Saturday, December 12, 2015

This week governments try for a sane response while some in the climate world went a little bit mad

Sou | 1:44 PM Go to the first of 14 comments. Add a comment
Today is the day when COP21 is hoping to finalise the climate change agreement. The meeting was extended by a day, with many people remaining hopeful that a meaningful agreement will be reached. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put out a press release saying that while there were still some important issues to be resolved, there has been considerable progress.

The latest draft can be downloaded here. As at the time of writing, it's Draft 2. (You can compare it with Draft 1 to see the progress in negotiations. Where the brackets have been removed it signifies agreement was reached on that point.)

UPDATE: I've just seen that the final text has been agreed. I'll let you know as soon as it's available - or you can keep an eye on the UN website. There's a press conference scheduled for 11:30 am CET today - Saturday (Europe time).
Sou 2:23 pm AEDT 12 December 2015

This week there was real silliness from deniers and from people campaigning to stop climate change.

Avaaz' kangaroo court and lynch mob mentality

Regarding the latter, people from Avaaz put up "wanted" posters around Paris, with photos of seven people it termed "Climate Criminals - The Dirtiest Fossil Fuel Lobbyists behind the doors of #COP21". This reminded me of the Heartland Institute's posters of terrorists and mass murderers. For one thing, I doubt most people would regard some of the seven as the worst offenders. They even included a photo of Fiona Wild, listing her on the poster as "PR Manager for BHP", which she is not. It wasn't till you got to the Avaaz document itself that they list her position as Environmental Affairs Manager at BHP Billiton, which I don't think is correct either (I believe she is Vice President Environment and Climate Change - there are others who are employed in this field at BHP, too.) Dr Wild gave a speech last year at the EarthWatch annual dinner, where she spoke about the Bush Blitz program and her involvement in Earthwatch over the years. She also talked about how BHP is working to reduce carbon emissions, and said:
And now climate change is a major focus of my role at BHP Billiton. We recognise that sustainable growth requires an effective response to climate change. We accept the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment that the warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and the physical impacts are unavoidable. We recognise our responsibility to take action by reducing our emissions, increasing our preparedness for the physical impacts of climate change and working with others, including industry and government, to enhance the global response. 

Those are not the words of a "fossil fuel lobbyist". I'm not arguing that BHP is a model corporate citizen. What I am saying is that the Avaaz campaign missed the mark completely by singling out an environmental scientist to put on its wanted posters, and particularly one who has personally been involved in environmental activities for many years. If they think that BHP is to be held to account, they would have been better to put its Chair or CEO on its posters, not someone who is working from within to get BHP to do better. Their campaign organisers strike me as uninformed, immature, and vindictive. Just as I've criticised Anthony Watts and deniers in general when they form lynch mobs, I abhor the lynch mob mentality of Avaaz.

Some of the other faces I wouldn't regard as among the seven top climate criminals either.  Avaaz conducted a Kangaroo Court of the sort I commented on the other day and seriously missed the mark. This sort of thing is going to happen more often as time goes by. It won't matter how much progress the world makes in mitigating climate change, there will be people protesting it's not enough.  The protesters of the next generation will undoubtedly be correct that the generation before them didn't do enough (no matter what is achieved), and some of them will probably target the wrong people, just like Avaaz did in Paris.

Deniers got over-excited about old outmoded denier memes

Climate mitigation activists weren't the only ones who went over the top. Deniers got over-excited this past week too. Much has been written already about Ted Cruz' denier circus, wasting taxpayer's funds on putting performing monkeys on display (Judith Curry, John Christy, Mark Steyn and Will Happer). It really was a circus. Judith Curry became apoplectic at one point, that she was recognised as a science denier. Mark Steyn was jumping up and down about "impugning integrity" which, coming from him was the height of hypocrisy. While Judith Curry spluttered and protested ""Did you read my written testimony?", seconds before she questioned the greenhouse effect, saying: "The issue, the issue is what is causing the warming. Is it natural variability or is it humans?" Then Mark Steyn interrupted shouting something about SUVs. I don't know if a panel before a Senate Committee has ever behaved so appallingly or if this is normal behaviour from witnesses in the halls of government in the USA.

An article at AAAS had the headline "From a bully pulpit, Ted Cruz offers his take on climate change", which closely reflected the impression I had. I'd never seen Ted Cruz perform before. Watching his opening remarks it struck me that he could make a very good living as one of the US television preachers who con the life savings from gullible people looking for a saviour.

Then there was Marc Morano, who misrepresented an interview he gave to John Cook as a "debate". It wasn't. It was an interview. Mark didn't impress a lot of the deniers at WUWT, who after finally managing to get Anthony Watts to belatedly post an audible file, made comments like:

S. Geiger  December 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm
Enjoyed the interview, but not at all a “debate”, was it? Cook was just asking questions.

Peter J  December 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm
I have to say, Marc Morano comes across as somewhat manic and his constant interrupting makes him look bad against a calm and moderate sounding Cook. What a shame as his points are valid and Cook needs to be pinned down.

That interview got some people looking for a soundbite response to the fact that 97% of science shows that humans are causing global warming. Here were some suggestions:

Dermot O'Logical  December 10, 2015 at 3:27 am
Re soundbite rebuttal to 97% claim.
How about “Citation needed. No – not that one. No – not that one either.”

Richard M  - think about it! December 10, 2015 at 6:43 am
One possible (and quick) refutation of the 97% claim.
– 97+% of priests believe in God
– 97+% of astrologers believe in astrology 
Yeah - put that against 97% of climate scientists know that humans are causing global warming.

PS I've been otherwise occupied this week, and Anthony Watts has missed me.  Don't panic, Anthony - I'll be back on deck soon.


  1. Ah, good. I've been wondering when they'd get the final text sorted.

    I hadn't heard about Avaaz going AWOL but did notice Greenpeace being silly again at the Arc de Triomphe. They aren't doing themselves (or the rest of us) any favours. Fortunately things have reached a stage where even if some activists behave like complete idiots it won't have any significant effect.

    Which leads to an obvious question about deniers: are they even relevant any more? I know they will go more and more apeshit as things keep turning against them, but does it matter now?

    1. Good point. Deniers are losing their relevance I think. They are falling further and further behind. Unless they decide to give up science denial and start to contribute to policy development, they'll just find themselves more and more marginalised IMO.

      They are still quite influential in some countries, like the US and Australia but I won't be surprised if they wake up one day soon to find the tide of public opinion has turned against them. It will probably seem (to them) to happen suddenly.

      For example, IMO Judith Curry made a huge strategic error in aligning herself with an ugly (and uncouth) specimen like Mark Steyn.

    2. Yeah the polls for Australia are a bit worrying (have been for a while) but the output from COP21 should make the average mug sit up and take notice. Combine that with a few more good bushfire seasons and I'd be hoping for a fairly rapid turnaround.

      The electorate in 2016 will probably still make the mistake of thinking the Ellen Pee's "climate change policy" actually is what it says on the tin, and I have my doubts about Truffles' ability to get anything resembling a real policy past the nutters in the Coalition, but there is some hope for the election after that.

    3. On the one hand COP21 with a crowd of national leaders in attendance, on the other Cruz's lonely act (no other Republicans attended, from what I've read; apparently they hate Cruz more than they hate AGW). I think that says it for relevance. Denialism has long lost any power to persuade. All it can do now is provide comfort and confirmation for the already convinced.

  2. "he could make a very good living as one of the US television preachers who con the life savings from gullible people looking for a saviour."

    Rat says that a lot. Cruz's father is a televangelist.

    Ted Cruz’s dad is even more frightening than Ted Cruz

    Wharf Rat

  3. Dr Curry:
    Senator Cruz seems very much into the Data, and generally knowledgable about the scientific process.  One of his staffers is an avid reader of CE, WUWT and apparently Steve Goddard’s blog.......

    Well I hope that Senator Cruz’s staff found my testimony helpful.  In hindsight, I pitched this a little too ‘high’.  And I didn’t really address the main propaganda points from the Democrats:  97% consensus, and warmest year.

    Curry is incapable of experiencing embarrassment or shame.

    1. Wow, PG! I hadn't caught up with that. Yes, if Judith wants to drop down to the level of Cruz denial, she won't have to drop far. She should just use the denier slogan "climate science is a hoax" - and it wouldn't be a stretch for her to do that.

    2. Steve Goddard?! WUWT?!

      You'd think Curry would have left that out, as it makes the staffer look like a thorough idiot...

    3. Steve Goddard's is the blog for people that are too dumb for WUWT (like Goddard himself).

    4. Yeah, but it gives Cruz a level of deniability: "I wuz misled" rather than "I'm a venal little shit following fossil fuel industry orders".

      Maybe those bloggers should take note that they are being lined up to take the blame once the denial ends and the recriminations start.

    5. Sou says She should just use the denier slogan "climate science is a hoax" - and it wouldn't be a stretch for her to do that.

      You're right Sou it's not a stretch it's a trajectory.

  4. She basically is saying it's a hoax already.

  5. Just catching up with all the frothing on the Daily Torygraph (UK version) re the Paris conference, it is a sight to behold. Booker is on err fine form, as he's moved on it seems from denial of physical reality to the "nothing can be done" mode many here predicted would be the next step for deniers.

    Oh his BLT fan boyz, are madder than a box of frogs coated in itching powder today, so it can't be all bad.




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