Monbiot’s Zombie Blog

Robin Guenier  alerted me to an article at  the Campaign against Climate Change on which he’d left a comment.

http://www.campaigncc.org/blog/TimetoAct2

I left a comment, as did others. There are now 18 comments.

The last six articles over the past six months have garnered a total of  two comments. They included articles on the mass demonstration against fracking at Balcombe, another anti-fracking mass demonstration in Lancashire, a demonstration against the Canadian Prime Minister in Parliament Square, and the conference of the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group. Hundreds of people attended these different events, and they have nothing to say.

The article before that, in March 2013, was about the CCC’s AGM, and got five comments. Here they are:

theunbrainwashed: Did anyone turn up for the AGM? Why no update? Keep us posted.

CCC: The meeting was attended by over 60 people. The minutes will be up very soon; in the meantime you can check the resolutions results on http://www.campaigncc.org/reso….

theunbrainwashed: Thanks for the reply, I read the link. Geo-engineering is a bad idea all round, anywhere on the planet.

CCC: theunbrainwashed: The minutes are now up on http://www.campaigncc.org/minu….

theunbrainwashed: Grand. I’ll have a look over the next few days

That’s one reader commenting in six months on the blog of an organisation which boasts of putting tens of thousands of demonstrators on the streets. He asked a question, and got an immediate response from the CCC. Then six months later Robin Guenier spotted their latest article, instigated a discussion involving nine sceptics and one supporter of the consensus, and from the CCC – nothing.

I became aware of the Campaign Against Climate Change like this:

Four years ago, George Monbiot had an article at the Guardian about  the catastrophic climate predictions emanating from a group based at the MIT. I pointed out in the comment thread that the MIT group was financed by Shell, Exxon, Total, etc. George replied angrily to me, and then ten minutes later returned to the fray accusing some entirely innocent commenter of being an astroturfer. Soon after, George wrote an article in the Guardian about the dangers of astroturfing and what to do about it, which attracted a (probable) record 3000+ comments.

Soon after, the Campaign Against Climate Change instituted its own astroturfing campaign, encouraging its readers to comment unfavourably on selected sceptical sites. I signed up. I was invited to comment on all the articles at Bishop Hill, expressing the ideas of the Campaign against Climate Change.

George Monbiot is honorary president of the Campaign against Climate Change. Honorary Vice-Presidents are Caroline Lucas M.P. and Michael Meacher M.P.

Between them, they represent the millions of people who vote for the Labour Party, the Green Party and the hundreds of thousands who read and believe George Monbiot’s articles in the Guardian.

Just one of them has written to the Campaign against Climate Change supporting their latest campaign: “Time to Act! Wake up to Climate Change”. His name is Tim and he says:

“Pay no notice of the sceptics, guys! Great video!!”

So this, apparently, is the argument of the believers in climate catastrophe:

“Pay no attention to the sceptics with their urge to open a discussion, and their arguments, scientific or political. We are a grass roots organisation with branches in London, (Brent, Haringay, Brixton) Derby, Matlock, Nottingham, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, Newcastle, Carlisle, Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton and Wigan, Blackpool, Lancaster, Portsmouth, Redhill/Reigate, Guildford,  Dorking and Leatherhead, Seaford/Newhaven, Brighton, Medway, Oxford, Southampton, Barnstaple, Bristol, Exeter, Bovey Stracey, Cornwall, Forest of Dean, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Stroud, Plymouth, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilminster, Swindon, Melksham, Birmingham, Stoke on Trent, Doncaster, Kirklees, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield, York, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Northern Ireland. What’s more, we have all the major political parties on our side, plus the UN, the EU, the Royal Society and all the scientific societies of the planet.

Well, bully for you, guys. If any of you want to comment here, feel free. Astroturfers welcome.

Added 8 September 2013:

So What is the Campaign against Climate Change? Not a charity, as far as I can can see, nor a Not for Profit Organisation. They describe themselves as a pressure group, and invite donations. Membership costs £5, so it would take, I’d guess, about  30,000 members to pay the salaries of their staff of six.

They have a logo, reproduced on their Wikipaedia article, which states (and I’m not making this up):This is a logo owned by Campaign against Climate Change for Promoting anthropomorphic climate change” and Purpose of useTo promote anthropomorphic climate change”.

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15 Responses to Monbiot’s Zombie Blog

  1. NoFixedAddress says:

    Perhaps you can tell them that we here in Australia have had a ‘campaign against climate change’ and the new Prime Minister’s first order of business is to eliminate the carbon tax departments so the good folk of the UK organization can stop worrying now and get on with their lives!

  2. The reasons some blogs are deluged with comments every day and others languish like the CCC one are very hard to say in advance. Once it’s happened though the network effect takes over and tends to perpetuate the situation. Who wants to write where nobody will read? He says forlornly on the blog of the great Geoff Chambers🙂

  3. TinyCO2 says:

    Anthropomorphism and weather have long gone hand in hand and while I did a project on just that, I don’t remember finding any references to the god of climate change. One of the things that did strike me was that they all seemed to have a flood myth. I wondered if they harked back to the end of the ice age and the rapidly rising sea levels. The general consensus at the time was that it was our fault.

    Blog popularity is a hard thing to predict. It varies with audience size and includes how many are satisfied by sites they already visit. I base a lot of my blog browsing on Tom Nelson’s site which acts a bit like a news paper front page. If a new article is not there, there’s a reasonable chance I’ll miss it. Climate Depot does something similar but has a huge political edge to it. For some that is the draw, for me it does the opposite. Every now and then a blog breaks free and is self sustaining in viewers (eg Bishop Hil). More viewers, more comments, more things to read, more reasons for the blog owner to post. If it gets too popular then some posters might start looking for a quieter location, at which point a new key blog will form.

    The warmist side doesn’t seem to opperate on the same pattern. The Guardian is one main home but is as likely to have sceptics posting as and when the moderation policy allows. Huff Po is much more dominated by alarmists. Personal blogs mostly don’t seem to generate much traffic. I’m guessing that Skeptical Science, Real Climate and Romm’s blog top the league? Heavy moderation means that few sceptics turn up and they end up with little to say to each other.

    We might have seen a different picture when the CO2 scare was on the rise. Then there was a zeal to get the issue recognised. The internet wasn’t as common then and the grass roots movement was much more traditional and a spin off from other green concerns. But fundamentally they suffer because their concept is based on guilt and anti progress. Those things are unsustainable and get less and less relevant in the modern world.

  4. SandyInLimousin says:

    Geoff
    Reading the CCC v theunbrainwashed exchanges I’d say he/she is probably on the sceptical side of the debate.

  5. Lewis Deane says:

    You are not alone, Richard .I read Geoff whenever he has a post. Just summer is so distracting. It seems the long nights of winter are the best time for blogs!

  6. Thanks for the kind comments. This is the comment I put up on the CCC thread 24 hours ago
    I’ve posted an article about the non-response to this article at
    http://geoffchambers.wordpress
    I cordially invite responses from members of the Campaign Against Climate Change in London, (Brent, Haringay, Brixton) Derby, Matlock, Nottingham, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, Newcastle, Carlisle, Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton and Wigan, Blackpool, Lancaster, Portsmouth, Redhill/Reigate, Guildford, Dorking and Leatherhead, Seaford/Newhaven, Brighton, Medway, Oxford, Southampton, Barnstaple, Bristol, Exeter, Bovey Stracey, Cornwall, Forest of Dean, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Stroud, Plymouth, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilminster, Swindon, Melksham, Birmingham, Stoke on Trent, Doncaster, Kirklees, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield, York, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Northern Ireland.
    Look forward to hearing from you. The future of the planet depends on it.
    Or not.

    It’s a bit sarky, but I wanted to make a point about their emphasis on their claim to be a federation of local activist groups. More like a network of Potemkin villages, it seems to me.
    What characterises these zombie blogs is not so much unpopularity or incompetence as the air of abandon, like picturesque ruins. Anyone can make a mistake; throw a party to which nobody comes, or write a novel that no-one reads. A sane person picks himself up dusts himself off, and starts all over again. These blogs, which I’ve got interested in quite by accident, are not bad or incompetent so much as deserted, unused. People clearly go on the demos publicised by the CCC, or the jaunts abroad where the UKYCC gather to demonstrate their concern, or NESTA talks. but afterwards they the find nothing to say to each other, let alone to us when we gatecrash their party. We bring our own bottle, interact politely with the host – still nothing. Are they really there?

  7. manicbeancounter says:

    To Tim’s comment:-

    Pay no notice of the sceptics, guys! Great video!!

    Robin Guernier says:-

    Tim: I trust your recommendation that people “pay no notice” of contributors who are producing facts backed by clearly referenced evidence isn’t typical of Campaign against Climate Change campaigners. If so, it doesn’t speak well of them.

    What is encouraging is that mine was the 15th like, and no dislikes. Maybe the silent climate change campaigners are not so dogmatic after all.

  8. manicbeancounter says:

    Please don’t knock the Time to Act #2 video with the cuddly polar bear. It is about to go viral. Fully 247 Youtube hits in a single week! At least it is more likely to go viral than Time to Act #1 with 129 hits in a month. Things are really hotting up for campaign.

  9. manicbeancounter
    249 views today (one of them mine). I liked your comment at CaCC and gave it a recommend, though I didn’t understand it all, particularly how coal-to-liquids conversion produces more CO2 than burning coal. I thought of posting a question about it at CaCC, but I thought we’ve already taken their thread far enough off topic, and ruined their near perfect record of comment-free posts.
    To get back on-topic, I googled “polar bear costume hire” and got just four hits – two in Australia, surprisingly, and two in Britain:
    http://www.buckinghamballoons.co.uk
    and
    http://www.www.costumehire.co.uk
    I’ve put them on my list of environmental organisations to watch.

  10. Will Bolton says:

    Can’t be long before CaCC removes the comment sections from their website. PopularScience.com has just set the precedent, and have handily cited science in their reasoning: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments

    “Comments can be bad for science” apparently.

  11. Will Bolton
    I hope you’re wrong. It will be difficult for CCaC to shut down comments. For one thing the articles which they put on their front page are linked from private blogs, and for another, they only exist to galvanise the masses into action. They used to have news of demonstations and tweets on their home page, but both were rather rare. To close comments would be to admit failure.
    The Popular Technology article justifying their closing of comments was frightening in its logic. “Science tells us that discussion of scence is bad for science”, backed up by a “scientific” study based on manipulating people’s reactions by alternating their exposure to angry or calm responses to a “false” article.
    I’ve met this methodology before in research on attitudes to climate change based on reactions to phoney articles. Not to mention Dr Swami’s famous research into appreciation of the female form based on images of women with computer-enhanced buttocks.
    It’s like researching the psychology of humour or aesthetic appreciation by exposing subjects to jokes or paintings created by the researchers for the occasion.

  12. alexjc38 says:

    The PopSci article is quite amazing. Suzanne LaBarre starts by mentioning trolls and spambots – fair enough – but goes on to write that a study “found that just firmly worded (but not uncivil) disagreements between commenters impacted readers’ perception of science” (yes… and?), then writes darkly about a “politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise” and “the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine”.

    How we politically-motivated anti-science people are secretly funded, however, she leaves unsaid (but everyone knows, of course… etc.) Just amazing.

    You begin to wonder just how the fragile flower of true science ever survived the 18th century.🙂

  13. Will Bolton says:

    Yep, PopSci’s new comment policy (and LaBarre’s article) is extraordinary. However, although I say this with the benefit of hindsight, I think it is a course of action that could have been predicted some time ago. Their pseudo-scientific justification for closing comments is just a further expression of the pathologising of dissent that Ben Pile has written about.

    CaCC’s raison d’etre is somewhat different to PopSci’s so perhaps they won’t consider closing comments. Clearly CaCC’s problem is not having to deal with too many dissenting opinions, but rather to actually engage meaningfully with their own supporters.

  14. Mooloo says:

    Will, CaCC can’t engage meaningfully with their own supporters, because their own supporters are not allowed to doubt the crucial elements of the party line.

    It will not do to ask awkward questions about the politicisation of the IPCC process, or where the tropical hot-spot is hiding or why “polar amplification” only works at one pole. It is not permitted to doubt that bio-diversity and decarbonisation might have potential down-sides as well as up.

    That only leaves them with discussions about 1) why are deniers so evil, and 2) how to “communicate better”. They must get boring pretty quickly — all the more so because their misunderstanding of scepticism and their own miscommunication issues mean that such discussions won’t make the slightest bit of difference.

    Once meaningful discussion took place, especially if outsiders are allowed in, the shallowness of the consensus would be immediately apparent. While good for science, it’s terrible for politics.

  15. Pingback: Monbiot’s Zombie Blog Revisited | Geoffchambers's Blog

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