Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Denier response to Lovelock: tiresome, predictable

So, James Lovelock has admitted that he was wildly exaggerating the the effects of climate change.  Tell us something we didn't know.  This announcement has been presented as an admission that all claims about global warming are equally alarmist and exaggerated.  Why doesn't this surprise?

Most scientists regarded Lovelock's position as extreme, anti-scientific and fanciful. Comments like, "Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" are obviously silly, and alarmist, and plenty of people said so at the time. Lovelock didn't reflect mainstream opinion then or now, but his retraction indicates he is moving in the right direction - from the freakish extremes towards the reasonable middleground. When he says "We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now", he isn't describing the scientific opinion of 20 years ago, but his own perception of what would happen happening. Look at Hansen's modelling from the mid 80s - it didn't suggest we would be anywhere close to a "frying world" by now.

Of course, for those of the distant anti-AGW extreme, both Lovelock's own extremism and mainstream AGW opinion seem so far removed as to be indistinguishable.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

New AGW denier meme?

I'm wondering if - having lost the scientific battle, and failed to sneak a victory through Climategate releases - AGW deniers are attempting to win the war using semantics.

I've noticed a trend in the last couple of weeks - okay, a couple of references, nothing more - toward dismissing climate change as a fad which which has run its course.

Exhibit One, m'lud. Here's Christopher Booker in the Telegraph:
Since the fading belief that the world is in the grip of runaway man-made global warming still threatens us with the biggest bill in history ...
And from rather closer to home, the cringe inducing Mathew Hooton made a similar claim on Nine To Noon the other day - that interest in Climate Change was dying away as exaggerated scare stories faded to be realised.

Sounds like a meme that denier propagandists are trying to plant in people's minds, hoping it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think we'll hear a lot more of this "old story, last years problem" in the future, as Climategate2 failed so miserably.

Apropos of nothing ...

In Britain, the bus company Stagecoach is introducing a £1 fare to mainland Europe.

this is a good thing, not only because travelling by bus and train is less polluting, but because I like travelling by bus and I feel it should be promoted. Anachronistic in the west, cramming onto a slow moving, cramped bus and chuntering down the motorway seems a bit adventurous and 'frontier'. Slowness, discomfort are all part of the appeal. It's like being back in the latter half of the 20th century, or something. When travelling from Glasow to London was something not to be undertaken lightly, when the world was something you explored, rather than just looked at on Google Earth. Planes get you places too quickly, no time for an epic sense of journey to develop.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Death by a Thousand Metaphors

An occasional series in which I poke funny at people who are (unlike me) paid for their words and still manage to come out with the most remarkable drivel.

Here's Jane Clifton writing in The Listener:
[V]oters may now be viewing domestic political noise in the light of wider global realities, and this could be making them more sanguine about the brush fires.
Jane, can we really 'view' noise? Is it not an auditory experience? Can you hear colours? Is your super evolved tongue able to taste light?

And even if we allow that noise can be seen 'in the light of wider global realities' - perhaps global reality light is a bit like ultravoilet light that shows up dandruff and makes your teeth glow, only it somehow makes soundwaves visible - how does it follow that this will make voters 'more sanguine about the brush fires'? Does the ability to see sound also confer flame retardant qualities?

(Though I suspect Ms Clifton really means 'phlegmatic' - sanguine means cheerful, optimistic and confident. Phlegamatic (the two are commonly confused) means apathetic and uninterested; this seems closer to what she was probably trying to express.)

I'm not even going to go into the next paragraph, which features a tiger, an auction and disaster at sea, all at once.

Hat tip: Pompous Chris, who reproduced the offending passage and manfully resisted the urge to top it with a display of his own inimitable stylings. I can't afford to buy the Listener. Unlike some people, I don't get paid for writing tripe.

Random rightwing crap about the NHS

A rightwing American gentleman with whom I occasionally interact has drawn my attention to this story in the Daily Mail:
When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.
His take on it was very much that this epitomised the treatment handed out to the long suffering sick and infirm of Britain by the Stalinist monstrosity of the NHS. I mean, what could be more apalling inhuman than the supposed cradle-to-grave welfare state telling a suffering elderly man to go away and die more quickly, and not be such a burden on the rest of us? Death panels in action!

Only, this interpretation of the tale relies on omitting a rather crucial passage further down the Mail's account:
Though neither Michele nor her father had private medical insurance, the new consultant arranged for Kenneth to have the operation on the NHS at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
In other words, the fault is not with the NHS, but with the individual consultant who rushed to his diagnosis and refused to consider the case on its merits. I'm willing to guess such practices aren't limited to the NHS, and might even occur rather frequently in a health care 'system' where profit is put before people.

May good health attend Mr Warden, his plucky daughter, and the NHS, for many years to come.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Pity the Mitty

I actually feel sorry for Mitt Romney.

He's worked so hard for the nomination, after getting rejected in favour of a cripple last time around. This time, he's (finally) going to get it, even though 70% of his own party have consistently indicated they want someone - anyone - else, and only the plethora of anyone elses (and their unbearable awfulness) has prevented him being dumped.

And now - having finally seen off Santorum, and Gingrich, several times over (because he's sucha lightweight he can't put them down, definitively) - he's going to get hammered, absolutely hammered, by Obama's team.

Shakespeare could do justice to this modern tragedy. I can't.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Trayvon Martins

Like all sane people, I'm disgusted about the shooting of Trayvon Martins, and the apparent carte blanche extended to his killer. A young man walking home is shot by a fat necked freak on a power trip, who stalked him and triggered a confrontation.

There was a good piece by Gary Yonge in the Gaurdian on this:
One can only speculate as to Zimmerman's intentions. Efforts to create a crude morality play around this shooting in which Martin is sanctified and Zimmerman is pathologised miss the point. Zimmerman's assumptions on seeing Martin may have been reprehensible but they were not illogical. Black men in America are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted and executed than any other group. With almost one in 10 black men behind bars there are more of them in prison, on probation or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850. To assume that when you see a black man you see a criminal is rooted in the fact that black men have been systematically criminalised. That excuses nothing but explains a great deal.

Add to this lax gun laws, entrenched segregation, deep economic inequalities and a statute that endorses vigilantism, and a murder of this kind is inevitable. Indeed what makes Martin's case noteworthy is not that it happened but that it has sparked such widespread indignation beyond his immediate community. It is not at all uncommon for young black men to leave the world in a shower of bullets followed by deafening silence.

Eight kids under the age of 19 are killed by guns in America every day. While researching the stories of those who fell one November day in 2006 I ran across the story of Brandon Moore. Brandon was 16 when he was shot in the back in the middle of the afternoon by an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard in Detroit. The guard had previously shot a man dead during a neighbourhood fracas, shot his wife (though not fatally) in a domestic dispute and had been involved in a fatal hit-and-run car accident while under the influence of alcohol. Brandon's death was dismissed in the city's two main newspapers in less than 200 words. They never even mentioned his name. Brandon's death was ruled to be justifiable homicide. A year later the guard was still in the police force.

the latest developments include the claim that Zimmerman's taped conversation with 911 has been edited to make him seem more gung-ho, and quicker to identify the suspect as black than was actually the case. Putting aside the merits of the case for the moment, am I the only one dazed by the absurdity of this claim, advanced as it is by the very same band of people who happily swallow and then regurgitate every bit of misrepresentative, misquoted puss Anthony Watts vomits up about climate change? Rich indeed. the same bunch of wingnuts who blithely quoted Rush Limbaugh's severely edited version of Danny Glover's comments about the Haiti earthquake? And, more recently, drank down the warm piss of Watts, alleging Jim Hansen claimed AGW would make the oceans boil? the freaks who won't shut up about 'Climategate'?

Have they actually changed anything he said, or presented anything so drastically out of context as to change its meaning? Or just cut lots of snuffling, muttering and heavy breathing?

"He didn't comment on Martins's skin colour until the responder asked him about it," they wail. Indeed. But it's a bit childish to suggest Zimmerman doesn't notice Martins's skin colour until someone asks him about it, don't you think?

Until you can provide evidence that Martins stalked Zimmerman, confronted him and was killed while trying to beat him to death with a packet of skittles, I think the 'Cruelly Misrepresented by the Liberal Media' card should stay safely up the sleeves, boys.

The other contention is that this isn't about race at all. Treyvon Martins was not killed because he was black, but because of the insanity of letting power hungry neanderthals handle guns and think they have the right to use them on their fellows.

There's some truth in that, but as race and class overlap significantly (when you're black) it's fruitless to try to disentangle them. Would Zimmerman have acted the same if it had been a white male hoodie wearing bearer-of-skittles? We don't know. To some extent, it doesn't matter - if this case was all about the hoodie, the other 99 similar cases were more about the skin tone. But I'm willing to bet the amount of melanin in Martins' skin had at least as much influence on Zimmerman's response as the hoodie, the victim' s sex, and the skittles. A white kid clowning around in the rain would have been more liekly to be dismissed as just that - a white kid clowning in the rain, not some drugged up criminal intent on malfeasance.