The sociology of the climate change debate

John Quiggin and other vigilant bloggers swarmed on this climate change ‘denialist’ article by American historian Arthur Herman, who was in Australia recently as a guest of the CIS (to talk about the Enlightenment rather than climate change).

Quiggin argues that ‘just about everyone on the political right [has signed] up to a set of beliefs that are dictated entirely by political tribalism’.

This is a little tough but tribalistic explanations surely explain much – on both sides of the debate. Very few people are in any position to assess the science, and so the issue has to be judged via various heuristics, such as expert views, personal observation and experience (a long drought), and the views of other members of one’s social group. These heuristics help explain why an emissions trading scheme has majority support despite minimal public knowledge of even what it is, much less an informed personal assessment of whether or not it is likely to work.

It would not have been hard to guess what preconceptions someone like Arthur Herman would bring to this issue. In the 1990s he published a book called The Idea of Decline in Western History, which gives us 400 pages of prophets of doom before it even gets to environventalism. To Herman, the climate change apocalyptics must look like just another in a long line of doomsayers, with the same (minimal) prospects of being proven right.

Similarly, it would not have been hard to guess what line cultural pessimists like Clive Hamilton would take – though he, like many climate change sceptics, is an economist by training, not a meteorologist. Climate change is a gift for the cultural pessimists who have long believed that materialistic Western societies are morally and spiritually empty, and we must return to more ascetic lives in touch with our true selves and with nature. With climate change, Hamilton and the other cultural pessimists at last could add some scientific respectability to their views.

The tribal intellectual and activist right saw what the cultural pessmists were doing with this issue, and have so devoted great energy to identifying and publicising any scientific evidence contrary to the doomsday consensus. Unfortunately for the tribal right, the intellectual shortcuts they have used are unknown to most people, even to most right-of-centre voters, and so in public opinion climate change scepticism is a hopelessly lost cause – at least until a prolonged period of cool weather brings the public’s personal observation and experience into contradiction with the predictions of climate apocalyptics.

61 thoughts on “The sociology of the climate change debate

  1. Public opinion on climate change may well change if the predicted increases in temperature do not occur. If, by say 2015 to 2020 there is not easily demonstrable warming you could well see a change in public opinion.

    The Global Warming Proponents have played the game very well. They are managing to frame the debate in terms of ‘deniers’ and others, denying that there may be degrees of skeptical positions.

    Climate science has also managed to represent science as being always certain and correct. They have cleverly elided nuance and debate and degrees of certainty in science. Epidemiology, where results are often over turned and contested is clearly science. Epidemiology may be closer to climate science than climate science is to physics. But to suggest this would put you beyond the pale in many dinner table conversations.

    The accuracy of climate modeling is questionable. The way in which the IPCC built up the pre-measurement record is also questionable. There are real problems with the MBH98 paper on temperature reconstruction.

    The public’s position on climate change may well shift. Public opinion is fickle. Opinion on the Iraq War shifted reasonably rapidly in America, opinion of political parties waxes and wanes. Opinion on Global Warming may do something similar.

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  2. Unfortunately for them, the intellectual shortcuts they have used are unknown to most people

    Clarification question, who are ‘them’ and ‘they’?

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  3. At the moment it is science verses faith. In a few years time it will be reality vs faith. What i don’t understand is why the faith based right would base there future on the outcome of reality. Much better sticking to god, he is unlikely to show.

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  4. John Quiggin linked to me as one of only two conservative bloggers who promote quick action on greenhouse gases. He didn’t mention that my reasoning is based on the increasing concern over the last decade that ocean acidification is going to make major changes to ocean ecology (eroding reefs, changes in the food chain, starting in the polar waters first.) Yet this is a topic that receives intermittent media attention at best.

    Although the science is not entirely resolved and won’t be for many years (there are a hell of a lot of species to test for sensitivity to decreased ocean pH) most current results seem to be clearly bad. And furthermore, there seems to be a distinct lack of scientists with any background in the field who are prepared to come out and explain why acidification won’t be an issue, unlike global warming where at least some of the skeptics have appropriate qualification and background to at least look at their arguments.

    The point about ocean acidification is that it is unrelated to the issue of where temperatures are going to go in the next decade. I wish more people would look into this as a reason to limit CO2 urgently.

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  5. What I find side splittingly hysterical is how professor Quiggin throws around the epitaphs against people who don’t tow the line on Climate science. Denialists and delusionists are just two of the words the professor uses.

    Let’s look at who is the real denialist.

    The professor wrote a book in the 90’s suggesting that after 20 years economic history: with unemployment remaining in the high single digits all was lost in terms of EVER reaching full employment and that the only way forward was for a massive (not small)… but massive doses of permanent government spending in people services to create massive make work schemes. It was called “ Work for all”:

    Unless these are allowed to grow with population and improve to meet community aspirations, the quality and accessibility of services will not only be unsatisfactory, but the employment which they could provide would be withheld. A large proportion of community services are in the public sector, and therefore continuation of rapid employment growth depends on expanding public outlays. One reason for the growth of unemployment during the last two decades has been the severe restrictions on public outlays.

    http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/johnquiggin/Books/WorkforAll.html

    The professor was advocating a huge expansion of the public sector to reverse unemployment.

    I would consider this view to be economics at its worst and the professor is still yet to recant or apologize for the suggestions contained his “opus”.

    True to form the professor opposed every major economic reform in the 80’s and 90’s and showed up to give evidence against Workchoices and workplace reform at a hearing appearing “ not as an economist”….. (as male entertainer perhaps?).

    In 2004 he suggested that the Australian Greens’ economic policies were conventional and “ mainstream”. I continue looking at the Greens economic policy manifesto and cannot count even one policy that would not be considered damaging. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that if we followed the Greens economic policies Australia would be vying with Somalia and Mauritania in terms of living standards in a decade. But there you have it, the professor thinks the Greens polices reflect mainstream left wing economic ideas. LOL.

    So we have a professor of economics calling people denialists and delusionists in a field in which he has now training meanwhile he’s put forward economic policies and arguments that have basically been discredited by real evidence in the field he is supposed to be an expert.

    The western world has really become a funny place.

    Incidentally I do believe AGW is a big concern.

    Jason Soon once wrote an interesting piece that I essentially agree with. The Right has basically screwed around with AGW losing credibility when if they embraced the science and the issues they could have put forward better policies that would have been far less damaging and costly… a carbon tax tied to income tax cuts perhaps.

    As I see it the right has basically ceded the area to deadenders who may introduce policies that potentially very damaging to future living standards. The whole cause has giving the last capable and the most incompetent a voice they never deserved.

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  6. charles’ answer shows just how well the AGW believers have pushed their views.

    The ‘science’, a reference to some monolithic authority that issues unbiased reports on reality and is never wrong is great concept.

    If you were to describe the issue as ‘those who believe in the accuracy of extremely complex unvalidated computer models’ against ‘those who are skeptical of unvalidated computer models’ you might start seeing different reactions from the public.

    We’ll see.

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  7. What doesn’t it even mean to say that ‘just about everyone on the political right [has signed] up to a set of beliefs that are dictated entirely by political tribalism’? Is it to say that right-wingers choose not to believe the science or is it merely to say that right-wingers generally favour less extreme policy action in response to purported market failures? If the latter, then the statement almost becomes tautological in the sense that classical liberals generally favour less government intervention than left-wingers. If the latter, are left-wingers any more immune to ignoring or doubting mainstream expert opinion on certain matters, such as the economic benefits of trade and labour market liberalisation?

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  8. “Climate change is a gift for the cultural pessimists who have long believed that materialistic Western societies are morally and spiritually empty,”

    That may be a an accurate description of Clive Hamilton, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in describing Ross Garnaut, who has been a champion of free market economics; who says, approvingly, that the last 15 years have been a “platinum age”; that climate change threatens material prosperity; and that one reason for Australia to act now is so we can make some serious money by selling the world abatement technologies and emissions trading platforms.

    The Right are tribal denialists because they are viscerally and intellectually incapable of admitting that anyone on the Left in general or environmentalists in particular could be correct about anything. The problem is, science is left wing or right wing; it’s just science. But then we get the weird spectacle of the Right denialists adopting the language and arguments of the crudest post-modernists – science is just a social construct; on this occasion, a left wing social construct. So these tens of thousands of papers in peer reviewed science journals carefully documenting and explaining climate change are just part of a giant conspiracy to get more funding. It’s just laughable.

    If an oncologist who happened to have left wing politics found a cure for cancer there would be right wingers who would refuse the cure.

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  9. That may be a an accurate description of Clive Hamilton, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in describing Ross Garnaut, who has been a champion of free market economics

    Evidence please.

    Are you redefining the term “free markets”, Spiros or are just taking the piss?

    Personally i don’t think you even know what it means.

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  10. The Right are tribal denialists because they are viscerally and intellectually incapable of admitting that anyone on the Left in general or environmentalists in particular could be correct about anything.

    That’s essentially true. It’s certainly how I feel. We are after all evidence based, Spiros. 200 year history of the modern left has certainly left evidence to suggest that is very much the case

    The problem is, science is left wing or right wing; it’s just science.

    Please Spiros. Again 200 years of the history of the modern left would leave people with the opposite interpretation. The left has essentially been anti-science for 200 years and counting. Science is an all-encompassing terms which means compounding human knowledge and human advancement. The left has been anti-science since it was conceived in the head chopping sagas of the French Revolution.

    But then we get the weird spectacle of the Right denialists adopting the language and arguments of the crudest post-modernists – science is just a social construct; on this occasion, a left wing social construct.

    Who are all those people, Spiros? LOL

    So these tens of thousands of papers in peer reviewed science journals carefully documenting and explaining climate change are just part of a giant conspiracy to get more funding. It’s just laughable.

    There possibly is some of that going on sure. People like money to be spent in the way they see.

    Here’s a lesson for you Spiros. The easy bit is the science. That isn’t here or there. The really hard part is the economics or how best we arrange our affairs in such a way that doesn’t reduce growth in potential living potential.

    It is by no means certain that we ought to mitigate or adapt yet, Spiros as estimates for rate of change are more than relevant. In fact they are key.

    Even if we take Stern’s projections the obvious strategy is that we ought to adapt rather than mitigate. Stern suggested we would lose 20% of our GDP by 2100 without mitigation. So lets’ do some crude back of the envelope sums here;

    Unmolested GDP growth at 3.5% for next 92 years with current global GDP of $US50 trillion.

    GDP in 2100 undamaged and unmitigated would be US1,184 trillion.
    Taking Sterns prediction it would be 1184*20% = US$ 947 trillion

    Taking Sterns suggestion to mitigate by spending 1% of global GDP to mitigate, would be US$485 Trillion in global GDP in 2100. Compounding little amounts has a huge effect over oceans of time.

    As a lefty you obviously advocate that we mitigate, right spiros? Is that because you think that US$485 trillion is a much bigger number than $US947 trillion? LOL.

    If an oncologist who happened to have left wing politics found a cure for cancer there would be right wingers who would refuse the cure.

    Why, that’s evidence based, you nong. Less people would be dying as a result of treatment. How many people have died as a result of AGW?
    Try and analogize correctly next time, Spiros or it may lead us to think you’re one of those unsciency lefties who thinks smaller numbers are in fact bigger numbers. LOL

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  11. “those who believe in the accuracy of extremely complex unvalidated computer models’ against ‘those who are skeptical of unvalidated computer models”

    What other types of models do you want people to believe in? Models based on their fingers? Models based on their intuition? These sorts of models exist in almost all areas of science, and they are used all the time in innumerate areas.

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  12. Validated models are the ones you can trust. Some computer models are validated, many are not. The IPCC AR4 models are verified, as in they are fairly sane and do not go completely wild and are not based on wild assumptions, but validated they are not.

    For example, statistical models of failure rates of electronics, car and other manufactured goods, inspection rates, life expectancy, car crashes and whatnot are solid and validated. The confidence limits for these types of models are calculable.

    Detailed climate models do not fall into this category. It is worth looking at the oldest climate predictions of this type, look at the Hansen ’88 models and the first IPCC reports. Their record thus far is pretty poor.

    There are others around who suggest that AGW does exist, but that it far less (1-1.5 C for doubling of C02 in the atmosphere) than the IPCC suggests. The problem with this is that this is insufficient to cause real panic. 1.5 C by 2100 is quite tolerable. Are these people ‘deniers’, ‘deluded’ or just skeptical?

    The Left is happy to discard solid science on genetic engineering when it suits them. Despite much effort no one has ever shown deleterious effects on human health from GMOs. But go and say that after some Green has been talking about ‘the science’ on global warming and see what kind of reception you get.

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  13. The Right tends to be skeptical, skeptical that others know what is best for you or that some grand plan will solve things. Skepticism is also at the heart of science.

    Being skeptical of what economists, climate change believers, religious leaders and pretty much everyone is, or at least should be, at the heart of right wing beliefs.

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  14. JC, get off your butt and do some googling, and you can verify everything I’ve written..

    Assuming of course that you are interested in evidence, and not just flapping your gums.

    “Skepticism is also at the heart of science.”

    But questioning,as matter of course, the motives of people who hold a viewpoint different to yours is not at the heart of science. Neither is making it up as you go along, another staple of climate change denialism.

    The denialists have misappropriated the term skepticism.

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  15. Pedro S
    August 15th, 2008 12:29

    “charles’ answer shows just how well the AGW believers have pushed their views.”

    You just don’t get it Pedro, the models said the north pole is going to be ice free in about 100 years. They are wrong, the current best estimate is 30, we seem to entered a very rapid state change it could be less.

    It’s all over. Talking about complex models or any other mumbo jumbo isn’t going to change the facts, the ice is melting. Why the right would put themselves in a position where there views have to compete against reality is beyond me.

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  16. JC, get off your butt and do some googling, and you can verify everything I’ve written

    How exactly, most of the stuff you written are simplistic assertions, Chum.

    You wanna discuss say the Chemophobia issues on the left? LOL.

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  17. Somehow I just can’t get my head around the idea that Bob Brown as exhibit A for modern scientific man. Disnosaurs keep appearing in my mind.

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  18. JC, Bob Brown is just a politician. He is to science what you are to reasoned discussion.

    Try James Hansen for the science or Ross Garnaut for the economics.

    Who by the way has got chemophobia issues on the left? Personally, I love chemicals. My favourite is Tin, aka SN, atomic number 50, aide de memoir, sTaliN, but I’m also partial to Lithium, Li, 3, LenIn; and Lutetium, LU, 71, (rosa) LUxemburg.

    The worst chemical without any doubt is Calcium, CA.

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  19. What’s with all the LOL’s, Jc? It comes across to me like a comedian who’s so funny he has to end all his jokes by laughing to inform the audience likewise.

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  20. JC, Bob Brown is just a politician.

    Apart from being the pied piper for the cognitively impaired?

    Try James Hansen for the science or Ross Garnaut for the economics.

    Let me see, Hansen recently suggested that senior oil industry executives ought to tired and jailed for crimes against humanity. Check it for yourself and google it. ?

    Garnaut has suggested the largest big government redistribution plan in the history of the federation and you have referred to him as a free market economist.

    You are unusually less coherent than other times, Spiros. What’s wrong?

    Who by the way has got chemophobia issues on the left?

    Ask the senior members of the Green party if they support careful scientifically based DDT spraying of homes. Numerous environmental organizations are against it. Until the Green party got heat they were advertising a policy on their website that demanded nuclear medicine be phased out and that all nuke site dumps closed. Hospitals wouldn’t be able to rid themselves of contaminated waste such as gowns used during oncology treatment. The party minutes don’t show it has been removed from their policy list so I assume they are hiding it from public disclosure in case they get more heat.

    The Green party also supports Medicare funding for such things as naturopathy (including hot rock therapy and other assorted voodoo cures) which is all non-science based medicine and actually quite dangerous.

    The entire left believes that human differences and capabilities stop at the neck up. In other words there is no such thing as race and cognitive differences between individuals causing all sorts of big problems with our education system.

    Leftist economists basically ignore the evidence before them that supports market based solutions preferring to support command and control measures when there is ample evidence it will not work because it has never worked.

    The left is anti science all right, it’s just that you don’t want to admit it.

    What else would you like to know, Spiros.

    Oh yea lets get back to Garnaut who’s turned into another denialist/declinist in the true sense of the word. Following on from what I mentioned earlier, Garnaut is even more pessimistic than Stern in the scientific assumptions adopted for his report. He went out of his way to advise the government on science depicting emissions as extremely worrying, suggest we should raise the cost of carbon materially and fails to advise the government that the next available option in terms of providing base load energy is nuke.

    Sorry, but these are the people you’re suggesting we on the right should respect opinions? Who are you kidding Spiros? I think Laurel and Hardy would do a better job.LOL.

    And by the way I notice you have remained silent of the adaption or mitigation points I raised particularly the assertions Sterns science and economic assumptions lead to. The hysterically funny feature of the Stern report was that even if we used all his assumptions it would be better not mitigate.

    So yes, I would concur with your assumption that the right/ or libertarians like me don’t ever take the left seriously even to extent of which cocktail to serve as they would invariably f…k it up.

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  21. What’s with all the LOL’s, Jc? It comes across to me like a comedian who’s so funny he has to end all his jokes by laughing to inform the audience likewise.

    No Mitch, it’s the verbal version of paint by numbers for the verbally challenged….. like you.

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  22. “I notice you have remained silent of the adaption or mitigation points”

    That’s because, as the great physicist Wolfgang Pauli once put it, your argument is so poor, it’s not even wrong.

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  23. Thanks for the free advice. Show us where it’s wrong.

    Here’s a bet, Spiros. If it’s wrong i will never make another comment here again. If I’m right you never do.

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  24. “The confidence limits for these types of models are calculable.
    Detailed climate models do not fall into this category.”

    I’ll excuse your ignorance here Pedro, but they do. I’ve also no idea what you mean by validated models. The Box quote here comes to mind — All models are wrong, some are useful.

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  25. “If it’s wrong i will never make another comment here again.”

    Excellent. Here is where you are wrong.

    “Taking Sterns suggestion to mitigate by spending 1% of global GDP to mitigate”

    You’re wrong when you say that Stern says that this means 1% of GDP growth.

    Stern, Executive Summary, page xv

    Click to access Executive_Summary.pdf

    “A broad range of modelling studies, which include exercises undertaken by the IMCP, EMF
    and USCCSP as well at work commissioned by the IPCC, show that costs for 2050 consistent
    with an emissions trajectory leading to stabilisation at around 500-550ppm CO2e are
    clustered in the range of –2% to 5% of GDP, with an average around 1% of GDP.”

    Stern’s source is Barker, T., M.S. Qureshi and J. Köhler (2006): ‘The costs of greenhouse-gas mitigation with
    induced technological change: A Meta-Analysis of estimates in the literature’, 4CMR, Cambridge Centre
    for Climate Change Mitigation Research, Cambridge: University of Cambridge.

    They say on page 1

    “The overall conclusion for costs when ITC [technological change] is included is that even stringent
    stabilisation targets can be met without materially affecting world GDP growth”

    That’s game, set and match Cambria. You lose.

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  26. Sorry, no banana for that, Spiros.

    He’s clearly talking about something else, Einstein.
    You got one try, it’s wrong and you lose. I guess I’ll see you beavering away at some other blog from now on. Seeya.

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  27. Here, i’ll go through it again so you may understand what is being said.

    Stern says that failure to mitigate will cost around 20% of raw GDP by 2100.
    Stern and other projections say that putting Stern’s proposal in place would cost around 1% of potential GDP by 2100.

    So these are the rough calculations.

    Present day global GDP is $50 trillion

    Assuming a growth rate of 3.5% (some people assume a smaller rate of growth, but I and some others believe that the growth rate potential is actually increasing)

    $50 trillion accumulating/compounding for 92 years gives you global GDP of $1,184 in 2008 dollars(without time value… I said it’s rough) without mitigation and no evident problems associated with AGW.

    Assuming Stern’s loss estimate and no mitigation global GDP is $ 947 trillion which is 20% below. It is a little large because I should allow for compounding of the “loss” but I said it is rough.

    If we mitigate at the cost of 1% per year by diverting resources hence lowering the growth rate potential to 2.5% (without the effect of compounding but this is ok because we don’t do it with the other so the differential is broadly right) Global GDP is $485 trillion in 2008 dollars.

    So even if we take Stern’s estimate the case is not made for mitigation and the stronger the case for adaption becomes.

    Nice knowing you Spiros. I’ll see your name at some other sites I guess. JQ’s is always around.

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  28. Nice try. I don’t welsh on bets, Spiros and never have.

    Now do the right thing and hold the bet. You lost. I’m right. So all the best and lots of fun.

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  29. An interesting post Andrew- apart from the commentary/ responses with very few exceptions!!
    Although Herman’s little polemic doesn’t add much of substance to the discussion, it does provide a catalyst for the post. Anyway a couple of issues deserve some comment –
    The ‘tribalist’ descripter is more than a little simplistic. It can reasonably be applied as you have done to both the cultural left and right – JQ does have the occasional blinker problem in implying it only exists in regard to the activist right.But that suggests that we all fit in one of those two categories. I would think the reality is quite the contrary!
    As you say, very few of us are able to personally assess the correctness or otherwise of climate research. What we do is employ various heuristics for that purpose. This is not surprising, the general public does this with most even marginally complex issues eg during every electoral campaign.
    What complicates the climate change issue for the majority of the public – who don’t fit into these cultural groupings – is the rather naive (but understandable) view that science is supposed to be apolitical. Value-free , so to speak.
    I am sure that most of who bother to read these blogs understand that science seldom yields unambiguous answers – and in the case of climate change the public is faced daily with a barrage of cherry-picked (alleged) experts to support a particular line of argument. So in many ways, the debate is more to do with marketing than science – essentially the cultural right has loss this aspect of the debate. But the “cultural pessimists”as you refer to them have certainly not won! I assume you are referring to the anti-growth, anti-consumerist, anti-technology etc “tribe” that exist solely as what might be described as social ‘fringe-dwellers’. You may have pushed that purely as a straw-man argument (although they may think science has provided a cloak of respectability) I have seen little evidence of such groups gaining much public traction.

    I think it is beyond doubt that the ‘sceptics’ have lost the initial battle – what is now important is how nation-states handle the implications of the public’s acceptance of climate-change. Crying in the wilderness will not achieve a great deal – sceptics should adopt a more pragmatic approach. One does not have to resile from climate change scepticism to contribute constructively to the ongoing debate re the implications, so as to ensure all the various mitigation mechanisms are considered eg ETS, carbon tax, implementation speed, nuclear options, appropriate research, global actions, etc etc

    Given my serious doubts about the public’s preparedness to make even modest sacrifices to protect against low-probability catastrophes (eg 5c fuel price furore) the longer-term battle has a long way to run!!

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  30. I assume you are referring to the anti-growth, anti-consumerist, anti-technology etc “tribe” that exist solely as what might be described as social ‘fringe-dwellers’. You may have pushed that purely as a straw-man argument (although they may think science has provided a cloak of respectability) I have seen little evidence of such groups gaining much public traction.

    900,000 people voted for the green party which, when it’s all said and done, represents the declinist wing of the left. That is the wing that would like to see a material drop in living standards. This isn’t a small number of people and therefore it is incorrect to assert they don’t have influence. Of course they do.

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  31. JC,

    I think you’ll find a lot of people vote for the green party not because they really care about most of their politics (as in the hard left socialist stuff), but rather because they care about the environment in particular — that’s one of the reasons they always do much better in the senate. Also, even of those that do, I doubt most would like to see a drop in their material living standards — they just don’t believe that simple numbers necessarily tell you everything about living standards, and many believe that many externalities that affect living standards (like smog, desertification, traffic congestion etc.), never get entered into standard figures (not an unreasonable belief). On this note, I wonder what proportion of people you think that vote green want a drop in their material living standards, rather than just implying that they all do?

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  32. JC,
    I was not referring the Greens as such.

    Like all political parties the Greens party is not a homogeneous entity – there exist a wide range of views ‘under the umbrella’. I was referring to the Clive Hamilton following – who may or may not be Green supporters. With the Greens gaining 7.8% of the vote at the last election I doubt whether such a ‘group/following’ makes up a substantial part of that vote.

    Conrad,
    I agree with your view as to why “a lot of people vote for the Green party ” but not with your conclusion. The essential reason why “they always do much better in the Senate” is simply the voting system.
    H of R 967,781 votes – no seats
    Senate 1,144,751 votes – 5 seats

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  33. I think you’ll find a lot of people vote for the green party not because they really care about most of their politics (as in the hard left socialist stuff), but rather because they care about the environment in particular

    If you spent a little time reading the party manifesto you’d find that the environmental stuff forms only one part of their policy bag. Nearly all of it is about redistribution and declinism.

    They obviously influence the ALP.

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  34. I agree JC — but who reads the manifesto ? — almost no-one I imagine. I tend to think that in the long term, they will get swallowed up by the major parties, as happened in Germany, which is good, since then we get the green without the other crazy stuff.

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  35. Thanks ennui — I had not realized it was so close in both houses. Another category I wonder about is how many are voting green in the lower house even though their real preferance for the government is one of the major parties.

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  36. I agree JC — but who reads the manifesto ?

    Would you except that excuse from the 33% of the German adult public who voted for the National Socialists in 33?

    Goldhagen doesn’t.

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  37. “Would you except that excuse from the 33% of the German adult public who voted for the National Socialists in 33?”

    I was just observing reality JC, not offering an opinion of whether it is good or bad (Algeria is another example of people voting for something they didn’t really want incidentally). It’s good marketing by the socialist left — you take over a “green” party and still get their votes even though people think they are voting for a green party. The fact they arn’t is easy to see from when Bob Brown was over-ruled in the Telstra vs. the environment debate.

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  38. Conrad,
    I’m not sure what is meant by “their real preference” and voting behaviour but there is ample evidence that with modernization peoples basic values and beliefs are changing in ways that affect their political behaviour. The relevance of this is that the views/opinions of many “middle-class” Oz voters are beginning to encompass symbolic politics. eg environment, climate change, etc. Perhaps the Greens provide a voting outlet for for them. By voting Green they preserve their ‘conscience(?)’ in relation to those beliefs but remain fundamentally conventional ALP/Lib voters. I suppose essentially the “doctors wives” argument. Quantifying with any accuracy the size of that grouping would be very difficut!

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  39. The relevance of this is that the views/opinions of many “middle-class” Oz voters are beginning to encompass symbolic politics. eg environment, climate change, etc.

    This comes from where, ennui? The last election was simply about two things..

    1 Howard had been in for too long.

    2. punishment that he introduced workchoices.

    Rudd was forced to describe himself as an economic conservative (as well as Gillard) indicated just where the electorate is on symbolism….. it’s fine as long as it doesn’t coat a cent and the politicians act responsibly.

    We’ll begin to find out just where the symbolism takes us once the bill (ETS) comes in.

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  40. “their real preference”
    I mean people that wanted, say, Labor to get in but put the Greens (or whoever else) in first because they knww they would lose anyway.
    JC: I think you missed (3). Because people wanted socialist environmental policies.

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  41. Conrad:

    the environmental policies of the both major parties were essentially the same. People fired the libs for the reasons I gave.

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  42. I am still skeptical about the extent of catastrophic climate change. While Spiros says above that science is not left wing or right wing, can he name more than a handful of pro-AGW theorists that support nuclear power as a solution/mitigation?

    If even the believers think that ‘catastrophic’ global warming is less concerning than an established technology that already accounts for 16% of world electricity generation, then I can only assume that their opinions are less certain than they attest.

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  43. “While Spiros says above that science is not left wing or right wing, can he name more than a handful of pro-AGW theorists that support nuclear power as a solution/mitigation?”

    Well, I do. It should certainly be looked at seriously. Whether it stacks up given the huge cost remains to be seen.

    As for whether large numbers of climate scientists support nuclear power, I have no idea, but climate science should be evaluated on its own terms. Whether climate scientists support nuclear power is no more relevant to the existence of AGW than whether they support a particular football team.

    The denialists, but trying to politicise the science, have marginalised themselves and dealt themselves out of the discussions on what to do about AGW, including the possibility of nuclear power.

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