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Climate change: Interesting documentary on tonight… June 29, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…Thanks to EWI for pointing to this on this evening on RTÉ…


1. Logan - June 29, 2010

Hmmm… Have a bad feeling about this.
Duncan Stewart interviewing Ban Ki-Moon and Mary Robinson?
I have admiration for both those eminent individuals, but what particular qualifications in climate science have either?
I imagine this will be mostly pious lecturing in the guise of a documentary


EWI - June 29, 2010

I have admiration for both those eminent individuals, but what particular qualifications in climate science have either?

The science is settled (anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool or a knave), so the rest is up to politicians now. And I’d trust them over the mad and the bad that make up the other political side any day.


2. Crocodile - June 29, 2010

Interview with Tony judt on radio 4 this morning, available on BBC player, called ‘No Triumph, no Tragedy’.


3. LeftAtTheCross - June 30, 2010

It wasn’t a bad documentary, it certainly captured the sense of public confusion over the issue of global warming, and pretty clearly made the point that mainstream media drive to create debate by balancing coverage of the pro and anti camps has led to a situation where the controversial and “news worthy” story about climate change denial has received far more publicity than the less sexy story of the rebuttal of those accusations by the vast majority of the scientific community. Facts being less of a news story than controversy.

It also made the point clearly that the denial camp is being backed by the fossil fuel industry (oil and cars in particular) and states which are heavily involved in that industry.

On a related subject, there was a meeting last Saturday (which I wasn’t at) which has led to a group of disaffected Greens and fellow travellers setting up a new political organisation, “Fis Nua”.


Their manifesto is on-line at that site. From a quick read it appears to be a back-to-basics Green movement, well-meaning stuff that the GP have left behind, but it doesn’t appear to contain much that would attract Left support. For example, there’s a statement in it about natural resources which says “We would introduce a complete BAN on this state selling off ANY of our land or the resources of this land to foreign investors.” It clearly stops short of a ban in non-foreign investors! So while it’s probably a good thing to see a split in the Green movement, I’m not sure there’s enough in this to get any eco-socialists excited, nor draw away much of whatever remains of the electoral support for the GP.


4. Pope Epopt - June 30, 2010

Thanks LATC for a report of this – I really can’t bring myself to watch this stuff given the generally abysmal levels of understanding of either the science or the politics in the meeja on this issue.

As for the science being ‘settled’: well, surely that’s the line to take with Denialism 1.0, and it is settled in the sense that, given current models and data, we can take a pretty good 99 to 1 bet on AGW being both anthropogenic and warming globally at rates predicted well enough by some global climate models.

But, among moderately sophisticated people, we shouldn’t pretend that science is ever ‘settled’. Theories and models are always provisional and ‘our’ (that’s to say humanity’s, through the intellectual commons that constitutes climate science) models don’t capture particularly well what’s going on in the oceans, to mention just one lacuna. The science around this is fascinating, particularly since it’s only possible to model and observe (especially backwards in time), there not being a spare earth or two to experiment on. It’s a tragedy that it’s impolitic to go into the debates and uncertainties, because the 1.0 denialists portray debate and uncertainty as undermining the consensus conclusions.

Far more dangerous the Denialism 1.0, in my opinion, is Denialism 2.0. An exemplary promoter of this is Richard Tol at the ESRI. He is a member of Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Institute. I won’t increase their Google rankings by a link, but you can find them easily enough. They employ 1.0 tactics of muddying the waters on the science but when they are exposed, fall back on the position:

Well, sure AGW exists, but there’s nothing we can do about it that wouldn’t either be too expensive, or be anti-market, to the point where it will usher in global socialism. The market will provide solutions, if and when the problem arises.

This is the view that lies behind the effective (as opposed to the rhetorical and aspirational) policy position of most neo-liberal governments and international agreements. I’m sure I don’t need to go into here what’s wrong with this position.

Eco-socialists need to bang on more about irrational and short-termist ‘markets’ having no ability whatsoever to detect or respond to signals coming from the future in the form of the findings of climate science, rather than waste their time countering the cruder forms of denialism.


LeftAtTheCross - June 30, 2010

Pope, you make good points there about the vunerability of the politically/media naive scientific community in terms of debate being a cornerstone of the scientific method which is then exploited as a weakness by the sound-bite focused sectional interests in the fossil-fuel industry.

Your comment about “moderately sophisticated people” has a slight smack of elitism to it, but I know where you’re coming from and I’m not trying to be the thought police here 🙂

Your final paragraph there is correct I think. However, given the narrowness of public discourse (echoing one of your comments on Prof Lynch’s TASC lecture http://www.irishleftreview.org/2010/06/27/2010-tasc-annual-lecture-delivered-professor-kathleen-lynch/), any “banging on” by eco-socialists along the lines you propose is simply guaranteed to be ignored except in the narrowest of circles.

Whether one of those narrow circles includes the Left is the question, as there is or at least could be a decent overlap in worldview in that regard between eco and socialists. In my opinion.


5. Pope Epopt - June 30, 2010

I saw the Fis Nua / Donegal Greens through Derek Wall’s site (he has been helping them with the work) and pays attention to what’s happening in the Republic. Good luck to Fis Nua, but I can’t help thinking they’d be better off within a wider coalition.

On a related topic, I’m hoping that the Dog Breeding Bill might split the FF pit-bulls from the Green poodle pack, but it’s a case of turkeys and Christmas I suppose.


LeftAtTheCross - June 30, 2010

“Good luck to Fis Nua, but I can’t help thinking they’d be better off within a wider coalition.”

Maybe. But perhaps they need to find their feet first. What wider coalition exists already, or could be created? They appear to be eco-first, “social justice” second. Not socialist. Where does that place them on the spectrum? Close to Labour on social issues? The LP isn’t going to align with peripheral fragments, it’s looking to attract centrists into its fold at the moment. And the Left already has an abundance of fragments, none of which have really taken on board eco issues yet (Eamon McCann’s SEA may be the sole exception http://socialistenvironmentalalliance.org/)

Perhaps the possibility of a wider coalition can emerge over time, as the Left builds eco awareness. Maybe there’s a bit of an echo from EJH’s comment on a differnt thread that the Left is an aging constituency, so with time the Left will either die off altogether or else a younger generation with perhaps more eco motivation will come to the fore.


Pope Epopt - June 30, 2010

“The left is an ageing constituency”. You could be right there. Well there’s plenty of reasons for ‘the youth’ to get radicalised. It reminds me of the comment of the daughter of a friend of mine, who’s gone through her own personal financial crisis, for the first time in her life:

“Perhaps you whingeing old lefties were right all the time!”


LeftAtTheCross - June 30, 2010

“Perhaps you whingeing old lefties were right all the time!”

There’s a thought!


6. Cllr Pat Kavanagh, Independent Green - July 18, 2010

Folks, thanks for your comments. All constructive criticism is welcome. We’re not claiming to have all the answers, just a willingness to make a start. As Fís Nua is a federation, we are relying on imput from individuals, groups and organisations with a social justice and ecology agenda to either join with us to forward this agenda, or to submit their proposals to us at info@fisnua.com.

Fingers crossed there will be enough of an impetus to really make a change this time.

The next meeting of Fís Nua will be on Saturday 24th July at the Teachers Club, Parnell Sq, Dublin, 12pm-6pm. All interested parties welcome.


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