Random thoughts on the science of defiance

I've long thought that the anthropogenic global warming/overwhelming scientific alarmism campaign involves a nexus between politics and marketing, and that to this end, the average person (especially in the United States) is being kept in the dark as much as possible about how the practical, day-to-day applications of anthropogenic global warming theory might play out.

For example, telling people that they shouldn't eat meat is considered a hard sell (something which might generate voter backlash) and is thus very bad. Never mind that by the environmentalists' own "scientific" data, meat is responsible for more greenhouse gases than cars. People are conditioned to see Big Oil as evil, not farmers. An oil refinery is an evil image; a herd of cattle grazing in a pasture is not. I've argued this before, as I think it's vital to understanding the dynamics of the anthropogenic global warming argument, but there's almost nothing about it in the MSM, and despite the best efforts of PETA and a few other animal rights groups, the AGW evil of meat consumption is pretty much a taboo subject.

Of course, when activists get together (as they did at Al Gore's Live Earth fiasco), there's no way to avoid the touchy subject of meat, but again, it does not find its way into the MSM, and has to be scavenged from alternative journals by bloggers in search of incriminating nuggets.

Recently, Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters found lots of nuggets in a report from Life Style Extra:

Peta activists said that Wembley should take meat off the menu after a recent UN report found that the meat industry creates more greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, ships and planes in the world combined.
Noel thinks it's as cool as I do:
Absolutely fabulous. And, in reality, if the UN was seriously concerned about anthropogenic global warming, wouldn't they themselves remove meat from their cafeterias, and require all employees on the payroll - including IPCC scientists - to immediately become vegetarian?
Yeah, right! I don't think such an idea would ever reach the level of "scientific debate," much less implementation, because the goal is to sell AGWOSC theory -- and ASAP.

So don't expect to read about meat in your local paper. There's more juicy stuff at Newsbusters, of course, and PETA is (rightly so, IMO) charging the Live Earth promoters with hypocrisy:

....Peta campaigner Yvonne Taylor said that it would be "hypocritical" if the damage caused by the industry was overlooked at the concert, and said that the group had written to the managing director of Wembley Stadium, Alex Horne, urging him not to sell meat at the event.

She said: "There's no such thing as a meat eating environmentalist.

Nothing like personalizing the debate. While I don't like prying into people's lives, those who do pry into people's lives would do well to remember that it invites prying right back. I think it eminently fair that those who would pry into our driving habits should be asked about their eating habits.

If my driving is the planet's business, so is your eating!

Which brings to mind what Noel calls the best punch line:

"Researchers at the University of Chicago have determined that switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a Toyota Prius."
Here here!

Why this almost calls for a bumpersticker:


Except where would a car-free vegetarian put it?

Another topic unlikely to prove popular with ordinary citizens is the turning off of their electricity to save the planet. While it wasn't widely reported in the U.S., London experienced an Al Gore sponsored mini-blackout called "Lights Out London":

Between 9pm and 10pm on Thursday 21 June, many of London's most famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Canary Wharf, the BT Tower and at least one government department, will execute the black-out to raise awareness of global warming.
They did, and had Al Gore gotten his way, it could have been worse -- but the national power grid stepped in:
The campaign has the support of Al Gore, the former US vice president, who suggested a similar plan for Britain last week, only to be blocked by the National Grid. Gore had wanted a massive switch-off of lights by television audiences during next month's Live Earth concerts, a series of 10 shows across seven continents held over 24 hours. The politician-turned-climate campaigner, whose surprise hit film An Inconvenient Truth warns of the imminent dangers of global warming, had hoped that his gesture would be as emblematic as that made by he actor Will Smith when he coordinated people across the world to click their fingers every three seconds during the Live8 concerts in 2005 to convey the frequency with which children were dying in Africa.

The National Grid vetoed Gore's idea, saying the power surge when people switched their lights back on could cause disruptions in supply and even endanger patients on life-support machines in hispital.

London's (socialist) Mayor Ken Livingston shared his thoughts on the shutdown:
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, believes such events are powerful ways of encouraging individuals and businesses to spend an hour in active, thoughtful semi-darkness.

'I fully support the initiative,' he said. 'This campaign will bring Londoners together to demonstrate their willingness to tackle climate change. At 9pm on 21 June I will be making sure that none of City Hall's non-essential lights and appliances are on.'

This was done, and the BBC has some stunning pictures of the blacked out city.

Hmmm.... I wonder how many ordinary Londoners are old enough to remember the power blackouts that helped elect Iron Maggie Thatcher. Not that there's anything wrong with saving power or the spirit of voluntarism (especially when there's a war or other national emergency), but there's something about Al Gore's concert jet-setters which and the legendary quantities of fuel they consumed which tends to undercut the moral authority of their demands.

What would have been really embarrassing from a PR perspective would be if people had died:

IT WAS intended to be the symbolic gesture at a global series of rock concerts next month to alert people to climate change. Al Gore, the former US presidential candidate turned climate doomsayer, had wanted a massive switch-off of lights by television audiences, but the National Grid has vetoed the idea.

The inconvenient truth, it says, is that the power surge when people switched their lights back on could cause disruptions in supply and even endanger hospital patients on life support machines.

And another tidbit for those old enough to recall the rise of Maggie Thatcher:
It would also have given Britain its biggest blackout since the blitz and the miners' strikes of the 1970s - and encapsulated the message of the urgency to save energy.
Normally, power rationing and blackouts are associated with less developed countries which don't have the economic muscle it takes to keep a power grid up and running. People in the developed West tend to assume that our countries are not like that, and thus we don't have to live that way. I find myself wondering whether guys like Al Gore and his comrade Ken Livingstone might be tickled pink (sorry!) over the idea of having their citizens willingly embrace a Third World standard of living. Especially when this is spearheaded by affluent activists who think slumming is cool, and it's hip to be without power.

Maybe all citizens should be forced to spend an hour in active, thoughtful semi-darkness! And why stop at an hour? Why not just simply turn off the lights at rotating regular intervals, for as long as it takes to save the planet?

Speaking of the power grid, one of its principles has long been that electricity is a fungible commodity, something freely tradeable. Thus, (as John Beck explained when I wondered about the possibility of an Internet shutdown by government fiat), electrical power flows freely through a myriad of places.

I guess I need to get over that idea, for in New Jersey, the power that supplies the power grid is not longer fungible. At least, so says a new law which I suspect the average New Jerseyan is about as likely to have read as the legislators who congratulated each other and Al Gore at the signing ceremony.

Yes, the same Al Gore. The law is such a big deal that Al Gore flew in as a visiting dignitary for the signing (which was timed to coincide with the concerts that have saved the earth):

Al Gore, the former vice president turned environmental activist, was on hand Friday as Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation requiring the Garden State to achieve ambitious reductions in emissions of global-warming gases.

New Jersey became the third state, behind California and Hawaii, to pass a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction law.

"In order to inspire hope and build the enthusiasm necessary to get this crisis solved, it's great to be able to tell 'em in every country that yes, the national government is not doing the right thing yet, it's true, but you need to know that state governments are beginning to take the lead, cities are beginning to take the lead, and citizens of this country are beginning to take the lead," Gore told an enthusiastic crowd of lawmakers and environmental activists who had come to the Meadowlands sports complex to witness the bill signing.

The signing of New Jersey's "Global Warming Response Act" took place on the eve of a series of concerts around the world drawing attention to global warming, including one at The Meadowlands in New Jersey that Gore said he would attend.

Here's the part that will come as news to energy traders:
"This is the strictest global warming law in the country for two reasons," said David Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "Because of the mandatory emissions reductions and because of a provision that says out-of-state power producers can't move power through New Jersey without meeting New Jersey standards."
Of course, the news won't hit ordinary people until the high electric bills finally start arriving in the mail. By then it will be too late to contact your legislator (as if it was up to his "constituents" or even him how he voted).

We all hear talk about various "agendas" (usually covert), and what they plan to do if the activists get their way. I've been around left for most of my life, and I have never until now seen such an all-encompassing way to get control over literally aspect of human existence. It's a totalitarian's dream which would allow government to control how we live, where we live, what we drive, what we eat, where we are allowed to travel, what time we have to turn out the lights, and if Big Brother sees fit, when we reenter the Dark Ages. I call it "totalitarianism," but because it's dressed up as science, ordinary people don't understand the implications. That's because the science is over their heads, and the argument is framed in such a way that the political control is said to flow directly from the scientific arguments without passing "go." Of course, ordinary people (the type most likely to become irate if they understood the implications) aren't likely to get past the "science," mainly because they don't have time, patience, educational background, or scientific training. So they are told "the debate is over" without even understanding the nature of the debate.

My position is that they shouldn't be debating the science, because the political conclusions are so built into it that it's not real science. Forget anthropogenic global warming theory, whether there is an overwhelming scientific consensus, and what it might be. Denial is for libertarian crackpots, free market Republicans, old-fashioned socialists, and nerds.

What the little guy in the street needs is not denial of science, but defiance.

In this light, maybe go veggie campaigns and power blackouts aren't a bad idea.

And why is Hillary's loud silence about all this being so overwhelmingly unreported? Is she going to be allowed to get away with silently sitting around and letting Al Gore's antics make her look reasonable?

I mean, seriously, Where does she get off describing Al Gore's gas tax as "hardly politically palatable at this moment"?

I'll just bet she feels the same way about vegetarian diets and power blackouts, but she'll never say anything. Needless to say, this makes me feel completely triangulated, because I have to wear myself out wasting my perfectly good anthropogenic global warming defiance on Al Gore, who isn't running for anything, but whose continuous presence ensures that the anthropogenic global warming crowd will stay in the Democratic Party (while making Hillary look "reasonable" to the people who don't have time to think).

I hate scientific double standards.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, an incredibly cool way to cut back on online activities:

When employees of The State came in to work following a three day weekend, they found their workstations overloaded with "cannot logon" and "Exchange communication" error messages. The Network Services folks had it even worse: the server room was a sweltering 109° Fahrenheit and filled with dead or dying servers.

At first, everyone had assumed that the Primary A/C, the Secondary A/C, and the Tertiary A/C had all managed to fail at once. But after cycling the power, the A/Cs all fired up and brought the room back to a cool 64°. At the time, the "why" wasn't so important: the network administrators had to figure out how to bring online the four Exchange Services, six Domain Controllers, a few Sun servers, and the entire State Tax Commission's server farm. Out of all of the downed servers, those were the only ones that did not come back to life upon a restart.

They worked day and night to order new equipment, build new servers, and restore everything from back-up. Countless overtime hours and nearly two hundred thousand dollars in equipment costs later, they managed to bring everything back online. When the Exchange servers were finally restored, the following email finally made its way to everyone's inbox, conveniently answering the "why"

The email is priceless!
I got a keycard from [the facility manager's] desk and shut off the A/C units. I'm sure you guys can deal with it being warm for an hour or two when you come in tomorrow morning.
Hair shirts are much more comfortable when it's 109 degrees too!

Aren't hospitals also wasting a lot of power making patients, you know, comfortable?

MORE: Here's Ace describing his "favorite hobby":

clear-cutting forests using the most fuel-inefficient machinery available.
Now that's a good example of scientific defiance!

posted by Eric on 07.11.07 at 09:49 AM


I have to wonder what the current state of public and scientific opinion is on global warming.

On the one hand, most websites I read are written by sceptics (or at least "squishy" believers) who like to highlight scientific discoveries casting doubt on current theories, observations that "climate change" is replacing "global warming" as the new buzz phrase, polls showing most people think the scientists are exaggerating, or the low interest in and high carbon footprint of Live Earth.

It's also obvious that, however many people believe in anthropogenic global warming, there probably aren't 10 people on the entire planet who act like they believe it (and Al Gore isn't one of those 10).

But at the same time, the papers keep telling us everyone believes it and the politicians (who presumably have access to good polling data) act like they believe it.

So I wonder where the truth (on public opinion) lies. And if it's shifting, in what way is it shifting?

tim maguire   ·  July 11, 2007 2:06 PM


Sorry to vear off topic but I though you might like this Lassie and Timmy protest AB 1634

Lassie is the ninth generation Lassie. Lassie is the classic “family dog”. The very name symbolizes loyalty, courage, beauty, and grace. Most of all, Lassie symbolizes everyone’s love for pets. Lassie transcends geographical and generational barriers and holds a special place in the hearts of all.
Timmy (Jon Provost) is a national treasure. The check shirt and jeans he wore for seven years as “Timmy” on television’s beloved “LASSIE” hang in The Smithsonian next to Archie Bunker’s chair. Jon has also earned a nationwide reputation as a philanthropist, giving his time to a wide assortment of causes, including children’s hospitals and, closest to his heart, CANINE COMPANIONS FOR INDEPENDENCE, on whose Board of Governors he currently serves.

Lassie wins!

Papertiger   ·  July 11, 2007 4:00 PM

Back on topic: Eating a veggie diet should count as a personal carbon offset.
Perhaps one of those rich hollywood liberal types, rock stars, or even Algore himself, will pay me not to eat meat?

Papertiger   ·  July 11, 2007 4:08 PM

The politician-turned-climate campaigner, whose surprise hit film An Inconvenient Truth warns of the imminent dangers of global warming...

Since when was An Inconvenient Truth a hit?
The way it played out, practically nobody paid to see it. They forced it on school kids and played it on Showtime.

Papertiger   ·  July 11, 2007 4:59 PM


- Veggie diet: It's a hard sell, but it probably would be worthwhile. I tried being vegetarian for awhile, many years ago, but I didn't have the patience to prepare meals that would really taste good. When I stayed at an Indian (Vedanta) retreat center for a week, the staff took care of that aspect, preparing wonderful vegetarian meals. Meat was simply a non-concern. But I'm unfortunately too lazy to do it myself.

- AIT did quite well for a documentary. I think it made it to the $25 Million level, which, considering that it cost about $1 Million to make, isn't bad. It didn't do as well as the one about penguins, but I think it was the 3rd-highest documentary on record.

- On the general topic: It really is hard to convince people to change their diets. So it makes sense to do what you can get done, and not tilt at windmills.

Neal J. King   ·  July 11, 2007 6:17 PM

From what I understand of federal trade laws (admittedly as a layman) New Jersey's attempt to force out of state power providers to meet it's standards, esentially just for being connected to a fungible grid, would be easy to overturn on a federal level. The power companies have deep pockets, I don't think they would roll over on this one. All they have to do is ignore the law at wait for NJ to try and go after them out if state. It would seem to be a Bloomberg-grade fiasco in the making.

Anyone out there a lawyer specializing in interstate commerce? I'd love to hear a professional opinion.

Jerub-Baal   ·  July 12, 2007 10:04 AM

Boy, my typing is terrible when I'm have the baby and the laptop on my lap at the same time... sorry 'bout that.

Jerub-Baal   ·  July 12, 2007 10:07 AM


Hard to get us to change eating habits, so instead your going after our transportation, a/c, heating, and breathing.
/ \
That's four windmills being tilted at. I guess five would been seen as unreasonable.

Papertiger   ·  July 12, 2007 9:07 PM

You sum up the PR difficulty nicely in your contrast between how people feel about evil oil companies versus cows grazing in fields. Excellent article.

Much of the sales and marketing difficulty for AGWOSC science stems from the fact that the science isn't the point. The motive is to get people to have certain attitudes and act a certain way - less than half of them related to the environment. The appeal to science is simply a tool to that end. The environmental concerns are being used to sell an entire package of simplified living, disliking multinational corporations, and listening to NPR.

That's not to say the science of AGW is wrong, mind you. History is replete with examples of people who were unworthy advocates for good ideas. Most ideas, good and bad, have many unworthy advocates, and environmentalism is not exempt from that. But the marketing is ineffective because the sanctimony keeps leaking out.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  July 12, 2007 10:10 PM

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