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Archive for the ‘Global warming’ Category

Tom Toles, US cartoonist, writes in a post called Own Facts:

The main thing is they [Republicans] are in absolute, abject and catastrophic denial about a straightforward set of facts that is probably the most important set of facts we face as a nation, and as human beings on planet earth. They have turned their faces away from climate change in a way that is simply and utterly unforgivable. They now apparently DO feel entitled to their own facts, and they live, campaign and purportedly do their jobs in a zone of outright lies. Lies they have every reason to understand are lies, and lies that will almost certainly result in massive destruction and death. Exactly how would you be “fair” to these people?

In Australia unfortunately we have our share of Republicans.   And we’re much too fair to them.

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Regarding climate change, there is ”no website that has evidence-based information” that would allow a ”common-sense debate” .

So says the outgoing Governor of the state of Victoria, David de Kretser.  Or at least, this is what he was reported as saying in today’s Age.

I can hardly he believe he really said it.  There are many (how many? I don’t know – but heaps) of websites presenting evidence-based information.   Here are just a few which come to mind quickly:

  • Real Climate – “Climate science from climate scientists”
  • Climate Progress – the legendary blog relentlessly fighting the good fight;
  • Skeptical Science – a wealth of evidence-based information, including detailed responses to standard “denialist” arguments, at three levels of scientific detail, and available on an iPhone/Pad app;
  • Our very own CSIRO’s website section on climate change;
  • The IPCC.

Supposing de Kretser both said it and believed it, his strange assertion calls out for some kind of explanation.   Here’s a couple which seem plausible to me.

1.  de Kretser doesn’t actually surf the web very much.  He doesn’t read online.  He is of the generation that hardly uses computers very much, let alone dwells in the digisphere.  de Kretser thinks there is nothing out there because he hasn’t ventured out there to look.

2. de Kretser is sort of aware that there is at least some good stuff out there.  But he’s working backwards from the fact, seemingly inexplicable to him, that there is so much ignorance, delusion, and apathy in the population.  He tends to believe that when people are exposed to good information, they change their mind accordingly.  Since vast numbers of Australians don’t know and don’t care about climate change, they can’t have been exposed to information.  So there must be a lack of good information.  Maybe we should have a good website!

But this is naive.  It is naive about  individual psychology and how beliefs form and change.  And it is naive about the forces at work in society whose effect (only sometimes deliberate) is to distract, disinform, and confuse.   Possibly, intelligent and ethical scientists such as himself are exposed to, interested in, and form their beliefs on the basis of, good information.  But people such as himself are a tiny minority.

Sir, we don’t need more websites.  We have plenty already, and websites on their own are nearly useless in dealing with the kind of challenges we have – not just the primary challenge of dealing with climate change itself, but the tactical challenge of inducing appropriate change in people’s minds and behaviors.  Please devote your considerable capacities and influence to activities with real impact, not the shifting of pixels on the digital decks of a sinking civilisation.

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