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Rupert isn’t (really) the enemy

Yes, the media in Australia is too concentrated (though this was more of a problem in the pre internet era).

Yes News Corp has a conservative bias and always has (it was actually a lot more pronounced in the olden days).

But no, News Corp is not the enemy. Really. Its just providing a market for what the readers want. I remember being told in 1991 by a (left wing) journalist that the Herald Sun didn’t really filter its letters- that what you saw is what you got. And what you got were a lot of conservatives writing in to the newspaper.

Pick up the Australian newspaper now and you’ll see letter after letter from people rubbishing climate change. These people exist- they have to give a name and verifiable address to be published, and they do so. I have met plenty of people like this in my life, and still do.

If you read, closely, the editorials of the Australian, they have, in fact, been reasonably liberal on climate change. Yes, they publish a lot of op-eds from a denial perspective. And I’ll bet you they’ve done that because these columns appeal to the readers. It’s the readers- mostly older, more often male, that are the bedrock of the Australian’s culture. If anything, its more liberal than they are.

Its comforting in a way to think its all Rupert’s fault. If you can blame one person you can divert your eyes from the real deniers of climate change- the vast bulk of people who object to changing anything (and in their partial defence, many of the solutions are not quite there yet). But, the same way his conversion to the green cause in 2007 didn’t change much back then, it wouldn’t change much now. People are the real problem.

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Climate position: TLDR version

I realized my last post was a bit TL/DR, so here’s another go:

Basically: Climate change is man made and terrifying. We should be doing our utmost to stop it. The problem however is not organized wealthy groups against it, but ordinary people who don’t want to change their lifestyles; and who, realistically, realize that the alternatives aren’t quite there yet.

Although most skeptics dress up their opposition with pseudoscience ‘climate’s always changing’; ‘it’s the sun’ etc etc; this is rot; ultimately the opposition is really driven by the cost of the required fix. They can be held partly responsible, therefore for climate chaos.

Given the solutions aren’t quite there yet, the only real solution is a massive RD program to reduce the expense of the change. I strongly endorse this plan by Kevin Drum.

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Climate Change: the facts

Firstly, I’m setting up this blog because I’m sick and tired of not having a say. Someone who loves free markets, loves small government and dislikes bureaucracy, hates monopolies and loves the environment most of all really doesn’t fit in anywhere in our media market. And increasingly, sites are removing comments, or just not printing them at all, or engaging in such ridiculous moderation that its just not worth bothering with anymore. So here it is, my thoughts on a blog I control, without having to look over my shoulder all the time. Hope you like it.

Currently, Australia is under attack from horrifying, record bushfires and the cause is climate change. No point prevaricating; this is the cause. Although the deniers are quiet now, in a few weeks you’ll start reading about how ‘this is all normal’ or ‘its been worse before’ or my personal favorite ‘climate is always changing, so its nothinig to worry about’ (Nothing to worry about whole areas being evacuated, horrible deaths and the likely extinction now of many species).

What is driving this? Why do many rational people on the right (if you look in the top of this page you’ll see I am very in favor of free markets (but also the environment)) so willing to go along with crackpot denial of science? Why aren’t they writing about denying smoking causing lung cancer, or sugar causing tooth decay ?

The answer is these denialists are not being honest. They are not being driven, deep down, by some ‘Galileo desire’ for truth in science (as some ludicrously claim). They are being driven by a core reality.

And that core reality is that virtually everyone on this planet is born of the carbon economy. Looking at my family history, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the industrial revolution and carbonization. Unfortunately its that carbonization which is killing us.

And the costs of de-carbonizing are much much greater than are being sold. I well remember when the ‘greenhouse effect’ and the CFC-Ozone hole issue were considered about as serious. The ozone hole quickly got fixed, because it was cheap-ish to do so and didn’t upend our lives. Nobody (much) crapped on then about how the science was all wrong, and the hole was always changing and it was normal for the ozone to just disappear. It got fixed.

De-carbonizing would upend our modern civilized society. And this is the other rub. The real deniers aren’t Exxon Mobil, or the Heartland institute, or the Murdoch press, putting skepticism into innocent minds (thought these organizations have played a dishonest role). It’s the people themselves, once they realize the cost of them giving up carbon.

And its in everybody. That old jibe used by deniers about us taking flights or driving cars is annoying, but not without truth. I know from personal experience just how unwilling people of all stripes are to give up even a tiny bit of their lifestyle. Remember the greens in Sydney; in favor of public transport, but immediately on the side of NIMBY’s to block it anywhere it actually had to go?

People are inherently selfish (not totally so) and will bitch and moan about very slight imposts in a way that will surprise you(It’s sure surprised me over the years). This is the real resistance to climate change.

Does this mean as the planet slips further into climate chaos that we can hold the people who opposed action as blameless, as it was just their nature? No. Firstly, very few have ever been honest about it. I sort of respect the ones that say ‘well it will cost too much to fix’. I disagree with them (as the penalty is the destruction of the planet) but at least they’re advancing a honest argument.

The worst ones who dress up their resistance in pseudo science; whilst remaining surprising unpassionate about debunking Venus’ obvious greenhouse effect or the theory of relativity etc…. They crap on about how they ‘have worked it out for themselves’ , how the scientists are all wrong, based on their ‘experience’ (did I mention that they are disproportionately older males?). Just say ‘I don’t want to pay’ and be done with it, its a lot closer to the truth.

Secondly, actions have consequences. If the consequences of your actions was to encourage something that will lead to what likely will be the extinction of all life, then yeah, you need to be held to blame. If I pour lead into your fishpond, saying its ok, I have a theory that it wont hurt the fish, and they all die and the pond is toxic, would you hold me blameless?

Human beings are selfish dolts for sure, but not totally so. Yes, putting a carbon tax (which I completely support and was happy to pay) would likely be political poison even now and lead to whining you would not believe. The trick is to make technology, notably batteries (storage of the now almost free power we get is the real battle) much much cheaper, so that people are then crazy not to change. We need a massive investment in R&D to make that happen and improve the world. I think this guy has the right idea, and I urge you to click through to read his plan.

Other than that, I am a big believer in free markets (but not when they override climate change) and free speech; and I dislike monopolies (this is why I dont really fit in to either Murdoch or Fairfax’s worldview, thought I suspect there’s a lot more people out there like me then we let on).

And PS ‘owlknot’ is meaningless, was just the shortest phrase that hadn’t been taken yet. Hope to keep writing lot more blog posts; and rest assured: I’m not selling anything!