth a few centuries ago. Then you have to ignore the fact that humans have made more difference in ever other aspect of the Earth’s nature over the last two centuries than any other factor. But, if you speak often, you can keep people’s attention on their wallets, where it often wants to be anyway.

Why would you want to do that? Because changing it will be expensive. More expensive than anything we ever tried to do, other than causing global warming in the first place, but that was not deliberate. I will be blunt. We won’t do anything about it. Eventually it will be apparent that it is happening, but it will not be an easily provable matter that it is caused by human actions until long after it is impossible to change it back.

So, the very poor will die in much increased numbers, and suffer incredible poverty. Wars will be fought for resources that were once abundant. The balance of power will shift northwards. Energy use will increase and wars will be fought over that, too. I die, you die, everyone dies. But think of the money we will be saving!

Tris

Haven’t read Hitchens, yet? :smiley:

Not only that, but the “skeptics” aren’t really skeptics. They have to willfully ignore or a lot of real evidence, and blatantly misrepresent alleged counter-evidence, in order to maintain their position. So they’re starting with an agenda and trying to make the evidence fit it, which is the opposite of real skepticism and good science in general. But they do have some adept marketing folks working for them, ready to sell a false message, with potentially disastrous consequences, as if it were any other product.

We need Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan and Stephen J. Gould talking to people about this stuff. But they’re not around; who’s a really good popular science writer these days?

It’s hard to counter the faulty reasoning of the deniers because of the moving goalposts. First it was “There is no global warming.” Then we moved to “Well, all right, there is global warming, but there’s no proof it is caused by human activities.” Then we moved to “Okay, at least some of the global warming is caused by human activity, but it’s too late to do anything about it anyway.” I’ve heard members of this last group say that the best thing we can do is burn up the fossil fuel as quickly as possible and get it over with.

Of course, different denier groups are all at different phases of this sequence, so a lot of arguments you can use to counter one group’s position can be used to bolster another group’s argument.

But who isn’t named Algore?

Okay, second worst. :smiley:

How about Neil deGrasse Tyson?

I found this article by Steven Milloy regarding asbestos, published right after 9/11:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34342,00.html

It does not appear to mention Clinton.

Nor does it contain anything from which I could conclude that Milloy is a fraud. Asbestos is a very good insulator and flame retardent. It very well could have made a difference on 9/11.

I came across an article yesterday by Freeman Dyson, who happens to know a little bit about science, on the value of heretics. He goes on a bit about climate change.

HERETICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

It is an interesting read.

Slee

The type of atheist most beloved by theists, I suppose, is the softer, mushier kind. The shy one who doesn’t like to cause a fuss, who lacks true conviction in his own beliefs, and above all one who’s careful to stay chummy with the theists who massively outnumber him and find his beliefs contemptible— such that as a non-believer, he is assumed by default to be bereft of morals or ethics and unfit to teach, let alone be entrusted to public office.

The cuddly sort of atheist at whom the godly can wink and cluck their tongues, assured that deep down, he knows there’s really a God. It’s just an adolescent phase they go through; he’s sure to come around one day, and boy will he be red-faced to look back on that silly notion he’d once had, that God could ever possibly not exist, something any five-year old Sunday schooler can tell you isn’t true!

The problem is that it’s always easy to come up with “slogans” that are catchy, but it’s hard to come up with solid arguments. And it’s not just in the environmental area.

“Right to life!” was a great example of such a slogan: it immediately meant that anyone opposing them was anti-life, somehow, the murderous scum. It took the pro-abortion people years to come up with “pro-choice” as an alternative. But the problem is that the pro-abortion people believe that the situation is more complicated than just life vs choice, and as soon as you get a complicated situation, simplified slogans don’t do it.

“Don’t cut and run!” was another great example, taking a complex situation and simplifying it down to a non-thinking, idiotic slogan… as though “running” was the only alternative to “staying the course.” Again, a well-reasoned argument of a complicated situation can’t come up with a slogan.

So, the environmentalists face an uphill battle. It’s way too easy to come up with slogans or short one-sentence arguments on the other side: “Don’t take away my car!” would be a start. Trying to convince people that they need to make sacrifices and changes in life-style for their own good (and for the good of future generations) is never going to be an easy task. It wasn’t until the smog in LA and London was so think as to cause deaths and obnoxious smells that everyone faced, that we were able to get some sort of clean-air act going. Why would fighting global warming be any easier? When the water covers Manhattan, we’ll get some action. (My pessimism is showing)