Reflecting on Blogging, Denial, Climate Change and Politics: Small Things

As I’ve spent much of June working on the innovation series, I feel somewhat of a block. I feel, from a strictly “professional” view, that I need to jump straight into building on this foundation (it’s all good and well to talk about the troubles of the world and near fanciful ideal re-developments; but where’s the guts of this?). I wrote the series so that I had the foundation done and could finally move beyond the repetitive debates that  I was being drawn into. I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself – it’s not my career (although the ideas I am developing I hope to, in the near future, be carried across into my career path), I did put a fair amount into the series (at the expense of my comic series as well) and over the past week my wife-to-be has been doing her best to push as much enthusiasm into me as she can about hitting the 30’s. I suppose I should stop thinking so much about all this for a couple days and come back fighting. However, this is not my nature either.

I suppose I want to leave this week by reflecting on the strange world of blogging.

As my first post was only in January, I guess in most respects I’m still a “noob”. Various aspects of my background has left me with an unnaturally strong need to prove myself. After hearing family members put down my work through the teachings of Monckton, I felt that I should offer a voice of reason regarding climate change. As “TrueSkeptic” has since commented, I wasn’t aware of what I was getting myself into.

The power of a word is much more elastic than its truth

It only takes one convincing liar to propagate a baseless view which can take the world by storm. It takes many experts a very long time to even begin to sway popular view to anything reasonable. Look at the efforts it took a professor to undertake to detangle the rubbish of Monckton’s presentation. Yet Christopher feels it justifiable to fight back and in some corners the fake lord is still considered a hero. He had travelled the globe, provided I don’t know how many propaganda lectures and earned who knows how much money before John Abraham provided an irrefutable rebuttal. A while ago, Dr. Andrew Glikson also had a written exchange with Monckton through a journalist which didn’t get as much attention. Either way, all too often parrots of Chris continue to populate blogs and other pop-media. His lies are hard to kill – a bit like a weed that keeps popping up in new parts of the yard.

The lack of attention of Watts recent tour across Australia deserves a pat on the collective Aussie back. His attack on US weather stations has been demonstrated as nothing more than a waste of time and money (in developing new stations). Comparing the data between “good” sites and “bad” sites shows little differences (besides; the process of looking at tends over time largely overcomes many site flaws), and the US temperature record is only a small part of a much larger global data collection. Regardless of this, his blog continues to be a favourite among many groups and is parroted off in pop-media.

For some time, Mike at Watching the Deniers, has been following Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt, and recently Skeptical Science has focused on Nova as well. Jo’s paranoid flavour only seems to appeal to the very crowd that no evidence could ever get through to (anything offered only increases the size of the conspiracy – just look at her wild and somewhat insane attack recently aimed at PNAS). Bolt is known to lie and demonstrate poor journalistic ethics (see Mike’s write up).

Apart from these loud outlets of anti-science, there is another group of people (who I was probably most surprised about) that carry out the most cowardly form of bullying through comments. Some use a name that can be traced back to a blog, but most that throw mud around do so without a face and name. Now, I mentioned earlier that I had near an obsession with proving myself. With dyslexia, it’s been difficult to demonstrate what I understand. In this respect, when I face criticism, I go into overdrive to prove myself; anyone that has blogged for a long time or is in the public eye can obviously spot the danger in my flaw. However, I guess the two most energetic individuals I’ve ran into so far (Roger and Pete) have been good in helping me move passed this. They both demonstrated examples of people unable adopt, adapt and improve. Their views were concrete and void to the greater amount of current understanding.

I’m now at peace with being able to constructively reach everyone in balanced and informed debate.

Because the dangerous power of words have been demonstrated by Monckton, Watts, Nova, and Bolt above and others like Tony Abbott, Donna Laframboise, John Shimkus, and Nick Minchin that I’ve discussed previously, I’ve returned to my academic training and a constant supply of reference papers. Reason isn’t enough – it’s all about having as many expert people supporting your argument as you can get. The people here say a lot of wild things and it becomes very difficult to find where their accusations were borne. Publicly, we need to make it clear just how limited their scientific basis is and demonstrate the greater scientific consensus regarding the changing world.

Indeed a number of these people and their followers will forever ignore or refute the science until their shoulder deep in the results of their ignorance. It eventually becomes trivial arguing with them directly. At some point it must also become equally as meaningless to argue against their wild claims in public. Indulging in these strange little skirmishes also encourages the one thing that they endeavour to achieve; inaction. Political will may be weak (Rudd’s collapse in popularity arguably demonstrates a general climate concern within Australia  that may have otherwise been hidden under the noise of people like Abbott, Minchin, Bolt, and Nova), but there is noticeable opportunity to engage with the public not only on the various impacts, but potential we have to adapt and demonstrate to the world this hard yakka attitude that we Aussies like to hold of ourselves. We don’t need to wait for other countries and we have the resources at hand to be world leaders in development. This could provide a great economic boom than Rudd’s coal spine.

However, I feel that this will be left in the hands of academic and private groups to take the initiative. Are we game enough?


3 thoughts on “Reflecting on Blogging, Denial, Climate Change and Politics: Small Things

    1. Thanks adelady, but you might not feel that way on Monday.
      I’m posting my first step beyond the innovation series; this point will be on farming and TODs. I’m using our humble city as an example and pretty much talking about reducing sprawl, thereby making a lot of changes to population distribution.
      I suppose those, as in my innovation bit, it’s not about making people move but encouraging them to do so.


  1. Never fear. My personal view is that Adelaide will finish up a lot like Coober Pedy – at least in terms of designing comfortable living environments in a hostile climate (hopefully not *quite* as hostile as CP).


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