Demonizing the Forward Thinkers: A Mugs Game.

I entered the blogosphere a little more than a year ago. Being relatively good within an informed debate, where the parties involved adhere to certain rules for the sake of achieving greater understanding and clarity on a subject [1], I was ill-prepared for what greeted me.

It’s easy here to continue on and explain just how irrational and unreasonable the tone of the AGW debate is and to talk of the merry-go-round antics of self-proclaimed “climate change sceptics”. But this subject has already been covered at length and each one of us here now have weathered enough of this so-called “debate” to make such an article meaningless.

Been there, done that…

Instead, I’d like to cover another aspect of this political nonsense which continues to bug me, and I suspect many readers. I refer to the demonization of proactive thinking.

The initial example for me is a response Mike received to an article, where he had embedded a film of Melbourne flooding that he had recorded with his mobile [2]. The commenter smugly retorted that the creation of his phone left a fair sized carbon footprint.

Similarly, a spammed commenter here (he did not adhere to the policy rules [3]), through much the same demonization, lead to me indulging in Hathos [4]; I simply couldn’t help but reply to his posts, that I stupidly scrolled through after being made aware of his existence. Apart from many of the older, indeed laughable, denial lines (ie. that there has been no warming in over a decade) and a few newer lies (ie. that Australia just experienced its coldest winter on record), he’s overall tone was venomous and, at least for me, addictive.

He accused those concerned about climate change as being divorced from reality, tree hugging yuppies who would, if they truly believed climate change to be real and the result of human activity, prove it by committing suicide to reduce their carbon footprint to zero (another inaccuracy on his behalf; decomposition releases methane).

How on Earth could I overlook this insulting behaviour? He also seemed to have a problem with innovation and technology, which begged for my reply…

A number of trolls have used similar tactics in response to my early articles, which of course spurred a reply from me. Not only is it wrong, it’s highly personal in its assumptions of my character and therefore incredibly difficult to leave alone.

Welcome to my 2010; wasted on entertaining the deniers. Unfortunately, through my own actions in musing over this new troll, I fell into it again.

As Mike explained previously, he also spent much of 2010 responding to similar denial and it left him burnt out and depressed; a feeling I felt as well following my own dance with denial. Yet, the denial machine continues without a reduction in pace, as it ever has done; never in need of evidence and apathetic to the effect such slurs have those in their firing range.

I’ve since learnt that, as with the so-called “debate”, the response we give to the demonization of proactive thinking isn’t heard by these people; they’re nothing but a deaf insult hurling machine.

How else could many of them (this character I’ve recently stumbled upon and Donna Laframboise [5] for example) continue to spout that their right to free speech is being undermined by a “green movement” when it’s blatantly obvious that the media promotes the views of certain hack journalists over respected and highly qualified scientists on the matter of climate change [6]? The public’s view on climate change, when compared to the trained experts exemplifies this fact.

It was the growing wave of denial around Copenhagen that inspired me to enter the blogosphere and I am happy to admit that I have been slow in working out just what it is that I’m doing here.

I know now that I’m not interested in convincing the self-proclaimed “sceptics” – hell, I’m not even interested in conversing with them at all. They have constructed a safe delusion that it is they who are open-minded, simply waiting for evidence enough to be convinced (while not demanding the same level of information about the workings of an internal combustion engine, a jet engine, cancer treatment (any medical treatment, to be honest), electronics, water treatment, agriculture… etc etc etc.. but happy to use them all the same).

I’m not here to educate either; I have some ideas, but those have been brewing within me from a concoction of information I learnt from various places. At best, I like to bounce ideas around and see how they grow.

I’m not here for the fight or with the presumption that I have the answers.

I’m here simply as another forward thinker who wants to share my own experiences and to help re-energise others who have also been left burnt out and disheartened after what is without a doubt a powerful machine of misinformation and disillusionment.

I’m here for readers like you.

Is a mother a “hair-shirt green” because she comes to a conclusion that a small veggie patch or permaculture set up is the best way she can ensure cheap, healthy fresh produce for her children? Is a father a “hippy” because he decides the best way to encourage his children to be active is to walk them to school rather than drive the SUV the few blocks? Is the young professional a blinkered “yuppie” because they refuse to own a car, preferring to cycle or use public transport for their activities?

Should any of us be demonized because we’d like to consume less or for questioning finite energy dependence or growth economies?

Of course not.

It’s through devaluing our ideas and principles, rather than rationally discrediting them (I’m very open to valid, constructive criticism and new ways to look at issues) such people pretend to win an argument without even addressing it. What they’re doing is a street corner magic trick that relies on exploiting a core instinct of self-worth. It’s a mugs game.

None of us here want to deconstruct the developed world – for we well and truly appreciate the standard of living that we have achieved – no, what we want to do is strengthen it! We want to see our urban landscapes ever more resilient to adverse weather. We want to feel certain that when we do our food shopping, what we want to buy will be there, that it will be high quality and it will be nutritious for ourselves and our children. We want to know that we can buy a house without sacrificing huge portions of our income to the mortgage, energy requirements and maintenance. We want better working hours so that we can have a better work/life balance. We want to know that our transport costs are not going to suddenly and forever increase, leaving us many kilometres away from basic goods and services with the subsequent costs, because supply is failing to meet demand (ie. peak oil).

We’re not crazed “lefties”, “greenies”, “yuppies”, “tree huggers”, “hippies” or whatever else names such people wish to label us; we’re just citizens that realise carbon age is running on empty and left one huge mess in its wake. That’s all.

This is my motivation behind developing Generation Adaptation. We spend so much time wasted on the brick wall of hopeless denial and it only brings us down. Denial is a well oiled machine and we cannot hope to tackle it head on with reason. The last year and a half has made it clear that political will is fleeting on these issues – leaving those of us who are already engaged on the problems facing this century, well, high and dry. It’s through establishing a global community, where we can share ideas, highlight excellent examples of innovation, introduce the right citizens with the right organisations, advocacy groups and industries (industries committed to genuine “greenwashing” [7] are encouraged to get on board), there is hope that we can start the shift at the community level.

In short, my view of Gen[A] is about reminding us that we’re are simply your average citizens. We’ve tried to engage with the self-proclaimed “sceptics” and it got us nowhere. The media have stirred the nonsense up even further, so much so that you have some bloggers wishing people like us would kill ourselves.

Enough’s enough, I say.

If they genuinely want to learn about the subject, we have more than 400+ recent scientific papers that have stood up to the critical eye of peer-review linked to on this site alone. If they know of a fatal flaw in the theory of AGW or with peak oil, let them submit it to the experts for critiquing, as any scientist must do and if it continues to stand up, I’m all ears.

Until that happens, let us open up an intelligent and constructive dialogue away from the political noise, where we can discuss our options without being demonized for thinking beyond our generation.

References

[1] Diethelm and McKee (2009)
[2] The long reach of Yasi, Melbourne flash flooding: WtD captured footage of Chapel Street flooding
[3] Comment policy
[4] Hathos: Fuel for the Climate Debate and Bolt’s Pay Cheque?
[5] Donna Laframboise and Cloud Screaming
[6] Lessons in hyperbolic gestures
[7] How Greenwashing Really Can Make a Difference

8 responses to “Demonizing the Forward Thinkers: A Mugs Game.

  1. Forward thinkers is the euphemism for PANICKING ALARMISTS!

    How dare you plan ahead for what we DON’T KNOW will happen?

    You’re free to waste your money worrying, but don’t drag the rest of us down, we prefer to be free than to be safe!
    :P

    • lol… you’ve learnt well from people like Andrew! :-D

      • I don’t deny global warming, I just say its within natural variation, but I won’t tell you how many degrees would make it NOT natural variation.

        Even if it’s not natural, I won’t be an alarmist like you. Even if I was an alarmist, I don’t trust Marxist government to tax me as if that’ll make it better.

  2. Thanks Moth. It’s going to be a desperately hard slog to achieve the minimum necessary to avoid catastrophic warming but I’m increasingly convinced the doubters make enough noise to seem more numerous and ‘mainstream’ than they really are. Yet even having a good idea of what to expect with failure to roll back emissions, we could still turn out to be (paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut) too cheap to save our world.

  3. I think you have captured the sentiment of hundreds of bloggers and readers of climate science (and commentary upon) blogs. It is indeed a mug’s game to indulge in continually responding to these losers, the AGW rejectionists.

    A few things I’ve learnt:
    1) Providing thoughtful argument with sensible, explicit premises, survives on the web for others to incorporate into their own musings.
    2) A simple direct refutation of a troll is fine, so long as you refuse to continue responding, and don’t engage in the personal rubbish they often inject into their opinionated – often delusional – posts.
    3) Since the crazy, ideologically motivated, well financed climate science rejectionists aren’t going to call a breather or cut back on the pace, neither should we.
    4) Sometimes a person initially appears to be a troll, but is in fact just querying a particular research finding or some aspect of it, not the whole edifice of climate science. These people are usually newbies too, and are the ones that will be scared away if too aggressive towards trolls (which of course, is one of the reasons for the existence of professional trollers, unfortunately). There is no simple answer beyond keeping civil in any response, and pointing the person to further sources of information (rather than playing comment/response ping-pong).

    Keep at it, by whatever ethical means are available, and that way you avoid the trap too many AGW deniers are falling into; the notion that their opinion is so important that it justifies any means necessary – it never does.

    Life is too short to waste on concern for the megalomaniacal anti-climate science delusionists among us.

    • Great comment! You’re very right – it’s very much a tightrope, but we’ll do best not to entertain or fall to their level.

  4. The tone of anti-AGW attacks is alarming, depressing and discouraging. But over the last couple of years or so, I think real progress has been made in countering the anti-science bias in sections of the (English speaking) mass media, thanks to the tireless work of people like yourself in patiently communicating the substance of scientific findings on the Earth’s climate. At the very least, reporters and commentators (those whose minds are not closed on the subject) know that ready resources are to hand to check claims made by self-styled skeptics, and that in itself has made a difference. Extreme weather events doubtless have too (look at the governmental volte face in Russia following the summer of 2010
    In the end, science is the only thing that tells us the truth about anything: the nature of matter, the causes of disease, our place in the universe, etc etc. Most people recognize this. Provided scientists and those who understand science continue to speak out calmly and resolutely, they will win through in the end.
    The prize is, in my view, most definitely worth the struggle.

    • Mike and myself are parents and I’m hoping to have another child next year… Regardless of my career and scientific training, it’s for them, not only to have a stable and comfortable climate, but also to have enough wealth to enjoy a comfortable standard of living , that I write and apply my learning in my real life – which I hope to transfer to them. Ove has highlighted that the climate “sceptics” crowd is actually far smaller in Australia than it has inflated itself for a few years which meany of us already knew – they’re loud, not numerous.
      The message is getting out, but action is late in the day.
      Mike’s recent post highlights this. If we want to make a difference, it won’t come from political leads, it will be genuine grass roots community level initiatives. Through Generation Adaptation – an initiative Mike and I will be launching in the coming weeks – my hope is that we can highlight the reality of such groups and connect others to the required information or local action. It is worth the struggle, as you say :-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s