Intimidation: The Fail Safe Reply to Climate Science

OveHG highlighted a disturbing article by Clive Hamilton yesterday. It’s really of no surprise to hear the horror stories of scientists whom have found themselves the victim of quite unhealthy hatred due to their work and public statements regarding AGW. It’s not surprising, but it is disgusting that such attitude is not isolated and only the result of some unbalanced individual somewhere, but actively encouraged on the US prime time TV.

It got me thinking.

To many of my readers, the name “Pete Ridley” is not new. This character is no longer welcome on this blog; not only because he demonstrates concerning interest in pulling up as much personal information on others as he can, not only because his conversations are circular and largely require an illogical worldwide conspiracy, not only because he’s resorted to vile personal attacks and not only because he has proven himself willing to go the extra yards and actually find and use the emails of people who he knows I converse with (!?!?! could you imagine a random email from some unknown bloke named Pete Ridley, who wants to talk about someone you happen to know – talk about creepy); but because he does all of this and, by sheer lucky, I stumbled upon another thread recently (I’ve noticed fairly bizarre search entries in my site stats, so copied and pasted one into google to see what would turn up) where I discovered Pete had been discussing me and my values quite feverishly in what can only be described as an attempt to stir up hate.

It’s a shock to learn that people you know are being emailed by a vocal AGW “sceptic” blogger simply because they know you and it’s even worse to learn that this character misrepresents you on blogs that share his general view in the hope to rally up support in his hatred of you.

Compared to this, Adam Jayne is simply annoying; simply sure that he is right and determined to prove it.

In a similar fashion, I’m sure anyone sufficiently bored enough to bother reading over my exchange with Andrew (aka Poptech) would noticed that it had little to do with anything AGW related; it was solely a circular exchange regarding his indignity over my views of his list coupled with (quite hypocritically) various threats and insults that were clearly designed to keep me biting back. I’ve even asked him, on a number of occasions, to take a breath, review our exchange and ask if his emotionally fuelled comments are truly necessary. What’s the point of his rage?

I have no doubt that at least a handful of individuals within the blogging community would, without thinking, claim to hate me (or, after reading the post, mockingly state that I’m not worth such emotions – yet if they don’t think I’m worth so much effort, they seem to spend a lot of energy and venom aimed against me). I’m equally sure these individuals envision me to be another hair-shirt green, wanting to force the western world back to pre-industrial societies; something which as anyone who has bothered to read my work would know is obviously not the case.

I believe that climate change of a few degrees is manageable, provided that we accept the reality of the situation, work to understand in advance where it is likely to impact and endeavour to adapt human activities and ecosystems to meet such challenges (sea level and ocean acidification are certainly more concerning). I believe that the level of dependence we have on fossil fuels is, in short, stupid; it is globally patchy, locally abundant (or absent) and ultimately finite – we’ve had a few years (try several decades) for example of how fickle supply can be and how much war is associated with it (as is the case with any limited resource).

Diversity is resilience! It’s overwhelming obvious that we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the one basket! I also know enough to stress the importance of biodiversity protection and to argue how ridiculous it is that we ignore ecological services that could make human activities easier, cheaper and increasing secure (see The Human Island for more). Innovation, development and long term prosperity are my interests – I like the standard of living we enjoy but am not willing to ignore that the current means cannot persist and feel that we really shouldn’t be so protective of it.

Of course, this is warped, when it’s seen through AGW “scepticism” goggles and thus I encounter such emotional responses as those discussed above. I’m certain, if such characters are able to ever separate themselves from such strong beliefs in the future and review our discussions, they too would ask as I do, why were they ever so angry. I’m not at all angry, if anything, upset and sometimes concerned enough to seriously contemplate closing down this blog to protect me friends and family from some of these sick individuals.

But this is really trivial, when compared to the hate experienced by climate scientists. My closing this blog is inconsequential, but hate driving scientist away from increasing our understanding is a frightening prospect. That such people are largely free to intimidate experts from uncovering uncomfortable realities is disgusting.

Personally, I feel that resorting to such behaviour exposes just how weak the AGW “sceptical” stance really is – for if they had a strong scientific basis, we would see it revealed coherently and consistently within the scientific literature and within scientific debates (rather than resorting to fake experts). If you can’t provide a reasoned argument, basic animal aggressions will suffice to beat down an opponent. Unfortunately reality cares not for such tactics and the universe will persist however it does – regardless of how well we understand it or not – and I for one would prefer to live within a society which makes scientific investigation one of the most respected pursuits of human activity. I’d prefer human understanding that is capable of interoperating the physical universe and provide sensible predictions of what we can expect; headlights on the passage of time.

But for that to work, intimidation, as in the nature discussed above, must been seen as among the most despicable and depraved of activities. We simply cannot allow thugs and emotionally fuelled individuals scare us out of free thought* and scientific investigation. It has to be seen as a truly inhumane venture.

* Yes, I feel it’s the AGW “sceptics” who; all too often demand that their scepticism is “free speech”, are the first to try to drown out opposition; all too often demand their views are equally valid, are the first to ignore and disregard evidence unreasonably; all too often scream “ad hom” follow this with what can only be described as ad hom, insults or irrelevant tangents.

4 thoughts on “Intimidation: The Fail Safe Reply to Climate Science

  1. “another hair-shirt green, wanting to force the western world back to pre-industrial societies”

    I have seen pseudo-skeptics use this stereotype numerous times in ‘debates’ on comment boards. Can’t say as I’ve ever seen anyone suggest that we go back to the caves, though I have seen (and I myself) will rail against mindless consumerism and the idea that homo sapiens is entitled to trash the planet. There is a planetary ‘budget’ that we need to live within.

    I was disappointed to see this stereotype used on this blog.


    1. It hasn’t been used explicitly on this site, but I have been called as much elsewhere by like-minded people as those mentioned here. One of the prevailing ideas held by the “sceptics” is that addressing the problems of energy, potable water and food security as well as biodiversity protection will “unnecessarily hurt industry”. I can’t help but agree, but their point is only part of the picture – the rest being that, yes, current industry and mass consumerism would be impacted, but a whole range of new ventures will open up and we would be able to achieve greater long-term prosperity.


      1. Thank you for the clarification.

        I think that the amount of ‘hurt’ we face is relative. We have all been on a relatively free ride – not paying full costs for pollution for example. Facing up to reality is a rude awakening.

        I am very much looking forward to what new ideas may come out of a low carbon, sustainable society.


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