Advocacy follies fuelling fossilized furies and fears

As we approach the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s planned late September release of the first “Book” of the latest version of the Climate Bible (or at least the much abbreviated version thereof, known as the Summary for Policymakers), it is difficult not to notice the flurry of advance activities on the eco-activist front, dutifully supported by a dedicated legion of journalist-advocates.

One such effort is the August 2 edition of the (now formerly reputable) Science journal. Resting on the laurels of its long-diminished credibility and authority, this issue appears to be dedicated to whipping up the fears of the climate change concerned (aka “climate hypochondriacs” h/t Eduardo Zorita), led by a particularly appalling and offensive Editorial under the byline of the recently appointed Editor in Chief, Dr. Marcia McNutt.

But back in 2006 and early 2007 when the first “Book” of the previous edition of the Climate Bible (with its “advance billing” as a “barrage of intergalactic ballistic missiles” by no less an “expert” than Canada’s Andrew Weaver, a climate modeller and now newly-minted BC Green Party politician), climate change was nowhere near my radar!

In those days, I think I might have been vaguely aware of a phenomenon, then more commonly known as “global warming” and a concomitant anticipation that there would be “winners and losers” – and that Canada would be amongst the “winners”. But that’s probably about all I knew! I certainly had no idea that the conjured up primacy of this growing concern owed much to the efforts of the United Nations (UN) – an organization whose credibility, and adherence to its original mandate, was on very shaky ground even in those days!

My blogging activity and media monitoring at that time were more or less limited to assisting Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, with her (now long dormant) blog. So I was definitely aware of Holocaust denial – a phenomenon which has rarely been unaccompanied by anti-semitism and/or anti-Israel propaganda. As anyone who has followed the history of the latter can tell you, much of the anti-Israel propaganda has been (and continues to be) generated and/or promoted by the efforts of the UN – particularly by its so-called “human rights” arm, in conjunction with a still-growing plethora of ideologically driven Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Canadian lawyer, Anne Bayefsky who is, by her own description, “An international human rights lawyer, professor & activist” has long been vigilant in documenting the activities of the UN – and its legion of NGOs – in this regard.

From time to time, I have commented on what to me are some obvious parallels in the UN’s shameless promotion of these two pet projects (e.g. here, here and here) – both of which certainly serve as convenient distractions from the UN’s expensive exercises in ever-expanding mediocrity and failure to meet the obligations of its original mandate. But I digress … Back to the more immediate present!

One of the more vocal and increasingly outlandish commentators in the ranks of enviro-journalist-advocates, dedicated to the promotion of climate hypochondria, is the U.K. Guardian‘s George Monbiot. He and his recently published book, Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life were given substantial airtime here in Canada, last week, by the CBC’s Sunday Edition. If you are looking for an assault on your ears (not to mention your intelligence!) by all means be the CBC’s guest.

My undying thanks, however, go to Alex Cull whose blog is always well worth a read. In a feat that I would describe as above and beyond the call of duty, Cull has now added to his absolutely awesome transcript archive this Aug. 4 broadcast, where you can read Monbiot’s latest pontificating sermon from the mount, which includes …

Monbiot on Canada (my bold):

Well, at the moment, this highly cultured, sophisticated, wonderful nation seems to be descending into a thuggish petro-state, which appears to be governed by the tar patch. And its politics seem to suffer from the oil curse, as so many countries suffer from, when they have found big reserves of fossil fuels. And wildlife is suffering greatly, as a result. Natural resources of all kinds are suffering greatly, and so, of course, are those who love nature.

Oh, the poor little lambs who’ve obviously gone astray:

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that musical interlude. To be honest, it was all I could think of when I heard …

Monbiot on sheep (again, my bold):

[…] In Britain, we have to go an awful lot further, because – I mean, Canadians are amazed when they come here and see that our national parks are no more than sheep ranches.

[Interviewer] Laura Lynch: Now, you raised the sheep, and you seem to bear a particular distaste for the sheep, and what they have brought to Britain. Can you talk to me about that? You call sheep farming a slow burning ecological disaster.

George Monbiot: Well, I mean, in this country it’s done more extensive ecological damage than all the building that’s ever taken place here. And it’s the same in many other parts of the world. The sheep is a very effective degrader of ecosystems – it eats a wide range of vegetation, it crops it right down to the ground, it ensures that very little can live where sheep are kept on land for long periods, which they are, and it destroys watersheds, because the land no longer has the absorptive capacity, to be able to suck up rain when it falls and then release it slowly. Instead – and this is what, again, we’re seeing in many parts of the world – downstream of where sheep heavily graze, the catchments, we see a cycle of drought and flood as the result of rivers flash-flood down into the valleys, and then they dry up because there isn’t that slow release from the sponge-like ecosystem which you have before the trees are cut down and the land is heavily grazed.

If you should choose to look or listen to Monbiot’s latest message in all its doom and gloom glory, as an antidote, I heartily recommend Geoff Chambers’ highly entertaining serialized chronicle Apocalypse Close; Chapter One of which begins here.

But speaking of the feared eco-apocalypse … Australia’s Tony Thomas has recently reported on his travels, which included a tour of (fossilized tales from?!) a museum in the heart of the Viennese woods. Some excerpts:

Vienna’s rootin’ Teuton travesty of science

Austria is justly proud of its scientists – Schroedinger, Mach, Doppler, and Pauli, to name a few. Hence I was excited to be visiting the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, or Vienna Museum of Natural History. It’s a stately pile in the city’s famed museum district.

The science there was great. But the global warming exhibits weren’t science, they were alarmist rubbish.

OK, I’m biased, but let me explain: One display is headed, “Climate models show the expected global warming for the next decades.” The illustration, headed “The world 4degC warmer”, is a color-coded map of the continents.

I paused. Four degrees warmer within decades? Like, 2030, 2040, 2050? Considering there’s been no warming for 17 years, the forecast seems a stretch. I wondered if the English translation had gone awry, but the label alongside said the same thing in German.

What’s more, the display seemed already a decade old, judging by references I noticed to incidents in 2002. Museums can be pretty slack about updating their displays. So that might bring the heat apocalypse forward to, say, 2029, when I’m just settling into my high-care retirement home.

[…] All around were fantastically alarmist efforts such as “The climate bomb in the oceans” (“Global warming could destabilise these deposits [of frozen methane]. Subsequently, the emission of huge amounts of greenhouse gases would heat up the atmosphere even more”). Sure, maybe 20,000 or 200,000 years from now. And the Arctic? “The Arctic could be ice-free in summer from 2060 on.”

[Thomas concludes:]

The Vienna Museum of Natural History then throws science holus-bolus under the bus and gets to work in full activist mode. We (the OECD group, that is) must cut our energy consumption using new, gentle and renewable technologies to save the planet, correcting the errors of the 20th century and fighting off George W Bush’s axis of evil with the US petroleum industry, as at 2002.

I limped from the Vienna Museum of Natural History, nursing my hard-worked Canon IXUS Powershot and feeling sad for Austria’s distinguished traditions of science. The displays are targeted at schoolkids and corrupting the young is a crime, as Socrates would attest. [emphasis added -hro]

As for the perennially over-hyped imminent demise of the Arctic, just when you thought they’d finally given up on the myth of the poor polar bears, there’s one dead polar bear that the U.K. Guardian‘s Damian Carrington (who has never been known to check his facts before rushing an activist article into press) has recently been at it again:

The polar bear who died of climate change – big picture

A lack of sea ice, caused by global warming, meant the bear was unable to hunt seals and starved, according to an expert who had been monitoring the animal in Svalbard, Norway

• Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert

[followed by a big picture of a dead polar bear]

Fortunately, Susan Crockford – whose polarbearscience blog on July 26 passed an unannounced one-year anniversary – has put paid to this unabashed advocacy exercise in misleading the public, with her recent two articles:

Ian Stirling’s latest howler: “the polar bear who died of climate change”

Ian Stirling’s howler update: contradicted by scientific data

During the past year there has been a noticeable increase in junk-psychology masquerading as “scholarship” dedicated to bolstering the declining credibility of the so-called “consensus” by advancing ludicrous theories about those who do not share a faith in the blinkered and dutiful recitation of chapter and verse of the Climate Bible. One such “scholar-advocate” is Stephan Lewandowsky.

So I found considerable joy in reading Peter Foster’s recent Crazy over climate in Canada’s National Post. Foster thoroughly skewers Lewandowsky and the shameful advocacy advanced by the U.K.’s Royal Society – and the extent to which it continues its descent which has been previously documented by Andrew Montford aka Bishop Hill.

And I was equally heartened, today, by a guest post on Judith Curry’s blog, in which the author presents some excerpts from the writings of Max Weber, which are as valid today (if not more so) as they were when he wisely wrote them almost 100 years ago:

Climate Science & Sociology

The politicisation of climate science is perhaps best illustrated by the emerging role of the social sciences in placing interpretations on human perception of, and responses to, “the science.”

Social sciences, including sociology, psychology, economics and political science have been enthusiastic entrepreneurs in seeking to map the political and scientific battlefield that is climate science today. In many cases, mere mapping has moved into partisanship, such as where psychologists seek to identify personality traits or core beliefs which allegedly explain either an individual’s scientific convictions or their personal response to the climate wars (e.g. Lewandowsky et al). For these social scientists, the starting point is that “the science is settled,” and damaging, human caused climate change is upon us. The big questions revolve around persuading the public and politicians to act in ways considered to be commensurate with their assessment of urgency.


German Max Weber (1864 – 1920) was one of the most influential thinkers of his era, and his ideas still permeate politics, economics, history, philosophy and sociology today. He described and analysed Western culture and society, and its historical roots, with a breadth and depth that is truly staggering.


[The author cites Weber’s:]
“It would be unfair to hold the personal inferiority of faculty members or educational ministries responsible for the fact that so many mediocrities undoubtedly play an eminent role at the universities. The predominance of mediocrity is rather due to the laws of human co-operation, especially of the co-operation of several bodies, and, in this case, co-operation of the faculties who recommend and of the ministries of education.”

[and his:]
“In science, each of us knows that what he has accomplished will be antiquated in ten, twenty, fifty years.

“That is the fate to which science is subjected; it is the very meaning of scientific work, to which it is devoted in a quite specific sense, as compared with other spheres of culture for which in general the same holds. Every scientific ‘fulfilment’ raises new ‘questions’; it asks to be ‘surpassed’ and outdated. Whoever wishes to serve science has to resign himself to this fact.” [emphasis added -hro]

I wonder if there are some lessons in Weber’s work that Science‘s McNutt and her editorial team would do well to learn! In any event, I suspect that over the next month or so, we shall be subjected to more follies fuelling fossilized furies and fears – in the rather desperate hope of paving the way to a smooth ride for the “findings” of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

But somehow, I have a feeling that far from floating to the pinnacle of achievement via the highly dubious and unwarranted award of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, the forthcoming AR5 will be in for a much rougher ride: Notwithstanding the very best efforts of those who continue to engage in the politicization of science – via ill-advised advocacy follies – this next edition of the Climate Bible will be met with sounds of many more rational voices than those it encountered in 2007.

Well, that’s the view from here :-)


10 thoughts on “Advocacy follies fuelling fossilized furies and fears

  1. Into the Valley of Death rode the AR5.

    Cannons to the right of it;
    Data to the left of it,
    Disproofs in front of it
    Volleyed and thundered.

    Not a scrap survived.

  2. Thanks for the plug Hilary. The section of my saga where Monbiot gets down and dirty in Wild Wales is at
    Monbiot has a thing about Canada ever since he went there for a debate with Delingpole, which he neatly described as “like shooting rats in a barrel”. He worried on his blog about the morality of getting in an aeroplane, but he got over it. He also had a discussion with Steve McIntyre which both agreed to keep secret. Could it be a coincidence that he has kept quiet about climate change ever since, and now writes about badger culling and reintroducing elephants into Wales?.

    • Oh, you’re more than welcome, Geoff … and thanks for the additional pointer. In the interest of BlogAccuracy, though … I don’t recall a Canadian debate between Monbiot & Delingpole (although the Beeb did host such an event in 2010)

      Perhaps you were thinking of his participation in the December 2009 Munk Debate in which Monbiot was triply handicapped: He was on the same “side” as Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada – and between them they lost to Lomborg and Lawson.

      As for Monbiot’s elephant fantasy … Can’t you just picture the welcome in the hillside (as they come home again to Wales): a herd of elephants wrapping their respective trunks around the blasted wind turbines – which I very much doubt any elephant is likely to have remembered from the past;-)

  3. Thanks, Hilary! The interview is interesting on many levels. Do you know, I kind of like the idea of reintroducing elephants, lions and hyenas to European wilderness areas, as long as there aren’t any in west London, of course, or anywhere I’d be likely to bump into them. I suspect George is onto a loser there, though.

    One irony is that George says “Where land becomes available – and, interestingly, in many parts of the world, in infertile places, farmers are now vacating the land, because globalisation makes the least fertile places uncompetitive – there it really is a matter of taking down the fences…” etc.

    If rewilding becomes a possibility, due to farmers vacating the land because globalisation is making the least fertile places uncompetitive, then surely we have market forces and efficiencies brought about by fossil-fuelled global trade to thank – not that he does!

  4. Whoa, what is it with George Monbiot and sheep? He sounds more like a Highlander during the scouring of the glens than a Hugenot. Of course, overstocking and other poor grazing practices with sheep (or any other livestock) can be bad for the land, but this is way OTT. Perhaps he was mauled by a sheep as a child?

    And yes, the tidal wave of climate hysteria engulfing us duplicates similar events before AR4. Fortunately, at least where I live the public’s response seems to be a big yawn.

    • what is it with George Monbiot and sheep?

      Good question, johanna! Perhaps the answer can be found here (sounds it could be an anti-Monbiot rally, attended by some of his most-feared “enemies”) [h/t GrumpyDenier via twitter]:

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