A hard road

by Bryan Walker on January 6, 2011

The jury may have found the climate protestors at Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, but the judge in his sentencing yesterday clearly showed a good deal of sympathy with the offenders. The 18 activists received sentences ranging from 18 months conditional discharge to 90 hours unpaid work. Two of them received modest fines. Judge Jonathan Teare conceded the public may consider his sentencing “impossibly lenient”. But he said he had been put in a highly unique position given the moral standing of the campaigners.

“You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form.

“I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration.

“There is not one of you who cannot provide glowing references from peers or professionals. And if I select some of the adjectives that recur throughout they are these: honest, sincere, conscientious, intelligent, committed, dedicated, caring.”

However he said motivation could not absolve them from punishment and proceeded to impose the mild sentences.

During their trial at Nottingham crown court, the defendants admitted they planned to break into the plant, but argued they were acting to prevent the greater crimes of death and serious injury caused by climate change.

They claimed that had their protest succeeded in closing down the power station for a week, they would have prevented the emission of 150,000 tonnes of CO2.

In a statement after the sentences were handed down the defendants maintained their position:

“We still feel our actions are a reasonable response to the irrational destructive situation, of runaway climate change … that we are taking action on climate change is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. We want to reiterate our support for everyone everywhere fighting for climate justice.”

James Hansen was among the witnesses who appeared for the defence. Much of his evidence revolved around the need to avoid reaching a tipping point where climate change would spiral outside of control. “You do not want to reach a point where you begin to get collapse (of ice sheets) and rapid change. If you reach that point you have gone too far and it will be out of humanity’s control.”

The lenient sentences reflect those handed down in a Scottish court to the Aberdeen airport protestors, which I discussed on Hot Topic a few months ago. Protestors such as these deliberately break the law and in doing so indicate their preparedness to face the consequences. Those of us who merely watch may be pleased for them when the consequences are less severe than the law allows, but there is more at stake than whether the courts’s sentencing will be harsh or not.

As Bradley Day, one of the Ratcliffe protestors suggests in a Guardian article today, there is small solace in lenient sentences alongside the realities with which the protestors are concerned:

“Despite hearing terrifying evidence from some of world’s leading climate change experts; learning of the millions of pounds spent in their local area as a result of extreme weather conditions; listening to gut-wrenching testimonies from flood victims across the globe; and observing senior politicians explain our crippling democratic deficit, the jury went on to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict.”

It’s what the verdict implies about the public response to climate change that bothers him.

“The jury received a more extensive education on climate change than most people get in a lifetime. That they could not vindicate our actions is nothing to get self-righteous about; it is deeply disturbing. If the jury, after everything they had heard, couldn’t bring themselves to sympathise with our actions, who will?”

Five years ago when he first engaged in the issue he was full of optimism.

“People appeared to be waking up to the issue in the nick of time. Like hundreds of others, we launched a community action group in our town. When we hosted a public meeting it was standing room only.”

But as the years passed it became apparent that nothing had been achieved, and he now thinks climate change is being treated as an issue of the past, as it gets only a fraction of the attention it enjoyed not so long ago. (This impression receives some confirmation from a recent analysis of media climate coverage in 2010).

So what’s to be done? He works through to a McKibben-like conclusion:

“Will the next 12 months see climate change, the issue, continue to slide into obscurity as climate change, the reality, kills at an ever escalating rate? If we are to reverse the current trend we need to do more than lobby our MPs. We need to do more than shut down coal-fired power stations. In 2011 we need to begin a comprehensive grassroots engagement project.”

It’s hard slog he’s looking at:

“This is no small task. Three weeks in front of the world’s leading climate experts didn’t do it for 12 people from Nottingham. This scheme requires long-term commitment. Getting out and talking about these challenging issues is draining and comes with little glory. But those of us terrified by the prospect of climate change cannot afford to ignore those who don’t feel the same way.”

Climate change is a terrifying prospect. So is a society which continues about its business as if little untoward is happening, even though it treats with some leniency those who resort to civil disobedience to challenge that complacency.

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

R2D2 January 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Lets imagine another scenario to give ourselves all a little perspective on this situation…….
The group of 8 broke into the Boston central family planning clinic and attempted to destroy the medical equipment used for abortions. The leader of the group stated, “Had our protest resulted in shutting down the clinic for a week we would have saved over 30 lives”.

Despite hearing terrifying evidence from some of world’s leading morality experts; gut wrenching testimonies from children of teenage parents (who had abortion been an option for their mothers, may have never been born); and observing senior members of the Catholic Church explaining our crippling democratic deficit; the jury went on to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict.”

Before giving the sentences the judge, an ardent member of the local catholic church, stated,

“You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form.
“I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration…
“There is not one of you who cannot provide glowing references from peers or professionals. And if I select some of the adjectives that recur throughout they are these: honest, sincere, conscientious, intelligent, committed, dedicated, caring.”

Does it seem wrong that the judge in this case seems convinced that greenhouse gas emissions will cause loss of life? And that no consideration was given to the possible loss of life from electricity failure? The judge seems to have the presumption that less electricity from coal is better. This smacks of AGW we-know-best elitism.

BTW: what is a democratic deficit?

bill January 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Anti-abortion protesters are directly interfering in the liberty of others to make their own reproductive decisions in their own, individual, lives. Full stop. Whereas these folks are protesting the dumping of massive quantities of carbon into the atmosphere that are a risk to everyone, whether they stand to gain from the resulting electricity or not. Moralism vs. altruism. There is no valid comparison.

Before giving the sentences the judge, an ardent member of the local catholic church, stated,

Are you implying that Jonathon Teare is ‘ardent’ in some Green cause, perhaps? I see no evidence of this. Or is this perhaps a sort of Freudian error on your part – Teare makes his ‘leniency’ case on the basis of a rational assessment of the interests of humanity as a whole, while only a religious ideologue could praise your hypothetical campaigners.

R2D2 January 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm

“acted with the highest possible motives”. And like I said in the original post, he does not mention the possibility that the actions could have had negative consequences (but I haven’t read the full transcript only read Bryan’s post).

“Anti-abortion protesters are directly interfering in the liberty of others to make their own reproductive decisions in their own, individual, lives. Full stop. Whereas these folks are protesting the dumping of massive quantities of carbon into the atmosphere that are a risk to everyone, whether they stand to gain from the resulting electricity or not. Moralism vs. altruism. There is no valid comparison.”

I only needed to change a few words and the quotes easily fit into the imaginary scenario – that was my point – AGW alarmists have become as self riotous as some of the more extreme sects of organised religions. Sorry that everyone seems to have missed it.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack January 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

R2D2:

Where can I find those thousands of prestigious peer-reviewed scientific papers showing that abortion (oh noes!) has a 90% chance of leading to worldwide catastrophe? Because I can’t find them.

Or do you not understand the whole concept of science, evidence, logic, and fact-checking?

frank

R2D2 January 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

I did not say AGW theory was wrong. I said some AGW alarmists have become self-righteous. It seems every single time a post is made critical of any aspect of this blog it is the equiviliant of saying every aspect of AGW is wrong, I never said that.

It is a giant leap from AGW theory to wanting to shut down coal power stations immediately. Where can I find a peer reviewed article saying the welfare enhancing action is to shut down this coal power station immediately? These people are trying to overwrite the democratic process. That is self-righteous.

Tony January 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

The best way I can think of to explain the anxiety of people who resort to such actions is to use the snowball analogy.

GHGs are much like a snowball rolling down a mountain. As it rolls down, it gains in mass and momentum, so that the further down it gets, the harder it is to ever push it back up again, assuming that we decided half way down the slope it was imperative to stop it and force it backwards. In GHG terms, reversing the emissions process costs, money, time and effort. So while emissions are easy and effortless, the emitters forcing the next generation to likely have to clean up the mess, is not self-righteous, but rather selfish.

I agree warmists are self-righteous, but so were the many that made attempts to abolish slavery, give women the vote. They were all self-righteous attempting to change the system without democratic approval (in the case of giving women the vote it was difficult since the democratic system was run by men). Some, I dare say, were even willing to put lives including their own, in harms way, in order to change the mindset at the time. Ironically with regard slavery, the argument most commonly used against slavery abolition, was that it would hurt the economy. How times have changed.

John D January 7, 2011 at 8:58 am

AGW alarmists have become as self riotous

I think you meant self-righteous but I quite like your pun.

John D January 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

No one appreciates my joke

Oh well, I guess that’s what you get when you are a denialist **** sucker (sic)

[Edited by GR: not funny, JD, just crude]

bill January 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm

…um, you do know who the Koch brothers are, don’t you, John? And since you mis-spelled the original you can’t use sic?

John D January 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

Sorry I was trying to be a cunning linguist. It was a slip of the tongue.

Don’t you understand my self-defecating humour?

bill January 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I only needed to change a few words and the quotes easily fit into the imaginary scenario – that was my point – AGW alarmists have become as self riotous [sic] as some of the more extreme sects of organised religions. Sorry that everyone seems to have missed it.

One; no you didn’t. Your analogy was risible; as others have commented, notable even by your standards!

Two: ooh, what a give away! Scratch the surface and there’s the bog-standard ‘it’s all a religion, I tells ya’ troll underneath.

Mr February January 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Nice post Bryan.
R2D2′s comment is perhaps the most ridiculous he has posted yet. And that is saying something.

Bryan Walker January 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Thanks Mr February. Yes, R2D2 excelled himself with that one. Mind you, he’s doing sentry duty on a number of fronts at present, and a few loose shots in the general direction of the enemy sometimes have to serve.

Gareth January 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Comment of the day!

Tony January 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Gareth and/or Bryan,

Have either of you considered approaching the Herald directly for a CdF response? Or are they likely to be a bit like Blackadder’s King Richard IV to messenger: “I like NOT this news!”

Surely they can withstand a little bit of truth sneaking in between the lies.

Bryan Walker January 6, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Tony, I have in the past offered opinion pieces to the Herald, usually in refutation of some denialist piece they had just published. I had one published out of four offered. They do not communicate their reasons for not publishing or even acknowledge receipt of offerings. When we stopped getting the Herald I stopped writing. More recently occasional Hot Topic posts have ended up on their website, via Sciblogs, to the consternation of Richard Treadgold and assorted others.

Tony January 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Thanks Bryan that is interesting but hardly a surprise there.

So if the ABs lose the world cup again this year, why doesn’t the Press just tell the NZ public that we won it! It would likely save alot on the usual violence in the home that follows every time we lose. Its a win-win solution, NZers will feel good about themselves once more. Of course there might be some who will question whether we actually did win it, but who cares what they think we have to consider the bigger picture with regard to what is more important for all NZers.

Turboblocke January 7, 2011 at 4:48 am

The power station in question supplies at most about 2.25% of UK electricity. Claiming that shutting it down would risk lives is quite ludicrous.

Mike Palin January 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

This would have turned out to be just another silly Greenpeace-like publicity stunt. I agree with the prosecution as quoted in the Guardian article that such actions tend to “disengage ordinary people” and that a ‘Turn off Tuesday’ or ‘Switch off Saturday’ consumer-action campaign would have been a better use of money and effort by the protest planners.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack January 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

Bryan Walker:

Climate change is a terrifying prospect. So is a society which continues about its business as if little untoward is happening, even though it treats with some leniency those who resort to civil disobedience to challenge that complacency.

Meanwhile, David “Leader of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” Koch meets the US Congress like an Emperor meets his subjects.

The Center for American Progress responds… by blogging about it. Duh.

I bet the Koch family are scared to the point of peeing in their pants at the prospect of people writing blog posts about them! Yeah, right.

frank

Toby January 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

I sympathize with the position of the jury. No doubt the defence gave them a thorough education on climate change and the harm fossil fuels are doing.

But the last thing they heard was probably the judge’s summing up. No doubt he told them they were duty bound to consider the facts of the case and the guilt and innocence of the accused, not global warming.
They may have felt lenience was for the judge to grant.

There will have to be a lot more of this before anything is achieved. But a single event can change everything. Lyndon Johnson thought a Civil Rights Bill was politically impossible – then the beating of the Selma marchers was beamed into every living room in America. Within weeks he presented a Civil Rights Bill and said “We Shall Overcome”.

Keep chipping away, one bit at a time, the wall will fall.

bill January 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

@ Toby – I agree. The summing-up would have to have contained instructions to the effect that whatever the rights and wrongs of the overall argument may be the jury’s job is to determine whether an offence has been committed under the law as it stands. Is there any doubt there was a conspiracy to trespass?

The judge then acknowledged their motivations and handed down the most lenient possible sentence as an indication that mitigating points have indeed been taken into account. Good result!

This is part of the political point of taking such actions in the first place. I’ve been in not-dissimilar situations; I’m a bit surprised by any expectation on the activists part that things might have gone otherwise! I think criticising the jury is a substantial tactical error; though Day does also defend them from flagrant – and silly – denunciations on Facebook.

No doubt some nasty little bunch is lobbying to overturn the sentence and ‘clap them in irons’ as we speak. That these same people will tell you that ‘warmists’ are all totalitarians and want to have deniers sent to ‘the camps’ is an irony that won’t be lost on those with a functioning intelligence…

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

… and then, all of the protesters and the activist judge came home, flipped a switch, opened a fridge and used electric oven to make their dinner.

P.S. … and didn’t forget to bemoan the rising price of elictricity either.

bill January 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm

no pearl of wisdom there…

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Hey, unlike those guys I didn’t pretend to express any special wisdom. Just pointed out the obvious.

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

In other words, the judge gave them the minimum possible sentence because his view happened to co-incide with theirs. If it didn’t, would it be ok for him to slam them with the toughest possible? Don’t you see the danger there?

The judge should go by the law – not by his/her personal feelings. For instance, taking into account early guilty plea is fine. But saying they were pursuing high and noble aims isn’t. This is the old “the ends justify the means” scenario. Hope no one here subscribes to it? Oh, I forgot, defendants did. The activist judge did too. Hope the sentence is appealed.

bill January 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

‘Activist judge’?

The judge is allowed discretion in sentencing, precisely because of the complexity of issues of motivation, intent, past behaviour etc.. This is one of the defining features of democratic jurisprudence.

Therefore Teare did indeed go by the law. You suggest that he did not. The judge heard all the testimony, including the expert testimony, knows the law, and is thereby entitled to claim ‘special wisdom’. Clearly he arrived at a conclusion you don’t approve of, but to claim this is ‘Judicial Activism’ or suggest that Teare has gone outside the law is absurd.

Some have always bemoaned any of the lenient sentences handed out to all social reformers since the abolitionists. This is not a roll-call that posterity has tended to judge in a favourable light!

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Let me put it this way: They have just been convicted of a crime and he calls them “decent men and women”? I beg to disagree.

I don’t suggest he was outside the law (he wouldn’t be a judge if he was). But activist judge is a judge who allows his personal preferances, beliefs, sympathies to affect his judgment and, in this case, the sentence passed.

As I said above: would you be ok with it if the judge happened to hold opposite views abd handed them the max sentence allowed? Also within the law of course.

He should be guided by objective criteria only: did they enter an early guilty plea? Yes. OK – here’s your discount. But to say, in effect, “I think your motives were noble so it’s ok” – that’s not good or acceptable.

bill January 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

They have just been convicted of a crime and he calls them “decent men and women”? I beg to disagree.

So all people who commit civil disobedience offences are by definition indecent? Sheesh…

He should be guided by objective criteria only: did they enter an early guilty plea? Yes. OK – here’s your discount. But to say, in effect, “I think your motives were noble so it’s ok” – that’s not good or acceptable.

So you’re not in favour of one of the cornerstones of the rule of law in the liberal democracies, then? Oh, I see from the post below you’re not! Yep, mandatory sentencing – stealing a packet of biscuits from Woolworths to feed the kids is the same as knocking off a pensioner’s wallet! Can’t foresee any problems arising there! Let’s try ‘three strikes and your out’ while we’re at it, and then we can have a prisons-based recovery!

You’re entitled to believe all this, of course, but frankly these attitudes strike me as medieval (or, at best , Georgian – as in Mad King III, but come to think of it W was also quite the revivalist!)

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

The cornerstone of the rule of law in the liberal democracies is equal justice for all. I see you don’t favour that principle.

Dappledwater January 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm

But activist judge is a judge who allows his personal preferances, beliefs, sympathies to affect his judgment and, in this case, the sentence passed.

Yeah, well by your criteria every judge would be an activist judge. I had to put up with their erratic decisions for 17 years. That’s life, they’re human too.

But saying they were pursuing high and noble aims isn’t. This is the old “the ends justify the means” scenario.

Nonsense, if it weren’t for civil disobedience, slavery, segregation and apartheid would perhaps not have been abolished. Remember the charges were conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, hardly crime of the century.

Oyster January 10, 2011 at 6:38 am

The penalty range was also hardly the penalty range of the century. But the judge chose to impose the lowest limit even in that very lenient range.

At the moment, I didn’t plan to discuss whether or not that range should be upped (in my opinion it should but that’s for another topic). The issue was that the judge used his discretion in unfair way to further his own personal agenda. And that’s not good – it’s not for nothing the Femida is generally depicted blindfolded, that’s how it should be.

Oyster January 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Maybe a bit outside of scope, but I think still relevant: Have you heard of the mandatory sentencing that used to be in force for awhile in Australian Northern Territories?

It was introduced exactly because judges like that kept passing purely symbolic sentences which didn’t reflect the seriousness of the situation or the public good and opinion. It got so bad that the legislature had to pass special laws mandating certain minimum sentences, in effect removing part of this power from the judges,

I believe this case bears a striking similarity to what was happening there.

bill January 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Sorry about the continuing semi-OT, Gareth and Bryan, but I thought I’d just drop this in for the benefit of those not fully familiar with the Australian ‘dog-whistling’ lexicon -

From Mandatory Sentencing for Adult Property Offenders – the Northern Territory Experience a presentation to the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference 2003 by the NT Office of Crime Prevention:

CONCLUSIONS

INDIGENOUS OVER-REPRESENTATION

Indigenous people were heavily over-represented in the mandatory sentencing regime.

Indigenous adults were approximately 8.6 times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to receive a mandatory prison term at some time during the life of the sentencing regime.

Indigenous adults were an even higher proportion of repeat offenders, with 95% of one year minimum sentences being ordered against indigenous offenders.

DETERRENCE

The length of the minimum sentence was not an effective deterrent for the population known to have been subject to the mandatory sentencing regime. This finding does not discredit the possibility that the other elements of mandatory sentencing regime, including the publicity it generated, did deter property offenders.

Available data suggests that sentencing policy does not measurably influence levels of recorded property crime.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack January 10, 2011 at 6:23 am

Duh, Oyster.

One moment you’re accusing the judge of being a hypocrite. The next moment you assert that ‘the law is the law’. And the very next moment you suddenly claim that NZ law is wrong and should be changed. Please come back after you’ve actually made up your mind on what you really think.

passing purely symbolic sentences which didn’t reflect the seriousness of the situation or the public good and opinion.This purely symbolic sentence does reflect the seriousness of the situation — that is, the seriousness of climate change, and the overwhelming amount of empirical data that points to the seriousness of the problem.

Or does “public good and opinion” refer to a crazed concern for nothing but JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS!!!!! without regard to safety or health or national security?

frank

Oyster January 10, 2011 at 6:32 am

Please, disentangle your thoughts first:

- “seriousness of the situation”. He was asked to rule on the crime they commited, NOT on the issue of global warming and its consequences. (This is, in part, what I accuse him of – overstepping his limits and basing his decision on external considerations).

- I don’t see how the statements that: “judge of being a hypocrite. The next moment you assert that ‘the law is the law’” – are mutually exclusive. Yes, the law is the law AND the judge was being hypocritic. That’s the other part of the problem.

- “law is wrong and should be changed” – isn’t it what the protesters claimed in effect? In fact. they even went further than just claimed – they actually acted on it.

So, to use your words: please come back after you’ve sorted out what it is you object to.

Dappledwater January 10, 2011 at 8:25 am

He was asked to rule on the crime they commited, NOT on the issue of global warming and its consequences. (This is, in part, what I accuse him of – overstepping his limits and basing his decision on external considerations).

Wrong. Perhaps you should actually sit through a few court hearings to understand how the process works. In sentencing the judge took into consideration the defendants motivation for carrying out the offence, so-called mitigating factors. He rightly reasoned that they were well-intentioned (hence his comments about decent people) and were trying to prevent a far greater harm – global warming.

Now if you had ever been to court you would notice that mitigating circumstances are considered every time a judge imposes a sentence.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack January 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

Oyster:

“law is wrong and should be changed” — isn’t it what the protesters claimed in effect?

You’re deflecting the point: that you — yes, you — suggested that the law is ‘wrong’ and there should be mandatory minimum sentences — right after claiming that ‘the law is the law’. You can’t have it both ways.

(This is, in part, what I accuse him of – overstepping his limits and basing his decision on external considerations).

So one moment you claim the judge’s sentence should reflect “the public good and opinion”, and the next moment you claim that the judge’s sentence shouldn’t be based “on external considerations”. Which is it?

Do you realize you were repeatedly contradicting yourself? Or are you just throwing out random bullshit excuses to dispute the judge’s ruling?

frank

Oyster January 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

No, it’s you who stubbornly refuses to understand and sees contradictions where there are none:

“the law is ‘wrong’ and there should be mandatory minimum sentences — right after claiming that ‘the law is the law” – No contradiction there, quite the opposite in fact. The law is law and must be observed even if it’s wrong. Please note (once again) I never claimed the judge broke or didn’t observe the law. Your position however looks odd – you defend people who clearly broke the law they disagree with but object to my opinion that the said law is not strong enough! How’s that for two-faced hypocrisy!

Next: you either can’t read or intentionally misquote. The ““public good and opinion” I was talking about was the foundation for changing the law to NOT allow the judges to use their OWN opinions on the subject at hand. This was determined by legislature which is there, by definition, to set the laws, The judge’s job is to implement those laws (doh, like it’s something new!).

When a judge oversteps that mandate and starts to systematically abuse his priviledge – that’s when the law makers decided they had to intervene.

bill January 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

He was asked to rule on the crime they commited, NOT on the issue of global warming and its consequences.

The judge, as everyone here who is not a denier has managed to work out, passed sentence on the basis of the character of the defendants and the fact that the expert testimony (and, in fact, the overwhelming bulk of the world’s expert testimony, full stop) backs their claims of the urgency of the situation and hence this reinforces the ‘decency’ – and I use the word advisedly – of their intentions. This is not a situation that would prevail in R2′s ludicrous ‘parallel’ scenario.

All you’ve managed to demonstrate is how little you know about the legal system. Dappledwater has put you right above. See that word he put in bold?

And yet you outrightly claim that the judge has ‘systematically abused his privilege’!? And he’s ‘a hypocrite’! How on earth do you figure that? Because he burns electicity? What are you; twelve? And how do you know he hasn’t got solar panels installed, or doesn’t purchase 100% wind power from the grid, as I do (both)?

All this simply because he has imposed a sentence you don’t agree with, and even though you clearly don’t understand what actually happened!

The world is actually a bit more complex than all that ‘riled-up’ self-confirming drivel on squawkback radio paints it, you know!

What you apparently want to see is more of the people you don’t like locked up. And for longer. Go tell it to a shockjock! I don’t have a lot of time for the kind of people who wish to revisit the heady days of mandatory sentencing in the NT, and anybody who actually bothered to read the NT Office of Crime Prevention’s own assessment of it I posted above should be able to figure out why.

Oyster January 10, 2011 at 9:05 am

Perhaps I should clarify my position a bit so I’m taking it back to the sub-thread top:

I’m not discussing the relative merits (or lack thereof) of what they did. Nor the AGW issues per se. Not here anyway. In fact, I’m rather indifferent to the issue (call me some names here if you want).

What I am bothered about, is the fact that politically active judges allow their own agendas to influence the outcomes of court hearings. To me, this is a worry. The judge must be impartial, weighing facts and their merits (yes, merits – no contradiction there) as established by the laws they apply. Not by their own personal likes and dislikes.

Coming back to the case at hand, the judge effectively said that because HE thinks their ideas were good, it’s ok to take the law into their own hands (well, nearly ok, as far ok as he was allowed to make it). I don’t think he has that power or authority vested in him.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack January 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Oyster:

Repeating the same bullshit doesn’t make it not bullshit.

frank

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

Oyster: Please do not worry too much about some of the replies you have had. Your points are clear and sensible.

Many of the replies you have had are by people who have purely gone through your comment with the intent of trying to find a silly hole to argue. They understand what you are saying but are choosing to play willfully stupid.

RW January 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

You – of all people – are calling others wilfully stupid?

And don’t pretend that you haven’t heard of Beck and (particularly) Ring. It’s time you opposers/cynics/fuzzylogicians were forced to declare your positions.

John D January 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I don’t know anything about Beck or Ring.

Destroying public property is stupid.
Where do you draw the line?
Blowing up a nuclear power station. ?
Blowing up an airplane?
Blowing up a car?

State your positions

Carol Cowan January 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Aeroplanes and cars are not public property.

bill January 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I repeat – read the bloody articles, John – your public onanism is simply embarrassing.

Macro January 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

“They understand what you are saying but are choosing to play willfully stupid.”
You couldn’t have said it better – is that because that is your modus operandi?
Sure you know about Ken Ring.

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Yeah that’s my mode of operation (or I could try to sound smart by using the Latin). Like the post in this article. I went through a perfectly legitimate blog post praising a judge who was in charge of a trial of a bunch of people who were found guilty of trying to shut down a power station and gave them a lenient sentence because he felt there cause was just, and I made the totally nitpicky observation that most people would not allow such self-righteousness if it came from another section of society, such as pro-life activists. No wait, that’s not picking a silly hole in one aspect of an argument that’s actually putting a legitimate criticism on an entire blog post.

Macro January 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I didn’t comment before on your unfortunate analogy. The problem with arguing from analogy is that analogies can be broken down so easily – they really aren’t worth the time nor the effort, because in the end they prove nothing.

Pleased to see that you do acknowledge that you do understand the explanations from Gareth, et al quite well enough, and your comments on here are mostly wilfully stupid.

John D January 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

So if a cause is “noble and just”, in the mind of the judge, then vandalism and destruction of property is justified, whatever the harm to society.

That is the thesis being presented in this blog post?

Macro January 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm

So what is your opinion on the increasing CO2 emitted by these Coal fired Power Stations?, and the “fact” that it is heavier than Air? – as propounded by Ring. Thus causing us all to suffocate? The good news is that Ring says that CO2 (being so low to the ground) can thus have no effect on Temperature – just as you want to maintain.

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Oh so because “Ring” says this, and he is a “denier”, then all “deniers” think this and should be ridiculed for it? Sorry, how silly of me to think CO2 would sink and suffocate us. I apologise for my error. (also: I am not a “denier”)

What is my opinion on CO2 released by coal fired power stations? In a perfect world all electricity generation would be renewable, abundant and cheap. In reality it is not any of these things (yet). At one extreme we could only generate electricity from renewable sources and at the other we could ignore a preference for renewable altogether(1). Governments in all developed nations are conducting a balanced policy between these two extremes(2) and I, along with voters, think this is the correct response. These protesters disagree with this response and tried to overwrite the democratic process.

1. Total market with no ETS
2. Incentives for increased renewable generation in the form of subsidies and/or an ETS, along with funding for renewable research

CTG January 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

R2, in your model 1), how are externalities priced?

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

They aren’t, thats the point, it represents one extreme. The other extreme I present is a command and control system. I have an economics background but I have come to realise in the real world not everything is pure and simple. In this case I agree with the response of most governments that encourage renewable through subsidies while still allowing enough fossil fuel to maintain supply of electricity.

CTG January 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

So if the market doesn’t price externalities, doesn’t that mean that some regulatory mechanism is necessary to enforce the externalities? Such as, say, an ETS?

Sorry, but didn’t you just spend a lot of time telling us that an ETS wasn’t necessary?

John D January 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Two questions. My opinion of Ring’s theory is that it is BS.
Secondly, I don’t see any point in destroying coal fired power stations if we don’t have any alternative, especially when Germany currently has these little babies in the pipeline (h/t Richard North)

- EVONIK, Walsum (Duisburg), 800 MW black coal (2010)
- RWE, Neurath (Cologne), 2 x 800 MW lignite (2009)
- RWE Westfalen (Dortmund-Hamm, 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- EON Datteln (Dortmund), 1 x 1100 MW (!) black coal (2011)
- ENBW Karlsruhe, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Trianel (municipality) Lünen, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Vattenfall Moorburg (Hamburg), 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Vattenfall Boxberg (close to Leipzig), 1 x 800 MW lignite (2011)

John D January 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm

My main issue is the CO2 emitted by you and your likes Macro.

Macro January 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm

You have no idea what my Carbon foot print is do you John.
So you think Ring’s idea are BS – not so the CSC!
And what about Beck?

bill January 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Oh, try actually reading it, John. Then try reading the relevant articles. Sheesh!

Doug Mackie January 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Ken Ring writes total bullshit. I agree.

And I’m pleased you learned so much about him so quickly because I’d go much further and say that anyone who can’t see that immediately is a fraud and a fool.

So, why then did NZC”S”C link to Ring’s website in a prominent side box? Why did they host his letter for so many months? Could it be that their judgement is flawed? So flawed that they couldn’t tell Ring was umm differently abled? Why did nobody at NZCSC notice all this until I pointed it out to their science advisor, Chris de Freitas? What does that tell us about the other scientific ‘proofs’ NZC”S”C holds up? Have they scrutinised them with equal rigor?

Halfway there now. So what about EG Beck? (Careful now, Bob Carter and Bryan Leyland both think the world of Beck)

John D January 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I am not familiar with Beck or the NZCSC web site either.

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

“What does that tell us about the other scientific ‘proofs’ NZC”S”C holds up?”

Nothing. If I could really be bothered I could find equally outrageous things on this webpage (I seem to remember a review of a theory that the Arctic would have ice free WINTERS by 2050 or something). But it wouldn’t serve any real purpose. It certainly wouldn’t prove that every article ever written in support of AGW was equally outrageous.

I don’t actually know if Ring is flawed or not. The only thing I know is what has been posted here. I also don’t know anything about Beck. You will need to give me some time to read about these as I am generally fairly busy.

Doug Mackie January 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

You can’t tell if Ring is flawed or not?
Even for a sockpuppet that is pratty and raises all sorts of questions about how you *do* assess information.

Well, don’t take my word. Ask de Freitas. I can’t do fairer than that – sending you to the NZC”S”C advisor. You ask him and post his response here.

Ohh wait… cognitive dissonance by you and/or de Freitas means (a) you don’t want to waste his time (b) he is too busy to form an opinion over something that proves he made his data up (c) it doesn’t matter because you have a new link to something else

John D January 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Doug, what is your view of Piers Corbyn?

Secondly, what is your view of the UK Met Office?

Doug Mackie January 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

uh uh. I asked first. What you are doing is called the Gish gallop.

One issue at a time. Ring and Beck. An issue arisng so far is that you say Ring is full of bullshit. I feel that is worth exploring before moving on; see previous questions about credibility of NZC”S”C and all who sail in her.

Next Beck.
Then your questions.

John D January 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a rhetorical technique in debates that involves drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised,…

I asked a simple question of you Doug. Just because you asked a different question first does not make my second question a “gish” or whatever you prefer.

Nevertheless, if you do not wish to answer then so be it. However, if this Beck guy, who I had never heard of before this post, is as junk science as you suggest, then I don’t know if I can really be bothered finding the time to research it.

Doug Mackie January 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Ah John, but that is the point. Since your Piers Corbyn won the inaurural Ernst-Georg Beck Award for Scientific Integrity and Competence perhaps you should find out more.

(I swear I’m not making that up. Either I have been
poe’d
really badly or the world really is surpassingly odd.)

If, as you say, EG Beck is junk (though the term is far too mild), what should we make of the people who promote and agree with Beck? (Like your Piers Corbyn)

John D January 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

If, as you say, EG Beck is junk (though the term is far too mild), what should we make of the people who promote and agree with Beck? (Like your Piers Corbyn)

First of all, I did not say EG Beck was junk. I was saying that you were suggesting that he is junk.
Secondly, Piers Corbyn is not mine any more than the Met Office is mine (although if I were a British taxpayer I would most certainly be claiming that they were mine). These are two people/institutions that I was seeking opinions on.

I hope that clarifies these statements.

R2D2 January 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

“You can’t tell if Ring is flawed or not?” – Doug

“I don’t actually know if Ring is flawed or not. The only thing I know is what has been posted here.” – What I actually said

Thanks for the selective reading. It could be the most flawed piece of writing in the history of the planet, but I haven’t read it so I don’t know.

“Even for a sockpuppet that is pratty and raises all sorts of questions about how you *do* assess information.”

It only says that I don’t take what you have written in your posts as gospel. It is here-say and until I have read the actual article I should reserve judgement.

Doug Mackie January 11, 2011 at 7:10 am

Go and read it then.
I’ll wait.

Doug Mackie January 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Yet you comment freely on climate matters in NZ without reading anything by a group that is

led by accredited New Zealand experts in climate and disciplines related to climate change, and includes others with a range of professional qualifications, as well as interested citizens who share the Coalition’s concern.

Gosh. I am impressed. Did you think of all the stuff you write by yourself? Oh you are a clever one. You owe it to yourself to read what NZC”S”C have to say and you owe it to yourself to acquaint yourself with Bob Carter’s beloved EG Beck. Plenty of links to him over at NZC”S”C.

de Freitas must be crapping himself knowing that EG Beck proves he is a fraud and has made up his data.

bill January 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Any of those who like to pretend they don’t know how anyone could claim a justifiable ‘sense of urgency’ in all this might want to watch this just-in video -

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2011/01/10/3109884.htm

Then, instead of hiding behind ‘oh, but you can’t prove this was caused by AGW’ or any other mealy-mouthed, diversionary crap, ask yourself why you’re all working so hard lobbying for ‘loading the dice’!

Turboblocke January 11, 2011 at 5:25 am

The plot thickens: apparently there was an undercover policeman, who since 2003 has participated in and organised protests, involved, maybe as an agent provocateur. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/10/mark-kennedy-undercover-cop-activist?intcmp=239

This resulted in the collapse of the case against the other six.

bill January 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Having had some experience in this arena I’ll say that we used to announce at the first general meeting in any protest camp that the guy with all those wild and crazy ideas about ‘hitting the system where it hurts’ is about 80% likely to be working for the other side. And 100% likely to be urging you to do something very stupid indeed!

I well remember having to dissuade a couple of somewhat-less-than-brilliant members of an ‘action collective’ that cutting the brake cables on police cars is a: mind-numbingly stupid and life-threatening, thereby not exactly fitting the NVDA* guidelines; b: additionally idiotic, because most likely the lives that will be threatened will be our own people – you know, because the police cars they are driving at and through us won’t, um, stop; and c: a strategy being put forward by one of the half-dozen or so people many of us ‘old hands’ would point to immediately if we had to nominate any undercover cops in the camp.

I have had hours of planning and one hell of a lot of labour designing and painting huge banners wasted because it turned out that someone who’d been on our coordinating collective for a year and a half was a private detective working for a very large mining corporation. Suddenly the target venue – one that had hitherto had only a couple of security guards rambling disinterestedly around – was a mass of cops and patrol cars on the night. We never did get the banners returned…

And in my favourite tactical story of the era the victory goes to the cops. (As it often did!) We organise a protest outside a US base in the remote Australian desert. Part of the deal is we can set up our rather large camp by the side of the access road. (yes, we have formal meetings in advance to arrange all this stuff – it’s a bit like the sheepdog and the coyote in the Warner Bros. cartoons!) But we have to guarantee that that road will remain open to all traffic.

However, a particular inner-city Anarchist collective is not going to be bound by any compromise deal we uncool types might have made with The Man, man, and proceeds to build a mortared stone wall across the road (albeit very, very badly!)

The police arrive, look at the wall, and, seeing no necessity to get dust and gunk on their uniforms, get on the radio, and have all still-arriving buses of protestors and gear stopped right back at the turnoff on the highway, announcing that either we can pull the wall down, or our friends can lug all their gear in across the stony desert. Our choice…

And since I’m reminiscing, one more short story; in the run-up to this event, at one of the preliminary meetings at the entrance gate to the base, there’s a gentleman with grey hair who hasn’t been introduced hovering in the background away from the negotiating group on the police/military side of the line. He’s taking lots of photos with a zoom lens. After a while our ‘cheeky chappy’ semi-punk coordinator calls out to him, jokingly sneering; ‘So what are you, mate, ASIO!?**’. The mystery guy lowers his camera for about 4 seconds. ‘Yes,’ he says, deadpan, and then goes back to snapping away…

*Non-Violent Direct Action

**Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

John D January 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

Personally, I prefer to solve the problems of the world using creativity and innovation.

The fact that this “science” blog supports vandalism and destruction of property (one can assume that violence will be the obvious end result) says a lot about the intelligence of the readers of Hot Topic and is possibly representative of this sad inconsequential country in the middle of nowhere called New Zealand.

Gareth January 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

Quoting R2: There you go putting words in our mouths again.

This blog does not “support vandalism and destruction of property”. I believe that civil disobedience and peaceful protest are legitimate forms of political action.

You may think what you like about NZ. I chose to live here, and love it.

bill January 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Still haven’t quite got there yet, John? ;-)

Yeah yeah, civil disobedience leads directly and ineluctably to rampaging packs of gang-raping bikes roaming the streets. Look at all the human misery those abolitionists / sufragettes / civil rights activists / anti-apartheid campaigners caused. Oh, and all those dreadful people in Tiananmen square… damaging those nice tanks like that…

You carry on like a ‘Reefer Madness’ movie from the 50s!

And what does your continued presence here say about your intelligence in the context you present above, do you think?

Incidentally, I’ll just flag this article in the Guardian.

The analysis suggests glaciers in the Alps and New Zealand will shrink by more than 70% but shrinkage is predicted to reach about 10% in Greenland and high-mountain Asia.

Perhaps it’s come up already but I haven’t noticed any discussion of it yet. Here it is at Nature, where Mt Egmont even makes the photo.

Doug Mackie January 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

Oh, sob, I feel I have wronged you John. Do you need a hug?

Meanwhile, how are you going with checking out EG Beck? Remember, your Piers Corbyn won an award named after him.

Tony January 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

I noticed this in the latest news:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110109184025.htm

So even if we stopped emissions today the effects of climate change would last another 1000 years.

One could argue that GHG emissions are environmental vandalism, and so why does the law not recognise this and issue punitive measures in accordance to the damage caused. I would be willing to grant the judge(s) discretionary powers, such that punishment factored in intention/motive/circumstances.

bill January 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

Further on this one – given the case against the remaining 6 protestors had to be dropped, these convictions may well be overturned, because the police – amazingly – failed to disclose their own agent playing a key part in the planning and implementation of this protest!

I know ‘polite’ people don’t want to acknowledge it, but the police and corporations routinely infiltrate Green groups, don’t feel overly bound by the law themselves, and, in my experience, the person shouting loudest for the most strident and dangerous action in any given campaign is most likely a: schizophrenic b: a cop or c: both.

bill July 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Just as an ‘I told you so’ directed at the ‘outrage! clap them in irons!’ brigade – the protestors not only all got off on appeal, the judges have found that the police agent in their midst was acting illegally and was arguably an agent provocateur.

There is indeed, as the judges said ‘great deal of justifiable public disquiet’ about – but they’re not referring to the actions of the protestors here. Civil disobedience is an integral part of the democratic tradition, the lawlessness of those with real power is a direct threat to it!

Any other ‘issues of disquiet’ relating to the behaviour of the British police floating around at the moment, do you think?

Some people are frighteningly easily herded into looking for power – and its abuses – in all the wrong places…

Dappledwater July 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Ha! Beautiful mate! Yes, those British ‘bobbies’ don’t have a great reputation do they?

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