I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days, but have been uncertain as to whether or not to write it; partly because I wouldn’t mind some peace and quiet, partly because I may not really do it justice, and partly because the response to it may essentially illustrate what I’m trying to point out.
Those involved in the climate debate may be aware that Willard often refers to ClimateballTM. I think there are some who interpret this as suggesting that the climate debate is just a game and we that we are all just having fun. I don’t think that is correct. What I think is being suggested (and Willard can correct me if I’m wrong) is that it’s a game whether we like it or not. If you’re going to get involved, it’s best that you understand that it is game, how to play the game, and what the rules are. If you want to know the rules, they’re explained quite succinctly here. To be clear, I wish this weren’t true, but I think – broadly speaking – it essentially is.
It would be wonderful if we could have thoughtful discussion amongst people who broadly disagree, but who are willing to listen to what the other person has to say, give it some thought, and maybe actually agree with some – if not all – of it. Instead, it’s more about scoring points. Find a way to undermine the other person’s argument. Find a way to undermine their credibility. Find a way to dodge their arguments against your position. Don’t necessarily apply the same standards to yourself as you apply to everyone else (of course, you then make out that you hold a higher moral ground). Again, to be clear, I certainly don’t think this is how it should be conducted; it just appears as though this is – sadly – how it is often conducted.
What made me decide to write this was largely the response to my Criminally negligent post. I thought I’d written something quite benign. I was suggesting that we probably shouldn’t be considering willful/cynical climate misinformers (if they exist) as criminally negligent because our policy makers should really be able to determine who/what is credible and who/what isn’t. If they can’t – or choose not to – then I was arguing that that is our own fault (the electorate). It’s a democracy, so ultimately we’re responsible for our policy makers. I should also make clear, that by misinformers, I was only referring to those who are knowingly misinforming for their own benefit. I also, in my post, set a hypothetical suggesting that if it did turn out that some people/groups were cynically influencing policy makers for their benefit and to our (the public’s) detriment, then wouldn’t we all – irrespective of our views today – agree that that was unacceptable. I was just trying to see if we could agree on what was unacceptable or not, even if our current views are not aligned.
Did it turn out benign? Of course not. I was heavily criticised for not moderating a comment about Anthony Watts and Goebbels fast enough, while at the same time defending myself against accusations of promoting totalitarianism (not because of the comment, but because of what I’d said in my post). There were commenters getting on their high-horse about comparisons with totalitarian regimes while, in the same comment, suggesting that environmentalists have totalitarian tendencies. It was, in my view, a remarkable display of double standards. Of course, as I pointed out earlier – and should have realised myself – this is all allowed within the rules of ClimateballTM.
Does it stop there? Of course not. My Criminal Negligence post was a comment on an article written in The Conversation by Lawrence Torcello, an Assistant Professor of Philiosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. According to DeSmogBlog (also covered by Sou) Lawrence Torcello has now had 700 items of correspondence complaining about his article and which include such gems as Die you maggot.
One of those who’ve written to complain (to the provost of Torcello’s college) was Lord Christopher Monckton himself. Can we find any instigator for these complaints? Well archived here is a WUWT post promoting Monckton’s letter. An earlier post (archived here) is Anthony Watts referring to Torcello’s article (which I doubt he actually read) as despicable climate ugliness, and giving people information about where to write to complain. He does add
If you choose to lodge a complaint, be sure to be courteous and factual, we don’t need to surrender the moral high ground to anger.
Well, unless the reports about the correspondence are wrong, this suggestion was ignored by many.
Anthony Watts was sufficiently appalled by the comment that I failed to moderate quickly enough, that he made it quote of the week (archived here) and – ironically – also mentioned his post giving details of where to complain about Torcello. Is Anthony going to now have a post illustrating his disgust at the behaviour of some of those who’ve complained about Torcello? I doubt it. Why? Because it’s not required within the rules of ClimateballTM.