Monday, March 15, 2010

"Climate science has become a weapon in a war of disinformation..."

Philosophic heavy-weight John Gray has written about the issue of climate change. This is a welcome intellectual intervention - I admire Gray, he is a total realist and calls it like he sees it, yet takes a deeper view that most political thinkers. He's also unafraid to take a swipe at the right or the left.
Whoever hacked into the emails at the University of East Anglia fired the opening salvo in a new kind of dirty war. ... Environmentalists have always assumed that the threat of disaster will bring about an era of global cooperation. In reality, climate change is triggering another round of geopolitical conflict. Limiting the use of fossil fuels may be essential if disaster is to be avoided, but countries that in different ways rely heavily on these fuels for their prosperity – such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, China and the US – were never going to accept the strict carbon curbs that the EU and others demanded. How much the leaked emails contributed to the breakdown of the summit is unclear, but the effect has been to let those countries, along with the rest of the world, off the hook. The undermining effect on climate science looks like being long-lasting and profound.

Fair point - I had written that the impact would be limited, but then I was focusing on the science and the impact there is limited. Gray is right; this was always going to be nasty. I was falling into the trap of thinking that the science could guide policy. How wrong I was...
"Climategate" was an exercise in postmodern cyber-warfare – a move in a larger conflict that environmentalists show little sign of understanding. ... The trouble is that their analysis of the environmental crisis is extremely shallow. Climate change is not mainly the work of sinister corporate interests and weak-kneed or corrupt politicians. It is a direct result of the energy-intensive civilisation in which the affluent part of humankind lives, and which the rest very much wants to join. While humans are more interdependent than ever before, they are at the same time destabilising the planet. Reining in corporate interests and chivvying politicians to be greener do nothing to resolve this fundamental contradiction. ... The innate sociability of human beings is a fact, but it does not follow that they are likely to cooperate in dealing with environmental crisis. The impact of climate change is rather to intensify human conflict. As global warming accelerates, natural resources such as arable land and water become scarcer, and competition to control them will be acute and pervasive. At the same time, those whose power and wealth come from fossil fuels will do anything they can to promote "climate scepticism".

Harsh but logical point - and extension of the points he makes in his book 'Straw Dogs' which argues that we are animals and to think we've somehow transcended nature and our Darwinian heritage is short-sighted and arrogant. This is a vital point; our brains are tribal communication systems and to assume we could just transcend this is a little naive. While the transcendence into global thinking is logical, it assumes that humans make rational decisions; we don't, because we're still just animals.

It also explains the extreme logical fallacies and nutty-ness that we see in climate denialism, as in creationism that the proponents of both try to hammer ideological pegs into round logical holes.

That and it appears that the denalists have declared war of humanity, as is their tribal drive to do so.

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