Popular Nonscience

Firefox users will know that when you open a new tab – I think I have about thirty open at the moment – as well as icons for your favourite sites, there are some offerings from what Firefox calls the Pocket. I never click on them. Ever. But today I did. Because I just knew I was gonna have some fun.

What follows will be written without any input from higher-functioning bits of my brain, if I have any. I’ll just put down the first thing that occurs to me.

What was this piece of clickbait? Anything to do with tractors?

That’s the link as I clicked it – you can see it in the URL. (Yes, even the subhead is nonsense, then again, the term “climate denial” doesn’t mean what they think it does.)

Let’s enjoy being taught a lesson together. I’m sure after this we’ll mend our ways. From the intro:

Not much more than 10 years ago, it may have seemed like climate change denial was an ordinary, if not misinformed, opinion shared among loads of people. Nowadays, with climate disasters plaguing most everywhere in the world, it’s not so practical to live in denial. As of September 2021, only one in every 10 Americans thinks climate change isn’t happening, but around three out of every four believes it is.

I’m gonna have to stop you there – who is the author of this screed? Aha, Sara Kiley Watson. Sara, I gotta pull you up. I don’t think an opinion can be shared among loads of people. Cake can. Am I wrong? I dunno. If only I could reach a dictionary from here. Also, you shouldn’t base your argument on how many people believe something. It’s a logical fallacy. Third – I’m doing this in the wrong order ‘cos I just spotted something else – it is eminently practical to live in denial. To claim otherwise is absurd. People believe all sorts of wrong things and it doesn’t harm them at all. That’s because life in 2022 is so easy. I actually see no reason that living in denial should be a problem at all, unless macabre and unfair punishments are introduced by our lords and masters for such beliefs. Oh yeh. I think you meant “if misinformed” rather than “if not misinformed”. Unless you wanted to agree with us. (I can’t even muster the enthusiasm to answer “climate disasters plaguing most everywhere in the world”.)

And I must tell you that you’ve fallen a long way down and found yourself in the oldest crevice in the catacombs called Rhetoric. It’s easier to defeat the argument that you wished your opponent was making, rather than the one they actually are. It’s a logical fallacy that has something to do with scarecrows. Look it up. I don’t deny climate change, but I do deny catastrophic climate change.

That my ranting about your paragraph is longer than the paragraph itself either indicates a marked intolerance on my part or a laziness on yours. Either way, the critique should not be longer than the article it is critiquing, so we must move along.

Next up we have a mistaken opinion from Edward Maibach – a name that rings a bell in climateland, but I’m not looking him up now. He thinks that companies have to declare a climate emergency or something because their customers will leave otherwise. Sure, whatever dude. Just give me the cheap one. Yeah, that one, the one marked “Made in China.”

Now – finally – we get to the first of the four myths. What is it? I can’t wait to find out.

Myth no. 1: Clean energy will hurt working-class people

Wait, this is supposed to be a myth, not a fact! What gives? Some mistake, surely?

Solar and wind were the cheapest sources of energy in the world in 2020, and prices continue to drop.

That is untrue. Wronger than wrong, out the other side of wrong and into the land the wizards call Unicornia. The link Watson provides as evidence takes you to the WEF, where this is said:

“Today, renewables are the cheapest source of power,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera.

What’s IRENA? That’ll be the International Renewable Energy Agency, who have no axe to grind whatsoever re: pretending renewables are cheaper than coal. So we go from the ever-reliable WEF to some gang of cowboys who are trying to flog something. Yee-har. Yes, the link takes you there. And at IRENA, La Camera continues to impress with his understanding of power generation.

“We are far beyond the tipping point of coal,” La Camera continued.

Note to the D-G: saying something does not, in fact, make it true. If it did, human civilisation would come to an end in 7.2 seconds. An obvious counter to La Camera’s claim would be to point out the vasty increases in China and India’s coal use. He could perhaps say, “Yeh, it’s tipping down where people are getting incrementally poorer, & it’s tipping up where they’re getting richer, innit?”

Now the legendary JC comes in – no, not that one:

But these arguments [that renewables cost more and hurt the poor] are simplistic and overlook the bigger, more important picture, says John Cook, a research fellow at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University in Australia.

“More broadly, these types of arguments ignore the harmful impacts of climate change that damage society and the economy—the costs of climate inaction will be far greater than the costs of climate action,” Cook says.

Errrr no. So far the cost of climate inaction is zero – there has been no damage to society or the economy, nor will there be, but the cost of climate action is into the trillions. And Cook has never heard of something called a freeloader. Ya know, like China increasing its coal use while UK residents can’t afford to boil a kettle. Stuff like that. The folks doing the least are so far doing the best.

Are we onto 2 yet? Please say we are.

Myth no. 2: Scientists and activists are overreacting; opponents are being realistic

Ha, I’ve a feeling I’m going to like this one.

Once again Cook is the go-to guy:

Another way that climate denial views are being recast is in “culture war terms,” says Cook, by painting proponents of climate action as “extremist and pushing political agendas.”

Well there is no evidence of any of that. Whatsoever. I could trip over it if I wasn’t looking, but it doesn’t exist. Pah.

According to Watson,

In reality, we’ve been in the loop on climate change for at least 62 years—and that we’re down to the wire to to keep the worst impacts from happening. Making climate change political and dragging out decision making is in some ways, a new excuse to do nothing at all.

Right, so hold on – lemme just rephrase that – people have been warning us that we’re doomed since, er, 1960 – anyone know what happened then, can’t be bothered to hover over the link – and right now, just at this very moment that just happens to be so very important because it is NOW, we’re “down to the wire.” Stupidity on toast. The previous failures do not make the next prediction more likely to be true. Also I’m not liking your comma usage. Oh, and you didn’t need “that” back there.

Another reason politics and social identity have been injected into climate conspiracies is through a fringe movement that correlates immigration with environmental catastrophe. This has also been named “eco-bordering” by British political scientists Joe Turner and Dan Bailey. “This discourse seeks to blame immigration for national environmental degradation, which draws on colonial and racialized imaginaries of nature in order to rationalize further border restrictions and ‘protect’ the ‘nativist stewardship’ of national nature,” they wrote in a recent paper.

I have no idea what any of that means, but if they are calling me a racist someone’s gonna have to hold my beer. What is a racialized imaginary of nature anyway?

Please tell me we’re onto #3.

Myth no. 3: Corporations are already doing the necessary work

Well, the existence of this myth is itself a myth, in that I’ve never heard anyone say it. Perhaps I’m living in a denialist silo, but if so, my receiving apparatus should be picking up all relevant denialist myths, including Myth #3.

It’s something to with greenwashing. Well, greenwashing works. Every action to “fight” climate change, from (i) electric cars to (ii) wind turbines to all those lovely council committees is greenwashing. It won’t actually benefit anyone, save for those with a financial interest in flogging (i) and getting paid for owning (ii). Moving rapidly on to……….

Myth no. 4: We’re doomed

Nope. No, we’re not. Now if I was a scatterbrained tyro journalist trying to write something semi-literate about climate denial, this is the point at which I would call in the supersub, Michael the Great. Does Watson?

The final kind of new climate change denial is the belief that the apocalypse is inevitable, and there’s nothing we can do about the climate crisis. And while global warming is certainly an ever-looming and scary issue, it doesn’t have to signal the end of the world.

I think you meant “but” rather than “and”. But hey! Where’s Michael the Great…?

He’s not there. 😦 Instead, Katherine Heyhoe provides the quote.

The kind of hope we need—rational, stubborn hope—isn’t about positive thinking, but it doesn’t begin with imitating an ostrich, either,” Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy, wrote in New Scientist. “It starts by acknowledging just how serious climate change is and what is at risk: the future of civilization as we know it.

Balderdash. And several less polite words. Civilisation is not at risk from climate change. Poor people are at risk from Weather, but that’s different. Civilisation will laugh at whatever climate change has to offer. But by trying to save the climate we might unintentionally make ourselves vulnerable to nice, pleasant weather, as noted by the Met Office’s Mark Butcher last September:

…the decarbonisation of the energy system is one of the most important climate challenges that we face at the moment, but what happens is as you increase the amount of renewables that you have in your energy system, erm, you’re also increasing the vulnerability of that system to adverse weather conditions.

And what’s interesting about this is that these weren’t adverse weather conditions ten years ago, this was just nice, pleasant weather. It’s because we’ve got more and more wind power in the system that what we need to do now is think about ways in which we can strengthen that system and make it more resilient.


Well, of the four, one is an alarmist myth and one is a myth I’ve never heard of and is in any case not a denialist myth. The other two are true, I think.

One day, a bit of lint in the Pocket will belong to Cliscep. I just know it will.


via Climate Scepticism


May 7, 2022 at 04:46AM

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