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back to article Climate-change scepticism must be 'treated', says enviro-sociologist

Scepticism regarding the need for immediate and massive action against carbon emissions is a sickness of societies and individuals which needs to be "treated", according to an Oregon-based professor of "sociology and environmental studies". Professor Kari Norgaard compares the struggle against climate scepticism to that against …

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OK, I'll bite ...

"Prof Norgaard holds a B.S. in biology and a master's and PhD in sociology."

We should listen to Prof Norgaard's opinion on climate why, exactly?

The mind boggles ...

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Sir

Mine too. I mean, there's a difference between 'denial' and 'yet to be convinced' surely?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

I think you missed the point. You are supposed to listen to Prof Norgaard's opinion on the need for improving science communication. This is because of the fairly obvious failure of large

sections of the population to understand scientific topics and methods. Climate science is an example of this communication failure.

Whether you like it or not, and whether you agree with any particular current scientific consensus is irrelevant to the process of learning to communicate that science better. Why do they believe it? Why do you not? (or v.v.). Are there ways communication can be improved?

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Re: OK, I'll bite ...

"We should listen to Prof Norgaard's opinion on climate why, exactly?"

Same reason as we should listen to yours, I guess.

Luckily her opinion on climate change is not what she is putting forward here - it's her opinion on the "misfit between dire scientific predictions of ongoing and future climate changes and scientific assessments of needed emissions reductions on the one hand, and weak political, social or policy response on the other,"

It might not be terribly useful or important but she isn't mouthing off about something she's not qualified to comment on.

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Boffin

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

'twas once scientific consensus that the Sun went round the Earth. I always thought that consensus was the bane of science, like in evolution, AGW etc.

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@AC 09:56

Sure, if you're talking generally that it's a good idea for scientists to be able to better communicate their ideas, I'm 100% behind that... but that's not what she's saying... she's saying that her sociological techniques are needed to convince people that climate change is a huge, immediate, panic-inducing problem, and the implication is that communicating teh science alone will not do that, and there needs to be some underlying sociological bag of tricks to get the job done.

Her deep south racism / slavery analogy also implies "I'm right, and everyone who doesn't agree with me is no better than a racist yokel". Over-the-top rhetoric apart, this analogy is wrong for two reasons (1) While it's possible for scientists to convince reasonable people of their theories by providing proof, some people (of whom there seems to be an abundance in the US deep south) are not going to be convinced, because said proven theory goes against a deep-seated belief that they hold, so accepting that theory would mean rejecting themselves (2) a better analogy to use in this case is evolution/creationism rather than climate change/climate denialism, because in the first case there is actually over a hundred years of solid science stacking up and backing evolution. For climate change, while there is strong evidence of warming, the 'human-caused' element still hasn't been properly calculated, let alone the 'what do we do about it?' part

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Re: Sir

Why do so many people wrongly assume the "consensus" is unanimous? I mean even if we accept that we impact this planet in many ways, there is no universally accepted method of how to control the weather, or if nature can/will right itself as it has many times before humans existed. There is still a debate and the data gathering continues to clear our understanding. Why do so many people insist on assuming the hypothesis is correct before the result is known? That is not science. If you are not questioning the information being fed to you, then climatology may as well be scientology.

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Re: OK, I'll bite ...

"This is because of the fairly obvious failure of large sections of the population to understand scientific topics and methods. Climate science is an example of this communication failure."

I think people find it difficult to understand climate science more because we constantly see conflicting articles on the subject from people who all claim to have authoritative credentials. The population's (mis)understanding of the scientific method can't really be blamed for that.

I believe this week we're being told 'Everything's fine, noithing to see here. Move along.' Next week we'll get told that we're all going to die in megatsunamis from melting ice caps or some such doomsday scenario and the week after that it'll all be blamed of cow farts or decomposing fish and the next week we'll be back to being told it's part of a natural cycle of that it's all in our heads. With so many 'experts' is it any wonder the population is confused about climate change?

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@Bill Neal re: Climatology and Scientology

To me, the two are the same thing in essence. This professor's sanctimonious attitude in wanting to "cure" those who don't drink the Kool-Aid is typical of this mentality: if you don't believe in body thetans - or human-induced climate change - you must be sick and need help.

I personally find that professor's attitude extremely offensive, and it does nothing to sway me towards the ranks of the faithful; in fact, it makes me want to become even more staunch in my viewpoint: Is the climate is changing? Yes, but it's been changing continuously since the Earth was formed 4 1/2 billion years ago. Are humans causing the climate to change? I very much doubt it. The size of us and all our machinery compared to the size of the Earth is so insignificant, one might as well say that a flea can kill an elephant, as to say that we have a measurable effect on an entire planet's climate.

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Flame

Re: @Bill Neal re: Climatology and Scientology

Meh. I'm seventy now, and white, and for all my life have been told by assorted Black Spokesmen (Al Sharpton is the current pinnacle of the bunch) that I, like all whites, am racist. I don't think I agree, but so many authority figures tell me so ...

So now Professor Kari Norgaard comes along and calls me a denier. I'll live with it. It'll probably go neatly alongside the Scientologists' opinion of me.

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Anonymous Coward

@sisk: Re: OK, I'll bite ...

" this week we're being told", "Next week we'll get told" -- yeah, sure, IF you rely on the media for your science.

Alternatively, read the scientific literature, follow the deluge of different takes on similar topics, the sames takes on different topics, very specific results, very abstract but general results, experimental results, theoretical results, theoretical models of experiment, experiments testing theories, computational results, theories testing computation (and vv), computations of experiments (and vv), it goes on and on and on. Oh, and reviews of the literature, summaries, commentary, comment-and-reply sequences, gradually evolving consensus and disagreement. Watch as controversial subjects become settled, settled subjects (rather more rarely) get thrown open or become controversial again. Marvel at how some simple insight can spawn a subfield of its very own, or kill one stone dead. And that's only a small part of it.

Then, once you've gained some expertise and a broad picture of the state of play, then come to a conclusion. You might need a PhD (or do the same amount of work anyway) in order to reach that conclusion.

THEN you can complain (if you still want to)

Relying on the two-or-three sides to a story version, or the Harry-Potter pitches as repeated by the media really gives you no clue at all. Your complaint is not due to a failing of science. It's due to your laziness in expecting the media or news websites to give you a fair picture of science.

"With so many 'experts' is it any wonder the population is confused about climate change?" - and that is especially confusing, since most scientific experts tend to be in agreement about climate change. Perhaps there's some work to be done on science communication to the general public? Maybe someone will attempt to bring that to our attention.

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Re: Sir

Methinks it is in the way this whole issue is phrased ..

"The good prof is in London at the moment for the "Planet Under Pressure" conference, where she presented a paper on Wednesday dealing with how best to do away with the evil of scepticism and get the human race to focus all its efforts on saving the planet."

The planet doesn't need saving, it'll be just fine. We OTOH ... will be nothing more than a very interesting layer in the fossil record, if we don't save our own wasteful butts.

What's more <rant>

I've often wondered if we are capable of screwing this up bad enough to bring earth up to Venus like temps of around 800 degrees. Then again as a race we aren't being very proactive about ANYTHING. I imagine our electrical grid and other technology we depend upon, but don't protect, might be wiped out by a massive solar flare like the Carrington Super Flare back in 1869. A smaller event could easily wipe out most of our electrical grid, leaving it down until replacement parts can be built .. the multi-million $$ parts at the critical points of failure have a 1+ year lead time, and utilities are too cheap to keep a spare on hand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_%28electricity%29#Aging_Infrastructure

</rant>

Cheers

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Re: @AC 09:56

"For climate change, while there is strong evidence of warming, the 'human-caused' element still hasn't been properly calculated, let alone the 'what do we do about it?' part"

Pretty much I will not argue that the climate is changing, like you said my argument is the human caused element.

If they look at core samples (yes the creationist will scoff at me) there has been shown cycles where the earth heated up way before humans existed like it is now then the temps plummet drastically (ice age type plummet). From what I remember reading(been quite a while it was before the human done global warming trend started) based on the core samples it seems we are currently in an excessively long cycle of warmth, and the heat up prior to the drop is pretty much over due. If anything IMO we might be accelerating it by a handful of years, but never the less it's something that was coming anyways.

For the record my sister who is working on a B.S. in bio sounds just like this one in ranting and raving about how climate change is completely human caused without ever taking a class, or reading one book on earth science.

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Re: OK, I'll bite ...

Actually it was NOT the consensus of scientists...they didn't exist at the time.

It was the consensus of those who controlled thinking and ideas aka religious bodies.

Please don't confuse the two.

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Re: @Bill Neal re: Climatology and Scientology

I agree that the comments by this person are just silly. The failure to grasp a subject should not mean the person should be 'treated' as if they had some form of disorder or disease.

However, nor should they be considered capable of understanding the issues at hand.

For everyone who says "I don't think so" should come the reply "So?". Unless they're an expert in the area, it really doesn't matter what they 'think' or 'believe'. Most people don't have the ability to understand the maths and the scientific research behind the issue. However, they do look at the weather and so have 'an opinion'.

Professionally I've always listened to people who think something - that doesn't mean they know what they're talking about.

What about General Relativity? What about gravity? How about people express an opinion on that? I guess they don't because they can't 'see it' and can't 'feel it' in the way that makes sense scientifically. I mean we all know 'light exists' and we 'see things' and things 'fall down' but beyond that...

The professor is an idiot...but that doesn't mean those in the general population who 'think' something know what they're talking about either.

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Re: @sisk: OK, I'll bite ...

This

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Re: OK, I'll bite ...

I do not think the good professor cares whether or not we listen to her opinion. In her mind, the science is settled. She has a Borg mentality. Her proposition is assimilation. Can you say re-education camp?

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Re: OK, I'll bite ...

Sorry, Audrey. But her opinion on climate change is EXACTLY what she's putting forward. So munch so that she believes anyone who disagrees with her needs treatment. The very idea is repugnant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

""This is because of the fairly obvious failure of large sections of the population to understand scientific topics and methods. Climate science is an example of this communication failure."

This as Ass Backwards. The real problem is the opposite. Global Warming scientists were so successful at promoting their ideas that the world is now well down the path to a complete disruption of the economic, political, and social structures of westernized countries.

Why is this a problem? Because the scientists did not follow scientific methodology to arrive at their conclusions, making it almost impossible independently test the results.

The vast sums of money involved means that, even now, when the problems with the methodology are becoming increasingly apparent, it will be many years, if at all, before the situation is reversed.

Scientific Method

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node6.html

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Boffin

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

"I think people find it difficult to understand climate science more because we constantly see conflicting articles on the subject from people who all claim to have authoritative credentials. The population's (mis)understanding of the scientific method can't really be blamed for that."

Yes, it can. If the population understood the scientific method, they wouldn't be looking for the claimants' "authoritative credentials": they'd be looking for the source data and methodology.

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Boffin

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

>I always thought that consensus was the bane of science, like in evolution, AGW etc.

So are you saying that the current consensus about evolution theory being quite likely to be correct is a problem for science? What alternative theories have shown scientific basis for their acceptance again?

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Re: @Bill Neal re: Climatology and Scientology

funny you should mention fleas and elephants

<petard>

http://www.ehow.com/info_8782868_effects-ticks-elephants.html

</petard>

the fact you 'very much doubt' human activity is causing CC says rather more about your understanding of the subjects than the chemistry/physics involved

remember the ozone layer?

remember how as a child in the 70's I could run around all day in the sun and never even knew what SPF meant? Or never even heard the word melanoma til the mid 80s?

now an unhealthy exposure to the sun's radiation is counted in minutes per day

and what caused the change in that little lot?

the combined efforts of the aerosol spray and air con industries

i very much doubt that they were ever much bigger than say, the steel/coal/petrochemical/big agri industries

The sad fact of the issue at hand is that CC deniers are not, in the most part, driven by beliefs in evidence counter the the climate chance affirmers, it's a political/economic viewpoint. -the ones that are driven by scientific beliefs are just bad scientists :-)

Im not so bothered cos i'm pretty sure it's already too late, by some considerable margin. So we (as a species) are pretty much fucked no matter what we do. but it wont be my problem, as i'll be dead before it really kicks in, and as for the future generations? Well thats their problem! once they have finished paying down the debt from out economic miracles, i daresay climate armageddon will be a merciful release for them.

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Re: Sir

Pardon my ignorance but wouldnt the spare parts be toasted by the solar flare just as badly as the parts beng used ?

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@Sir Runcible Spoon -- Re: Sir -- And surely??

And surely it's also a belief that we can't just shift around humankind's burning of carbon-based fuels for 10s of thousands of years and of fossil fuels since sometime before the Industrial Revolution in only a few years as environmentalists, their social engineers and other climate zealots would have us do?

Especially so, given the fact that clean replacement technologies are very immature and are still being developed.

It's crazy. We need to respond more to climate zealots than we do to climate change, for climate zealots are an immediate short term danger whereas climate change is the lesser threat--as its a known longer term engineering problem that will be solved within sufficient time.

Sensible people need to declare war on climate zealots, it's not a case of vise versa as they'd have us believe.

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I'll consider myself cured, then

When everyone agrees that all the climate 'science' has been independently peer-reviewed and that what's left is as real and factual as it can be.

There, warmologists, the cure lies within your own hands.

NB I don't not-believe in global warming, just the highly lucrative shrieking of 'man-made' by our new plutocratic warmology elite who have shiny new lifestyles to maintain.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

You can't call it global warming any more, they had to change the name to climate change after the warming stopped about 10 years ago.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

Ahhh of course, a politically correct/markety thing, like BC/BCE and AD/CE, then?

Inconvenient bloody weather, eh?

LOL

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

" they had to change the name to climate change after the warming stopped about 10 years ago."

Really so what was the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, called before they changed their name 10 years ago?

P.S the warming hasn't stopped.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

Define "independently reviewed" please. I think you will discover that scientific papers submitted to the leading journals related to climate, or indeed any other scientific field are rigourously peer reviewed.

So who else do you think should be doing the reviewing if not experts in the fields in question? Cranks? Global warming deniers? Blogs? The court of public opinion?

Funnily enough 9/11 "truthers" also demand independent review. By demanding an independent review they can deny the results they don't want to hear, shift the goalposts and still cling onto their conspiracy theories.

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Holmes

Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

I don't not-believe, but neither am I convinced.

I believe the raw data and procedures must be published and successfully replicated, and independantly examined.

Peer review has mutated into the monkeys-ladder-bananas-waterhose indoctrination.

At one time, it was the quote-scientific-un-quote consensus that illnesses were caused by evil spirits.

At another time, it was the quote-scientific-un-quote consensus that illnesses needed to be cured by "bleeding" the patient.

"Effectively communicating" these consensuses to the masses would not make the consensuses "correct", it simply would make them more widely-accepted.

When scientists work on communicating a set of beliefs instead of finding the truth, they are no longer scientists. Instead, they are religious figures, shills, tools, demagogues and politicians.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

"Funnily enough 9/11 "truthers" also demand independent review. By demanding an independent review they can deny the results they don't want to hear, shift the goalposts and still cling onto their conspiracy theories."

To be fair there is plenty of room for conspiracy theories in 9/11 without having to shift the goalposts. For instance, why, when the President's schedule had been publicly known for months, was the elementary school he was visiting not considered a potential target (which would have prompted the Secret Service to mount a quick evac) and how did a pilot whom witnesses say couldn't competantly pilot a single engine plane pull off on extremely difficult manuver in a jumbo jet to hit the pentagon? There are still a lot of unanswered questions there.

And no, I'm not a conspiracy theorist....I don't attribute to malice what is easily explained by stupidity, especially where the Bush administration is concerned.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

"I believe the raw data and procedures must be published and successfully replicated, and independantly examined."

You mean like the recent BEST study for example?

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FAIL

Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

P.P.S Yes, it has. Even the global warming scientists admit this.

In one UEA e-mail, Trenberth admits it’s a "travesty" that "we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment." But Trenberth’s "lack of warming at the moment" has been going on at least a decade...

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

"after the warming stopped about 10 years ago."

Not this one again...

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Unhappy

Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

The truly sad side of things is that the data is actually spotty, almost certainly biased, is known to be correlated to change is regional populations, and offers no true "natural" base line. We know we have an effect on our environment, but we really have no idea how to measure it.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

I agree, but even consensus peer-review alone is not enough to dictate critical public policy. It is only the first vetting process. You don't get to sell drugs based on peer-reviewed validation studies. You don't get to build and fly passengers in aeroplanes designed to peer reviewed designs. You have FDA and Aviation regulators to challenge, verify and validate the work before lives are put at risk.

That's because peer-review almost never involves verification of raw data and is subject to fads, group bias and confirmation bias and funding capture. When you then add a significant body of highly qualified scientists dissenting, often at risk to their own position and funding, you would be mad to base public policy on it.

The climate change science supporting a green industry worth over a trillion dollars has not been subjected to a single quality standard or a public independent regulator, the model software code never independently audited and qualified, never tested in independent laboratories, the raw data and their adjustments seldom made public. You could not market an aspirin based on the quality of climate science data. So it is lunacy to be restructuring the world by it.

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Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

"To be fair there is plenty of room for conspiracy theories in 9/11"

There really aren't. Those questions you ask have mundane explanations which don't require conspiracy. e.g. the guy aimed the plane at the pentagon - a massive recognizable building - and hit it, but certainly not the skilled pilot you claim as clipped poles and demolished generator buildings demonstrate. This site more than adequately tells you everything you need to know with supporting links - http://sites.google.com/site/wtc7lies/911pentagonflight77evidencesummary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'll consider myself cured, then

AD/CE is not political correctness AFAIK.

It's down to "the most accurate". No one argues over a date in the calendar. Using a persons birth date could get complicated if we find out it was wrong or people don't know who that person is. :P

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This sounds like typical socialist dogma to me: dare to have a different opinion to us? Then you're a sexist/racist/homophobe/out of touch toff (delete as appropriate)

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Actually,

It sounds like fascist dogma, or communist dogma, or corporatist dogma, or morarchist dogma (just change the bogeymen to suit).

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Someone needs to look up what dogma means. Science is not governed by dogma. If someone were able to produce an explanation of climate change which was better supported by the evidence then it would be the favoured explanation and the others discarded.

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If you don't agree with climate change, please submit yourself to the nearest government population harmony center for... reeducation.

We're here to help you.

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Naive science

That's the naive school child's understanding of how science should work.

When you introduce billions of dollars, environmentalist advocates, politicians, careers, whole departments, socialist ideology and United Nations power interests, you don't think science might work an a touch differently?

OK, assume that undisputable proof that cGAW was not dangerous was discovered tomorrow. Do you think all the scientists, their institutes, university departments, government departments and the trillion dollar carbon offsets and green industry would say:

"Oh, my bad, there is now a better natural explanation of recent warming " and all resign and

shut down their empires at the end of the day?" Of course not, they would fight to the death.

In science even without the giant politics and industry of climate change, you typically have to wait until the thought leaders resign or die off before a consensus opinion is changed. Take the DDT - malaria debacle. DDT has been re-approved only now, 30 years after 'Silent spring' and millions of Africans killed by malaria.

So, no "research science" alone can not drive critical public policy, it must be "regulated science" by independent, nay, adversarial regulation agencies verifying all the data, all the adjustments and all the conclusions.

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Scratch a lefty/green and underneath you'll find a totalitarian who would lock you up in a re-education camp for your own good.

Meanwhile, here in Australia, our local Green Senator Bob Brownshirt has just finished explaining to us that the reason we have not been contacted by alien civilisations is because they "extincted themselves" in the same way that we will if we don't bow down at the Church of Climate Change.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/bob-browns-alien-theory-is-off-the-planet/story-e6frfhqf-1226312863119

This guy is a true lunatic.

He is currently off at some green-socialist talk-fest proposing a Totalitarian Green Flavoured One World Government, for the good of Mother Gaia of course.

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Mushroom

Hey doc..

.. Or do you prefer Crusading Quack?

The only sickness here is your lack comprehension that people have the right to disagree.

Fact is few people will disagree that the climate is changing, but environmentalists have cried wolf for decades, they've spent billion upon billions on trying to prove their theories.. yet they've still not delivered ANY kind of proof!

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Anonymous Coward

@K Re: Hey doc..

"spent billion upon billions", eh? And in the same interval, the western world has probably spent the same on catfood.

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Coat

Re: @K Hey doc..

On catfood? That's probably done more than all the billions spent on "climate research" then. At least cats are companion animals that give their people the semblance of a pleasant lifestyle. :-)

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Devil

Re: @K Hey doc..

I'm sorry but I completely disagree, cats are four legged incarnations of lucifer himself. It's proven fact that when a cat looks at you it's trying to work out the best way of blinding you. I read it in stories so it must be true.

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These are the kind of people who are behind Agenda 21.

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/al-gore-agenda-21-and-population-control

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Avoiding the tinfoil hat for a moment...

Given the rising global population and the fact that it's set to continue, an over crowded world where it's difficult to feed and water everyone isn't going to be much fun. Sure technology will find a way to ensure everyone is fed but all that would happen is the population would grow again until there's a bottleneck again.

If it were any other species there would be a cull or at least controls in place to manage the population.

Whilst no-one would advocate a cull encouraging people to breed much less can only be a good idea as I can't see any benefit for trying to have as many people as possible on this planet.

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