Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hoofnagle on Cranks in the Heartland, and the Potential Green/Hawk Alliance

Over at Denialismblog, Mark Hoofnagle has a nice article about the Heartland Institutes conference on climate change. I must say, give the Heartlanders credit for actually putting their money and mouths where their views lie and putting it out there for public consumption. Unfortunately, they merely revealed what cranks they are, as described by the Wall Street Journal, and then expounded on by Hoofnagle:

"WSJ: One challenge they faced was that even within their own ranks, the group -- among them government and university scientists, antiregulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members -- displayed a dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate."

Hoofnagle: This is a feature of cranks we discussed in our Unified Theory of the Crank almost a year ago. There is no interest in creating an explanatory theory or framework to incorporate the data into a useful picture, just a desire to crap on that which they don't want to hear.

It explains the tendency of cranks not to care if other cranks (and denialists in general for that matter) have variations on their own crazy ideas, just as long as the other cranks are opposing the same perceived incorrect truth. Cranks and denialists aren't honest brokers in a debate, they stand outside of it and just shovel horse manure into it to try to sow confusion and doubt about real science. They don't care if some other crank or denialist comes along and challenges the prevailing theory by tossing cow manure, as long as what they're shoveling stinks.

This is something we see among cranks of all stripes. Some of the global warming denialists claim there is no global warming (though their number is shrinking), some claim it is occurring but is overstated, or not caused by man, or will not cause disasters, or will but there is nothing we can do about it, or will actually be a good thing. And this causes them not one whit of concern or intellectual curiosity. All they care about is attacking the mainstream view.

This is the same don't-ask-don't-tell strategy we see among evolution deniers as well. Some accept common descent and some don't, some think the world is thousands of years old and some think it is billions, some believe all the design was at the beginning, some think it occurred at various points, and some think it is ongoing. Search the literature of HIV denialists and you'll see the same pattern. This is not how science is done.

There is also a tendency for denialists to frame the issue in personal terms, usually attacking the perceived authority of the theory that chaffes them so. This is predictable given the authoritarian religious background of most denialists, regardless of topic. Evolution deniers are fond of digging up any kind of dirt they can on Charles Darwin, even to the point of making shit up, as if a tarnished personality changes the data.

But with AGW, it is even more personal. Conservatives have a hate for tree hugging hippies that goes far beyond anything a historical figure could elicit, with roots as far back as the Viet Nam War and the fight against communism. Those of the Bill Buckley era are unlikely to give anyone even remotely resembling anti-war commies a fair scientific hearing:

"Global warming crankery, more than anything, isn't a generalized dismissal of science but an extreme dislike for the people identified with the science. Consistently through these arguments you see this streak of defiance, that no one should be able to tell anyone else how to live. If they want to spend their free time disposing their used motor oil by pouring it onto a pile of burning tires, that's their business, and Al Gore can go screw himself...If we care about convincing the remainder of Americans, or at least diminishing crankery on this topic, we also have to make the people who despise Al Gore care...

Ah yes, Al Gore. Nothing illustrates the echo-chamber life of so many conservatives as the impression they have that global warming is about Al Gore. They attack Gore personally, as if any of his flaws of character or behavior change the data. It's "Al Gore's global warming theory" to many. This is the danger of getting one's news from Fox, Townhall, and the rest of the Republican Shill Media.

Hoofnagle is right. To bring the Bushites on board, we have to make this not about Al Gore, but about something they care about. And here is where Hoofnagle hits on what I've always thought the common ground between the Greens and the Hawks is - the fight against the radical Muslims.

"For one, we must continually point out that being stubborn about using fossil fuels doesn't make you a rebel but rather OPEC's bitch. By letting the cranks frame this around Al Gore we've missed out on a lot of ways to make this matter to a larger group of people. For one, we could do a better job pointing out that all that money we spend on oil goes to the repressive governments we like least in the world. There's a good reason Putin's underlings showed up at this event. Oil money is what props up his regime. Same for Ahmadinejad. Same for the genocidal thugs in Sudan. I think the best frame is "Save the environment, stop sending your money to these assholes".

Amen! Those opposing environmental measures to combat global warming and develop non-fossil fuels need to be reminded over and over again that every SUV they buy, every gallon of gas they put in their cars, every extra degree of cooler AC they waste money on, every disposable camera they throw away, every extra plastic bag they use but don't need, puts money in the hands of the very same radical Islamic extremists that they are so eager to sacrifice our civil liberties in order to fight. Color me liberal, but I'd much rather give up a few small wasteful comforts than my 4th amendment rights. Hit the terrorists where it hurts - their pocketbooks - and help the environment at the same time. It's beautiful.

1 comment:

brewski said...

Specifically, the "consensus" about anthropogenic climate change entails the following:

1) the climate is undergoing a pronounced warming trend beyond the range of natural variability;
2) the major cause of most of the observed warming is rising levels of the greenhouse gas CO2;
3) the rise in CO2 is the result of burning fossil fuels;
4) if CO2 continues to rise over the next century, the warming will continue; and
5) a climate change of the projected magnitude over this time frame represents potential danger to human welfare and the environment.

These conclusions have been explicitly endorsed by:

Academia Brasiliera de Ciências (Bazil)
Royal Society of Canada
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Academié des Sciences (France)
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
Indian National Science Academy
Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
Science Council of Japan
Russian Academy of Sciences
Royal Society (United Kingdom)
National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
Australian Academy of Sciences
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
Caribbean Academy of Sciences
Indonesian Academy of Sciences
Royal Irish Academy
Academy of Sciences Malaysia
Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

In addition to these national academies, the following institutions specializing in climate, atmosphere, ocean, and/or earth sciences have endorsed these conclusions:

NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Royal Society of the United Kingdom (RS)
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
American Meteorological Society (AMS)
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS)

These organizations also agree with the consensus:

The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Northwestern University
University of Akureyri
University of Iceland
Iceland GeoSurvey
National Centre for Atmospheric Science UK
Climate Group
Climate Institute
Climate Trust
Wuppertal Institute for Climate Environment and Energy
Royal Meteorological Society
Community Research and Development Centre Nigeria
Geological Society of London
Geological Society of America
UK Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Research Council
Juelich Research Centre
US White House
US Council on Environmental Quality
US Office of Science Technology Policy
US National Climatic Data Center
US Department of Commerce
US National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
The National Academy of Engineering
The Institute of Medicine
UK Natural Environment Research Council
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Council on Environmental Quality
National Economic Council
Office of Management and Budget
The National Academy of Engineering
The Institute of Medicine
UK Natural Environment Research Council
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Engineers Australia
American Chemical Society
American Association of Blacks in Energy
World Petroleum Council
The Weather Channel
National Geographic

The following companies agree with the consensus:

Air France
American Electric Power
Aristeia Capital
BP America Inc.
Calvert Group
Canadian Electricity Association
Caterpilliar Inc.
China Renewable
Covanta Holding Corporation
Deutsche Telekom
Doosan Babcock Energy Limited
Duke Energy
Electricity de France North America
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
Energettech Austraila Pty Ltd
Energy East Corporation
Energy Holding Romania
Energy Industry Association
ETG International
Exelon Corporation
F&C Asset Management
FPL Group
General Electric
German Electricity Association
Glitnir Bank
Global Energy Network Institute, Iberdrola
ING Group
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Interface Inc.
International Gas Union
International Paper
International Power
Marsh & McLennan Companies
Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company
MissionPoint Capital Partners
Munich Re
National Grid
National Power Company of Iceland
NRG Energy
PG&E Corporation
PNM Resources
Reykjavik Energy
Rio Tinto Energy Services
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS Group)
Stora Enso North America
Stratus Consulting
Sun Management Institute
Swiss Re
UCG Partnership
US Geothermal
Verde Venture Partners

In addition, the scientific consensus is also endorsed by the CEO's of the following companies:

A. O. Smith Corporation
Abbott Laboratories
Accenture Ltd.
ACE Limited
Aetna Inc.
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
AK Steel Corporation
Allstate Insurance Company
ALLTEL Corporation
Altec Industries, Inc.
American Electric Power Company, Inc.
American Express Company
American International Group, Inc.
Ameriprise Financial
AMR Corporation/American Airlines
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Apache Corporation
Applera Corporation
Arch Coal, Inc.
Archer Daniels Midland Company
ArvinMeritor, Inc.
AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP
Avery Dennison Corporation
Avis Budget Group, Inc.
Bechtel Group, Inc.
BNSF Railway
Boeing Company
Brink's Company
Carlson Companies, Inc.
Case New Holland Inc.
Ceridian Corporation
Chemtura Corporation
Chubb Corporation
CIGNA Corporation
Coca-Cola Company
Constellation Energy Group, Inc.
Convergys Corporation
Con-way Incorporated
Corning Incorporated
Crane Co.
CSX Corporation
Cummins Inc.
Deere & Company
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Delphi Corporation
Dow Chemical Company
Eastman Chemical Company
Eastman Kodak Company
Eaton Corporation
Eli Lilly and Company
EMC Corporation
Ernst & Young, L.L.P.
Fannie Mae
FedEx Corporation
Fluor Corporation
FMC Corporation
Freddie Mac
General Mills, Inc.
General Motors Corporation
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Goodrich Corporation
Harman International Industries, Inc.
Hartford Financial Services Group
Home Depot, Inc., The
Honeywell International, Inc.
HSBC - North America
Humana Inc.
IBM Corporation
Ingersoll-Rand Company
International Textile Group
ITT Corporation
Johnson Controls, Inc.
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Liberty Mutual Group
MasterCard Incorporated
McGraw-Hill Companies
McKesson Corporation
MeadWestvaco Corporation
Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Merck & Co., Inc.
Merrill Lynch & Company, Inc.
MetLife, Inc.
Morgan Stanley
Motorola, Inc.
Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc.
National Gypsum Company
Navistar International Corporation
New York Life Insurance Company
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Nucor Corporation
NYSE Group, Inc.
Office Depot, Inc.
Owens Corning (Reorganized) Inc.
Pactiv Corporation
Peabody Energy Corporation
Pfizer Inc
PPG Industries, Inc.
Praxair, Inc.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Principal Financial Group
Procter & Gamble Company
Prudential Financial
Realogy Corporation
Rockwell Automation, Inc.
Ryder System, Inc.
SAP America, Inc.
Sara Lee Corporation
SAS Institute Inc.
Schering-Plough Corporation
Schneider National, Inc.
ServiceMaster Company
Siemens Corporation
Southern Company
Springs Global US, Inc.
Sprint Nextel
St. Paul Travelers Companies, Inc.
State Farm Insurance Companies
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Textron Incorporated
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.
Tyco Electronics
Tyco International Ltd.
Union Pacific Corporation
Unisys Corporation
United Technologies Corporation
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
USG Corporation
Verizon Communications
W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Western & Southern Financial Group
Weyerhaeuser Company
Whirlpool Corporation
Williams Companies, Inc.
Xerox Corporation
YRC Worldwide Inc

I'll take this "consensus" over the "scientists" handpicked by the Heartland Institute.