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Surviving a threat has a way of focussing the mind. For the past few days, the question of priorities has been uppermost. What is important, what is not needed? What and who do I care enough about to invest time in, having been made aware that time is the defining resource limitation?

The heart attack has served to remind me of what might be considered my core philosophy, the essential, buck-stops-here points. Which, at the same time, serves to remind why I thought, a year or so back, that pursuing the questions posed by climate change, and switching occupations, were worthwhile.

Being enagaged in an enforced idleness at home, sat on a day bed contemplating the options of computer chess or daytime TV, I am reminded that, for me, the meaning of being, the purpose of existence, is tied intimately and inexorably to the well-being and happiness of others (you, if you like). A person’s life in and of itself, self-contained and complete (all false imaginings, I promise you), is a very little thing, of small significance. What makes a life big, what makes it full, what gives it meaning and value, is the manner and extent of its interactions with other people.

And here is the connection with climate change and the current state of discussions. Notwithstanding the few who insist otherwise, by and large we are aware that there is a sickness, a malaise, a problem with our world (our home). Whilst one or two will dispute the causes, of more concern is the disagreement over the solutions; how should we treat the patient?

I suspect that it is going to be difficult to decide the best treatments, though, unless we first establish the priorities for governments and industry. Beyond that, we need to establish the priorities for communities and social groups; beyond that, the priorities for families and micro-communities. Which also means establishing our own, individual priorities.

I have established, to my own satisfaction, my list of priorities for a happy and fulfilling life. It goes: People (here and now and present); people future; place/world (environment)[home] and all that it contains; the Future; the rest.

Here is an arrogant suggestion, then. Let’s try this as a template for good decision making about climate change, about adaptation and mitigation, about policy, ,investment and cost.

First priority goes to the problems which need dealing with now; Darfur, Timor, Zimbabwe, poverty, unnecessary death, AIDS, water, food…

Then there are the problems which need dealing with to secure the future for people; food, water, medicine, peace, justice, liberty…

The next priority are the problems which, if they have not already had to be addressed because of the above, relate to the environment, the world, etc; conservation, preservation, protection from exploitation, biodiversity… (though, not unsurprisingly, many of the problems of the first two sets of priorities also involve an attitude to the third set).

The next priority is to resolve the potential longer-term problems; sea levels, water supply, agriculture, resource exploitation…

And, finally, we can invest time, effort and money into to dealing with the other shit.

This set of priorities should be usable to guide us to making first decisions about where effort is needed and how important it should be compared to other issues.

More on that, later.

Not all ‘evidence’ is equal.
The decision to do nothing is probably not justifiable.
And you didn’t get?
Your piece seems to say in a convoluted way that there is indisputable evidence of AGW and we should do something about it. It took about three readings to realise that I hadn’t missed something of some significance in your piece. The flaw in your argument is that the evidence is not indisputable. Lolly melt is a little too simplistic to use in your argument. That same lolly would remain a full and healthy lolly if you held it in your hand somewhere in the Antarctic.
It isn’t really very convoluted, Tony. The point is, you can dispute all sorts of bits of evidence until the cattle return from their holidays, and you can, should you choose, play around with a number of existing bits of information and thereby demonstrate that some of them are less reliable in themselves than a perfectionist might want.

But the only reason you would want to do so is if you wished to convince yourself and or others that AGW is still worth disputing. And whatever you did, would count for little in relation to the weight and complexity of evidence from a number of disciplines which in and of themselves, and collectively, point to one inescapable conclusion (albeit one which is a complex and interesting one).

The lolly is irrelevant. It’s the capacity for self-delusion which pertains.

I see where you’re coming from now. In essence, if all the important people in the world including those who hold office, those who run multi-national conglomerates, famous people generally, pop stars, z-list celebs, religious zealots, tree huggers of all political persuasions God the list is endless, scientists, media tycoons and those who serve them, internet bloggers etc. etc. if all these people say something is true then it really must be???????
You are kidding me right?
This is lazy thinking.
I ask you apply your thesis to Germany in the 1930’s, or China during the culteral revolution or Russia under Stalin or Pol pot or………………………
You appear to believe that I have called upon the authority of celebrity or fashion as support for AGW. I am not sure how many of these people you refer to are cited on Google Scholar; some, no doubt. They are not the source of my convictions, though perhaps you are simply imagining in others what you yourself have been guilty of.

You also appear to imagine that, if many people find something credible, then they must therefore be credulous. But these are not the people whose credibility is in question. To imagine that an idea which is popularly understood to be true is false by virtue of its popularity is peculiar; perhaps even an example of lazy thinking.

And then there’s the Godwinism. Gracious.

It doesn’t make any difference whether my, or your own, opinion is unique or universal. What matters is whether it is right.

Do you wish to provide evidence that AGW is ‘wrong’?

Do you wish to propose the statement that the evidence in support of the conclusion that AGW has, is, and will continue to happen, is insufficient?

Do you wish, then, to suggest an explanation for the apparent changes taking place in the world, the environment and the atmosphere, which explains at least a proportion of them satisfactorily?

Please feel free to dispute, but please also try to use reason rather than sloppy rhetoric.


Nope. What I was merely showing you was that ideas such as AGW are just another trend in fashionable thinking which divides and subdivides itself trickling down to the from “great thinkers” to the lower orders and gains widespread acceptability to the extent that any question or idea which might find itself at odds with the accepted theory is treated with contempt. Shout something loud enough for long enough and virtually anything will be believed and taken as gospel. You may choose to see that as another example of Godwinism but that’s your choice.
You have obviously swallowed the AGW belief hook, line and sinker and I suspect anything I say will change your view on the subject not one iota. The cult of global warming is steeped so strongly that whatever reasons I might put forward will fall on stony ground. So I won’t bother to mention the recent Manhattan declaration nor the fact that temperatures worldwide have actually flatlined over the past ten years. This is true for both sea and atmosphere measurements. No hang on get it from the (many) horses mouth. Here’s a few links. These guys can do the job so much better than me.

There are more on the net than you can shake a stick at but these fellas should do nicely for now.

P.S. I do actually enjoy reading your blog.

I am glad that you enjoy the blog, but also that you are willing to engage in dialogue.

You are correct in suggesting that there exist ideas which become fashionable for a time, and then less so, and so forth. Some of these ideas originate in ‘great’ (or perhaps we might say ‘deep’) thinking/thinkers.

I suspect that you also have a valid point in suggesting that some of these fashionable ideas are, ultimately, of less substance than they at first appeared, and their demise is thus unlamented and, to some extent, inevitable.

You also have a point when you say that some people are willing to accept the truth of an assertion simply because it is repeated frequently. Isn’t this something like what Marketing people do?

Groupthink is an interesting concept, as is collective consensus. Likewise, contrariness for its own sake is a well-known phenomenon.

But you are stretching the limit of good manners somewhat by implying that I have been brainwashed/deluded/fooled into swallowing some line or other; this is simply insulting my intelligence and placing your own as superior by inference. If you wish to demonstrate a superior intellect, I am impressed by reason and sense; try that.

The ‘cult’ thing is just the familiar old subversion-by-implication nonsense and isn’t really worth comment.

What does the ‘Manhattan declaration’ say? Why does it matter: what is the source of its supposed significance?

Why do you mention the temperature over the past ten years? Are you cognisant of the context of climatological observation and analysis? And, while we’re on the subject, how do those ten years rank over the past century? Any of them in the ‘below average’ area? Any of them outside the top fifteen warmest years on record?

You are also correct that there are a lot of people who peddle the same old same old on the internet. The blogs you refer to are all busted flushes these days; nobody is really listening to these fools any more.

You are at least plausibly wrong in asserting that nothing you could say would influence my opinions or understanding. I change my mind all the time. Sometimes, reason has something to do with it. Give me a good reason to believe that those 81,000-odd papers are misguided. Give me a good reason to believe that the hard work I put in to understanding the many thousands of pages of text and data, science and so forth, was ultimately futile, as I clearly missed some critical point, in common with all those scientists whose work I read, and therefore came to the evidently false conclusion that it is reasonable to assert that AGW is happening.

P.S. I suspect you are wrong about the Milloys and McIntyre being more competent than you. There is little evidence to supoport this belief, either. Rely on your own intelligence and reasoning skills and tell me where I have gone wrong…



Two streams of thought arise from the announcement from the BAS that yet another chunk of the Peninsula’s long-term ice shelf is on the verge of splitting off permanently.

The first is to wonder why there are still people who can honestly (inasmuch as they believe it, even though it’s misguided) claim that GW is not really happening. In this category go all the people who spend endless hours attempting to undermine the temperature record in one way or another.

If all that’s left in my gooey grasp is a lolly-stick, there doesn’t seem to be much point in wondering whether the lolly has melted temporarily or on a more long-term basis. There doesn’t seem to be much point discussing whether or not lolly-melting temperatures have been synthetically arrived at by a cabal of lolly-scientists in search of hoards of lolly, or whether the official body responsible for lolly checking is staffed by political radicals with dubious sexual tendencies and atheistic views.

Not much point, because the lolly has gone. No lolly. Bye-bye, cold stuff.

The other stream is the one about what, in the face of the scale and enormity of the problem of climate change, we should or shouldn’t be bothered to do as individuals or consumers (in contrast to institutions and industry). It is easy to understand why some people feel that action on climate change is somewhat pointless, and that token behaviour is simply hypocritical, or perhaps simply self-deluding. It is also easy to see that such an attitude stems, ultimately, from the conception of the world as constituted of many individuals (including ourselves), none of which has substantive power, as opposed to being made up of loosely cohesive groups of people with common desires, aims and beliefs.

You don’t have to join a club to be a part; by doing you are being a part. You don’t have to wear woollen clothing or eat vegetables; there are very few things you might feel compelled to do, unless perhaps it is such things as consuming with thought, travelling with the cost in mind, ending the inclination to waste or replace. You don’t have to sign up to anything, or pay anything. First off, you need to work out whether you belong to a society or are distinct from it. Are you a part, or apart? If you can come to terms with your relative place in the world, then you can start to see the value in your own actions.

Well, not so  much a hiccup, actually, more a small heart attack.

Happened a week last Saturday Night (probably the fourth of a short series),

Operation on Thursday put in two stents.

Now home and recuperating, but obviously, not overly active, for a while.

Honest, it had nothing to do with the paper…

This will probably give me a bit of time to trawl around the blogosphere and irritate a few folks. 🙂

Apologies to all those who were expecting to hear from me. Now you know why.

Some interesting may conceivably follow in the days to come.

It’s not even as if I’m actually really that old, you know….


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March 2008