September 2008 Archives

Mischief, Crime or just Business ?

To purposefully deny climate change amounts to hiding a looming danger.

The Charles Addams cartoon says it all.  We are in the family station wagon, on a blind curve, and someone in front tells us every thing is OK. 

Uncle Festor is adorable, but only because he does not harm us directly.   What do we think of someone who invites us to step into danger?   This is beyond danger denial, this is exhorting us to crash into the oncoming car of climate destabilization.

And I am afraid it is business motivated, takes a disposition of mischief, and should be a crime. 


Denialism vs Alarmism

When Discussing the Either/Or of human caused Climate Destabilization, I land on the anxious side. I have been labeled a hypervigilant, alarmist, Jeremiah, Cassandra and my favorite: a doomster. After following climate destabilization science and related issues for years, I noticed a recent change in language: time to drop "global warming" - scientists think that is too warm and fuzzy - better terms might be climate destabilization or disruption or instability. And don't forget the adjective 'anthropogenic' or human caused.

Alarmist speech should be like a loud bell, the fire alarm and the emergency broadcast. An alarm is a very clear call for action. And unlike classical communications, the receiver of the alarm may not be listening, care to listen or even know the sender. It is a communications channel aimed at anyone who hears the call. No discrimination. Not sure whether one can actually be a calm alarmist? But the anxiety and panic are certainly the wrong response. Scientists seem to be knowing and strident.

Because the science is all there. How should the alarmist message get delivered? Imaging your TV Climate/Weather Man coming on local news with a 5 decade forecast.

"Well Janet, look for partly messy Disruptions to continue for this decade, with Violent Change and sea level rises the next decade, and beyond that serious storms, but we have a hard time predicting that far ahead.- but stay tuned because we will update the forecast tonite at 11. Back to you Janet."

I once interviewed a climate scientist — actually he is my neighbor and he was just walking his dog. He's a retired professor of climate science at the University of Washington, and he summed up what his climate colleagues are saying, "We have done the science, we've told you what is coming, your turn, time for the world to mobilize"
Clearly meaning that there is no dispute - among scientists - about whether and how bad… the only discussions left are about new tipping points and when they will be uncovered.

Just what's holding up that unified effort? Confusion, doubt, and momentum. Most all of it is purposefully cultivated. Thousands of scientists and millions of citizens know this problem and can point to solutions. What's the big hold up? Cultivated doubt by denialists - whose early campaign was to cast doubt into whether global climate change was real. Now that change is becoming the huge elephant in the room, the recent shift is to denying that we can do anything about it.

So the latest denial skirmish is over the "human caused" climate instability. The carbon fuel industries nurture the false challenge that there is not a human cause. "We are just not sure" Until we know, we need to keep burning coal. "Well the science is not done, we don't know for sure" Those words come directly from the tobacco wars ""There is still doubt whether tobacco really causes cancer". And the same PR agency has moved to the carbon fuel industry message - to influence policy, plug up legislation, support PR, fund psuedo-science, pander to the media, etc.

I cannot avoid a horrible prognosis: an inevitable crucible of climate chaos will decimate our population. If there are any long term survivors it will be the ruthless and the clever. Among the abandoned and passed over will be the geographically unfortunate, the poor, ill, old, weak, the usual. Whether this is 100 or 200 years hence, this is happening today.

Denialism suggests self-hatred

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The source of denialism may be rooted in species self hatred - or self destructive urges.   Pick a weapon of mass destruction, and realize that so many destructive objects cannot be put in everybody's hands.  Our very survival is based on restricting access to destructive power from all humans.  Imagine every global citizen with a finger on an atomic weapon. Or every one with a bucket of toxins.  How many will pull the trigger?  Or kick the bucket?

So it is in the democracy of public opinion. in an age where an expressive, savvy individual can get at least 15 minutes of exposure... well anyone can become a pundit.   That any few can strongly speak with a contrarian voice is expected.  Ours is an age of Self Destruction by expression.  That some use rhetoric, instead of atomic bombs, is just another dangerous method or device. Wielding and expressing species self contempt.