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2019: the year of peak green bullsh*t

December 31, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

 

Ben Pile does not hold back!!

 

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2019 was the most extraordinary year of green bullshit yet. Despite the planet being a wealthier, healthier and safer place than it was when fears of global warming first appeared on the political agenda in the 1980s – and despite the failure of more than half a century of green prognostications – crazy and destructive green ideas still dominate politics.


Royal hypocrisy

In 2019, green doublespeak went mainstream. Harry and Meghan had intended to ‘eco-signal’ by warning us about climate change. At the same time, they were hopping on private jets to stay in luxury villas. Despite attempts by some celebrities to defend the royal couple from criticism, newspapers across the world pointed out that actions speak louder than words. What Harry and Meghan’s royal hypocrisy showed was that elite environmentalism is less about saving the planet than about telling people how to live and to know their place.

Full story here.

15 Comments
  1. Peter F Gill permalink
    December 31, 2019 5:08 pm

    On the other side of the argument many of us here think that anthropogenic emissions have very little effect on climate. So we can only point out that certain actions involving emissions are simply inconsistent with the AGW belief system based on a number of fallacies. Calling this hypocrisy may be viewed by some as actually supporting the notion that carbon dioxide emissions in particular do have a pronounced climatic effect. The bottom line is name calling is not useful and detracts from the important question as to what are the real climate change mechanisms and in particular those that have caused the recent warm periods including the present and the RWP and the MWP.

  2. December 31, 2019 5:19 pm

    Monetising the climate isn’t going away any time soon, unless or until there’s an obvious decline in temperatures that can’t be denied or glossed over.

  3. charles wardrop permalink
    December 31, 2019 5:40 pm

    Would those of us readers here who could suggest why the poloticos in charge subscribe to green beliefs, and even at the real risk of financial ruin?
    If er knew what moved them to waste our money on everything from electric cars to wind turbines, maybe we might get them to UTurn.

    • John Cullen permalink
      December 31, 2019 11:48 pm

      Mr Wardrop,
      One of the main reasons for the UK’s political elites being in awe of green policies (rather than being responsive to the electorate’s need for cheap and reliable energy) may be the effectiveness of secret lobbying [Ref. 1]. Green NGOs have the financial resources to hire professional lobby companies that can influence government at the highest levels. Ordinary electors do not have that sort of clout and so the latter’s needs tend to be ignored.

      Government needs to know what is available in the market and so lobbying per se is not wrong. However, secret and expensive lobbying leads to government being captured by rent-seekers to the financial detriment of the public and the public purse. As energy economist Dieter Helm has observed, governments are very bad at picking winners but losers are very good at picking governments!

      What is true of the UK is probably true of many other governments in Western countries given the alacrity so many of them have for falling for green excesses and thereby throwing their electorates under the proverbial bus financially speaking.

      My own MP has indicated to me within the last year that the government is currently not minded to change the law in this matter. Thus, unfortunately, I think we can expect more of the same for a long time yet. “What price democracy?”, you may well ask.

      We in the UK are probably going to be exceptionally “blessed” with further green virtue signalling and expensive energy policies in this coming year since the next UN IPCC COP jamboree will be held in Glasgow in late 2020.

      Reference
      1. T. Cave & A. Rowell, “”A Quiet Word – lobbying, crony capitalism and broken politics in Britain”, Vintage, 2015.

      Regards,
      John Cullen.

      • charles wardrop permalink
        January 1, 2020 8:28 am

        Many thanks, Mr Cullen, but surely Lord (Nigel) Lawson’s GWPFoundation, Lord Lilley, Owen Paterson MP and other prominent Tories know the truths about AGW?
        In UK, whence a mere.one-third of1% of the planet’s manmade CO2 is emitted, we cannot help stave off AGW..
        Since we would ruin our economy and competitiveness with the vast costs, we must not seek to achieve only token decarbonisation, especially since the great bulk of greenhouse gases come from nations non-compliant in curbing carbon.
        Lord Lawson and others will surely be making efforts to scotch our governmemt’s crazy, ruinous decarbonisation policies?.
        The lobbyists you mention should not be able to prevail given such eminent Tory opponents of token efforts to influence climate, especially after we leave the EU.
        Appreciate your further comments!

  4. Curious George permalink
    December 31, 2019 5:55 pm

    Isn’t hypocrisy actually good? Isn’t it better to pay a lip service than no service at all? (Apologies to an original author – can’t remember where I saw it).

    • Paul Holyoak permalink
      December 31, 2019 8:25 pm

      No.

  5. December 31, 2019 6:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  6. john cooknell permalink
    December 31, 2019 9:40 pm

    The BBC and fellow media luvvies just get more extreme every day, it appears the IPCC, F of E and Greenpeace are not extreme enough for them, they now even quote Greta and Extinction Rebellion as if it were all true.

    The Kids are brainwashed with this stuff in school, and call it “making a difference”.

    Even my village Parish magazine reads like a Friends of the Earth propaganda brochure, with a tiny bit of religion sort of forced in, the Reverend even calls us out as “deniers” which is a bit rich coming from someone who genuinely believes in the supernatural.

    However, when it comes down brass tacks, about what are YOU going to do? things take a very different twist. In common with most schools in the UK the C of E school run causes all sorts of traffic chaos, parking on pavements, really dangerous driving behaviour etc.

    So in response the Council who declared a “climate emergency” came up with a scheme of 75 more convenience car parking spaces, road widening etc. With tongue in cheek I objected and quoted Greta et al at them all, this was surely not the thing to do?

    The car park got passed without opposition supported by one and all, so we all had an answer the consensus is we just carry on regardless.

  7. January 1, 2020 9:49 am

    Maybe it’s humanity’s struggle to understand and abosorb the enormous changes of the industrial revolution.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/10/14/racism/

  8. January 1, 2020 9:32 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  9. John Cullen permalink
    January 2, 2020 1:22 pm

    Mr Wardrop,

    While I agree that there are, as you correctly indicate, some notable Tories of influence, the question is whether they have sufficient influence compared to the other powers that be.

    To date it seems that the likes of the GWPF have been far less influential than the rent-seekers and their acolytes in the mainstream media, in green NGOs and in parliament (after all, the Climate Change Act was supported by all parties; only 3 MPs [plus 2 tellers] voted against it).

    Furthermore, if the propaganda is to be believed, don’t we all want “save the climate” from the impending catastrophe, even if it is largely hysteria rather than catastrophe that the elites are pandering to? So why worry about the costs of said rescue plan, whisper the rent-seekers to the political elites, especially when it is the poorest and least influential in our country that will pay a disproportionate fraction of the bill for the rescue equipment (i.e. for the very expensive, unreliable, grid disrupting, bird/bat/insect chomping renewable energy sources)?

    Thus, I think you are largely correct; there are important influencers trying to save the UK (and other Western countries) from the stupidities of the climate hysterics. However, the hysteria seems to be winning. The question I have been working on for some time is this: how did this hysteria manage to so completely overwhelm the elites and media in the West? I may be approaching some initial conclusions.

    Regards,
    John Cullen.

    • charles wardrop permalink
      January 3, 2020 11:45 am

      Very interesting indeed, albeit shocking, so I would greatly apreciate learning your further thoughts, Mr Cullen.
      Surely, conscious of the limited funds available for real essentials, those in charge ought to have done “due diligence” rather than accepting snakeoil salesmen’s representations, even if public concern over AGW has (avoidably) been raised, so with vote-losing potential.
      VERY disappointed to learn of the limited impact of the GWPF on those in charge.

      • John Cullen permalink
        January 4, 2020 11:40 am

        Mr Wardrop,
        This is a complex tale and so I cannot write down the whole argument in a short blog post response. However, I will endeavour to write down many of the salient features(as I see them) in the near future – ideally this weekend – and post them here.

        In the event that our host closes the comments before I can post my thoughts then I will submit them in an appropriate part of this website in the near future.

        A bientôt.

        Regards,
        John Cullen.

  10. John Cullen permalink
    January 4, 2020 8:06 pm

    Mr Wardrop,

    On or after 31st December 2019 we have been engaged in discussion here (https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/2019-the-year-of-peak-green-bullsht/#comments) about ‘Green Bullsh*t’. I continue that discussion below. I will try to be succinct, although that may be difficult. So apologies in advance if this turns out to be a rather long missive. Also let me declare my interests: upon first graduating I worked for a year in the oil industry and then I spent most of the rest of my working life as a research electrical engineer employed by a large UK aerospace company trying to make things “more electric”.

    The media love any alarmist or bad news story because it sells. As they say, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In this sense the catastrophic global warming story is tailor made for them, especially if, as the narrative goes, the catastrophe is one we humans are responsible for and which we can do something to rectify. Thus the media, which in the West (like most of society around it) is largely staffed by scientifically untrained people, were ready primed to buy into the alarmist narrative.

    However, when the rapid global warming narrative was in its infancy [Ref. 1], much of the academic community were concerned that the contemporary changes in climate were unnaturally rapid and unusually large. Politicians too were becoming concerned, both at national and international level.

    In this situation, and given the huge complexity of climate, it is perhaps not surprising that climate academics were willing to adopt the criteria of the newly defined PNS [Ref. 2] or post-normal science. When both system uncertainties and decision stakes are high then PNS [Ref. 2] suggests that the usual, very demanding criteria of traditional science (such as scepticism and paying due regard to uncertainties/unknowns) may be set aside, for example when advising national and international policy makers such as the UN’s IPCC.

    PNS also allows for non-scientific criteria (e.g. wealth redistribution) to be brought into the policy making process. Professor Hulme (then of the University of East Anglia, which was deeply involved in the Climategate affair) writes in [Ref. 2], “… I suggest we change our position and examine climate change as an idea of the imagination rather than as a problem to be solved. By approaching climate change as an idea to be mobilised to fulfil a variety of tasks, perhaps we can see what climate change can do for us rather than what we seek to do, despairingly, for (or to) climate.” Is this not a blatant invitation to bring one’s political or other preferences into the scientific arena?

    However, how is the outside world to know that scientists are bringing politics into their assessments when, traditionally, they have been perceived by the public as being politically neutral? Unfortunately those (post-normal) scientists caught up in the policy whirlwind have, in my view, been derelict in not telling the public of their agendas.

    The above tells of how science can become embroiled in politics. Thus, perhaps, it is not surprising that Christiana Figueres, a former Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change, is reported to have said [Ref. 3], “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history. This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution. This will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change…It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation …” Unfortunately, Figueres seems not to have said in which direction the change would be made. However, and luckily for the economic Right, The Establishment seems to have had it all in hand, perhaps from the outset (see below). Is this the sort of thing that gets decided each year at Davos?

    The political Left has a long and honourable history of attempting international cooperation. It is not surprising then that leaders on the Left have been keen to sign up to the IPCC agenda – and the similar agenda of many NGOs – to both reduce ‘climate-changing’ CO2 emissions and set up a Green climate fund that would channel billions of dollars each year from the developed countries of the West to the developing countries. After all, is it not, at least according to the alarmist narrative, the West that has benefitted most from fossil fuels while the developing world has suffered most from climate change? Very surprisingly to me, this argument seems to have been readily accepted in the West without the media and politicians pointing out that, until recent decades, it was very largely only the wealthy (e.g. the Coal Barons) that enjoyed most of the aforesaid benefits while most ordinary people had very arduous lives i.e. lives not too dissimilar to those in the developing world today!

    And what of the West’s politicians of the Right? Well, they have been very happy to signal their virtue and play along by ‘saving the climate/planet’, especially if their political allies receive the contracts to build the expensive (and therefore necessarily subsidised) renewable energy devices. Unfortunately for ordinary people, energy and energy policy (which are now intimately connected to climate policy in much of the West) are extremely vulnerable to capture by vested interests …

    The Iron Triangle is a well-known phenomenon related to policy making. It is shown in diagram form in [Ref. 4] and is described in written form by Endress in [Ref. 5]. It is worth quoting at length from the latter. After describing the first- and second-best levels of policy making, Endress continues:-
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    Interestingly, in his farewell address president Eisenhower foresaw dangers similar to those from the Iron Triangle when he warned not only of the risks from the military-industrial complex but also expressed concerns about planning for the future – notably the domination of science through large-scale state funding and, in consequence, the domination of science-based public policy by what he called a “scientific-technological elite”. Thus, this risk is not new and so the media and politicians should have been alert to its appearance, especially in the vulnerable energy and energy policy sectors. Why where they not?

    Why did most of the mainstream media in the West accept the IPCC’s Summaries for Policy Makers at face value? Where was the natural scepticism of their investigative journalists, let alone that of traditional scientists? How difficult is it for investigative journalists to read the relevant sections of the IPCC technical reports (that are full of caveats which are in sharp contrast to the shrill alarmism of the Summaries that are written by committees in the post-normal science manner)? On the face of it, not at all difficult; rather simple in fact, since much of the text is easy to understand as it is often free of technical jargon.

    And why did the mainstream media always go for information to the same sources (i.e. often the sources that had proved so unreliable during Climategate) rather than seek out different sources that would have provided corroboration (or otherwise)?

    Part of the answer lies in the fact that, even now, a decade after Climategate, most commentators do not (or cannot) distinguish between traditional science and most-modern science (PNS). Indeed, what fraction of reporters even know about PNS? Journalists are therefore unable to distinguish between largely scientific judgements and the motivated reasoning occasioned by post-normal science – and, unfortunately but unsurprisingly, post-normal scientists appear not to inform their journalist interlocutors that they are speaking from a PNS perspective.

    In the case of the BBC, it seems that the story of its suborning to the alarmist cause back in 2006 is now largely in the public domain [see, for example, Refs. 7 and 8]. However, it is worth recalling that the late Christopher Booker wrote a scathing report [reviewed in Ref. 9] on the BBC’s triple betrayal as he described it. Other Western countries seem to be similarly affected in proportion to the closeness of the relationship between the independent(?) broadcaster and the state.

    Occasionally television reporters realize that they (and their editorial guidelines) are a significant part of the problem. Here, for example, is Channel 4’s Jon Snow speaking his mind [Ref. 10] in relation to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, “Grenfell proved it: the British media are part of a disconnected elite. A terrible and dangerous divide exists in our society. And we are as guilty as the political classes are of allowing it to widen.”.

    Fortunately, this is not entirely a story of the shameful decline of Western journalistic standards; there have been some observers in the West who have dug a little deeper to uncover some of the murky underlying politics and economics of climate and energy policies. For example, Delingpole [Ref. 11] who is usually considered to be a commentator well to the political Right, describes the present settlement (by which renewables are heavily subsidised through the public purse and/or energy consumers’ bills) as international socialist red politics under a mask of green policies.

    However, I think we need to look a little further than Delingpole to get the larger picture. I think you need to add in the rent-seeking and crony capitalism that are so well described (see above) by Helm and Endress. In this way we see that ordinary tax payers and energy bill payers are caught in an expensive pincer movement between the Right and Left of politics with both sides egged on (as per my earlier blog comments) by influential lobbyists funded by well-resourced NGOs promoting Green or pseudo-Green policies. And as far as I can tell there is nobody – certainly not the mainstream media – standing up for those caught in the snare of ever rising energy costs and ever more exotic (expensive) policy initiatives. [There is a slight but important modification to this argument for the USA but, for brevity, I will not expand on that here.]

    I believe it is possible to gain an initial understanding of how this came about by examining aspects of the discourse of the climate change debate or, as it is increasingly called, ‘the war on climate’. It is common knowledge that the debate, even though parts of it take place in the media, is often little more than a shouting match between two clearly defined camps: the camps of ‘them’ and ‘us’, ’alarmists’ and ‘deniers’. This is the language of ‘divide and rule’; it is also the language of the propagandist.

    To aid understanding of propaganda Jason Stanley has recently written two useful books [Refs. 12, 13]. From my perspective, the earlier book gives a more complete review while the latter is easier to relate to the climate policy domain. Using the ideas in these books (such as using apparently democratic arguments to undermine democratic ideals and thereby advance a “false ideology”) I am beginning to understand the current climate debate in a new way. ‘Them and us’ are defined by, on one side, national and supra-national political elites of both Right and Left, other Establishment entities (e.g. climate academia, Climate Change Committee members, mainstream media, various celebrities of stage/screen/TV, retired senior politicians, and various Royals), Green NGOs plus their lobbyists, crony capitalists, and parts of the Civil Service (to complete the Iron Triangle). The other side is numerous but individually weak in influence and largely (but not completely!) voiceless, namely the much derided ‘deniers’ of the “settled science” and the ordinary electors and energy bill payers.

    However, perhaps the greatest insight into propaganda is given not by Stanley but by Leonard Schapiro who was a professor at the LSE and a keen student of communism. In this regard the economics academic and Greek politician, Yanis Varoufakis, writes in [Ref. 14], “Leonard Schapiro, writing on Stalinism, warned us that ‘the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade. But to produce a uniform pattern of public utterances in which the first trace of unorthodox thought reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.’”

    Viewing the mainstream media I am struck by the knee-jerk reaction of TV interviewers and their interviewees on matters of climate change and climate policy. Thus, to me, it seems that the propagandist’s “them and us” mentality has largely been achieved; dissonant voices have been censored at source. Given the weaknesses of the post-modern scientific case for climate alarmism, perhaps the only real way the alarmists could win the argument (albeit temporarily, I hope) was through propaganda techniques. And the one clever aspect of the alarmists’ political front is to have convinced or, more correctly, propagandised the Left to join the ‘war on climate’.

    I believe, Mr. Wardrop, that you were originally interested in whether there are ways to convince our political elites of the errors of their current ways. Fortunately, if broadly correct, the above argument points to two main lines of attack. Firstly, to convince those on the Right who are not in favour of crony capitalism (and who dislike the state intervention that the necessary renewables subsidies require) that current policies are uneconomic, unscientific and ineffective. Secondly, to convince the Left (as delicately and politely as can be achieved) that they have been had and that a rethink plus reset of their climate/energy polices is well overdue. Given that in the UK the Left is currently renewing its leadership there are, in principle, considerable opportunities to advance more realistic and consumer/elector-friendly policies. We should, however, anticipate a severe tussle for two reasons. Firstly, people of all political stripes love their subsidies and will fight to keep them; secondly, even some of those on the Left believe that wind turbines and other renewables (even the current first-generation renewables) are ‘green’ and therefore sacrosanct however much economic harm they are doing to individuals, companies and the economy at large.

    References
    1. N. Calder, “The Weather Machine and the Threat of Ice”, BBC, 1974, especially page 77.
    2. Mike Hulme, “Why we disagree about climate change”, CUP, 2009, especially near page 79 and at page 340 – 341.
    3. https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/un-s-top-climate-official-goal-intentionally-transform-economic-0
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_triangle_(US_politics)#/media/File:Irontriangle.PNG
    5. Arsenio Balisacan et al. (editors), “Sustainable Economic Development: resources, environment and institutions”, Academic Press, 2014, especially section 3.4.2 by Lee H. Endress, ‘Public policy: prosustainability or not?’, pages 57 -58.
    6. D. Helm, “The Carbon Crunch”, Yale, 2012 (revised & updated, 2015).
    7. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/12/breaking-the-secret-list-of-the-bbc-28-is-now-public/
    8. https://www.spectator.co.uk/2012/11/heres-a-bbc-scandal-that-should-really-make-you-disgusted/
    9. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/08/the-bbc-and-climate-change-a-triple-betrayal-ho-ho/
    10. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/grenfell-british-media-divide
    11. J. Delingpole, “Watermelons”, Biteback Publishing, 2012.
    12. J. Stanley, “How Propaganda Works”, Princeton University Press, 2015.
    13. J. Stanley, “How Fascism Works – the politics of us and them”, Random House, 2018.
    14. Y. Varoufakis, “And The Weak Suffer What They Must?”, Vintage, 2016, notably page 245.

    I hope this has proved helpful, or at least gives you a new line of attack in you researches.

    Regards,
    John Cullen.

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