What I’m going to say will upset a few people.
This is not going to be a popular article with some people on the skeptical side of the global warming divide but you’re going to get it anyway, because a few things that have needed to be said for some time, now require to be said more urgently, especially in the light of recent events. I wrote this article last Monday and have spent the rest of the week considering whether I should go with it or not. It breaks one of my own rules but I’ll be damned if I’ll let pass what happened last weekend without comment, if only because it may prevent it happening again.
It’s always nice and comfortable being in the right but that’s not the same thing as ensuring the truth will get out. Unpleasant as it might seem, to get that truth out into the world, where it can actually have some effect, you may have to get your hands dirty occasionally. How dirty they get, is that eternal judgement call, governed by your integrity and each one of us has to wrestle with our conscience over that one.
We are in a war, not a debate, and though there are no bullets flying around, make no mistake, people are still being killed. I got into this fight to do my part in stopping that killing and that is always the focus, nothing else. If you’ve read the “about me” for this blog, you’ll know that I think the big, slow, invisible killing is happening in the developing world.
It is caused by eco-activist policies, which are supported by mainstream politics, which are in turn supported by a deeply misinformed public opinion and behind it all and underpinning it all, is the credibility of a degenerate climate science. Therefore, to stop it all, climate science had to be taken out. A simple line of cold logic with an extreme statement at the end and I make no apologies for that. Take out the science, and the dominos start to fall. That in effect, whether people knew it or not, was the first-phase strategy to fight the war and it worked.
It’s been obvious for some time, especially to any scientifically literate person, that the climate realists have won that debate in the blogosphere hands down. It was won, not only by pointing out how bad the science actually was, but in so many cases, how downright dishonest it was. I’m sorry but that debate in here is over, though I’m sure it’ll continue to tick over.
If you agree that we’ve carried the field in the debate-the-science-to-death phase, then you have to ask, what’s next?
We must move out of here. It’s no longer good enough to just natter amongst ourselves; we have to widen the dialogue to a bigger audience, in other words, getting public opinion on our side has to be the next objective. It is the next domino and it’s already tottering. Doing anything else at this point, is just allowing defeat to ooze from the jaws of victory.
The only remaining puzzle is, how does one broaden the audience?
The Heartland Institute (HI) ran an advert on one billboard over one highway for a period of twenty-four hours. It essentially said that some pretty unsavoury characters believed in Global Warming. So what? It’s true, they do. However, it seemed to polarise some elements of the skeptic blogosphere, with various parties strongly condemning or supporting the initiative. It’s interesting to note which bloggers decided not to even cover it.
The most exhaustive discussion of it can be found here at Anthony Watt’s site WUWT. There’s a lot of points made in the 500 or so comments under the piece, though personally what I found most interesting were the infowar aspects of them. At a guess, I’d say nearly a third of the comments were from people who’d never posted there before and what they all in essence had to say was very similar – I’m an outraged climate skeptic and I utterly condemn the HI advert and suggest we climate skeptics shouldn’t have anything more to do with them. They were of course, agents of disinformation, mobilised to stoke up a furore aimed at marginalising the HI. If you still think there’s no such thing as troll central, I suggest you read through the comments with a more cynical eye …
As all good PR work is designed to do, the HI advert got a lot of attention. There was nothing new in this approach, even would you believe, on our supposedly lily-white climate realist side. You may have noticed, Christopher Monckton, probably our strongest public orator, seems so often to make controversial and provocative statements just before major speaking engagements, which as a result, fill the venues, if only out of the resultant curiosity by the ordinary person of either side about him. The amusing thing is watching the climate realists rushing to his defense. I have too much respect for his intellect and political acumen, to think he’s prone to making such remarks without being only too aware of their PR impact.
Similar examples abound. Why write a book entitled, “An Analysis of the IPCC Working Methods” when you can go for something much more eye-catching such as – Oh I don’t know, how about – “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”? Perhaps comparing the IPCC to a delinquent teenager is going a little bit too far, too personal, too much like propaganda or dare I even say it, an ad hominem attack? It comes down to your sensibilities, I suppose, but either way, you’ll get more attention with the latter title, and therefore sell more books, which will get your message out to more people.
It’s always nice to have allies in any struggle but in the fight against climate alarmism, I long ago recognised there was not much practical help to be expected from so many of the climate realists, for a variety of reasons.
If there ever was a central problem, it was going to be how to get the climate skeptics out of their comfort zone and into the real world, actually doing something, rather than endlessly debating. In any large sense, I don’t think that’s possible, so other avenues and parties, have to be explored.
Too many people on the skeptic side are just so comfortable bickering on about the science and do you know what? There are people ready to send them an endless supply of trolls to bicker with, which they do, because they know as long as you’re doing that, you’re having absolutely no effect in the real world. I no longer see any substantial gain to be had by indulging in what has become repetitive displacement activity, especially when we’ve already won all the significant scientific debates. Think about it. When you leave aside ripping apart new alarmist papers, what new significant issues have been discussed in the last two years by the climate skeptic blogosphere?
There’s simply too much of what I call the whinge and dump mentality as well. This war of shadows is not about you, your principles, me or my morality; it’s about saving lives, which actually means doing things like writing letters to your political representatives, getting actively involved in some politics or actually turning out for a demonstration. It’s a real thing, not some endless academic Oxford Union debate. At some point, if you’re really going to make any damn difference, you have to think through what you’re prepared to do, and that I did a long time ago. Apparently, where I draw the line, is a lot lower down that mountain of morality that some skeptics appear to live atop of.
We have to broaden the audience; there was always only so much which could be achieved in cyberspace and it’s been done. We’re going to have to pick up our game too. Coming out of the blogosphere spouting the science we’re all so comfortable with, simply isn’t going to make the cut either. The only thing the average person knows about science is that they don’t understand it, so you might as well be speaking Swahili to them. We do have to think up new ways to get the message across, and some of them will have to fit on a billboard over a highway.
I think there was another subtle but rather subconscious side to some of the skeptic reaction to the HI initiative. Because it was an attempt to move the debate outside that blogosphere we all know and love, it was perhaps leaving a few of the notables of that very skeptic blogosphere behind. I cannot help but get a sense, it was vaguely about reasserting some sort of control, as if they wanted to get the debate safely reined back into here. Why, I’ve read they were not even consulted with in advance by the HI, before the advert was ran. What on earth could the HI been thinking of, not to get prior clearance from them?
If you’re a notable climate realist, that means you will be exercising authority. As always, with authority comes a measure of wider responsibility, because the effect of what you say and do, is no longer confined to just you. Whether you like it or not, those who trust, rely or are influenced in any way by your actions, will implicitly hand you some leadership responsibilities. We have so few allies in this struggle, the rule I exercise here is not to criticise allies. It’s a hard rule to follow at times. You see them make a move that isn’t optimal or more commonly, fail to make an appropriate response to a rapidly deteriorating situation. The WUWT debate linked to above, is a particularly frustrating example of both of those errors. Over last weekend, it was like watching a self-inflicted and escalating cluster-fuck developing in real-time.
Yes, the HI thing might have been a bit clumsy, perhaps even a bit too in-your-face for your taste but it was trying to move the conversation out into the real world and to real people. If you had a problem with it, which I never did, then it should have been handled with some judgement or at least a modicum of tact. If you couldn’t get anywhere behind the scenes, then, as long as what they were up to was not totally outrageous, you walk away from them without any comment, resolving to keep your distance from there on in.
The way not to handle it, is to start blogging about it from on high, writing open letters to them or publically, via your blog, flouncing out of their conferences on your high horse. Well done, you now own some piece of useless higher moral ground because you created and then lost us a battle that not only didn’t need to be fought in the first place but which also, with a little thought, could have been fought so much more adroitly. If that was an example of your leadership thinking, then thank you but no thank you, I’ll take my chances alone without you.
There’s more at stake here than your sensibilities or your high moral principles, so for God’s sake, get into the fight for real or at least, don’t become a liability to those of us, who are actually trying to achieve concrete change out in the real world.
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