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« Independent on Lindzen | Main | The comedy of fakers »
Thursday
Feb232012

Preaching to the unconverted

Matt Ridley spoke to 200 artists at a "Tipping Point" event in Newcastle recently. Apparently it didn't go down too well.

The audio is here.

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  • Response
    To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world?s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. - Matt Ridley hails The Beginning Of The End Of Wind. Let's hope he's right. The piece is quoted from at greater length by Bishop Hill and at WUWT. See, or rather, ...

Reader Comments (48)

Our aim is to continue and strengthen the vital process of giving the urgent challenges of climate change and sustainability a cultural and artistic voice


What the hell was Matt doing there? Surely a lost cause. The angst-ridden artistes cannot thrive on optimism, rational or otherwise.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterandy scrase

This is an absolutely terrific talk and a must listen by everyone. I hope the slides and a transcript become available soon - it is brilliant!

And I am an artist :-)

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Registered CommenterJosh

Andy, the event is described on it's website as:

"Running through the event will be the concept of ‘positive messages’. This is the first time we have used such an approach; it is a recurrent motif in environmental communications, due to the widely perceived need for a positive vision of the future, to offset frequently downbeat or depressing predictions."

Presumably if the angst-ridden found it too much to bear, then counsellors were on hand to help.

Just as the Bishop went to the MO, why not Matt at Tipping Point? Time to stop preaching to the choir and get out and evangelise. Lindzen at Westminster was another example. (All three on Ash Wednesday? Interesting).

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

This an extension of the Royal Society agenda. In March last year they organized a Public Symposium with the Tate Modern Gallery in London. It was laughingly described as a Conference and it’s title was:
"Rising to the Climate Challenge - Artists and Scientists Imagine Tomorrow's World."

It's still there, have a look: http://royalsociety.org/events/2010/age-stupid/

“Tate and the Royal Society collaborate by bringing together scientists and artists to imagine the social and psychological impacts of climate change.

They even had a showing of "the Age of Stupid", just to show how stupid they are:

"On 19 and 20 March, Tate and the Royal Society collaborate to bring you a screening of the film The Age of Stupid following, (sic) by a discussion and a public symposium about the social and psychological impacts of climate change.”

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

So is the Hockey Stick just a piece of modern art where the truth is only revealed to those who can see the pain of the artist?

As with most modern art the only artristry on show is the urine extraction kind.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I find micturaption a useful word. Whether the perpetrator of such is a micturaptor or a micturapist I'm not quite sure.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Lindzen at Westminster was not an example of going into the Lion's Den. Most of the audience seemed to be on his side, and I think only one questioner had reservations about his stance.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Just listened, yes, brilliant as Josh says. It won't change Kevin Anderson's mind, but it may sow a few seeds in some of the audience. Most will fall on stony ground, but you never know, it will make some people think.

Anderson is a marine engineer, Pachauri is a railway engineer, they should get together with Richard Branson and do a cover of Trains and Boats and Planes....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzZnQ7hX8cM

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

Just listened. Fantastic work from Matt Ridley. You don't get any sense of it going down badly from the audio - there aren't any boos or heckles and the applause at the end is pretty healthy I reckon. Matt did note the last 4 minutes are missing - presumably questions from the floor or perhaps a rebuttal from some alarmist. Interesting to find that.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterWB

Cumbrian Lad is spot on - we are effectively preaching to the choir here and it is would be much more fruitful to engage on general blogs and sites where possible. I took on a greenie commenter on a mumsnet thread a couple of years ago, and without much difficulty got through to a few people who didn't know any better than to believe the Greenpeace/WWF bollocks. Mumsnet has a massive readership and I bet more people read that single thread than have read all the comments I have written elsewhere. Mind you, the level of discussion is much higher at this diocese, and you need time and patience to take on all the zebedees of this world.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Forgot to say Ridley's talk is brilliant - great summary and demolition of the CAGW scare. Hopefully it was videoed and can be put on youtube asap.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Excellent talk, wish there was a video. The one by "Kevin" is interesting too - much scary talk.

Also +1 for Cumbrian Lad's comment - time to get out to the masses and show them that skeptics don't eat children or believe the world is flat.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Matt Ridley, as always, is superb! I've never read, heard or seen a piece by Matt that wasn't perfectly reasoned, brilliantly insightful and deeply uplifting. I'm genuinely in awe of him.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

The audio link the Bishop gives also gives access to the talk by Kevin Anderson, which I've not yet listened to, but also to the question and answer session...

http://audioboo.fm/boos/680389-kevin-anderson-and-matt-ridley-take-questions-from-the-room-at-tipping-point-newcastle#t=12m29s

...which is also worth a few minutes to listen to, as it shows the mindset of this type of audience. The reactions I think quite interesting. They don't want to believe him, but there is real thinking going on there. Give it time, and repeat the exercise often enough and it will have an effect.

Well done Matt.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Yes, I too am impressed by Matt's message and by his skill in putting it over. A pity that he got involved in bad banking, but I suppose that inherited wealth was the reason. He's certainly made amends since.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

Matt did the honour of quoting me in a Daily Telegraph article he wrote in the 1990's, so I've always held him in high esteem!

Excellent talk. Anyone else notice that he speaks uncannily like Daniel Hannan?

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Unfortunately I'll not be able to watch the video until I get home from work. But, although it is nice to rain on one of the Thermaggedonist's parades, I don't share the view that it will have much effect. Sure, good to sow the seeds that the cAGW "settled science" is either bunk or laughably exaggerated.
But you've as much chance of convincing most of them as you have of pursuading the Pope that Jesus was an incarnation of Krishna.
And it won't have Milipede, Dave Boy or Cap'n Clegg quaking in their boots or likely to reconsider their policies any time soon.
For that you need to have people shivering in the dark. And the Thermageddonists and their 'ruinables' will bring that on themselves.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Congratulations to Matt Ridley and anyone else, like the good Bishop, who take on the thankless task of addressing potentially hostile audiences.
I think it can't be stressed enough that many people are "convinced" about CAGW simply because they have hardly if ever heard a well argued and thorough opposing view. Alarmism is always presented as the sane, caring, intelligent default for anyone who isn't a rabid right-winger or in the pay of vested interests. I know this is ludicrous when one has examined the facts but most people don't examine the facts, they just think they are well informed because they watch news and read newspapers which they sincerely don't believe would so mislead them about such an important subject.
For that reason, and I've said this many times, I do wish that those sceptics who are right wing would tone down their left/liberal bashing because, especially outside the US, this plays really, really badly to the vast majority of people who need their eyes opening. Most people, certainly outside the US, do not demonize anyone to the left of Fox News and often quite the reverse. It simply plays to a stereotype which provides ammunition to warmists.
If we must, let's resume tribal warfare after CAGW is dead but please let's kill it first. The consequences of failure are too important to be derailed by petty bickering.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Excellent talk by Matt Ridley...... Blooming artists, what do they know about anything?

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Excellent stuff. Fluent. Persuasive. The man has an easy assurance that comes, I suspect, from having thought deeply and well on whatever he talks about in public.

I might be taking part in a debate on climate later this year (tbc), and I'm thinking right now I'll just put an MP3 player on the platform in my place with this this talk on it. I could be brew up the tea instead.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

one too many of 'this', one too many of 'be'
Now where did I put that tea-making manual?

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I assume the Newcastle Centre for Sustainability is another group of layabouts paid for by money stolen by the "we're all in it together" political parasites who are borrowing £400 million a day in our names.

Obviouslysuch money is only available to propagandists pushing for the government to steal/tax & regulate uis even more. The docvtrine of total state power and suppression of dissent, demonstrated by the layabouts is technically known as fascism.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Like the post title, Great film.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Posted another comment earlier, which seems to have been stuck in the Captcha/mod queue cogs; so apologies if it appears later.

Just to say that at the same audioBoo site that the Bishops link goes to you can hear the question and answer session after Matt's talk, and it's well worth a listen.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Fantastic talk ... the visuals were even better ... although they were all in my head.

He said exactly what I would have said, but a hell of a lot better.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

It can indeed Cumbrian lad. And, apparently, part of the problem seems to be that Matt Ridley is a 'white man'.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Just to say that at the same audioBoo site that the Bishops link goes to you can hear the question and answer session after Matt's talk, and it's well worth a listen.

Yes, 'Its all White Men's fault' !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matt's talk and responses are excellent but the audience doesn't seem to take any of it in. The White Men comment says it all.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Bishop,
Why did you write that "it didn't go down too well"? I feared that I'd be listening to the sound of overripe tomatoes going splat.

[That's what Matt said when he emailed. I don't think the audience were receptive to his point of view]

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Listening to the question and answer session, it is clear to me that there was not a meeting of minds. Matt was spelling out the facts as far as they are available. And some of the audience are nor really interested in facts. Or common sense. Or sensible discussion. But they feel that Matt must be wrong anyway. Because he is a man, and he's white, and he cannot 'feel' the need for change, or the terrible 'risks' we take, if we do not change. But it's only a few people that need to change anyway, (and it serves them right.)

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

I gave up at the point someone said even if Matt was right she would still feel better if we consumed less. I am stingy too but its only by cheap energy being available that other people will have the choice that I have 'Too be stingy or Not', when you have no choice is when there are problems and its called Poverty.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Bishop,
Thanks for the reply. It's true that the questioners were not in Matt's corner. The applause after Matt's speech sounded more than merely polite to me on the audio.

Matt obviously is in the best position to assess the non-verbal reactions. A shame then; I thought his address was eminently sensible. [Although I'm not sure that the bird-killing bit is significant enough to mention as a downside of windpower.]

Do you know if Matt intends to publish the text of his talk?

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Excellent talk: Concise and precise. Any chance of posting a link to his visuals?

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Breath of Fresh Air
The one thing above all else that the environmental activist has never understood is that it is our ability to choose — as you put it — whether to be stingy or not that allows us to have any chance of caring for the environment in the way that they would like.
I do have some sympathy with people who wish we would consume less. There is a deal of needless "consumption" which is evident in the amount of packaging that is used to wrap the wrapping that comes with the packaging on many consumer items and in the amount of perfectly good food that gets thrown out by supermarkets because it has passed a totally arbitrary "best before" date (or in the case of cheese a "best after" date!)
But it is frustrating to find this fairly reasonable approach conflated with all sorts of envrionmental myths of which catastrophic global warming is only one.
Lindzen has used the phrase "contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age"; I have written about "unpicking the industrial revolution". None of the eco-maniacs seem to know just what the effect of this would be or possibly they don't care.
In my first blog post over eighteen months ago I wrote that

... the exponents of this rather bizarre idea would almost certainly have been the first casualties since their misanthropic philosophy would have received the shortest of shrifts from people more concerned with making sure they had enough wood for the fire in the coming winter or enough nuts and berries for tomorrow’s breakfast than listening to the inane ramblings of men trying to convince them that this way of life was in some way preferable to having a full set of teeth and the reasonable chance of living for 80 years instead of the more probable 35.
How they are unable to see the likely consequences of their actions should we ever have the misfortune to suffer the fate they are arranging for us is a permanent cause for wonderment.

Feb 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The media files are in the rss feed and can be easily downloaded http://audioboo.fm/users/2536/boos.rss

Feb 23, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSparks

Any knack to getting the link to Matt's talk to play?

I get the page and the "play" button is live but it does not start to play.

Feb 23, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

BH - did Matt tell you that it did not go down well because there was no way to tell from the audio ? Was a good talk.

Feb 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

What is the point in trying to speak to those who will not listen?

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn in cheshire

A great presentation Matt Ridley - lucid argument as usual, just like your articles. Thank you

Also Thank You for entering the lion's den on our behalf - not an easy thing to do.


Perhaps a quote or two from Robert Heinlein's fictional characters fit well.

"How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?"

Doctor Pinero in Life-Line (1939)

"Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men."

Assignment in Eternity (1953)

Robert spoke his thoughts through his characters, although you can find direct quotes by him (like the one below). He has been dead since the beginning of the modern AGW era (1988), but his thoughts are often as pertinent today as ever.

Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong — but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

even if Matt was right she would still feel better if we consumed less.

A favourite of the Sunday Supplement columnists, this one. It's usually fairly obvious that their levels of consumption are prodigious and their ideas of reduction pathetic.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

As an artist and former teacher, I long ago gave up attempting to discuss anything of real import in the world with the madder end of of both my professions. When I recently worked in the UK, I had to deal with a few of the aparatchiks in the upper reaches of Arts/Education world and found them to be so far from rationality/normalcy as to make me very wary of them; with either group, an extreme form of Welfarism allied with Green Alarmism appeared to be the norm in their rarified world of seeing themselves as the properly-entitled recipients of generous grants and/or salaries paid b. unsuspecting taxpayers,

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

artwest: "I do wish that those sceptics who are right wing would tone down their left/liberal bashing"

Wish on. You would have us pretend that CAGW is primarily a scientific position. As Fakegate clearly displays, it isn't.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

I love that Matt had the balls/chutzpah to turn up to such an event and so completely and unapologetically lay out the facts as he sees them. I find myself almost embarrassed when speaking to the AGW faithful that I so completely disagree with them. But Matt shows the way - just say it, simply and clearly.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterben

Put a day dreaming smile on your face.

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/reversing-extinction

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

+1 to lapogus
+1 to artwest

Feb 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes


...I've said this many times, I do wish that those sceptics who are right wing would tone down their left/liberal bashing because, especially outside the US, this plays really, really badly to the vast majority of people who need their eyes opening. Most people, certainly outside the US, do not demonize anyone to the left of Fox News and often quite the reverse. It simply plays to a stereotype which provides ammunition to warmists.

If we must, let's resume tribal warfare after CAGW is dead but please let's kill it first. The consequences of failure are too important to be derailed by petty bickering.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM | artwest

Dream on Art ~ dream on.

Over four decades of data have shown that the American right is about double of the size of the American left - roughly 40% to 20% (or slightly less). It is an inherent feature of the American exceptionalism that Zero-man (President Obama) wants to eliminate from US identity - and would if he could.

If you haven't read it, "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America," by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge is the required corrective reading.

Unfortunately and fortunately, we do speak and write the same (or similar enough) language, and therefore discourse across the pond affects others in the same language pool. But because there was no landed aristocracy or monarchy here, being "right-wing" in the US has a distinctly different, libertarian and anti-fascist tinge that does not exist among the 'right-wing' parties and politics on the Continent. This difference needlessly confuses our British cousins.

American anti-authoritarianism is an inherent feature of American identity and political culture. A new book by constitutional law professor Elizabeth Foley,* for instance, locates the grassroots Tea Party movement since 2009 in embracing three traditional right-wing themes: advocating and defending limited government; strong enforcement of border sovereignty; and the originalism of the American constitution, ie, it actually means something substantive. (As opposed to simply regarding it as an inconvenience, as Obama and the dominant authoritarian 'Democrats' - who aren't any longer democratic - do - a sad loss that developed in the wake of the Fall of Communism some twenty years ago. Again, a case of the left refusing to deal with material and evidence-based falsification of utopian ideals.)

Thus, if the distinctively skeptical of power right in America were no more, so would much of the benefit of its hard-nosed skepticism towards scientific fascism - THIS wouldn't exist to benefit the rest of the world. The bath water would toss out the baby too, in this case. They are not separable.

In other words, Art, give it up. Sorry Better to explain the differences and deal with it.

-Orson
*"The Tea Party: Three Principles" (CUP, 2012)

Feb 24, 2012 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

What happened to the Tea Party movement anyway? Their candidate for the GOP barely registered a blip on the radar. Revolution postponed?

Feb 24, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Rhoda

Rhoda - I had assumed that there would be many MPs at the talk; however, given that you say that it was well received, and given that only 2 MPs voted against the Climate Change Act, I guess that there weren't. ]

Was that the case?

I asked my MP to go, but he was already booked for something. So - he's a warmer - I mailed him the links to the report, and also to Matt Ridley's excellent talk up in Newcastle. For Xmas he got The Hockey Stick Illusion. Bugger didn't even thank me

Feb 24, 2012 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

By the gods, that is a terrific presentation by Matt Ridley. In 21 minutes the ex-global warmer (by his own admission), entertainingly and thoroughly informs his audience of the essence of the facts, moving quickly over an enormous amount of ground.

WOW. He is a helluva speaker.

I have begun sending the link to those I know, and even the ones who are in disagreement with me, hoping they will listen.

One of the amazing things is the breadth of what we all know here and that he spells out. The way he tells it, it seems like a lot more than I'd thought!

Feb 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Garcia

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