ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons

Nick Gillespie of Reason TV talks with British writer and journalist James Delingpole about his new book Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors.

A self-described conservative libertarian, Delingpole claims that anthropogenic climate change is not as extensive as is widely asserted, and links mainstream scientific projections with “the atavistic impulse which leads generation after generation to believe it is the chosen one: the generation so special that it and it alone will be the one privileged to experience the end of the world; and the generation so egotistical that it imagines itself largely responsible for that imminent destruction.”

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31 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Environmental Policy

31 responses to “ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons

  1. Boris

    Y’all are so done.

    Sigh … thank God …. :)

  2. Just a minor cavil: calling Delingpole a “journalist” is a bit like calling the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley a “scientist.”

  3. I read the ‘Climategate’ emails. They do not say what he says they said. Everything he concludes from there is bunk. But I don’t think he’s concluding anything. I think he’s just another lying propagandist. He’s the one who is about politics. Guys like Delingpole try to pretend that their false claims about Mann’s work buries all of global warming science, when it is actually only a small piece of it. Mann’s research could be knocked to pieces, and we have more than enough research remaining not at all relying upon his work demonstrating that global warming is man-made. We watch it live via satellite, for God’s sake.

    Delingpole, by analogy, is arguing that germs don’t cause any illnesses because he alleges that Alexander Fleming was a scammer (he discovered penicillin). You can’t get there from there.

    “There’s been no global warming since 1998″ — false. They acheive this false claim by ignoring massive quantities of data. Cherry pickers. People like Delingpole do the very thing they accuse Mann of: The lie and cheat, suppressing data, lying about other’s work, attacking legitimate researchers with false accusations.

    Grant money is being used to buy politicians? Oh, please, Delingpole. Prove it. Find me one case. There’s no problem showing oil and coal money flowing into politicans’ coffers.

    It’s all industry of doubt. Asbestos doesn’t cause disease. Smoking doesn’t cause cancer. DDT is safe!

    And I’m a green libertarian, thank-you-very-much. Libertarians who ignore social, environmental and economic externalities are, well, they aren’t libertarians. They are thieves stealing my children’s future.

    And, oh, look! See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadian-arctic-nearly-loses-entire-ice-shelf-from-global-warming/article2185500/

  4. sharonapple88

    I agree in that there is an apocalytic streak in people. Having said this, we do know people can drastically alter an environment. We do have the knowledge and the ability to bring about the end of the earth. More so now than any other time. A few well placed nuclear bombs and it will probably be just a couple of cockroaches in the ruins and and jellyfish swiming in the ocean.

    Besides the idea that people having the arrogance that they’ll see the end of the world, there’s another parallel problem with us — we have the idea that things will never change. Collapse by Jared Diamond deals with a number of differents societies that maintained their behaviour in the face of change, and their inability to change lead to their downfalls.

    As for global warming, basic physics shows that CO2 is known to trap more energy from light due to its atomic structure than O2 or N2. It probably wouldn’t matter if we were burning carbon from trees or plants, but we’re unearthing carbon that had been locked for milions of years under the ground. This new carbon will change the environment. Possibly it won’t be in the way predicted by scientists, but it’s odd to believe that it wouldn’t.

    We also know that CO2 forms carbonic acid with water. The pH of the ocean has shifted by a tenth since the Industrial Revolution. No cause for alarm now, but it’s guaranteeded that higher CO2 output will lead to more acidic oceans.

  5. Gordon S

    Meanwhile, in the real world, the IPCC projections have once again proved to be woefully conservative.

    It’s really sad to see you highlighting climate denialism, now, RT. The decimation of the Liberals really threw you off the fucking deep end.

  6. Let’s not let science get in the way of “facts” now …

  7. lenny

    “James Delingpole”
    *snort*

  8. Craig Chamberlain

    (Perhap he’s looking for work? Denying climate change is certainly one way to pay off the mortgage.)

  9. In 2004-2005, I did a lot of research on the Mann ‘Hockey Stick’ and came to the conclusion that it was likely right. I learned as well that it was hardly as important as denialists claimed. I also learned that tree rings harvested from high altitudes became unreliable for data after 1960, and that data since then was disregarded. This is the ‘hide the decline’ issue. I’m a nobody, and knew of it years before so-called Climategate. I saw and still see no controversy. The issue has been published and explained since 1995 when it first showed up in data from Alaska. Use the flawed data and what you get is one stream of data contradicted by all the others after 1960, including far more reliable thermometer and satellite records. The only reason why the data was used is because, objectively, it agreed with data from recorded sources (thermometers) for over 100 years prior to 1960. It is not against science as Delingpole suggests to disregard data if you have an objective reason to do so, nor is it a scandal to do so when the fact is widely published in the scientific community, as this was.

    One of the tenants of the industry of doubt is that most people can’t tell good science from bad science. Denialists like Delingpole exploit this. I knew of this ‘scandal’ years before it broke, and I’m a nobody.

  10. Delingpole is a kook. End of story.

  11. Gordon: Sorry you feel that the defeat of the Liberals threw me “off the fucking deep end” although I’m not clear what the connection is there. I enjoy presenting opinions that I’m fairly certain might be provocative or challenging to the generally held views of folks who read this blog. I’m a big believer in listening to what “the other side” has to say, if for no other reason than to better understand what informs their opinions and positions on various issues.

    As for climate change itself, this is another topic where I remain somewhat skeptical – not so much about the scientific evidence (although even that seems to be rather imperfect due to the sheer complexity of the problem involved and therefore open to question) – but more so about the proposed “solutions” that are advanced to deal with the matter.

  12. Lenny: Thanks or the video link. I was aware that he described himself as being an “interpreter of interpretations” which some may sneer at, but I don’t see as being particularly damning per se. I dare say there aren’t too many people out there that have read all the original source materials concerning whatever they’re discussing, but rely on the interpretations of others with the expertise needed to properly sort through the detailed findings.

  13. Dick Cheney once famously argued that invading Iraq was justified if there was just a one per cent chance that Sadam had WMDs. Many of the people who cited that argument insist on Global Warming being proven beyond any doubts, however dubious.

    There is sufficient evidence that greenhouse gases have caused massive climate change in the past, and that it is happening again. I’m not interested in my children finding out firsthand if the results will be dire. If there’s just a one per cent chance of a catastrophe, well, that’s worth averting.

  14. lenny

    RT,
    More telling is Dellingpole complete inability to respond to Nurse’s analogy,
    and it dovetails nicely with his “interpreter of interpretations” comment.
    He’s admitting that he’s entirely unqualified to assess the science himself, so he relies on others. In other words, he doesn’t understand the science, but he knows that the experts are wrong.
    How is is he any different than the person who pursues quack cures that he found so distasteful to be associated with?

  15. Lenny: I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. Certainly he was taken aback by the analogy and seemed stunned and knocked off his game for a bit, but then rejoined the discussion. Had he been a bit more quick-witted, he might have rebutted the Nurse’s analogy by pointing out that, historically speaking (as happens with science), the “consensual position” of the day has frequently been proven incorrect. The evolution of medical treatments – to build on the analogy – provides many examples of this in practice…

    As for your critique of him being an “interpreter of interpretations” your reasoning here seems quite flawed. First, he’s not admitting that he’s “entirely unqualified to assess the science” but simply asserting that he doesn’t have the time to investigate all of the research in detail and, moreover, doesn’t feel that it’s his role to do so. For you to leap to the conclusion that “he doesn’t understand the science” is both arrogant and quite probably wrong.

    Regarding how he’s different from someone pursuing quack cures, that’s easy – it’s apples and oranges. Generally speaking, quack cures are profitable scams that are easily disproved, but which have appeal to those desperately seeking a miracle. Delingpole gives no indication of suffering from such hopeful delusions. To the contrary, he states in the (original) video that he’s just interested in getting at the truth.

  16. Peter

    I really wonder when the lennys of the world will start to see there may be a connection between the strategy of combining apocalyptic alarmism with screams of “science-denier” at every dissident and the fact that this whole issue has dropped almost completely off the political radar screen.

  17. Peter: It probably hasn’t helped advance the case for Global Warming, but I’m not sure there’s a direct connection between the two things. I think that people are just more concerned with other more pressing issues at the moment.

    For example, when asked by Environics to name the most important issue in deciding which party to support in the upcoming Manitoba provincial election , 27 per cent of respondents said healthcare. The economy and unemployment was next at 18 per cent, followed by crime at 14 per cent. Taxation ranked fourth at 11 per cent, followed by debt and deficit at seven per cent.

  18. Tomm

    Enjoyed the post. The climate is definitely changing but that doesn’t mean Dellingpole is wrong in much of what he says. There has been an alarmism and an expectation that people either jump on the bus or you self identify as part of the problem.

    Science is being marketed. There are many reasons for this, some can be put at the feet of the Adam Smith bunch and others at the feet of the watermelon bunch, as Dellingpole calls them. A person’s view on this is not as important as the recognition that we are being gathered into opinion pens by professional herders.

    Dellingpole is not a problem, he is actually shining a light in a place where it’s needed.

  19. lenny

    “Had he been a bit more quick-witted, he might have rebutted the Nurse’s analogy by pointing out that, historically speaking (as happens with science), the “consensual position” of the day has frequently been proven incorrect. The evolution of medical treatments – to build on the analogy – provides many examples of this in practice”

    We should reject consensuses as being wrong because sometimes they have been? Consensuses are ususually built on the best available evidence and change as more evidence becomes available.
    You seem to be suggesting that he “rebut” Nurse’s analogy by admitting that, yes, he would ignore a physician’s advice.

    “Delingpole gives no indication of suffering from such hopeful delusions. ”

    Of course he does – he’s a libertarian ideologue who believes that addressing climate change threatens his ideology.

  20. lenny

    Peter,
    By “apocalyptic alarmism” I assume you’re referring to those who warn of economic armageddon and a return to the stone age should we make any attempt to mitigate climate change?

  21. trainman

    “It’s really sad to see you highlighting climate denialism, now, RT. The decimation of the Liberals really threw you off the fucking deep end.”

    Yeah RT, why can’t you just be a yes man! It’s so much easier than questioning the groups accepted wisdom.

  22. trainman

    “We should reject consensuses as being wrong because sometimes they have been? Consensuses are ususually built on the best available evidence and change as more evidence becomes available.
    You seem to be suggesting that he “rebut” Nurse’s analogy by admitting that, yes, he would ignore a physician’s advice.”

    A couple of glaring errors in your line of reasoning, lenny.

    Firstly, science is not about consensus. Science is about interpreting the evidence/facts, as presented through research and experimentation. Consensus is required when the facts don’t point to a specific or universal finding. We don’t talk about consensus on gravitational pull between bodies of mass or the state changes of various elements, because we don’t need a consensus, we have universal, undeniable, evidence and support for these items. For other issues we don’t have such black and white results, and as such we need to interpret, to the best of our ability, what the results are telling us. And at the very same time, we need to continue to question the consensus until we get it to a point that we can say the answer is black and white–and even then, we should be open to new possibilities, if the evidence leads us there. Our history is overflowing with such scientific developments that required people to question the status quo. One can hardly claim that the science of climate change is so black and white as to negate the need for further study and questioning–that would be truly unscientific.

    Secondly, to further expand on the Nurse’s analogy, we need to expand it to keep it accurate on both sides, by adding that the cure involves (for example) the amputation of both of the patients arms. In this case, maybe the patient would be quite justified in seeking still another opinion, because in the patients eyes, the cost of the cure outweighs its benefits. Based on your approach to climate change, the patient should accept the consensus treatment and anyone who suggests that they will continue to investigate a different diagnosis and/or an alternative treatment for other patients, should be publicly humiliated, called a cancer denier, and black-balled from the medical community.

  23. lenny

    Creating public policy that is informed by science is indeed about consensus. Our medical system treats patients based on medical science as practiced by medical scientists and published in the literature of the field. If you want be treated by some methodology whose “evidence” is presented on a blog by an appliance repairman , you may be free to do so, but don’t expect it to be paid for by the public system.

    “In this case, maybe the patient would be quite justified in seeking still another opinion”

    Of course it would be quite reasonable for that patient to seek a second opinion from another physician who is also acting from the same body of peer-reviewed literature.

  24. trainman

    Creating public policy that is informed by science is indeed about consensus.

    That’s great lenny, I don’t ever recall saying anywhere that public policy isn’t about consensus. What I did say was that science isn’t about consensus.

    And yes, public policy is about consensus, thanks for pointing that out, because now every time you bitch and moan about how Stephen Harper isn’t doing the right thing in regards to the environment, I can remind you that he’s creating policy based on the consensus of the lawmakers in the HOC.

    If you want be treated by some methodology whose “evidence” is presented on a blog by an appliance repairman , you may be free to do so, but don’t expect it to be paid for by the public system.

    And now you’ve broken the analogy. In the climate change scenario, we are the patient, and there is no external “public system” to pay or not pay. We’re the public and we’re paying. No one’s suggesting we take the advice of an appliance repair man. You’re now fabricating arguments that the other side isn’t even making (at least not in this context), aka “straw man”. What is being advocated is the following: (1) let scientists do science, without political interference, and (2) we make policy decisions based on facts, and not just hypothesis or hype.

  25. Trainman: Yeah RT, why can’t you just be a yes man! It’s so much easier than questioning the group’s accepted wisdom.

    LOL Long time readers of this blog will know well that I’ve always been a climate-change skeptic (in the sense of holding reasonable doubt) and that it had absolutely nothing to do with the demise of the Liberals.

  26. lenny

    “…there is no external “public system” to pay or not pay.”
    Uh, no there isn’t. You do know what an “analogy” is, don’t you? In the “climate change scenario”, rather than paying for treatment based on demonstrated efficacy published in peer-reviewed journals, there are policy responses based on the same.

    “No one’s suggesting we take the advice of an appliance repair man. ”
    Thank goodness.
    Rather you have broadcast weathermen, penny-stock men, crazed hereditary peers to name a few.

    “What is being advocated is the following: (1) let scientists do science, without political interference, and (2) we make policy decisions based on facts, and not just hypothesis or hype.”

    Yes! Now you just have to convince folks like Delingpole and the Harper to subscribe to that program.

  27. Lenny: Just out of curiosity, what do you think about the opinions of Danish environmentalist Bjoern Lomborg on this subject?

  28. sharonapple88

    Bjoern Lomborg

    Not Lenny (sorry), but just taking a moment to note that Lomborg has gone from questioning why people should spend money combating climate change to saying we should spent $100 billion a year to combat it.

    Going on the general topic of writing on science, a basic understanding of the material is important. It’s easy to misunderstand something and then believe you’ve found a conspiracy. Going from left field, but here’s an illustration with AIDS denialists The discussion is with regards to the ELISA test. Misunderstanding the basic science is leading to calls of conspiracy behind the test. For the reason why you might get a false positive on an undiluted sample — check out CBE’s explanations. (Side note: There are a few cases of people on the forum declaring that they’re in perfect health, even with CD4 counts hovering around the single digits and then literally dropping dead or coming down with an AIDS related disease weeks or months later. They are a fascinating and absolutely tragic group.)

  29. lenny

    I think Lomborg is a world class concern troll.

  30. That doesn’t seem like a very serious criticism.

    I think he raises some entirely legitimate concerns about the pathetic ROI in real terms of current schemes to control CO2 emissions.

  31. hitfan

    Climate change has devolved into a left-right issue. Chris Mathews lumps those who are skeptical of anthropogenic global warming with those who are Creationists.

    I believe in evolution (barring any technical errors or premises that will need to be revised as we learn more about it, of course) but I can’t say I believe that CO2 is as bad for the environment as the “mass consensus of scientists” say it is. When they say “there is no room for debate! We must act now!”, I start to smell the BS.

    In fact, increased CO2 emissions have caused more trees to grow where there are forests. The stuff is food for the planet’s vegetation.

    Follow the money. Al Gore, George Soros will get huge dividends in the carbon trading market. I just see this as a scam.

    Do I support clean air? Of course I do. There are measurable and proven contaminants from industry that should be minimized or eliminated. I saw a documentary on “fracking”, and it presents a very powerful accusation against the natural gas industry. What it presented was very credible and measurable evidence that our underground water table is in danger from such activity.

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