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Infinitely more

“Melanie” is choking to death

After a frustrating hiatus on “her” blog, “Melanie Phillips” is back, and she’s very excited. Excited about what?

Channel Four’s devastating documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle has blown an enormous hole in every fundamental claim made to support the climate change obsession — including the claim that the argument is over. A procession of eminent scientists — climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, geologists, biogeographers, astrophysicists, professors of earth science, plus the former head of Greenpeace, who said that the global warming proponents were ‘anti-human’ — showed on the contrary that the theory bore no relation to science whatsoever. The earth was much warmer during many periods in the past; the ice caps were always expanding and contracting and Greenland was much warmer 1,000 years ago; most of the atmosphere was not warming as much as surface temperatures; volcanoes, animals and vegetation each produced infinitely more carbon dioxide than human activity; carbon dioxide could not possibly be the culprit for climate change since historically the warming of the atmosphere preceded any increases in carbon dioxide, thus showing up a central claim made by Al Gore in his movie to be utter rubbish; and so on.

Yes, “Melanie”, bless her, is stamping with glee to have learned that “volcanoes, animals and vegetation each produced infinitely more carbon dioxide than human activity”. Infinitely more! Each of them! If you think you are breathing right now, you are deluding yourself, because there can be nothing but carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact, given that three things are each producing “infinitely more” carbon dioxide than some finite level of carbon dioxide, there seems to be little room left in the whole universe for any other molecules than those of CO2.

Well, never mind that “Melanie” is a scientific and mathematical idiot. (Never mind, either, the fact that volcanoes actually don’t produce nearly as much CO2 as human activity, let alone “infinitely more”.) The documentary, which I have seen, was mere trash, whose one credited “Scientific Advisor” is a non-scientist from the “Scientific Alliance”, and whose one unarguable truth came in the introductory voiceover promising: “You are being told lies.” (The programme’s selective massaging of data, misleading of one of its contributors, and manifold outright deceptions are documented here, here and here.)

What is interesting to me is why global-warming denial, even on the risibly moronic level displayed by “Melanie”, should be so closely correlated with a whole raft of other opinions, such as that Muslims are taking over Europe or that it’s a good idea to bomb Iran. It’s one thing to muse about friends in oil companies when we see such opinions happily cohabiting in a US Republican. But why should “Melanie” be so invested in the idea that global warming is not happening? Is it mere hatred and fear of anyone who has an expertise that the generalist pundit lacks?

  1. 1  Guano  March 13, 2007, 1:10 pm 

    Managing the consequences of climate change, and reducing the impact of climate change, will require some drastic actions by Governments and by inter-governmental bodies. This will imply States regulating the private sector rigorously (eg telling private businesses to cut emissions, to locate themselves where people can reach them without using a car etc etc). People like Melanie seem to think that “States regulating the private sector rigorously” is a bad thing per se, even if it proves to be necessary for the survival of the planet. People like Melanie see “States regulating the private sector rigorously” as an attack on “freedom”. They therefore have created a narrative that says that climate change is a hoax created by people who want to restrict people’s “freedom”, who want to boss around private businesses or want to raise taxes. I guess that people like Melanie see themselves as “libertarians” but this political philosophy just cannot deal with the climate change, which challenges the individualistic and consumeristic interpretation of “freedom”. If Melanie admits that climate change is real she will have to admit that the State will have to take the lead in changing the way society operates: and for her that would never do.

  2. 2  Dublin Opinion » Unspinning the Swindle  March 13, 2007, 7:05 pm 

    […] Finally and brilliantly, Stephen Poole reveals that the Daily Mail’s “Melanie Phillips” is back blogging, and is talking about the Great Global Warming Swindle. His blog provides a quote from ‘Melanie’: Channel Four’s devastating documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle has blown an enormous hole in every fundamental claim made to support the climate change obsession — including the claim that the argument is over. A procession of eminent scientists — climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, geologists, biogeographers, astrophysicists, professors of earth science, plus the former head of Greenpeace, who said that the global warming proponents were ‘anti-human’ — showed on the contrary that the theory bore no relation to science whatsoever. The earth was much warmer during many periods in the past; the ice caps were always expanding and contracting and Greenland was much warmer 1,000 years ago; most of the atmosphere was not warming as much as surface temperatures; volcanoes, animals and vegetation each produced infinitely more carbon dioxide than human activity; carbon dioxide could not possibly be the culprit for climate change since historically the warming of the atmosphere preceded any increases in carbon dioxide, thus showing up a central claim made by Al Gore in his movie to be utter rubbish; and so on. […]

  3. 3  Another Matt  March 13, 2007, 7:07 pm 

    And don’t forget that there is in no way a contradiction in Melanie taking the complete opposite position on drug use and anything else she finds morally unpalatable.

  4. 4  Steven  March 13, 2007, 7:44 pm 

    Guano, that’s an excellent point, and I suppose something like it might well be underlying “Melanie”‘s position. But then Another Matt is right to point out the weird contradiction: that many soi-disant small-governmenters are also often strangely eager for the state to extend its tentacles for the purposes of spying into people’s bedrooms and bathrooms – a contradiction that Jeff Strabone, too, has lately been exploring.

  5. 5  Guano  March 13, 2007, 11:44 pm 

    I actually developed my theory on the basis of a thread on Guido Fawkes blog a few months ago. Inspired by the Stern Report, Guido and his mates and his sock puppets developed a narrative about climate change being a hoax got up by Greens so they could take away people’s freedoms. I’m simply guessing that “Melanie” is thinking the same way. Of course the history of Guido -Staines suggests that he is quite relaxed about drugs while “Melanie” is very uptight about them, so maybe I’m being unfair putting them into the same category.

  6. 6  RobW  March 14, 2007, 4:15 am 

    I think the explanation of libertarianism gives her too much credit. Basically it’s a tribal thing. She identifies environmentalism, and thereby concern about global warming, with the left, which makes it eeevil. And post-modernist, pro-jihadi, anti-religious, politically correct and filthy-minded all at the same time.

  7. 7  John Fallhammer  March 14, 2007, 7:15 am 

    I haven’t watched the ‘documentary’, but there seems to be a major mismatch between what other people saw in it and what she says. She just regurgitates a mishmash of the anti-GW arguments that we’ve been having trotted out for years now, most of which were well answered long ago, whereas the programme was more about solar activity as an alternative explanation. That’s one of the last planks they have to cling to, so you would have expected her to straddle it like a shot.

    Anyway, she probably hates the idea of global warming because, like so many others who fear Islam, etc., she subscribes to the pseudo-religious tenets of ‘free market’ economics. She has swallowed the notion that economics is as solid a science as chemistry or physics and she believes that the most important thing in the world is economic growth (for the sake of ‘freedom’, cf. Adam Curtis and The Trap). She is a muezzin (hah!) of globalist neo-liberalism.

    Global warming, in demonstrating the physical limits that popular neo-liberal economics likes to deny, threatens her understanding of economics at a fundamental level. It’s like the challenge evolution posed to traditional Christianity. Moreover, GW demands something like economic contraction. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it seems that many millions of people are willing to cooperate with it! This just doesn’t compute with the neo-liberal view of how the world and humans should behave. It is a cosmic challenge. (The fact that prompt, well-organised action would minimize the ultimate economic damage of GW is just another of the ironies.)

    The notable thing for me in the reaction to the programme has been the number of people saying ‘well, we really do need an open debate on this’. To which the only fair response is ‘what do you think the IPCC has been doing for the last 19 years, you nincompoop?’

  8. 8  ozma  March 14, 2007, 7:29 am 

    I think Melanie (never heard of her before now) is one of those odd products of liberal pluralism. There is no authoritative voice and hence it’s possible to believe whatever one wants. And convince others.

    In the U.S. the right succeeds at this by telling people that every problem they might be afraid of or concerned about (except for terrorism) is not a real problem but a left-liberal hoax. Don’t worry, there’s no sexism/racism/unjust poverty/environmental degradation/disturbing history of genocide/government repression or frightening incursion on civil liberties, etc., etc. However, even their spin on terrorism is comforting in its way since it licenses all the horrifying things done that are justified as responses to terrorism. The schema is morally comforting to those who might otherwise be unnerved by their complicity or participation in injustice. It’s also comforting in that it sets up a world that is simple and safe–one that be controlled by anyone who has sufficient strength of will(which turns out to be only the protection of strength).

  9. 9  Steven  March 14, 2007, 11:11 am 

    The “documentary” did make some of the claims “Melanie” mentions, though in her dribbling incomprehension she has garbled them. For instance, even this disingenuous trash did not actually claim that “vegetation” in general emits more CO2 than human activity — plants are quite famous for giving us oxygen and acting as “carbon sinks” — but only that rotting vegetation does. Conveniently, of course, the programme neglected to mention that that was CO2 that the plants, while alive, had fixed from the atmosphere in the first place. It is curious, though, that “Melanie” did not jump so energetically on the “It’s all solar activity” idea, or on the claim of the last part of the programme, that the theory of global warming is actually a vast conspiracy to prevent development in Africa.

    Actually “she” now has another post on the subject, where she derides the Environment minister for his grade D in A-level physics (it sure would be interesting to know what grades “Melanie” got in “her” science A-levels, given her infantile understanding of these matters), and where she calls the theory of global warming a “totalitarian movement”. Thus, as RobW says, in the same basket as “jihadists” and all the rest of the world’s evils.

  10. 10  Andrew Brown  March 14, 2007, 12:32 pm 

    I think in “Melanie’s” case the explanation is more personal. She is, or was, a friend of a friend of mine at the time when she began her swing from the Left. It was sparked off by the discovery that the local state school was no good; yet, at the time and indeed since there were great numbers of experts asserting that British children have never been so well-educated and so forth.

    So two of her formative political experiences involved the discovery that all the respectable experts were wrong (cf also Conquest’s Law, that everyone is a reactionary about the subjects that they understand). Something similar happened to her beliefs about social policy, where it also turned out that a lot of large and inconvenient truths were being suppressed in polite discourse. A non-loony, non-conspiracist version of this is found in “Theodore Dalrymple”.

    So I think she expects everything else to fall into the same pattern of a self-serving bureaucracy bamboozling the public. It’s only (vaguely, occasionally) credible because such bureaucracies do appear and are sometimes influential.

  11. 11  Donagh  March 14, 2007, 12:53 pm 

    Hi Steven. Sorry for referring to you as Stephen. I’ve been reading your stuff for years so I should have known. The only conspiracy is one of ignorance as “Melanie” is willfully hiding behind one scientist, Professor Paul Reiter, who has a dispute about the working practices of IPCC, specificially with their findings in relation to his area of expertese. He doesn’t believe that ‘mosquito-borne diseases are moving to new latitudes and altitudes because of “global warming”‘.

    He’s well known for arguing that ‘political activists’ rather than scientists are more persuasive about global warming, and that these alarmists are setting the agenda. At the end of the article of his I’m referring to he says: “There is an urgent need to correct this situation by promoting the participation of professional scientists in public debate.”

    This, of course, is absolutely right. The problem is that “Melanie” doesn’t deal with the issue that many of the professional scientists featured in the program are complaining that they were misrepresented and that the director of the “documentary” has been accused of this tomfoolery before.
    Searching across the net it was very easy to find out that Reiter is a member of The Cooler Heads Coalition, an organisation funded by Consumer Alert, a US consumer advocacy group who, according to Sourcewatch “fought mandatory air bags on the grounds that their expense is a burden to the consumers they claim to represent”. Oh, and they’re funded by Chevron(Texaco) and William Morris.

  12. 12  Donagh  March 14, 2007, 3:31 pm 

    Sorry, I mean the US Tobacco giant Philip Morris, not the 19th Century designer of ornate filigree wallpaper. I really should get treatment for my Arts and Crafts obsession.

  13. 13  Cian  March 14, 2007, 3:59 pm 

    I wouldn’t trust Dalrymple to report a village fete accurately, though its all relative I guess.

    The discovery about the local state school is classic Melanie Philips (and incidentally demonstrates why she is far less intelligent than she thinks she is). You can’t judge the state of British education by one school, but by the average. Equally, the judgement of the experts was relative, rather than absolute. No good might well be better than absolutely bloody terrible (which excluding grammar schools, was the state of British education until relatively recently). She simply lacks the tools and the temprement to analyse these things properly (interestingly Nick Cohen seems to be going through a similar process).

    Famously the other thing which drove Melanie insane(*) was Zionism, and she’s hardly alone in that. Occupational hazard of being Jewish and liberal perhaps – cognitive issonance is a bitch.

    * I’m quite serious, she’s mad.

  14. 14  Barney  March 14, 2007, 4:56 pm 

    I’ve watched some of the documentary (I recorded it, and can manage to watch only a few minutes at a time before I feel like throwing things at the screen), so I don’t know if the “Swindle” made this up, or “Melanie” did it all on her own: she goes on to blame Thatcher for the scientific conspiracy, so that she could replace coal with nuclear power.
    This is a bit of a tricky argument to make, since the only nuclear power station Britain has built in the past 25 years was Sizewell B, approved in 1985 and built from 1987 onwards. Since global warming was barely heard of in the early 80s, and the IPCC not founded until 1988, it would seem “Melanie” either thinks Thatcher was completely useless at getting the switch to nuclear power done (which rather puts a dent in the ‘huge conspiracy’ theory), or there’s a time machine involved in it too. With “Melanie” involved, I wouldn’t rule out the latter belief.

  15. 15  Gus  March 14, 2007, 5:26 pm 

    This drivel was of course presented by members of the LM group, who have previous with Channel 4, the wonderfully bonkers Against Nature series. Seriously dangerous liars who are not, and never have been funded by the SiS.


  16. 16  Andrew  March 14, 2007, 6:32 pm 

    I don’t consider myself to have an informed opinion on climate change though I do find the thought of Al Gore being wheeled out to play the concerned sage of good intent to be laughable in the extreme, and in itself reason to be suspicious. Here’s what Greg Palast had to say about Gore’s environmental credentials:

    “Of course he was also a big one for the most favored nation status for China. Now I would like to tell Mr. Gore that China is not my most favorite nation. I don’t know how it became his.

    So basically here is a guy who declared war on the working class, who pushed very hard for so-called welfare reform — he said that after five years CHILDREN should not be allowed to have food stamps. And now, most importantly, the biggest single blow to the struggle against global warming was the institution of “crud credits” — pollution trading credits. Whose idea was that?

    Well the idea came from a guy named Boyden Gray, who was the top lobbyist for the industrial polluters. And who was the No. 1 promoter of that idea within the Clinton Administration? Al Gore. He took the idea straight from the polluters and then polluted the environmental agency with it. So the No. 1 threat of global warming was engineered by Al Gore, and that’s an inconvenient truth that he’s got to deal with.”

    Obviously I realise the above is of no scientific relevance whatever, but the idea of trusting the man who pushed pollution credits, where the big polluters simply use financial muscle to buy the pollution credit rights off poor areas, doesn’t strike me as a good idea. Anyone familiar with Greg Palast’s work would not accuse him of being cosy with the big polluters or anything. So the question is why is such an obvious hypocrite as Gore pushing this agenda.

  17. 17  Andrew  March 14, 2007, 6:40 pm 

    Just in case anyone is armed with a peculiar set of ideological blinkers, not liking neo-cons doesn’t mean one does like what is purported to be the political opposition.

  18. 18  ozma  March 14, 2007, 7:21 pm 

    Cian: To borrow from something a friend once said about Hannah Arendt–your comment is deliciously anti-Semitic.

    As I read it, Melanie is crazy because she (a) went to an inferior school that others called inferior and (b) she’s a Jew who tried to be a liberal. I take it that the point is that Jews unavoidably find themselves identified with Israel (they are all Zionists) and this inevitably requires them to condone the actions of the Israelis against the Palestinians. Yet, engaging in armed conflict or oppression is not something liberals are capable of endorsing without going mad. Is Nick Cohen another mad Jew who attempted liberalism (Cohen is a Jewish name after all) or is he only one of those mad graduates of inferior schools?

  19. 19  Tawfiq Chahboune  March 14, 2007, 11:24 pm 

    The concept of “infinity” has troubled the world’s most brilliant mathematicians, scientists and philosophers, and so it is no surprise that it has confused Melanie Phillips. Perhaps Unspeak should start up a fund to contribute to buying Phillips a dictionary? What do you say, Steven? It would drive the poor woman mad (or possibly sane). As for the inscription: “Add, multiply, subtract or divide infinity by any other number and the answer is infinity. Get well soon. Steven Poole.”

  20. 20  Steven  March 15, 2007, 12:51 am 

    Tawfiq, perhaps we should introduce her to Georg Cantor’s transfinite numbers? That would really blow what’s left of her tiny mind.

    Thanks others for all the interesting background info on the perps.

    Andrew, pollution credits is an interesting alternative way to say “carbon credits”: I wasn’t aware of it. But I believe there are some thoughtful people who think a more rigorous and global system of pollution/carbon credits might be at least one useful way to mitigate the proliferation of pollution.

    Barney: the Thatch story in the “documentary” goes something like this: Thatcher was moist for nuclear power (not quite sure why); she heard some mumblings about CO2 and global warming, so convened some scientists and ordered/bribed them to prove it regardless of the actual facts, so that she would then have an excuse to fuck the miners. As you say, it’s a little hard to swallow.

  21. 21  Alex Higgins  March 15, 2007, 1:17 am 

    I couldn’t add much to the discussion to the question of what motivates Melanie Philips to constnatly attempt to disprove an unusually solid scientific consensus with respect to global warming.

    Embarassingly (for her), and like Dominic Lawson, she has embraced a faily obvious fraud of a documentary, whose manipulation of data, false claims, and misrepresentation of a serious scientist interviewee has already got it into trouble.

    But her global warming denial is fairly consistent with her take on a host of issues. Most obviously: the case of the MMR vaccine, which she continues to insist is a cause of autism.

    Moving out of the realm of science, it also applies to her insistence on other fantasies – that the Iraq War is not a military or political defeat, that attacking Iran is an appropriate way to solve Iraq’s problems, that Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Territories is necessary and just, that immigration to Britain is harmful, that the war on drugs can and should be fought, that Western civilisation is seriously threatened by an Islamist takeover…

    There are some value judgements involved, but her arguments are all contradicted by a mass of available evidence.

    If she were Richard Littlejohn, or Jeremy Clarkson or Simon Heffer, it wouldn’t matter. She could just throw out belligerent columns that take pride in the lack of supporting evidence. But she likes to engage in the painstaking construction of an alternative world through alternative sources of evidence.

    Consider that in the case of Iraq, she continues to argue that the Ba’athist regime did in fact have active programmes for the manufacture of WMD at the time of the invasion. For real. The same pattern appears in her other work – finding sources, often dubious or fraudulent to back up her opinion, and ignoring the mass of evidence that contradicts her.

    Finally, she is also a staunch advocate of authoritarianism in children’s education and regrettably, her views in this respect are taken more seriously though they as specious as everything else she writes about.

    Speaking as a soppy liberal working in a primary school, perhaps now the UN has called Britain out for the meanness with which its children are treated, nice left-liberal types will be jolted into looking at what she says on this topic too?

  22. 22  Alex Higgins  March 15, 2007, 1:25 am 

    “Barney: the Thatch story in the “documentary” goes something like this: Thatcher was moist for nuclear power (not quite sure why); she heard some mumblings about CO2 and global warming, so convened some scientists and ordered/bribed them to prove it regardless of the actual facts, so that she would then have an excuse to fuck the miners. As you say, it’s a little hard to swallow.”

    Actually, I thought this was the only remotely convincing part of the show.

    Not the idea that scientists would not have noticed anthropogenic global warming unless Thatcher encouraged them to – that’s silly.

    But as an explanation for why her government was not as dismissive of this issue as other right-wing governments in say, the US and Australia, it offered some insight.

    Thatcher had a reason to prefer nuclear power (for our nuclear weapons programme) and to dislike coal (because miners were the strongest section of the organised working class in Britain and she wanted to hurt them).

    These might well explain why she was prepared to talk about the issue of global warming in a way that others at the time weren’t, even if she didn’t do a great deal.

  23. 23  Steven  March 15, 2007, 1:30 am 

    Yes, I take your point. Although, to be scrupulously fair, we should also remember that Thatcher had a degree in chemistry and so may have understood the purely empirical issues better than “Melanie Phillips” does.

  24. 24  Andrew  March 15, 2007, 2:38 am 

    But it would seem that those people, Steven, who find pollution credits appealing, are those who are looking for loopholes in permitting themselves to pollute at high levels. From some more searching, specifically at Palast’s site, it seems I had a somewhat erroneous and simplifying take on pollution credits in reducing it to rich buying credits off poor. I find it hard to see this as anything other than a corrupting of the environmental movement, and it would be naive to imagine that the big industrial polluters would not be very interested in achieving such a corruption. Also, be they Dem/Rep/Cons/Lab, unfortunatley it is proven over and over the hand in glove relationship between big business interests and politics. In the given link from a 1999 article, Palast talks about this issue, including this info of how the environmental movement is derailed:

    “Because trading the rights to pollute is going to be the cornerstone of the global warming treaty that will set the rules for industrial production around the world for the next three decades.
    The treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, aims to slash ‘greenhouse gases’. As you can imagine, industry’s big guns have lined up against it, and leading the charge in the US is Citizens for a Sound Economy, an ultra-right pressure group chaired by corporate super-lobbyist Boyden Gray.

    Squaring off against the pressure group is the influential Environmental Defense Fund of Washington DC. So committed is the fund to the treaty that it set up an affiliate to help implement the protocol’s trading system. It is called the Environmental Resource Trust. It is chaired by Boyden Gray.”

  25. 25  Andrew  March 15, 2007, 2:47 am 

    Palast goes into some of the comic/dystopian ways this crud credits system can be used in the article such as “If a chemical company shuts a plant to bust its trade union, for example, it gets credits”, or, “Russia’s industrial depression has cut its emissions by 30 per cent. So the bright side of the impending starvation on the steppes is that it could generate enough credits to eliminate 90 per cent of US industry’s assigned reduction in pollution.” Way to go, Al.

  26. 26  Aenea  March 15, 2007, 12:30 pm 

    Steven, get a room already. It’s obvious you want her. :)

  27. 27  Aenea  March 15, 2007, 12:36 pm 

    Also what do you think about Trident? There’s been some passing comments, but not a post about it afiak. I expect you probably hate it?

  28. 28  Cian  March 15, 2007, 3:21 pm 

    Ozma – if your point is that I’m as anti-semitic as Hannah Arendt, does that mean that in fact you don’t think I’m anti-semitic? Odd comparison.

    “As I read it, Melanie is crazy because…”
    And that’s your problem it seems, you can’t read properly. Point (a) was about the choice of state schools available to her son, not the school she went to (a “good” private school, followed by Oxford where she read English). (b) is a malicious misreading of what I was saying, deliberately or otherwise.

    As for Mad Mel’s education. She has a degree in English, yet apparently believes she is qualified to dismiss the findings of experts in fields as diverse as medicine, science, statistics, public policy and education. She’s apparently too ignorant to realise her general level of ignorance, given how she regularly mangles science, statistics, probability, etc in her columns. She’s simply not qualified to discuss at least half of the topics she engages with.

    I can only speculate on what drove her mad. However given that among other things:
    a) She is paranoid at both a general level (e.g. she seriously believes Jews are in danger of another holocaust in Europe) and also a local level (her complaints sometimes about her fellow contestants on the moral maze).
    b) Her “alternative” scientific theories
    c) Her general level of argument that refuses to let anything in which might contradict her (and judging by her appearances on the moral maz, seems to see contradiction as some kind of moral flaw in the interlocutor).
    d) Her extraordinary rigid black and white views of morality/right and wrong.
    e) A tendency towards conspiracy theories.
    f) The fact that she seriously believes every one of the stupid things she comes out of with (rather than being like most right wing columnists too lazy to do the research, or contrarian).
    Whatother conclusion should one draw? If she wasn’t a columnist, but just an ordinary person given to ranting on street corners, or writing in to the local newspaper, would anyone seriously consider her sane?

    As to whether Jews are unavoidably identified with Israel is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t, apparently you do. I know plenty of Jews (and a couple of Israelis – though this is fairly rare) who are not Zionists, so its hardly universal.
    This of course has nothing to do with Melanie, who identifies with the most hardline elements in Israeli politics, believes Israel can do no wrong, is a moral light to all nations and that Palestinians/muslims are simply evil (I don’t actually think I’m exagerating here), and that all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. That would make her an extremely right wing Zionist, no? Her views are hardly representive of Jews in the UK (whatever such a thing might be) – and it is hard to sustain such views as hers and
    a) Remain friendly with anyone on the left/liberal spectrum of politics.
    b) sustain the cognitive dissonance to maintain even a liberal outlook on what foreign policy should be. Its a path well trodden – for example by the proto neocons in the US.

    I don’t know whether Nick Cohen is Jewish or not, and I don’t much care. He seems pretty uninterested in Israel, fwiw. However, lately he seems to be copying Mel’s general level of argumentation. I suppose theoretically this could be because he’s Jewish (if he is), but given that Hannah Arendt was Jewish it seems highly unlikely that there’s a racial element to Mel’s style of discourse.

  29. 29  Steven  March 15, 2007, 3:37 pm 

    Enough of the ad feminam/hominem speculation, please. (I know, I encouraged it in the first place.)

    Aenea, why should I “hate” Trident? Is it cos I is a knee-jerk lefty? Well, one of the good things about not being employed as a political columnist is that I am not obliged to manufacture a zingy opinion about everything. But if you want to bring some Trident-related Unspeak to my attention (beyond the name itself, figuring the puissant triphallus of the sea-god protecting our tight little island), then I might bite.

  30. 30  Andrew  March 15, 2007, 4:49 pm 

    But what about the Jews, Steven?

  31. 31  Jon Elliott  March 15, 2007, 5:20 pm 

    Hmmmm? Steven, I draw your attention to “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Evironmentalism” by Christopher C. Horner. The title gives the plot away and all I would add is that the “science isn’t settled” and that I wish people would actually read the IPCC report – not just the summary.

    Best regards Jon

  32. 32  Steven  March 15, 2007, 5:42 pm 

    The title doesn’t do much to recommend itself to me.

    Of course, the claim that people who accept the fact of global warming are insisting that “The science is settled” is a straw man (or if it is sometimes said, it is said irresponsibly). Naturally, if all the science around the issue were actually settled, there would be no need for an IPCC at all. However, the particular question as to whether there is anthropogenic global warming is “settled”, if by “settled” one understands “believed to a very high degree of confidence”, than which nothing in science can claim more.

  33. 33  Guano  March 15, 2007, 11:22 pm 

    Re: Trident related Unspeak. There are a couple of phrases that have mysteriously disappeared.

    Weapons of Mass Destruction. A very popular phrase about 4 years ago. Apparently only other countries have Weapons of Mass Destruction, we have a nuclear deterrent.

    Multilateral disarmament. Older bloggers may remember that, between the 1950s and the 1980s, those who were in favour of the UK having nuclear weapons also claimed to be in favour of multilateral disarmament ie they wanted nukes but were in favour of negotiations to rid the world of them. All pretence at this has now been dropped: the standardr argument is now that disarmament is just not going to happen. So although “unilateralist” is still a term of abuse aimed at those who were against this week’s decision about Trident, its opposite appears to have quietly disappeared. It’s odd how the disappearance of the USSR has made multilateral disarmament more difficult not less difficult.

  34. 34  Steven  March 16, 2007, 12:04 pm 

    The asymmetric use of “WMD” is discussed in Unspeak Chapter 5. I like your second point: it is indeed curious that “unilateralist” survives as an insult, while its opposite has disappeared. Nice one.

  35. 35  Steven  March 21, 2007, 1:23 pm 

    Amusing update: to a scientist who pointed out that the “documentary” used bogus data, Durkin replied:

    You’re a big daft cock

    So much for “debate”!

  36. 36  Jon Elliott  March 22, 2007, 4:39 pm 

    On the subject of bogus data:

    The IPCC’s 2001 report prominently displayed the “Hockey Stick” graph/chart. It purported to reconstruct global temperatures to cover 1000 years, showing temperature as having been stable throughout. Miraculously it did away with the Medieval Warm period, followed by the Little Ice Age? Both phenomena did appear in their data but not in the graph.

    The result was the “Hockey Stick” graph – it appears to resemble a hockey stick on its side, the shaft being a 900 year straight line followed by a spike, the blade. The “smoking-gun” for Manmade global warming establishing that, until human influence climate was stable.

    In the UN IPCC’s 2001 report you can find it in the Technical Summary and the third page of the Summary for Policymakers. Note, this reconstruction contradicted the IPCC’s own previous report.

    Profesor Michael Mann of the University of Virginia was responsible for the data and graph. The National Academy of Sciences later debunked Mann’s chart and the IPCC discarded it. However, Al Gore and the mainstream media continue to hold it up as the “smoking gun”.

    The problem for me is that both sides are culpable and capable of distortion at best, at worst they masquerade principles for hidden agendas and make it difficult to discover where the truth, if any, may lie.

    And it certainly does not help to be accused of being a “denier” and dismissed, when all I am doing is asking critical questions, just as I did when the notorious “Hockey Stick” emerged.

    Best regards

  37. 37  Steven  March 22, 2007, 7:04 pm 

    Your facts are wrong. See here, here, and, in general, here. No more “critical questions” of that ilk in this thread, thanks.

  38. 38  Jon Elliott  March 22, 2007, 10:26 pm 

    OK. Point taken… then again, given Mann is no longer at the University of Virginia since he was debunked. I will have to wait to see where he re-surfaces so that I can get to the source to ask?

  39. 39  Steven  March 22, 2007, 11:58 pm 

    If you cared to spend a couple of seconds with your favourite internet search engine, you would find that Mann is not hiding anywhere, as you insinuate, but is Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Further, his 1998 & 1999 papers have not been “debunked”, as you glibly repeat, even after the concerted campaign of harassment against him by Republicans in the US; specifically they were not “debunked”, as you claim, by the National Academy of Sciences; and the IPCC has not in fact “discarded” his work. But you could have found all this out for yourself if you wanted to. I wonder why you choose instead to recycle these much-refuted deniers’ talking-points?

  40. 40  Steven  March 23, 2007, 12:09 am 

    PS of course the focus on only one temperature reconstruction, ie Mann’s, is a favourite and dishonest strategy of the deniers, given that all of the ten different published reconstructions plotted on this graph agree that there is an anomalous extended rate of warming in the 20th century. Now, if you have any more “critical questions”, I’m sure the folks at realclimate will be happy to answer them, assuming they haven’t already.

  41. 41  Leinad  March 23, 2007, 2:13 am 

    Ten different graphs!? A likely story indeed! Why not just one, unless these climate scientists are trying to have a bet each way? Huh? Common sense innit? I think we can do away with any further ‘research’ in this area. ‘Climate science’ indeed…

    Debate over ;)

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