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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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Re: Avoiding the tinfoil hat for a moment...

You don't *need* to manipulate people to reduce population growth. All you need to do is give people the chance to get out of poverty - and the best way of doing that is to give them access to plentiful quantities of cheap energy with which they can make life more comfortable and productive. Then the pressures on having a large family (because survival rates are low and children are a resource that can be put to work) dissipate. OK, so on a per capita basis CO2 might go up, if there's a lower population then the total CO2 (or whatever gas is flavour of the month) will go down.

Gaia needs nuclear/shale/whatever.

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Re: Avoiding the tinfoil hat for a moment...

Soylent Green - that is all.

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Pint

@Matthew17

can't see any benefit for trying to have as many people as possible on this planet? Easy; colonization of those nearby 100 earth-like planets without a serious genetic bottleneck. We're going to need alot of people to throw at that challenge someday. Especially if we are to overpopulate the natives, assuming there are any.

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Re: @Matthew17

lol @ all those alien civilizations who mistakenly think we are rapidly building up an army

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@Matthew 17 Re: Avoiding the tinfoil hat for a moment...

Let me guess, you live in a city, London by any chance? Get outside of the M25 once in a while, the world isn't as overcrowded as you think.

It's a logistics problem, not a population problem - everyone crowding to the same tiny patch of land for similar jobs and amenities. You can build skycrapers as high as you want, but expanding things like tube tunnels, streets and infrastructure doesn't come as easy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Avoiding the tinfoil hat for a moment...

For each additional person, you have one more for digging wells. For each additional person, you have one more for planting crops. For each additional person, you have one more for sustaining the population.

Need proof? Why do people move to cities if a large population is so impossible to support?

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communicationg science

> a "science of communicating science"

Isn't that one of the things education is supposed to be about? If you try to communicate a concept without the recipient having the intellectual tools to understand it, all you get is folk-lore, superstition and regulations.

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Nev
Go

Re-education camps...?

It's Year Zero time!

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Doddle

The "treatment" is easy. Simply show the world the overwhelming evidence that actually proves the case rather that a couple of studies that imply it. Asking people to make huge, negative changes to their lifestyles is always going to be a difficult task but backing up the need to do so with some actual evidence would start the consensus required rather than simply telling people "but it's true".

I'm climate agnostic, I can believe the climate is changing (in fact I'd be astonished if it wasn't, that's what climates do) but if we're affecting that change in any way or if we can actually do anything to prevent catastrophic change I just don't know. I simply haven't seen enough evidence one way or the other, certainly not to push the stop button on the industrial world. I hear that the scientific community has reached this consensus but they've unilaterally failed to convey the evidence to the public. Until they do that massive change will be impossible.

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Re: Doddle

"The "treatment" is easy. Simply show the world the overwhelming evidence that actually proves the case rather that a couple of studies that imply it."

It's not about proof it's about a threat. It's like hearing an asteroid is heading our way and people are demanding proof that it will hit us and bemoaning that studies only "imply it" will hit us as if therefore it's a non-threat.

As the professor says: "In many discussions in the last 30 years, climate change has been seen as either a hoax or fixable with minimal political or economic intervention, said Norgaard"

"At the personal level, climate-change information raises fear about the future, a sense of helplessness and guilt. These emotions clash with individual — and often national — identity, sense of self-efficacy and the need for basic security and survival. In small groups, interactions often subvert political conversations and/or submerge the visibility of climate-change issues. At the macro level, or society at large, the co-authors point to an absence of serious discussion of climate change within U.S. Congressional hearings and in media coverage."

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Re: Doddle

Also I hasten to add when you say: "Simply show the world the overwhelming evidence that actually proves the case rather that a couple of studies that imply it."

If that strategy worked there wouldn't be so many creationists in the US. The professor is right, a lot of opposition to science is ideological and born of convenience (ie: what's in it for ME to believe in evolution?)

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@NomNomNom: Try it like THIS.

"The professor is right, a lot of opposition to science is ideological and born of convenience (ie: what's in it for ME to believe in evolution?)

Or:

"The professor is right, a lot of support for global warming alarmism is ideological and born of convenience (ie: it's psychologically comforting for ME to believe in, and politically useful for ME to have other people believe in it.)"

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Re: @NomNomNom: Try it like THIS.

True Turtle, but the professor is specifically talking about the psychological means by which societies and individuals (and register articles?) ignore or belittle threats. It's not just specific to climate change.

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Re: Doddle

It's not about proof it's about a threat. It's like hearing an asteroid is heading our way and people are demanding proof that it will hit us and bemoaning that studies only "imply it" will hit us as if therefore it's a non-threat.

So you seem to be saying - if the claim is big enough, the level of proof required is negligible?

I think there may be a flaw in your logic

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Re: Doddle

"Simply show the world the overwhelming evidence that actually proves the case rather that a couple of studies that imply it."

Shifting the goalposts or making unreasonable demands of proof is just a form of denialism. I could equally demand you show me the evidence that proves smoking will kill you from lung cancer. I could point out studies which demonstrate beyond any doubt that it greatly increases your chances of dying of lung cancer including incidence of deaths amongst smokers vs non smokers. But I couldn't *prove* you're going to die of lung cancer. Nor could I prove that if you did die of lung cancer that it was caused by your smoking even if it was likely.

So science can't prove what's going to happen in the future. All it can do is compellingly demonstrate (and it has) that climate change is occurring, that mankind has significantly contributed to it and some likely scenarios for what will happen if it continues. Anyone with any sense should listen. That includes nations who will find themselves fighting over resources, extreme weather events, rises in sea levels and all the rest.

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Re: Doddle

You say "compellingly demonstrate that CC is occurring that mankind has significantly contributed to it and some likely scenarios for what will happen", I say "proof". I think mine is snappier and yours is more factually correct. I've seen neither.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen all sorts of reports that make headway (for both arguments) but none that has enough weight to warrant or proclude the wholesale change to the way people live their lives. I suggest this is the problem.

The Lung Cancer/Smoking analogy is nearly good except there are physical and psychological addictions in addition to the simple habit and reluctance to change. The science of the connection between lung cancer and smoking is, of course, complicated and offers sources of deniability (Japan paradox for example) but the case has been made to the point that people do smoke less these days (and the majority of the population support removal of smoking in public places).

Evolution, similarly, offers deniability in that the mechanisms aren't completely understood but the massive weight of evidence in support that there haven't been this range of species on Earth for the lifetime of the planet points toward evolution being closer to the answer than creationism. People whose faith is shaken by the idea will use the deniability to justify their faith but the consensus is fairly easy to follow.

None of this is the case for CC, we're told there's scientific consensus but the reasons for that consensus are a lot less obvious, there's also a lot of evidence that supports the negative case. (For example the Vostock ice-core data clearly debunks the idea that CO2 lags temperature but it also debunks the idea that the reverse is universally true). Until the evidence clearly leans one-way or the other you cannot possibly suggest fixes, even more so if those fixes negatively impact peoples' lives). Why can't they get on with the science and suggest fixes when it's actually more understood ? Why do we have to act NOW when there's not enough evidence to suggest that acting will have a positive effect?

Sure, an asteroid might be heading towards Earth but do we know for certain that it's going to hit or is getting Bruce Willis to dust off his vest and go drilling actually going to divert it towards us ?

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So basically...

If you aren't a warmist then you must be mentally ill and your opinions can be safely ignored?

Sounds like just what the frothinggreenies ordered!

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Re: So basically...

That might be an accurate summary of how the Reg has presented this (knowing the response these sort of articles generate) but that's not exactly what Norgaard is saying.

She might be working with the assumption that climate change is happening, that we don't want it to happen and that we can do something to mitigate / prevent the negative effects but basically it's a fairly ordinary paper on the resistance of individuals and societies to change, with a climate change wrapper.

It's not really much of a story but it hits enough of the right buttons to get us commentards out in force.

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Mushroom

Wait...

"Scepticism regarding the need for immediate and massive action against carbon emissions is a sickness of societies and individuals which needs to be "treated"

"Professor Kari Norgaardn holds a B.S. in biology and a master's and PhD in sociology."

...but nothing about Climate Change? Back in your box, please, sir. Come back when you have a real science.

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Re: Wait...

"Scepticism regarding the need for immediate and massive action against carbon emissions is a sickness of societies and individuals which needs to be "treated"

Don't confuse that for something the professor actually said. Read the article.

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Black Helicopters

Unaware?

"*Admittedly Psychohistory only worked on huge galactic civilisations, and then only if the people being manipulated for their own good were unaware that the science of Psychohistory existed - neither of which are the case here."

I was unaware that physchohistory actually exists outside of the Foundation series until you implied in that sentence that it was more than just a tool of Hari Seldon. Tell us more - the public has a right to know what is being done in our name in Vulture Central!

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Big Brother

There is only One Truth and it is non-negotiable.

This is how the New World order will be. There is only One Truth and it is non-negotiable. Those who cannot or will not accept the 'sustainable' CAGW manifesto, those who wilfully refuse the approved ('settled') doctrine of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, are to be described in sneering tones as 'confused', as 'deniers' and suggestions will therefore be made in the press that they should be imprisoned for crimes against humanity.

This is right. This is noble. This is because sacrifices to our freedom, to our expression and to our individuality have to be made if we are truly to move towards a sustainable global future - a future in which the wealth of richer nations will be redistributed to 'less developed nations' by UN mandate (Agenda 21), a future in which UN-appointed 'Climate Courts' will hand out punishments to climate offenders in defence of the rights of Gaia (supreme above all humanity). The up-coming Rio Earth Summit in June will hopefully see much of this ratified into binding law right under the noses of indifferent global media organisations and ignorant, cowardly national governments.

We are hopeful. The future belongs to us. We are almost there.

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CAGW

How long will these initials get?

It used to just be "GW". I guess the A got added when the W became difficult to deny, has the C been added because the A is now similarly awkward?

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Trollface

Re: There is only One Truth and it is non-negotiable.

Don't forget this phrase -- it goes well with "We are hopeful. The future belongs to us. We are almost there.":

"We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandar-log

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Re: CAGW

'GW' is for the estimated 0.8oC of global warming that occurred last century (none since 1998)

'A' is for Anthropgenic, to distinguish between natural warming which we know has occurred countless times over Earth's 4Bn year history, and hypothetical man-made warming.

'C' is to distinguish between beneficial and harmful warming. It is generally agreed that a couple of degrees of warming would be beneficial to most countries (longer growing seasons, less deaths from cold, less storms as the temperature differential between the poles and equator drops).

Therefore, alarmists need to prove all three: C, A and GW to justify the Trillions being spent on this bollox.

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Flame

Munumentally Arrogant

And grossly insulting to boot.

The flame icon doesn't even begin to represent how I feel about it, so I'll stop there.

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Go

I WANT to believe in global warming.

I really do, 'cos it's frikkin freezing in here!!

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Big Brother

With tears in my eyes, ...

... I came to realise that I loved Professor Norgaard.

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Boffin

She has a point

Ignoring global warming it's self, what she is say is:

1) There is something bad that is going to happen but it hasn't happened yet (e.g. death from lung cancer)

2) You will have to change your behaviour now and you will not like it (e.g. giving up smoking)

3) There are powerful vested interests who don't want you to change and are putting our messages that tell you that you do not want to change (e.g. tobacco companies)

4) It is easier to hear and believe the story that say you don't have to change than it is to believe the story that you do have to change.

Ignoring the rights and wrongs of the argument, it's much easier to convince people they don't need to change their behaviour because nothing bad will happen than it is to convince people that they need to change their behaviour because something bad will happen.

So if you do think something bad will happen you have to work much harder than the camp that thinks nothing bad will happen. If you want to change people's behaviour on mass you have to work at a different level than just rational arguments because it's not going to work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: She has a point

I don't disagree with you, but to me, it seems the difference is that with the smoking example, even smokers generally accept the statistical evidence that not all smokers will get cancer but continue smoking anyway hoping it wont happen to them, whereas the evidence is not as accepted for some reason in the same way for mmgw.

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Re: She has a point

1) There is something bad that is likely to happen (e.g. death from lung chancer); your actions may well be adding to that bad thing happening (smoking) ... but if you stop smoking the bad thing may well still happen; you may still die of lung cancer. The chances are lessened but not negated. Something else may give you lung cancer, something completely outside of your control.

2) You will have to change your behaviour now and you will not like it (e.g. giving up smoking) - to greatly reduce the chances of the bad thing happening.

3) However, even if you do stop this particular bad thing happening, other bad things are still going to happen. If lung cancer doesn't get you something else will ... you are, in fact, still going to die.

Back to climate change...

Even if we do manage to maintain the Earth in its current chilly state, so desirable for human life, for the time being - it can't last. If the human species survives long enough to evolve into something else, that something else will, by definition, be able to cope with the planet in whatever state it's in... otherwise it will have gone extinct.

In the past this planet has both been much hotter and much colder than it is now; life has carried on. There's still a couple of billion years for life to adapt before the planet becomes inhospitable to any form of life.

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Re: She has a point

The problem I have with this argument...is that I do not know ONE single skeptic who does not want clean air, less waste, less pollution, a better world and puppies...

It's something that really pisses me off whenever the subject comes up, because to alarmists, the moment you imply that there's a hint of a possibility of the theory not becoming true, or not being as bad as some say... you have been paid for by big oil companies and you want the earth to turn into a big smouldering ruined chunk of oily space junk....

THAT... is simply not true.

I AM all for reducing pollution, oil consumption and energy waste. I AM ALL FOR eliminating pollution as much as possible... I do NOT believe that burning fossil fule is the best long term solution for mankind...

But at the SAME time... I HAVE some doubts about how right models that cannot work backwards in time can be about the future. I have VERY reasonable doubts about the integrity of very influential climate change "scientists", and I am not convinced that AGW will be as bad or have as bad consequences as the alarmists claim.

And I do not see any kind of problem with my personal beliefs, and I KNOW for a FACT that a very significant number of people think just like I do... yet... we basically get sh1t on by warmists every time we say anything...

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Meh

Re: She has a point

Uh, the well-worn alarmist smoking analogy:

1) The link between smoking and cancer has been proven by real world double blind experiments comparing outcomes of smokers and non-smokers. There has been no such proof nor evidence of CAGW. In fact there's an absence of evidence. No warming since 98 despite CO2 increase, no hot-spot as predicted by models. No ability of GCMs to predict weather 6 weeks ahead, never mind 100 years in the future.

2) The Medieval and Roman warm periods and the little ice age tell us that periods of warming and cooling occur completely naturally. (There's no smoking/cancer analogy for this )

3) smoking is an unnecessary habit with no benefits to the individual so there is no cost to giving up smoking. By contrast cheap fossil fuelled energy is the basis of our entire culture and society. The costs of deindustrialising society are huge.

You can always tell someone has no decent arguments when they make idiotic comparisons between completely different situation (global warming = lung cancer and fossil fuels = smoking) or they try to demonise or dismiss those who respectfully disagree with them as mentally ill.

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Re: She has a point

WHen you have done as much work on the issue, and have come up with a different conclusion then you can have your say and it will have some worth.

I thought people reading the register could count past ten without taking their shoes off.

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Mushroom

Arrogant and stupid

It's amazing that someone with all those letters after her name can be so stupid.

Perhaps if she ever crawled out of her Ivory Towers and did some real work in the real world then she may recognize that suggesting that everyone else should think what she thinks is tantamount to proposing global brainwashing. Land of the Free (to do and think what you are told!).

I prescribe 3 months of working in a soup kitchen helping feed the homeless.

That should give her a reality check as to what really matters to people.

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Re: Arrogant and stupid

"I prescribe 3 months of working in a soup kitchen helping feed the homeless."

I applaud your hard work in this sphere (you have done this yourself, right?) but I would say that Kari Norgaard has approached this level of social involvement with her work with the Karuk Indians in the Klamath River valley where government food aid has replaced their previously salmon-based diet following damming which blocked the salmon runs.

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Anonymous Coward

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

Right he knows a lot about climate then, we should all drop any previously held opinions because he says so.

Lets all submit ourselves to our nearest centers for re-education to prevent further thought crimes against the dogma.

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Childcatcher

Yep Yep

Those bastard peasants caused the Little Ice Age from the 16th through 19th centuries - right after the Global Warming they created, burning down the Middle East during the Crusades....

Said it before and I'll say it again: When their climate computer models can accurately predict weather that has ^already^ happened, I will believe what those same models predict for the future.

Humans are so damn arrogant... We don't know it all and won't for some time to come.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow." - Name the Quote.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat"

Even if that was not true 500 years ago, but maybe 5000 years ago or never, it doesn't invalidate his argument. Don't get lost focussing on the wrong detail.

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Re: "Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat"

What is his argument? An appeal to ignorance?

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Re: Yep Yep

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow." - Name the Quote.

OK, I'll bite, Men In Black, Agent K (Tomme Lee Jones) addressing agent J (Will Smith) before he joins the MIB.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "What is his argument? An appeal to ignorance?"

Yes, I think so. I think he's arguing that, since we don't know everything about the climate, therefore we cannot possibly know anything about it.

Talk about denial.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat"

"Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow"

From reading that it seems to me his argument is that we have form for repeatedly thinking we understand all there is to know about a topic, only to discover later that what we thought was the irrefutable truth, was in fact not quite the whole story and we shouldn't have been such sanctimonious gits about it at the time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "What is his argument? An appeal to ignorance?"

"Yes, I think so. I think he's arguing that, since we don't know everything about the climate, therefore we cannot possibly know anything about it."

Or that since we don't everything about the climate, as you just admitted, we shouldn't pretend we do.

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FAIL

Re: "What is his argument? An appeal to ignorance?"

I will talk about denial.

How can you come to a conclusion on ^anything^ without all the facts? You can have a general idea, theory, or best guess, but without a total understanding how something actually works, that's all it is, a guess.

We're still discovering how things work. Every day there are new facts to contemplate, whereas climate warming global change people deny any new evidence, claiming their 'science' is set in stone, not to be questioned in any way.

I say Bullshit.

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Re: "What is his argument? An appeal to ignorance?"

Actually, I think you'll find it's the other way round.

Science, being science, is generally adjusted to fit the facts. That includes climate science. That's why the predictions are adjusted as we get more data.

Deniers are the ones who deny evidence, spout FUD and make dogmatic statements with no evidence. The above post being a classic example.

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Re: Yep Yep

Men in Black - Tommy Lee Jones to Will Smith as Tommy Lee is offering Smith a job at MIB....

This entire article speaks volumes about these ideologues. They are getting a royal beat down by the science itself, them employ what is known as cognitive dissonance to explain away the truth with more make believe, and then when that still doesn't work because they still make no sense, despite the fact peer-reviewed (not independent reviewed, but peer-reviewed)science shows their assumptions are completely all wet, its "re-education" camps for you.

There will come a point in time when the chaffe will need to be removed from the wheat, and that day is coming sooner rather than later.....

Either that, or just hit the globe with a few EMP weapons and the emissions problems are solved in a second.... And it didn't cost everyone trillions to solve, either....

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WTF?

Re: "Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat"

What? It completely invalidates his argument. It's an endlessly repeated piece of bunkum used by everybody from homeopathy proponents to creationists. It's the standard fall-back argument of anybody wanting to cast doubt on the scientific method. It is bollocks, pure and simple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat"

It isn't casting doubt on the scientific method, as you say. It's casting doubt on the whole "Global Warming is proven. Everybody knows it's a fact, so you must be an idiot if you don't believe in it." BS that people like you spout. He's pointing out that "Everybody knew" a lot of other things in the past, and they tried to force their "facts" on everybody else, only to be proven wrong by the scientific method.

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