Monday, March 31, 2008

Mercy me, such foolish contrarianism

While Dave questioned the usefulness of Canadian Cynic's civility for truth challenge, arguing that we should not consider ourselves obliged to play nice with people who won't do likewise, I did, after much hemming and hawing, sign up, so I cannot give full play to range of colourful expressions I would like to use to describe Richard Peter Foster's collection of contrarian nonsense and flat out balderdash in the Financial Post recently, nor to describe Ms. McMillian's insistence that apples are oranges based on her own willful misinterpretation of the facts regarding the recent "Earth Hour." (Link goes to CC's critique, I will not send traffic to her site.)

As to Foster's foolishness, well, if you have a million scientists and 1, 999,997 of them are climate experts who say global warming is real and man-made and three who are say, Christopher Monckton or Tim Ball or some other charlatan or serial prevaricator bought and paid for by the petroleum industry, I think it is fair to say the science is settled. (Click the links to see a laundry list of the way and places such people have been discredited.) The jury is not out on climate change any more than it is out on whether the earth is flat, to say otherwise is simply false. If you still have any doubts, try any of these links offered here. Note to climate change deniers on the far right: Just because you hate Al Gore doesn't mean he's wrong about climate change.

Foster's statement that "Earth Hour" is somehow facistic leads me to wonder if he has been spending too much time reading Mr. Jonah Goldberg's recent unintentionally comic magnum opus. As has been pointed out elsewhere, how is an event that is strictly voluntary and does not involve appeals to notions of racial or cultural superiority or militant nationalism facistic?
Truly, Foster gives one pause when he erupts with such stupendous statements as this:

"Leo Burnet's chairman, Nigel Marsh, demonstrated his skill both in semantic perversion and moral obfuscation when he declared: "I'm an optimist about climate change. The human race eventually abolished slavery and gave women the vote. We eventually work it out."
Get the implication? "Deny" the dubious science or dangerous politics of anthropogenic climate change and you're the kind of person who would support slavery and keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen!"

A simple statement of optimism by Marsh, that people will eventually choose to do the right thing, brings an astounding outburst of defensiveness from Foster that just because he is out to lunch on climate change, doesn't mean he supports slavery or keeping women pregnant, shoeless and chained to stove. I might wonder aloud which part of the political spectrum it was that fought to continue slavery and deny women the vote and equal rights (Hint: not liberals) but that, gentle reader would be a less civil area of discourse.

Suffice to say that a shorter version of Foster's article written in a different time might go something like this:
"Anyone who thinks walking upright is a good idea is a fool. And this whole notion of banding together and sharing the work - nonsense! No one has proved that division of labour and cooperation results in more food and even if it did, what would we do with the extra time? Paint on the cave walls or learn to make fire? Bah, humbug!"

As to the aforementioned proprietress of Small Dead Animals (nope, I will not link to her site. Use Google if you must), I haven't really much to add to CC's analysis -- and by analysis I mean pointing and laughing -- of her contention that Earth Hour was a failure because she urged her regular readers to use as much energy as possible during the hour in question.

Her argument seems to be that because energy use in the set period did not go down, but merely did not increase as much as it does on an average day, she is somehow a winner and people who are in favour of saving energy and using less expensive fossil fuels are somehow losers. That is rather like saying that if you slam on the brakes while going 100 kph and your car doesn't suddenly go in reverse, but instead just slows down, your brakes are broken.

I think that is the kind of dishonesty that CC was talking about when he proposed this challenge.

As for the foolish contrarianism of people who went out of their way to use as much electricity as possible during Earth Hour, there have been numerous suggestions for declaring other days of activism during which you can feel free to "stick it to the Man" by doing the opposite. We over at the Woodshed (by which I mean me) are declaring tomorrow "International multicultural, gay rights, feminist, anti-global warming Don't-pour-hot-sauce-in-your-eyes Day" Do what you feel you must.

cross posted from you know where

Whoops, my bad: I mistakenly identified the author of the piece of tomfoolery in the Finanacial Post as Richard Foster, when in fact the man's name is Peter Foster. Sorry about that. Thanks to Pogge for catching my error. See, this is what you do when you make a mistake, you admit the mistake, correct it and move on. You do not insist that you are right in the face of all available evidence and declare victory. You do not insist that such empirical evidence is a plot by your political opponents. You do not pretend that such a mistake never occurred. Not that I'm accusing anyone...
More oops:Dad-diddly-durn burn it! I was sure I had typed "2 million scientists"

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