Recursive lying: Monckton rails against liars by telling lies

by Gareth on March 3, 2013

“Potty peer” Chris Monckton has reacted to criticism of his threats to sue Australian academics by doubling down on his commitment to pursue legal action. In a typically overblown piece at an Australian sceptic site, Monckton tries to reassure the faithful that their guru has not gone off the rails:

Going to court is the deadliest weapon we have against the extremists who have lied and lied and lied again to save the Party Line. Lies have consequences.

Indeed they do, as Monckton may find out one day. He goes on to demonstrate how “successful” this tactic can be by re-writing the history of one or two cases he’s been involved with, and then states:

“Dr.” Michael Mann, fabricator of the “hockey-stick” graph that falsely abolished the medieval warm period, sued Dr. Tim Ball for calling the graph scientific fraud. Tim Ball’s defence was to propose showing the judge the many dodges by which “Dr.” Mann had done what “Dr.” Overpeck had called for in 1995: “We have to abolish the medieval warm period.”

Rather than face cross-examination, “Dr.” Mann gave up the case at a cost that cannot have been much less than $1 million.

This is not true. It is an invention. Monckton is lying about the state of the Ball/Mann court case, and repeating Ball’s libel of Mann to boot. Mann’s lawyer, Roger McConchie, has described Monckton’s statement as “nonsense”. The legal process continues — in fact, Mann’s legal team were deposing Tim Ball as part of the discovery process on the same day that Monckton concocted and published his story!

The discount viscount concludes his epistle with a rousing call to his own arms:

But if the liars tell lies about me, if the fraudsters deny the scientific truth when I speak it, if the cheats make up baseless personal attacks on me, then I have the opportunity to fight back, not so much on my own behalf as on behalf of the silent, broken millions who cannot speak for themselves and whom your political class no longer bothers to represent.

Monckton’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. He is a puffed-up propagandist who has repeatedly lied about many things, and who has misrepresented the science of climate at every one of the many opportunities he has been given by those campaigning against action to reduce emissions. When the “silent, broken millions” who will be hit by climate changes made worse by Monckton’s efforts wake up to his mendacity, his words will surely return to bite him on his upper class bum. And the sooner they do, the better.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

bill March 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Lord Christopher Monckton, the voice of the silent, broken millions. Suffer the little children to come unto me.

Satire is dead.

Did we mention he has a cure for AIDS?

Eli Rabett March 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm
SimonP March 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

What I find even more breathtaking is the wacko conspiracy theories that many followers of Jo Nova seem to believe in. I have no idea what the Marxist/Fabian Common Purpose movement is but it seems to be tied up with windmills, Julia Gillard, carbon trading, and Barak Obama.

bill March 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Ah, the true connoisseur of crankery can scarce go past this classic at Nova’s.

Nick March 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

A visit to the Supreme Court Of British Columbia’s website,and Monckton has chalked up another own goal. However, he knows his Nova audience well,and they know that when ‘is Lordship is venting,facts are incidental. Proud skeptics,all.

Roy Mustard March 4, 2013 at 12:56 am

Monckton claims in the piece that his words were taken out of context for the Meet The Climate Sceptics documentary, but a cursory look at the video in question reveals he says “I cured myself with an invention that shows much promise, we’re curing people with everything from HIV to Malaria….” etc etc.

I also noticed that his letter accusing the professor of “fraud” was decorated with the doctored House Of Lords logo, to which he fraudulently claims to be a member.

We’re beyond lying at this stage. Monckton is trying to create an alternate history and these “skeptics” skepticism seems to stop, oddly, when they hear what they want.

cindy March 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

Looks like the Flat Earth Society now has its own facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flat-Earth-Society-for-Climate-Realists/488197504574140

bill March 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Love the shot of the ‘crowd’ in Hobart!

bill March 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

Whats also remarkable is that nobody at Nova’s appears to think that his language is in any way unbecoming for one of the leading lights of their movement –

“Dr.” Helen Caldicott on the unspeakable ABC and “Dr.” Tony de Press at the “University” of Tasmania…

…Gore won the Nobel Mickey Mouse Prize…

…The whingers of the do-nothing brigade were at work [apparently an attack on more moderate Deniers who had criticised his threatening to take matters to the Courts] even then…

…The creep who made the programme [Meet the Sceptics – see Roy Mustard’s comment above] had visited me in Scotland…

…The creep said my answer was too long and complicated…

…From now on, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. If the various authorities to whom I have complained about la Caldiclott [get it? her real name, as above, is Caldicott] and “Dr.” dePress fail to respond, the next thing they will get is court orders requiring them to reply properly, with costs and indemnity orders too.

Then the police will be called in, and any regulator failing to investigate my complaints will be prosecuted as an accessory after the fact of organized, systematic fraud…

Further to this last, Graham Readfearn adds that he told 2GB

The VC has acknowledged it (the letter). He has got a month to get back to me substantively after which the police will be called in and, in fact I have already got a senior officer of the Australian police who is interested in this and he has said yes, this is fraud, and yes – you tell tell us the word and we will investigate. I will give the university the chance to investigate so, Mr Vice-Chancellor, if you are listening then know this. You have that month and the clock is ticking and after that the police will be coming and feeling your collar too because the arrangement I have is that if he doesn’t have this properly investigated then the university will also be investigated by the police for fraud as accessories after the fact.

(Now, my brother and I went to school with the VC at UTAC, and we agreed yesterday that he’ll most-likely find better things to do with his time than lock the office door and cower at such comic-opera threats!)

It is genuinely amazing! The Walter Mitty aspect in particular is truly remarkable.

Which leads us to the more serious point – the staggering apparent inability of Deniers to spot or comment on their Emperor’s state of attire! ‘Skepticism’, people? Seriously?

Talk about being unable to see yourselves from the outside! It’s like stacking the Bloggies (weblog awards) with wall-to-wall Denial, and then reacting angrily to people concluding that you’re zealots!…

Nick March 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The Novadrones are all, madly, identifying with his frothing authoritarianism. Too busy to worry about the substance or lack thereof, it’s the ‘style’ they wish they had… problems are not to be examined,analysed,worked through or considered calmly, they are to be denounced and banished.

John Mashey March 4, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I see Monckton is on the “Dr” kick again, which as far as I can tell, he started back in early 2008. Littlemore commented, and then I could not resist adding this.

bill March 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

He has form for the – note the quote marks – “University” thing, too; remember his announcing that he was going to draw John Abraham’s trangressions to the attention of the authorities ‘at the Bible College where he lectures’.

That’d be the University of St Thomas.

If a prominent spokesperson on my side of the argument carried on like this I’d cringe. What is it with Deniers that they don’t?

bill March 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Rob Taylor March 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

IMHO, Monckton is the Clayton Weatherstone of climate change deniers; a pathetically up-himself pathological liar and narcissist.

Before you excise this, Gareth, hear me out. A complete defence against defamation charges in this country is that:

1. the statement is true;

2. The statement is not necessarily true, but is an honestly-held opinion.

NB: As a result of the Lange v. Atkinson decision (2003), those in the public sphere (e.g. politicians and braying Viscounts on public speaking tours) have the defamation bar set much higher than ordinary folks such as thee and me!

Australis March 5, 2013 at 1:05 am

Tim Ball is gonna love today’s blog post about Michael from Steve McIntyre: http://climateaudit.org/2013/03/02/mikes-agu-trick

CTG March 5, 2013 at 7:32 am

Talking of liars…

Rob Taylor March 5, 2013 at 9:13 am
bill March 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

And not going away. Every forecast daily maximum for this week here in Adelaide is at least 7C above the ’77-’13 March average (and up to 12C!), and, most irritatingly, every minimum ditto!

Yep, sure, the week’s just weather – but the summer that just passed was both extraordinary and unprecedented, no matter how the Deniers try to spin it.

And I’ve got Womad this (long) weekend! At 34/23, 34/22, 35/22, 38/24 – fighting for the shade (and endlessly queuing for water) is a pain…

SCM March 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

In Melbourne we just had the longest run of 30+ degree days for the month of February and it looks like we’re on track to doing the same in March :-(

Thomas March 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm

And in NZ we are counting past the $ Billion mark in agricultural losses with no end in sight as the drought – perhaps the worst in a long run – seems to be never ending as the summer days and nights carry on with no rain in sight.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/129814/drought-worse-than-last-time-minister

Gareth March 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

McIntyre’s strange obsession with Mike Mann is off-topic here, but – for the record – McIntyre is off in la la land again:

With all of his putative powers of deduction, it seems remarkable that Mr. McIntyre couldn’t figure this out, and instead chose to invent an entire conspiracy theory involving not just me, but multiple scientists, the AGU, IPCC, etc.

Mike Mann

Australis March 6, 2013 at 1:15 am

[Snipped: off topic. You were warned. GR]

CTG March 7, 2013 at 7:46 am

Jo Nova has update the article to acknowledge that the libel case is still ongoing. She also has some pretty harsh words for Monckton for telling lies. Oh wait a moment, no she doesn’t, that’s what a reasonable person would do. Instead, she says that the reason they all thought the case was dropped was because Mann is so secretive that the discovery process is taking a long time.

Fake skeptics obviously live in a world where the wheels of justice spin very quickly. I mean, how long did Cranks vs NIWA take to get to court? Using Nova’s logic, the NZC”S”C were being secretive, unhelpful and unscientific. Okay, maybe she has a point… :-)

Rob Taylor March 7, 2013 at 9:06 am

I see the heroic Jo Nova has disabled comments for her site, whilst continuing to spew forth desperate, unhinged bile on matters she knows little about – what a surprise….

bill March 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Jo Nova and Lo Monckton – who do we think has jumped the most sharks here?

As CTG points out – I mean, really, have these guys ever seen a court case close up? I mean, read Bleak House, or something!…

Thomas March 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Perhaps you could arrange for Nova and the Viscount to go down to SA for a swim with the Great White Sharks tour…. ;-)

bill March 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm

On the issue of His Lorship’s arrogant blow-in blather regarding the ‘Great Big New Tax’ that has turned Australia’s rural hamlets into ghost-towns, crushed the desire to employ people along with the will to live, and caused cows to stop giving milk etc., it appears reality continues to back his claims to the usual extent.

Lord Topsy-Turvy, the inverse barometer – if he says ‘down’ you can guarantee the smart money’s on ‘up’.

(Just for the lurkers – gee, you’d think all the wind-farms would have bankrupted us months ago… ;-) )

bill March 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Paging Gareth – Scrotum rides again (along with the PP) over at Eli’s.

Gareth March 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Blimey, that could pose a few continuity problems for the next episode… ;-)

john wellington March 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Monkton is a buffoon. In any ordered, rational world, everyone would know this, he could be given a pith helmet and a Lee Enfield, and he could happily go off bagging a few tigers or hapless Indians, and his place in the order of things would be fitting. It is our misfortune that we live in a world where corrupt media and corrupt institutions have provided him a trumpet into which he can puff and blow his deafening raspberries, cynically facilitating his ignorant, but not mindless, attempts to drown the sound of rational discourse.

Thomas March 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

Indeed. Over at the Rational Discourse side of things a new study reported on at CNN added further concern to the matter of AGW:

Global warming is epic, long-term study says

bill March 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Ah, and Marcott et al has provided the biggest Hockey Stick yet with which to slap His Lordship and his (potty) peers upside the head.

Or should we assume that the TMUCHH – The Most Unfeasible Conspiracy in Human History – just got that bit more unwieldy?

I’m banking on outraged howls claiming the latter, but, seriously, if you believe that – and I do mean precisely you, Dear Reader, if the cap fits – you might as well seek out your Astrologer (and you’re more likely than most to have one! ;-) ) for all your financial decisions, too…

Thomas March 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Looking at the long term trends in Marcott one can imagine that the Monctonians will now claim to have fabulously prevented what might look as the onset of the next ice age, which would have been upon us soon, through the expedited release of fossil carbon into the atmosphere!
And in fact there may be a nugget of truth in the argument but as this MIT article sums it up, its not a particularly good argument actually.

Plus to now play the “Hurray, We prevented the next Ice Age!” card, the deniers will first have to eat their hats, their blogs and their entire castles of cards obviously…. and admit to the validity of the science explaining the observations. A space to watch!

While the onset of a new ice age may be coming in a few thousand years, throwing our climate into a rapidly developing hot phase is like a race car driver overcompensating. The resulting gyrations are likely to become a harrowing experience for the ecosphere that is already strained to provide sustenance to us all…

John Mashey March 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Certain people are trying hard to confuse all this, but trying to clear confusion sometimes spread it around. Several things are happening with our knowledge of the Holocene:
1) Studies like this one are better constraining the temperature history.
2) Bill Ruddiman & others’work is helping explain *why* our interglacial looks so different than others.
3) Between David Archer’s “The Long Thaw,” Ruddiman and others, whether or not we would have had a glacial inception a few millennia ago, it’s very clear we aren’t going to have one any time soon.
Very likely (BAU) we’ll miss the 50Ky window.
If we burn all the coal reserves we then miss the 130Ky window, and then we’re talking about 500Ky off. IF by some miracle there’s a technic civilization around, they can always make SF6, a GHG with 32,000X greenhouse warming effect of CO2.

Thomas March 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

Sustainability = Marxism = BAD, Very very BAD…. ;-)

We’ve been saying it for years — sustainable development is really just a disguised Marxism, with its top-down control of economic decisions, violation of private property rights, and emphasis on Social Justice — a term, incidentally, coined by none other than Karl Marx

I came across this rather open acknowledgement by the neo-Moncktonian libertarian wrecker brigade at the “New American” that it is much better to die rich and “free” with the planet smouldering from unsustainable capitalist exploitation of non-renewable resources than to give in to this left wing Marxist sustainability nonsense….
Yuck!

Dave Frame March 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

It’s one of the weirder pathologies of the climate debate that the economic debate is portrayed in a lot of the public debate as one between two extreme and discredited economic theories. Real climate policy resembles neither – most thoughtful people are persuaded that a some market-based structures would improve climate policy by making it more efficient – but that price signals alone are likely to be insufficient in some places (high elasticities, etc) so some regulatory policy might (often) be required.

But all that is a world away from re-animating Marxism from its grave, and from pretending that the alternative to Marxism is unregulated capitalism. Around the developed world we see ~40% taxes and seriously large amounts of regulation (and, aside from the US, lower levels of inequality than in other places). I can’t think of any developed country that is seriously revisiting its “golden straightjacket” policies in the name of climate change, since that would be a bad idea. Yes we have to deal with climate change. But Marxism is not the answer, and when environmentalists imply it is, this just gives ammunition to skeptics who want to portray environmentalists as some sort of fifth column.

bill March 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm

You were going just fine until ‘but Marxism is not the answer, and when environmentalists imply it is, this just gives ammunition to skeptics who want to portray environmentalists as some sort of fifth column.’

You do understand that Thomas is mockingly making the very point you were making prior to this last sentence?

By claiming that there is some abstract group of ‘environmentalists’ making this ‘implication’ you are merely bolstering the absurd nonsense of Denial that you apparently set out to criticise. The trick is that if they can persuade people that entirely reasonable interventions to correct the grotesque externality that is AGW are, in fact, ‘Marxism’ (cue mustachioed pantomime villain and loud hisses from the cheap seats) then no-one need think at all anymore and nothing ever has to change. Until we fry, of course, but ‘better dead than Red’, and all that…

One suspects that conceding the unlikely existence of this risible demon of straw is done in the name of the even more absurd concept of ‘even-handedness’ that seems to plague liberals* and has been one of the major contributors to us effectively doing nothing about the climate…

Because one thing that Marx was absolutely right about is that the point is not merely to interpret the world, it’s to act.

*like the old joke about two liberals having a quiet drink in a bar when one is beset and beaten senseless by a ‘did you spill my pint?’ psychopath. Upon awaking from his subsequent coma he finds his friend at his hospital bedside, who says ‘wow, that guy, he was way out-of line, wasn’t he?’

To which the patient replies- ‘oh, I don’t know, you could see his point…’

Thomas March 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Dave, as Bill also said: The mechanisms to combat climate change and to foster the transformation from an unsustainable to a sustainable living arrangement of humanity with our plane and its ecosystems have nothing to do with Marxism. To the contrary, it is absurd that the so called “Libertarians” draw that silly Marxism straw man as it is obvious that the sustainability transformation is an enormous opportunity for private entrepreneurs to lead the way and to prosper as they deliver the tools and the infrastructure for this transformation.
We need to re-tool and re-organize a large part of our civilization, shifting mega-cities to higher ground among them. Surely this will not be done by the “red brigades” . It will be done by enterprises similar to today.
What we need is leadership that grasps the necessity of substantial change towards sustainable practices – weaning of fossil fuels among the most important ones. To achieve this will require a legal landscape that shapes the flow of investment by setting cost for unsustainable and harmful practices. Calling this “Marxist” is utter tosh obviously.

Dave Frame March 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

“By claiming that there is some abstract group of ‘environmentalists’ making this ‘implication’ you are merely bolstering the absurd nonsense of Denial that you apparently set out to criticise.”

But there are many environmentalists (and scientists) who *do* infer/imply that the only way to solve climate change is via Marxist (or strongly ecosocialist) policies. All that per capita emissions allocation stuff is socialist (and popular among various climate scientists) – it takes a resource and socialises it. Globally, we aren’t going to do that, for various reasons, some practical, some ethical (some electoral). But by espousing those sorts of illusory “solutions”, environmentalists swim into an ecosocialist barrel where everyone else can shoot them like fish.

[Joke about liberalism snipped.]

Carl Schmitt had a cracking line about the (apparent) insipidity of liberalism: “A liberal is someone who, when offered the choice “Christ or Barrabas” calls for an adjournment or a commission of inquiry.” Being a good liberal, I understand the criticism :-) but I also understand where that anti-liberal vibe asymptotes to. So, eventually, did Carl Schmitt. In the end, you need legitimacy for your policies. We live in a world that increasingly embraces broad flavours of liberal-ish democracy. And in that world, you need democratic mandates. Too many of the ideas of people dabbling in climate policy would fail that test, and those (bad) ideas become grist for the mill of conspiracy theorists.

Mike Palin March 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I agree with Dave, but not necessarily for the reasons he states (over and over, being the good liberal that he claims to be). Sustainability clearly makes sense in the long term. The key to it happening in the short term is making it make cents (as in dollars and..). Locally, our own (or not) Solid Energy is on the straight and (oh so) narrow. Who could of guessed?

Thomas March 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Dave, you have been posting here a lot. This last one finally clears my mind of where you are coming from. Thank you.
It is all getting clear here:

All that per capita emissions allocation stuff is socialist (and popular among various climate scientists) – it takes a resource and socialises it.

Oh dear, oh dear… Do you really believe that resources somehow a-priori “belong” to some private entities until the “bad society” grabs them back and “socializes them”????

Sure in the wild-west where the size of the first generation “Libertarians” gun barrel decided what the man could claim to be his own, that may have been perhaps so. I guess many so called “Libertarians” still find their psyche deeply stuck in that meeme…

But let me point out to you that:

1) Resources are naturally belonging to society proper – unless private enterprise is paying a lease for the right to extract or use it. Money does not imply the right to own what does not belong to you…. I think many so called “Libertarians” are deeply confused about this point indeed.

2) The consequences of the use of any resource (using the atmosphere as a dumping ground for gasses is use of a resource) can have serious long term ecological and social implications. See AGW and say no more.

3) Having paid for the right to use a resource bestows on the user the obligation to abide by the laws that society gives itself for the prevention of and the liability for damages done.

The free world is currently (and finally and thankfully) engaging in a robust debate over what all this means and how we can in a democratic society assure that we have the laws and, yes the policies, that put the greater good for the planet before private enrichment due to environmentally or socially (and that is often overlapping a lot indeed) practices.

Since we live in a democracy I have not given up hope that the outcome of this debate will bring us eventually the frameworks that sort the irresponsible capitalists from the responsible ones and opens the path to a future without the dark clouds of a Mad Max ending.

Dave Frame March 12, 2013 at 11:10 am

I have no idea why you keep going on about libertarianism. The very first thing I said on this thread was: “It’s one of the weirder pathologies of the climate debate that the economic debate is portrayed in a lot of the public debate as one between two extreme and discredited economic theories. Real climate policy resembles neither”

Plus, you have a weird and simplistic account on property rights. Sometimes, the state holds rights on behalf of its citizens, but it’s not generally the case that resources are held this way. If I own land, and I choose to grow potatoes, then I own the potatoes. And the land.

Thomas March 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Come on Dave, resources in this debate are not somebodies backyard or farm potatoes obviously. No, the resources that matter here and that you talked about are those of general impact to society such as the capacity of the environment to cope with our emissions as an example. The problem is one that falls in all our hands. The planet will warm for all and the sea will rise for all. This is an issue we must address as a world society with care, with fairness and with resolve. Emissions allocations per capita are one suggestion to make an equitable start.

You said:

All that per capita emissions allocation stuff is socialist (and popular among various climate scientists) – it takes a resource and socialises it.

What were you thinking? Does the right to emit belong to private corporations or persons? And who allocated that right to these private entities? Who, in an emissions constrained world – and we do live very much so in such a world – shall decide who has the right to emit and who not?

Perhaps you can explain this to the rest of us please!

Dave Frame March 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I think governments will do most of the deciding, and they’ll decide to allocate rights to emit (to the extent they choose to do things this way) on the basis of meeting the targets they’ve set themselves. I think the level of centralisation required for a single global cap under which everyone operates is decades away, to the extent it’s feasible at all.

And I see no reason why the folks who do most the polluting would sign up to a system that creates windfall gains for those countries that are kind of irrelevant to the mitigation problem, which is what equal per capita allocation would do. The obvious thing to do is to auction rights to emit, since willingness to pay is efficient and equitable (since it creates no windfalls).

Rob Taylor March 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

We live in a world that increasingly embraces broad flavours of liberal-ish democracy.

For the moment, yes, indeed we do. How long do you think that will last, David, as drought and desert spread, arable land turns to saltmarsh, and “liberal-ish” governments are forced to ration resources and decide who is to be fed, and who is to be left to starve with their families?

Dave Frame March 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I don’t accept your diagnosis, Rob. I don’t believe that agriculture will collapse, globally. No doubt it will in some places, through the familiar cause of resource over/misuse and the novel cause of climate change. But I don’t see any reason why that should hold across the whole world.

And I definitely don’t see the problem as one of a simple, clear choice: that of a barren, over-depleted world and one of centrally-planned subsistence. It’s just not the case that we either meet a 2C goal with carbon rationing or endure a 4C world with food rationing. There are too many variables in play to make the choice that stark. [My guess is that we’ll end up somewhere etween 2C and 4C. With neither form of rationing.]

Just as a matter of interest, who do you envisage running this illiberal world you have in mind? Do you think it’s the military? The revolutionary vanguard? Who is it who’s going to constrain other people’s choices?

Rob Taylor March 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm

David, just look to history; the Sudan, Rwanda and China (1958 – 61) exemplify a likely future of warlordism, genocidal scapegoating and cannibalism as the planet’s carrying capacity is exceeded and populations struggle for resources as the cull begins.

Our highly interdependent, fossil-fuelled global economy will disintegrate, just as it did in WWI; or do you believe that nations will set aside their short-term interests and share resources for the common good?

Just as a matter of interest, who do you see leading the way to this earthly paradise? Who is going to arbitrate, and enforce the common good? Do you think its the US, or the UN, or the Catholic Church?

Dave Frame March 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

Ok, so an unmitigated world may prove too much for countries with weak political and economic institutions, and climate change may lead to some failed states. I agree with that. And I agree that failed states have power vacuums that warlords come to occupy.*

I have the impression – correct me if I’m wrong – that you think that meeting (say) 2C would rely on such massive social change that it, too, requires a retreat from liberalism. Is that right? If so, who is leading, and what is the nature of their mandate?

*I don’t see any credible way of state failure in one part of the world leading to state failure elsewhere (eg here), though I do see it leading to things like increased incidences of terror.

Am surprised to think you consider my expectation of a 2C<world<4C as an "earthly paradise". I don't. But I think that the insitutions we have in places like this will survive. And I think the coordination will increase as a function of two things: (1) technology lowering the cost of low carbon energy; (2) the increasingly visible emergence of the problem.

Thomas March 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

… requires a retreat from liberalism….

What are you talking about? Are you now confusing liberalism with libertarianism perhaps? And who’s “liberty” are we talking about?
If you mean the liberty of corporations and their shareholders to socialize the issues caused by their business practice then yes, we do need to walk away from this. If you talk about the liberty of the people to legislate to prevent this and to foster sustainable practices, then we need to walk towards that liberty to organize, contribute and vote for laws that will lead us to a future that is fair, equitable, just and sustainable.

Thomas March 12, 2013 at 6:59 am

Dave said:

Just as a matter of interest, who do you envisage running this illiberal world you have in mind? Do you think it’s the military? The revolutionary vanguard? Who is it who’s going to constrain other people’s choices?

Dave: Your understanding of democracy is surprisingly odd, for a government adviser (did you not say you work in policy advice for our government??) it is in fact completely outrageous!!
Do you really hold the voting public that is considering its future in a rapidly warming world in such a contempt as to call them “revolutionary vanguards”?
As Rob below pointed out the concerns for what AGW might do to our ability to live a life in freedom and prosperity in the future are not just a figmation of some loony greenies.

Rob Taylor March 12, 2013 at 12:51 am

Oops, those “Marxist” generals in the Pentagon are not as sanguine as you, Dave Frame:

As far back as 2003 (during the first term of the pro-oil Bush/Cheney Administration), a specially commissioned Pentagon report warned that rapid climate change could “potentially destabilize the geo-political environment, leading to skirmishes, battles, and even war” over scarce food, water and energy supplies.

Authored by Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and the Implications for United States Security” sought to “imagine the unthinkable.”

The sudden onset of climate change, the analysts argued, would be little short of catastrophic: “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life… Once again, warfare would define human life.

So great was the risk inherent in such a scenario, Schwartz and Randall wrote, that climate change needed to “be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.”

“Unlike the challenges we are used to dealing with,” Navy Vice Admiral Richard Truly noted, “these will come upon us extremely slowly, but come they will, and they will be grinding and inexorable. But maybe more challenging is that they will affect every nation, and all simultaneously.” (2007)

“climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration. While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability and conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” (2010)

http://nebraskansforpeace.org/pentagon_on_climate_change

Dave Frame March 12, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’m well aware (and pleased) that the US military have a pretty good handle on the problem. [A US Naval Commander actually popped by a couple of weeks ago to chat about climate issues, and at the Smith School we once had a fascinating visit from US intelligence people, interested in academic futures work and in climate change.]

But none of that is relevant to the issue I was getting at, which was electoral madates for strongly ecosocialist policies. So let me try to make it clearer.
Do you, Rob, believe that we should be suspending democratic processes to address climate change?
If so, what is the mandate for such suspension, and who has the mandate to act?

CTG March 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

Do you, Dave, believe that Rob was actually saying that we should be suspending democratic processes now in order to combat climate change? Or were you just twisting his words to make him sound like an extremist?

It is obvious that Rob was saying that in the event that we fail to curb climate change, i.e. in a post 2C world, democratic processes will fall apart.

Nobody, but nobody, is saying that we should suspend democracy right now, and it’s rather wicked of you to suggest otherwise.

Dave Frame March 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm

CTG wrote: “Do you, Dave, believe that Rob was actually saying that we should be suspending democratic processes now in order to combat climate change?”

I was asking him that question. There are lots of environmentalists who are skeptical about liberal democracies’ ability to deliver the emissions reductions needed (in the environmentalists’ views) to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change. My question to people who think like that is basically the one above: does their commitment to avoiding dangerous climate change trump their commitment to democracy?

Macro March 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm

“There are lots of environmentalists who are skeptical about liberal democracies’ ability to deliver the emissions reductions needed (in the environmentalists’ views) to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change.”:
It would seem that you imply that so called “liberal” governments are the only ones committed to the democratic process. And yet Dave we have a so-called “liberal” government upon our treasury benches at the present time. What Rob queries is simply this:
and I quote
“What is your opinion of the sacking of Environment Canterbury, the imposition of Charter Schools with no discussion. let alone mandate, and the current moves to gut the RMA to suit developers?” – to which he might have added innumerable other instances of where democratic rights have been brushed aside in the interests of a select few.

Dave Frame March 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I find these questions irrelevant to climate change (they strike me as sadly indicative of a political culture that seldom rises above tribalism) but I’m happy enough to answer.

Environment Canterbury: I have nowhere near enough familiarity to comment.
Charter Schools: fine in principle but I think they need way more quality assurance.
RMA: some of the reforms sound quite sensible, but obviously you need to strike a balance between environmental quality and material progress.

if your real question is about my political affiliation, then I’m happy to say I’m a floating voter and a political moderate. I’ve voted Labour and I’ve voted National. It depends on their policies.

Macro March 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Sorry Dave – but you have really ducked the question. The question is NOT what do think of these “policies”; but what do think of the abdication of the democratic process that surrounded their implementation? This is precisely the sort of question you were asking of Rob? Was he happy that governments could impose regulation, etc upon people to address and mitigate climate change?
Rob, CTG, and I, are simply pointing out to you that governments need to act from time to time. It is important however that they do this in a democratic manner following sound democratic process. What we have witnessed in the instances highlighted by Rob are major changes where government abandoned the democratic process!

Dave Frame March 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Whatever. Governments have mandates up to a point and you can argue about that point forever. But those things Rob cited are small change compared with the social disruption you’d experience if you tried, for instance, to cut NZ’s emissions by 40% by 2020 (Greenpeace’s “sign on” campaign).

Rob never actually answered the question I asked, by the way.

Thomas March 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Dave, how will the social disruptions of tacking emissions by design and in a controlled policy environment where today’s emissions are replaced with designed solutions compare to the social disruptions when we lost control over the effects of climate change?
Would it not be better to preempt the probably inevitable avalanche of disruptions that will be outside our control with negotiated compromises while we still can?

Macro March 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

So the social disruption of recurring drought, inundated cities and countryside, 100 year floods every other year not to mention the impacts of increased tropical disease, and declining food production are nothing.
Local Governments are already implementing adaptation policies designed to mitigate the effects of climate change, and increasing sea levels. They are doing this in as democratically a way as possible, draft plans for public submission etc. Now describe to me how our current “liberal” government is assisting in this process?
But surely a wiser approach would be to address the problem at its source? A concerted effort to reduce GHG emmissions world wide. It has been achieved for CFC’s (admittedly a smaller problem) and yes there were some who railed – as you are now doing – against the “undemocratic” process of regulation restricting the use of CFC’s – but in the end sanity prevailed.Sure dramatic reduction of 40% is going to hurt. But last year the world emitted more GHG than ever before, and shows no sign of wanting to stop.

Public education is paramount. As an educator you will appreciate that the most difficult educative process is attitudinal change, because the majority of our underlying behavourial patterns are formed as infants. What is required for wide acceptance of the need to reduce GHG urgently is a change in attitude more than anything else. Some of this creation of public awareness is already underway in the campaigns of Greenpeace, Generation Zero, 350.org etc – but it cannot be left solely to them. Governments too must carry some of the responsibility – and that is best achieved through the sponsoring of reform measures and targets backed by a thoroughgoing consultative process.

CTG March 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm

There are lots of environmentalists…

Who? Name names. Quote from websites of organisations who take this position.

Dave Frame March 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm

CTG wrote: “Who? Name names. Quote from websites of organisations who take this position.”

Kevin Anderson – in plenty of talks he’s made it clear he doesn’t think our current political configurations are up to the task. James Lovelock, who said to the Guardian: “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.” David Shearman wrote a book arguing that liberal democracy was ill-suited to dealing with climate change. Andrew Loewen at Climateandcapitalism wrote a clear piece arguing that liberalism wasn’t up to the task. [That website’s tagline is “ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way.”] etc.

CTG March 15, 2013 at 6:40 am

Once again you confuse the post-2C response with action that is required now. It is not a mainstream position that democracy must be suspended right now in order to avoid 2C, and it is wrong to suggest that anyone who advocates strong mitigation measures is promoting “ecosocialism”.

Dave Frame March 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

CTG wrote: “it is wrong to suggest that anyone who advocates strong mitigation measures is promoting “ecosocialism”.”

I didn’t say that. You asked me for examples of something, and I supplied some. But the fact that some X are Y doesn’t imply that all X are Y, and I wasn’t making that claim. Of course there are many people who advocate for strong mitigation measures who are not ecosocialists or authoritarians (Nick Stern, for instance).

CTG March 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Sorry Dave, but you did make that claim:

But Marxism is not the answer, and when environmentalists imply it is…

You did not qualify “environmentalists” to make it clear that there is a small subset of environmentalists who are proposing Marxism, you gave the impression that you consider everyone who is an environmentalist to be a Marxist. The simple use of the word “some” would have avoided a lot of offence.

Rob Taylor March 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I’m intrigued, Dave; what are the “strongly ecosocialist policies” of which you speak, and who, exactly, is pushing for the suspension of democratic processes – apart, that is, from the National-led government?

What is your opinion of the sacking of Environment Canterbury, the imposition of Charter Schools with no discussion. let alone mandate, and the current moves to gut the RMA to suit developers?

Rob Taylor March 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Do you, Rob, believe that we should be suspending democratic processes to address climate change?

No, Dave Frame, I don’t; I would much prefer more democracy, rather than less.

There is, BTW, ample evidence that supposedly “democratic” societies are, in fact, oligarchies. For your edification, try this:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214

Dave Frame March 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

The sorts of societies we live in are mixed – part democratic and part rule by elites. Ths is a good thing, since there are socially important places where elites are going to be a better bet than the people: managing monetary policy; running a supreme court; picking the All Blacks. And there are places where elites are a bad bet. So the trick is balance, and finding where that balance ought to be might be quite hard.

Dave Frame March 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

Macro wrote: “Some of this creation of public awareness is already underway in the campaigns of Greenpeace, Generation Zero, 350.org etc – but it cannot be left solely to them. Governments too must carry some of the responsibility – and that is best achieved through the sponsoring of reform measures and targets backed by a thoroughgoing consultative process.”

Agree with most of this. I like Gen Zero. I think they’re ahead of the curve in a bunch of ways, including the fact that they’re (1) focussing on core issues and not coupling these to wider agendas that might dilute their appeal; (2) fairly shrewd about the messaging. Not such a fan of 350.org – I think they over-egg the pudding by quite a way. But yeah – education is important. I think one of the most important ways people can educate themselves is by reading widely and genuinely engaging with other disciplines. I get depressed at the number of scientists who think the world of ideas is divided into two categories: science, where facts matter, and opinion, where everyone’s views are equally plausible. Very often you can explain points about policy or economics or international relations till you’re blue in the face, and scientists will nod and agree, and then carry on as if the facts/evidence that underpin those disciplines are completely irrelevant. We’re all working with partial information here, so being open to expetise from other places is really important.

Dave Frame March 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

Thomas wrote: “Dave, how will the social disruptions of tacking emissions by design and in a controlled policy environment where today’s emissions are replaced with designed solutions compare to the social disruptions when we lost control over the effects of climate change?”

I think the worry here is that if you really think climate change is going to hit your society hard, the rational thing to do is to invest in adaptive capacity/reslience and leave the mitigation thing to others. ie if you think the other guy in a prisoners’ dilemma is going to defect, then you should too. We can all see that this is globally suboptimal; but it remains the rational thing to do.

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