Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Denial101x: Week 1 Applying FLICC to Climate Deniers

In this first week of denial101x I learned about this FLICC Acronym as it applies to the reasoning processes behind climate denial. FLICC and its meaning: 
  • f- false experts 
  • l- illogical fallacies 
  • i-impossible expectations 
  • c-cherry picking 
  • c-conspiracy theories

I don't think its uncommon to engage with deniers and feel surrounded by them. For example, the story of the Tuareg on Al Jazeera called Orphans of the Sahara reinforced what I already knew about the highland region desertification in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. I'd been there in 2012 to confirm on my own what has been happening to the world's deserts. This reinforces what Alan Savory told me: that most of the world's deserts are man-made and ever expanding. However when I shared this first hand knowledge and experience with a European coworker in China his reaction was to discount all of my firsthand evidence and reacted to the documentary as, "they've tinted the film to make it look drier than it is." Would that be a conspiracy theory? It's clear that first hand evidence means nothing to most people if they've already made up their minds and anything you try to present such as clear evidence and expertise only irritates them. Most people couldn't care less. Isn't that the cause of the predicament?

future-of-water-and-agriculture-in-sri-lanka-in-the-face-of-climate-change-nishadi-vladimir-smakhtin-12-728.jpg (728×546)
Even a PhD in history would discount what research I have been reading with "the animals and plants will be able to adapt to increased heating." Well no, they can't the research shows that the majority of species cannot and will not as even wild bees are collocated to specific habitats not relocating rather going extinct. Also, the rapid decline in amphibians alone in mountainous previously cool regions are an indicator that adaptation is no real opportunity for them. In addition coffee and tea plantations I have personally visited in India and Sri Lanka in 2001 have since seen enormous declines in production - these have no higher elevations they can reach to escape climate impacts and their crops are increasingly ruined and their labourers starving. Would that be an example of an impossible expectation? That these humans, plants and animals will miraculously escape already insufferable heat by climbing into the ether? It appears to be wishful thinking. It appears the ramifications of climate change are too much for most people. These who roll in FLICC would rather shape the world to their own bowl-headed thinking rather than gather new evidence to reach reasonable and scientifically conceded conclusions. 

Progressive Media Coverage On Climate Change

Progressive Media Coverage On Climate Change

The movie Home by Yann Artus Betrand (2009) reawakened a memory of hitchhiking through Algonquin Park in 1994 and being picked up by Professor Guy McPherson and a collection of other climate scientists on their way to a conference. His thesis is largely that Nature Bats Last and that humanity is largely doomed to near-term extinction. His opinions on the topic haven't changed much for a quarter century in the intervening decades. However he seems more at peace with it and does have much more data to support his ideas. This led me to revisit the opinions of writers such as Gwynne Dyer upon investigating food security issues in Korea and prereading for an ASEAN research project that never took place. His books and continuing articles on climate change such as Climate Wars (2009) coincide with McPherson's data gathering and reports all from peer reviewed journal articles and interviews with experts who support the 97% consensus among climate scientists that climate change is certainly taking place. Through ongoing climate change denial, the societies most capable of making a transition to a post carbon energy world have refused to do so for decades. This may ensure a mass extinction level event in far too near-term future.
People without my global exposure to travel, education and reading appear to think I am spreading gloom and doom? Or that I should be resented for knowing what I know? Marg Atwood has it right when she describes Canadian culture as a place where you're not supposed to look like you're smarter than anybody else. We're discouraged by a status quo that appears to reward and encourage mediocrity rather than those who strive to improvement especially in education. Even others who may have much more of it such as Exxon executives have refused to say little about what they have known for decades. Well, I don't agree and am tired of people with fewer qualifications or travel experiences harshly criticizing me for what science and its evidence are indicating are correct. I know that most people in my closest circles are not reading articles from this sphere of near-term climate impacts. Their advice or opinions on the topic are usually coming from a media skewed conservative ideological mindset (what other mainstream is there in a natural resource economy like Canada really). That advice is to find another topic to focus on and that this knowledge impacts upon me negatively and that my happiness is more important. This sounds fairly hedonistic to me. I enjoy teaching the topics of international trade and I am good at it. However much additional education taken on to support alternative research commercialization to address climate change impacts goes underutilized. 
Well, none of these people are building habitats for wild animals to ensure some survive increasingly harsh winters and seem unaware of anything beyond climate change denial. My engagement with nature gives me the most satisfaction in what I realize is a great dying in the air, water, land and seas. Increasingly, I feel isolated due to my awareness. Most recently I have begun following the post carbon institute, climate reality, The Naked Scientists, Climatetruth.org, Climate Change Guide, Union of Concerned Scientists and Skeptical Science among others as well as denial101x. I don't think Canada is a healthy place to disagree with this fossil fuel financed status quo. This is a country that is burning fossils like its 1955. The cognitive dissonance and information bias in Canada not only undermines scientific consensus but discounts the quality of education found in countries like Australia or the academic work experiences found in regions such as Asia or the Middle East. As potential employers in Canada continue to reject my job applications their message is that my reasoning is faulty and my respect for academic freedom is too ang mo? Canada seems to have become a diversity that seeks to exclude logic and reason in my absence from this job market. Its fossil fuel resource sphere of influence is a magnified minority and may be all that defines the sociopolitical culture of Canada at the present time. This hasnt stopped me from reaching out to people and organizations who share my views. I wish there were more in Canada. 
What have I been reading lately? Insideclimatenews.org has a multi-part series on what Exxon knew about climate change since the 1970s. This is a Pulitzer Prize winning group of climate science reporters so I think their accuracy is investigative and thorough. Exxon: The Road Not Taken that's what I've been reading lately. I wish I could be more positive and happier in the prospects of what the near-term future holds for the earth due to companies like this. I wish the impacts of what their industry has wrought would be decades and generations away from harming me and the people who claim to love me. The science is clear on so many choke-points  in food, water and energy that 2025-2030 isn't far enough into the future for me to feel good about it. The question, "So what?" is insufficient and lacks understanding and I hear it too frequently from so called educated people who claim to love me. That is the ultimate dissonance. People who are uncomfortable with the implications of climate change cannot absorb this data or accept the scientific concensus. There's  a mental block to it and most of the media largely perpetuates that. Its all marketing and the selling of optimistic lies. McPherson calls it hopiumhttp://insideclimatenews.org/content/Exxon-The-Road-Not-Taken

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Denial101x: The Psychology and Spread of Climate Change Denial

Denial101x: The Psychology and Spread of Climate Change Denial

Naomi Oreskes reiterates the themes of Merchants of Doubt (2010), "If I have one message that's what my message has been all along and it still is: this is not a scientific debate; it's a political debate. But it's a political debate being made to look like a scientific debate." The question is why hasn't that message permeated the political cultures of western societies deeply enough to provoke substantial fossil fuel emissions cutbacks? Increasingly, the science of climate change has been known for decades (even Exxon has known since 1977) yet inaction or inept commitments to future action appear to have delayed mitigation to perhaps too little and too late. 

Oreskes and many others demonstrate through evidence based research that the problems are not a lack of access to information. Rather the implications of climate impacts are unfavourable to the many businesses primarily responsible for these ever increasing emissions. Those most responsible reject greater regulations and government actions required to mitigate climate change. Researchers have found that the largest correlating factor to climate change denial is ideology or political affiliations which support free market economics or laissez faire, and less democratic government. Those most adamant in climate change denial appear all pillars of the right wing or conservative world view.

Contributors present the case that the conservative media, thought leadership and politicians are all a magnified minority arguing from the top of an ideology. They are all saying that climate change is not an issue and will find a minority of scientists among the remaining 3% who are more or less inclined to agree with them. The question then becomes, "Why is a small yet vocal and heavily status quo invested magnified minority denying the science of climate change? 

Greater democratic government oversight and carbon pollution controls will reduce the power and authority of the ideological right. These actors have sought to minimize the roles of democratic government in an economic system that appears not to know how to turn the fossil fuel taps off. The psychological and social ideological positioning has attempted to find a role for politicians in science where there is none and made a political debate out of the issues of climate change. This magnified minority has perpetuated inaction and demeaning, devaluing and discrediting the scientific evidence and global scientific consensus that climate change is real and CO2 emissions are heavily contributing to it.  

Spread of Climate Change Denial

John Cook reveals that the fossil fuel industry is borrowing tactics from the tobacco industry to curry doubt as the product with, "the best means of neutralizing scientific evidence." Three psychological methods of perpetuating and maintaining doubt regarding the 97% agreed scientific consensus include: a) casting doubt on evidence through misrepresenting, cherry-picking, falsifying or proposing conspiracy theories b)casting doubt upon researchers through personal or professional attacks through abusive emails, disruptive freedom of information requests or blogs and c) casting doubt upon scientific consensus. All of these interfere with the urgency for action to impede the general public from gaining awareness that there is scientific consensus on global climate change. Climate change denial reduces the freedom of scientists to conduct and communicate their results.  The principles of academic freedom are therefore subjected to academic censorship and the underestimation of climate change impacts found in reports such as the IPCC are an attempt to reduce hostile public responses. 

It seems the public is tired of hearing about the less than optimistic climate change impacts on the horizon. The Merchants of Doubt have done their work extremely well and almost no preparations seem to be apparent that will adequately minimize climate change impacts as a result. These "Dragons of Inaction" are described as: 
  • discounting of climate change impacts in distant places in the future
  • dynamic overconfidence or excessive optimism in assessing climate risks
  • pessimism that an individual can do nothing (can't even take a course on the topic?)
  • behavioural group-think not doing their part is status quo response (why be different?)
  • insignificant actions such as token recycling and bulb changing (I'm alright Jack)
  • false political perception of a scientific debate on the topic and consensus gap 
  • perceptions of climate change concerns and beliefs based on ideology not science

For example, large media networks indicate climate change topics generate zero ratings so sneak the topic into other formats to attempt to inform public. Large fossil fuel companies like Exxon have had scientific evidence that supports the consensus world view yet actively campaigned to suppress and undermine the scientific consensus on global climate change since as early as 1977. The far too numerous climate change denial campaigns over the past few decades can repeatedly be traced to, "dark money." 

A few general links to recent posts on climate denial misinformation campaigns:
Breaking through: producers warm up to climate change stories (Oct., 2015) Read more: http://realscreen.com/2015/10/09/breaking-through-producers-warm-up-to-climate-change-stories/#ixzz3oCVCH4wz
Dark Money Funds Climate Change Denial Effort (December, 2013)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dark-money-funds-climate-change-denial-effort/

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Consilience versus Cosilence

Denial101X: Concensus of Scientists

The expression consilience of evidence is described as a rather quizzical terminology officially used to define scientific concensus. It's interesting that my automatic spelling feature chooses to spell the word as co silence. It could be useful to compare these two words. Consilience versus cosilence.

The Latin origin prefix con is a variant of com preceding all consonants (another con) excluding b,h, l, p, r all found added to the fronts of nouns at dictionary.com Examples are such as convene, condone and connection with con originating from com as in .com

Consilience of converging and widely sourced conclusions which agree with each other depend upon reliable evidence within and across disciplines. The credit goes to a polymath British scientist named William Whewell to gather and collate streams of data from collocations but somewhat dissimilar categories of science to form a nomenclature based not upon necessary truths but upon evidence. For example, he constructed a form of measurable scale across many early evolving categories of science.

Instead of saying the scale was fixed and never changing, his approach to evidence gathering would measure the notes of apparent points of evidence  and mark them rather than a result to a precomposed conclusion. Similarly as his interests jumped together across many disciplines his wordsmithery skills included creating new words to explain the convergences or consiliencies between experiments, their results and across disciplines. His credits include the word scientist.

However the origins and meaning of science and how it requires consiliencies has been lost to many disciplines such as economic geologists and meteorologists which appears surprising. If large portions of these disciplines discredit a concensus of global warming might they not be demonstrating examples of cosilence? Have magnified minorities of these disciplines lost an understanding of consilience? Or were their disagreements based upon power versus rational based decisions? Is there a consilient cosilence between many of these researchers as their primary employers are fossil fuel and other mineral extraction companies along with the mainstream media?

Measurements in consiliencies might be collected across various methods with low error probability and the greater the number of unrelated measurements reduces the probable number of errors. As E.O.Wilson resurrected the word consilience to explain a fragmentation of the historic polymath's general approach to a unity of knowledge, he rescued it from the depths of a power based cosilence found deep in the earth and high in the sky of a collective human science.

There is a similar fragmentation taking place in the world's biological ecosystems and the interconnectedness essential to support life and required of increased awareness not only of consilience. This might be defined as an increasing incidence of cosilence? Disciplines originally formed to construct an orderly category of knowledge research have increasingly lost an awareness of convergence or the benefits of consilience. It seems economic geologists and meteorologists might be the most likely not to observe or report on the impacts of weather and resource extraction on rapid destruction of human and wildlife habitats which are convergent with increasing fossil fuel emissions.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

edX Denial 101x Course: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

edX Denial 101x Course: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

This appears to be my first blog post in more than two years? What explains the delay? Well, I and my thoughts have been elsewhere such as posting to Linkedin and building new contacts there. The intervening years saw a massive reduction in my reading library. The cull amounted to about 80% of my accumulated texts. While Bluefirereader offers some portability, I still seek time for reading texts. Generation Y may not agree, and often appear to have little time for reading books. Does that explain the rise in popularity of inarticulate Minions?

Well, some one has to read books, otherwise a majority of news might be fed through sites like Facebook. Then where would reliable source online media sharing be - awash in a sea of bullshit with fewer and fewer operating shit detectors? Oops, maybe that is the case. This explains my affinity for provocative news on the topics of climate change, alternative energy technologies, new materials research and habitat enrichment. This last topic has been the focus of many physical efforts in the last few months since July. 

My current project between writing, teaching or any other form of contracts has been forest hugelkultur. What are hugelbeets? Mound and pit constructions using windblown and rotting wood piles, tree trunks, soil and horse manure. The strongest influencers on this task itself have been readings on the topic courtesy of Robert Hart, Sepp Holtzer, the FAO or Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN - all inspire as 2015 is their Year of Soils. Alan Savory says a farmer's first chore is to build soil. 

So a summer soil building exercise has been enriched. Yet the heat has been an odd, climate change addled set of weather systems on The Bay of Fundy since July. The ocean is obviously delivering elevated heat to the region and earth nullschool confirms far above average coastal temperatures. The result has been that a pattern of typically cooler, less humid bayside temperatures compared to the Annapolis Valley were often reversed. Would this explain the seeming increase in fallen large hemlock on my woodlot? 

As October is cooling, I am finally starting on The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute's  edX Denial 101x: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial led by John Cook. If you are as I am, seeking opportunities to impact your own consciousness to make peace with what appears to be near term human extinction, then this is probably the course you should be taking too. I think it may be more positively adaptive to try to do that than to deny the distinct possibility. 

My next series of blog posts will be my reflections on these topics. I'm not sure many Canadians are really doing that yet?