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Discussion > Three elephants and the left’s agenda

rhoda: ah yes, the White Man's Burden - I forgot.

Jun 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier


"I have assumptions about the science .. you are welcome to deconstruct them, just not .. with me" (AB)

That sounds a lot like "I've made up my mind and I don't want to have to think about that difficult science stuff any more".

And she wants to communicate..?

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

You misunderstand what she means when she says "communicate".

She means proselytise.

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

John Shade (Jun 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM)
While I agree that 'The Greens' appear to have succeeded in taking over 'The Left', I don’t think I’m harbouring a romantic notion about it. The left is not just the intellectuals who run it from their think tanks and ivory towers. It’s also millions of voters and union members, and even a few ordinary party activists. They don’t care about climate change. They may get to care about energy price rises when they get really serious. In the meantime the minimum policy must be to establish that it’s possible to be ‘on the left’ and have a rational disagreement with Stern or Beddington. What kind of a Leftwing intellectual won’t let you disagree with a World Bank report for goodness sake?

By the way, I haven’t been banned from NLP. I got a comment on an article by Alice on an entirely different subject.

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"You misunderstand what she means..."

She was politely telling Robin/Geoff to go away and not destroy her comment forum. But they chose instead to ignore her and shut it down. I expect they had done the same before - their little game. Its like your Bishop getting tired of a 'troll' here and asking him/her to go elsewhere. Yet the troll continues to post so much that others can no longer use the site. Would you consider that acceptable? Typical of a lawyer to behave that way. They know the law but forget common decency.

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMissy


So it would appear!

As with Myles and Adam, who seem unable to accept that we might have thought about it, too, and have reached another conclusion.

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Missy, or BitBucket or whoever yuo are, I'm not feeding you

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Here she goes again!

The usual catalogue of misrepresentations

"Everyone has a friend who thinks global warming is just a big conspiracy"

"only 13% felt climate change was not happening."

Geoff, yes, you weren't banned, they just closed off comments on those two threads.

Jun 27, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

jamesp & TBYJ:

I (genuinely) think you're being unfair to Alice. She is sure - as are so many people - that AGW is real and dangerous. For her, the overriding priority therefore is what to do about it and she doesn't wish to be distracted from that. She's quite open about her position on this: "I don’t claim to hide that I have assumptions about the science". Nonetheless, she recognises that some (e.g. Geoff) don't agree and suggests they discuss the matter elsewhere. That seems to me to be entirely reasonable. Here's what I said in the first paragraph of my (sole) comment:

You’re right to remind Geoff that there are other, more appropriate places to discuss the practicalities of how best to reduce GHG emissions and to investigate your and the World Bank’s assumptions about climate science. And it’s just as well: no one needs yet another tedious debate about wind turbines or the reality or otherwise of dangerous man-made climate change.

The fact that she sees the issue as an opportunity to progress a left-wing agenda (economic and social change) is another matter altogether.

Jun 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Yes, I'm being unfair, she's entitled to start with whatever set of assumptions she likes, and keep the conversation on whichever aspects she wants. Unfortunately as time goes on this lumpen mass of humanity, otherwise nice, well meaning and intelligent, sticking their fingers in their ears about reality is starting to stick in my craw.

Jun 27, 2013 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

If sufficient media outlets can be persuaded to inform the population that global warming has stopped and they're being forced into fuel poverty for no good reason, they will eventually turn on the political class and force a change of direction. Turkey and Brazil show what happens when populations feel ignored by their governments. We are already starting to see some back tracking by media outlets formerly totally committed to the AGW cause. Vox populus will be what wins out against the leftist fifth column in the end.

Jun 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

Paul Matthews
Thanks for pointing out Alice’s article. It’s not only about us, but addressed to us, (“maybe you’re one ... yourself...”) and it’s on her own blog, where she alone can decide what comments to allow. A helpful sign, I think.

Jun 27, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

TBYJ: yes, it's starting to stick in my craw as well. And I'd love to be able to shout at these people that they should take their fingers out of their ears and start listening. But, like Alice, I think we have to decide our priorities - focus our energies.

There are many things that worry me about the likely outcome of current energy and climate policies and about "green" action and lobbying. For example, at one extreme, I'm seriously concerned that a combination of a severe winter, high pressure with little or no wind and zero effective back-up could mean massive urban disruption causing utter misery and thousands of deaths; few people appreciate the extreme fragility of a modern city. More immediately, I know just how dependent most disabled and elderly people are on reliable electric power and how they would suffer if that reliability were jeopardised.

I want to do anything I can to help the UK come to its senses and avoid such outcomes. One possible approach is to try to communicate with supporters of current policy. But, in doing so, what's my best course - (a) to get into more endless and rancorous argument about climate science (especially as I have neither relevant experience nor qualification) or (b) to show how current policies exacerbate these risks and, in any case, are pointless in the light of international political reality?

Of course (b) is a long shot. But I've little doubt it's a far better bet than (a).

Jun 27, 2013 at 4:34 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin (Jun 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM)
I don’t dispute Alice’s right to rule my comments off-topic. However, in her two replies to me at NLP, she twice misrepresented my position, raising issues I hadn’t mentioned, and came out with that choice statement that you quote:
"I don’t claim to hide that I have assumptions about the science".
Your perceptive comments have made me think hard about what one can achieve in discussion with the likes of Alice and Adam. Conversion is out of the question, and scoring cheap debating points is pointless. But there seems to be a desire for debate on both sides. So let’s keep working on it.

Jun 27, 2013 at 4:57 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Rather than wasting time dealing with the new age pseudo religious leftist fifth column, I think the most powerful way to change course will be the mounting pressure on the political class caused by the impending energy disaster. As with accident black spots, nothing gets done until the death and injury toll causes sufficient alarm.

Jun 27, 2013 at 5:10 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

But the response to the 'damaging and pointless' argument (b) is to show that silly cartoon (see her latest post). They say "we're creating a greener cleaner Britain, with an independent energy supply, and at the same time creating green jobs and prosperity". "And we in the west have to lead by example, other nations will follow. You can't argue for throwing litter out of your car window just because other people do it". These are powerful arguments to the self-righteous middle-class guardian reader.

I think we don't really know what the most effective argument is, so it's best to continue on all fronts. RKS has just put in another one - see this story in the Telegraph about the risk of blackouts and firms being paid to close down during winter evenings.

Jun 27, 2013 at 5:13 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

But there seems to be a desire for debate on both sides. So let’s keep working on it.

Jun 27, 2013 at 4:57 PM | geoffchambers>>>>>

Sorry but the leftists do NOT want a debate, they merely wish to drown out opposing viewpoints. If they will not take notice of the science they claim to support they are a lost cause to reasoned argument of any description.

Jun 27, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

Interesting article here - in the US, Republican leaders are adopting Robin's approach.

Jun 28, 2013 at 8:45 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul, the people that 'matter' in terms of public opinion, i.e. policy-makers, electorate, media will never be convinced by esoteric arguments about the science. It's too late for that approach. We can still have it out with the science itself behind the scenes, but it's not going to be a vehicle for convincing the majority of people that the measures are wrong.

Jun 28, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

few people appreciate the extreme fragility of a modern city
You're absolutely right, Robin.
Somebody should dig out episode one of James Burke's Connections and show it to every MP and civil servant.
And then remind them that that was 30+ years ago.
I am genuinely afraid that if the government doesn't very rapidly wake up from the green dream that it is sleep-walking through then within a decade there will be (literally) blood on the streets and the death toll resulting directly from the current idiocy (either through cold or the worms finally turning) will be considerable.

Jun 28, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Paul: Judith Curry discusses this interesting development here. It seems those Republicans have (surprisingly sensibly) been reading my posts : )

Jun 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I admire y'all for persisting in your search for engagement with 'the left' on climate and associated policy matters. Since they seem to be the dominant faction in academia, much of the media, and most of politics national and international (esp the EU and the UN), and possibly even in the civil service, this is clearly of great importance.

In the spirit of Paul Matthews's wise words (5:13 PM) about working 'on all fronts', here is an extract from a short article on someone who seems to be applying the odious Alinksy's rules against what in America are called liberals but who seem to be intolerant authoritarian ideologues:

Radicalized as a college student at Rutgers, where he says he was pushed rightward by an atmosphere of stifling liberalism, O’Keefe has, over the years, relished using rules created by liberals as a weapon against them. “People are rarely swayed by intellectual argument,” he says. He appeals to emotion: outrage, pity, frustration, indignation, and humiliation. Citing the university’s policy against “verbal assault, defamation, and harassment,” the Irish O’Keefe told Rutgers officials he took offense to the leprechaun featured on the Lucky Charms cereal boxes in university cafeterias. The video he shot, showing university officials carefully weighing the merits of his case, became a campus sensation.

O’Keefe is perhaps the only activist on the right who points to Saul Alinsky as a guiding force. “Alinsky has had a huge influence on me,” he says, and indeed, the “Veritas Rules” provided in Breakthrough echo those handed down in Alinsky’s famous manual Rules for Radicals. During our conversation, he more than once cites Alinsky’s fourth rule, “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.” Introduced to Alinsky by a college professor, he recounts, he was inspired to issue a public-records request for the salaries of a handful of the university’s Marxist professors. Several, he found, had sizable incomes. “There was nothing they could say when I exposed it,” O’Keefe tells me.


Jun 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I concur and encourage the dialogue with "the left" (whatever that is these days) although I don't want to participate myself.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

It’s not really a left right argument, more of an insulated v non insulated one. If you’re separated from the harsh realities of the competitive world by either by job security, wealth or even low personal requirement it’s easier to put CAGW above other concerns. Thus a student with little money, a fondness for cycling and camping can sneer at the CO2 footprint of the middle class parent demanding a spare room and cheap petrol. Little does it occur to him/her is that a few years down the line, it will be them trying to justify a room for all the extra things they’ve collected since they were a teenager (including the bike and the tent) and a car so they can ferry it from A to B. Perhaps the secret is to stop acquiring stuff we don’t really want and to a certain extent the free market has started to feed that need – we call it ebay and charity shops.

The BBC and academia are quite proud of the fact they aren’t polluted by the same ‘greed’ that business people are. They feel that their opinion is untainted by lower concerns. We might say they are too narrowly focussed and have to find solutions that work for the rest of society, not just those living off the magic money pot.

Wealthy politicians too can be isolated from the hardships of real life. Too often they come straight into politics from University. What do they know of insulating steam pipes or redundancy because the Chinese can do what you do for half the price? A question we might ask is ‘how many MPs have applied for the Green Deal?’ Snort, guffaw, snigger, wheeze. Yes, I know, that sort of this is for the plebs.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

There seems to be a note of defeatism creeping into this discussion: a feeling that these people (i.e. pretty well the entire "Establishment") are so out of touch with basic, practical reality that there's really no prospect of persuading them that current climate policies could well be leading to misery and disaster. It's almost - it seems to me - as if some of us regard such people as unworthy of our attention.

I refuse to accept that. As I said yesterday, I want to do anything I can to help the UK come to its senses. OK, it's a long shot - but that doesn't mean it's not worth trying. And in my view the optimum way to do it is (a) to construct a simple message outlining the probability of damaging consequences of current policies coupled with a reiteration of the pointlessness of it all in view of international political and economic reality and (b) to communicate that message using - as John Shade very helpfully noted at 12:06 PM - "the odious Alinksy's rules against [these] intolerant authoritarian ideologues".

I strongly recommend reading the short article to which John provided a link.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier