A Question

Many thanks to all who’ve posted comments, best wishes etc.

It’s maybe a bit early to be soliciting information from the still modest number of readers, but there’s something I’m interested in knowing about (the old market researcher in me never dies). It’s this:

What happens when you raise the subject of your climate scepticism among your friends, acquaintances, colleagues etc.? (I’m not talking about spouses who object to the amount of time spent before the screen – blog widows – I know about that). Does your confession result in a lively discussion, a polite assent, or an embarrassed silence? Are you ostracised or embraced as a fellow heretic?

Here’s my experience, which I confess I find infinitely depressing.

I don’t normally raise the subject, since it’s not something that lends itself to casual discussion over dinner, but when I have done so the results have been peculiar.

Three friends, all with science PhDs, (in physics, sociology and epidemiology) all Guardian-reading Labour supporters, just looked at me pityingly and changed the subject. It was clear from later discussion that they had no other source of information on the subject than the standard left-leaning media, and the fact that someone they consider (I hope) to be on their intellectual level disagreed violently provoked no interest in finding out more. One sent me a reference to a document which she said would change my mind. It turned out to be about passive smoking. One assumed that I was just going through the normal process of getting more right wing with age. One insisted angrily that all the peer reviewed science was against me.

All three have excellent reasons to question the environmentalist message. One struggles to save the Health Service from the money men – management consultants and the like – who batten on to public services. Two are Labour activists in the constituency which the Greens won from Labour in the last general election. None of them would dream of googling “climate scepticism” to find out more.

Two other friend have shown some sympathy, though without expressing any further interest. (I don’t know many people in England, having lived abroad for 30 years). One had read Michael Crichton’s “Climate of Fear” and one had read Richard Bean’s play “The Heretic” – chance encounters with fictional accounts of scepticism of the most extreme sort, since both works portray eco-terrorists of the kind which exist only in our nightmares.

What does it mean?

Am I just so socially maladroit, unconvincing, fundamentally unserious and lightweight, that no-one takes any notice of my opinions?

I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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28 Responses to A Question

  1. Mike says:

    I’m an instructor in the US commercial nuclear industry (nuclear operator training). When I mention climate change, I meet nothing but scepticism — scepticism of the appropriate kind. Vitually none of the people where I work that I’ve talked to believe in anthropogenic global warming as a major driver of climate change. Granted, most don’t follow the discussion like I do. But when I explain the limited spectrum of IR that is captured by CO2, they can understand what I am talking about.

    Unfortunately, the corporate line is totally on board with the so-called global warming “consensus.”

  2. catweazle666 says:

    With the exception of the occasional student, very few people I have met in the last few years consider AGW to be anything but a new way for the Government and its friends to rip them off.

    Mind you, I don’t have much contact with Guardian readers, most of the people I mix with are normal human beings with normal jobs in the real world. Shopkeepers, mechanics, waitresses, engineers (engineers can get quite excited over the matter, as they actually make their living understanding the science, unlike the average Climate McSceantist), you know, real people, not jumped-up Ivory Tower academic qualification collectors or snivel serpants.

  3. dearieme says:

    I mentioned that Global Warmmongering was all baloney to an acquaintance who is a Computer Scientist (i.e. not a scientist at all) and he was astonished. “I thought it was universally agreed that….”.

    A few Arts academics, however, have given me a hearing partly, I assume, because it confirms their suspicion that many Scientists are scammers and hustlers. As indeed some are. Interestingly it means that when I lay down the law to these Arts types on non-bogus bits of science I seem to get a sympathetic hearing.

  4. que sais je says:

    Experiences? For example, such — more or less — as: “Love your servitude!”?

    By the way, Geoff, I don’t think that you’re “socially maladroit, unconvincing, fundamentally unserious” or too “lightweight”.

  5. j ferguson says:

    This is a good question.
    Living on a boat and moving most of the year means that we can control our contacts. Our political preferences limit them further. Although we both would prefer to be Republicans, and had been for most of the last 50 years, we actively supported Obama in 2008 – including canvassing darkest redneck territory in north Florida the weekend before the election, which was interesting to say the least. This was our first exposure to the notion that Obama might have been foreign-born.

    Most of our friends, the people we spend any time with, are liberals (in the US usage). They tend not to understand my occasional wistful libertarian laments. Obama has disappointed most of them in not being the leftist they thought he was – obviously they didn’t do their homework. On the other hand, we’ve been dismayed by the disdain he is held in by our conservative acquaintances. Maybe middle of the road is socialist in their eyes.

    Moderate Republicans seen in short supply just now. Most of us are likely in hiding.

    I’ve been further perplexed by the preponderance of what I take to be highly conservative political views held by the more intelligent commenters on the sceptic blogs i read. Why is it mostly conservative types who doubt the climate catastrophe bandwagon?

    I came to my present position as a reaction.

    In my ignorance, I responded to a long email on the coming disaster from a college classmate of SWBO with a reference to a Singer magazine piece expressing doubt for the scientific basis of the scare. I was answered by the email version of a tirade of in-the-pay-of-big-oil, big-tobacco, not peer reviewed, not published in decades, known bad-guy, and on and on. But here, this guy was a physicist and our friend couldn’t make a batch of cookies if her life depended on them.

    My doubt was premised on wondering how a change in a small fraction of a degree C could suddenly provoke all this excitement, hurricanes, melting glaciers, global jetting about by Al Gore, etc. Why now, and not thirty years ago? Admittedly, this may be an uninformed and naive basis for scepticism.

    That might have been in 2006. I’ve been tracking as best I can the evolving revelations ever since.

    I don’t share my views unless asked about Climate Change, or Obama. The combination has made us suspect by both camps.

    The New York Times may be our equivalent of the Guardian. Although it publishes interesting and informative articles, it also expresses leftish political views and particularly supports a view of climate science which is far more accepting of the CAGW apprehension than would result from any serious thought on the subject. Their editorials smack of the sorts of things one hears while a freshman at university from people who have never done anything of any consequence in their lives – yet. They advocate actions which could never be taken given the lack of agreement among the people in a position to act.

    Most of the people we associate with read the New York Times daily on-line, or in print. And they seem to believe everything they read in it. And there is the rub. If it’s in there, they believe it – 97% don’t you know.

    I speculated a while back that the only way this thing was going to be put to rest was for a repetition of what put the stopper on the eugenics madness – some tyrant seizing on global warming as the “scientific” underpinning of some sort of political power grab and doing it to such an extreme extent that anyone could understand that the idea was grossly overblown.

    I suppose Lewandowski’s survey missed the larger point, that just because crackpots share your view doesn’t mean it is not an accurate understanding.

  6. Timbo says:

    Same experience. I tried to discuss this with my australian family comprised of my sister and brother in law who have spent 25+ years over there. Stone wall. They have decided and that’s it. Scary part is that they are both university professors in Social Science (Communications).

  7. Thanks for the interesting comments. (I hope there’ll be more). There was a thread at Judith Curry’s where she asked how people became sceptics. My question is a follow-on: what happens when you reveal your scepticism to your immediate circle?
    The only information revealed by the “official” sources is that sceptics tend to be on the right politically, and believers on the left. Which figures, given that those on the right are naturally more likely to complain when governments tax them for reasons which seem absurd.
    It’s the “canary in the coalmine” effect. It’s not that the canary is more intelligent than the miner. It’s just that the canary is more sensitive to the presence of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (read: “dangerous levels of government interference”). Obviously , those on the right are going to object first to a policy that involves spending billions of state finance to counter a threat which is so badly defined. Equally obviously, those on the left are going to react by defending the state, in which it has a kind of natural confidence, given that so many of the left’s supporters work for the state.
    But Mike’s response shows that a simple left/right division fails to do justice to the question. In his organisation, the bosses are for, the workers (engineers and technicians) are against.
    Catweazle says:
    “Mind you, I don’t have much contact with Guardian readers, most of the people I mix with are normal human beings”.
    I sympathise. And I’m someone who’s been a Guardian reader for nearly fifty years. But what’s 50 years in the lifetime of a journal which has been going for nearly 2 centuries? (answer: a quarter of its lifetime, which is quite a lot).
    For non-Brits: the Guardian is a centre left newspaper which is read by everyone in England (not Britain, because the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish have their own opinions) who is not a Thatcherite. See jferguson’s comments on the NYT.
    Obviously, everyone in a democracy must take notice of the prevailing opinion. The Guardian is a failing paper that loses millions every year, but best represents the views of the left opposition, and also the “green” official views of the current conservative/liberal govenrnment. That’s why this paper read by a tiny proportion of the population is so important.
    “I thought it was universally agreed that….”
    I’ve recently infected my French son with my global warming scepticism. He tried it out on his colleagues, who are pretty open-minded young professionals (engineers, bankers, etc.) Their reaction was that they were quite happy to believe that 9/11 was promoted by Bush and Cheney, but to doubt global warming – that was really too extreme…

    I’m sure that there’s much more of interest to be said on this subject. The fact that absolutely no-one in the social sciences is interested – that’s the real scandal.

  8. carol says:

    most ordinary people are natural sceptics and see global warming as a scam used by he government to increase taxation. It’s all part of the negative vibes on politicians that is rife nowadays. However, I did meet a couple of pro global warmers the other day, not fanatics but more of we should act now just to be safe in the futures etc as one of them was a young graduate who was out of work and doing some volunteer work for the National Trust just to keep himself occupied and possibly learn some new skills – though I can’t think why erecting fences or putting a chainsaw to a fallen tree would help him in a career. One of the other volunteers, a fellow retired chap, agreed with him which surprised me as I had not encountered it personally before. Saying that our local newspaper has had an ongoing debate over the last couple of months in the letters pages, mainly between one particular advocate and a succession of sceptics or luke warmers. The AGW bloke is brilliant with his ripostes and I dare say the sceptics get fed up having to keep responding as they can’t put him down – no matter what they say. The AGW faith appears to be mainly something that affects the better educated in society. Surely, they should be the most sceptical – why are they prone to being gullible?

  9. steveta_uk says:

    I became a sceptic after reading Moonbat’s rather nasty attacks on David Bellamy. I was so surprised that I decided to try and work out why David was himself a sceptic, and only then discovered that the ‘consensus’ was on very weak ground, and that folk like David Bellamy and Johnny Ball had been in effect excommunicated for heresy.

    My friends in general either don’t really think about the topic, or else think that GW is probably real but nothing to panic about. Some are amazed if I point out that so far we’ve seen approx 0.7C/century of warming, and assume I’m making this up – it can’t be that small, surely? It changes more than that in the time it takes to walk back from the pub!

    I don’t proselytise at all, but when the topic has come up with various collegues, it has been met initially with surprise. As a technical software engineer, I tend to work with people with some engineering and/or science background, and they assume that what they read in the journals is correct, but are prepared to discuss the issue and consider alternative viewpoints.

    The worst problem I have is with my direct family. They’re all Guardian readers, with little or no science background, and clearly think I’m some kind of right-wing sympathiser for doubting the true word.

    When I point out my disgust at how so-called socialists can happily defend the transfer of money from the poor and elderly into the pockets of tory land owners via the feed-in tarrifs and “renewable obligations”, they get a bit confused. My sister seemed on one occasion to come over with such a case of cognitive dissonance that she felt physically ill and had to go for a walk to calm herself down!

    Her main argument against me is that she simply cannot believe that the consensus can be so wrong – she asks what possible motive there is for reputable scientists world-wide to be involved in this conspiracy?

    And to me, the utterly bizarre aspect is the dislike of nuclear power and the clear rejection of GM foods by the same Guardian-reading group – in these instances they are perfectly happy to think that the scientists are lying. Why the difference? I’ve honestly no idea.

  10. dearieme says:

    We took the Nurdgaia for a while but stopped as it became obvious that it was increasingly written by and for people who were somewhat bonkers. The letter writers were, by contrast, completely bonkers.

  11. Paul Matthews says:

    “What happens when you raise the subject of your climate scepticism…?”
    I don’t raise the subject – most of them don’t know. It’s a subject that provokes strong views, and friends and work colleagues are people one needs to get along with.
    Much easier to discuss it with people on the web whom I will probably never meet.
    I bet I am more “socially maladroit” than you Geoff!

    Steveta, “Why the difference? I’ve honestly no idea.”?
    It’s simple, from the point of view of the Dungaria reader:
    Nuclear power = big industry = bad.
    GM food = big company making money = bad.
    Global warming activism = opposition to big industry (coal, oil) = good.
    That’s why when you point out that wind power = more money for rich people, they are thrown into total confusion as you describe.

  12. que sais je says:

    “The fact that absolutely no-one in the social sciences is interested – that’s the real scandal.”

    I think exaggerations can sometimes be fruitful, for example, also in discussions like those we are trying to start here; meaning: I throw in that occasionally there is now and then someone from the social science interested — even documented by “mass media”; albeit often — perhaps marginalizing? — filed, for instance, as ‘culture’ or ‘satire’.

    With respect to social science we can be reminded remotely to a certain “definition” by the controversial German Carl Schmitt who was, amongst others, a political philosopher. On the 1st May (err… Illuminati… May Day…;-)…) 1948 he tried to describe “elites” in his “Glossarium”, which was published posthumously (my (try of) translations into English):

    “Elite are those whose sociology nobody dares to write.”

    („Elite sind diejenigen, deren Soziologie keiner zu schreiben wagt.“)

    Later he repeated this definition and explained it in a mail to one of his students:

    “New definition of elite: Elite are those whose sociology nobody dares to write. This definition has the advantage that it also defines sociology.”

    („Neue Definition der Elite: Elite sind diejenigen, deren Soziologie keiner zu schreiben wagt. Diese Definition hat den Vorteil, daß sie gleichzeitig auch die Soziologie definiert.“)

    With regard to the political left/right and so on: It seems to me that even that entire concept would be debatable to some degree. For example, I heard a Doug Wead saying lately that to him it’s no longer a question of “left” and “right”. “Left” and “right” would be over because the cold war is over. He added that he thinks “up” and “down” wouldn’t really work either. In his opinion “in” and “out” is what it’s all about.

    This dissociations can bring us to another controversial figure, the Austrian social psychologist Peter R. Hofstätter. If I am informed correctly, he analyzed in his book “Social Psychology” (German 1973), the behaviour of groups and observed, somehow trivially, that often a homogeneous crowd can, even if it is just divided into two groups, alienate, antagonize and live apart. Profession of sympathy for members of their own group develops inward/inside solidarity. Frustration and aggression instincts, however, are directed against the other/outside group as a form of abreaction.

  13. Que sais-je
    I like the Schmitt quote. But there are sociologists who look at élites. The American Christopher Lasch’s “Revolt of the Elites” deals with the kind of failures of the educated classes which lead, I think, to the current unthinking acceptance of global warming by a whole social class who think they know simply because they belong to the class whose job it is to know things. Jack Hughes in a comment at Climate Resistance mentioned the conservative economist Thomas Sowell as an interesting analyst of the failures of intellectuals. This is an area I’d really like to explore.

  14. j ferguson says:

    Geoff, in the US, one need not be born into our “liberal” elite, but it helps. What one must do is subscribe to the current and correct views. These views are communicated and serially supported by the New York Times, and to a lesser degree the Washington Post. We have also a conservative elite, the more thoughtful of whom track a number of weekly publications and the hothouse conservative columnists appearing in the pages of the Post and NYT.

    I am admittedly a very slow study. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to understand the bases and extrapolations of the science underlying apprehensions of the threat of unacceptable warming.

    I realized after you reminded us that the question was reaction to raising the subject, not how I got where I am, but that I never discuss this with anyone in person. It’s to no avail. I do not know a single person who has invested the time in this that I have.

    Those educated in our ivy league prep schools develop the trait of having three things (and seldom more) to say on any subject du jour. Not having this background, I didn’t at first recognize this skill for what it actually was – a cocktail party art. The three thoughts eventually take over one’s life and become the limits of knowledge on anything not thought worth going into more depth. And that is the extent of understanding of our present state of climatology among our elite.

    How would you talk to these folks?

  15. ryelands says:

    Geoff: “I’d love to hear about your experiences.”

    Alas, pretty much the same as yours. In the immedate aftermath of Climategate, I wrote a paper for a discussion group of which I’m a member that, in a lame attempt at humour, I called “Comrade, I fried the kids”. It outlined in the broadest terms the need as I saw it for those of left or far-left persusion to question the AGW hypothesis. It’s dated since but not by much.

    I think one person at most commented on it and that in a rather childish manner. The rest simply didn’t read it, let alone respond even though I know one of the group’s members was involved in AGW-related work at some campus or other and another has since gone into print slyly to support the population control meme.

    In fairness, some have no grounding in science and lack the confidence to question the “consensus” but, as the paper was outlining why the consensus is open to question (so to speak), I’d have thought that a damn good reason at least to give it a pop.

    I have theories (OK, hypotheses) as to why such an odd situation prevails but find that the concepts and categories that guide what I like to call my political thinking are so far removed from mainstream attitudes on the sceptic blogs that there is little point in airing them there.

    OTOH, you’ll be hard-pushed to find much support for the AGW hypothesis in working-class circles outside the trades unions and what remains of the Labour Party. As the intended victims of pretty well every scam going, the great unwashed do know a scam when they see one.

  16. katabasis1 says:

    I originally turned to scepticism after hearing the “science is settled” one too many times and seeing how critics were treated so appallingly. And it was actually with great reluctance that I initially started learning as much as I could about climate science and the issues that sceptics had been raising; the reluctance coming from realising that the scientific establishment, which was my last great hope philosophically and politically, was every bit as corruptible as every other large institution. My scepticism has in fact morphed since from not only being sceptical about climate alarmism but also being incredibly concerned about science in general – especially with the pernicious influence of the ‘postnormal’ line of thinking.

    As for reactions? It’s been pretty good with friends and family and I can only be thankful for that. They know I don’t take these things lightly and I’m pleased to say I’ve made dozens of “converts” over the last five years. Work life – now – ah – that’s a very different matter. I work in academia. I feel like I’ve had to live a double life. At one institution I was the sole sceptic in the sustainability group and after some vigorous exchanges was warned off. Ultimately they were wanting to continue trailing on the sustainability pursestrings and – as one of my senior academics said to me in private, for them “science is just a hobby, secondary to attracting money”. That was one of several warnings I’ve had in my fledgeling academic career so far and its not been pleasant. Its also one of the reasons I blog under this name. However I’ve got sick of it now – I’m working on a couple of pieces I’m going to submit to WUWT under my real name and real institutional affiliation. If it brings the slings and arrows then so be it – let’s force the issue.

  17. Mooloo says:

    I became sceptic when one too many obviously crack-pot scientific statements were passed. (In particular that CO2 lingers for thousands of years in the atmosphere – but it’s a trace gas for a reason, because plants gobble it up.)

    I’m a Maths teacher at a high school. Most of the staff are pretty sceptical. Very few are highly exercised by it, one way or the other.. The ones who are aggressively warmist are the perpetual worry-warts, who claim the world is going to Hell in a handcart about everything, and do little to persuade the rest. I do note that quite a few of the sillier myths of scepticism have currency though – that it’s paid for by Big Oil, in particular.

    I actually have a lot of power to proselytise scepticism. The senior students learn I am sceptic, having come from their propaganda sessions in social studies or science, and ask if I agree with the warming doctrine. I try to take a quiet line: I agree CO2 warms, I agree it is warming, I don’t agree that we are responsible for most of it, and I don’t agree that it is catastrophic even if I’m wrong about the rest. They seem to go away satisfied because, actually, that’s what they want to believe anyway – the propaganda aspects of “sustainability” largely washing over boys of that age.

  18. Thanks everyone. This material, together with the anecdotes Judith Curry collected, could form the basis of a proper survey of sceptics along the lines of the survey Lewandowsky claimed he wanted to do but didn’t. It would have to be advertised more widely than this blog in order to attract a decent number of responses, and I think it would have to be specific to the British experience, since each country has a different specific situation.
    In the USA and Australia (and Canada?) climate change is a political question that divides the parties. Not so in the UK. (What about other countries, eg Germany and Spain, where, I note, I have a number of readers?)
    Katabasis (like some other academics I’ve been in contact with) feels that as an academic he is on the “front line”. The idea that conformity with the consensus should be required in academia is a truly frightening thought.
    Ryelands says “you’ll be hard-pushed to find much support for the AGW hypothesis in working-class circles outside the trades unions and what remains of the Labour Party.”
    But.. the trades unions and what remains of the Labour Party is the working class, insofar as the class exists as an organised entity. I’d like to hear more from Ryelands about his own political position and his experience of opinion outside the chattering classes. “Knowing a scam when you see one” is no substitute for political action.
    jferguson’s reference to current political discourse as a “cocktail party art” gets to the heart of it, I think. The first discussion I had with him, he was reading Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall” while navigating the Georgia Sea Islands. j is clearly not the cocktail party type.

  19. DaveB says:

    “But.. the trades unions and what remains of the Labour Party is the working class, insofar as the class exists as an organised entity. ”

    You asked for reader experiences on the response to arguments undermining the AGW hypothesis. How organised the working class remains in the wake of legislation and deindustrialisation is a different question. If you find the phrase “working class” unhelpful, I’m sure we could agree on an alternative (though I’m not sure that “chattering classes”, fine enough in the context, is going to take us far . . . ).

    I meant, of course, folk with (or without) jobs rather than careers, with salaries at or below the average and all the rest, i.e. those most impacted by the Great Green Imposition.

    ‘ “Knowing a scam when you see one” is no substitute for political action. ‘

    Thank you, that’s good to know. By the same token, neither is a stunt by James Delingpole, though his accounts are funny enough. I’m not sure what “political action” you have in mind given the unanimity in political and government circles but understanding the scam seems a prerequisite whatever one opts for. My point was that ordinary folk seem to me to be much more aware that the AGW hypothesis is a pretext for racketeering than are their more sophisticated “betters”.

    How to deal with the scam is far from straightforward. I have, I suspect, thought about it more than most but have no idea how to prevent e.g. Scotland being compelety covered in wind farms, have not a clue how the Renewables Obligations schemes could legally be revoked or how local authority “Climate Change Officers” could be put to more useful tasks such as cleaning car parks with a toothbrush. One of my frustrations is that no-one in the “sceptic” community seems aware that there is a problem here, let alone eager to discuss the issue.

  20. Timbo says:

    My observations from Spain.

    In 2007 Rajoy, then in the opposition, made a statement to the effect that he had consulted with numerous scientists including his cousin who had all assured him that CAGW was a myth. Well, he might as well have been sunbathing under the rear end of an elephant for the amount of cr*p which rained down on him. As any politician worth his salt would have done under those circumstances, he modified the statement and then lapsed into silence.

    As president, Rajoy has not made a big deal of climate change, having too many other pressing problems to attend.
    Perhaps the tacit recognition that we have overspent in every way and that a huge reckoning is waiting round the corner is tempering the debate. However, under the previous administration especially, Spain committed heavily to renewables and against nuclear; the cost of which is being felt by the consumer.
    My domestic power bill has increased by about 35% in the last four years before taking into consideration the rise in VAT. To add insult to injury we are also being re-billed for adjustments to last year’s invoices!

    One of the peculiarities of this wonderful country is that everything, but EVERYTHING gets pushed through the political blender for the very mediocre political class to ponificate on. It is therefore surprising that there is not more active debate on climate. The socialists and their lefty fellow travellors are generally vocal in support of CAGW, but at the moment have to be poked to be provoked as they have been in disarray since the last general election.

  21. Timbo
    On everything getting pushed through the political blender:
    Isn’t it normal that everything of relevance to people’s lives should get discussed by politicians? What’s abnormal is that the debate seems to be entirely unaffected by events on the ground. For example, there was an official report in Spain which stated that the renewable energy industry destroyed more jobs than it created. This got a lot of publicity on English-language sceptic blogs. I believe it resulted in the cutting of subsidies to the solar power industry. But did it have any effect on the opinions expressed in the media?
    True, the question of the working class response to climate change is a quite different one to the one I posed. But it’s an interesting one, and linked to my question, since most of us live within fairly circumscribed social groups, and rely on second hand information from the media to understand what other people think.
    My group is the left-leaning opinionated middle classes who work in academia and the media. I use the pejorative term “chattering classes” to describe us, because it contains an important truth, one explored by Sowell and other rightwing commentators, namely that talking about things instead of doing things (always a failing of intellectuals) has become institutionalised. As the membership of political parties and other organisations (unions, churches, etc) declines, the number of talk shows and blogs rises.
    Society has a multitude of ways of dealing with new ideas, and ensuring that every idea is examined and countered by an opposing idea – from parliamentary democracy to the bitchy infighting of journalists to the natural contrariness of stand up comics. With climate change, the system seems to have broken down. Scepticism is considered a disease, instead of a healthy reaction.
    One day, the working class, which represents the majority of the population, will realise that the consensus on climate change is a scam which has been supported, not only by a tiny number of greens and country landowners, but by the entire media and political class, including “their” media and “their” political representatives. Who will they turn to? New organisations, new ideologies don’t just appear overnight.

  22. Timbo says:

    My observations are obviously coloured by my experiences. I have lived in Spain for 11 years now after visiting regularly for many years previously. Coming back to Europe from 20 odd years in South America I was looking for a little more order but not too much, hence Spain. My memories of Britain are of the 1970s vintage which are probably totally antiquated, but I recall a large middle ground in the UK which would vote on issues not necessarily by party line. Here the “issue” is less important than the party. Voting in elections is on closed lists which has bred a very self-satisfied political class with barons, clients and families (both real and figurative) being involved. Zapatero for instance is a poster child of the system; going from being active in the socialist youth movement to being named congressman then party leader and president. All without doing a real day’s work in his life!
    All political parties are fervently in favour of “More Europe”, which is not surprising given that Spain has been the recipient of huge amounts of EU funds.
    My take on the reduction of subsidies for solar and wind is that quite simply the money ran out. Current projects are being completed and contractual obligations to pay subsidies for energy already being produced honoured. Hence my ever rising electricity bill! There are no new ones in the works and several which had got to the planning stage were definitely cut. It seems that it takes some time for public opinion to join the dots abd understrand that it is detremental to their living standard. In rural parts of Spain no one appears to concerned about global warning. Perhaps they prefer to believe their own lyin’ eyes 😉

    And to your first point: no, I don’t think it’s normal that everything of relevance should be grist for the politician’s mill. But to that end here they cover everything, regardless of the relevance. For a start this is highly subjective and eventually removes all liberty.
    Remember that the incident of the “Prestige”, a ship registered in Bahamas, with a greek captain carrying russian crude which sank off the coast of Galicia was used by the socialists and fellow travellers as a stick to beat the government. Also the socialists, after an abysmal performance as government and having clearly demonstrated that their acts and general incompetence had only served to worsen the crisis, received nearly 7 million votes in the last general election, 27% of the participation! As a political commentator here is fond of saying, “En España, no cabe un tonto mas”.

  23. Timbo says:

    Perhaps on the same topic, Geoff. The apparent apathy in spanish society is I believe due to the “mañana syndrome” which is not an exhibition of laziness but rather the notion that, “we haven’t got to that yet”.
    In the village where I live a river sand dredging company had been closed due to constant protests about the operation stirring up silt and reducing the quality of the shellfish on which a lot of people make a living. The owner of the company obtained an injuction to allow him to continue while the case was being heard. This did not sit well with the locals who decided to take matters into their own hands and, organised by the local mayor, proceded to burn the two dredgers and the company installations. The local police report to the mayor and kept to traffic duties and the Guardia Civil were very slow to respond. Bloodshed was avoided by the parish priest persuading the owner to hand over his shotgun and go home. Naturally the quality of the water improved substantially.
    So maybe it takes a lot to get the Spanish worked up, but then watch out. This all happened in 1987, by the way. I witnessed it as I was on vacation, visiting my future mother-in-law. The criminal complaint against the mayor still hasn’t been processed.

  24. steveta_uk says:

    “but I recall a large middle ground in the UK which would vote on issues not necessarily by party line.”

    Timbo, I expect that after what happened in the last UK election, this tendency will have disappeared. Too many voters got burned by voting LibDem and getting Conservative.

  25. alexjc38 says:

    I very rarely discuss climate change with people – largely because most of the people I talk to don’t appear to be interested in the subject, and it never really comes up at all. My wife thinks it’s tedious and likes to tease me when especially alarmist items appear in the news. My impression (based, admittedly, on little more than guesswork) is that the people around me are largely indifferent to it. Where they engage in behaviour that is encouraged in order to reduce carbon emissions (cycle to work, insulate their lofts, etc.) no-one, in my experience, gives CO2 mitigation as the reason why they want to do it. My fanatical cyclist colleagues cite health, fitness and competitiveness (Strava points!) as reasons, those of us who insulate our homes do so to save on our energy bills and because the work has been offered either for free or with a hefty discount.

    Do they hold that man-made global warming is a potential threat to the world? Probably, in the same way that, not having really looked into the matter very much, I believe (in the sense of accepting an idea about the world, by default as it were, not in the sense of an act of faith) that there is – or could be – a black hole at the centre of the galaxy. I’m not very much bothered whether or not there is a giant black hole there or not – it’s very far away! Most people, as far as I know, are not particularly bothered when told of their descendants being inconvenienced by Greenland melting in the year 3000, even if they believe it’s likely to happen and haven’t looked into the matter enough to start asking questions. I suspect that more of them might begin to take an interest and find themselves pushed into exercising their dormant critical faculties, when CO2 mitigation becomes generally viewed less in terms of positive lifestyle change and more in terms of a sacrifice without obvious benefits. However, that moment has not arrived yet (will it ever?)

  26. Timbo
    Having lived in France for 30 years, I’m aware of the temptation (and the danger) of making generalisations about a country’s “character”. The shocking state of the economies of Southern Europe (35% unemployment in Anadalucia!) and the social reactions which are already in evidence will no doubt lead to more Euroscepticism, with the possibility of a positive effect on energy and climate policy. Once we start questioning the competence and sovereignty of Europe in one sphere, it will get more difficult to justify insane energy policies on the grounds that they’re determined by EU rules.
    It’s all interconnected, as we obsessive blogging types well know. In this we’re like our mirror image opponents in the Green movement – compulsive gatherers of information, forever ruminating on the badness of the big world around us – and quite unlike the normal people we interact with every day. (I think Alex will agree). Hence my question.
    There’s a separate and equally interesting question about the different reactions to the global warming question in different countries. But I’ll save that for another post.

  27. Timbo says:

    I agree. Every generalization is wrong, including this one. I look forward to a discussion on national stereotyping in the future. Also, when are we going to get more episodes of Apocalyse Close?

  28. alexjc38 says:

    Yes, I think you’re right re our mirror image opponents, and it’s strange how things turn out. For example, I have a humanities background, support wildlife conservation, have quite a frugal lifestyle, hate waste, instinctively like the idea of recycling and re-using stuff, and eat tofu. Sometimes I seriously wonder why I’m not a Green!

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