2017-10-16

Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia?

Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia is a paper by Professor Edward L. Rubin of the Vanderbilt University Law School. Is he respectable? I don't know. I come to this from an article in the Graun recommended by Bart, who is normally sensible. When I came to read the abstract I recognised it, but as something that I hadn't felt inclined to finish when I first saw it. So now I'll try a bit harder.

The beginning, it seems clear that the most significant impediment to a worldwide effort to combat the disastrous consequences of climate change is the United States.1 It seems equally clear that the reason why the United States has assumed such a counterproductive role is the existence of a set of attitudes within its political discourse that is generally described as climate change denial is perhaps defensible but not how I'd put it. For reasons I tried to explain just recently. This could be described as a matter of exposition of interpretation. But a few paras later we come to footnote 3: Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party. This is quite simply a lie. You may strongly dislike the GOPs position on GW, and you may well think it unwise, unscientific, unthinking, and un-many-other-things; I certainly do. But to allow your enthusiasm to overrun into lying that it is their official policy is denial unacceptable. Is this really an academic paper, that passed peer review? Or is it just one bloke's ranting? Certainly, there's no pretence at unbias.

But continuing we come to Underlying these two groups of elite actors, however, is a broad base of support within the American populace. Business firms, whose self-interest is obvious, would have difficulty persuading people ofsomething they were not prepared to believe. Politicians whose positions depend on being elected are unlikely to announce or support views that are antithetical to a large majority of their constituents, which I'm happier with. As regular readers know, I've said much the same myself.

Then we immeadiately hit the problematic, and central, ...number of studies that assess public attitudes toward climate change... agree on several basic observations regarding those who deny that anthropogenic global warming is a reality. First, the deniers are willing to reject an overwhelming scientific consensus that the problem exists and poses a serious or possibly catastrophic threat to the welfare of future generations. I don't think it is reasonable to characterise a substantial number - close to 50% perhaps - of USAnians as denialists. It is certainly true (IMO) that if you allowed a popular vote on "should Obama's plans for dealing with GW be implemented?", then a majority would vote no. But that is a different question. Most would be voting largely on ignorance, not denial. The number of actual denialists is much smaller; perhaps 10%; I wouldn't really want to try to put a number on it.

Again, I point you towards my earlier work: Talking past each other: Trump Pick for Top Environment Post: Carbon Dioxide Is 'The Gas of Life'. But I need to expound it further, it seems:

Most people (you must be aware of this) don't make decisions on how to vote, or on what attitude to have towards various issues, based on a close and careful (and expensive, in terms of time) study of the issues. They adopt attitudes based on friends, family, respected pols, meeja, and (importantly) how they fit into their world view in general. And, conversely, how they see those issues presented by their "enemies". If people you dislike tell you in strident terms that you must do such-and-such a thing or you will be a Bad Person in their eyes... can you really believe that works? What if these people not only tell you that, but wrap up all presented solutions to the problem in the guise least favourable to your worldview? That is what we're seeing with GW. This is what we're seeing with this paper (including the comical ideas at the end).

The abstract ends with The reason they do so in this case is that a rational policy to combat climate change seems to demand a major alteration of society. Combatting climate change not only expands the scope of regulation, but involves regulations that effect a major transformation of our basic economic system and our personal lifestyles. Almost uniquely (toleration would be another case), it demands a transformation of internalized attitudes. This has produced what can be fairly described as a phobic reaction among many people, that is, an irrational and persistent fear of a given situation. The article concludes by considering some policies that might circumvent this phobic reaction: mass transit for commuting, intelligent homes, and the encouragement of local food production. In each case, these policies create appealing options for people without demanding major changes in their lifestyle.

You're a Nice Person, no doubt. Maybe you're even Dutch :-). When you read the bit about "mass transit for commuting" your head nodded happily: you like mass transit (although obviously bicycles are better). Everyone should like mass transit (second to bicycles). How could anyone think differently? You might have felt a touch queasy about "the encouragement of local food production"; it causes you to wonder if that is really going to help against GW? Is it really sufficiently important to mention at this level; indeed, would it help at all? But nonetheless the author clearly has his "heart in the right place" so you feel reassured. But unfortunately the Bad People don't feel like that, so all these happy ideas are doomed. They all amount to Moah Regulation and Moah government. Because they are minor, and because they would (being market-distorting ideas) effectively generate rents for some people, there is some chance they might actually happen; sometimes it seems that in general, the stupider the idea the more chance it has of happening.

Really, I'm trying to say a variation of what I said in Morality and economics. And that didn't get through, so I doubt this will. That if you want to speak to the perhaps 50% who don't agree with you, you'll need to find a better way to speak; and to present solutions that aren't designed to grate.

Refs

IoT Cybersecurity: What's Plan B? by Schneier on Security is probably an example of what might be good regulation (but it looks to be meeting the fate of all good things).
PUBLIC CHOICE THEORY AND THE POLITICS OF GOOD AND EVIL - contains some decent thoughts, even if I don't agree with it all.

45 comments:

Everett F Sargent said...

WMC,

Get a clue ...
Republican Party Platform 2016
https://prod-cdn-static.gop.com/static/home/data/platform.pdf

See America’s Natural Resources: Agriculture, Energy, and the Environment

What you won't find is the out-of-context quote you cited in that paper you don't like. But otherwise, yes, the Official Republican Party Platform 2016 is riddled with anthropogenic environmental and climate change denial.

an·thro·po·gen·ic
adjective
(chiefly of environmental pollution and pollutants) originating in human activity.

William Connolley said...

You're using "out of context" as a generic insult. But it has a meaning, too. And using the actual meaning, no my quote was entirely in context. As for the GOP platform: sure, you don't like it. You might even say that it *amounts to* denialism; that would be entirely defensible.

wotts upwiththatblog said...

That if you want to speak to the perhaps 50% who don't agree with you, you'll need to find a better way to speak; and to present solutions that aren't designed to grate.

If this is all you've been trying to say, then - yes - this seems pretty obvious. However, the goal isn't simply to speak with the 50% who don't agree. If that's all we wanted to do, that would probably be easy (just accept that you have to say things that they would find appealing). What's considerably harder (in my view) is finding ways to speak with them that ultimately leads to developing actual solutions. This seems considerably harder, and it's not clear to me that what you seem to be proposing is really a way to resolve this - at least, not really some easy way. (I think your comment system is going to end up posting this under a username I haven't used for a long time. If it does so, I'm aTTP).

William Connolley said...

I know your smoke :-).

But I refer you to where this began - with Bart's approving tweet, and the follow up, his blank astonishment that I could see anything wrong with the Graun article.

But yes, it is also about finding solutions, as I said. If your solution is always Moah Regulation, expect it to grate.

crandles said...

So are you going to change your stance from 'Carbon Tax now' moah regulation to renewables are becoming cheaper so we don't need moah regulation?

William Connolley said...

I have no plans to do that; at the moment I think it would be a bad idea.

Phil Hays said...

It is hard to talk about solutions with the 30% plus of USAian citizens that have a religious based opinion that humans are completely incapable of causing climate change. Evolution didn't happen. World is maybe ten thousand years old. The dinosaurs died in the flood, all at the same time. The King James version of the Bible is God's Absolute Truth With No Errors.

There is some hope that the next generation might be different, at least in part.

http://news.gallup.com/poll/210956/belief-creationist-view-humans-new-low.aspx

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/11/polls_americans_believe_in_evolution_less_in_creationism.html


I grew up with people like this. I've got uncles and cousins like this.

These people are ignorant, but no amount of information will ever change that.

“Which is what a lot of the anti-evolution, anti–climate evolution, anti–climate change thinking is: It’s an ideology. It’s a refusal to engage with reality. Hopefully what we’re seeing here is that younger people are less prone to that. They’re allowing themselves to see the reality in front of them, as opposed to shutting their eyes on the basis of ideological denial. … They’re growing up in the midst of the conversation, growing up in the midst of reality, being open to reality, and not simply refusing to see what’s in front of you.”

"Of course, evolution hasn’t won yet—not even close. Even today, plenty of powerful people are still promoting creationist nonsense, notably Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, as Miller and Zack Kopplin have pointed out in Slate. Moreover, we can’t forget that a large bloc of young-Earth creationists still isn’t budging. Remember that 4 in 10 number? For those who attend church or synagogue at least weekly, that number is closer to 50 percent. For white evangelicals, it’s 60 percent. Those percentages haven’t budged in more than 30 years."

Note that Trump got a lot of support from this crowd.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I have very little idea what you are trying to say here. Maybe you could be more explicit.

William Connolley said...

I decline to explain myself any further; I've done all I can.

crandles said...

>"I think she has a genuine principled belief in the restraint of govt, just like you have a genuine principled belief in doing something about GW."
and "talking past each other"
and "you'll need to find a better way to speak; and to present solutions that aren't designed to grate"

are quite clear. The paper is attempting to say this but in William's opinion does so very badly.


The problem seems to be what to do about it. "I have no plans to do that; at the moment I think it would be a bad idea" is also quite clear William doesn't intend to change his position.

What is less clear, is whether this all makes William's position one of wishing for a magic solution that doesn't grate with denia... err principled libertarians or whether he believes he has the one true, correct position of accepting libertarian values and somehow this helps his carbon tax now to not grate with these principled libertarians.

Is this magic wishful thinking either way or am I missing something?

William Connolley said...

I think you're missing a lot. For one thing, the only person to mention Carbon Tax on this post is you. You might like to think about "who is this post addressed to?" Hint is isn't the Libertarians (why would you address them? They are few in number, despite many odd people who seem to believe that the dominate USAnian politics; of course, they don't).

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Since you have been so kind as to point out that I'm "odd" and a "fool," perhaps you will permit me to make a criticism of your clarity. Above you call it "a lie" to characterize climate denial as official Republican policy, only to admit that the Republican Party platform is "tantamount to climate denial." Add in the fact that the President, Vice President, and principal cabinet members responsible for the environment have all characterized anthropogenic climate change as "a myth," where is your lie. To me, calling someone a liar is pretty harshly pejorative, and demands a fair amount of evidence.

Where is yours?

William Connolley said...

> "odd" and a "fool,"

I cannot recall doing that; and quotation marks in this sense would imply that I've done *exactly* that. Can you clarify where you think I've said it?

> Above you call it "a lie" to characterize climate denial as official Republican policy, only to admit that the Republican Party platform is "tantamount to climate denial."

I didn't say that, either. Again, you're "quoting" things I didn't say. That makes it terribly hard to work out what you're referring to. I *think* you're referring to my "You might even say that it *amounts to* denialism; that would be entirely defensible." In which case, no, I did *not* say or admit that their platform is "tantamount to climate denial." I said it was a defensible position; I didn't say it is a correct position. Is this really too subtle for you? I don't think it is.

> Where is yours?

My evidence for the lie? Because the GOP *official* position on GW is not *officially* denial. As I've already said.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

it *amounts to* denialism - my bad, I substituted tantamount to for "amounts to."

There’s no light the foolish can see better by

odd people who seem to believe that the dominate USAnian politics

These are all direct quotes. The second was specifically directed to me. The third, I think rather obviously included me.

Never mind that, though. You are left hanging your "lie" accusation on the awfully frail ground that the Republican platform, even though it *amounts to* climate denial, doesn't explicitly say "we deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change." Come on.

crandles said...

I was well aware this post was not aimed at Libertarians, it is clearly aimed at GW inspired 'loads of regulations' folk not libertarians.

Your points to them re find a better way to speak seems entirely reasonable. I doubt my own positions are perfect and your points may have some relevance to me.

When I said "The problem seems to be what to do about it.", that was meant to move on to other matters. Am I then prohibited from discussing your position which seems to be 'Carbon tax now'? Am I mischaracterising this as your position? Or do you simply not like me turning your arguments on your own position?

William Connolley said...

CIP: ah, I was looking for odd and fool together. Arguably, since I qualified odd with many, they can't possibly be odd. But that was indeed largely directed at you. As to fool, which I would not direct at you: perhaps you missed the update to that post: "However, to avoid too much offence to non-fools, I need to note that I’ve taken to pointing people at this when all I mean is “I’ve explained it as well as I can; if you can’t get it from here I’m not going to try to explain any further”. Although it still carries a connotation of “you’re not trying hard enough” or “you prejudices are getting in the way of reading what is perfectly clear”."

Paul Skeoch said...

As for the GOP platform: sure, you don't like it. You might even say that it *amounts to* denialism; that would be entirely defensible.

Bit confused by this. You seem to accept that the GOP's official position can be accurately described as climate change denial, but call out as a lie the statement that the GOP's official position is climate change denial. Is your point that the GOP don't specifically say themselves that their position is climate change denial?

Obviously categorising someone as engaging in denial when they don't want to be categorised as such isn't conducive to dialogue, but then the paper isn't intended to be a dialogue with those being called denialists. It's intended as a dialogue with those engaging positively in public policy to tackle climate change and who will inevitably come up against the phenomenon of climate change denial. The only relevant question is then whether the denial descriptor is reasonable, but you don't seem to disagree with that.

Most would be voting largely on ignorance, not denial. The number of actual denialists is much smaller; perhaps 10%;

Very deficit model of you. You think that simply providing information to the other 40% will change their minds? The definition of denial is about arriving at an entrenched position on an issue based on social and ideological factors, rather than a considered understanding and appraisal of the evidence. The degree of ignorance about the issue is irrelevant. It's true that not all are necessarily denialists, but ignorance is no defence on this matter.

William Connolley said...

> "The problem seems to be what to do about it.", that was meant to move on to other matters

Oh I see; discuss solutions. My favoured solution remains a carbon tax. But clearly discourse is such that we can't get there from where we are now. If we agree to pretend that all the Nice people would get behind a carbon tax were it on offer (I'm not sure I do believe that, but leave it for the moment) the question then becomes persuading the Nasty people. And so I'm trying to suggest that the Nice people should try to avoid putting the Nasty people's backs up, and try asking for something different. Like, a carbon tax and less regulation. But I'm not at all optimistic about that; so I'm starting with something simpler, which is to suggest that maybe the Nice people could stop deliberately misrepresenting the Nasty people's position. alas, even that gets no positive responses.

crandles said...

>"so I'm trying to suggest that the Nice people should try to avoid putting the Nasty people's backs up, and try asking for something different. Like, a carbon tax and less regulation."

I would be happy to compromise by agreeing to less regulation, but only provided we? get some compromises in return that allows some changes that will get the job done over a reasonable period of time. Unfortunately, to too many of the 'loads of regulations' folk, the job appears so big a problem that in order to have any chance of solving the problem they must have every possible tool/regulation that might be conceivable and what can be negotiated is obviously nowhere near enough. To these people, I say the price of renewables becoming cheaper means we are nearly there and the problem is nowhere near as difficult as they imagine.

>"so I'm starting with something simpler, which is to suggest that maybe the Nice people could stop deliberately misrepresenting the Nasty people's position. alas, even that gets no positive responses."

In a way fine, and I hope you see that as a positive response. But two problems, calling them 'Nasty people' might be seen as deliberately getting their backs up so you ought to practice what you preach. Perhaps this is deliberate while you are addressing the people you are calling 'Nice people' to try to say you are on their side so maybe I should let it pass but it appears a bit visible to the people you are calling 'Nasty'. Maybe this is just a problem of looking confusingly contradictory?

Secondly, does this address the problem of whether a) enough can be negotiated to solve the problem and b) if the loads of regulations folk don't believe enough can be negotiated where does that get us?

rconnor said...

The advice “That if you want to speak to the perhaps 50% who don't agree with you, you'll need to find a better way to speak; and to present solutions that aren't designed to grate” is obvious and unhelpful. The problem is that the science says we need to significantly change our way of life and the way we produce and consume to avoid future damages and hardships. There’s no getting around that. If your world view is “DON’T TREAD ON ME!”, then the solutions will grate regardless of what they are or how they’re phrased. (Hint: a carbon tax can’t pass in the US, even though it’s “free-market friendly”.)

But what’s more important than what or how solutions are phrased, is WHO phrases them. The most effective way of getting people to change their mind is by having people with whom they agree with or associate with influence them. If solutions to climate change go against conservative/libertarian views, then we need conservative/libertarians that agree with science to convince others.

You’re actually well positioned to do that. Perhaps instead of continually hippie punching, you could do some libertarian/conservative head shaking? We’d all be better off for it.

Paul Skeoch said...

maybe the Nice people could stop deliberately misrepresenting the Nasty people's position.

I don't see where you've shown this happening though? You've pointed out that "climate change denial" isn't how people would self-describe their position, but that doesn't mean describing them as engaging in denial is misrepresenting them.

However, I do think you have misrepresented the paper you're talking about. For example, your response to the end of the abstract. You react to it as if the policy suggestions are intended as Nice people ideas that Nasty people should be happy about if they want to stop being Nasty people. But it's very clear from the paragraph that they're intended to be things that appeal to Nasty people on their own terms. Now, the author may be wrong about those specific things generally appealing to the Nasty people (haven't read the paper so don't know if they're just off-the-cuff brainstorm ideas or if there is evidential basis for Nasty-appeal) but that doesn't change the fact that the author's intention is very different from your representation.

------------------------------

Kind of a tangent, but on your point about local food production. It's true that studies have found that local food production is not always less carbon intensive than shipping from abroad, but that isn't due to some divine proclamation that sheep farming in New Zealand must always be more environmentally friendly. It's because infrastructure and practices in local food production in, say, England are more conducive to emitting CO2. If those infrastructure-induced disparities were to disappear, say as a result of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, then producing locally would be cleaner. Would that necessarily appeal to the Nasty regulation-phobics? Perhaps not with the fundamentalist libertarian types who don't care where production happens, but it seems right in-line with what Trumpistas and UKIPers want #MAGA.

wotts upwiththatblog said...

You've pointed out that "climate change denial" isn't how people would self-describe their position, but that doesn't mean describing them as engaging in denial is misrepresenting them.

I was going to make the same point as Paul. It can often be quite reasonable to describe someone (or some group) in a way that they would not acknowledge. That does not make it wrong; that would require some judgement. Who gets to decide?

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I suppose I distracted you with feigned outrage, but I don't think you've answered my actual critique, except in the most narrow "it depends what the meaning of 'is' is," sense. It's not a lie to say that the GOP position on AGW is denial. It's embedded in their platform, and that's as "official" as any party position can be. Moreover, it's explicit in the statements of the heads of the ruling party.

William Connolley said...

> calling them 'Nasty people'... practice what you preach

But I'm not talking to them in this post. I thought we'd already agreed that.

> if the loads of regulations folk don't believe enough can be negotiated where does that get us

I think that's where we are, and I think it gets us stuck. The Nasty people aren't going to give way while you're asking for Loadsa Regulation (well sort of but that's the simple story) whilst the Nice people won't back off while they think Everything Must Be Done.

> The problem is that the science says we need to significantly change our way of life

A textbook example of bad phrasing. Science tells us that increasing CO2 levels will lead to (warming, SLR, etc.). If you agree that (warming, etc.) is bad, then you can morph that into "science tells us we should stop CO2 levels rising too much". But you immeadiately hit "how much?", and "how should we go about achieving that?"

> I don't see where you've shown this happening though

I think I constantly see the Nice people misrepresenting the Nasty people. This post isn't supposed to be full documentation of that.

> they're intended to be things that appeal to Nasty people on their own terms

Yes, I think they are. And I'm trying to point out how naive that is. As well as how dumb some of them are.

> local food production in, say, England are more conducive to emitting CO2

It's probably because farming in the UK is phat and protected by subsidies. We should emulate NZ and get rid of them.

> It can often be quite reasonable to describe someone (or some group) in a way that they would not acknowledge

Sure. I call people denialists all the time. Very few of them would admit to the label. But (to say it yet again) this paper tries to claim it is the GOPs official position. That's a lie. Not one of you seems able to admit that.

> the GOP position on AGW is

TBH, I've never read their official position. Post a link to what you think is their official position and I'll read it.

wotts upwiththatblog said...


But (to say it yet again) this paper tries to claim it is the GOPs official position. That's a lie. Not one of you seems able to admit that.

Yes, I agree that it appears not to be their official position. It does, however, appear to be their actual position (to be clear, I haven't studied their manifesto in great detail, so this is based on what has been presented in other comments on this thread).

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Their 'Gas of Life ' pitch on behalf of the Western Coal Association having long earned the Idsos a good livelihood , it must shock them that the State of California has approved CO2 for euthanizing rats , mice and other small mammals in state university labs.

I'm not sure if this regulation applies to Poodle Moths

rconnor said...

> "to claim it is the GOPs official position. That's a lie. Not one of you seems able to admit that...TBH, I've never read their official position."

Might I suggest that perhaps before accusing people of lying, it would be helpful to actually read what you think they are lying about?

Of course a political party is not going to flat out say “we deny climate change science” in its official platform. But you’d have to be hopelessly or deliberately na├»ve to read (y’know, like actually read it) the GOP’s platform and think they accept the science. And, as others have said, in practice many of their senior leaders, including the republican president and the republican chair of the house committee on science, space and technology, have made explicit statements demonstrating their denial of climate change.

By the way, since you couldn’t be bothered to Google it before accusing others of lying, here ya go:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=republican+party+climate+change+platform

Some gems:

“Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”

“We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement”

“We oppose any carbon tax.”

Hank Roberts said...

And if you quote the strings you'll find the weasel words. Use the /tools/verbatim search option to constrain what you get:

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Republican+Party%22+%22global+warming%22+%22climate+change%22+platform

e.g.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/republican-platform-rejects-paris-climate-agreement/

---quote---

The document does not outwardly reject the underlying science behind global warming, but it does question its accuracy.

"Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data," it says. "We will enforce that standard throughout the executive branch, among civil servants and presidential appointees alike."

William Connolley said...

> before accusing people of lying, it would be helpful to actually read what you think they are lying about? Of course a political party is not going to flat out say “we deny climate change science” in its official platform.

You contradict yourself, and prove what I said correct. It is, indeed, not necessary to read their platform to discover that denial is not their official policy. Would it not be a good idea to read the words you've written before you press "send"?

wotts upwiththatblog said...

Since we're being pedantic (are you getting blogging advice from Brandon Shollenberger?)

and prove what I said correct.

I don't this is quite correct. What's been shown is that what was claimed appears not to be true, given that the GOP almost certainly does not state that their official platform is climate denial. That doesn't necessarily make the claim a lie, though. It would have to be shown that it was not only not true, but that the intent was to make this untrue statement, rather than simply people making a mistake. Of course, maybe you can demonstrate that there was intent, but I don't think you have so far.

wotts upwiththatblog said...

Blast, even tried to proofread the above - "I don't *think* this is quite correct.

William Connolley said...

I'm not terribly concerned whether it is a deliberate or accidental lie. It's a pointer to the bias of the writer, and an indication that it wasn't properly peer reviewed (if indeed it was reviewed at all; I can't tell).

wotts upwiththatblog said...


I'm not terribly concerned

The problem here, though, is that - IMO - if you're going to expect absolute rigour from everyone else, you should - ideally - try to do the same yourself. In my view, there is no such thing as an accidental lie. An accidental lie is a mistake/error. If you had meant a mistake/error, you could have simply said so. Of course, maybe you had some reason for wanting to call it a lie, rather than simply a mistake, but since your message appears to be to not misrepresent other people's position, this might seem rather ironic (well, unless your intent was to illustrate the point that you're trying to make).

William Connolley said...

I'm a bit puzzled here. You're expecting absolute accuracy from me, in a blog, but yet you're prepared to let slide clearly false statements in what is nominally a high-quality published paper being recommended by experienced climatologist(s). Is it that, although the statement is clearly false, you think it unimportant? I don't think it is unimportant. I think it is very revealing of the attitude of the writer. If you're asserting that it's accidental, then that's possible, but only in a way makes it worse: the same unconscious bias will be present throughout the paper.

wotts upwiththatblog said...


yet you're prepared to let slide clearly false statements in what is nominally a high-quality published paper being recommended by experienced climatologist(s).

I've already said it's wrong. Not quite sure what else you're expecting from me. I don't really know in what way I'm letting it slide (are you expecting some kind of formal complaint from me to the journal?)


Is it that, although the statement is clearly false, you think it unimportant?

As others have already pointed out, it does appear as though the position of the GOP is essentially climate denial, even if that isn't their official position. I haven't, however, read the paper and my intent isn't to defend it. I generally agree with your suggestion that we should aim to correctly represent the positions that other people hold.


You're expecting absolute accuracy from me, in a blog,

Essentially, yes. If your message is to be extremely careful as to how one represents other people's positions, I don't think you get to excuse your slips simply because it's a blog, especially given that you appear to be targetting this at your readers, not the authors of the paper that you're criticising.

To be clear, I'm all in favour of giving the benefit of the doubt and being willing to understand what people are actually trying to say, rather than interpreting what they've said in the most pedantic way possible. You're the one appearing to argue for the latter, in which case you probably should aim to be careful in what you say. I do realise that the somewhat relaxed way in which you present things is part of your charm. It, however, starts to lose its charm when it seems that you expect more from others than you expect from yourself.

William Connolley said...

WMC> and prove what I said correct.

Wotts> I don't this is quite correct

Note that you've misinterpreted what I claimed to be correct about. I was claiming to be correct that it was not necessary to read the GOP manifesto in order to know the "denial" claim was false.

> Essentially, yes

Fair enough. So: we're agreed it is a falsehood, the only question is whether it is a lie or not; in the sense of whether it is a deliberate falsehood, or merely a reflection of bias in the writer. My opinion is that it is a lie, as-in deliberate; but lacking the ability to read this person's mind, I admit I cannot tell for sure.

wotts upwiththatblog said...

Note that you've misinterpreted what I claimed to be correct about. I was claiming to be correct that it was not necessary to read the GOP manifesto in order to know the "denial" claim was false.

Ahh, okay.

rconnor said...

WC,

Read harder.

I hope you know there’s a difference between:
(1) The official GOP platform explicitly states “we deny climate change”, and,
(2) “Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party”

The first, which no one claimed or is defending, is false and could rightly be said to be a lie. All I said was that it was obvious that “we deny climate change” would not exist in any party’s official platform.

The second, which is the statement in question, is an interpretation of the position, *that actually requires that you read the platform* and interpret the position to determine its accuracy. When the platform include statements on “rejecting the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement” and “oppos[ing] any carbon tax”, it certainly suggests that emission reduction inaction is the official position of the Republican Party. It could also be suggested that promoting emission reduction inaction is synonymous with climate change denial. It also could be suggested that is too much of a stretch. Both are interpretations of the position. Neither are “lies”.

So it is not contradictory to say that the platform would not say “we deny climate change” but that the comment “Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party” is not a “lie”. It certainly doesn’t “prove what [you] said correct”.

Note, also, that the articles statement says “position” not “platform”, which is a bit looser and makes statements and actions by party relevant. So let’s look at a few statements by senior Republicans:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese…” – Donald Trump, Republican President
“We now know that prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data.” – Lamar Smith, Republican chairman of the committee of science, space and technology
“Climate change is not science. It’s religion.” – Ted Cruz, Republican chairman of subcommittee on science and space
“So no, I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the, to the global warming that we see.” – Scott Pruitt, Republican head of the EPA
A list of comments by the 2016 Republican Presidential candidates - http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/2016-republicans-climate-change_us_5654fd44e4b072e9d1c11291

So, to recap,
- The republican president, head of the committee of science, space and technology and head of the EPA have all made explicit statements denying the realities of climate change science,
- The official GOP platform rejects the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement and opposes any carbon tax, and,
- The GOP has primarily voted against climate change actions and, once in power, dismantled past climate change actions.

So when the words, actions and official platform of a party all suggest the party rejects climate science, I would say that it is fair to interpret that “Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party”. Even if you disagree with the interpretation, to call it a “lie” is simply not accurate.

rconnor said...

Returning to my original point and the core point of this post...

> “They adopt attitudes based on friends, family, respected pols”

I fully agree. It’s why we need to give a voice to “Nasty” people that also agree with the science. Like you. But most of them are too busy hippie punching (and blaming “Nice” people for the inaction of “Nasty” people) to do any good. Like you.


> " And, conversely, how they see those issues presented by their "enemies".

Again, I agree. Which is why blaming “Nice” people for the failure to sell climate change action in “Nasty” people-friendly ways is short-sighted. It would be better to get “Nasty” people (that agree with the science) to sell climate change action in “Nasty” people-friendly ways.

In practical (but US-centric) terms, it would likely be more impactful to have republicans listen to the Climate Leadership Council talk about the “Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends” then to blame Sheldon Whitehouse for not packaging his climate change action plan in more free-market friendly ways.

But hippie punching is easier.

William Connolley said...

I agree it is logically possible to distinguish 1 and 2. But the paper doesn't; so even on your interpretation we're left guessing.

As for "hippie punching"; I think that's just lazy talk. Answer the criticism substantively; don't just try to evade it by using pejorative terms to describe it.

Hank Roberts said...

Is it a big deniable secret whose money is funding this particular policy?

https://www.google.com/search?q="dark+money"+koch+climate+Republican

Kevin O'Neill said...

I find it ironic that you write: "This is quite simply a lie. You may strongly dislike the GOPs position on GW, and you may well think it unwise, unscientific, unthinking, and un-many-other-things; I certainly do. But to allow your enthusiasm to overrun into lying that it is their official policy is denial unacceptable.

1) Prof. Rubin said in footnote [3]: Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party. Neither the 2012 nor 2016 platforms ever mention "global warming". Indeed, the 2012 platform never even mentions 'climate change,' but the 2016 platform does several times.

Here are all the relevant quotes I could find in either document:
2012: We Believe In America, Republican Party platform)

[page 19] "We also call on Congress to take quick action to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations that will harm the nation’s economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter century."


'Coal' is mentioned 9 times total - eight times in one paragraph that includes this sentence:
"We will end the EPA’s war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation’s coal resources, the jobs it produces, and the affordable, reliable energy that it provides for America. Further, we oppose any and all cap and trade legislation."
=============================================================

2016: We Believe In America, Republican Party platform)

[page 22] Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data. We will enforce that standard throughout the executive branch, among civil servants and presidential appointees alike. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.

[page 26] His [Obama's] media admirers portray his personal commitments — whether on climate change, Iranian weapons, or other matters — as done deals. They are not, and a new Republican executive will work with the Congress to reestablish constitutional order in America’s foreign relations. All international executive agreements and political arrangements entered into by the current [Obama] Administration must be deemed null and void as mere expressions of the current president’s [President Obama's] preferences.

[page 42] We will no longer tolerate a President whose rules of engagement put our own troops in harm’s way or commanders who tell their soldiers that their first duty is to fight climate change.

"The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource."

Of course the question may come down to, what does Prof. Rubin mean by 'climate change denial'? That the GOP denies climate change is happening? Or that it accepts that it's happening, but not caused by anthropogenic sources? Or that it accepts that it's happening, accepts that humans are the cause, but denies it's a problem?

So, I'm curious - what is the GOP's position on GW that you so dislike? I don't see a single statement defining one, so one must take the totality of what they say to form one's own idea of what that position is. To me, and obviously to professor Rubin, they simply deny there's a problem. If they believed otherwise they would have addressed it directly.

Hank Roberts said...

Taking the citizenry as a herd of sheep, there's two ways to profit from owning the herd: butchering or shearing.
That's the difference between our two political parties, or rather, between the groups of moguls who pay for them.
Short term profit, or long term profitability -- choose one.
https://www.google.com/search?q=coal+ash+radioactive

Hank Roberts said...

"We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot."

Mal Adapted said...

WC: But to allow your enthusiasm to overrun into lying that it is their official policy is denial unacceptable.

What does the GOP's 'official' policy have to do with price of tea in China? The party's platform is presumed to be window dressing for the commercial agendas of their financial supporters. Reality ensues from their actual policies.

Bear in mind that the first word in 'oafishal' is 'oaf'.