Monday, April 30, 2012

DENIERS & DOOMERS : please read Stephan Lewandowsky

   Stephan Lewandowky is an Australian professor and author in the area of cognative science, specializing in the role of skepticism.
   Perhaps this is why he has become so focused on the debate between the DOOMERS and the DENIERS over the importance of HCP (Human Carbon Pollution) in the atmosphere.

   Skepticism is clearly radiates from the very bones of every Denier, but what is perhaps less obvious is that it also there among the Doomers as well.
  It should be obvious why GCR admires Lewandowsky : like this journal, and unlike almost every other commentator, he takes the debate between the two sides seriously.
   In particular, he views it as a serious debate between people with
differing assessments on the matter of risk, fueled by the fact that what behavior either side view as risky and what they do not, is dominated by that side's world view and ideology.
  All his research in cognitive processes suggests that world views and ideologies are not easily moved by any amounts of 'new evidence', as that evidence is only viewed through the prism of each viewer's existing ideology.
   Doomers are convinced that our existing and ever increasing carbon polluting of the atmosphere severely threatens the long term human economy.
   They thus believe that the short term pain and risk of a severe (but temporary) hit to our national and personal incomes through a steep tax on carbon, will actually be cheaper to the global economy over the long run.
  In public anyway, Deniers rebut their skeptical doubts that there is too much carbon pollution in the atmosphere, but in any event claim a carbon tax would be a fatal risk to impose upon carbon-extracting and carbon-using industries, when we can't be 100% sure Mother Nature isn't causing this supposed increase in carbon pollution.
   In rebuttal, Doomers tend to be skeptic that the economic sky would fall upon us like a ton of coal, if carbon-burning does becomes a smaller and smaller part of the human economy.
   But back to Lewandowsky and here GRC  (may) differ with him just a little.
  This journal feels that most Deniers do secretly agree with Doomers, agreeing that there is altogether too much HCP flying about.
   However because of their ultra-religious faith that a high tech solution to any problems human progress throws up (like carbon pollution) will always be easily and quickly found, they feel there is no need to shut carbon industries prematurely.
  Lewandowsky quotes well known carbon pollution-denier, Australian Senator Nick Minchin, who notes (as does
 GCR) the highly suggestive coincidence of certain events of the period around epochal year of 1989.
   His thesis is that The Fall of Communism was a disaster for the left and led them to seek a new weapon to beat up the free marketeers with - and that was climate change.
  It is true at that time, two - not just one - history-making events occurred.
  Obviously the 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall, signaling the end of communism and in some sense, signaling the lack of traction in the old, old verities of good versus evil, in the tales that socialists tell about the capitalists.
  The second event was less obvious, but just as epoch-making: the long simmering pot of climate worries suddenly became front page news world wide and has stayed there ever since.
   Awkwardly for the Senator's theory, the rise of climate change
worries on front pages proceeded, not followed, the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
  And it was led by an icon of the Right, not by wild-eyed treehuggers.
  Most people credit the rise to a September 27th 1988 Speech to the Royal Society ,on the dangers of climate change, by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
   (She had actually intended the speech to promote what to her was the safer alternative energy of nuclear plants over was to her the highly strike-prone coal mines.)
   However it ended up being reported in the world's flaccid oldstream media as 'if even Thatcher takes this climate story seriously, we johnny-come-latelies-to-every-party-journalists must rush to play catch-up as well'.
  GCR thus half agrees with Senator Minchin.
  The green climate change question 'is the ever-growing global economic pie actually making us all sicker not healthier?' did replace the red versus white fight over how to divide that ever-expanding global economic pie.
   But it was not the reds leading this charge: the greens are merely replacing the reds slowly ,but surely, among the new generations of the young and the green concerns are thus rising among mass concerns.
   But the majority of the world population - in particular the older and hence powerholding majority - is still white and red, not green.
   This white and red majority is a little worried about climate change killing their grandchildren's futures.
 But not enough to make grandmother or grandfather seriously willing to reduce their personal comfort today via some effective  (ie heavy) carbon tax.
   The inside-the-scientific-peer-reviewed-beltway debate over the existence of dire amounts of human carbon pollution (HCP) in the atmosphere is long over.
   However, the debate in the much bigger world of Popular Science has just begun....

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