This from Bob Ward: ‘Climate change denial is the new article of faith for the far right.’
Illustrated by a photograph of Nick Griffin.
‘No evidence of research misconduct,’ George Monbiot guilty by implication of joining the ‘climate change denial lobby’ because he called for the resignation of Phil Jones, ‘hysterical witch hunt…desperation’ etc.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the hysterical atmosphere created by the emails has encouraged more of the denial lobby to emerge from the shadows. The British National party leader, Nick Griffin, gave a speech in which he claimed that climate change was a leftwing conspiracy, in much the same way as Lord Christopher Monckton has in his recent speeches in the United States. Monckton and Prof Ian Plimer then helped the UK Independence party to launch its own declaration of climate change denial this week. Suddenly climate change denial has become a new article of faith among the far right.
I’m much less interested in this piece for its arguments about climate change than for the tone of its debate.
Humans are very good at creating word associations and reading their connotations, and the chain of association Bob Ward appears to want his readers to follow is this:
Climate change denial = Nick Griffin = racism = evil.
Climate change denial = Nick Griffin and UKIP = far right = fascism = evil.
Thus by the imposition of Nick Griffin into our tautological exercise, the transitive property eventually gives us climate change denial = evil. (Leave aside for the moment that somehow UKIP has become part of the ‘far right.’) Now, Bob Ward never says this directly, but nevertheless these are the associations he wants us to make. It’s not so much that he thinks climate change denial is wrong-headed and happens to be supported by Nick Griffin; it’s that climate change denial is wrong and anyone who supports is complicit with an evil racist fascist.
I’d like to try Bob Ward’s strategy myself.
Now, according to the BNP’s website, that party (and, obviously, its leader Nick Griffin) advocate:
Power should be devolved to the lowest level possible so that local communities can make decisions which affect them.
We will implement a Bill of Rights guaranteeing fundamental freedoms to the British people.
According to the Labour party website, it advocates:
Ensuring a fair say for all by devolving power away from the centre and to local people; giving councils more power to promote local democracy to increase citizen involvement and improve services by making them more responsive to local needs and ambitions.
A green paper to examine the case for developing a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Power to the people = Nick Griffin = racism and fascism = evil.
Labour Party = power to the people = Nick Griffin = racism and fascism = evil = climage change denial.
Using Bob Ward’s Griffin Tautological Principle (reductio per Griffinum), I think I’ve just proved that the Labour Party are all climate change deniers and that local democracy and rights are a fascist evil.
Bob Ward is guilty of a tremendous number of argumentative fallacies, the worst of them being false attribution. Because Nick Griffin is a racist fascist (and therefore evil) does not mean everything he says is wrong or distasteful. The fact that he is a racist fascist has absolutely no bearing on the climate change debate. If climate change denial is wrong, it is because it is contrary to truth, not because it is a belief held by certain unpleasant people. If the ‘far right’ are wrong, it is not because some of them deny anthropogenic climate change. Deliberately conflating these propositions, in order to associate a view the author disputes with an unrelated view many people dispute, is dishonest, manipulative, and lazy.
If climate change admitters, or whatever they call themselves, want to win more flies, they should stop implying that ‘deniers’ are evil by association, and try honey instead. There are many ways to sweeten the pill of dealing with climate change. Most people would be happy to change their behaviour if it meant a better life in the short run as well as the long run. Finding out how to make that possible shouldn’t be impossibly difficult. But, as a commenter on Ward’s piece points out, the admitters are manifestly against that:
Is it any wonder that many people think climate change is a left wing conspiracy when the proponents of the AGW theory make statements such as these:
- “We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” – Stephen Schneider, Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports
- “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.” – Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC
- “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” – Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation
- “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, fmr Canadian Minister of the Environment
- “The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.” – emeritus professor Daniel Botkin
- “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme
- “A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.” – Paul Ehrlich, Professor of Population Studies
- “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” – Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
- “Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.” – Professor Maurice King
Now, I haven’t sourced those quotes, so I’m just taking this person’s word for it that they’re genuine. The real kickers come from Maurice Strong, Michael Oppenheimer, and Prof. Maurice King. They appear to welcome the collapse of industrialisation, the continued poverty of the third world, and global poverty in general, as a consequence of mitigating climate change. Is it any wonder, then, that ‘deniers’ are so obdurate? Admitters are looking forward to the collapse of society and impoverishment of the human race, whilst calling those who disagree with them evil (and labelling them with a frankly inflammatory word that is obviously meant to associate climate change ‘deniers’ with Holocaust deniers).
Anyone who thinks climate change is ‘all about the science’ is either lying to themselves or lying to everybody else. This issue is no longer about science or truth. And the more acrimonious the debate becomes, the less the truth even matters, because even if it could be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, the people who ended up being on the ‘wrong’ side would, out of pride, stubbornness, and resentment, refuse to believe it.
And the onus for stopping the acrimony is, I’m sorry to say, firmly on the admitters. As long as they keep insulting, belittling, and misrepresenting everybody who doubts their claims, and drooling expectantly at the thought of poverty and the demise of the industrialised world, they’re never going reach a ‘scientific’ consensus, let alone a social one.