Saturday, June 07, 2008


A new study uncovers startling figures:
Over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books are linked to conservative think tanks, and 90 per cent of conservative think tanks interested in environmental issues espouse scepticism.
And what constitutes scepticism?
Books were included if they expressed environmental scepticism by denying or downplaying the seriousness of problems such as climate change; stratospheric ozone depletion; biodiversity loss; resource shortages; chemicals and other pollutants in the air, water or soil; threats of trace chemical exposure to human health and the potential risks of genetic modification.
Despite the study's broad parameters only 130 books associated in some way with conservative think tanks were found to question environmental policies. Considering that Google books shows 24,700 results for books on "environmental policy", the conservative think tanks have been pretty slack in cranking out the "propaganda".

Australia's lefty bloggers are flabbergasted nonetheless, with John Quiggin seeing a very iffy study as very significant:
This study is an important contribution to our understanding of the emerging parallel universe which has almost completely absorbed the formerly Earth-based Republican party and its networking of supporting thinktanks, media outlets and blogs. It helps to explain the otherwise surprising fact that higher levels of education make Republicans more, not less, ignorant and deluded. With their beliefs on scientific, economic and political issues derived from the Great Library of Tlön, every book they read, talk show they listen to and blog they browse actively reduces their knowledge of the real world.
Quiggin is even more assertive when dealing with dissenting commenters:
Could I suggest not feeding the trolls. As the post shows, they are not merely deluded on this issue, but wrapped in an entire parallel universe of delusion. Debating them is a waste of time. The important thing is to publicise the facts about how their bogus worldview has been construct, so that media organisations stop treating conservative thinktankers as legitimate participants in scientific debate and start treating them as the hacks they are.
This coming from a hack is hilarious. Speaking of hacks, let's take a look at an earlier article by Peter Jacques, lead author of the study above. In October 2005, Peace Review, A Journal of Social Justice, published a Jacques written article unbelievably titled Ecology as Resistance. Jacques sums up:
Distanced and unraveling peoples and places, in addition to global structural ecological changes, tell stories that rightly concern our ecological selves. This ecological self is one side of our humanity that asks us to pay attention to justice even in the name of people or life we do not know or think we are a part of. It implies a differentiated responsibility to ecological harm born by others, and challenges the assumptions of what wealth and wellbeing are, as well as how they are derived. It also places people within a single, but differentiated, context beyond nationalities because humans all occupy the same ecological space and have the same ecological needs. Yet we are creating differentiated impacts. This reflects what philosopher Ronnie Hawkins describes as “seeing humans as primates,” and what has prompted political scientist Andrew Dobson to call for an “ecological citizenship” that recognizes these elements of life on earth.

The ecological self as a development of human virtue through empathy, friendship, and solidarity for others—human and non-human—is a direct challenge to the dominant world system. Ecology in this way can be counterhegemonic resistance against the system of knowledge and power that would rather that we remain alienated from ourselves and the world of life around us. Within this kind of world system, wars like the one in Iraq that are meant to doggedly pursue oil and other resources necessary for industrial consumption will be an existential threat that just might make sustainability irrelevant. Ecology as resistance, however, builds on our essential connections within the world, making it one of our relevant communities from which we can collectively fight alienation to stand against wanton abuse and political domination.
The guy's a fringe-leftist if ever I've seen one. It's therefore not surprising other fringe leftists like his stuff.

Update: Tim Lambert provides excerpts from the "study" but somehow manages to miss the authors' dodgy selection criteria. This wouldn't be a problem except that the "study" isn't publicly available online – you must either pay for it or have institutional access. So, readers must rely on Lambert's quoting, which is always suspect. Quiggin praises the "study" but does not quote from it.

It's also worth nothing that the multi-page "study" cites very few examples of denialism. Here's one of the few:
For example, Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, in the foreword to Meltdown (Michaels 2004, p. 5), writes: ‘Global warming is an exaggerated issue, predictably blown out of proportion by the political and professional climate in which it evolved. . . .
See, questioning the science is forbidden.

Update II: Lefty blogger Tim Dunlop sees Lambert's The Denial Industrial Complex post, gets a rush of blood, links to Lambert and gets burned. Dunlop should have read the study before getting involved.

Update III: As noted in comments, the left wants to shut down debate by damning as a near-Nazi (denialist) anyone who doesn't buy the science 100%. It similar to the ploy whereby the anti-DDT crowd insist that anyone who's pro-DDT has been duped by evil tobacco companies.


Anonymous Cryptandra said...

Why are you afraid of honest debate, Becky?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

So you agree with the "guilt by association" approach Janine I?

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, the level of idiocy on this blog, especially by the blog's writer, is unbelievable! You provide "links" not books..LINKS. And then you bring up 18th Century Science to back up your argument? wow. the idea of science is to get better over time at explaining phenomena. As such, scientist have to go through rigorous training and years of experience in their fields. Certainly, the people you speak of in the 18th century contributed to the body of knowledge, but much of what they "discovered" has been found to be incorrect. Even now we are questioning Einstein!

10:08 PM  

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