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George Monbiot on Climate Change Denial and Disinformation (4 posts)

  1. chrisc

    George Monbiot writing in yesterdays Guardian:

    Cyberspace has buried its head in a cesspit of climate change gibberish

    The Stansted protesters get it. The politicians of Poznan don't quite. But online, planted deniers drive a blinkered fiction


    The most popular article on the Guardian's website last week was the report showing that 2008 is likely to be the coolest year since 2000. As the Met Office predicted, global temperatures have been held down by the La NiƱa event in the Pacific Ocean. This news prompted a race on the Guardian's comment thread to reach the outer limits of idiocy. Of the 440 responses posted by lunchtime yesterday, about 80% insisted that manmade climate change is a hoax.


    Scrambled up in these comment threads are the memes planted in the public mind by the professional deniers employed by fossil fuel companies. On the Guardian's forums, you'll find endless claims that the hockeystick graph of global temperatures has been debunked; that sunspots are largely responsible for current temperature changes; that the world's glaciers are advancing; that global warming theory depends entirely on computer models; that most climate scientists in the 1970s were predicting a new ice age. None of this is true, but it doesn't matter. The professional deniers are paid not to win the argument but to cause as much confusion and delay as possible. To judge by the Comment threads, they have succeeded magnificently.


    In his fascinating book Carbon Detox, George Marshall argues that people are not persuaded by information. Our views are formed by the views of the people with whom we mix. Of the narratives that might penetrate these circles, we are more likely to listen to those that offer us some reward. A story that tells us that the world is cooking and that we'll have to make sacrifices for the sake of future generations is less likely to be accepted than the more rewarding idea that climate change is a conspiracy hatched by scheming governments and venal scientists, and that strong, independent-minded people should unite to defend their freedoms.

    He proposes that instead of arguing for sacrifice, environmentalists should show where the rewards might lie: that understanding what the science is saying and planning accordingly is the smart thing to do, which will protect your interests more effectively than flinging abuse at scientists. We should emphasise the old-fashioned virtues of uniting in the face of a crisis, of resourcefulness and community action. Projects like the transition towns network and proposals for a green new deal tell a story which people are more willing to hear.

    It's a shame that he has himself been duped by disinformation regarding 9/11.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. truthmod

    the more rewarding idea that climate change is a conspiracy hatched by scheming governments and venal scientists, and that strong, independent-minded people should unite to defend their freedoms.

    The Alex Jones gang sure isn't good at admitting their own culpability or discussing sacrifices for the common good. They are good at being macho and thinking of themselves as "strong, independent-minded people" who are defending their freedoms. I think the "reward" for this way of thinking is a sense of superiority/specialness (elites anyone?) and the opportunity displace all guilt/blame outside themselves (on the evil elites/NWO).

    9/11 truth is a real threshold. For the average person (as defined by the corporate media) it separates crazy from sane, respectable from ridiculous. I think that personally, for people like Monbiot, it is just something they cannot imagine could be true, because it would shatter their whole worldview (and that's not something they can do). Sadly, many of the people who can do this, don't really have much of an informed worldview to begin with (or the fortitude to develop one), so their "transformation" is meaningless and goes nowhere. I've met so many people like this, that I assume many in prominent positions or in the media are just the same, not conscious disinformation artists. They're stubbornness and irrationality are still frustrating as hell though...

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. Durruti

    "and the opportunity displace all guilt/blame outside themselves (on the evil elites/NWO)."

    Bingo. For others it's teh jews. The concomitant is what you might call "primitive nationalism": paternalistic feelings toward the "founding fathers" and a belief that the "pure" systems they designed to "make us free" have been corrupted by outside forces. Acknowledging that the institutions themselves are a major part of the problem would require criticizing the father figure, which in turn would break up the "family" of the nation state. Much of this is just desperate reactionary thinking against the possibility of socialism, which remains the penultimate evil in the Reptilian portion of the American mind. Since capitalism relies on endless growth, the environmental problems it produces must themselves to denied. The alternative -- that capitalism simply doesn't work -- is too frightening to contemplate.

    "I think that personally, for people like Monbiot, it is just something they cannot imagine could be true."

    In the case of Monbiot I disagree. He wrote pieces after 911 questioning the official story. I think he is simply unscrupulous. He is frightened of the 911 truth movement because it consists of people with widely varying political philosophies. Some of "us" are decidedly not progressive (as indicated above). Therefore he thinks the ends justify the means in attempting to marginalize us.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. chrisc

    George Monbiot appears to be finally getting his head around Peak Oil...

    When will the oil run out?

    George Monbiot puts the question to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency - and is both astonished and alarmed by the answer

    Can you think of a major threat for which the British government does not prepare? It employs an army of civil servants, spooks and consultants to assess the chances of terrorist attacks, financial collapse, floods, epidemics, even asteroid strikes, and to work out what it should do if they happen. But there is one hazard about which it appears intensely relaxed: it has never conducted its own assessment of the state of global oil supplies and the possibility that one day they might peak and then go into decline.


    Then I asked him a question for which I didn't expect a straight answer: could he give me a precise date by which he expects conventional oil supplies to stop growing?

    "In terms of non-Opec [countries outside the big oil producers' cartel]," he replied, "we are expecting that in three, four years' time the production of conventional oil will come to a plateau, and start to decline. In terms of the global picture, assuming that Opec will invest in a timely manner, global conventional oil can still continue, but we still expect that it will come around 2020 to a plateau as well, which is, of course, not good news from a global-oil-supply point of view."

    Around 2020. That casts the issue in quite a different light. Birol's date, if correct, gives us about 11 years to prepare. If the Hirsch report is right, we have already missed the boat. Birol says we need a "global energy revolution" to avoid an oil crunch, including (disastrously for the environment) a massive global drive to exploit unconventional oils, such as the Canadian tar sands. But nothing on this scale has yet happened, and Hirsch suggests that even if it began today, the necessary investments and infrastructure changes could not be made in time. Birol told me: "I think time is not on our side here."

    When I pressed him on the shift in the agency's position, he argued that the IEA has been saying something like this all along. "We said in the past that one day we will run out of oil. We never said that we will have hundreds of years of oil ... but what we have said is that this year, compared with past years, we have seen that the decline rates are significantly higher than what we have seen before. But our line that we are on an unsustainable energy path has not changed."

    This, of course, is face-saving nonsense. There is a vast difference between a decline rate of 3.7% and 6.7%. There is an even bigger difference between suggesting that the world is following an unsustainable energy path - a statement almost everyone can subscribe to - and revealing that conventional oil supplies are likely to plateau around 2020. If this is what the IEA meant in the past, it wasn't expressing itself very clearly.

    So what do we do? We could take to the hills, or we could hope and pray that Hirsch is wrong about the 20-year lead time, and begin a global crash programme today of fuel efficiency and electrification. In either case, the British government had better start drawing up some contingency plans.

    IEA saying we have 11 years to Peak Oil -- this really does signify it's gone mainstream doesn't it (even if the actual peak was this year)?

    Posted 9 years ago #


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