The Climate Wars revisited or No truce with kings.
This is a quiet little island of the internet. I write an article and it floats off into the blogosphere to end up Lord knows where. Some pieces sink without trace, foundering even before they’ve cleared the reef but others seem to take on a life of their own. There’s no way of predicting their fate so it’s never a consideration when I’m writing them. They are simply my thoughts and observations and this blog is my way of launching them out into the world. They’re little folded paper boats.
I wrote a piece about the Climate Wars and it seems to have voyaged far and generated a fair amount of debate. It is a brief history of the Climate Wars, some thoughts on the strategy with which we realists fought them and what the current state of play is. It’s an analysis piece on the politics and infowar aspects of the thing, which is what this blog is all about. In terms of comments posted on it here and elsewhere, there were too many to respond to individually, so this particular little boat is my attempt to address the salient points raised.
Before doing that, I’d like to remind you that I said you have to become a thinker and planner. While there are lighter aspects to it, this blog is a carefully constructed vehicle, which I designed long before the first article was ever written. A lot of those articles are small stand-alone explanations of political or psychological ideas, which are essentially key components, building blocks if you like, to be slotted into larger articles. I will be referencing quite a number of them in this piece, because I need to; feel free to click on the links or not, they’ll open in new windows, so you won’t lose your place in this article. Now, let’s get back to going over the reactions to the Climate Wars piece.
I suppose the main one was some surprise at the underlying assertion of the article, which was that the alarmists were a beaten force. I’ve thought that for at least the last year and a half but it seemed to be a new and slightly radical idea to a number of people. I gave what I thought were the reasons for the decline of the movement in an article six months ago, which you can find here and which I referenced in the Climate Wars article. I’ll try to justify that assessment using a different approach but it’s the long way around I’m afraid, so crack open a beer and get comfortable.
Let’s consider the composition of each side’s forces at the start of the war. On their side were; the big moneymen, all the mainstream politicians, most governments, the climate science establishment, the politicised ”yoof” of the world, every organ of the mainstream media (MSM) and all the political activists in the shape of Greenpeace, the WWF, various green parties of whatever national flavour and other assorted nuts and fruit loops, who were absolutely determined to deconstruct western industrial society into their vision of a socialist state in the soviet mould, although with a greenish and therefore virtuous spin. On our side, well, as a matter of fact, we just had us – a few scattered skeptics.
Asymmetric war doesn’t even begin to describe that match up. Not even UFC would bother staging that bout, because a one round fight is a tough sell at the best of times. Anyway, a few years down the line, let’s work our way through where each of those parties now finds themselves.
The big moneymen, who were quite naturally expecting to make billions of dollars from the carbon trading market, left the scene over a year and a half ago. When Cap and Trade legislation went down the toilet in America, the price of carbon headed inexorably down to a hard floor of five cents per metric tonne and the Chicago Climate Exchange therefore closed its doors for good. Everyone cut their losses and got the hell out of there. They were a valuable source of warmist finance but that, like them, is now a distant memory of those good old days of climate alarmism. If there’s no possible return on investment, they don’t invest.
The only thing they’ve ever believed in, is acting quickly on a stop-loss and letting a profit run. Beyond that, they’re a totally belief-free bunch, which makes them very easy to understand. The only way they’d make a reappearance is if Cap and Trade comes back from the dead and in the current political climate, that’s simply not going to happen. When you think about it, we’ve only had one Lazarus in two thousand years. They’re out of the game and busy little beavers making money elsewhere.
The not so big moneymen, in the shape of corporate donations and funding of green initiatives, known as greenmail in business circles, have pretty much dried up. Times are hard, money’s tight and anyway, they’ve all had the green makeover years ago – it says so on the packaging, once you’ve got through a few layers of it with a machete. They’re out of the game.
Around the world, the politicians and mainstream political parties have adjusted their policies away from environmental concerns because electorates are no longer worried about scary end of the world scenarios; just real and immediate things like jobs and money. We’re heading into the presidential election in America later this year and going by the mid-terms, the Republicans will again play the climate skeptic card, simply because it was so successful the last time around and the administration’s track record in that area is littered with the wreckage of so many disasters.
The only mention you’ll hear of green policies will be in connection with failed things like the Solyndra scandal, in which the US Government pledged and lost half a billion dollars in loan guarantees, which will be used as a club against the incumbent Democratic party. There’s an embarrassingly large list of green financial scandals to pick from, so you’ll be hearing a lot about them. Given no fundamental change in the political landscape and his general unpopularity, what I can only call the Barack Obama Bloodbath at the polls is inevitable. After that, the Democrats will jettison green policies wholesale. If it doesn’t get you votes or is losing you votes, it gets junked. That’s just Realpolitik 101.
The essentially communist blocks have never given a rat’s ass about global warming. If the opposition were hell-bent on de-industrialising themselves back to a pre-industrial age, they weren’t going to interfere but they were damned if they were going to do the same. They’re busy building new coal-fired electricity generation plants at the rate of one or two a week.
In Western Europe, the only political entity, which seems not to have abandoned the global warming cause, is the European Union (EU). They’re currently heading into a dispute with the rest of the world, because they want to unilaterally impose a carbon tax on flights into the EU. A few little countries like America and China are not happy with that idea and if the EU insist on it, they’ll just impose retaliatory taxes on imported EU goods, which means welcome to a trade war. Basically, the faceless bureaucrats of the EU are about to be taught a humiliating lesson, which can’t be a bad thing. When it comes to the EU and its particular brand of insular stupidity, you have to admit that Forrest Gump’s Momma was right – stupid is as stupid does.
The only significant exception to this world-wide distancing of politicians from environmental policies, is in Australia. The Australian Labor Party (ALP), leading a coalition with a majority of one vote, are introducing a carbon tax, despite their leader having said explicitly in the last general election that they would do no such thing. Given the deep, abiding and widespread anger of the ordinary Australian over this gross betrayal of trust, I cannot think of a possible outcome scenario at the next general election (and boy, can I think outside the box), which does not produce an evisceration of the ALP and the complete destruction of its green party allies. In order to stitch together a governing coalition at any cost, the ALP put together a carbon tax deal, which would inescapably result in its annihilation at the next election. The technical term for such an abysmal short-termist level of political acumen, is stoopid.
This looming near-death experience for the ALP, will produce a political opportunity, the exploitation of which should be planned now. It’s interesting to note that in general elections of late, the green parties have been doing very badly, a case in point being Ireland, where they lost every seat they had. When you consider that the voting system there is a variant of proportional representation, that’s a spectacularly bad result.
Moving back to the world of the politically rational, beyond nothing more than a token lip-service to environmentalism, the mainstream politicians are out of the business of saving the planet. Incidentally, don’t expect any of them to publicly recant their previous fulsome support for all things green. To borrow a phrase from Rod Stewart, they don’t want to talk about it. They’ve been busy not mentioning it for the last year. The environment has become the former love that dare not speak its name. They’re out of the game.
Governments. Well, let’s face it, technically, they’re nearly all broke. If any one of them started calling in markers on the other, they’d all have to, and then they’d all have to fold. For instance, China, a nominally communist and therefore anti-capitalist country, is forced to indirectly loan the West vast amounts of money by buying its sovereign debt, because if they didn’t, then Western economies would fold and China would have no market to sell its manufactured goods into and therefore, it would fold as well. It all has a mad interior logic of its very own. You just have to get comfortable with it.
Nowadays, everyone is doing the austerity regime routine, so governments handing out vast sums of money to feel good causes is definitely a thing of the past. With high unemployment, ballooning budget deficits and plunging tax revenues, they’re into cutting back on everything except essential services. Slowly but surely, the green subsidies and environmental budgets are being chopped back, because the money just simply isn’t there any more. In terms of the money, they’re well on the way out of the game.
If you’re noticing the word money occurring a lot, then it’s because it’s one of those important things in any war. Believe it or not, no matter how virtuous your cause, you still need money to fight a decent war. It’s money that buys the three B’s; bullets, beans and bandages, which are the essential things you need to have if you’re serious about winning one.
The credibility of the alarmist climate scientists has taken just too much damage. The original Climategate was of course the start but it’s since been followed by Climategate II and they’re living in dread of another possible Climategate III drop of emails. If that should happen, it’ll be because the content the next time around will be those highly embarrassing political emails, rather than the type we’ve previously had, which were carefully selected to just illustrate the lack of integrity of the science.
Fakegate was the final hammer blow. A high-profile climate scientist committing identity theft, wire fraud and possibly document forgery, has kicked any remaining integrity supports out from underneath them, especially as he was the chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Task Force on Ethics in Science. As a source to use for arguments from authority, they’re now a joke.
Of course, there are still a few free-range climate scientists on the loose out there, but their increasingly erratic behaviour has isolated them from everyone, most interestingly their own side, who quite rightly fear it’s only a matter of time until they land themselves, and “the cause”, into another disaster of gleickian proportions.
When you add in the fact that senior figures in other scientific disciplines, are finally starting to speak out against the climate scientists’ notions of how science should be conducted, it’s a bad sign for the future. The establishment is breaking ranks and they’re being cut loose. They’re in the water, there’s blood in it and the sharks are circling in closer and closer. It’s old scores time. The bitter cherry on top of the whole mess is, they know every single paper they publish will be scrutinised by a very informed blogosphere, who by this stage, are wise to all the old tricks they formerly got away with. You can smell the fear off them nowadays. They’re in a totally defensive posture; it’s all about personal survival now, so they’re out of the game too.
The flash mobs of young people, who invaded Copenhagen and just knew they only had days to save the planet, have all disappeared just as rapidly as they appeared. They didn’t do Cancun or Durban and their almost total non-participation in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Event, ensured it turned into a damp squib – no offence intended to any readers out there, who may be of the squib persuasion, damp or otherwise. They’ve now moved on to reality talent shows on TV or something equally stylish but insubstantial. The big problem is, being green and even saving the freaking planet, just isn’t kool anymore; in point of fact, it’s all seen as a bit old-school grunge hippy nowadays. They and their youthful enthusiasm are outta da game.
The mainstream media (MSM) are still in the game but they’ve been getting quieter and quieter for a number of months. They’re beginning to back off. Once you get past the climate fixated organs such as the NY Times, the Guardian and the dog it wags called the BBC, all the rest of them are toning down the rhetoric. Basically, climate hysteria just isn’t selling. It’s known euphemistically as “climate fatigue” in the news business. People have simply had enough of eco-scares; they don’t work any more and everyone is bored to death with them. Immediately the talking head on the TV mentions the environment word, everyone grabs for the remote. It’s like firing the starting pistol on a channel surfing race. There’s also an element of wait and see amongst the rest of the media, with regard to what is going to happen to businesses like the aforementioned three, in the wake of their reckless but arguably libelous Fakegate reporting.
The MSM has for too long allowed itself to be used as the unquestioning propaganda arm of the alarmist movement and in my assessment, Fakegate is going to be used as the weapon to destroy its capacity to act in that fashion in the future. Fakegate is the MSM’s very own, perfect, untreated, sucking chest wound and it was totally self-inflicted. At some point, they will either pay up substantial damages or grovel in public, because those are the only two choices they’ve left themselves. Pass the popcorn and crack me another beer.
Strangely enough, I get the impression from the MSM that a number of environmental journalists somehow think the Heartland Institute won’t actually go to law, because of the potential bad publicity. Given that the Heartland Institute has only ever been on the receiving end of viciously negative publicity from them anyway and that they’ve just engaged a team of what I could only describe as expensive raptor-class libel lawyers, I sort of think they might be intending to go all the way and there’s going to be some very large libel payouts in a year or so. When that starts to happen, the MSM will be out of the game for good.
Finally, we arrive at the political activists. It’s only now beginning to dawn on some of the more perceptive ones, how bad their current situation is. The mainstream political backing has somehow slipped away, the easy donations of large amounts of money from various quarters are harder to come by, the automatic backing of the MSM is no longer guaranteed and any credibility climate science formerly had, is now toast. Fortunately, those few individuals are in the minority and not in significantly influential positions.
The movement’s problems are further compounded by a complete refusal to modify policy or strategy in the light of these changed and deteriorating circumstances. Too much of the leadership is in denial over the situation but over and above that, too much of the leadership can only be characterised as fanatics. I said in a previous piece called, “Some thoughts on fanatics and how to fight them“, a fanatic’s real strength is that they’ll never give up, never rethink their position, are not proportionate and above all; don’t know when to stop. This refusal to adapt and change will inevitably lead to schisms in the movement, which will weaken it even further, and indeed, this is already beginning to happen over issues such as nuclear power and the birdie choppers.
How are the skeptics doing? You know things have changed when Climategate II breaks and your sleepy little island is invaded by a few thousand visitors in a single day. As the alarmists move inexorably to the political lunatic fringe, we’ll become more mainstream, which I think will be a bit of a shock to most of us but you might as well start getting used to the idea. All wars end some day, so we better be prepared to come out of the jungle with some ideas and join into the thing again, to influence its future direction. That’s what we were fighting for after all. The war is not over yet but they’re a beaten foe, in retreat on all fronts. For them, there is no way back. It’s Norwegian Blue, a polygon, long gone John, Appomattox courthouse, the war is over, der Krieg ist vorbei, it’s finished, c’est fini.
Cast your mind back a couple of years to Copenhagen and recall the glory days of the movement. The whole world seemed to be on their side. The TV, radio, newspapers and everything else seemed to do nothing but blast the climate change message at you. There was simply no escaping it. People were crazily enthusiastic but scared at the same time. Hysteria ruled and panic prevailed. Grownups began to worry about their carbon footprint. Crowds filled the streets demanding action to save us all from the end of the world – people seemed to be going mad.
Look around you now. It’s all gone. The circus has left town and it ain’t coming back. QED.
I wrote an article about a year ago, called “The death of the AGW belief system“, which describes the process the activists are now going through. The vast majority of them are still in the initial deep denial stage but you can sense the desperation building as the situation deteriorates. They’re starting to transition into the next stage, anger, which comes with some pretty heavy emotional side effects. Peter Gleick would be the classic example of it and the descent into unreasoning rage, with all its bizarre and unpredictable behaviour. There’s going to be some terrible tantrums, with lots of rattles being thrown out of lots of prams.
Some warmists have even entered the third stage; bargaining. They’re repositioning themselves and are prepared to meet us half way, to talk things out with us. Indeed, they’ve even learnt not to call us deniers to our face. Leaving aside a natural cynicism about their motives, the question arises; should we respond favourably to such peace overtures?
The answer is no and for very sound reasons. Niccolo Machiavelli, a disgracefully neglected political writer of antiquity, said something ruthless but very astute about wars. If you do decide to go to war, then you must smash and annihilate your enemy completely. Nobody must be in any doubt about who is the winner and who is the loser. If you don’t do that, you’re just laying the ground for fighting that same war again a few years down the line.
History is littered with tragic examples of ignoring this dictum. Accepting an armistice rather than insisting on a surrender at the end of World War I, helped to produce Work War II within a couple of generations. It allowed the “we weren’t defeated but betrayed” myth to grow and blossom in Nazi Germany. In more recent times, the failure to prosecute Gulf War One to the very streets of Baghdad, produced Gulf War Two and other things within a generation. The pseudo science of Eugenics was allowed to slink away into obscurity, after the logical consequences of its philosophy became appallingly obvious, when the concentration camps were discovered at the end of World War II but the Eugenics legislation, already on the statute books, stayed in place. Human beings were still being forcibly sterilised into the 1970′s.
As a historical aside, the only country in the world that didn’t enact eugenic legislation was the UK. It would be nice to think that was because the average Briton was somehow strong enough to resist the world-wide titanic wave of Eugenics, which was sweeping all before it at the time, but the truth is more prosaic. A handful of people, who saw the murderous fad for what it was and what it would eventually lead to, got together and used every dirty trick in the parliamentary book to slow down, hinder and sabotage at every turn, any effort to legislate it into law. They became extremely unpopular. They lost friends, they lost reputations and they all lost their political careers but they stopped it dead in its tracks. There are no monuments to them nor any plaques, on which their names are carefully inscribed, but that is the sort of lonely moral courage I respect and admire deeply.
Back on topic. We’re winning so there’s not one single benefit for us but lots of benefits for them, in going into palsy walsy peace hugs and sharing spit with them but if we do, make no mistake, all the laws and spending commitments already in place, will stay there for years to come. More importantly from my viewpoint, their slow motion genocidal policies towards the developing world will continue to kill people by the millions every year. It is now that we have to start thinking about what has to be done after the war is over. There will be a window of opportunity and we must to be ready to utilise it.
A lot of comments discussed exactly how far through the conflict we are and before Fakegate, I would have estimated about two more years to go. However, as Fakegate looks to be the strategic disaster that strips the alarmists of their propaganda arm, I think that end will now come sooner. Time will tell.
Some people thought the war context of the piece “wasn’t helpful”, perhaps because they imagine it’s some sort of genteel debate, which can be won from the comfort of their armchair with their feet up on the desk, as they sip a glass of lightly chilled Pinot Grigio before their computer screen. Well, I only wish I lived in their world. I can assure them that if they spent a fraction of the time I do, reading alarmist blogs and talking to people in eco-extremist chat rooms, they’d soon move over to a war footing.
The alarmists have always thought of it as a war and us as the enemy, to whom no mercy is to be shown. As far as they’re concerned, it’s total, unrestricted warfare. It’s as simple and savagely direct as that. As I said in the original piece, if you don’t have a clear understanding of the nature of the beast you’re fighting against, you’ll be destroyed by it. I don’t do dumb, I don’t do wishful thinking and I don’t do helpless victimhood – I do fighting back. If you don’t like that, then you’d better find a more comfortable blog to read.
They’ve accused us for years of being anti-science, paid lackeys of big oil, climate criminals, despoilers of the environment and being drones of some shadowy organised conspiracy against them. We long ago wrote off such accusations as propaganda stereotypes, designed to dehumanise and marginalise us but what you have to take on board is that in a very real sense, they’ve become victims of their own propaganda. The lies have been repeated so often that they now believe them themselves. That is now their operational worldview and their understanding of us and it’s a false one. Essentially, they went to war against and are still fighting, a phantasm figure who is a patchwork product of their own spin machine’s memes. They simply have a false understanding of us and that works in our favour.
We ourselves have to be careful about what psychologists call projection, which is assuming other people operate on the same basis and with the same world view as yourself. We tend to think the mobs of trolls that suddenly appear out of nowhere, magically on cue to attack certain realist articles or disrupt particular debates, are somehow representative of the actual number of activists on the other side; they are not. There’s not as many of them as you might think but they are organised and unlike us, their activities are well-coordinated by a few overt sites, such as George Manbiot’s TrollzAreUz, and some pretty dark covert sites as well. They hunt in well organised wolf packs, whereas we operate as lone hunter killer subs. I see the same individuals operating under multiple personas, but the fist and the synchronised uniformity of the current playbook in use, always gives them away.
Discussing the article with online friends, there were a couple of things about it that found a real resonance with them. The first was the categorisation of the war as a guerilla war, which it is, and the climate realists as lone guerilla fighters, which we are. Each of us independently worked out our own strategy to fight it and that was guerilla warfare. They owned every organ of the information infrastructure except the internet, which became our jungle and we operate in it so much better than they do, but it’s a solitary fight most of the time. I think the article fitted each of us into some bigger context that we always knew existed but never quite acknowledged; we’ve always fought alone but we are definitely part of something bigger; a band of brothers and sisters fighting against a Goliath.
The second is a lot more complex and a lot more personal. In the early days, when any sort of ally was few and far between, if someone happened to be shooting in the same direction as me, I wasn’t too concerned about the reasons why, just as long as they kept blasting away. As the thing went on, you got to know each other and gradually found out why each of you were in the fight. It came down to each one’s own perception of what global warming was all about. It’s my nature to analyse and look for patterns in things but there simply wasn’t a common motivation there.
For some, it was the creeping anti-democratic totalitarianism hiding behind a mask of good intentions, for others it was the deliberate perversion of that thing they loved called science. Some hated it because it was the extremist’s hijacking of environmentalism, something they’d fought for in their youth, others hated it because it substituted a genocidal worship of Gaia before any other human consideration. Some, like myself, just fought it because it was killing helpless people. The nearest thing to a common factor, was that we were all in it to protect something we loved against something we hated.
While there was no uniformity of motivation, there was one thing each and every one of us shared and that was the moment. The moment was when you realised that if you were going to commit yourself to fighting the thing, you were going to lose some friends, you were going to be isolated, you were going to take some professional damage, you were going to be ridiculed, you were going to spend a lot of your free time on it, you were never going to make a buck out of it, the chances of you winning were remote and even if by some miracle you did, nobody would ever remember your efforts anyway. We’d all had that moment and we’d all made the decision to fight it anyway.
I’ve battled against the thing in various ways but finally came to realise the most effective weapon I had, was a facility to write the truth well, which is why the original piece had to have the sentence below. It’s about that moment and that decision.
“Too many people have already walked away from even fighting the first round; you’re on your own and you know it and that’s just the way the thing is.”
Doing that is called moral courage.
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