That old chestnut… That the ‘climate denial machine’ is ‘well-funded’… is about to suffer another blow to its credibility.
Luboš Motl of the Reference Frame has an entertaining take on the Climate Reality project, which seems to be Al Gore’s latest stunt. Says Motl,
Just look at the dozens of people who had to participate in the creation of these amateurish, would-be interesting movies that have 12,000 or 15,000 views on YouTube, respectively. Imagine how many millions of dollars have been thrown to the trash bin, how many fat screaming female musicians had to be killed during the shooting. Gore’s videos are completely unoriginal, can’t compare with the videos that inspired Gore (like Honda’s Rube Goldberg device: I recently saw some equally good ones, not just the Melvin Machine, but forgot the URLs), and they really make no sense. Why is a Rube Goldberg machine used in a video about the climate? What point could it make (except that alarmists’ arguments are contrived and extremely unlikely)? Those people are just not capable of thinking, capable of doing anything well. They’re just low-quality people.
It’s a good point. There seems to be no end of cash available to promote the catastrophic story, and the individuals behind it, of course. This latest stunt is a 24-hour long web-TV extravaganza. The man himself, says,
“24 Hours of Reality will focus the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us.”
CHAIRMAN OF THE CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT
It’s an interesting claim. Reality, it seems, is determined by committee, chaired by none other than himself. ‘I’ve got reality on my side’, he seems to be saying, ‘what have you got?’
We ain’t got enough cash for a 24 hour worldwide telethon, that’s for sure, Al.
This is a promo for the event.
And ain’t that the point… There’s the proverbial sh*t that his the fan, to which the promo visually alludes (oh, the subtlety), but there’s the other idiom, ‘throw enough dirt and some of it will stick’.
What possible use could 24 hours of web TV to settling the argument, other than to bore the opposition into submission? There are only two categories of people who will be willing to endure such a dull enterprise: the choir, who need no preaching; and sceptics, who will find it entertaining to see the climate Great and Good attempt to elevate and flatter themselves. Nobody will be watching this from on the fence.
If this 24 hour Gore-Bore-a-thon is an attempt to do anything, it is yet another attempt to win the ‘debate’ without having it. It’s about asserting a claim about ‘reality’, without ever having the claim tested. It’s not simply ‘bias’; it’s naked dogma. All it will do is epitomise the environmental movement’s intransigence; it’s inability to respond to criticism. It may work, of course, for the true believers in one respect. For the committed, it will be a self-affirming ritual… A ceremony for the smug, who will nod, tut, sigh and laugh on cue. But… there is good news…
This failure to permit dialogue must by now be the essential characteristic of the environmental movement, beyond question. I have lost count of the number of on and off-line discussions I have had, in which it became clear that my opponent’s intentions were not to respond to anything I said, but to merely recite the litany at me. In contrast to discussion, in which a point can be explored, conversations with the Faithful do not progress. These encounters are not conversations. There is no person, merely dogma.
If I were to speculate as to what might be going on, it is this. If one starts from the view that ‘the debate is over’ and ‘the science is settled’, and that all that is necessary to win the debate is to tell the consensus story, it is by definition, an appeal to authority: it’s not me who is saying it; it’s not my opinion; it is science‘. Thus the proponent of this view has completely surrendered his own judgement. Lacking any critical function, he has no option but to recycle the litany, as best it fits any turn the discussion takes. He doesn’t have to understand the science, he merely needs to know what to say, and when. It is impossible to have a discussion with such a mind. It is not capable of discussion.
The good news is this, then. As human as this tendency is, so is the tendency to realise that what once seemed like sense is dogma. Since the only people watching the contrived ‘reality’ that Gore and his crew want to promote are likely to be the choir, the only people it will bore are the choir. And the longer they are expected to obediently sit, listen, repeat, and sing on cue, for no reward — for no payoff whatsoever — the more likely they will want to start singing a different tune.
Please, Mr Gore, more 24-hour long ‘reality’ stunts.
The film you link to is unbelievably bad. I used to test ads in focus groups for a living, until I realised I’d do better sitting at home and writing up my free associations. “Someone throws a lump of shit at a windmill – yes, windmills are shit – and they kill bats – messy – yuck – batshit..” and so on. And there are clear echoes of the 10:10 Splattergate débacle. Why are greens so keen on making a mess?
Your description of arguing with believers is totally convincing, and your optimistic conclusion had me convinced for a moment. Every time I’ve engaged a believer in conversation, (some of them with science PhDs) I’ve become uncomfortably aware that their sole source of information has been Guardian articles or the like. And yet it was I who was embarassed. Never has anyone asked where they can learn more.
Gore is very last-year’s-Nobel-Prize. His friends on Facebook are all third world teenagers. My worldly friends will shrug it off and continue to read the Guardian, vote Lib Lab Con or Green, and believe.
Motl’s “Rube Goldberg device” – the parody of our mechanised world – is a common theme of 20th century art. Heath Robinson drew them to amuse the English middle classes during the first world war, and make them forget the reality of tanks and machine guns. Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp took it to a higher intellectual level to tickle the palates of French intellectuals. The latest example I’ve seen is here
The Guardian changed the title from “bullshit” to “rubbish”, but the original title can be seen on Monbiot’s dada creation.
What is it with Greens and poo?
Geoff:” What is it with Greens and poo?”
What indeed. This is clearly a major sub-set of Green studies. From Inhabitat.com, “a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future”, a few rather interesting and pungent examples. Enjoy!
This is well expressed. I, too, just get The Litanee from the dogmatists when I offer a discourse.
I can’t wait for this thing on the 14th. It will demonstrate to the world that climate change as an issue is dead. People will avoid watching it in droves, they are saturated now regarding the subject, the issue has been put behind them. The issue now is jobs, not wind turbines. Al Gore is still living in 2007. Al Gore is in denial.
Geoff – What is it with Greens and poo?
Good question. Al Gore’s poo of course, along with blood and guts (the Splattergate movie), babies (overpopulation claims), CO2 and methane (sequestration and burying underground), are all made by – and inside – the body and exit through its various holes. The Greens’ interest in this stuff appears to centre around fantastical ways of eliminating it – or the bodies which cause it to exist.
If the Greens find the fact of these objects revolting, it may be worth wondering what they are revolting at.. what idea is shared by the Greens (among others) that the external presence of human poo and guts and babies and gas (etc) is the constant saboteur of? What is it bodies do that these things are a direct, or indirect, byproduct of?
If these ‘births’ are all evidence of a prior act – what might the Greens find so intolerable about that act that they go to such great lengths to hide or destroy its evidence… by burying or obliterating it, as well as by demanding political action to ban or severely limit its appearance?
The answer, of course, is that our bodies desire. And desires – in the shape of needs and wants – cannot be met unless the person owning them firstly acknowledges the reality of an ‘other’… the object by which a desire can be expressed, negotiated and (if all goes well) met to some degree. Getting rid of its byproducts is the Green’s attempt at getting rid of its own (and everyone else’s) desiring… and, most importantly, the unwanted – but necessary – reality and function of otherness that comes with it. Just as the parallel Green preoccupation with self-sustenance revolts against the fact of ‘difference’ being the real object of a body’s impressive menu of needing and wanting pleasure.
Another thing our bodies make and give birth to through a hole is words. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we find the Greens have no apparent appetite for these either… and apply the same amount of vigour in getting rid of them. All in all, it’s a sort of group-anorexia – dressed up, presented (and exploited) as a noble cause.
It might be illuminating to track the success (or otherwise) of “Climate Reality” on Google Trends. Typing “climate change” into the search box reveals, over 12 months, a peak of interest last December (Cancun), followed by a slump, then a small rise and a gradual decline thereafter (although there is a slight rise at the end of August). Putting “Al Gore” in the search box shows, again over 12 months, a gradual decline, punctuated by peaks here and there, including a large peak in August (corresponding to his Aspen outburst, surely). Searching by all years is also interesting – roughly speaking, “Al Gore” appears generally to have peaked in 2007, and “climate change” now appears to be declining slightly, after a dramatic spike in 2009.
If the “24 hours of reality” project is successful, I think we would expect to see a boost to “climate change”, starting about now, and maybe helped by COP19 in Durban in three months’ time. On the other hand, I think it more likely there will be a modest spike, then a resumption of the downward trend, especially after December.
My error – Durban will be COP17, not COP19. COP19 will apparently be somewhere in eastern Europe.
“Reveal the deniers.”
One of Gore’s purposes of tomorrow. I’d like to see some names, like that of Big Oil and Big Coal, and the pseudoscientists being paid to shill for fossil fuel companies, to lie and distort and conspire against American governance for their private, financial or political gain.
AG (and Suzuki) has claimed skeptics and deniers are all about the above criminal activity. I’d sure like to hear some names, so I could a) call for their arrest, or b) send them some money to pursue legal action.
McCathy & Communists, Gore & Skeptics. James VI of Scotland and Witches.
How are you to tell one from the other without name tags?
In the first part the article you refer to cash being spent, yet cash is nominal. Spent money might mean wasted human capital.. Yet, humans don’t compare happiness to wealth. Poor are proud and lords have hubris. Yet they are equally fulfilled.
Many thanks for your analysis. I particularly like the idea of group anorexia.
Regulating the inward and outward movements of the body’s various orifices and controlling one’s temperature are natural acts of the body’s vegetative system, not something to which one directs one’s conscious attention. By thinking about how to render their own bodily functions sustainable, Greens reveal a kind of primitive narcissism. I can see how you might easily start by worrying about plankton, and end up identifying with amoebas, which, though not particularly sophisticated, have two big advantages; they can swiftly multiply, and are in a sense immortal.
They remind me of the creatures in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, many of which are shown doing strange things to their various orifices. Bosch’s Germany was experiencing the Protestant revolution, with it’s mixture of freedom of expression and millenarian cults, under the shadow of Catholic reaction and syphilis as signs of divine displeasure.
As always, I have to add that I have doubts as to whether psychoanalysis can be used to explain a socio-political movement, unless it can show why a particular psychological trait should take off at a particular time.
One important event of our own time has been AIDS, bringing to a sudden halt a period of relative sexual freedom, and causing a whole generation to worry about their bodily fluids (and those of others). Those most affected by this sea change in social behaviour would naturally tend to belong to the thinking, responsible classes – those who read the instructions on medicines and worry about the planet. The condom is the perfect symbol of the need to protect the environment from oneself – and vice versa.
Geoff, at least we could say that Bosch’s dark pictures owed something to ergot poisoning. The environmentalist’s scatological preoccupation is straightforward disgust, not simply with human biological processes, but with humanity. The paradox being that these discontents want to regulate society, though they would also seem to have rejected it.
Geoff – By thinking about how to render their own bodily functions sustainable, Greens reveal a kind of primitive narcissism.
I agree with you about the primitive narcissism. What goes largely unacknowledged in the Environmental narrative (not least by Environmentalists themselves) is that it involves two environments. The outside space… which we know as ‘green’ – and the space inside the body… which we might (in strictly non-political terms) call the ‘red’ space. Any full sense of ‘self’ includes the knowledge that it is separate from both spaces – and only able to manage the various demands both of them present (although, unlike the outside space, a self can tyrannise its own body – with otherwise pointless diets and exercise etc).
It is the internal environment of the body and its constant needing and felt-needing which is the villain in the Green self’s project. It is villain though, not because the agency it requires puts the external environment at risk, but because the surrender it necessitates in order for those needs to be addressed and met falsifies the self’s fantasy of its own omnipotence.
The ‘Gaia’ contrivance can here be seen as a decoy… used to divert attention away from the absent and socially unacceptable truth of the self’s belief and intent.
The contrivance invents a new set of ‘needs’ and locates them in the external (green) environment. These pseudo-needs turn out to be nothing other than a ragbag of the self’s own whimsical moral preferences and prejudices. Unlike the unruly and diverse nature of the real needs of the body though, the self has complete control over those he has fabricated… a demand is thereby made for their authentication – through science – and their absolute priority over real needs – through politics.
This dehumanisation of needs – and the policing of counterfeits used as their substitute – is the hallmark of all tyranny.
Indeed, nobody did watch this, I’m sure: not a mention on the usual channels, which, if it were making a splash, would have surely noted. And, indeed, this is a tremendous bore (I would much prefer to discuss old Ari’ and his theory of the soul!) but not sufficient of a soporific that it hasn’t yet put ‘our masters’ into a nice, undeserved but permanent sleep! We could forget it, leave it to science and, if needed, the ‘technocrats’ to play with, if they would to. As it is, there are still many a sleepless night ahead.
I love Lubos, mad and crazy as he sometimes is: he is the wild breath of Czech freedom (not uncontradictory) that ‘references’ a very certain historicity. A country where you can’t help walking on your neighbours bones.
Also, it may be fine to note, that these people really are that stupid (and they are or worse) but it is no /consolation. Stupidity is a tremendous power in the world, as it always has been (it is a power in us all!)! And not, of course, the alleged stupidity of the ‘people’ but of our supposed ‘rulers’, whose blind narcissm astounds, if one knows little of history. All this will pass, as they say! But, in ones own time, one always asks ‘When?’!
Now that the 24hour-athon has been over for a day – I wasn’t able to watch any of it on my 10 year-old iMac – did anybody actually see him do the “full-on assault on climate skeptics, exploring where they get their funding from” that he promised he’d do?
Myself, I’ve been trying valiantly to point out how we don’t have fossil fuel companies & skeptics planting unneeded doubt about AGW, but instead how have the opposite: enviro-activists working non-stop to plant doubt about the motives of skeptics. An issue of New Scientist magazine last month perfectly illustrated this 20 year effort, since the skeptic accusation words they quoted are the same as those seen in Al Gore’s 1992 book. The entire time, the accusation has been unproven and is unsupportable. It’s too long to detail here, so please see my article for more, The Great Global Warming Ponzi Scheme – how the mainstream media keeps it alive
Very intelligent writing as we have come to expect from you Ben. Keep up the good work!