Skeptics: Stop Calling Deniers “Skeptics”


This call by (real) sceptics to stop conflating ‘skeptic’ and ‘denier’ deserves to be better publicised. Denial of scientific fact is not scepticism!

For clarification, I’ll steal the words of one of the commenters, lesliegraham1:

The word denier dates from the 15th century and simply means ‘one who denies’.

“…Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions….”

That definition fits climate change deniers to an absolute ‘T’.
There is simply no other word in the English language that is more apt.

The comment thread (in the original) makes for some entertaining reading, as the resident troll on climatecrocks flaps around wittering about ‘the pause’.

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

As climate denial goes the way of snake oil and table tipping, real Skeptics would like the media to please stop sullying their good name.

Skeptical Inquirer:

Prominent scientists, science communicators, and skeptic activists, including Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” physicist Lawrence Krauss, Cosmos co-creator Ann Druyan, and many others are calling on the news media to stop using the word “skeptic” when referring to those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change, and instead refer to them by what they really are: science deniers.

The statement, signed by 48 Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), comes as a response to a New York Times article from Nov 10, 2014, “Republicans Vow to Fight EPA and Approve Keystone Pipeline,” which referred to Sen. James Inhofe, who believes climate change to be an elaborate hoax, as “a prominent skeptic of climate change.”

“As scientific…

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Who needs a hug?

Earth hug day 12 December 2014

Earth hug day‘: 12 December 2014.

who has supported you all your life without asking for anything in return?
fresh air, clear water, food, stability and unconditional love…
the earth provides. the earth cares. the earth loves!

it’s about time we love her back again…
every day – every moment…
and with a huge collective earth hug right around the planet!

throw yourself on the ground and hug the earth!
run to a tree and hug the earth!
put your arms around each other and hug the earth!

hug the earth ♥ share the love

You don’t have to understand what they’re saying — the meaning is clear.

Posted in Biodiversity, Communication, consciousness, Core thought, crowdsourcing, Culture, Energy, Environment, Health | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Truth, honesty, and loss

Poppies in the moat of the Tower of London, 2014

(Artificial) Poppies in the moat of the Tower of London

Dear Paul,

A few days ago, you asked: Wherein lays the truth?

I believe that the crux of the matter lies in one of the quotations you offer:

“… we are in a generational struggle to defend the principles of the free market against people who want to undermine it or strip it away.”

This choice of words reveals a perception clouded by ideology.

Whether one includes oneself in the ‘we’ of the above quote will effectively determine one’s stance on various issues such as global warming, climate change, austerity, free market fundamentalism, corporate corruption, wealth inequality, population, immigration, peak oil, belief in the viability of infinite growth on a finite planet — and possibly the existence of the Loch Ness monster, too.

You previously said ‘Vested interests, perhaps‘. Personally, I would strike the ‘perhaps’.

Mr. Truth is a shifty character whose principal skills are subterfuge, disguise and, most of all, misdirection.

'It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.' - Ansel Adams

Special thanks for the pointer to The Toll-Booth Economy, in which George Monbiot cogently argues that corporations are the enemy within. His words underscore the reason I no longer wear a red poppy on this day. I believe that to do so would be an insult to the memories of those who laid down their lives for democratic freedoms we clearly no longer respect — because if we did respect them, we might do more about their erosion.

Posted in ... wait, Business, Capitalism, Communication, consciousness, Core thought, Economics, Environment, History, what? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Capitalism vs The Climate

I believe myself to be a realist. I have no doubt that many who know me would scoff at this, having long ago slotted me firmly in the ‘pessimist’ pigeonhole.

Nevertheless, my weeks of late seem to be full of Thursdays. As in “This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” This particular week, my copy of Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything arrived and, though snuffling and sneezing from a streaming cold, I tore through it in about five thick gulps.

I found it a fascinating read.

The book is aptly subtitled ‘Capitalism vs The Climate’. Here’s a passage that I think summarises both the book, and our situation, rather well:

The idea that capitalism and only capitalism can save the world from a crisis created by capitalism is no longer an abstract theory; it’s a hypothesis that has been tested and retested in the real world. We are now able to set theory aside and take a hard look at the results: at the celebrities and media conglomerates that were supposed to model chic green lifestyles who have long since moved on to the next fad; at the green products that were shunted to the back of the supermarket shelves at the first signs of recession; at the venture capitalists who were supposed to bankroll a parade of innovation but have come up far short; at the fraud-infested, boom-and-bust carbon market that has failed miserably to lower emissions; at the natural gas sector that was supposed to be our bridge to renewables but ended up devouring much of their market instead. And most of all, at the parade of billionaires who were going to invent a new form of enlightened capitalism but decided that, on second thought, the old one was just too profitable to surrender.

We’ve tried it Branson’s way. (And Buffett’s, Bloomberg’s, Gates’s, and Pickens’s way.) The soaring emissions speak for themselves. There will, no doubt, be more billionaire saviors who make splashy entrances, with more schemes to rebrand capitalism. The trouble is, we simply don’t have another decade to lose pinning our hopes on these sideshows. There is plenty of room to make a profit in a zero-carbon economy; but the profit motive is not going to be the midwife for that great transformation.

This is important because Branson was onto something with his pledge [to spend $3 billion developing technologies to battle climate change — a pledge he has yet to fulfil]. It makes perfect sense to make the profits and proceeds from the businesses that are most responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis help pay for the transition to a safer, greener future. Branson’s original idea — to spend 100 percent of the proceeds from his trains and airlines on figuring out a way to get off fossil fuels — was, at least in theory, exactly the kind of thing that needs to take place on a grand scale. The problem is that under current business models, once the shareholders have taken a slice, once the executives have given themselves yet another raise, once Richard Branson has launched yet another world-domination project and purchased another private island, there doesn’t seem to be much left over to fulfill the promise.

– Naomi Klein, ‘This Changes Everything’, pp 252-3

A half pint of beer

It’s in print so it must be true.

One of the many features of homo fatuus brutus is an uncompromising optimism, a trait that has helped to get us to the top of the food chain. Unfortunately, we’re busily demolishing all the links below us. Our species has had so much practise finding ways out of problems that the precipice ahead is literally unthinkable, as in ‘impossible to think about’. And yet, full of hope and optimism, Klein points to a path out of the nightmare. ‘This Changes Everything’ is the kind of book I would love to write; though I doubt I could ever flavour our predicament with the verve and confident enthusiasm with which she has imbued it.

I’m too much the realist, you see ;)

In fact, having finished the book, I’m resolved to read it again to try to figure out how Klein pulled off the optimistic view trick… because where she sees burgeoning mass activism everywhere, I only see sporadic signs; bubbling under, perhaps, but never making enough impact.

Whitehall is just one place that must be choked by a throng demanding action every week — not just once in a blue moon — until Those In Power feel their cosy positions under threat. Because until they feel they absolutely must act, they.

Whether optimist, pessimist, or realist, we all need to pull together, soon, because the last drop will soon be gone — and there will be no way to refill the glass.

Posted in ... wait, balance, Business, Capitalism, Climate, Core thought, Economics, Education, Energy, Environment, History, what? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What can I do?

Humanity’s demands on our planet’s resources now exceeds nature’s ability to regenerate by a massive 50%. This means that we would need one and a half planet Earths to support humanity’s current ecological footprint. And — largely due to ignorance — the gulf is widening; every year, homo fatuus brutus demands more and more of the one planet upon which it lives.

The mounting costs of this problem include deforestation, fresh-water scarcity, biodiversity loss, climate change, and more economic instability and inequality.

“Yes,” I hear you say, “this may be so, but what can I do?” Well, here are two options:

  1. Measure your own ecological footprint with the ecological footprint calculator. This measures your impact on our planet’s resources and then offers simple lifestyle changes to reduce your footprint.
  2. Support Global Footprint Network’s ‘crowdrise’ goal (follow link for more information).

Smokie in concert in Moscow, 1994 (I was there). Funny story… when Smokie arrived at the airport for the gig, the band was mobbed by Russians who demanded that they should play ‘What can I do’. In the days leading up to the concert, Smokie were practising this song — one that they hadn’t played for twenty-odd years — not far from the office where I was working. The tune wafted repeatedly down the hallway as I toiled away.

Smokie 1994Why were the Russian fans so adamant that this particular song must feature in the concert? It turns out that — unbeknown to Smokie, all these years — ‘What can I do?’ sounds like the Russian phrase ‘Wodka nido': bring vodka! (and so, naturally, the song was a big hit in Russia when it was first released back in the mid-1970s).

Mitakuye Oyasin.

Posted in ... wait, balance, Biodiversity, Communication, Computers and Internet, Core thought, crowdsourcing, Culture, Economics, Education, Energy, Environment, Food, Health, History, Just for laughs, memetics, Music, People, Phlyarology, Strategy, Water, what? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This changes everything

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A multitude of drops

Global Footprint Network pointed me to ‘My Drop in the Oceans’ — a global currency platform designed to empower people to value nature through partnerships with businesses and local authorities. I’ve signed up and claimed my free money already :)
DIO logo

My Drop in the Oceans is a global currency platform founded on the belief that economic and social progress depends on fundamentally changing the way we value nature.

My Drop in the Oceans converts the value of environmental costs into DIO, a complimentary currency for citizens and businesses to use in ways that reward sustainable actions towards positive environmental impact. A MyDIO account enables citizens and businesses to bank with nature, practice smart consumption and be rewarded for their investments in sustainability. By empowering citizens and businesses to acknowledge the value of nature, DIO is uniquely designed to return value to nature one drop at a time.

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This all starts with you and me…

… and it ends with us, too — one way or another.

Who’s Gonna Stand Up

Protect the wild, tomorrow’s child.
Protect the land from the greed of man.
Take up the dams! Stand up to oil!
Protect the plants, and renew the soil.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me…

Damn the dams! Starve the takers!
Save the rivers! Feed the givers!
Let’s build a dream and save our world
We’re the people who are known as ‘Earth’.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me…

Ban fossil fuel! Draw the line
Before we build one more pipeline.
Ban fracking now! Save the waters!
Build a life for our sons and daughters!

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me…

Who’s gonna stand up?

Posted in Climate, Communication, Core thought, Culture, Drama, Energy, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, Music, People, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The march of progress: ONWARD!

Keep calm - and trash the planet...

My silence here of late is largely due to the distressing feeling that not only is humanity heading, in lockstep, in entirely the wrong direction; we’re changing pace from a jog to a trot, chivvied along by blinkered politicos whose vocabulary is constrained by a single word, one belying lunacy.

The word, of course, is ‘growth’.

I missed out on Overshoot Day.
Here’s an update of the current state of play:
People's Climate March, London, 21 September 2014
Earth Overshoot Day dates
2014: August 19
2013: August 20
2012: August 22
2011: September 27
2010: August 21 *
2009: September 25
2008: September 23
2007: October 6
2006: October 9
2005: October 11

* see my earlier post No Plan(et) B for an explanation of this apparent aberration.

You may be aware that our planet’s leaders (sic) have been invited to attend a junket Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014. A few concerned folks (including me, and, who knows, maybe even you?) will be attending various events around the world such as the People’s Climate March in advance of this occasion to try to raise awareness.

If none of this interests you, then perhaps I can entice you instead with JourneyQuest Episode One: ONWARD!

… After all, you must be in need of a little more *cough* encouragement.

PS nod kelled fokkad ka!*

* Yes, I know some orcish. See icon at foot of page for my geek credentials.

Posted in Climate, crowdsourcing, Drama, Environment, Fantasy, GCD: Global climate disruption, JourneyQuest | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

CO2 – present and past

Can you spare just four minutes to watch this (silent) video, please?

Good words thieved from the YouTube comment thread (reinventing the wheel is futile):

David Furphy: “Watch this excellent 3 minute animation  and you’ll immediately get how much Industrial Age humans have altered carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and how different the current level (400 ppm) is from the last eight hundred thousand years (180-280 ppm).

It also shows how the northern hemisphere, with so much more land mass and industrial activity than the southern hemisphere, appears to “breathe” carbon dioxide in and out on an annual cycle.”

Max Yekhlakov: “keep calm and carry on
we’re just returning to pre-Carboniferous levels of atmospheric carbon oxides, it is all part of the plan ;)”

Jari Juslin: “Yup. If you are an insect, lizard or algae, you have nothing to worry about!”

More on this subject (much more!) is available from NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Visit for T-shirts and other useful ideas.

Posted in Climate, Communication, Education, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, History, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments