Archive for May, 2008

Nonsense climate change denier

I dont have much time, but couldnt hold this back.

Climate change skeptics are a dime a dozen. Although they are indeed very wrong, it is their opinion and they’re entitled to it.

But talking nonsense is something completely different. Robert Skidelsky, apparently House of Lords member, tries to equate Al Gore with the likes of y2k alarmists (i’m sorry if you got swept up in that, but i didnt – it’s a computer, you can reprogram it) and evangelical crazies.

Let’s look at what he says. He opens with:

It was only to be expected that former US Vice President Al Gore would give this month’s Burmese cyclone an apocalyptic twist. “Last year,” he said, “a catastrophic storm hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China. …We’re seeing the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continual global warming.”

Surprisingly, Gore did not include the Asian tsunami of 2004, which claimed 225,000 lives. His not-so-subliminal message was that these natural catastrophes foreshadow the end of the world.

Hmm, Sherlock, maybe the exclusion has something to do with the fact that, while cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts are climatic phenomena, a tsunami is the result of the earth’s plates shifting – like an earthquake! So, Al Gore, who’s been giving his presentation for decades and muct have developed some understanding of the science, probably realizes this.

It’s sad when your first smart-ass point is a blatantly ignorant one. Moving on:

Classical apocalyptic thinking is certainly alive and well, especially in America, where it feeds on Protestant fundamentalism, and is mass marketed with all the resources of modern media. Circles close to the Bush administration, it is rumored, take current distempers like terrorism as confirmation of biblical prophecies.

Nothing groundbreaking here.

In secularized, pseudo-scientific form, apocalyptic thinking has also been at the core of revolutionary politics. In his latest book, “Black Mass,” the philosopher John Gray discusses how political doctrines like Marxism colonized the apocalyptic vision in prophesying the destruction of capitalism as the prelude to the socialist utopia. But political messianism was an offshoot of 19th-century optimism. With the collapse of optimism, contemporary apocalyptic belief lays more stress on catastrophe and less on utopia.

Interesting point. Hadnt thought of Marx that way. But i am inclined to think this a bit of a grasping-at-straws-to-make-my-point stretch. Maybe not so much the y2k anaolgy:

For example, in his book “Flat Earth News,” the investigative journalist Nick Davies reminds us of the millennium bug panic. Newspapers everywhere carried stories predicting that computer systems would crash on January 1, 2000, causing much of the world to shut down. The subtext was familiar: those who live by technology will die by it.

This, however, is rid-dicule-ous:

Misreporting of science is now so routine that we hardly notice it. Much more serious is when science itself becomes infected by the apocalyptic spirit. Faith-based science seems a contradiction in terms, because the scientific worldview emerged as a challenge to religious superstition. But important scientific beliefs can now be said to be held religiously, rather than scientifically.

Thank you for enlightening us, Mr Science. Wait, what is your degree in again? History? Oh.

Does snorting work in English? or is that an Egyptian thing? But back to the issue at hand:

This brings us back to Al Gore and climate change. There is no doubt that the earth became warmer over the 20th century (by about 0.7 degrees Celsius), which most climate scientists attribute largely to human carbon dioxide emissions. If nothing is done to restrict such emissions, global temperature will rise 1.8-4 degrees over the next century. At some “tipping point,” the world will be subject to floods and pestilence in classic apocalyptic fashion.

This is the second doomsday scenario of recent decades, the first being the Club of Rome’s prediction in 1972 that the world would soon run out of natural resources. Both are “scientific,” but their structure is the same as that of the Biblical story of the Flood: human wickedness (in today’s case, unbridled materialism) triggers the disastrous sequence, which it may already be too late to avert. Like Biblical prophecy, scientific doomsday stories seem impervious to refutation, and are constantly repackaged to feed the hunger for catastrophe.

I’m running out of time, so i’ll stop with this: What friggin planet are you living on? Does this person not know about $120+ oil? about food shortages? about rice export curbs? about rioting in numerous countries, including Egypt? How have the Club of Rome’s assertions been proven to be untrue?

I suppose if you’re a member of the House of Lords you probably dont drive your own car, let alone fill the tank, nor buy your own groceries for that matter. But as a politician and a professor political economy, shouldnt you be following the news?

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Well, it’s been over 5 months since my last post. Work and life have kind of gotten in the way. And i dont foresee much improvement in the near future. I started this blog with two main motivations: improving my analysis and writing; and documenting web items i find of interest. Since i dont have time for the first, I have recently started using del.icio.us.

I have daily updates going and a sidebar with the whole list. Or, you can check out my del.icio.us page.

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