global warming

I don’t believe in you!

The New Scientist has a special report on the roots and methods of denialism. Should be useful reading for anyone who ever finds themselves talking to creationists/climate change deniers/9/11 Truthers/anti vaccination types/that bloke in teh pub who knows what really happened to Elvis.

How to be a denialist

Martin McKee, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who also studies denial, has identified six tactics that all denialist movements use. “I’m not suggesting there is a manual somewhere, but one can see these elements, to varying degrees, in many settings,” he says (The European Journal of Public Health, vol 19, p 2).

1. Allege that there’s a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence.

2. Use fake experts to support your story. “Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility,” says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.

3. Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited.

4. Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts.

5. Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man.

6. Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature. Insist “both sides” must be heard and cry censorship when “dissenting” arguments or experts are rejected.

Cloud seeding ships to combat global warming

This could also be posted to How to Save the World for Free, but it’s relevant to the phone comic I’m working on.

Unmanned ships that sprayed sea water into the atmosphere to boost low lying clouds could produce sufficient cooling effects to counteract global warming due to CO2 rises. They’d cost £1m to £2m and at least 1500 would be needed. If they did work that’s £3billion to mitigate the damage already done and buy us time to find alternative technologies. That’s just over a fortnight of the abomination that is the Iraq occupation, to make such crimes less likely in the future.

So don’t be surprised when Bush and Brown don’t invest in it.

A whole lotta Scoville

The hottest chilli sauce in the world has been created, distilled from several tons of peppers and 8,000 times hotter than Tabasco.

People aged 50 to 64 have the largest carbon footprints, due to their prosperity. They’re also the most vocal about the need to do something about climate change.

The Money Programme discovers DIY TV. To be broadcast tonight (and then, hopefully, available for streaming afterwards).

The Viagra baby. The drug was used to open arteries in the premature baby’s lungs so he could breathe more easily.

Over 1,200 bikes are stolen every day. Invest in a decent lock.

Reviewing the Nuclear Review
The Government’s nuclear review (AKA whitewash) has been judged biased and misleading and there are calls for a new white paper on the subject.

Tony Blair et al insist that their fixation on nuclear power is a brave and radical attempt to counter global warming when it’s actually a cowardly and backward effort to avoid doing anything.  If they want to do something radical they should start subsidising insulation and double glazing for houses in the worst Council Tax bands and paying to put solar water heaters on every South facing roof in the country.  Start by reducing the need for centralised energy production and helping those whose energy costs are a greater proportion of their expenditure.  It will increase the prosperity of the country, likely encourage further spending on energy saving and cut carbon dioxide production.

Then they can start funding micro-generation and communal energy projects.  Water turbines on weirs, local windmills, geothermal for a whole street, that sort of thing.  Lots of little projects have a better chance of coming in on time and under budget than one big one and a distributed power generation system will be more robust.

There are a lot of reasons why this won’t happen, but they all have one common factor- Tony Blair’s cowardice.  The Daily Mail would moan about the undeserving getting cossetted with free insulation and rail against "Nanny Statism".  The NIMBYs would try to halt schemes designed to make them better off.  Big Energy companies would complain because they would lose their monopolies and hold over consumers.  Most of all, this sort of scheme would give power back to ordinary people, the sort of prospect that gives every politician nightmares.