Like Waiting For Godot…

I’ve been waiting for the deniers and skeptics to start backtracking for a while now, given that report after report has exonerated climate scientists like Michael Mann,  and Phil Jones, but it feels like a fool’s errand – bloggers like Anthony Watts , Monckton and newspaper giants like Delingpole keep cranking out the denial like modern-day Neros fiddling while the world boilsburns, bakes and floods and the climate change scientists claim that we’re breaking records.

As Beckett wrote, “We are all born mad. Some remain so.”

Now it seems as if some of those previously mad are tearing off the shades, pulling away the veils, and seeing things as they really are. Are they completely out of the cave and no longer under the lure of shadows?  I doubt it, but there seems to be some movement.  

I’m speaking of a recent article in The National Post, the rag of the Right in my country, Canada. Hat tip to Deep Climate for calling it to my attention. My post is late by almost a month but I’ve been in absentia, fed up with the seemingly Sisyphean task of fighting global warming denialism, which I saw as my primary purpose in blogging. At some point, a blogger has to ask him or herself whether their voice adds anything new or just adds to the cacophony. I’m still undecided what my place is, if any.

Here’s an excerpt from the NP article:

In this newspaper, a columnist recently described the “growing skepticism about the theory of man-made climate change.” Surely, the conventional wisdom is on the cusp of being overthrown entirely: Another colleague proclaimed that we are approaching “the church of global warming’s Galileo moment.”

Fine-sounding rhetoric — but all of it nonsense. In a new article published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, a group of scholars from Stanford University, the University of Toronto and elsewhere provide a statistical breakdown of the opinions of the world’s most prominent climate experts. Their conclusion: The group that is skeptical of the evidence of man-made global warming “comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers in the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups … This result closely agrees with expert surveys, indicating that [about] 97% of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of [man-made global warming].”

How has this tiny 2-3% sliver of fringe opinion been reinvented as a perpetually “growing” share of the scientific community? Most climate-change deniers (or “skeptics,” or whatever term one prefers) tend to inhabit militantly right-wing blogs and other Internet echo chambers populated entirely by other deniers. In these electronic enclaves — where a smattering of citations to legitimate scientific authorities typically is larded up with heaps of add-on commentary from pundits, economists and YouTube jesters who haven’t any formal training in climate sciences — it becomes easy to swallow the fallacy that the whole world, including the respected scientific community, is jumping on the denier bandwagon.


I tell you, when the NP has a post calling out the climate change deniers, one could almost imagine that the dim figure in the distance shambling towards us is none other than Godot…

But wait: I read today in a local newsrag that the provincial premiers are somehow at loggerheads over climate change policy. Seems like EOTAAS (Everyone other than Alberta and Saskatchewan) think there needs to be a cap and trade system set on to limit emissions in Canada. Alberta and Saskatchewan, for some reason, disagree. They think otherwise:

While premiers in Winnipeg for the annual Council of the Federation meeting agreed to a pan-Canadian water charter to protect and conserve the resource, they butted heads on how best to chop greenhouse gas emissions.

Provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba favour a cap-and-trade emissions reduction program that would force companies that miss their targets to purchase carbon credits from greener firms.

The four provinces and several western U.S. states are partners in the Western Climate Initiative program that is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade market approach.

But Alberta and Saskatchewan believe technology is the key to slashing Canada’s carbon footprint, and are committed to costly carbon capture and storage programs. Alberta has pledged $2 billion to four different projects.

Could it be … could it be possible that the reason Alberta and Saskatchewan are against mandatory cap and trade legislation is because, well, Alberta and Saskatchewan are the big energy producers in Canada, making mucho dineros off of the petroleum industry in their respective provinces, including filthy coal, shale oil and conventional oil?

Here’s a clip from a Sask government website:

Oil and natural gas provide a major source of government revenue through taxes on the value of production and sale of land rights. Annual revenues fluctuate depending on the international price of oil and the North American price of natural gas: from 1995 to 2000, direct oil and gas revenues ranged from a low of $500 million to over $1 billion, equal to 10-25% of all tax revenue raised in Saskatchewan.

10-25% of all tax revenue? Up to $1B in revenues for the provincial coffers?

No — that couldn’t be… Is it really all just down to economics and politics? Could this whole global warming denialism be explained by reference to dollars and power?

Hmm. Looks like Godot is still a long way off.

About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

9 Responses to “Like Waiting For Godot…”

  1. SheWonk,

    Nice to have you back. I know how you feel, and so do probably the majority of the people out there trying to fight the good fight.

    Do not underestimate the importance of what you do, no matter how futile it may seem at times. I’m sure that is part of the deniers’ strategy– overwhelm them (i.e., “alarmists” and public) with enough BS and some (or most) of it will stick. But just think how bad things would be without DC, Tamino, RC, Deltoid, Eli, Stoat, CP, you and others stepping up to the plate.

    FWIW and IMHO, choose your battles and take them down hard using the facts and science…..

    All the best.

  2. PolyisTCOandbanned Reply August 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Zeke and Nick Stokes and Ron Brandeburg (sp?) are the ones I admire. DC/Tammy/Deltoid/Eli/Stoat are just echo chambers for the converted.

  3. Well that is just your opinion now is it not TCO? The actual track record of those mentioned paints a different story…all of the mentioned (with the exception of perhaps Romm) have taken the trouble to do some analysis (in some cases incredibly in-depth analysis– whether it be analytical or otherwise) and to even publish papers (Foster et al., Halpern et al., Schmidt, Mann et al. etc.).

    I agree with you about tghe valuable contributions of Zeke and Nick– bad of me to forget them.

    I’m curious, do you believe that SheWonk is also merely an echo chamber for the “converted” (did you really have to use a word with religious connotations?)

    Anyhow, the point of my post was to encourage Susan to continue to fight the good fight….

  4. PolyisTCOandbanned Reply August 26, 2010 at 12:27 am


  5. TCO, that would be Ron Broberg…

  6. TCO,

    “no”?? Come one, you can surely do better than that. I’m assuming that your answer was to the question in my first sentence? Yes, of course, I forgot about all the other wild and fanciful people out there who are convinced that ACC is part of some conspiracy theory, or people of alleged ‘repute’ such as Watts, McIntyre, Curry, and a whack of other contrarians and ‘skeptics’. I of course know what they think about Tamino, for example. I honesty thought you were better than them and actually lived in a world of facts and science. Your belief that the people/sites in question are all “echo chambers” is clearly not based on fact but opinion. EOS.

    And you did you answer my second question about SheWonk’s site?

    • Now, now… Thanks for the support but I’m not interested in a fight over the value of my blog! It’s just one corner of the blogosphere to discuss the war over AGW, nothing more or less…

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. No worries SheWonk….I’ll move on.

  8. PolyisTCOandbanned Reply August 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    No…was for the second question. The first was rhetorical.

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