Since I’ve got a blog, I might as well use it. Here are three ideas I’ve been mulling over, and which will appear soon
CO2MAN the CONTRARIAN
Like John Cook of Skeptical Science, I started out as an illustrator. A Dictionary of Saints, Religious Instruction GCSE textbooks, Female Bodybuilders, Gay Contact magazines, Pouki the Polar Bear – I’ve done them all. Plus a pornographic strip cartoon based on an eighteenth century Polish novel and a strip cartoon life of St Paul.
I was hoping to devote my retirement to illustrating Orlando Furioso, but duty calls. Only my immense respect for the work of Josh and Fenbeagle has been holding me back.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Unlike many sceptics, I believe there is such a thing as society. It’s not just an invention of left-wing social scientists tryng to make work for themselves. So when I see that every reverse for the climate activists, every Climategate, every error in the IPCC reports, every idiocy pronounced by an environmental journalist is greeted by a chorus of “We’re winning!” from “our” side, I don my wet blanket and take up my Cassandra-like attitude.
“We”, the committed sceptics, can be counted in the hundreds of thousands, at most. “They” – the committed environmentalists, can be counted in the millions, at most.
The global warming debate underway in Europe, North America, Australasia and elsewhere concerns nearly a billion people, voters in democratic regimes, who can change the politics of their countries at a stroke, if they wish.
One day, we hope, the debate will break out of the charmed circle of environmentalists v. sceptics and involve the whole polity. At that moment, the nature of our discourse will be crucial. It’s no criticism of McIntyre and Montford and dozens of others to point out that your average punter is not interested in the hockeystick. Yes, he’s interested above all in his energy bills, but an argument based on that alone won’t work either. We need a serious analysis – political, sociological, psychological (philosophical even) of what’s gone wrong with – what?
Nothing less than our whole society.
Europe first, then America, invented the social sciences, the idea of a reflexive discourse concerning our proper nature. It’s a highly sophisticated concept which can only exist in a Popperian open society. Suddenly, with no warning, that society has closed. Scores of sociologists and psychologists are being paid to examine why people refuse to accept the idea of catastrophic global warming. No-one is being financed to ask why people accept the same idea.
Only thirty years ago, such a situation would have seemed impossible in democratic societies, though endemic in dictatorial regimes.
Let’s be clear. If Doran & Zimmermann or Oreskes & Conway had been published in the Soviet Union 30 years ago, they would have been shat upon from a great height by intellectuals of left and right in the West.
This isn’t happening. In Britain, I’ve heard whispers from intellectuals like Clive James and Martin Cohen, and vague signs of reconciliation across Nomansland by scientists like Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards – and that’s all.
It’s not enough.
LIVES OF THE CLIMATE BLOGGERS
I’ve long been mulling over how to bring the debate that energises us in the sceptic blogosphere to the public at large. It was reading the “Lives of the Philosophers” of Diogenes Laertius that gave me this idea. (Though Plutarch, Aubrey’s “Brief Lives” Vasari’s “Lives of the Artists” or Johnson’s “Lives of the Poets” would have had the same effect).
Straight away, it seemed obvious that the first subjects should be
John L. Daly
Robert E. Phelan.
John Daly deserves pride of place as being the first, as far as I know, to have devoted a blog to the criticism (or denial) of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. But his story is well told on wikipaedia and his own blog.
What can I add?
Michael Crichton would certainly have been the most mediatic (is that a word?) proponent of climate scepticism before his untimely demise. His blog links to several video conferences on global warming, but no texts. Is that a coincidence, given that his blog is largely given over to pushing his posthumous publications? A decent climate biography must await a transcription of his talks, if thay are not already available. This will take time.
I knew Robert Phelan as an occasional commenter at Bishop Hill and elsewhere, where he expressed similar ideas to mine on the socological origins of environmentalism. Mine were influenced by the French sociologist and historian Emmanuel Todd. It’s probable that there was a common origin in our ideas in the writings of the American sociologist Christopher Lasch, and others. I tried several times (unsuccessfully) to contact Robert via internet threads – a fragile link – then learnt recently from WattsupWithThat that he was dead, and that he had been a moderator at WUWT. A repectable biography should contain the best of his blog comments. This, too, will take time.