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« The Left does abhorrence - Josh 321 | Main | BBC joins Guardian divestment campaign »
Friday
Apr172015

Climatologists and moral choices

Yesterday's posts seemed to generate quite a lot of heat, with several commenters reading rather more into them than they should. The object was not to blame climatologists for the actions that their climate models are used to justify, but to ask them what they thought about those actions. I had hoped that we might get some condemnation of the attempts to prevent Africans getting access to fossil fuels, but there was nothing along these lines.

As an aside, I should point out that it is my understanding that these attempts span more than just coal - it's the whole range of fossil fuels that politicians are now seeking to sideline, as this paper makes clear.

...under US Senate Bill S.329 (2013) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – a federal agency responsible for backstopping U.S. companies which invest in developing countries – is essentially prohibited from investing in energy projects that involve fossil fuels...

Nevertheless, the question of whether climatologists should carry any blame for the use to which their climate models are put is an interesting one. Echoing commenters on the original thread, I certainly think we should not blame Sabatier when one of their carving knives is used to kill someone. A climate model is a virtual world. It is therefore entirely amoral. How could one possibly attach any blame to someone for the mere fact of having written some computer code (campaigns against computer games manufacturers notwithstanding)?

I think that climate models should be mere academic playthings, a guise in which they are entirely harmless. Moreover, there may even be a degree of cross-party agreement here: just a few days ago, Richard Betts commented that

...models are useful for understanding the climate system but cannot predict the future of climate, as it's just too complicated.

I certainly agree with the statement as written, although I think we disagree on the implications. I would argue that it implies that we should discount any virtual future coming out of the climate models very heavily, or even entirely. Richard, however, disagrees:

...for me, the very fact that we can't predict the results of our influence on climate is a reason for concern not comfort. I don't see convincing reasons to trust projections of small amounts of future warming any more than those of large warming - current understanding doesn't allow us to rule out either of these possibilities.

(Exactly how to respond to this concern is of course a further issue. Recognising that there is a risk does not mean that steps to reduce the risk are themselves easy or risk-free.)

In other words, Richard thinks we should not be discounting the climate predictions very much or even at all. He is there with the low-discount approach advocated by Lord Stern and others. One's choice of discount rate is a personal preference and a reflection of moral values, worldview and other things, so Richard and Lord Stern are entitled to make this choice. Many others - environmentalists and climatologists alike - make the same choice. They call for mitigation of climate change, repeatedly so, and they condemn those, like me, who dissent.

We need to examine carefully what is implied by calling for action. When presented with a problem like climate change we can do something or do nothing. As Lomborg repeatedly notes, if you do an old fashioned cost-benefit analysis and you discount the future in traditional fashion, it turns out that there are umpteen other humanitarian crises that should be addressed before the climate. For Lomborg, the answer is "do nothing" (or "do nearly nothing" - perhaps just some technological research).

But if your moral/ethical compass directs you to discount the future not at all then climate change in the distant future becomes the most pressing issue bar none. You should be mitigating climate change in any way you can; money should be diverted from helping people alive today to helping people yet to be born. You should be raising energy prices for everyone and you should be keeping fossil fuels out of the hands of poor people in the developing world. These things are unpleasant but are simply the road of least harm. It is not an immoral choice, although it is certainly different to the moral choice I would make.

So my message to climatologists is this. If you are quietly working away at your climate models and publishing your papers then no blame can attach to you. But if you are calling for mitigation of climate change and demanding that politicians leap into action, you have made your moral/ethical choices. You have assessed the alternatives; you have chosen your discount rate and it is a low one. And as I have just pointed out this necessarily means accepting more harm now in order to avoid harm in the future.

So when those present-day harms are pointed out to you, you must accept that they are the consequences of the choices you made.

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Reader Comments (213)

[Snip - raise the tone please]

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

esmiff~ the only problem with that, currently, is that the people ordering the 'bark' have an agenda which will starve millions of Africans to death while reducing the middle-class to poverty and freezing the poor and elderly to death in the dark.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Well, I've had enough of trying to explain the problem with how you chose to frame your question. You could try reading this if you really wanted to try and understand (yes, I know, that's silly - of course you don't, but I feel I have to at least give you an opportunity). I wonder if someone else will try and explain? Again, probably not, given that few others can be bothered or have already worked out that it's a waste of time trying to do so.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Otter

I couldn't agree more.


To the moderator.

I was being serious. These people aren't even scientists, they are computer modelling technicians who know perfectly well their models are ridiculously inadequate.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

...The object was not to blame climatologists for the actions their climate models are used to justify, but to ask them what they thought about those actions. I had hoped that we might get some condemnation...

The alarmists are VERY used to using 'stalking horse' techniques - putting forward an unobjectionable policy proposal which no one can object to (Save the Polar Bear, for instance) and then using that to force through a series of oppressive legislation which was their original aim.

Here, they obviously and immediately recognised that if they accepted that killing Africans by denying them cheap energy was wrong, they would be at risk from a push to maintain fossil fuels. So they followed the correct debating path in refusing to engage.

Further, in order to avoid your obvious riposte - that in failing to engage they must support the killing of black babies - they responded by smearing you as an objectionable killer. Very vaguely, with no actual detail. Just a general smear so that they can avoid continuing discussing the subject at all....

Situation normal in the Climate Debate...

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Bish: 'I had hoped that we might get some condemnation of the attempts to prevent Africans getting access to fossil fuels, but there was nothing along these lines.'

I suggest my comments on your BBC/Guardian divestment post at 3:47 PM and 4:17 PM yesterday were very much on those lines.

[BH adds: I had meant "from climatologists"]

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

The abject stupidity of the low-discount approach (and the reason why the future has always been heavily discounted) cannot be overstated.

If future years have large weights, the present disappears, for the simple reason that there are many, many future years, and only one present.

The implications of giving importance to the future beyond heavy discounting, are mind-boggling. The Stern philosophy would imply for example a total ban on abortions - as with each fetus, you are effectively killing all of his/her children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If all of those virtual people are as important or almost as important as the humans living in the present, then each abortion is mass murder.

Even on the resources side, all computations would turn up a single result: prevent resources from being used in the present, so they will be available in the future. However, imagine that we set aside a certain piece of pristine land in 2015 so it will be available in 2025.

When it's 2025, the same piece of land will have to be kept aside for 2035. When it's 2035, for 2045. And so on and so forth.

In other words, the Stern world would be permanently and forcibly poor, whatever resources would be around. People would have to do only with the stuff that doesn't "consume" itself. Then they will clash with the third law of thermodynamics.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:35 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

...for me, the very fact that we can't predict the results of our influence on climate is a reason for concern not comfort. I don't see convincing reasons to trust projections of small amounts of future warming any more than those of large warming - current understanding doesn't allow us to rule out either of these possibilities.

But a lengthy hiatus or even cooling is ruled out by the models which means that those situations are not risk assessed.
If a hiatus or cooling is not a part of the current science then advice to policy makers is biased towards acting upon risk of warming.
The models cannot predict future temperature past a very small time span and the risks assessed are all warm sided that is the problem with using a tool that is not sufficient for the job.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Are oil and gas considered fossil fuels?

Discovery backs theory oil not 'fossil fuel'
"A study published in Science Magazine today presents new evidence supporting the abiotic theory for the origin of oil, which asserts oil is a natural product the Earth generates constantly rather than a “fossil fuel” derived from decaying ancient forests and dead dinosaurs.
The lead scientist on the study ? Giora Proskurowski of the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle ? says the hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in the Lost City Hydrothermal Field were produced by the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in the mantle of the earth."
http://www.wnd.com/2008/02/45838/

So, the Science isn't settled!

Added:
This looks interesting, especially the name :) , it's about the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins:
http://www.rense.com/general63/staline.htm

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

The climate 'scientists' are being used by big oil to further their carbon trading agenda. The absolute dream of big oil would be The Guardian's plan to keep the oil in the ground (at a price) .

Naomi Klein is orders of magnitude more politically aware than a climate scientist


Naomi Klein. Green movement is in bed with big oil


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e373bd70-3d8e-11e4-b782-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3IlD0mBsv

again


http://www.salon.com/2013/09/05/naomi_klein_big_green_groups_are_crippling_the_environmental_movement_partner/

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The hands-off approach pretended by some climate scientists is also absurd.

Imagine if economists raise the alarm about public debt. Politicians heed the alarm and ask for solutions. A group of economists turns up with a perfectly working mathematical model that shows if all bank accounts in the country are seized overnight, the public debt problem will be solved, with money to spare.

What would one think of other economists that were to keep themselved quiet on such a proposal? Maybe, just maybe they will make themselves content with playing with similar mathematical models...

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Well, I've had enough of trying to explain the problem with how you chose to frame your question. You could try reading this if you really wanted to try and understand (yes, I know, that's silly - of course you don't, but I feel I have to at least give you an opportunity). I wonder if someone else will try and explain? Again, probably not, given that few others can be bothered or have already worked out that it's a waste of time trying to do so.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Ken - your comment s long on petulance but short on detailed argument.

In order to substantiate the allegation implied by your Wiki link - you need to identify the "controversial or unjustified assumption" implicit in Bish's post.

We await clarification - preferably with minimum rhetorical flourish.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"the very fact that we can't predict the results of our influence on climate is a reason for concern not comfort"

Of course we know climate scientists aren't naive so one cannot imagine them falling for this kind of anxiety. Or maybe they are. Then it will be impossible to explain to them that "ignorance->fear" is too generic a tool to be of any use.

In other words, we could say that "the very fact that we can't predict the results of our influence on X is a reason for concern not comfort" applies to pretty much anything that is complex to analyse.

I hope Richard Betts never understands that, if he were to follow his words, he'd have to be afraid of everything.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:46 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

omnologos

If the green movement (including climate scientists) stopped drinking wine, stopped smoking weed and stopped driving cars, I might believe they were serious. Until then...

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

One is indeed free to choose one's own discount rate, and that choice has potentially enormous implications. But having chosen a particular discount rate one should apply it consistently, across the whole range of relevant decisions.

Apr 17, 2015 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Betts can't predict. So climate science is a study of pessimism?

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

What I observe as the major problem is that the modellers market and promote their work as policy tools. Of course, making them valuable for politicians enhances their case for more research funding.

So when the promoters of the model-based policy are the modellers themselves, the criticisms hit home and they react in an instinctively defensive manner.

As you have discovered Andrew.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The "must do something, anything" brigade should be reminded that since they don't know all the factors which influence our climate, there's no way they can be certain that the changes they propose, will be an improvement.

They're the ultimate hypochondriacs, who must take a pill to relieve every single 'symptom'; when often the human body is self-correcting/repairing, and can heal itself.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

omnologos
I've made the same argument.
The eco-activist stance is that fossil fuels should be "kept in the ground for the benefit of our grandchildren" ... so that they can be persuaded to keep them in the ground for the benefit of their grandchildren! It's a piece of chicanery. What they actually mean is that because they have some sort of moral problem with western civilisation (which is built largely on fossil fuels) then the rest of us have to be persuaded, cajoled and (if necessary) bullied into going along with them.
The sooner we understand that they are not interested in what we think or say the sooner we might be able to win the argument.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Richard Betts commented that

'...models are useful for understanding the climate system but cannot predict the future of climate, as it's just too complicated.;'

That is by a long way the most honest remark I've heard from anyone employed in the field.


However, there is simply no reason to believe that human created CO2 has a noticeable effect on the climate. Total discount from me. It's just a bondoogle to explain why the models are inadequate.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

A bit O/T:

French Video on Wind Turbines (in France) and revealing a few details about corruption by promoters: (English subtitled)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmF_eWFiamw&feature=youtu.be

Perhaps some of it needs a WW1 revisit because talking ain't going to kill it off.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

The Bishop has made a very strong point. We all know that the models have not been verified even by comparing their hind casting with empirical data. We also know that they have in their formulation, many assumptions. Therefore should the modellers allow them to be used in assisting policy makers, without significant caveats? We know that politicians have accepted the climatologists projections as predictions, and scientists have not protested too loudly, about this. We hear all the time from politicians of all colours, that climate change is THE most serious threat to mankind. Even more of a threat than international terrorism. All based on unverified models.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Peter Stroud - what you say is even worse at national level. We all know (there is a 100% agreement among all experts, skeptics, everybody) that Regional Climate Models have no known skill.

So if one can imagine to get a feeling about future planetary climate evolution using GCMs, one cannot simply make any assumption at all when using RCMs.

However, I think at least one major industrialised nation is undergoing a big effort to establish its own climate change priorities on the basis of RCMs. Dishonesty or madness on an incredible scale. Or naivety.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Computers get faster at calculating, year by year.

Mankind does not.

Computers can be programmed to learn from their mistakes.

Climate science does not.

Climate scientists program computers, and are increasingly reliant on their results.

Mankind is increasingly sceptical about climate scientists predictions, as they fail to deliver.

Climate science blames Mankind for being stupid, and demands more money from Mankind.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

ATTP

On yesterday's post, I asked of climatologists "What do you think of the policy of keeping fossil fuels out of the hands of the Third World?". This is not a loaded or complex question. No assumption of guilt can be inferred from it. It is open to respond either in favour or against the policy. If you are in favour you can explain that this is a lesser evil than the havoc that you believe will be wrought by climate change. Saying I am a bad person for asking the question does not make the question go away. Which is is Ken? Bad policy or good policy?

If you are actually just saying that you think that mentioning deaths from woodsmoke is too emotive, I can't agree with you. It is an issue. These deaths are preventable. I can't make my point without saying so.

Apr 17, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@bish, attp
The loading of a question is in the eye of the beholder.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

I amused myself by trying to imagine the sort of post Ken would make on this. It was along the lines of "Jeepers, what is it with you people? I've explained the problem, if you really can't grasp it, try reading over what I've said. I really don't see how I can make it any plainer. But that's assuming you are honestly trying to ask a serious question. Probably too large an assumption here."

So I wasn't that far out.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

An asteroid strike and the Green religion apart, I expect the people of the future to be healthier, longer living, and richer than the present generation. But no happier and not at all grateful to the producers of the physical and intellectual capital that they inherited and depend upon.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

Toxified Debate - Scientists are no longer free to give honest opinions : that is the result of the greens well funded disinformation campaign and Dirty PR from Futerra etc.that smears places of open debates as "denier"

In an honest world scientists would be free to say that of course fossil duels will benefit Africa.
Just as they would be free to say that the "97% of scientists say" is a deeply flawed assertion.
..but unfortunately they have been manipulated into "circle the wagons" behaviour instead of openness and honesty that will benefit humanity.
So of course few risk popping their heads up here even anonymously for fear of the intimidation that they will get from Dramagreens if they dare.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I have been working as a consultant economist in developing countries since 1970.

The people in these countries wish to improve their health and welfare through economic development. And to date the only way we know how to do this is through modern agriculture and industry that leads to urban development.

There may be other ways than using fossil fuel. Such as using hydro power but you may have observed that hydro power is now regarded also as environmentally damaging. Nuclear power is also an option, but until thorium process has been further developed there is risk in allowing the spread of fissionable materials.

Wind power and solar power are still only feasible for rich countries able to subsidize the investors in these sectors.

Without fossil fuel the poor of the world will continue in poverty.

This is what the policy-makers are calling the correct moral choice. And later this year they will have the imprimatur of the Pope.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Colbourne

[Snip - O/T]

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterOswald Thake

[Snip - O/T]

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

omnologos said

Even on the resources side, all computations would turn up a single result: prevent resources from being used in the present, so they will be available in the future.

This reminds me of something that happened to me some years ago.

I was in a work canteen buying lunch, and presented a smallish value note to the cashier. She said she couldn't take it, as she didn't have enough change. I pointed out that she had more than enough in the cash drawer, which was open at the time.

Her response was that if she gave me the change, then there might not be enough for the next person, and couldn't see any problem when I tried to explain the logic error involved.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

When the planet returns to ice age; CO2 will have played no part. When the planet returns to its 'normal climate' CO2 will have played no part. The orbit of the earth relative to the sun, the orbits of the other planets relative to the sun, all have a massive effect on our climate, have nothing to do with CO2 and are not part of any models.
As Joe Public alluded to above; if you do no not understand how a system works and you do not know all the factors required by that system then there is absolutely no value in modelling that system except for the amusement of the modeller.
What has not been mentioned yet is the almost certain discovery of new methods of producing energy which will render any decision to leave fossil fuels in the ground; wastefully irrelevant.

Apr 17, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Since Richard Betts is again being trotted out as a voice worthy of consideration, I must repeat (see silent-economics 2015/3/16 thread) this Grauniad quote:-

Professor Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said the human contribution to sea level rise over the past 100 years was well documented and makes island nations more vulnerable to storms and particularly storm surge.

“When cyclones and other storms occur, there is already a greater risk of coastal flooding because the background sea level has risen, largely due to human-induced global warming. How much more flooding has occurred due to human action is unclear, but ongoing sea level rise can be expected to further increase this risk unless coastal protection can be improved.”

Any sensible person would hope to see the improvement of inadequate coastal protection. And a better cyclone warning system. And proper shelter provisions, (which might be a better use of resources than the President of Vanuatu popping off to Japan for a UN Climate junket just before Cyclone Pam hit.)

But I'm not aware that Richard Betts has complained to the Grauniad of being misquoted. So presumably he really did claim that "the human contribution to sea level rise over the past 100 years was well documented". Documented, note. Not modelled!

Betts knows, I know, everyone else on here (excepting trolls) knows, this is absolute tosh. (Self snip of what I really think of someone pretending to be a publicly funded 'scientist' whilst nauseatingly shroud-waving in aid of keeping his job.)

This is the Bish's blog and one I greatly admire and respect. But why he bothers with the likes of Betts I cannot begin to imagine.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

This debate reminds me of the Tamagotchi toys in the late 90's. Little electronic fobs for the kids who had to feed them and cuddle them at regular intervals in order for them to thrive.
Little electronic animal life 'models'.
Of course, being Britain, it wasn't long before the kids here were in competition to see who could kill their new Tamagotchi the quickest.
Then we had sim city. I remember vividly trying to attract as many Godzillas as possible to see how quickly they could wreck my cities.
My point is that if kids can think outside the box with these models and tweak them to extremes and follow through with the implications, is ATTP seriously trying to tell us that the greatest climate geniuses in the world do not

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

steve ta
I've come across the same thing though when I heard it it was an indent for something from the stationery cupboard.
There is no point whatever in trying to argue with that mindset which, I venture to suggest, is one that we are all prone to on occasion.
Given the responsibility for a resource which we know is not finite (in this case because we know there are reserves somewhere and that our own finite stock will be replenished soon) we appear to be concerned that some blame will attach to us should we be found unable to meet a request for this resource. I believe hierarchy has something to do with it. Had you been the MD you would probably have got your change. As it is, what happens of the MD comes along in half-an-hour and there isn't any change? Black mark!
A psychologist would no doubt have the answer.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Most warmists like aTTP only show one side of the consequences ... the ones that leads toward the actions they want ... then claim no responsibility for the known omissions ... this is a cardinal sin when advocating policy ... and does not absolve one of culpability if the wanted actions are put into place causing harm ...

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

I do not believe that CO2 will cause any effects that will be harmful to humans or the ecosystem. I believe that we should use every energy source that makes sense, including fossil fuels. However, to be fair to the IPCC believer types, my understanding of the overall framework is that the first world should subsidize the rest of the world so that solar, wind etc. is just as cheap or cheaper than fossil fuels. They intend to implement a completely renewable energy system on the third world financed by the first world, immediately. They intend for it to be just as good as the first world grid. Of course, one big problem is that the first world is fossil fuel driven. To create the kind of economy that could accomplish what the enviros desire is not possible at this time without fossil fuels. Germany seems to be the most advanced along this road, but they are not there by a long shot.

The enviros think that we are killing third world people right now by not immediately giving them a first world grid driven by renewables. We are accused of lack of commitment and vision.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAshby Lynch

I would suggest a revision to the penultimate sentence of the head-post:

And as I have just pointed out this necessarily means accepting more actual harm now in order to avoid assumed harm in the future.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Andrew,
Firstly, you've changed the question. Convenient that, given that my issue was with your framing of the question. Secondly, why do you think that this is a topic that can be resolved by asking for the answer to a single question? This is an incredibly complex issue. If we could resolve these things by answering simple questions, we'd have done so. It's also loaded whether you like it or not. Even this whole discussion rather proves the point. Not answering it is regarded as implying something about someone's views. That's almost, by definition, a loaded question. If you want to have a discussion about what policy is best for the developed world, start a discussion. If you want to present an argument, do so. Throwing out some kind of simple question in a manner that indicates that the answer is obvious and that those who don't answer are somehow hiding something is not constructive.


If you are actually just saying that you think that mentioning deaths from woodsmoke is too emotive, I can't agree with you. It is an issue. These deaths are preventable. I can't make my point without saying so.

No, of course it's not too emotive to mention. It's an extremely important issue. You haven't, however, made a point. You've asked a loaded question and have assumed that you've made some kind of point. If you have, I doubt it's the point you think you've made.

Anyway, that's enough from me. You can carry on asking loaded questions (which you think aren't loaded) and then criticising people because they won't answer them.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

From commenting at the Guardian and seeing certain commenter 's here and on WUWT, I have formed an opinion about why this question is so hurtful to the alarmists.

The reason why your question is found to be so offensive is that killing black Africans is not a side effect of Green policies.
It is the main purpose of the policies.
Overpopulation is the greatest fear - that our planet is so crowded that they will have to share with a foreigner.

"What do you think of the policy of keeping fossil fuels out of the hands of the Third World?"
That's just asking, "Do you enjoy murder?"

They don't enjoy it. But it is their unfortunate burden.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Two good news in one. First of all, Rice just said he's gone. If only. Secondly, whenever he will make any point in the future it'll be straightforward to reply with "That's a loaded question!".

He'll know what you mean.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:37 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

What amazes me is the lateness of the date that the alarmists and deep greeners are being confronted with the moral consequences of their desires. It's not as if this is news.

So where have they been all their lives? In dreamland?
===========

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Bishop,
Just read MCourtney's response to see why people find your question and what it might imply offensive. Come on, at least acknowledge this issue. It won't even weaken your position. It might even make it stronger. Carrying on claiming that it's only a question while your commenters make the kind of offensive statements that MCourtney has just made doesn't seem credible.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

The BRICs have been pointing this out for years. The ignorance must be deliberate, and, as such, feigned.

And they wanna bluff it out. Bull. Shit.
==================

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Why is any Lefty whining about loaded questions? Its their s.o.p. Every question they pose is constructed so that unless you give the 'right' answer you are exposed as a wicked person who is 'against' justice/fairness/human rights/minorities/motherhood/apple pie/etc,etc,etc/

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Ken Rice - This is an incredibly complex issue.

Ken Rice - Just read MCourtney's response to see why people find your question and what it might imply offensive.

Ken Rice wants the issue to be simple when he wants to divide the debate into 3% and 97%. But he wants it to be complex when presented with the consequences of the consensus argument for mitigation.

Ken Rice is against reading implications when its an argument for mitigation. But he's for them when its a question put to mitigationists.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Selling by Fear
Telling a child not to play on a road is sensible. Parents are fearful of the consequences, even if the child is not able to understand them. Historically, some children learnt not to play on a road, for fear of being smacked, but may through their own experience, or those of others, have learnt that being smacked, was not as bad as being hit by a car

Telling people not to burn fossil fuels, has been based on experts, telling us to be fearful of the consequences, and us being smacked financially, to pay to avoid being exposed to the consequences.

The longer that global warming fails to reveal itself, as anything at all to be fearful of, the harder we all get smacked.

Climate scientists fail to understand why people they keep smacking 'for their own good and that of the planet' don't really trust them any more.

Fearful for their own career prospects, climate scientists are working away trying to find new stuff to make us all frightened about, as nothing they have thought of previously has turned out to be more serious than a storm in the queue for the coffee machine.

Should we discount climate science? Yes, very heavily, but a closing down sale, would be very well received by billions of dissatisfied customers.

5-day weather forecasts, are so much better, so only 97% of the money/smacking has been wasted, and I and many others now naturally, trust 0% of experts based on their assurances, that they are right.

Apr 17, 2015 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Do you begin to understand, Ken, some of the passion of the dissenters? It isn't from ignorance of the science, as you so blandly, earnestly and arrogantly(marvelous trifecta, there) would like to believe, rather it is understanding of a lot beyond the science.

It stuns me that you should pretend such ignorance of the consequences. Perhaps you have psychologically suppressed it? Something to do with that 'save the world' complex, perhaps?

Consensus alarm is the little boy crying wolf. In the fairy tale, the little boy is not conflicted with unconscious guilt when he acts. And look at the consequences for him. Now, consider yourself.
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Apr 17, 2015 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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